No blood for oil in Syria or anywhere! UPDATED

30 Aug

[This picture seems to be based off the words of Michael Franti]

I have been deeply troubled by the recent efforts by the Obama administration to push for a war in Syria, which seem to be right on schedule. This is basically Obama’s Iraq war, an Iraq redux as Michael Rattner points out. Russia has already moved warships into the Mediterranean after the US & French warships are in the same body of water. Obama has also has called 5 senior administration members and “congressional leaders” in order to lie to them about going into Syria. There is NO question that there will be a push for a war, as Obama admitted recently. In writing this article, I am reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s powerful antiwar speech in 1967 in which he calls for radical reconstruction of the capitalist economy and Eugene Debs 1918 antiwar speech where he calls out the capitalist ruling class for their misdeeds. I write this article as an appeal to the conscience of the people of the world to recognize that for the fate of humanity, this war must be stopped.

Why is this war happening?

As revealed by Wikileaks, and originally leaked by Anonymous (an earlier version said Chelsea Manning and this has been corrected) is an email by Stratfor outlining a possible war in Syria. See the bolded parts for emphasis:

A few points I wanted to highlight from meetings today –

I spent most of the afternoon at the Pentagon with the USAF strategic studies group – guys who spend their time trying to understand and explain to the USAF chief the big picture in areas where they’re operating in. It was just myself and four other guys at the Lieutenant Colonel level, including one French and one British representative who are liaising with the US currently out of DC.

They wanted to grill me on the strategic picture on Syria, so after that I got to grill them on the military picture. There is still a very low level of understanding of what is actually at stake in Syria, what’s the strategic interest there, the Turkish role, the Iranian role, etc. After a couple hours of talking, they said without saying that SOF teams (presumably from US, UK, France, Jordan, Turkey) are already on the ground focused on recce missions and training opposition forces. One Air Force intel guy (US) said very carefully that there isn’t much of a Free Syrian Army to train right now anyway, but all the operations being done now are
being done out of ‘prudence.’ The way it was put to me was, ‘look at this way – the level of information known on Syrian OrBat this month is the best it’s been since 2001.’ They have been told to prepare contingencies and be ready to act within 2-3 months, but they still stress that this is all being done as contingency planning, not as a move toward escalation.

I kept pressing on the question of what these SOF teams would be working toward, and whether this would lead to an eventual air camapign to give a Syrian rebel group cover. They pretty quickly distanced themselves from that idea, saying that the idea ‘hypothetically’ is to commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces, elicit collapse from within. There wouldn’t be a need for air cover, and they wouldn’t expect these Syrian rebels to be marching in columns anyway.

They emphasized how the air campaign in Syria makes Libya look like a piece of cake. Syrian air defenses are a lot more robust and are much denser, esp around Damascus and on the borders with Israel, Turkey. They are most worried about mobile air defenses, particularly the SA-17s that they’ve been getting recently. It’s still a doable mission, it’s just not an easy one.

The main base they would use is Cyprus, hands down. Brits and French would fly out of there. They kept stressing how much is stored at Cyprus and how much recce comes out of there. The group was split on whether Turkey would be involved, but said Turkey would be pretty critical to the mission to base stuff out of there. EVen if Turkey had a poltiical problem with Cyprus, they said there is no way the Brits and the French wouldn’t use Cyprus as their main air force base. Air Force Intel guy seems pretty convinced that the Turks won’t participate (he seemed pretty pissed at them.)

There still seems to be a lot of confusion over what a military intervention involving an air campaign would be designed to achieve. It isn’t clear cut for them geographically like in Libya, and you can’t just create an NFZ over Homs, Hama region. This would entail a countrywide SEAD campaign lasting the duration of the war. They dont believe air intervention would happen unless there was enough media attention on a massacre, like the Ghadafi move against Benghazi. They think the US would have a high tolerance for killings as long as it doesn’t reach that very public stage. Theyre also questiioning the skills of the Syrian force that are operating the country’s air defenses currently and how signfiicant the Iranian presence is there. Air Force Intel guy is most obsessed with the challenge of taking out Syria’s ballistic missile capabilities and chem weapons. With Israel rgiht there and the regime facing an existential crisis, he sees that as a major complication to any military intervention.

The post 2011 SOFA with Iraq is still being negotiated. These guys were hoping that during Biden’s visit that he would announce a deal with Maliki, but no such luck. They are gambling ont he idea that the Iraqis remember the iran-iraq war and that maliki is not going to want to face the threat of Iranian jets entering Iraqi air space. THey say that most US fighter jets are already out of Iraq and transferred to Kuwait. They explained that’s the beauty of the air force, the base in Kuwait is just a hop, skip and jump away from their bases in Europe, ie. very easy to rapidly build up when they need to. They don’t seem concerned about the US ability to restructure its forces to send a message to Iran. They gave the example of the USS Enterprise that was supposed to be out of commission already and got extended another couple years to send to the gulf. WHen the US withdraws, we’ll have at least 2 carriers in the gulf out of centcom and one carrier in the Med out of EuCom. I asked if the build-up in Kuwait and the carrier deployments are going to be enough to send a message to Iran that the US isn’t going anywhere. They responded that Iran will get the message if they read the Centcom Web Site. STarting Jan. 1 expect them to be publishing all over the place where the US is
building up.

Another concern they have about an operation in Syria is whether Iran could impede operations out of Balad air force base in Iraq.

The French representative was of the opinion that Syria won’t be a libya-type situation in that France would be gung-ho about going in. Not in an election year. The UK rep also emphasized UK reluctance but said that the renegotiation of the EU treaty undermines the UK role and that UK would be looking for ways to reassert itself on the continent ( i dont really think a syria campaign is the way to do that.) UK guy mentioned as an aside that the air force base commander at Cyprus got switched out from a maintenance guy to a guy that flew Raptors, ie someone that understands what it means to start dropping bombs. He joked that it was probably a coincidence.

Prior to that, I had a meeting with an incoming Kuwaiti diplomat (will be coded as KU301.) His father was high up in the regime, always by the CP’s/PM’s side. The diplo himself still seems to be getting his feet wet in DC (the new team just arrived less than 2 weeks ago,) but he made pretty clear that Kuwait was opening the door to allowing US to build up forces as needed. THey already have a significant presence there, and a lot of them will be on 90-day rotations. He also said that the SOFA that the US signs with Baghdad at the last minute will be worded in such a way that even allowing one trainer in the country can be construed to mean what the US wants in terms of keeping forces in Iraq. Overall, I didnt get the impression from him that Kuwait is freaked out about the US leaving. Everyhting is just getting rearranged. The Kuwaitis used to be much better at managing their relations with Iran, but ever since that spy ring story came out a year ago, it’s been bad. He doesn’t think Iran has significant covert capabililiteis in the GCC states, though they are trying. Iranian activity is mostly propaganda focused. He said that while KSA and Bahrain they can deal with it as needed and black out the media, Kuwait is a lot more open and thus provides Iran with more oppotunity to shape perceptions (he used to work in inforamtion unit in Kuwait.) He says there is a sig number of kuwaitis that listen to Iranian media like Al Alam especially.

On the Kuwaiti political scene – the government is having a harder time dealing with a more emboldened opposition, but the opposition is still extremely divided, esp among the Islamists. The MPs now all have to go back to their tribes to rally support for the elections to take place in Feb. Oftentimes an MP in Kuwait city will find out that he has lost support back home with the tribe, and so a lot of moeny is handed out.The govt is hoping that witha clean slate they can quiet the opposition down. A good way of managing the opposition he said is to refer cases to the courts, where they can linger forever. good way for the govt to buy time.

He doesnt believe the Arab League will take significant action against Syria – no one is interested in military intervention. they just say it to threaten it.

Now, let us go back to reality. For some, the war is happening due to a purported email from Britham Defense which some say was planted. However, as Land Destroyer wrote,

Documents allegedly “hacked” belonging to UK-based defense contractor Britam (official website here) appear to show the company considering an offer from Qatar to use Libyan chemical weapons in Homs, Syria in order to frame both the Syrian and Russian governments…It should be remembered that this is not confirmed – and there is most likely no way that it can ever be confirmed. However…every potential piece of evidence should be taken seriously…Mention of acquiring chemical weapons from Libya is particularly troubling….Since then, Libya’s militants led by commanders of Al Qaeda’s Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) have armed sectarian extremists across the Arab World, from as far West as Mali, to as far East as Syria. In addition to small arms, heavier weapons are also making their way through this extensive network…Clearly NATO intervention in Libya has left a vast, devastating arsenal in the hands of sectarian extremists…It cannot be said for certain whether the e-mail allegedly sent by Britam is genuine, but the West is openly subverting Syria through the funding and arming of terrorists from across the Arab World.”

This quote is emperically true as the U.S. funneling weapons to rebels through Qatar as noted here and here. In fact, the US officially said it was arming the rebels back in June (it has been doing it covertly before this). Also the US has been covertly training rebels since 2011! Russia has said it opposes this, saying it runs afoul of international law. As PJ Crowley said on twitter, the “U.S. decided weeks ago to arm the #Syrian opposition, but linking it to chemical weapons use stirs the ghosts of #Iraq. Unfair but there.” But, why would the “West” engage in such an action? Lee Sustar writes in Socialist Worker that “the U.S. objective is to contain and roll back the democratic revolutions of the Arab Spring…What U.S. politicians and the Pentagon fear most is that the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war would mean they could be used against Syria’s neighbor–and the chief U.S. ally in the region–Israel…U.S. policymakers, however, are not only worried about al-Qaeda-linked jihadists taking power. They’re also concerned that the revolutionary movement, the Local Coordination Committees (LCC), will bring to power a popular democratic government in the wake of Assad…But Kerry lacks credibility when it comes to speaking out against the savagery of the Assad regime. As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he made outreach to Syria a personal project…While Western imperialist powers and their regional allies might like to see Assad go, they are willing to tolerate his rule for now in order to foreclose the possibility of revolutionary change in Syria.” Let us not forget that Kerry said that he admirers Assad and thinks of him as a friend over a year ago! (see here and here) As Vijay Pershad noted on The Real News Network, the war is not for a humanitarian purpose, but “as an enormously productive opportunity to weaken Iran” which he says is And “a very silly, very myopic approach, because what this so-called anti-Iranian policy in Syria is going to lead to is an increased sectarianism of the Middle East, you know, making the conflicts in the Middle East about Shia-Sunni.”

This passage by Yusef Khalif in the Socialist Worker is very relevant:

“It would be very easy in a presentation on U.S. imperialism in the Middle East to state that the U.S. and NATO are fueling a civil war in Syria by arming the rebels, and that they are lying about the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons as a fig leaf for foreign intervention…I think that’s a simplistic view that doesn’t accurately represent what’s happening…In the last two years, the Syrian people have risen up against Syria’s dictatorial President Bashar al-Assad and the 40-year rule of his family…Instead, we need to view the Arab Spring as part of the global crisis of capitalism, which in the Arab countries was precipitated by a very rapid adoption of neoliberal economic policies…We are also anti-imperialists and are opposed to U.S. bullying, invasions and occupations in the Middle East, but that doesn’t mean we can wash our hands of the Syrian people simply because Washington is determined to interfere in their uprising…The Brotherhood is trying to co-opt the revolution and also frame it as a religious fight between Sunnis and Shiites…Also alarming is the overt sectarianism and call for Egyptian Sunni militants to go fight in Syria, despite repeated announcements by Syrian revolutionaries in the last two years that they don’t need or want foreign fighters…Faced with these circumstances, the revolutionary left in Syria is aiming to bring the mass, civil, “unarmed” movement out of the shadows in order to unite it under popular control with the armed resistance.”-

Washington’s Blog wrote in October 2012 an analysis that was very different, but still exposing the truth: that wars in the Mideast are as much about gas as oil, specifically noting the following about Syria [I bolded important sections]:

“You might ask why there is so much focus on Syria right now…Syria is an integral part of the proposed 1,200km Arab Gas Pipeline…attacking Syria weakens its close allies Iran and Russia… and indirectly China…Syria’s central role in the Arab gas pipeline is also a key to why it is now being targeted. Just as the Taliban was scheduled for removal after they demanded too much in return for the Unocal pipeline, Syria’s Assad is being targeted because he is not a reliable “player”….Turkey, Israel and…the U.S. want an assured flow of gas through Syria, and don’t want a Syrian regime which is not unquestionably loyal to those 3 countries to stand in the way of the pipeline … or which demands too big a cut of the profits. A deal has also been inked to run a natural gas pipeline from Iran’s giant South Pars field through Iraq and Syria (with a possible extension to Lebanon). And a deal to run petroleum from Iraq’s Kirkuk oil field to the Syrian port of Banias has also been approved…Turkey and Israel would be cut out of these competing pipelines.”

But even if you don’t take their word for it. Just look at the evidence. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the Arab Gas Pipeline [important sections bolded]:

“The Arab Gas Pipeline is a natural gas pipeline in the Middle East. It exports Egyptian natural gas to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, with a branch underwater pipeline to Israel…By spring 2013 the pipeline returned to continuous operation, however, due to persistent natural gas shortages in Egypt, the gas supply to Israel was suspended indefinitely while the supply to Jordan was resumed…The Arish–Ashkelon pipeline is a 100 kilometres (62 mi) submarine gas pipeline connecting the Arab Gas Pipeline with Israel…Following the removal of Hosni Mubarak as head of state, and a perceived souring of ties between the two states, the standing agreement fell into disarray. According to Mohamed Shoeb, the head of the state-owned EGAS, the “decision we took was economic and not politically motivated. We canceled the gas agreement with Israel because they have failed to meet payment deadlines in recent months.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said that according to him the cancellation was not “something that is born out of political developments.” However, Shaul Mofaz said that the cancellation was “a new low in the relations between the countries and a clear violation of the peace treaty.”…In September 2004, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon agreed to connect the Arab Gas Pipeline with Iraq’s gas grid to allow Iraq to export gas to Europe.”

Dmitry Minin wrote a great article about this subject on Global Research Center in June:

“A battle is raging over whether pipelines will go toward Europe from east to west, from Iran and Iraq to the Mediterranean coast of Syria, or take a more northbound route from Qatar and Saudi Arabia via Syria and Turkey. Having realized that the stalled Nabucco pipeline, and indeed the entire Southern Corridor, are backed up only by Azerbaijan’s reserves and can never equal Russian supplies to Europe or thwart the construction of the South Stream, the West is in a hurry to replace them with resources from the Persian Gulf. Syria ends up being a key link in this chain, and it leans in favor of Iran and Russia; thus it was decided in the Western capitals that its regime needs to change. The fight for «democracy» is a false flag thrown out to cover up totally different aims. It is not difficult to notice that the rebellion in Syria began to grow two years ago, almost at the same time as the signing of a memorandum in Bushehr on June 25, 2011 regarding the construction of a new Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline…This pipeline, dubbed the «Islamic pipeline», was supposed to start operation in the period from 2014 to 2016. Its projected capacity is 110 million cubic meters of gas per day (40 billion cubic meters a year). Iraq, Syria and Lebanon have already declared their need for Iranian gas…Experts believe that this project could be an alternative to the Nabucco gas pipeline being promoted by the European Union…A gas pipeline from Iran would be highly profitable for Syria. Europe would gain from it as well, but clearly someone in the West didn’t like it…The Sunnite countries also see the Islamic Pipeline from the viewpoint of interconfessional contradictions, considering it a Shiite pipeline from Shiite Iran through the territory of Iraq with its Shiite majority and into the territory of Shiite-friendly Alawite Asad…In fact, Qatar is doing all it can to thwart the construction of the pipeline, including arming the «opposition» fighters in Syria, many of whom come from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Libya…Qatar’s resolve is fed by the discovery by Syrian geological exploration companies in 2011 of Syria’s own large gas-producing area near the Lebanese border, not far from the Mediterranean port of Tartus which Russia leases, and the detection of a significant gas field near Homs…The Arabic newspaper Al-Akhbar cites information according to which there is a plan approved by the U.S. government to create a new pipeline for transporting gas from Qatar to Europe involving Turkey and Israel…This new pipeline is to begin in Qatar, cross Saudi territory and then the territory of Jordan, thus bypassing Shiite Iraq, and reach Syria. Near Homs the pipeline is to branch in three directions: to Latakia, Tripoli in northern Lebanon, and Turkey. Homs, where there are also hydrocarbon reserves, is the project’s main crossroads, and it is not surprising that it is in the vicinity of this city and its «key», Al-Qusayr, that the fiercest fighting is taking place…The war against Syria is aimed at pushing this project through, as well as at the breakdown of the agreement between Tehran, Baghdad and Damascus. Its implementation has been halted several times due to military action, but in February 2013 Iraq declared its readiness to sign a framework agreement which would enable the construction of the pipeline…As for civilization and justice, when profit is at stake, sentiment doesn’t matter. The main thing is not to play the wrong card in this unfair game that smells of blood and gas.”

There have some interesting articles recently highlighting the connection of oil to the conflict in Syria, one of which is by Dr. Stanly Johny:

“What the West is planning is a massive attack. Because they know Assad is not Moammer Gadhafi. Assad is not Saddam Hussein either. Both Gadhafi of Libya and Hussein of Iraq were leaders of isolated countries. Though countries like Russia raised concerns over the Iraq and Libyan wars in the UN, they did not interfere in Western plans. But Syria is embedded in a strong alliance in the region and any attack on that country has the potential to spread the crisis beyond its borders. Market speculators know this better than the policy makers in the West. Ever since the Western talk on Syria hardened, crude oil prices jumped new highs in the international markets. On Wednesday (August 19), Benchmark Brent crude oil rose 1.5% in London to settle at $116 a barrel, a six-month high. Analysts say it could go up to $140 a barrel if supply lines are broken due to the war. Waves of fears reached even Indian shores where domestic currency plummeted on, among other factors, fears of worsening the macroeconomic scene in the wake of a further jump in oil prices. Indian currency saw the sharpest fall in 22 years on August 29 to close at 68.8 against a dollar. Syria is not a major oil producer. But it sits in a strategically important region and its greatest ally is Iran, a key member in the oil cartel, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Iran has already warned against any military intervention in Syria. There were reports that the Revolutionary Guards of Iran were already present in Syria’s battlefields. Iran knows what’s at stake. So is Russia, whose only naval base outside its sphere of influence (former Soviet republics) is in Syria–the Tartus base on the Mediterranean Sea. For the Hezbolla, any attempt to unseat the Assad regime in Damascus is an extistential threat. Becasue, once Assad is gone and supply lines from Iran is broken, Israel could target Hezbollah again. So, a war on Syria could soon conflagrate into a regional war, whose ramifications will be beyond one’s imagination.”

In The Guardian, Nafeez Ahmad wrote that:

“The 2011 uprisings, it would seem – triggered by a confluence of domestic energy shortages and climate-induced droughts which led to massive food price hikes – came at an opportune moment that was quickly exploited. Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.” So what was this unfolding strategy to undermine Syria and Iran all about? According to retired NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark, a memo from the Office of the US Secretary of Defense just a few weeks after 9/11 revealed plans to “attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years”, starting with Iraq and moving on to “Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.” In a subsequent interview, Clark argues that this strategy is fundamentally about control of the region’s vast oil and gas resources.  Much of the strategy currently at play was candidly described in a 2008 US Army-funded RAND report, Unfolding the Future of the Long War (pdf). The report noted that “the economies of the industrialized states will continue to rely heavily on oil, thus making it a strategically important resource.” As most oil will be produced in the Middle East, the US has “motive for maintaining stability in and good relations with Middle Eastern states”…In this context, the report identified several potential trajectories for regional policy focused on protecting access to Gulf oil supplies…Exploring different scenarios for this trajectory, the report speculated that the US may concentrate “on shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan as a way of containing Iranian power and influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.” Noting that this could actually empower al-Qaeda jihadists, the report concluded that doing so might work in western interests by bogging down jihadi activity with internal sectarian rivalry rather than targeting the US…The RAND document contextualised this disturbing strategy with surprisingly prescient recognition of the increasing vulnerability of the US’s key allies and enemies – Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Egypt, Syria, Iran – to a range of converging crises: rapidly rising populations, a ‘youth bulge’, internal economic inequalities, political frustrations, sectarian tensions, and environmentally-linked water shortages, all of which could destabilise these countries from within or exacerbate inter-state conflicts…it illustrates that three years before the 2011 uprisings, US defence officials were alive to the region’s growing instabilities, and concerned by the potential consequences for stability of Gulf oil. These strategic concerns, motivated by fear of expanding Iranian influence, impacted Syria primarily in relation to pipeline geopolitics. In 2009 – the same year former French foreign minister Dumas alleges the British began planning operations in Syria – Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar that would run a pipeline from the latter’s North field, contiguous with Iran’s South Pars field, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets – albeit crucially bypassing Russia. Assad’s rationale was “to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas.” Instead, the following year, Assad pursued negotiations for an alternative $10 billion pipeline plan with Iran, across Iraq to Syria, that would also potentially allow Iran to supply gas to Europe from its South Pars field shared with Qatar…The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline plan was a “direct slap in the face” to Qatar’s plans…It would seem that contradictory self-serving Saudi and Qatari oil interests are pulling the strings of an equally self-serving oil-focused US policy in Syria, if not the wider region. It is this – the problem of establishing a pliable opposition which the US and its oil allies feel confident will play ball, pipeline-style, in a post-Assad Syria – that will determine the nature of any prospective intervention: not concern for Syrian life.”

An interesting article in the International Business Times by David Kashi highlights oil & gas in Syria [my emphasis]:

As the situation in Syria deteriorates with a threatened U.S. airstrike over President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons, the Damascus regime still controls one of the largest conventional hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Syria possessed 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil as of January 2013, which makes it the largest proved reserve of crude oil in the eastern Mediterranean according to the Oil & Gas Journal estimate. But after two and a half years of war, exploration is at a standstill since international oil companies once operating in Syria have abandoned their operations as the violence escalates and sanctions target Syria’s energy sector. Russia, the chief backer of the Assad regime, is the only remaining international partner still helping develop Syria’s oil and gas resources in the past year. A Congressional Research Service report found that Syria was still in discussion with Russia and China over offshore exploration in April, but few details are known. Syria also has oil shale resources with estimated reserves that range as high as 50 billion tons, according to a Syrian government source in 2010. This may explain one of the reason’s Russia has a huge stake in Damascus as its state-owned energy companies have been profiting off the despotic Assad regime. In a recent interview, Assad said, “From a purely economic perspective, there are several agreements between Syria and Russia for various goods and materials. As for a loan from Russia, this should be viewed as beneficial to both parties; for Russia it is an opportunity for its national industries and companies to expand into new markets.” U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, in a testimony to Congress in March, said Russia’s support for Assad includes selling Syrian oil on world markets.

He said almost the same thing in an interview with The Real News Network:

“Well, the reason I think that chemical weapons is unlikely to be, you know, a main kind of primary motive, or even the issue of humanitarianism, is because the policy of–this policy of sidelining Syria or undermining Syria or even regime change in Syria began over seven years ago with the previous administration. And, in fact, it may even go back longer. I mean, I think the first indication that we had came from Wesley Clark, who was, you know, former NATO supreme allied commander, who has said several years ago that shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a colleague of his told him about a memo talking about multiple wars in the Middle East after Iraq, including Iran, Libya, and Syria. And so this was one of the first indications that there was actually a plan [incompr.] in the region, including Syria specifically. Subsequently, we had evidence that some kind of operations, covert operations were underway to actually move toward some kind of agitation in Syria. You know, we had–the State Department had a so-called policy group known as the Iraq-Syria operations group that was running various kinds of operations to do with, you know, financial issues, sanctions, as well as more kind of worrying black-budget type operations. That was followed up by with–you know, we had further reporting by people like Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker and others, as well as presidential findings, that revealed that actually there were concrete covert operations being carried out by the CIA, by the Pentagon as well, and that these operations were designed to destabilize the various powers linked to Iran, including Syria. And regime change was discussed as a component of these policies. So it’s clear that the policy in the first place came about–you know, was more influenced by chemical weapons attacks. And this policy of targeting Syria had already began many years ago and has reached this point where, you know, the uprising that is taking place–and it’s a very real uprising–it’s–you know, the people are very–Assad is a brutal dictator. But what’s happening now is that that is being exploited by Britain, the United States, in order to pursue interests that have already been there many years ago. And I think that these interests are–there’s a number of interests, but these are linked into various plans for pipeline reserve. It’s important to member that Syria itself doesn’t have very substantial oil and gas reserves domestically, but it could play a very big role as a potential transit route for shipping oil and gas, specifically gas, to various markets. And there is competition to control the role of Syria in this. And this competition primarily has been playing out between Qatar, which is currently heavily involved in the conflict in Syria, financing rebels, financing virulent elements of the rebel forces linked to al-Qaeda, Islamist extremist rebels–Qatar is heavily involved. And what’s very interesting is that in 2009, Qatar had a proposal on the table to basically have a pipeline that would run through Saudi Arabia. It would run from Qatar’s own gas fields in the North. It would run through Saudi Arabia, it would run through Syria, it would go to Turkey, and it would end up essentially supplying European markets gas. Now, Assad declined this pipeline project because he felt that it would endanger his relationship with Russia, because the pipeline was designed to bypass Russia. He instead signed a deal where–a year later for an alternative pipeline with Iran. And this pipeline project would involve Iran teaming up with Iraq, another Shia state, that would supply gas being shipped through Syria. The Russian port of Tartus in Syria would also play a role in transporting the gas. So that’s how Russia was amenable to this. And eventually this would also end up supplying gas to Lebanon. And potentially the pipeline could be extended to supply European markets as well. So essentially we have this competition between these two pipelines, one of them backed by Iran, one of them backed by Qatar. And I think this was a very, very central issue in determining why it is that the United States, the U.K. would feel that Assad was a liability. And it just fell into this overall strategy of sidelining Iran, sidelining Syria. If this pipeline, pro-Iran pipeline would had gone ahead, you know, it could have really been a game changer for Iran, would have really dramatically increased its influence on the world stage. But this couldn’t be allowed. So I think this certainly has played a major role in what we’re seeing…But it would be naive to assume that we did not play a role in kind of pushing this conflict further. I mean, we continue to do that. It’s–unfortunately, here we can see that the goal of the United States and the United Kingdom isn’t really alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people, unfortunately. The goal is very much about these geopolitical interests, about making sure that we can secure the right kind of regime in the aftermath. And this is why, you know, there has been this back and forth [incompr.] I mean, there’s a very interesting statement in some of those emails from Stratfor which I mentioned where we have a description of the Pentagon officials saying that basically the United States has a very high tolerance for killing in Syria and that they’ll only consider an intervention in the event of a very public massacre which enters the media. And it certainly seems that the chemical weapon attack played this role and has triggered the interest in exploiting public sentiment for an intervention.”

Another article highlighting this subject was by Jason Hirthler in CounterPunch as well [bolding is my emphasis]:

“If the entire Arab world is a flaming midden whose only functional entities are oil derricks, what cause for concern is that to our imperial chieftains? Let the Islamists slaughter each other on the peripheries of the bonfire while we vacuum every ounce of natural gas and petroleum from the core of the earth…But, in the end, the oil and gas will be ours, and in Washington, that’s all that matters.”

Let us also not forget that, Saudi Arabia offered Russia a secret oil deal if it backed away from Assad’s regime (!) Also, it must be noted that in April 2012, Geo Tv reported that despite sanctions on Syria, their allies (Russia and Iran) continued to send oil:

“Syria received regular shipments of Russian gasoil and diesel over the winter and, despite Moscow’s diplomatic support for demands that the government stop its attacks and pull back its forces, Russia sent another delivery this month…The fuel sent by Russia, known as gasoil, can be marketed as diesel used for Syrian army tanks and heavy commercial vehicles, or as heating oil…The latest delivery of Russian fuel reached Banias in Syria from the port of Novorossiisk early this month, aboard the Liberia-flagged tanker Cape Benat…An Iranian vessel completed an exchange this week in which it delivered around 32,000 tonnes of gasoil to Syria and returned to Iran with about 33,000 tonnes of gasoline.”

 

Countering the warmongers

“The CIA led a 1953 coup in Iran to overthrow the elected PM and in the 80s helped Saddam gas Iran. Think only extremists are anti-American?”- James Wheeler on twitter

“There really hasn’t been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation.”- The infamous Donald Rumsfeld expressing his doubts of a war in Syria

“On Wednesday, the Foreign Policy Initiative—which was started by Bill Kristol, Dan Senor, Robert Kagan, and other hawkish-minded policy wonks—sent a letter to Obama, urging him to slam Assad in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria: “At a minimum, the United States, along with willing allies and partners, should use standoff weapons and airpower to target the Syrian dictatorship’s military units that were involved in the recent large-scale use of chemical weapons.” But the letter—which was signed by Elliott Abrams, Fouad Ajami, Max Boot, Ellen Bork, Eliot Cohen, Douglas Feith, Joseph Lieberman, Clifford May, Joshua Muravchik, Danielle Pletka, Karl Rove, Randy Scheunemann, Kristol, Kagan, Senor, and dozens of others—demands that Obama go further. It calls on the president to provide “vetted moderate elements of Syria’s armed opposition” with the military support necessary to strike regime units armed with chemical weapons. That is, the neocons and their allies have CW-ized their pre-existing demand for the United States to arm the rebels.”- David Corn of Mother Jones

There are many warmongers including:

  1. Fake socialist Francois Hollande
  2. Dianne “NSA-lover” Feinstein
  3. Kelly Ayotte
  4. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
  5. John Cornyn [under certain circumstances]
  6. Elizabeth Warren [maybe]
  7. Marco Rubio [under certain circumstances]
  8. Germany’s government [under certain circumstances]
  9. Eliot Engel
  10. Eugene Robinson
  11. The Israeli Government
  12. The editorial boards of the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Bloomberg News, Chicago Tribune, and Christian Science Monitor
  13. Murdoch-owned New York Post
  14. Former Executive Editor of the New York Times Bill Keller
  15. Neoliberal-lover Thomas Friedman
  16. Liberal professor Anne Marie-Slaughter
  17. Haaretz Columnist Gideon Levy
  18. Bob Corker “and a plug ‘em” [a play off 'cork 'em and plug 'em]
  19. Lindsey “world is a battlefield” Graham
  20. Van Jones (of 350.org) and Ricken Patel of 350.org & Avaaz according to Cory Morningstar
  21. Nancy “no impeachment” Pelosi
  22. Neo-con William Kristol who is the current editor of The Weekly Standard (he also founded the publication)
  23. Matt Continetti of the Free Beacon
  24. Bill Scher of The Week
  25. Michael Crowley of Time Magazine [I think]
  26. Roger Cohen
  27. Charles Krauthammer [under certain circumstances]
  28. Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum [under certain circumstances]
  29. Lee Tarry [thinks Assad got chemical weapons from Saddam, huh?]
  30. Expert in “international law” Ian Hurt [wrote the most ridiculous defense of Syrian war ever: Bomb Syria, Even if Its Illegal]
  31. Neo-con Wall Street Journal writer, Bret Stephens
  32. Bill Richardson
  33. John McCain [also see this ridiculous argument]
  34. Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey [see here]
  35. Neo-con and Bush II-lover Joseph Lieberman
  36. John Cornyn
  37. Robert Menendez
  38. Chris Murphy
  39. Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand [under certain circumstances]
  40. Buck “NDAA” McKeon
  41. Carl “indefinite detention” Levin and Angus King [see here]
  42. S.E. Cupp [under certain circumstances]
  43. Former Bush Press Secretery Ari Felisher [see here]
  44. Arthur Levitt who favors a war in Syria, has said: “Americans should not degrade our leadership. A vote against the President on Syria weakens our nation in the worse possible way.”
  45. Numerous British politicians like David Cameron, Philip Hammond, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, and Lord Ashdown (see The Telegraph for details)

It seems the defenders of a military conflict have made mostly moral arguments. The original claim of chemical weapons seems to be based on what Syrian “activists” reported and based on some unnamed US official (not very reliable). The White House says they “assess with high confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons” but the evidence to support that view is paper thin. Some say that “the Democrats have devised their own version of neoconservatism” to justify the war, a policy which dates back to Bill Clinton “who first developed the approach in the Balkans and Barack Obama has made it one of his administration’s distinguishing footprints. His team contains two of the most vocal proponents of this new neoconservatism; one is Susan Rice, his national security adviser and the other is Ireland’s own Samantha Power, his UN ambassador and a figure sure to set the Dublin media slobbering with excitement when we see her urging the bombing of Syria to save Syria.” Part of this plan to bomb Syria is to set up a No-Fly Zone as was done in Libya, an imperialist war for oil. This story seems to be an Iraq redux, and just look at the statement by the deputy national security advisor for strategic communications in June and it seems to mirror some of the lies that Obama was making about Saddam before the start of the Iraq war. It seems the chemical weapons did get used, but not in the way the US says they were used (see here ). After all, lets not forget that the U.S., Britain and Israel have used chemical weapons numerous times in the last ten years and as Foreign Policy Magazine reported “a generation ago, America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks [by Saddam Hussein which] far more devastating than anything Syria has seen…The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war…But the CIA documents…combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials…show that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.” As Anthony Cordesman, a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington told the Christian Science Monitor that the claimed chemical weapons attack “will either redeem the reputation of the US government and US intelligence community or undermine it in ways that make take decades to recover from. Every error, every overstatement of fact … that does not prove out over time, will impact on US credibility indefinitely into the future.”

There is a large amount of evidence showing US officials are lying [despite the fact it is undeniable that chemical weapons were used in the conflict]:

      • [This one really tells they are lying]: Mint Press wrote that “as the machinery for a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria gathers pace following last week’s chemical weapons attack, the U.S. and its allies may be targeting the wrong culprit…from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack…Ghouta townspeople said the rebels were using mosques and private houses to sleep while storing their weapons in tunnels…A well-known rebel leader in Ghouta named ‘J’ agreed. “Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other rebels, except with fighting on the ground. They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material,” he said. “We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” ‘J’ said…More than a dozen rebels interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government”
      • numerous chemical weapons experts have said they were skeptical of “U.S. claims that the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad had used the nerve agent sarin against rebels on at least four occasions this spring”
      • diplomats and experts say that the claims that Assad used chemical weapons are shaky
      • a member of the UN weapon inspector team said that there was “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof” that rebels opposed to Assad used chemical weapons
      • Recently, Syrian soldiers have entered rebel tunnels and found chemical agents [they found a similar one back in July as well]
      • Also note that Turkey found sarin gas in homes of suspected Syrian Islamists; according to the U.N. investigation the March 19th chemical weapons attack turned out to be committed by the rebels, and supposedly the FSA says they are going to use chemical weapons from now on
      • As a post in CounterCurrents [reposted from WSWS] noted, “the US claims simply ignored evidence that anti-Assad militias had chemical weapons and may have used them. Late last month, the Turkish press reported that the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front, which forms the military backbone of the anti-Assad forces, had obtained chemical weapons and was planning to use them.”
      • According to blogger Jason Gastrich on twitter, “reports weeks ago [said that] Syrian rebels likely used chemical weapons. No evidence exists of Assad’s chemical weapons.
      • “In June, a number of Syria fighters were arrested with chemical weapons
      • The British government has sent “Syrian opposition forces…£650,000 of protective equipment against chemical and biological attack”
      • Supposedly Doctors Without Borders behind Syrian chemical weapons claims are aiding terrorists (!)
      • Numerous governments and government officials have said that the US is lying about the chemical weapons. See here, here, here, here, here, here, and here
      • US Defense contractors are training rebels to use chemical weapons
      • The Syrian rebels, according to Voice of Russia, manufactured chemical weapons outside Damascus
      • A rebel officer told The Independent, “…we haven’t seen many chemical weapons either. Assad doesn’t need to use them, he is killing enough with his tanks and planes. We need missiles to fight that, and that is what the Americans and Europeans are not giving us.”
      • Peter Cockburn told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! that “What’s extraordinary is, you know, as we’ve just heard, that this—the area is sealed off and is being bombarded with artillery. Why should they suddenly shift to chemical weapons, which is to kill people, when this is the one thing most likely to lead to a foreign intervention? That seems pretty extraordinary…Well, you know, what is the main fear of the government? It is foreign intervention. Otherwise, there’s a stalemate, but the government in a pretty strong position because it controls most of the—almost all the 13 out of 14 of the provincial capitals of Syria. What is the main objective of the opposition is to attract foreign intervention. That’s a reason for the skepticism, or why people look at all these YouTube film of these terrible events and are skeptical and need proof. It’s also true that there’s a sort of YouTube war that’s been going on, and so people are probably less convinced by YouTube evidence than they would have been two years ago, because they’ve been—so many have been manipulated. As I said, this doesn’t mean that it’s happened in this case, but it does explain the skepticism outside.”
      • US Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine that [bolding is my emphasis] “We don’t have a chain of ownership. We don’t know for certain whether they were used by some of the opposition, including the radicals who have aligned themselves with Al-Qaeda. It’s probable, but we don’t know for certain, that they were used by the regimeWith all the credibility we’ve gained in the world, we don’t want to blow it like the last administration did in Iraq, saying ‘weapons of mass destruction, We know that there have been traces found of what are probably chemical weapons. What we don’t know yet – and we’re drilling down on it as hard as we can – is whether they were accidentally released in an exchange of gunfire or artillery fire, or blown up or something.” [this shows that previous officials who said proof was iron-clad are lying, and officials that are saying it now are also lying]
      • According to AP: “the intelligence linking Syrian President Bashar Assad or his inner circle to an alleged chemical weapons attack is no “slam dunk,” with questions remaining about who actually controls some of Syria’s chemical weapons stores and doubts about whether Assad himself ordered the strike”
      • Syria has asked the UN to investigate THREE NEW chemical weapons strikes 
      • Dan Kaszeta writes that I believe that it is likely that this was a deliberate attack, not some strange accident. I think that there are multiple hypotheses about who may have perpetrated this attack…the Damascus-area attacks probably were not caused by Sarin or
        another of the “nerve agent” family of chemical warfare agents [because] yhe number of people affected indicates to me that whatever toxic substance was used, a large volume of material is needed…Sarin and the other nerve agents are liquids at room temperature. Nerve agents
        pose a strong contamination hazard. They soak into soil and clothing. It seems unlikely that a large number of people were affected without a number of them being exposed to agent in liquid form, contaminating skin, hair, and/or clothing to some extent…Available military manuals tell me that Sarin vapors can be trapped in clothing…In the videos, people are standing around both the dead and injured. Medical
        providers, both professional and obvious amateurs are handling injured people and their clothing, with no protective equipment. Many dead bodies are handled with no gloves. If some of the dead and injured were contaminated with even minute amounts of nerve agent, other people would be getting ill very quickly…Nerve agents, such as sarin, have cumulative effects. In other words, low level doses over a period of
        time can have the same effects as a larger acute dose. However, more information about is needed to be able to form a conclusion…In many of the videos, water is used for decontamination of skin and eyes. In some cases clothing is removed. But the clothing and water is left on the floor and many people are seen walking in the water and stepping on the clothing. This tells me one of the following is likely to be the case, all of which lead away from nerve agents, not towards nerve agents as a cause…The most prevalent and obvious symptoms seem to be difficulty breathing, respiratory irritation, and irritation to the eyes. While indeed very serious, these symptoms in themselves are very generic and can be caused by literally thousands of possible toxic chemicals…Some, but not all of the signs and symptoms of nerve agent poisoning are
        present…There is still no firm, conclusive evidence as to what the exact method of dissemination was responsible for dispersal of the mystery toxic substance…It is obvious to me that something of a chemical nature caused this terrible incident. But there are many possible explanations…The most useful theory that I have at this point is use of a toxic industrial chemical. There are many chemicals used in commerce and industry that are just as dangerous as military chemical warfare agents…One plausible explanation for the wide variety of signs, symptoms, and witness accounts may be that a variety of chemical substances were used.” [this was also talked about in an Examiner article as well]
      • On September 1st, the Daily Record wrote that: “BRITAIN allowed firms to sell chemicals to Syria capable of being used to make nerve gas, the Sunday Mail can reveal today. Export licences for potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride were granted months after the bloody civil war in the Middle East began.The chemical is capable of being used to make weapons such as sarin, thought to be the nerve gas used in the attack on a rebel-held Damascus suburb which killed nearly 1500 people, including 426 children, 10 days ago…Mark Bitel of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (Scotland) said: “The UK Government claims to have an ethical policy on arms exports, but when it comes down to practice the reality is very different. The Government is hypocritical to talk about chemical weapons if it’s granting licences to companies to export to regimes such as Syria. We saw David Cameron, in the wake of the Arab Spring, rushing off to the Middle East with arms companies to promote business…It could take up to two weeks for the results of tests on samples taken from victims of the attack, as well as from water, soil and shrapnel, to be revealed.”
      • The regime in Syria … has chemical weapons, but they wouldn’t use them around Damascus, 5km from the [UN] committee which is investigating chemical weapons. Of course they are not so stupid as to do so…some other sides who want to blame the Syrian regime, who want to show them as guilty and then see action [and want a chemical attack]…Who is the side who would be punished? Are they are going to punish the emir of Qatar or the king of Saudi Arabia, or Mr Erdogan of Turkey?”- Saleh Muslim, head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party

This doesn’t get any better when you consider a Congressional Research Report saying that:

“The use or loss of control of chemical weapons stocks in Syria could have unpredictable consequences for the Syrian population and neighboring countries as well as U.S. allies and forces in the region…While the United States and other governments have said they believe the Asad regime has kept its chemical weapons stocks secure, policymakers are concerned about what could happen to these weapons in the course of the civil war, such as diversion to terrorist groups or loss of control during a regime collapse…Syria has said that its ratification of the CWC (and BWC) is contingent on establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Mu’allim stated during a July 29, 2012, press conference that Damascus supports the establishment of such a zone…The Syrian case may be the first time the international community faces the possibility of a civil war in a state with a known stockpile of chemical weapons. Due to the urgency of preventing access to these weapons by unauthorized groups including terrorists, the United States government has been preparing to secure the weapons in the event of the Asad regime’s loss of control.”

But disproving these is the least of our problems (in fact already 250,000 Palestinians have been displaced) but rather that this war may lead to WWIII or a regional conflict. As American libertarian Justin Raimondo said on Antiwar.com that:

“They might start by accurately characterizing the “rebels” as terrorists, the lot of them either formally affiliated with Al Qaeda – remember those folks who brought down the twin towers and breached the Pentagon?…The allegedly “secular” groups we are supposed to be aiding aren’t exactly Unitarians, and, aside from that, they’re not a real presence on the battlefield. They merely serve as mouthpieces for the real hub of Syria’s emerging Islamist state – the numerous autonomous “commanders” of the various Islamist militias currently rampaging through half of Syria, killing Christians, looting and murdering their way across the countryside…Yet the administration may be willing to take heat on this front rather than on another potentially far more disastrous front: the NSA scandal that is unraveling the credibility of this White House at Weiner-like speed…Even the President’s most ardent defenders are having a hard time standing up for their guy, who, instead of embodying Lincoln and FDR, as his cultists insist, stands revealed as an unholy hybrid of LBJ and Richard Nixon…So, sure, the idea of going to war in Syria is unpopular, but widespread post-Iraq aversion to intervention didn’t stop him in Libya. If you add in all the indirect costs and benefits in purely political terms, then the interventionist argument begins to make sense: at least we won’t be talking about the latest Snowden documents and what Glenn Greenwald is reporting all the time…Several international players have sufficient clout in this country to make the President stop and think before he defies the calls by the political class to “do something” about Syria. To begin with, the Saudis, the main arms supplier and ideological guide to the Syrian rebels, have a powerful Washington lobby, and plenty of cash to throw around. The Israelis, too, are rumored to have a bit of clout on Capitol Hill, although it’s a hate crime to say so. The Netanyahu government is strangely soft on the rebels…Israel wants a buffer between itself and a rapidly decomposing Syria: in the end, they hope, we’ll see Western “peacekeeping” troops, no doubt under UN auspices, stationed on the Syrian-Israeli border…All the political interests – including economic heavy-hitters like the “defense” industry, Big Media, the leadership of both parties, the “humanitarian” liberals and the neocon empire-builders – stand united in demanding we “punish” Assad.”

The Russian government has warned the US of a terrible war to come and the possibility for regional conflict, but the US government & its allies have ignored it.

“The Muslim Brotherhood’s influence over the insurgency cannot be stressed enough since the funding it receives from Qatar in particular “results in the Brotherhood’s monopolization of council finances and resources”…This helps explain why the Brotherhood, which officially holds only a minority of seats in the Syrian National Coalition, has managed to control two-thirds of the Supreme Military Council’s (SMC) leadership positions…Indeed the SMC’s Chief of Staff General Salim Idris has already indicated a willingness to work with Islamists thus implying there’s no ideological inconsistency between the goals of the various rebel factions. Idris also admitted that 50 percent of the rebels are Islamists…which is likely a gross underestimate since prior attempts to sideline the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra as the bad rebels were met with a united declaration by 29 FSA groups who declared “we are all al-Nusra!”…thus demonstrating the popularity of the “extremists” and their ideology….Although Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have done most of the heavy lifting in funding the insurgency, there is much to suggest U.S. policy makers planned this proxy war for at least a decade prior…the U.S. doesn’t always achieve its desired objectives, a prime example being the invasion Iraq, which was supposed to regain control over an important oil producer, but since Saddam Hussein’s enemies were the natural allies of Iran, Iraq has for many years been shifting towards the Iranian sphere of influence…Toppling the Syrian government, often referred to as Iran’s closest ally, appears to be the primary motivation for the United States…Although Syria is not a major oil producer, one explanation in particular that deserves careful consideration as to why Syria is being targeted relates to the discovery in 2007 of the world’s largest known natural gas reserves in the Persian Gulf, which was subsequently shared between Iran and Qatar. Iran then launched the PARS Pipeline project, which involved building a pipeline from the Persian Gulf, through Iraq, and ending on Syria’s Mediterranean coast.”- Jay Tharappel

When the Israelis bombed Syria earlier this year, there was some question if this could turn into a wider conflict. The Russian government has even said that the Syria/Iran Crisis may go nuclear, code for leading to a nuclear war (!) After all, let us not forget that CIA and Mossad both say the Iran hasn’t even made the decision to seek a nuclear weapon. This is important because:

*officially, the Iranian government denied these claims

In other words this means: A WAR IN SYRIA IS A WAR WITH IRAN. An archived post by Progressive Press makes the same point: “If the U.S. gets involved with Syria, either directly or through one of its regional allies, such as Israel or Turkey, this would push Iran to defend Syria…and this move would give the U.S. the right to attack Iran as well.” Furthermore, it is very dangerous because Russia and China are involved as well. As Washington’s Blog noted “China has warned the U.S. against attacking Syria, and Russia has reportedly moved warships into Syrian waters to defend Syria from a U.S. attack.” At the same time, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin has said [bolded parts emphasized]:

“Iran is our close neighbor, just south of the Caucasus. Should anything happen to Iran, should Iran get drawn into any political or military hardships, this will be a direct threat to our national security.The example of Libya should have cooled everybody down in matters dealing with foreign civil wars. Syria must be left alone and the sides to the conflict must be assisted in breaking the stand-off and starting negotiations. No one must interfere with Syria. This is dangerous. If we add the escalating tensions around Iran to the situation in Syria and the consequences of the Libyan war, then the upcoming ‘scorching’ Arab Summer, which is following the Arab Spring, will hardly be to anyone’s taste. It seems strange that it is Russia who is required to show flexibility. This is not our project. If an architect is building a house, it is up to him to offer a design which would not violate property rights, area design and neighbors’ interests. So it is our US colleagues who should demonstrate miraculous flexibility to ensure that their AMD system does not violate the interests of other countries if it is to be located in Europe…I will certainly ensure Russia will give a corresponding technical response if the AMD system endangers our national interests. This will result in the American AMD being considered a waste of money.”

In an interview back in August of 2012, Iraqi political refugee and senior lecturer in sociology at London Metropolitan University Sami Ramadani told Paul Jay of The Real News Network:

“A number of issues with Russia. I think following Libya they woke up to the fact that the only Arab country left with close links to Russia is Syria. They’ve had close links with Syria for decades. They’ve been arming the Syrian army in confrontation with Israel for 50 years or so, about half a century or so. They have a military base in Tartus, the only Russian military base in the Mediterranean. Admittedly, it’s a small base, nothing like what the U.S. has in the region, but it’s a base where Russian ships can refuel and so forth. It’s a facility, a presence in the Mediterranean.Also, they understand the regional game just as well as the United States does, that if Syria goes, then Iran is the next target. And Iran is obviously on Russia’s borders, and Iran is a very strategic ally today of Russia in terms of geopolitics of the entire world, not just the region.So combine Syria and Iran and you get an overall picture where Russia feels directly threatened. Well, I mean, I take a pessimistic view that this thing could, five years, ten years down the line, lead to a world war, because if Iran gets attacked in this conflagration, then who says that Russia will not intervene, or China as well? So you are talking about a very dangerous world today, unfortunately, Paul.And one of the reasons I say this is that we also have a world capitalist economic crisis. The world capitalist economy, including the U.S. economy, is in deep crisis. And if we study history and look at history, deep, deep economic crises lead to wars. Wars seem to be an outlet for capitalist economies in deep crisis. There is almost a spontaneous tendency. It doesn’t need a lot of planning, because the industrial-military complex is massive. It’s probably the most important segment of the economy, and it has political weight to go with it. And if war means that the military-industrial complex is a bit happier, then wars they will have. And I fear that along this very dangerous contact line of Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, you are talking about an enormous potential for conflict.Absolutely. I really do, because of the surrounding regional problems and the world economic situation, and the fact Russia is regaining some of its lost power militarily, and economically their situation have improved in the last ten years, because following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia was in sixes and sevens, destabilized, very weak economy, and so on. They have picked up quite a bit.China has picked up economically and militarily. And I don’t think they today will accept a total monopolar world whereby only the United States is the dominant force, or even NATO.So you are talking about emerging countries, and they might. €”India might even jump ship and go with China, Russia. India still is in the balance. Will they feel threatened by this onward march towards war? Or will they throw their weight with NATO and maybe as a prize get Pakistan and settle the question of Kashmir? You have interlocking problems. Just one more final point there, Paul, that one of the reasons Russia is becoming intransigent on Syria is again just like my analysis about the Syrian opposition, the democratic opposition, and why the Syria regime got strangled is that the armed opposition is very closely tied to Saudi Arabia and the United States. If those ties were not as strong, then Russia is not wedded to Assad. They are wedded maybe to Syria or a Syria which is not completely allied to the United States and Saudi Arabia. So they could tolerate a regime change, but not a regime change in which the armed opposition proxies of Saudi, Qatar, Turkey, and the United States taking over…There are would be Turks, I’m sure, but not necessarily they go in as a Turkish army. There are enough Arab-speaking Turks to go in. There are Syrian nationals also who live in Turkey. There are Saudis, Qataris. Libyans, by the way, in their hundreds have gone to Turkey and they have infiltrated into Syria. You have fighters from all over the world now being called to fight a jihad war in Syria. So…according to the famous Egyptian journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, Blackwater is involved. They have 6,000 fighters whom they trained in the Emirates, Arab-speaking fighters who have been infiltrated into Syria. So you’re talking about a destabilization campaign there.I think the United States is in such a state now, a bit like in Iraq: if they cannot control it, they don’t mind seeing it destroyed. And that’s a terrible thing to say, I know. But any policymaker in Washington, it’s a dreadful thing, I know, to suggest and say that if you can’t control a place, well, let it go to hell and get it destroyed. But that’s what will happen in Syria. If they don’t get a regime to their liking, they’ll try to destroy Syrian society. And that suits an Israeli agenda as well…I think if the armed opposition stops, Assad’s position will become very precarious, very precarious, because then there will be no excuse for Assad to stay. And even the elites in Syria will say, look, we have a window here; the armed opposition have stopped because Saudis, Qataris, Turkey, and the United States will cut off supplies to them if they don’t stop; let us withdraw the tanks; let’s even get rid of Assad; you see, because this thing is a dynamic, and the dynamic at the moment is that the foreign agenda says not only topple Assad, but have a pro-U.S. regime, pro-Saudi regime in Damascus. If that agenda stays, then the Assad regime will fight to the last and the elites around him will fight with him. And the minorities will not be with the opposition, either.”

Larry Wilkerson also noted the regional implications of a war in Syria on The Real News Network:

“When you talk about Hezbollah and Iran and Russia, you have to talk about them in the same breath with Bashar al-Assad…f they’re on his side and he’s holding his own, if not winning, in this really tragic civil war, then why would he use chemical weapons and invite international intervention? This is very counterintuitive. I’m not saying that dictators don’t do stupid things, and Assad could be one of those who does stupid things, but it is just not reasonable for him to have done this [using chemical weapons]…But you just brought up an important point. This is not just a serious civil war. This is Saudi Arabia funding like mad those people fighting against Assad. This is Iraq fighting on both sides, with Maliki on one side and people like Muqtada al-Sadr on the other side. This is Turkey furiously fighting against Syria, not so much on the on the ground, as Iran is in support of Assad. But this is a whole group of people. This is Russia furnishing Assad with weapons. This is not an isolated civil war, which it is–it makes it very dangerous for the United States to think it’s just taking the side of the opposition if it should choose to intervene militarily…A few cruise missiles aimed at a red line the president ineptly laid down with regard to chemical weapons is not going to do anything except exacerbate and add and increase in violence. So this doesn’t make any sense…We’ve got a collapsing Arab Spring right now. I’d call it an Arab winter. We’ve got Egypt falling apart. We’ve got Lebanon being destabilized by the refugees in it. We’ve got Jordan looking precarious. We got Iraq, going back to civil war. This is not a time to widen this conflict and to add another state to the United States’ groups that it’s going to occupy and build democracy in. It’s preposterous to think that we can do that.”

An article by Michael Karadjis in the Socialist Worker was also very enlightening showing there are numerous countries with their own interests:

“This claim by the U.S. and Israel that they are hostile to the Islamist element in the uprising, especially the more radical elements, is not simply rhetoric; it is clearly true. However, both the U.S. and Israel are relentlessly hostile to the democratic element of the Syrian uprising as well. A genuine people’s revolution would challenge the reactionary U.S.-backed dictatorships in the region, and would be much more likely than Assad’s pliant dictatorship to challenge Israel’s 46-year occupation of its Golan territory…Thus, while two years of fighting the Assad regime did not qualify the Free Syrian Army to receive U.S. or EU arms, now that radical Islamist forces appear to be getting an upper hand in the anti-Assad rebellion, they may qualify in order to fight the Islamists. The imperialist dilemma is that by the U.S. refusing to send arms, and the EU imposing an arms embargo (which favors the massively armed Assad regime, which in any case gets loads of arms from Russia and Iran), more and more anti-Assad rebels will turn to the Islamists, as they receive arms from Saudi Arabia and Qatar and regional Islamist networks. The argument is that arms need to be sent to non-Islamist fighters to balance those received by the Islamists; the counter-arguments is that many of the arms may end up with the Islamists anyway…Many of the assertions about U.S. aid to the Syrian uprising, when examined for evidence, are nothing but reiterations of the well-known fact that the reactionary Gulf monarchies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been providing a moderate stream of arms for specific rebel groups. The fact that these two states are pro-U.S. is twisted in discussion to mean they are mere puppets of the U.S., as if they cannot have their own policies…Of course, outside the actual contest between Assad and opposition, Israel’s bigger project is to build up for an attack on Iran…Opposing imperialism should obviously not mean being apologists for Assad’s butchery. But it is important to remember that opposing this butchery should in no circumstances mean losing our critical faculties and forgetting the kind of Armageddon a real imperialist war would entail.”

William Rivers Pitt writing in Truthout tells how this will result in regional consequences:

“I’m just going to throw this out on the stoop and see if the cat licks it up: instead of attacking Syria, how about we don’t attack Syria?…Oh, also, cruise missiles and bombs cost a lot, so if we pull the trigger on Syria, someone will get paid handsomely…Once again, it is weapons of mass destruction at the crux of the matter. Unlike our Iraq debacle, however, there seems to be a fairly impressive body of evidence to suggest that chemical weapons were used in Syria…The short version of why such a course of action is an invitation to catastrophe: Syria is no paper tiger, and is very much capable of both defending itself as well as attacking American interests in the region if provoked. Syria and Iran are strategic allies and are pledged to each other’s mutual defense, which means all the Iranian missile sites in the mountains above the Persian Gulf coast could launch their missiles in retaliation…and those Iranian missiles, by the by, are advanced enough to spoof Aegis radar systems, which means thousands of American service members currently manning our warships in the Gulf could very quickly be delivered into a watery grave. Russia is also a staunch ally of Syria, and could also be provoked into getting involved by backing Assad even more forcefully than they have to date…In essence, any attack on Syria could quickly escalate into a full-scale war that would further destabilize the region and quite probably lead to the kind of conflagration found in the last chapter of the Bible.”

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers wrote on AlterNet that the regional consequences are much worse than one would  originally think:

“If Obama attacks Syria he will be putting gasoline on a fire already burning out of control.  Syria has the ability to defend itself and attack US military vessels. Iran and Russia have already indicated they will be drawn into the conflict.  How will this limited engagement escalate if US troops are attacked or a ship is hit?Threats of retaliation are already being made and troop movements are occurring. Russia is moving two additional naval ships, a missile cruiser and a large anti-submarine vessel, into the Mediterranean to strengthen its presence in case of a US attack.Russia and Saudi Arabia have exchanged threats over Syria.  Russia threatening an attack on Saudi Arabia if the US attacks Syria with President Putin ordering a “massive military strike” against Saudi Arabia in the event that the West attacks Syria.  Saudi Arabia is threatening Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia at the Olympics. Iran, Syria and Hezbollah have threatened to retaliate against Israel and other US allies in the Middle East in the event of a US attack on Syria. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said western military action against Syria would be an “open violation” of international laws; further, “military action will bring great costs for the region.” Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, told the Tasnim news website, that an attack on Syria “means the immediate destruction of Israel.””

Here is a map [based off a Creative Commons licensed picture on Wikipedia] of all the moves by the big powers if a war does occur. Dotted lines are possible attacks, and sold lines are yeses:

REGIONAL EFFECTS OF A WAR IN SYRIA

It is important to note that the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the following [to the Western powers]:

“We want to strongly warn against any military attack in Syria. There will definitely be perilous consequences for the region. These complications and consequences will not be restricted to Syria. It will engulf the whole region.”

After all, lets not forget that the armed opposition WALKED AWAY from the peace talks. This is a crucial thing to remember. Don’t forget that China is moving warships near Syria as well which is deeply troubling.

The noble opposition

60% of the American population opposes a war in Syria, making it one of the most unpopular ever (this is disregarding the strange NBC poll). The French, which controlled the country for 26 years (1920 to 1946), seem set to enter the war and as Rosie Collington argues, “the French government has admitted it was supporting the opposition against Assad in the hope that one day, once after securing a government, strong diplomatic and economic ties could once again be forged between France and Syria.” The British Parliament recently voted against the war as well. Whether or not you oppose this was DO NOT say its about saving civilians because that is an utter lie. As Washington’s Blog notes, Americans may be finally souring on “humanitarian” wars. Let us not forget that on August 25th, the US and Britain said they would attack Syria within the next two weeks. Even Glenn Beck is opposed to this war. A fox News Host even held up a bloody hand on TV to protest the war. A congressmember, Michael Grimm, changed his support for the war because constituents oppose it as a large majority. Firedoglake reports that even after being briefed on the matter, many congressmembers did not think that the information supporting a chemical attack was compelling.

There are numerous voices who have spoken out against this war [including others l who are quoted earlier in the article]:

“Punishing” Assad is not likely to help the innocent civilians of Syria, who have been caught up in this ugly conflict for far too long. It will only create the kind of quagmire that the US created in Iraq and breed more and more sectarianism that will be prevalent in the country once NATO-backed forces withdraw.”- Kevin Gosztola on Firedoglake

“On Monday afternoon, Secretary of State John Kerry gave an impassioned briefing about the reported chemical attacks perpetrated by the regime of Syrian President Assad and a pending U.S. response.  President Obama and his closest advisors are now determining the appropriate course of action as reports of a military build-up in the eastern Mediterranean are circulating.  However, even in the aftermath of these reported attacks, the American people are still overwhelmingly against any form of American intervention in the Syrian conflict. The public’s disapproval of involvement in Syria does not stem from weariness over the past decade’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.   Rather, the public recognizes what leaders in Washington now do not – that after two and a half years of fighting there is still no compelling national security impetus for American military involvement in a civil war in the Middle East.  To describe the ongoing conflict in Syria as “complicated” is an understatement.  The country is fractured along lines of centuries-old religious, ethnic, and regional rivalries that are being compounded by the presence of radical Islamist groups in the opposition and Iranian and Hezbollah fighters among President Assad’s forces.  As General Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and highest ranking officer in the U.S. military stated in a letter just last week: “Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather choosing one among many sides”.  General Dempsey also warned that the opposition groups would not support American interests if they were to seize power, and cautioned about the violent power struggle that would take place after Assad is removed.  Choosing a side today would virtually guarantee American involvement in a post-Assad Syria as well. So why after two years and an estimated 100,000 Syrians killed is there now a rush to military action?  President Obama stated in August 2012 that the use of chemical weapons would be a “red line” for the United States, without further explaining to Syria, the American people, or the world what this meant.  The reported chemical attacks now call the President’s credibility, and therefore the credibility of the United States, into question. The situation in Syria is not an imminent threat to U.S. security, and, therefore, I do not support military intervention.   It would be a mistake for the president to circumvent Congress as he did with the Libya conflict in 2011.  Before taking action, the president should first come present his plan to Congress outlining the approach, cost, objectives, and timeline, and get authorization from Congress for his proposal. The chemical attacks in Damascus, however terrible, do not change the nature of the conflict or ease the challenges that the United States would face if we got involved.  There are strong arguments that a limited strike into Syria could make matters worse, only encouraging Assad to use his full arsenal of weapons and drawing the United States deeper into the conflict.  Instead, the United States should work vigorously to identify and neutralize any real threats to our national security stemming from this conflict.  We must ensure that chemical weapons in Syria do not get into the hands of groups that will use them against American or western targets.  The United States can also continue working with the international community to prevent the refugee crisis from further destabilizing the region. The use of military force is the most serious exercise of our national sovereignty, and it should not be taken without support of Congress and the American people.   Using it in Syria for the sake of credibility is not a strong enough reason to intervene.  Until recently the President has been cautious in his approach to this situation.  I hope he will refrain from any decisions to push the United States further into this conflict, and that he makes the security interests of the United States his utmost priority.”-Mike Lee

#Syria has not expressed aggression toward the US at this point.We are not in a situation where there’s an imminent threat to our well being”-Thomas Massie

“As President Obama meets with world leaders, I hope that he can reach an international consensus on engaging in Syria because we should not get drawn into another proxy war that would entangle us with Hezbollah, Iran and Russia. While I understand that President Obama’s recent decision to begin arming the rebel forces in Syria was the product of lengthy internal debate and careful consideration, I remain wary of an escalation in American involvement. As the United States takes on an expanded role in this volatile regional conflict, we should reflect on the lessons we have learned from the past decade of war and carefully consider how and why we wage war. The conflict in Syria is complex and constantly changing. The rebel forces have been infiltrated by Al Qaeda operatives, making it near impossible to differentiate between friends and foes. Even if we are able to successfully transport the weapons to moderate factions of the opposition, it is unlikely that our support will turn the tides of the conflict. If arming the rebels proves to be insufficient, what does America do next? The dangers of this slippery slope cannot be overstated. A larger American role in the conflict is likely to provoke internal and regional backlash. Al Qaeda will try to use America’s involvement to mobilize extremist elements of the opposition and hijack the rebel movement. U.S. intervention also could instigate a broader regional conflict with Iran, which would further complicate our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All of these risks will be borne by our young service men and women in the Middle East. So before committing a single American pilot or soldier to the conflict in Syria, Congress must have a robust debate about the national interests that our troops are being asked to protect. Since the enactment of the War Powers Act in 1973, which I supported then and support now, Congress has been reluctant to assert its authority when presidents decide to send American soldiers into harm’s way. The War Powers Act requires presidents to seek the consent of the American people, through their representatives, before sending our troops into war. It is the responsibility of Congress to deliberate and consult with the executive branch before involving ourselves in a military conflict. If Congress fails to assert its constitutional authority when it comes to something as serious as war, we are contributing to the slow erosion of our democratic principles. As a Korean War veteran, I have seen the consequences of warfare firsthand. Even as we wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are only just beginning to recognize the toll these conflicts have had on our soldiers. Various mental illnesses, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and even suicides afflict our veterans for decades after they return home. Due to high combat exposure, combined with multiple deployments, we are seeing record rates of mental health problems amongst the more than two million Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. That is why I introduced my Universal National Service Act, known as the “Draft Bill,” in order to help reduce the overwhelming burden faced by our soldiers — currently, only half of one percent of the American population serves in the military. By requiring all 30 million Americans age 18 to 25 to perform two years of national service, in the military or civilian life, we will be asking for a shared sacrifice from all American citizens. As we consider our strategy towards the civil war in Syria, we must consider the long-term costs of warfare. The expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan exploded our deficit during the Bush years and will continue to cost us millions of dollars for years to come. As we continue to nation build at home and wrestle with our growing deficits, we must carefully consider our national priorities. If our primary concern is the well-being of the American people, we should replace the sequester with increased investments in education, training, and infrastructure, not spend million dollars on another war on foreign soil.”- Charlie Rangel [also said he doesn't want to put Americans in harms way]

“I mean, that’s the first disturbing point of the rise of our imperial presidency, where the executive branch abrogates to itself the right to declare war, which is, of course, traditionally the role of Congress. But more importantly, we’re talking about a military strike which will have consequences that will ripple outside of the boundaries of Syria itself. These explosive devices–cruise missiles–are never used surgically. I’ve been around them on the receiving ends when they are fired. So we’re talking about inevitable what they will euphemistically call collateral damage. We’re talking about civilian dead. That’s without question…But to respond after that genocide is complete as a kind of punishment is for me very shortsighted, because it essentially involves the United States not in an act of preventing an ongoing or current act of genocide, but in essence taking sides in this civil war. The consequences of that: empowering Hezbollah to go after Israel. It of course will anger Iran. Syria is an Iranian ally, and I think much of this decision to attack Syria is a kind of backdoor attempt to punish Iran within the region…within the Middle East there is a widespread remembrance that, for instance, Israel used over 200 white phosphorus rockets when they did their 22-day aerial bombardment of Gaza, that we as a country used chemical agents–Agent Orange in Vietnam, and we have littered the Middle East–Afghanistan, Iraq–with depleted uranium.So the notion that we have a right to act as the world’s policeman, that we have a right to use these kinds of weapons to shift a balance of power, you would think we would have learned our lesson in Iraq or we would have learned our lesson in Afghanistan, but apparently we have not. And let me finally say that in the end, you know, there are weapons contractors for whom, once again, this is about profit. They don’t really care what the consequences are. For them it’s about how to swell their bank account…The fact that we were complicit, in essence, with the use of chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War…that we stood by and did nothing when Saddam Hussein was dropping poison gas on places like Halabja, this is not lost to people in the Middle East…I think morally the United States has no case to make unless they were actively stopping a delivery system of these chemical agents…we have no legal, moral, as you pointed out, right to intervene at this point. Nor do we have the moral credibility to do it…this is just a continuation of the Bush shredding of both international and domestic law. And, you know, this capacity by the executive branch not only to wage war but draw up kill lists–and we haven’t even gotten into the shredding of privacy, and both at home and abroad. I mean, it’s a kind of terrifying development…I’ve covered lots of stories where it doesn’t make much sense for regimes to carry out acts of atrocity…we may not know for a few weeks. That’s number one.And number two, after it’s over, I don’t think we have either a legal or a moral right to start dropping cruise missiles in Syria…And you can be sure that the Saudis and the Qataris and others are making sure that al-Qaeda types are getting these weapons…we see the utter ineptitude on the part of the Saudis and the promotion of this jihadist movement throughout the region fueled by Saudi money and Saudi weapons…Again, it gets back to the whole arms trade. You know, they’ll–and, of course, we are the largest seller of weapons and munitions on the planet, and these people don’t care as long as they make money…And, you know, the Saudis have created more havoc and damage within the Middle East, arguably, in the last two decades than any other country or any other group, including, of course, al-Qaeda.”- Chris Hedges

“It’s a potent sign of how low the American political bar is set that gratitude is expressed because a US president says he will ask Congress to vote before he starts bombing another country that is not attacking or threatening the US…But what makes the celebratory reaction to yesterday’s announcement particularly odd is that the Congressional vote which Obama said he would seek appears, in his mind, to have no binding force at all…Recall how – in one of most overlooked bad acts of the Obama administration – the House of Representatives actually voted, overwhelmingly, against authorizing the US war in Libya, and yet Obama simply ignored the vote and proceeded to prosecute the war anyway…It’s certainly preferable to have the president seek Congressional approval than not seek it before involving the US in yet another Middle East war of choice, but that’s only true if the vote is deemed to be something more than an empty, symbolic ritual…There are few things more bizarre than watching people advocate that another country be bombed even while acknowledging that it will achieve no good outcomes other than safeguarding the “credibility” of those doing the bombing. Relatedly, it’s hard to imagine a more potent sign of a weak, declining empire than having one’s national “credibility” depend upon periodically bombing other countries.”- Glenn Greenwald

“We oppose your beginning another war by bombing Syria. As fathers, we believe our children’s lives are worth far more than the price you’ll pay for admitting you’re wrong when it comes to dragging us into war in Syria…Syria is mired in a dangerous civil war and while the news of the conflict there is troubling, it does not present a threat to American security. In fact, American intervention is likely to make things worse and create new enemies. Some intelligence reports even indicate the rebel forces you’re contemplating helping may actually be made up of al Qaeda itself.”“There are few things in politics that actually bring Americans together, but 90 percent of Americans oppose a war in Syria. Yet somehow, Mr. President, you and some of our other so-called leaders are gearing up to take us into an unwanted, undeclared, unconstitutional war in Syria. It’s time to put an end to this nonsense and mind the store here at home.”- Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker and party Co-chairman David Fischer in a letter

“Libya lacks the ability to police its borders, not to mention its armories, and Al Qaeda thrives in any vacuum of influence. The bloody hostage crisis at the oil field in southern Algeria, in January, was linked to French intervention in Mali; in April, the French Embassy in Tripoli was bombed; and in May, in Niger (another weak state that shares a border with Libya), bombers killed nearly thirty people…With post-Mubarak and, now, post-Morsi Egypt under increasingly assertive military control, the Arab Spring appears to have been replaced by spreading chaos. Syria is the black hole in this firmament, sucking what light is left into its civil war. The NATO allies who rained missiles on Libya have fallen into a queasy silence on the subject of Syria—just as they are absent on the ground as guarantors of the peaceful restoration of the state of Libya.”- Jon Lee Anderson in The New Yorker

“As the battles between Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s troops and the rebels continue in Aleppo and elsewhere in the country, Syria has become a symptom of an identity crisis within Western foreign policy towards the Middle East. We welcome friendly dictatorships, accuse anti-state forces as terrorists, and support the freedom fighters who become the top terrorists in our collective political imaginations a decade later. However, this kind of approach will have to end, because in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, it will become far too costly to maintain. The rationale for pursuing this kind of policy is not hard to grasp. By keeping countries in constant turmoil within themselves and with each other allows for ongoing Western relevance in the Mideast, through war or diplomacy. The divide and conquer game is a standard text in superpower school, successfully practiced by every hegemon of the day. The limit, however, comes when principles and practice begin to conflict openly.”- Georgi Ivanov

“The British Parliament voted not to join Barack Obama’s mad rush to war in Syria on Thursday night, a stunning setback and embarrassment to both Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron. Obama evidently plans to plow ahead with the attack on his own – unlike the UK, the United States no longer requires legislative authorization for anything the despotic chief executive really, really, really wants to do. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel brushed off the British disaster by saying it’s still significant that the UK publicly condemned the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons. Is there anyone who has publicly endorsed it? (Not even the Assad regime has issued such an endorsement, since they’re busy denying they had anything to do with it.) Why is President Obama so determined to start raining bombs on Syria, ASAP? The case for Assad’s culpability in the attack is looking a bit shaky. A little more time to sort things out would be wise. But Obama knows the final shred of his international credibility is on the line… more specifically, on the “red line” he drew last year. Ironically, his determination to be taken seriously for that offhand threat, while refusing to admit it was foolish bluster, is costing America the last of her fading international prestige. What are America’s allies and enemies to make of our closest partner stepping back from Obama’s adventure in Syria? It’s difficult to imagine a series of events that would do more damage to our international profile.” – John Hayward, Senior Editor of neo-con publication, the National Review [bolded part my emphasis]

“It is more than 10 years since Parliament last voted on whether or not to go to war. This was on March 18 2003, when a stirring speech by Tony Blair convinced many sceptical MPs of the case for military action against Iraq. But Mr Blair’s claim that Britain possessed “extensive, detailed and authoritative” evidence concerning Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction turned out to be nonsense, and we invaded the country on the back of a false prospectus. The consequences were terrible: countless Iraqis were killed in the civil war that followed, along with 179 British soldiers. The similarities with today’s Commons vote are haunting. The Prime Minister is contemplating an attack on Iraq’s near neighbour Syria, also ruled by a Baathist regime. At the heart of the issue are allegations about weapons of mass destruction. Once again, Britain finds herself in alliance with the United States, and without the authority of the United Nations…Consider this: the only beneficiaries from the atrocity were the rebels, previously losing the war, who now have Britain and America ready to intervene on their side. While there seems to be little doubt that chemical weapons were used, there is doubt about who deployed them…The rush to judgment by Britain and the US looks premature…Nevertheless, on the basis of what I know at the time of writing, I could not vote for war…They [the US and allies] are showing the same contempt for evidence, for international institutions and for the lessons of history.”- Peter Oborne of The Telegraph

“A foolish President Obama and moronic Secretary of State Kerry have handed the United States government its worst diplomatic defeat in history and destroyed the credibility of the Office of the President, the Department of State, and the entire executive branch. Intoxicated with hubris from past successful lies and deceptions used to destroy Iraq and Libya, Obama thought the US “superpower,” the “exceptional” and “indispensable” country, could pull it off again, this time in Syria. But the rest of the world has learned to avoid Washington’s rush to war when there is no evidence..But his National Security Advisor and the neocon warmongers are telling him that he must prove that he is a Real Man who can stand alone and commit war crimes all by himself without orchestrated cover from the UN or NATO or a cowardly US Congress...As I noted in an earlier column today, if Obama goes it alone, he will be harassed for the rest of his life as a war criminal who dares not leave the USAmericans have neglected the requirements of liberty...Obama, pushed by his Israeli and neocon masters, especially his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, who, in effect, functions as an Israeli agent, crawled far out on the limb, only to have it sawed off by the British Parliament…Even the US puppet government in Canada has disavowed participating in the Obama/Israeli war crime…If Obama now strikes Syria, when he has no cover from the UN, or from NATO, or from the American people, or from Congress, having ignored the House and Senate, Obama will stand before the entire world, starkly, as a War Criminal.”- Paul Craig Roberts as printed on Information Clearing House

The rats are jumping ship. Obama’s strongest allies can’t stomach the stench of lies that are the foundation of the war effort against Syria. Even England, whose entire foreign policy is reduced to asking “how high?” when the U.S. says “jump,” opted to stay grounded for Obama’s war drive.The Arab League, too, having long been considered a puppet show by U.S. foreign policy, has cut its strings. The UN Security Council — after having learned not to trust Obama in Libya — also refuses to give permission for an attack…Obama has offered zero evidence that the Syrian government is responsible for the most recent chemical weapons attack...While foreign nations instantly recognized Obama’s war song as a plagiarism of President Bush’s lyrics used to attack Iraq, sections of the American public have been fooled…hundreds U.S. Special Forces and “trained militant fighters” entered Syria on August 17…After the Libyan example, the UN is immune to Obama’s lies…If Obama attacks Syria at this point, he’ll have fewer allies than did Bush in Iraq…A large anti-war showing in the U.S. will convince more pro-war rats to jump ship, and an especially large showing could possibly sink the war ship in one shot. “- Shamus Cooke on Information Clearing House

“President Obama’s proposed “humanitarian” bombing of Syria, which seemed like a done deal just a few days ago, is now running into serious trouble both at home and abroad…The US public has been deeply suspicious because of what the New York Times politely calls the “botched intelligence” leading up to the Iraq war, which most Americans would more plainly refer to as “lies.”…Even before the British vote, the Obama team had less legitimacy and popular support for its proposed bombing than almost any US military action has had in recent history. No UN Security Council resolution, which would be the requirement for legality under international law; no support from the Arab League, nor even one Arab government, which Washington had for the bombing of Libya; not even NATO, which Washington can generally count on for almost any war…Americans are against the intervention by a 60% majority; similar or larger majorities in Germany, France, the UK, Turkey, Egypt, and what looks like most of the world are also against it…The Russians, who are widely condemned for supplying arms to the Syrian government, look reasonable by comparison to the US. Unlike Washington and its allies, who have insisted on Assad’s resignation as a starting point for talks, the Russians have at least pushed for a negotiated solution to the civil war. This could possibly have saved tens of thousands of lives if Washington and its allies had only been interested in negotiating. Despite the ugly mess that western intervention has helped create, it is still the only solution to the conflict going forward.”- Mark Weisbrot in The Guardian

“…those, like myself, who believe that the United States should not have the right, and certainly does not have the obligation, to take upon itself the responsibility of “punishing” Assad for his crimes, will of course see an air campaign, however brief or long it proves to be, as a pointless act of moral hubris and geostrategic stupidity, should go without saying…The use of the word “punishment” by those urging action has been all but universal across the political spectrum, from President Obama and his supporters to his severest critics, including Wieseltier and other signers, such as William Kristol and Bernard-Henry Levy, of the recent open letter to the president published in the Weekly Standard…The United States is neither the world’s parent…with the unwelcome but necessary responsibility of administering a spanking to a delinquent child, and still less is it the world’s judge, jailer, or, to judge…its executioner, tasked with putting the Assad regime to death…Despite a bit of Saddam style bluster from Damascus, it is clear the intention there is to weather the bombardment and then get back to trying to crush the rebellion…I remain entirely convinced that the correct course would be to refrain from any military action against the Assad regime…the Obama administration…will play at war, with no end state in mind, no attainable one, anyway, and will end up as being seen as a murderous bully by some and as a hypocritical weakling by others.”- David Rieff of The New Republic

“So the U.S. launches a military strike. Then what? As the Obama administration and the U.S. military plot military action against Syria, they should be spending just as much time — and arguably more — considering what happens next. Once Washington crosses the threshold of action, there’s no retreating from blame for anything that follows, whether through action or inaction. And in the weeks and months to come, dangers will only deepen…So the idea of quick hits or short campaigns is often an illusion…So, as the U.S. and its allies take on Syria, they need to ensure that the costs do not ultimately outweigh the benefits, and that another military mission doesn’t backfire.”- Robin Wright in the LA Times

“An air strike on Damascus and other strongholds of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria…seems imminent. In the days and weeks to come, we will be duly informed by pundits that Syria is not Iraq – and hence not a shambolic intervention – what with its proven arsenal of weapon of mass destruction (WMDs)…For starters, the claim that a Western air strike will be short-lived – according to a Washington Post report, lasting for all of two days – is absurd…The NATO attack on Yugoslavia in 1999 – which in the backdrop of a deadlocked Security Council, is being held up as a precedent to justify an assault on Syria – too began with the objective of halting President Slobodan Milosevic’s aggression. In the carpet bombing that followed, NATO’s deplorable targeting of civilian facilities, including hospitals and embassies, to attain its objective has been well documented…No intervention against the regime can be successful without taking out its powerful propaganda machine. Make no mistake: whatever the Obama administration may have us believe, the military intervention in Syria is not going to be quick, decisive or limited in scope. Unilateral intervention predicated on the use of WMDs by a regime finds no backing in international law…Even the egregious unilateralism of the Bush years saw the United States trying to mount a defence, however indefensible, of the Iraqi invasion under the UN Charter. President Barack Obama instead plans to justify his attack on Syria based on principles contained in the Geneva Conventions and the Chemical Weapons Convention, neither of which is applicable in this context…The quick and dirty multilateralism that the West wants and achieves through “coalitions of the willing” is no substitute for the UN’s deliberative process…It is imperative the international community steps in immediately, before they are unchained.”- Arun Mohan Sukumar writing in The Hindu

“Add a likely military strike on Syria to the list of events that could cause headaches for the economy in the weeks ahead…The economy already was facing another showdown over raising the debt ceiling…Add military action against Syria — and the unforeseen ripple affects that could create — to the economic picture, and you don’t have an environment that gives businesses the confidence to expand…Maybe Syria is an excuse for a stock market correction, but it’s hard to be bullish when you’re talking about throwing a match on an already combustible region, the Middle East…Syria isn’t much of an oil producer, but the prospects of an attack on that country drove oil prices up this morning…It seems that global growth and increased demand for commercial airliners are more important for these companies these days than missiles and other weapons. War is not good for children and other living things — or business, it appears.”- Kent Hoover

“While the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis. Congress needs to have a full debate.”- Barbara Lee

“The United States has deep national security interests in Syria and the region…any US military action could bring serious consequences or further escalation.”- House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce [see here]

“Unfortunately missing from … the president’s approach so far has been a focus on what the touchstone should be, which is the vital US national security interest of this country. The United States armed forces is not, doesn’t exist to be a policeman for the world…Simply lobbing some cruise missiles in to disagree with Assad’s murderous actions [does not]…protect…our national security.”- Ted Cruz

“So what, we’re about to become Al Qaeda’s air force now? This is a very, very serious matter that has broad implications internationally. And to try to minimize it by saying we’re just going to have a ‘targeted strike’ — that’s an act of war. It’s not anything to be trifled with. This [the chemical weapon attack] is being used as a pretext. The verdict is in before the facts have been gathered. What does that tell you?”
“One thing that is perfectly clear to me in my district, and I think is true in many other districts from speaking to other members, is that there is no desire, no desire on the part of people to be the world’s policeman. For us to pick up this gauntlet even on the basis of unequivocal evidence of chemical warfare by the Syrian army, deliberately against its own people — even if there were unequivocal evidence of that — that’s just not what people in my district want. I did notice, for what it’s worth, that the manufacturer of the missiles that would be used has had an incredible run in their stock value in the last 60 days. Raytheon stock is up 20 percent in the past 60 days as the likelihood of the use of their missiles against Syria becomes more likely. So I understand that there is a certain element of our society that does benefit from this, but they’re not the people who vote for me, or by the way the people who contribute to my campaign. Nobody wants this except the military-industrial complex. I take the title of representative seriously. I listen to people, I hear what they have to say. At a time when we are cutting veterans benefits, cutting education, student loans, cutting school budgets, contemplating cutting Social Security and Medicare, I don’t see how we can justify spending billions of dollars on an attack like this.”- Alan Grayson
“At a time when the U.S. faces many other security threats, not to mention economic and political challenges at home, it is tempting to view action against Syria’s regime as a significant distraction. Certainly, it also carries risks.”- Wesley Clark
“The ”responsibility to protect” (R2P) doctrine invoked to legitimize the 2011 war on Libya has just transmogrified into ”responsibility to attack” (R2A) Syria. Just because the Obama administration says so…The Obama administration has ruled that Assad allowed UN chemical weapons inspectors into Syria, and to celebrate their arrival unleashed a chemical weapons attack mostly against women and children only 15 kilometers away from the inspectors’ hotel…The window of opportunity for war is now. Assad’s forces were winning from Qusayr to Homs; pounding ”rebel” remnants out of the periphery of Damascus; deploying around Der’ah to counterpunch CIA-trained ”rebels” with advanced weapons crossing the Syrian-Jordanian border; and organizing a push to expel ”rebels” and jihadis from suburbs of Aleppo…It’s now back to the number one option – air strikes on the chemical weapons depots. As if the US – and Israel – had up-to-the-minute intelligence on exactly where they are…Former president Bill Clinton resurfaced with perfect timing to compare Obama’s options in Syria to Reagan’s jihad in Afghanistan…As for that bunch of amateurs surrounding Obama – including R2P groupies such as Susan Rice and new Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, all of them liberal hawks – they are all suckers for Kosovo…Syria has nothing to do with the Balkans. This is a civil war. Arguably the bulk of the Syrian urban population, not the country bumpkins, support Damascus – based on despicable ”rebel” behavior in places they control; and the absolute majority wants a political solution, as in the now near-totally torpedoed Geneva II conference…What happens next requires concentric crystal balls – from Tomahawks to a barrage of air strikes to Special Ops commandos on the ground to a sustained air campaign lasting months…No one knows for sure what exactly happened in the chemical weapons saga near Damascus. But that’s the pretext for yet another American war – just a few days before a Group of 20 summit hosted by Putin in St Petersburg. Holy Tomahawk! R2A, here we go.”- Pepe Escobar
“I cannot for the life of me see how dropping some bombs or firing some missiles in the general direction of Syria, with targets probably some way removed from the actual weapons we’ve been criticising, I can’t see how that action is going to lessen the suffering of Syrian people. I think it’s likely to increase and expand the civil war in Syria, not likely to bring it to an end.”- Lord Hurd, the former UK foreign secretary
“In each era new concepts emerge in the world of international politics and law in response to central issues of the times. A significant concept to materialize in recent years is that of the “responsibility to protect” (or R2P), which aims to address the failure of sovereign states to protect the human rights of its people, as in the case of Syria. It places a legal obligation on the international community to act in the face of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In a report on the subject of R2P, the UN Secretary General has observed that ‘the concept has been widely accepted’. Given the enormous suffering of the Syrian people in the ongoing civil conflict, it would seem a textbook case for invoking the R2P doctrine. The estimated Syrian deaths have reached 100,000. There are nearly 2 million refugees who have fled the conflict and several millions displaced internally who are receiving little or no humanitarian assistance. There are also thousands languishing in the prisons of Syria. Finally, there is the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad government.  But despite the tragic human rights situation, there is no consensus in the international community on the use of military action in Syria that is being contemplated by United States and some of its allies. Russia is actively opposing military action. Also opposed to military action are the rest of the BRICS countries (Brazil, India, China and South Africa). What is more, even the British Parliament has refused to endorse military action in Syria. What explains the opposition of these countries to military action in the face of the unfolding human tragedy? It is important to understand the noteworthy legal and political reasons that are being advanced to oppose military action. On the legal plane, the proposed military action is difficult to reconcile with the international law principles of non-use of force and non-intervention into the internal and external affairs of States. The International Court of Justice in the Nicaragua case (1986) has held that ‘…no […] general right of intervention in support of an opposition within another State, exists in contemporary international law’. The oft-cited Kosovo precedent is not helpful, for one unlawful intervention cannot justify another. The 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention also does not offer a legal basis for military action because Syria is not a party to it. To be sure, Syria is party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol and there are several UN Security Council (UNSC) and UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions that call upon States to comply with it. But the protocol and the resolutions cannot form the basis for military action, as such action can only be undertaken (even limited and targeted action) under the circumstances defined in the UN Charter. In this case, it calls for a UNSC Chapter VII resolution.  Such a resolution, however worded, is unlikely to be passed, firstly because the UN Weapons Inspection team that visited Syria has yet to submit its report. Secondly, China and Russia will veto it because they are opposed to military action, especially in the absence of decisive evidence of the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. Turning to political reasons, states have advanced manifold grounds for opposing military action. First, there are differences with respect to the understanding and implications of the concept of R2P. For example, in November 2011 Brazil circulated a note in the UN stressing the idea of ‘responsibility while protecting’. Therein Brazil argued that military intervention should only take place in the last resort, since “even when warranted on the grounds of justice, legality and legitimacy, military action results in high human and material costs”. There is therefore a need at first to “exhaust all diplomatic solutions to any given conflict”. The note also pointed out that “there is a growing perception that the concept of the responsibility to protect might be misused for purposes other than protecting civilians, such as regime change”. The concerns of Brazil are widely shared in the developing world, especially in the context of Syria. Second, states have become wiser after the intervention in Libya. States that did not oppose the invocation of R2P in Libya are now unwilling to support it because the UNSC resolution 1973 was misinterpreted and used by NATO powers to bring about regime change. Third, there is the valid concern that military action will lead to an escalation of violence in Syria and the region, leading to a greater humanitarian crisis. Millions more will be displaced outside and inside Syria. Thousands more will lose their lives. It is believed that even the departure of Assad will bring little relief to the people of Syria. This has been the experience of the Libyan people, who have in the post-Gaddafi era been subjected to unceasing violence by armed militias holding sway in large parts of the country. Fourth, it is felt that military action will undermine the Geneva 2 process, which holds out the best possibility of bringing to an end the conflict in Syria. It could mean a long period of political uncertainty in which the Syrian people will be unable to take control of their political destiny. Fifth, it is pointed out that the support for ‘democratic forces’ in Syria comes from many Arab regimes that are anything but democratic. It strengthens the suspicion that what drives support for military action is a geopolitical agenda. Sixth, there is the genuine fear that arms supplied to rebels may end up with extremist groups who are a part of the rebel forces. And seventh, it is believed that there are no innocent parties in this conflict. Both the government and the rebel forces are contributing to the escalating violence and violating international humanitarian laws. Even in global civil society, there is resistance to the idea that the choice before the international community is between supporting military action or a brutal regime. This resistance emanates from a certain reading of history. It is believed that the false choice is a function of the geopolitics of imperialism with deep roots in colonialism. The roots of violence in post-colonial states goes back to the construction of the colonial state that saw the economy, bureaucracy, police and the army positioned to serve the state rather than the people. The structures of colonial state were never fully dismantled in the post-colonial era. However, where the post-colonial states are democracies, social and human rights movements are able to prevent gross violations of human rights (or, when it takes place, to use the legal system to bring the perpetrators to justice). But in cases where the post-colonial state transfigured into an authoritarian state, as in the case of Syria, this is not possible. These authoritarian states have often received support from hegemonic powers pursuing geopolitical ambitions. But when such regimes become a liability, the same states manipulate the politics of the post-colonial state by relying on the genuine grievances of the people to oppose the incumbent regime. The outcome often is increased violence by the state against its own people. It is against this backdrop that the lifting of the embargo by the EU to supply arms to rebels, and earlier to allow the use of oil revenues to fund the insurgency, together with the possibility of President Obama ordering military action, are to be viewed. It is felt that despite denials, forces of imperialism are using the acute distress of the Syrian people to pursue the agenda of regime change. What we need today is not military intervention but prudent internationalism. It is an internationalism that refrains from undermining the normative consensus in the international community on when military action is permissible. Prudent internationalism also acknowledges that democracy and democratic practices cannot be exported to societies and that military action can undermine the future of democracy by sharpening sectarian and social divides. Prudent internationalism also takes cognizance of the past outcomes of military action, especially the continuing violence in societies that have been the subject of military action (e.g., Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya). Prudent internationalism also does not accept the view that non-support of military action is support for the brutal Assad regime. Prudent internationalism sees a third way, that of diplomatic and political action to resolve the conflict. It requires that states and civil society forces opposed to military action ensure that the Geneva 2 process gets under way. Indeed, there is a moral obligation on all those opposed to military action not to remain passive spectators to the unfolding tragedy in Syria. In this respect, it is particularly important that key developing countries such as Brazil, India, China and South Africa act immediately to garner support for the diplomatic process. The decision on convening the Geneva 2 process cannot be left to a few states, in particular the US. Egypt has shown how the same hegemonic power that speaks of the need to institute a democratic regime in Syria is a mute witness to its destruction in Egypt. Meanwhile, as efforts are being made to start the Geneva 2 process, the Syrian people must be offered increased humanitarian assistance to relieve their sufferings.”- B.S. Chimini is Professor of International Law at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
“Absolutely he needs Congressional approval. The Constitution is very clear on this subject. In fact, James Madison explained in the Federalist Papers, he said, the executive branch is the branch mostly likely to go to war, therefore, we vested the power to go to war in Congress. Without question Congress should vote on this and he is going against the Constitution and it will be an unlawful act if he actually takes military action without having Congress vote on the issue…What they need to do is they need to come before a joint session of Congress, they need to spell out, lay out their case and if they want to take the nation to war, they need to convince the majority of Congress. But you what the other reason they won’t? They won’t risk a vote because they are worried that they could be defeated. It happened in the British parliament. The American people are not excited about a new war. We are horrified by it, people gassing their own citizens. We would like to know who did it. Which side did it but we are not excited to get involved in a new war right now. And so, I would do everything I can to stop the president and we should not engage in a war and we certainly should engage in it in an unconstitutional fashion…We do have to fight on occasion, but when we fight, we should fight to win, we should fight for an American cause. I can’t see fighting to impose Sharia law in Syria. I also can’t see sending my son to fight with Islamic rebels against Christians. I also can’t see my son going to fight on the same side as Al Qaeda…So, the rebels have every incentive to have used chemical weapons, I don’t know who did, but I’ve been presented with no evidence yet and I would like to see the evidence before we go off half cocked into a war.” – Rand Paul
““If its not an effort to exact regime change then what is it? Is it just retaliation? Is it bullying? Is it showing everybody in the world that we have missiles and we can fire them into your country because we don’t like what we see?…When you deliver missiles into somebody’s country, that is an act of war. We can argue about whether having economic sanctions are an act of war. But clearly when you deliver missiles, if somebody delivered missiles into the central United States or anywhere on American territory that would be an act of war…We don’t have proof of who used the weapons, or who used the gas. And it is also not clear to me how you improve the situation where chemical weapons were used by delivering kinetic weapons. If we send in airstrikes or missiles from ships, it is not clear to me how killing more people is going to improve the situation…There will be civilian causalities in any conflict. If we get involved we are going to cause civilian causalities and I think that is wrong when our interests are not clear. It is morally wrong. And this is a country by the way (Syria) that has not expressed aggression toward the United States at this point. And as you pointed out, we are not in a situation where there is an imminent threat to our well being…People have asked me would you bring impeachment proceedings against the President? The harsh fact of the matter is that there aren’t enough votes in the Senate to affect an impeachment of the President. It requires a 2/3rds vote of the Senate and before you get the process started, it requires a majority of the members on the judiciary committee. People should encourage their Congressman to support my bill, its HR 2507. It’s called the “War Powers Protection Act.” We only have 13 brave souls in Congress who are co-sponsoring this bill and it basically says that the President cannot intervene in Syria until he comes to Congress, its that simple…Our leadership in the House of Representatives says that the President should consult with Congress. Our leadership is not asking them to come and get permission and I think that the Administration needs to come and get permission. And they can’t just come and talk to three or four members on the Foreign Affairs Committee or the Military Committee or just the leadership. They need to ask the entire body in the House of Representatives and in the Senate for authorization or for a declaration of war before he can proceed.”- Congressmember Thomas Massie as interviewed by Ben Swann 
“Instead of just attacking Syria, Obama decided to ask Congress for another “authorization for the use of military force” (AUMF). Which means that, as he has on everything from Obamacare to Benghazi, Obama chose to let someone else take responsibility for his actions…When Congress comes back into session (under its leisurely vacation schedule, it’s due back on September 9) the Senate and House will receive some communication from Obama proposing some sort of AUMF version 2.0….When Congress passed the first “AUMF” soon after 9-11, it wasn’t a declaration of war: it was a “to whom it may concern” letter authorizing war on anyone and any nation that had participated in the 9-11 attacks…What we have, instead, is Vichy Jon Kerry’s statement that it’s our responsibility to punish Assad…It’s pointless to even overthrow Assad. Russia is building billions of dollars in ports around Syria. Iran, which is in an effective terrorist partnership with Syria, has hundreds (or maybe thousands) of terrorist Al Quds Force troops there. Those two Assad allies will ensure that any replacement for Assad will be as bad or worse. Again, what’s the point?…A limited military strike — even repeated strikes such as Obama proposes – cannot cause an outcome beneficial to the United States. Given those facts on the ground, there is no other possible result, and Congress should enthusiastically turn down Obama’s request for AUMF 2.0….R2P, under Obama’s formulation or any other, has nothing to do with U.S. national security.”- Jed Babbin

As Martin Luther King Jr. said boldly in 1967, “don’t let anybody make you think God chose America as his divine messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world.” Additionally, as Shlomi Eldar for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse writes, a military assault will achieve one thing: “Syrian citizens — those not involved in the fighting and who do not live at the sites of Syrian army battles and war crimes — will unite around their president. This is a well-known phenomenon during times of crisis: Civilians put aside inner tensions and dissent to unite against a common external enemy.” Supposedly, 55%war of Syrians now support Assad, thanks to the civil war brewed by the Western powers and others. The hype of the mainstream media and drumbeat for war is powerful but it must be countered. There is a number of things we can push for:

  1. Stop the killing through diplomacy and hard talks as recommended by Larry Wilkerson
  2. Direct diplomacy to negotiate a ceasefire with all sides and that there is NO military solution as recommended by Phyllis Bennis
  3. Assert that we don’t need a proxy war in Syria, we need a negotiated peace at minimum
  4. Reject the Doha Protocol
  5. The countries providing must stop assisting the rebels covertly or openly as arming the opposition does not work as noted by Kevin Gosztola
  6. Assert we want jobs and injustice addressed at home, rather than spending money on a war as Jon Walker noted, to “send a message”
  7. Rejecting the militarization of the opposition and supporting groups like “the Local Coordinating Committees of Syria, which represents a number of grassroots committees that emerged out of the revolution to organize protests and begin steps toward self-government” as noted by Socialist Worker while rejecting Assad and saying that a military strike to take him out is not what should be done.
  8. Pushing for the creation of “a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East” which the Syrian government purportedly supports and noting the horrible regional consequences of such a war possibly including: Iran, Syria and Hezbollah attacking Israel; Russia attacking Saudi Arabia and vice versa; Israel attacking Iran and Syria; Iran attacking US warships in the Persian Gulf; Turkey attacking Syria; Germany attacking Syria; and much more.
  9. Following what people such as Justin Amash and Bob Corker have said, that Obama needs congressional approval to go to war. As an article in Truthout noted, 188 Representatives are calling for a debate and vote on the war with Syria which goes across party lines. We must support this effort. Now that Obama has said he would seek Congressional approval, there must be a push for Congress members to not vote for a war in Syria, voting against the draft resolution when it is proposed as it gives the executive a lot of power while asserting that ALL Presidents need congressional approval for war (specifically a declaration of war) & that Obama does NOT “have the authority to carry out…military action[s] without specific congressional authorization”  as he said a few days ago [later John Kerry said the same thing] It IS POSSIBLE that a left-libertarian alliance in Congress could defeat a resolution authorizing a war in Syria. There must be a push that there cannot be boots on the ground in Syria.
  10. Assert that a war in Syria violates the US Constitution [something that Obama in 2007 would have agreed with], the UN Charter and numerous other laws of war while constituting a “war of aggression

MAJOR UPDATE: Obama says he’ll pursue diplomacy first before he bombs the country to smitherens. We MUST keep up the pressure. For more, see my twitter convo. on the subject and this. STILL warmonger Lindsey Graham wants more. Also see this interview on The Real News about the speech.

There are a number of groups that have risen up in opposition to this war including Justice Party USA, Socialist Party USA, Green Party USA, Venezuela Solidarity (a letter signed by 188 organizations!), UNAC and Answer Coalition in 40-45 national actions, Stop the War Coalition, OccupyWallSt.org, Credo Action, Roots Action, Social Equality Party, and many more. As Popular Resistance noted “as the U.S. gets closer to attacking Syria, people are mobilizing in the U.S. and around the world to protest and re-build our movement.” Here’s a good explanation by why ordinary Americans oppose a war (also see this). There is a bunch of protests planned in Australia as well. There have in the past been protests in Turkey against a war in Syria (see here, here, and here) with one seemingly planned. As the Global No War With Syria Rallies facebook page notes on August 31st, 2013 there will be rallies in Holland (DEN HAAG), UK (ABERDEEN, BRISTOL, GLASGOW, HUDDERSFIELD, LONDON, and MANCHESTER), Italy (ROME), Ireland (DUBLIN), Germany (HAMBURG), Poland (WARSAW), Greece (ATHENS), Canada (CALGARY, MONTREAL, QUEBEC, TORONTO, VANCOUVER, and WINNIPEG), USA (AUSTIN, BUFFALO, BOSTON, CHARLOTTE, CHICAGO, CLEVELAND, COLUMBUS, CONROE, DENVER, FORT WORTH, FRESNO, HUNTINGTON, KANSAS, INDIANAPOLIS, LITTLE ROCK, LOS ANGELES, MANHATTAN, MEMPHIS, MINNESOTA, NASHVILLE, NEW YORK, OAKLAND, OKLAHOMA, PHILADELPHIA, PHOENIX, PORTLAND, SACRAMENTO, SALT LAKE CITY, SAN DIEGO, SAN FRANCISCO, SAN JOSE, SEATTLE, SPRINGFIELD, ST LOUIS, TAMPA, TUCSON, TULSA, WASHINGTON DC, and WICHITA), Australia (ADELAIDE, BRISBANE, GOLD COAST, MELBOURNE, PERTH, and SYDNEY), New Zealand (AUCKLAND), Egypt (CAIRO), Syria (DAMASCUS, HOMS), Oman (MUSCAT), Pakistan (LAHORE), India (MUMBAI and NEW DELHI), Malaysia (KUALA LUMPUR), Philippines (MANILA), and Hawaii (HONOLULU). Also there was a “NO WAR” light brigade set up outside ABC news according to Occupy Chicago. Kevin Ovenden of the Stop the War Coalition recommended that we “throw ourselves fully into this upswing of the movement – inundating MPs [or Congressmembers in the US], taking to the streets on Saturday, getting ourselves into the media – mainstream, new and social – everywhere persuading friends, colleagues and family that we need to take a stand, and that by doing so we can make a difference.” Likely there will be many more voices against this illegal imperialist war for oil which if started will be blood for oil. We need opposition to this war similar to what was seen against World War I, the Iraq War (in the first few years), and the Vietnam War. As Edwin Starr sang in his song, war (what is it good for), war is good for nothing while causing destruction and death. Eugene Debs’s words from 1918 still ring true today:

Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. In the Middle Ages when the feudal lords who inhabited the castles whose towers may still be seen along the Rhine concluded to enlarge their domains, to increase their power, their prestige and their wealth they declared war upon one another. But they themselves did not go to war any more than the modern feudal lords, the barons of Wall Street go to war. The feudal barons of the Middle Ages, the economic predecessors of the capitalists of our day, declared all wars. And their miserable serfs fought all the battles. The poor, ignorant serfs had been taught to revere their masters; to believe that when their masters declared war upon one another, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another and to cut one another’s throats for the profit and glory of the lords and barons who held them in contempt. And that is war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose—especially their lives. They have always taught and trained you to believe it to be your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves slaughtered at their command. But in all the history of the world you, the people, have never had a voice in declaring war, and strange as it certainly appears, no war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people. And here let me emphasize the fact—and it cannot be repeated too often—that the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish the corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace.”

In the end, we must remember the words of Anti-Flag which they sang in their song, Protest Song:

And so the time has finally come
the bourgeoisie has signed the war decree with proletariat blood
and that blood which flows from their pen
is the closest that they’ve ever been to the people…
protest, against, injustice, state terror
on the streets of the world
for the disempowered…
now it’s time to hit the streets…
because our voices alone this time will not get it done
looking to stop a rogue regime?
well the first ones that we must confront is WASHINGTON, DC!…
we refuse to let him kill, in our name for oil
we know their game
know they’re corrupt
it’s up to us to hit the streets,time to take our rights back!
protest, against, injustice, state terror
on the streets of the world
for the disempowered…
now it’s time to hit the streets
back up those words you’ve sung
because our voices alone this time will not get it done
because the people, united will get it done
protest, against injustice, state terror
on the streets of the world for the disempowered

19 Responses to “No blood for oil in Syria or anywhere! UPDATED”

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