The American people are "war-weary," we are told, and that’s the only reason they’re overwhelmingly opposed to bombing Syria: this bit of conventional wisdom is invoked by warmongers and peaceniks alike, but is it true? Well, to some degree, no doubt, but not in any tangible sense: after all, there is no conscription, we have a professional army, and most people are not aware of how war impacts their lives. So if they’re "war weary" it must mean they’re tired of hearing about these faraway conflicts in places they probably can’t find on a map. So yes, the public is indeed weary, but not in the sense the pundits mean. What they are weary of are the lies.
The US government lied us into war in Iraq with some of the most egregious fables this side of the Brothers Grimm. There was the Niger "yellowcake" fabrication – an outright forgery cited in the State of the Union address by George W. Bush. This crude concatenation of documents which took a team of UN specialists less than an hour to debunk was supposed to "prove" the existence of Iraq’s ongoing (and fast-developing) nuclear weapons program. Oh well, back to the drawing board!
There was the Iraqi-intelligence-agent-meets-Mohammed-Atta-in-Prague narrative, a tall tale from beginning to end, which was "leaked" to the neoconservative media and trumpeted as proof positive that Saddam and Al Qaeda were in on the 9/11 attacks together. That turned out to be a hoax. Oh, and don’t forget the Al Qaeda "training camp" that was supposed to have been sheltered and succored by Saddam Hussein – which, along with those famous "weapons of mass destruction," turned out to be nonexistent. I could go on – but I’m not in the mood to catalogue and describe the complete works of Laurie Mylroie. If you are, please be my guest….
In short, we were lied into war once before with slapped-together bogus "intelligence," and so the public is wary – and so is Congress, and much of the media, albeit not for the same reasons.
Congress is wary because of the polls – no one wants to own this one. As for the media: they, too, are taking it slow, writing articles about how everyone has "learned the lesson of Iraq." But their version of that "lesson" has little to do with the "intelligence" we’re being given that’s supposed to justify this latest Crusade for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. For the most part, they’ve swallowed the administration’s account of what supposedly happened at Ghouta, and in earlier incidents of alleged poison gas attacks, which is that Assad "is gassing his own people."
The blind acceptance of this "fact" is one of the stranger elements of the current war hysteria – because if we truly have learned "the lesson of Iraq" then why is everyone repeating the US government’s war propaganda as if it’s beyond dispute?
One fact is indeed beyond dispute – someone used some kind of chemical warfare agent in the village of Ghouta on Aug. 21. The question is: who did it? John Kerry keeps telling us the rebels couldn’t possibly be responsible because they don’t have that "capability." But a new report issued by the Russian government claims the sarin gas mixture deployed at a previous and very similar incident in the town of Khan al Assal – the incident the UN team was in Syria to investigate when the Ghouta atrocity occurred – was not military grade. It also purports to show that the rocket delivering the substance was makeshift, not at all like those regularly utilized by the Syrian military.
We’re also being told by the Obama administration the rebels have no access to sarin or other chemical weapons, but you don’t need access to classified information to know this isn’t necessarily true: since various rebel factions now control big swathes of Syrian territory, it’s quite possible they’ve "liberated" chemical weapons caches once controlled by the Syrian government. As the Washington Post reported back in December:
"U.S. officials are increasingly worried that Syria’s weapons of mass destruction could fall into the hands of Islamist extremists, rogue generals or other uncontrollable factions.
"Last week, fighters from a group that the Obama administration has branded a terrorist organization were among rebels who seized the Sheik Suleiman military base near Aleppo, where research on chemical weapons had been conducted. Rebels are also closing in on another base near Aleppo, known as Safirah, which has served as a major production center for such munitions, according to US officials and analysts."
According to a Syrian general who defected this summer, Assad’s chemical weapons sites "are not secure. Probably anyone from the Free Syrian Army or any Islamic extremist group could take them over."
No chemical warfare capability? Not so fast: the Libyan jihadists who overthrew Qaddafi were among the first foreign fighters to land in Syria, and they certainly had access to the former Libyan dictator’s chemical arsenal. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported on "a massive, unguarded weapons depot that is being pillaged daily by anti-Gadhafi military units, hired work crews and any enterprising individual who has the right vehicle and chooses to make the trip." Included among the goodies: "Artillery rounds designed to carry chemical weapons" which that reporter saw "stashed in the back of" a warehouse." (See also here.)
During Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearings, Senator Rand Paul asked her about "rumors" that the Benghazi attack on our embassy was somehow involved with an attempt by the Libyan rebels to ship arms looted from Qaddafi’s arsenal to the Syrian jihadists. Hillary tut-tutted that she’d "never heard" any such thing. Really? Given what’s happening in Syria today, the question arises: were chemical weapons transported from Libya to Syria?
Ha’aretz reported in March that the rebels were definitely behind a chemical weapons attack outside Aleppo, with the chemical of choice apparently chlorine:
"The explosion claimed the lives of Syrian Armed Forces soldiers who are apparently loyal to Assad, and the Syrian government was quick to demand an international investigation of the incident. These two facts would indicate that Assad’s forces were not behind the attack….
"It appears that the target of the attack was a checkpoint manned by Syrian Armed Forces, which reinforces the theory that rebel forces, probably jihadists known to be operating around Aleppo, were behind it. A report by Britain’s Channel Four, based on Syrian military sources, claims that the weapon used in the attack may have been a missile carrying a warhead filled with chlorine mixed into a saline solution. The Syrian source also said that a factory that manufactures chlorine is located nearby."
The last time the Syrian "opposition" raised a hue and cry over alleged chemical attacks by the Assad regime, Carla del Ponte said she had evidence from UN inspectors that the real culprits were … the rebels. She wasn’t listened to. Why is that?
Oh, those cuddly "rebels" would never do anything like use chemical weapons banned internationally: why they’re mostly "moderates," according to Kerry. Only "fifteen to twenty percent" are Al Qaeda type radicals, he avers. As Vladimir Putin put it the other day, "he is lying and he knows that he is lying." Jihadists are pouring in from all over the world – including from places like New Zealand, and even the US – to take part in the battle to create an Islamic state in Syria. The armed wing of the "opposition," as Kerry dubs them, is dominated by radical Islamists formally affiliated with Al Qaeda.
Reuters cites a European expert on terrorism in the region as saying:
"Extremist rebel factions were so strong and well-organized in the north and west of Syria that they were setting up their own public services and trying to create an Islamic ministate along the Iraqi border.
"By contrast, the official said, more moderate rebel factions predominate in the east of Syria and along its southern border with Jordan but have largely devolved into ‘gangs’ whose leaders are more interested in operating local rackets and enriching themselves than in forming a larger alliance that could more effectively oppose Assad’s government."
It makes sense the Obama administration would latch on to "moderates" with a modus operandi similar to their own, but it looks like Syria’s Mod Squad is on the way out as al Nusra and other jihadist groups take the lead.
The lies proliferate like flies on a corpse: Kerry has spent the last week or so telling members of Congress and the American people "no boots on the ground," and yet it turns out this really means "no combat boots on the ground." "Noncombat" troops (like the thousands we still have in Iraq) are just fine.
"This isn’t Iraq" – we keep hearing it from the President and his underlings, but that’s a barefaced lie, too. The original authorization for the use of military force proffered by Kerry was so blatantly broad that you could drive a whole regime change operation through it. The only difference in the revised "watered-down" version is that the loopholes aren’t quite so obvious to the untrained un-lawyerly eye. You’ll recall that, up until this point, all aid to the rebels was supposed to have been "non-lethal." John McCain succeeded in slipping in a clause that allows Washington to "upgrade" our "lethal and nonlethal" aid to the rebels in order to "change the momentum" on the battlefield.
Another lie in the form of a half-truth: the often stated factoid that "over 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war." This is true as far as it goes, but it raises the question: who is being killed and who are the killers? If you listen to the war-screamers, you get the definite impression that the Assad regime killed them all. The reality is that around 45,000 of the fallen were Syrian army and police: anywhere from 25,000 to 45,000 were jihadists and their "moderate" front men, including foreign fighters. The rest were civilians caught in the crossfire, including this Catholic priest beheaded by the rebels. (Gee, I hope they weren’t from the "moderate" faction!)
Yes, the American people are weary all right – we’re damned comatose with the effects of war propaganda coming at us from all directions, 24/7. We’re sick unto death of being lied to – and wondering why our "free" media feels obliged to regurgitate government press releases as if they were the gospel truth.
This government lies about everything – James "least untruthful" Clapper is the poster boy for the distinct style this gang has brought to the White House. Kerry is fast catching up to him, however, as the whoppers come thick and fast.
These folks are no different from their neocon predecessors – except that the neocons were better liars. The lies they told were bigger, more imaginative, and far more elaborate, although the Obamaites are doing some pretty quick catching up. Perhaps the administration ought to call in veterans of the Bush regime’s old Office of Special Plans for some pointers. I hear Doug Feith is looking for a new gig.
Although, on second thought, maybe the administration is indeed already taking lessons in Advanced Deception from the pros. The alleged "smoking gun" in the US government’s classified account of what happened at Ghouta is an intercepted communication between Unit 8200 of the Syrian army and the Syrian high command, which – we’re told – definitively proved the Syrians’ guilt. The Daily Caller, however, has unearthed the truth: the Obama administration’s report on the interceptions was "doctored," writes Kenneth Timmerman, according to "former military officers with access to the original intelligence reports." Timmerman writes:
"The original communication intercepted by Unit 8200 between a major in command of the rocket troops assigned to the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division, and the general staff, shows just the opposite.
"The general staff officer asked the major if he was responsible for the chemical weapons attack. From the tone of the conversation, it was clear that ‘the Syrian general staff were out of their minds with panic that an unauthorized strike had been launched by the 155th Brigade in express defiance of their instructions,’ the former officers say.
"According to the transcript of the original Unit 8200 report, the major ‘hotly denied firing any of his missiles" and invited the general staff to come and verify that all his weapons were present.’"
There’s a note at the end of the report saying the Syrian officer was recalled to headquarters, interrogated for three days, and returned to his unit. "All of his weapons were accounted for," the report stated.
We’re being lied into war once again – with the complicity of the "mainstream" media, which is ignoring any and all evidence that contradicts the Obama party line.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).