Obama on the Verge of Being Handed a Major Defeat on Syria

The Obama Administration is presenting the upcoming Congressional votes on its blank check Authorization to Use Military Force in Syria as justified, irrelevant (since Kerry has asserted that the Administration doesn’t need Congress’ approval can attack even in the face of a no vote), but a done deal nevertheless. None of those claims stand up to scrutiny.

Other writers have covered in gory detail how the US insistence that it has proof that Assad was behind the chemical attacks looks like a not-sufficiently-improved version of the Iraq WMD playbook. Nothing from the Administration in the last 48 hours has dented these critics’ case. Indeed, one has to wonder as to why the US is trying to pre-empt UN evidence-gathering and analysis. Might it be that it would finger the rebels, as in the folks the US has been funding? Are we prepared to go after them if they were the ones who crossed Obama’s red line?

But what is relevant right now is not what actually happened in Syria (why should we trouble ourselves with pesky details?) but that, as Lambert put it, the imperial reality-creating machine is starting to break down before our eyes. Since I am trying to minimize time on the Web this week (I am still in theory on vacation), it would have been easy to have been snookered by the news stories of the day: Boehner agrees to support Obama on Syria! Senate Foreign Relations Committee passes resolution authorizing an American strike on Syria! Both houses are falling into line, so resign yourself to more Middle Eastern misadventures.

Reports from inside the Beltway give a very different picture. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the authorization resolution with weak support, a 10-7-1 vote. This sends a message to the Senate that even some hawks are loath to throw their weight behind it. By contrast, with the Amash amendment (the amendment attached to a Defense Department funding bill that would have curbed the NSA), the House leadership of both parties were resoundingly opposed, and current and former military and intelligence officials sounded dire warnings as to all the terrible things that would happen if the resolution passed.

If Obama’s success is looking a tad wobbly in the Senate, it’s not hard to extrapolate how bad things are in the House. Tellingly, a new Ezra Klein’s interview, “Rep. Brad Sherman explains how the White House could win the Syria vote,” shows pro-intervention Sherman to be as defensive as the headline indicates.

ThinkProgress’ House whip count as of the end of Wednesday broke down with 47 members of the House as firm or inclined to a yes vote, 187 firm or inclined to a no vote, and 220 unknown or undecided. Firedoglake comes up with a broadly similar picture: 55 firmly or inclined to a yes, 155 firmly or inclined to a negative vote. One of my Congressional sources says based on his conversations with Republicans he is pretty certain the Administration will be forced to withdraw the resolution or postpone a vote in the House. Note that the tentative schedule is for the Senate to start debating the resolution next Tuesday the 10th and vote that day or the 11th. The House is set to start debate either on the 12th or the week of the 16th.

One might argue that this reading isn’t earth-shaking. The Administration has a week or more to turn things around in the House.

The problem is that if anything, it seems to be having trouble getting traction. The key isn’t simply that various handicappers, such as Politico, peg the resolution as going down to defeat if the vote were held today. It’s that the Administration is utterly unable to make a case, so the idea that they will make much headway with the fence-sitters or those disposed to vote no looks remote. From Politico:

House Republican staffers tell us that several key members are unsatisfied so far by the classified briefings from the administration. A top aide said the administration has failed to make a compelling case “beyond spasmodic moral outrage.”

“Nobody has really heard how this is going to either improve the situation on the ground in Syria, improve the situation for pro-democracy groups, not play into al-Qaeda’s hands, not play into Russia’s hands, not play into China’s hands,” the aide said. “Members felt the administration hasn’t made a case about how this is going to stop it from happening again. They’re putting a lot of chips on: ‘We have to do this for Israel,’ or, ‘We have to do this because it’s unacceptable.’”

Another House GOP aide told us that President Obama will have to make a better personal case to the public, not just to Congress: If you’re going to sell the members, you also have to sell the constituents. Otherwise, the country could watch the amazing spectacle of Congress defeating a war resolution backed by the president and every top elected leader. And Wednesday evening, a top House Republican aide said the measure could actually lose.

This vote is turning out to be another TARP-type watershed, with the public virtually unified in its opposition (calls to Congresscrittters are reportedly running well over 90% against intervention). And remember, it took a market swan dive, a second TARP vote, and the additional of lots of pork to reverse the initial vote. But also bear in mind that the reason TARP was initially voted down was the barrage of voter phone calls and e-mails against it, reportedly 99% opposed until financial services firms started getting employees to call in favor of the bill, which shifted the tally to a mere 80% or so of callers opposed. So if you have not called or written your Congresscritters, be sure to do so pronto.

It’s revealing to see not just which politicians have taken firm positions on Syria, but which ones are keeping a pointedly low profile. Joe Biden, for instance, is missing in action. Olivier Knox at Yahoo might have found out why:

Six years ago, Biden vowed to impeach President George W. Bush if the Republican bombed Iran without first getting congressional approval.

“The president has no authority to unilaterally attack Iran, and if he does, as Foreign Relations Committee chairman, I will move to impeach,” Biden said at the time.

In Massachusetts, among the five candidates running for Representative Edward Markey’s seat, only one, Carl Sciortino, has said he’s against giving Obama the go-ahead in Syria. By contrast, Elizabeth Warren, who is regularly touted as a progressive hope, is falling well short of her billing. Yes, she’s done far better in using her bully pulpit in Senate Banking Committee hearings, which has helped keep the issue of bank reform from fading completely from view. But her student loan bill, which was predictably defeated, was a narrow technocratic fix that set out to preserve the terrible American system of higher education indentured servitude. Warren has yet to demonstrate she’s willing to buck the Administration on a major issue. She voted for the confirmation of Rubinite Jack Lew as Treasury Secretary. She also voted to confirm James Comey as head of the FBI. Recall that Conway worked for Lockheed Martin after leaving the Bush Administration in 2005 through 2010 and voiced his support for NSA surveillance as a “valuable tool in counterterrorism.” So it should be no surprise that despite overwhelming public opposition to an attack on Syria, Warren is unwilling to buck the party, at least until she has plenty of air cover. From Huffington Post earlier in the week:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said “it’s appropriate” for President Barack Obama to seek approval from Congress before taking military action in Syria.

“It’s appropriate that he ask for that,” Warren said at the annual Central Massachusetts AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

“What the Assad regime did is reprehensible, but we have to consider what’s in America’s best interest,” Warren said.

Readers will not doubt notice the endorsement of not-yet-substantiated Administration claims that it has the goods on Assad.

Warren isn’t the only cautious Congressman who needs a big voter push. But she’s been positioned as a progressive leader when she’s not willing to take up the mantle save in her areas of expertise, and even then only very selectively. Even though she may move into vocal opposition, she’d be doing so based on her reading of the tea leaves, not on a willingness to influence policy. Perhaps she’ll redeem herself by filibustering Obama’s nomination of Larry Summers for Fed chairman. But in the meantime, it’s incumbent on those of us who are opposed to Syrian adventurism to pressure Democrats who are peculiarly unwilling to repudiate Obama’s inept, dishonest, and destructive initiatives.

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    1. Hayek's Heelbiter

      2020 SAT question.

      U.S. => Syria as:

      A. U.K. = > Suez
      B. U.S.S.R = > Afghanistan
      C. Athens => Syracuse
      D. U.S. => Grenada

      Answer: ?

      Or are there better choices for A-D?

  1. Emma

    I fear that in his sclerotic management of Middle East affairs, Obama is inescapably consigning himself to the same sepulcher of mortifying history which Anthony Eden executed on behalf of British foreign policy.

  2. kimsarah

    Re Elizabeth Warren: “What the Assad regime did is reprehensible, but we have to consider what’s in America’s best interest,” Warren said.

    What’s been missing from this debate is what exactly is America’s long-term interest with Syria and the Middle East, and who do we mean by “America,” — our multi-national tax-dodging corporations?

    Once we zero in on the long-term end-game, then the means to get there will be easier to understand. Obama and his corporate masters have an end game, but they aren’t talking about it and nobody’s asking.

    The unsaid truth is likely the majority of Congress in both parties agree on removing Assad from power so we can build gas and oil pipelines across Syria, and then bomb Iran off the map to give us total control of the Middle East-Persian Gulf. And give Israel stability.

    Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe not. I think not. But let’s get real and stop pulling the wool over each other’s eyes.

    That’s why this current congressional kabuki theater over the means — a limited missile strike, with no boots on the ground at first — is just a distraction to keep from discussing the end game. Plus, it’s a good distraction from further outrage over the embarrassing NSA revelations.

    1. from Mexico

      kimsarah says:

      What’s been missing from this debate is what exactly is America’s long-term interest with Syria and the Middle East, and who do we mean by “America,” — our multi-national tax-dodging corporations?

      ….Obama and his corporate masters have an end game, but they aren’t talking about it and nobody’s asking.

      You got it!

      The reason that “interests” are not being talked about is because this is not a war being waged on behalf of US national interests, but on behalf of the transnational corporatist class. No one has ever expressed it more eloquently than Tiberius Gracchus:

      The wild beasts in Italy had at least their lairs, dens and caves whereto they might retreat; whereas the men who fought and died for that land wander to and fro with their wives and children, without resting place or house wherein they might lodge…. The poor folk go to war, to fight and die for the delights, riches and superfluities of others.

      PLUTARCH, The Parallel Lives

      1. from Mexico

        Or in other words, our illustrious politicians are waging a war on two fronts here: one against the vast majority of Americans, and the other against our putatative “evil enemies” in the Middle East.

      2. Banger

        Great quote. Always good to remind us of Rome.

        Since the U.S. has symbolically molded itself around Rome (isn’t it curious that our great temples of Government are modeled on Roman architecture and aesthetics?) we know that the agenda here is not merely that the ruling class, like all ruling classes, wants to grab as much money as possible but I suggest to you that the main goal here is the ideology of Empire and the quest for the American ruling elites to be the New Rome.

    2. DanB

      Warren is my senator and I think this is one of those defining issues that progressives will rationalize if (when I think) she “agonizingly” supports Obama on Syria. I believe Warren is either and idiot savant or your typical do-gooder who has morphed into a politician. I’m informed -can’t find a reference- that she recently met with Hillary and McCain. Enough said.

      1. Humbert Humbert

        Warren is down with AIPAC. She is rainman for her single issue … which is good, but not what we are looking for exactly in any kind of man for all seasons hero to fight against Ickes’ Reptoids.

    3. Pokey

      We are beginning to see the predictable consequences of the cynical, pathological lying that characterizes our “leaders” and their contempt for the intelligence of our people. What is the least untrue reason they can advance? How about, “we are great humanitarians who are appalled by this terrible violation of human rights.” The fact that the violator might out al-Qaeda allies is immaterial.

      We have to insist that Obama or McCrankey articulate how it is in our national interest to oust Assad.

      1. ohmyheck

        Ya know, somebody came up with a very good plan to deal with this Syria Debacle:

        “Poll: Majority Of Americans Approve Of Sending CONGRESS To Syria”

        “…a new poll of Americans has found that though the nation remains wary over the prospect of becoming involved in another Middle Eastern war, the vast majority of U.S. citizens strongly approve of sending Congress to Syria.”


        (Okay, yes, it is The Onion, but I bet most Americans would be happy to see their tax dollars used to airlift most of The Beltway to Damascus.)

    4. Antifa

      We are fighting for oil, natural gas and the American way (ever greater domination of the world economically and militarily.) And because Israel and the Saudis want Iran shut down. They cannot let Iran enrich uranium. They might build a nuke and become immune to invasion, or they might become energy independent by the time the oil runs out in a decade or two.

      Right now, no one in the Middle East is in a position to back down. Nor is Russia.

      War started in 1914 over a minor street shooting because no one could back down from defending their allies and proxy states.

      Russia has an existential problem in Syria/Iran because they are the last states between America and the Caspian Basin’s little Muslim nations, which will fall to American-sponsored regime change like dominoes after Iran is either an American proxy or a failed state like Iraq.

      Russia would lose most of its oil and natural gas to American control. It would be as intolerable as Brazil invading Mexico, and shipping “our” oil south to Rio. But getting to the Caspian Basin has been the neocon plan since about 1980. The Great Game, some call it.

      Iran has an existential problem in that if Syria and south Lebanon fall to Israeli control, Iran stands alone against America and Israel. They will go to just about any length to keep Syria and Hamas standing strong, right in Israel’s way, making life and economic development in northern Israel a miserable proposition.

      The Saudis (strict followers of the Wahabi sect) cannot back down because they are instructed by the Prophet to humble and destroy all infidels, which happens to be Shiite Iran above all others right now. The Wahabis will then go on to destroy any other infidels they come across in this world — but all those other infidels can wait until after Iran is laid low. The Saudis look forward to sharing the entire Middle East with Israel some day.

      Israel cannot back down from wanting to expand into Greater Israel (annex Palestine, southern Lebanon, most of Syria, some of Jordan, and Egypt up to the Suez) because Yahweh has chosen the Jewish people as His people, and their destiny is to become again the great nation they were before the Pharoah and the Romans and the Exodus and all that. Israel follows this Likkudist policy more or less relentlessly as time goes by. Right now, they’re feeling relentless about Iran enriching uranium. They want it stopped permanently. It might lead to a second nuclear power in the region, and then there might never be a Greater Israel.

      Why would anyone want to waltz into this tinderbox and let the dogs loose on one another?

      I suspect that President Obama’s mad drive to punish Syria in a limited way over an unproven chemical attack by parties yet unknown is because Israel told him they are going to attack Iran by October whether America likes it or not, so shit or get off the pot.

      Decision: we shall shit on Syria ere the autumn leaves fall. It’s AIPAC’s job to get Congress on board, but we’re going to do it even if Congress has a hissy fit. “He are the President, and Presidents haz the natural born right to make war!” ~ Secretary of State John Kerry

      The moment the shooting starts, there will be monumental blowback, and no one will be in control of the situation from then on.

      The first thing that will happen is missiles fired at Israel from Syria and southern Lebanon, as promised. Maybe chemical weapons this time. And not just those homemade missiles. Some of the late model Russian missiles, that can sink any of our carriers in 30 seconds flat. Russia has indicated that their response to any attack will be to supply their very latest missiles to Syria, their S-300’s, which are even more deadly, along with their latest air defense missiles.

      And Russia has just parked one of their modern missile cruisers right off the Syrian coast. We can sink it, of course, but it has radar and sonar and won’t go down before it launches all its missiles, which will put our entire Mediterranean fleet on the bottom less than a minute later. It’s a powerful deterrent.

      The first missile that lands in Israel will release Israel to hit Iran’s nuclear enrichment plants, the real reason for this splendid little war. But remember, those plants were designed after careful consideration of how much damage Israel’s largest atomic weapon could do to an underground bunker. Then they built them even deeper than that, so Israel can’t touch them.

      But Israel has to try. If they don’t, there may never be a Greater Israel, and that is Yahweh’s will and Israel’s destiny. They will use small tactical nukes, probably a series of them, to dig a deeper hole and do some damage. Maybe. Israel will also respond — beyond our control — against Hamas and Syria as they see fit.

      The Really Big Problem in all this is that as soon as nukes are used in Iran, Iran will close the Persian Gulf to shipping by sinking an oil tanker in those narrow waterways. Lloyd’s of London (and other maritime insurers) will instantly cease insuring oil shipments from the Gulf, and no more oil will flow. Fully 20% of the world’s oil flows out of there, so there will be full blown Depression in Europe and America overnight.

      That loss of energy input will present an existential threat to our nation’s survival, so we will nuke Iran and occupy its southernmost province (where all Iran’s oil is) and the Zagreb Mountains along the Persian Gulf (where all the missile launching Iranians are hiding in caves) to try to get oil shipping again, pronto. We cannot send troop ships into the Persian Gulf, so we will have to come in through Jordan/Iraq or Afghanistan. Or through Syria? It will take months. Russia will not stand idly by. They will equip Iran so it can stand between America and the Caspian Basin.

      Welcome to 1914 in 2013. It can all be avoided, but no one in charge wants to.

    5. Jim A

      I would argue that what’s missing is what an attack is supposed to accomplish. I mean gassing large numbers of civilians really IS beyond the pale. But I haven’t seen even the vaguest description of what we think that lobbing a few million dollars of cruise missiles is supposed to accomplish. I get that there are no good options, but I want somebody to try and justify why attacking Syria is the least bad option.

      1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

        In the interest of full discloure, I’d say my real view is that one should wait till the UN reports, and think hard, as I think pretty much like the Dem. Rep. Grayson (Florida) who said he will/would vote against the AUMF in the House.
        I like to play Devil’s Advocate to “test” the other’s side case… So, on the advocacy of launching a few $1,000,000 worth of missiles at Syria being the *least bad* option on Syria: I’d have to get a new brain. So I’ll pass. [ I’d need to show that doing nothing now is as bad or worse as bombing: tough …]

        1. zygmuntFRAUDernier

          Launching missiles = buying a lottery ticket.
          Argument: If you don’t buy a lottery ticket, you can’t win the lotto’s Grand Prize. (a probabilistic argument)

    6. down2long

      What is obviously missing from Sen. Warren is the second sentence that she should have inserted after “What the Assad reprehensible. Also, what the Bush and Obama regimes have done in the Middle Ease is reprehensible…..

      Here is Cali I have neo-Fascist NSA cocksucker Sen. Feinstein and the Senator from Israel, Senator Barbara Boxer. My rep is (newly reapportioned) Adam Schiff. He has been hard on on the NSA thing, but all sane reason seems to escape otherwise sane Jews when the world “Israel” is mentioned.

      I will make my wishes known. I’m sure as usual, they will be ignored. But one must try.

  3. Alexa

    I’ve been concerned that Warren would not stand up against the Dem Party Establishment on the most pressing issues (Foreign Policy and Social Safety Net Issues). She is very cautious, much like Al Franken–speaks out mostly on issues which I imagine have the Dem Leadership “stamp of approval.”

    And bad, if not worse–two like Republican Presidential Candidates [2016] look to be considering voting against further US military action in Syria, at the same time that Former Secretary Clinton, through a spokesperson, “backs the President on Syria.”

    This move will most likely ensure a challenge from the left, if not from within the Dem Party, at least a third party challenge.


    “War vote on Syria looms for potential GOP presidential hopefuls”


    “Hillary Clinton backs President Obama on Syria”


    1. Banger

      Alexa, I humbly suggest that you stop having “faith” in political representatives in Washington. They are not independent agents that can just say and do as they please. They are subject to unbelievable pressures. One group you don’t F with is the national security state. You can question tactics and policies but, as you’ve noticed I’m sure you cannot attack the fundamentals. Nearly all politicians do not question the assumption that Assad used chemical weapons. The whole idea of it is, on its face ludicrous unless Assad and his staff are insane. You don’t do something that stupid even if you just get off on killing people. It’s also possible that he was ordered by Iran, as Netanyahu suggested to “test” the West and use poison gas to see how far the new axis of evil would go. But the very fact that alternative explanations are not allowed to even be mentioned (other than covering Putin’s remarks) means something fishy is going on here that stinks of Iraq. Remember, those that knew most about WMDs in Iraq were frozen out of the “debate” to go to war–the media would not mention Scott Ritter, by far the most articulate expert on the matter, because he did not agree with the official line.

      When you have no free press, when politicians are subject to sanctions including, in my view, the ultimate sanction how the hell do you expect any sane pol in Washington to take on not just the Mighty Wurlitzer (the propaganda organs) and the operatives that can make life very bleak for you?

  4. ian

    “It’s that the Administration is utterly unable to make a case”

    It’s worse than that. They don’t seem to think they need to.
    If Obama had really thought this was necessary, he could have come down to capitol hill in person and addressed congress. His administration could have laid out the evidence (assuming they really have some) for public scrutiny. So far, I have seen no direct evidence of who ordered the attack, where the weapons came from, etc… He could have called congress into session immediately to consider this (indeed, talk about mixed signals – ‘this is really important, but there is no hurry’).

    I can’t remember an issue I had as visceral a reaction to as this. It is as if we learned nothing from Iraq/Afghanistan/Libya. I don’t usually write congressmen, but this time …

      1. Brindle

        My rep, Rick Nolan (D) Minnesota has done right—he calls out Kerry’s snow-job.
        I called his office and gave support.

        This article was on the front page of the local paper the other day:

        —“U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan says you can call him a “peacenik” if you like, but his stance against a U.S. military strike on Syria is based on what he’s seen in classified documents and briefings in the past week.

        And he said words being exchanged in public, such as those of Secretary of State John Kerry, have further bolstered his position.

        Nolan spoke with the News Tribune on Tuesday from his office in Duluth, where Kerry could be seen speaking at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on a muted television.

        “I would give anything to say what I saw and heard,” Nolan said of the classified information being used to support a strike against Syria and President Bashar Assad’s regime based on the alleged use of chemical weapons in the civil war there.

        He said three hours of briefings and an hour-long phone conference with Kerry on Sunday haven’t changed his mind.

        “It was four hours of nothing but hearing the beating of war drums,” Nolan said, adding that Kerry’s use of a repeated phrase irked him.

        “You don’t go to war on a ‘high confidence’ level,” Nolan said of Kerry’s depiction of evidence that Assad ordered chemical attacks.”—


        1. jrs

          “I would give anything to say what I saw and heard,” Nolan said of the classified information being used to support a strike against Syria.

          So he’s another one (like Wyden on the survielence state) TRYING, TRYING, to get the message out to the American people all while being forbidden from actually doing so due to classification! Thanks for amplifying it. We need desperately to hear the messages they can’t say.

      2. Banger

        Among other things, he’s pointing them to the Mighty Wurlitzer in full glory pumping out administration lies without fact-checking in the mainstream and that will continue because the national security state controls all information in the mainstream media–he’s telling them that if they cross the administration on this they’ll have to suffer the consequences. Nothing in Washington is debated on the intellectual merits of a particular course of action but, rather, on the basis of the carrot and the stick.

    1. Cynthia

      Proposing another mindless debacle in the Middle East is approaching insanity. The same mob crying for a war there is the same group which will demand withdrawal after it has begun.

      There is absolutely nothing our enemies would like better than to see us hip deep in another failed effort like Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Our compulsive intervention in the affairs of other sovereign nations remind me of ‘beach renourishment.’ You can spend all the money you like moving all the sand you want, but the ocean will laugh at your miserable efforts to control the uncontrollable.

      Our ignorance is exceeded only by our arrogance.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘There is absolutely nothing our enemies would like better than to see us hip deep in another failed effort like Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.’

        For a U.S. economy which reached its apogee of affluence in the mid-20th century, the state of permanent war which has endured ever since serves to slowly bleed its living standards back to the stagnation, genteel poverty and delusions of grandeur which characterise every other former empire.

        ‘We have to do this for Israel,’ a House aide told Politico.

        Far from being an ally, Israel is the most insidious enemy the U.S. has ever had: a far more dire existential threat than Syria ever could be. Letting the aggressive Israeli state use America’s UN security council veto as a human shield to protect Israel’s undeclared nuclear weapons from international inspection is a monstrous crime against humanity.

        1. Cynthia

          The USA is addicted to war and it’s looking for it’s next fix! The Country needs to attend War Mongers Anonymous.

      2. Banger

        I reject categorically that the wars you mentioned were “mistake.” I’m sure there was some miscalculation involved but, fundamentally, they achieved their goals which was to make the military industrial complex/national security state more powerful and rich and therefore more powerful and rich and so on as so on.

        When will Americans realize they have no say in what goes on in their name? Maybe now–maybe this will be the opening that we collectively need to bring these vampires to account.

        1. jrs

          If we actually get war with the vast majority of the people against it, feel the vacuum of our so called democracy, watch the air rush in. Snowden has already weakened the legitimacy of the U.S. regime greatly. And use any vaccum of a government become illegitimate to oppose things like the TPP.

          Uh no, I don’t wish for war on Syria to oppose the TPP. Not hardly! I want to stop the war. I’m just saying we’re reaching total illegitimization of the corporate state and that can be used as a weapon to stop getting screwed so badly by it.

    2. Lambert Strether

      They don’t even care enough to fake it any more. With Saddam, we had a decade of demonization, with Qaddafi more. And this whole thing wasn’t even on the horizon until what, three months ago? And here we are.

      1. Cynthia

        Can we please take a giant step back? Syria is a very complex issue and the sort of chest beating Obama and his lot are indulging in will help nobody. What we are talking about is an essentially corrupt, authoritarian regime that has finally met with strong opposition. The problem is that the groups involved in opposing Assad care little about the Syrian people. More important to them is how they manage to claim the power vacuum that would be left by Assad’s demise. Many of them support the kind of Taliban style regime that so disgusts the West when we talk about Afghanistan and others. Ultimately, this is about giving a bloody nose to a good friend of Iran and to hell with civilian deaths that happen as a result! Why don’t we stop pretending that Western powers give a damn about anyone except their own narrow interests?

        1. Antifa

          Yep, it’s about interested parties wanting to isolate Iran, and destroy Iran. Make Israel and the Saudis the de facto rulers of the Middle East.

          And America’s MIC is one of the interested parties.

        2. Bruno Marr

          “What we are talking about is an essentially corrupt, authoritarian regime that has finally met with strong opposition.”

          Are you referring to Syria? Or the United States?

          It’s difficult to call Assad dastardley, when you’ve got the Saudi’s for comparison.

        3. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

          It might be useful to record here that after WWI, the remnants of the Ottoman Empire were partitioned off to the Allied Powers, with a region left-over for modern Turkey (secular). The treaty that stuck (N.B.: an earlier treaty, the Treaty of Sevres, caused the Turks to revolt), was the Lausanne Treaty of July 24, 1923. As for Syria, it was put under administration of France: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Lausanne

        1. jrs

          Oh yea the feeling is overwhelming. Iraq 2.0. Gah, even Bill Murray eventually *escaped* his GROUNDHOG DAY!!! Is this groundhog day? I know the answers to all the Jeopardy questions, I know exactly when the old lady is going to need to be saved from choking, and I KNOW to oppose the war!!!! People think I’m a genius, well no it’s just so old. They really are running the same naked, perhaps even weaker lies from Iraq. They aren’t even trying.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I think they are trying, but Obama has been given a past for so long from the nominal left and has only received real opposition over insane and incredulous issues that Obama has no experience with dealing with opposition.

            Obama’s sycophants applaud everything he does, and my guess is Obama dismisses criticism as himself as the products of mad men. He probably can’t comprehend he isn’t beloved.

  5. Fiver

    If members of Congress are waffling only for “pragmatic” reasons, i.e., the various “will it” or “what if” amoral scenarios running the gamut from saving face to how to hit all the regional pins with one smart bomb, rather than on the facts and what those facts have to say about the abhorrent nature of US policy vis a vis Syria since March 2011, the public can not win this battle. It is essential the public knows not just that military action now is fraught with hazard – they need to know just how completely they’ve been deceived in yet another neocon fit of imbecility.

    Obama, his rabid bulldog Kerry, the rest of the Admin and importantly, the media’s paid “expert” stooges must be confronted squarely with their own criminal acts, past and future. Debating the wisdom of an attack by weighing the various options and consequences, plays into the Admin’s hands – it allows them to create ever-more disinformation while ramping up a full-bore propaganda effort that seeks to drown all sane opinion in war mania.

    We need to focus on the fact that the collection of Goons that populate this Admin, its agencies, its military and its media complex have presented the global public with arguments insisting/”proving” Assad was responsible for the attack suited to Grade 3. Only by building on independent fact-finding and reporting alliance that challenges directly the US/Israelis/Saudi/French altogether pathetic excuse for a “case” to go on a killing spree will work. It’s what has at least slowed this war machine down to date.

    For example, the rather crucial fact that the Al Qaeda affiliated “rebels”, sponsored by the US via Qatar and the Saudis from the beginning, have undoubtedly gained access to their own chemical weapons – making a hash of every single argument from the Admin. So long as they can lie anew each day, they will win. It’s the enormous cyst of the original Lie, that Assad knowingly slit his own throat by using chemical weapons on his own people that must be removed.


    1. Cynthia

      This is NOT a moral judgement on the part of the Western power. It is an ego judgment, masquerading as righteousness. They, the Western powers, were already a part of the civil war in Syria for a long time taking side with the rebels, thus they have no moral right to judge their opponents at a time when their side is loosing.

      The Western leaders went on a high horse when Mr. Obama declared an arbitrary and self-defined redline. If the Western leaders now find it difficult to make their side win and find their horse-ride uncomfortable especially under the glaring eyes of the world, it is of their own making. That’s because they (potentially) invited the chemical weapon attack from their mercenary rebels to garner additional support from their Western partners, i.e., the US and Israel, including Saudi Arabia. They appear to have been done this out of sheer desperation.

      It will be an act of utter cowardice, if the Western leaders want to save their ego and their un-smeared face by bringing calamity on innocent people.

    2. Banger

      Preach it! Yes that’s what we have to make people aware of what is really going on–at long last this is within the realm of possibility now.

  6. psychohistorian

    I hope you are right Yves but I am not so sure.

    I keep believing that the plutocrats have the long term plan laid out and are willing to produce some more false flag terror to insure they get their war/movement towards more oil control and continuation of empire.

    And we thought George Bush was bad…..what does this mean when we get Hitlerry for president. Will the first woman president be worse than the first president of color?

    Are we all going to live that long?……..I can hardly wait.

    1. participant-observer-observed

      Follow the money! Wall ST boondoggle for speculators: can’t wait to get the price of gas up to $10/gallon (based on $1 increase due to war inconvenience>>$5/gallon profit)!

    2. Cynthia

      Think about it, why would Assad be stupid enough to cross Obama’s so-called ‘red-line’ and risk triggering a US/NATO attack, by launching a chemical weapons attack with UN inspectors on the ground in a suburb of Damascus (Assad’s own capital and stronghold), when there has never even been an alleged chemical weapon’s attack near Damascus before? This especially doesn’t make much sense given that Assad’s forces are winning key victories against the Al-CIAeda linked so-called ‘FSA’ mercenaries without even resorting to chemical weapons – which have likely killed no more than a grand total 1500 people out of over +100,000 dead in this US/NATO backed conflict?

      ‘Qui Bono’ — Assad or the ‘FSA,’ who’ve been trying to get their US, UK, French backers more actively involved in delivering a decisive blow against Assad’s forces? Especially considering that the AL-CIAeda linked ‘FSA’ has actually been caught red-handed several times with chemical weapons in hand?

      The Winds of War seems to be blowing a ‘False Flag’ op.

    3. Synopticist

      I can’t help suspecting that the agreement was made at the bildeburg conference, that we we’re going to give this one to the Arab princes and the likudists.

      God I hate being this cynical.

  7. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

    Re: Obama stop-over in Stockholm; via: Deutsche Welle and The Daily Telegraph. During a joint Swedish-American press conference, President Barack Obama was heard to say, as I recall: “My credibility is not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line.”

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I think Obama is paranoid much in the manner of Nixon and only allows like-minded types or total sycophants near him. From Obama’s perspective, there is constant array of enemies out to ruin his credibility.

      1. AbyNormal

        The Geopolitics of Gas and the Syrian Crisis: Syrian “Opposition” Armed to Thwart Construction of Iran-Iraq-Syria Gas Pipeline June 2013
        “And a special role is played by natural gas, which is emerging as the main fuel of the 21st century. The geopolitical problems connected with its production, transportation and use are perhaps more than any other topic on the radar of Western strategists.”
        This pipeline, dubbed the «Islamic pipeline», was supposed to start operation in the period from 2014 to 2016.(deadline/motive)
        “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. According to preliminary estimates, these discoveries should substantially increase the country’s gas reserves, which previously amounted to 284 billion cubic meters. The fact that the export of Syrian or Iranian gas to the European Union could take place through the port of Tartus, which has ties to Russia, is unsatisfactory to Qatar and its Western patrons as well.”
        “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.”


      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Our “rebel” friends are defectors from the previous regime. They weren’t outsiders, but like Libya, they promised stability in exchange for switching masters (the U.S./Saudi Arabia for Iran/Russia).

        Our “rebels” are losing. Their supporters have fled or decided Al Qaeda is much worse than the Alawite regime. In the Spring when the stories about training rebel forces and sending arms went around, Assad was cleaning house outside of the Kurdish regions and poorest regions of the country.

        Combined with the state of the economy and elections next year, now is the only time to launch such rank thuggery. Libya was in 2011, not 2010 or 2012.

    1. different clue

      A Baath government would welcome pipelines just as much as an al Quaeda government would. So why would this be a war for pipeline access?

  8. john dordan

    Elizabeth Warren is a progressive on everything but Palestine/Israel (PEP). One thing the attack on Syria is about is a run up to a war with Iran and Hezbollah. AIPAC, Shelly Adelson, the whole rotten bunch are behind this war as they were behind the war with Iraq. Let Americans fight for Israel while the Israelis continue to steal Palestinian land. The good thing is that America is on the ropes–perhaps Russia/Putin and China will do for America what Eisenhower did for Briton and France at Suez–put an end to our malignant empire.

  9. Kim Kaufman


    AIPAC and Israel want war with Iran.

    I remember looking at Elizabeth Warren’s website before she got elected and on Iran it said all options should be kept on the table. She’s no progressive. She will vote for this. Barbara Boxer voted for it – she fell all over herself at the hearing giving John Kerry big wet kisses.

    An interesting vote to watch for me will be Henry Waxman. He has put out a pretty strong statement questioning this – because he is anticipating a tough upcoming race and progressives in his district have been giving him the blues (my campaign about him saying he would vote for chained cpi helped). But he is a huge AIPAC slave.

    And this from HuffPo: “Syria Intervention Can Be Paid For With Preexisting Funds: Obama Official” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/04/syria-intervention_n_3869472.html

    What about the deficit? Oh, now it doesn’t matter. More chained cpi to pay for it.

    1. Kim Kaufman

      The official’s assessment that a narrowly tailored operation could be paid for with “existing Department of Defense resources” was seconded by two high-ranking aides on Capitol Hill.

      However, another Hill staffer argued that without a greater understanding of the operation, it would be impossible to settle on an exact price tag or means of payment.

      “Who the f— knows what it will cost? It depends entirely on what happens,” said the staffer.

      1. kimyo


        Secretary of State John Kerry said at Wednesday’s hearing that Arab counties have offered to pay for the entirety of unseating President Bashar al-Assad if the United States took the lead militarily.

        “With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes,” Kerry said. “They have. That offer is on the table.”

        “In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost.”

        arab countries being saudi arabia and qatar. i guess our military is now for hire by the highest bidder.

        (a highfive/shoutout to all the other kims posting tonight. my informal count shows that a majority of kims are clearly against war for natgas pipelines)

        1. Montanamaven ,

          An essay at 4&20 BLackbirds calls us “the Mercenary States of America.” Kerry has been getting advice from his friends at Heinz Ketchup apparently since he sounds like he’s in a corporate boardroom with all his talk of “cost”. And he also uses the language of a poker player with his those “cards are on the table” quip. This is about death and destruction. It is not a sales transaction nor a game. Or is it? What a sorry old satrap.

          1. Dr. Noschidt

            M, I just got the connection: Heinz ketchup, Burger King, every Armed Forces (G.I. or Contract) base on the planet pays tribute to the “sole source providers” of such, through the “invisible hand” of the Global Imperial Oligarchs. Guaranteed Gain is So Sweet.

        2. Coop

          This, to me, says more than everything else, what is going on over there. Qatar and Saudi Arabia will pay for the US attack. The US military is now for hire, and Qatar can get it’s gas pipeline. It couldn’t be more obvious, and I’m just amazed that John Kerry would spell it out like that

          1. Fiver

            Right you are. Kerry is coming off more and more like someone with PTSD – he’s wound himself up the way he needed to for shooting helpless women and children in Vietnam, and at times appears about to explode with pure malicious belligerence.

            For him to even discuss this in $$ terms, given the $trillion US military/security budget, betrays his own preposterous “moral imperative” or “strategic necessity”. It makes as great a mess of the various “US stature” or “the world’s one indispensible power” arguments – if someone else topped the Saudi bid (China, for example) would the US stand down?

            Impeach the lot of them, as there is no doubt whatever they’re acting in a way treasonous to real US interests by planning to engage (yet again) in war crimes.

        3. Jim Haygood

          ‘i guess our military is now for hire by the highest bidder.’

          Remember those nasty Hessian mercenaries who served the British crown during the U.S. revolutionary war?

          Now we’re the Hessians, comrades.

      2. Antifa

        It’s unbelievable the way our leaders talk about this Syrian adventure in terms of us shooting at Syria, at this expense per missile, and that totals to such and such. Done deal. We can easily afford this.

        Fellas, you can’t possibly know what shooting at someone is going to cost you — it won’t be $0.11 per bullet because they’ll bloody well shoot back, and their friends and allies will start shooting each other, too.

        This little adventure is going to involve Israel planting tactical nukes on Iranian enrichment facilities within 24 hours of the first enemy missile landing on Israeli soil. After that, the whole world will be sorry we ever started this fustercluck.

        “Benteen, come on, big village, be quick. Bring packs.”
        ~ General George Armstrong Custer

      1. Massinissa

        Has there been a war in the middle east since the creation of their modern state that Israel has NOT been in favor of war?

        I mean my god, if there was a poll to see how many Israelis would be ok with bombing Iran for, well, no reason at all, it would probably still get 50%+ approval.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          For the sake of historical accuracy, I don’t think the Israelis were in favor of the ’67 and ’73 wars as much as they were upon them. They weren’t slam dunks, and Sharon earned his Israeli national hero status. Yes, I know they technically started one of them, but its much like the opening shot at the battle of Lexington and Concorde, everyone was already on the battlefield.

          1. charles sereno

            1967 was a milestone in the Mideast. The June 8 attack on the USS Liberty and the subsequent, quick reflex, top-down US response charted the destiny of the region. 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of that momentous, yet little recognized, decision of LBJ. Oh yeah, let’s not also forget Grumpy Grampa McCain’s Admiral Daddykins.

          2. Fiver

            Sorry. Cannot let that stand. There was nothing whatever “inevitable” about the war in 1967. There are umpteen instances where militaries are on “alert” but do not fight. The Israeli first strike was a profound breach of International Law (the Egyptians were in their barracks) and one of the greatest historical tragedies of the modern era – the Israeli expansion through Occupation has been the core driver of events (relentless violence) in the region up to and including the current conflict. Had that unprovoked attack and land grab not taken place, and had the US not given Israel nuclear weapons, we could now be enjoying the benefits of a generation+ of peace, not in the demented grasp of the Israeli “strategic” view of the region that has been absorbed by US planners and politicians via decades of Israeli and Lobby penetration and propaganda.

            Nobody will be happier than Netanyahu should the looming US attack open up a broader conflict. Ever does the tail wag, but not oft so dangerously.

    2. profoundlogic

      Just wondering where Mr. Beard stands on this one? I can only assume he’s willing to play ball with the war mongers? Gotta protect that sacred holy land and those corporate multi-national interests. What say ye Mr. Beard?

      1. F. Beard

        As for me:

        Like one who takes a dog by the ears is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him. Proverbs 26:17

        As for ancient Israel, it was rebuked and later punished punished by the Lord for relying on foreign alliances and its military rather than Him:

        “Woe to the rebellious children,” declares the Lord,
        “Who execute a plan, but not Mine,
        And make an alliance, but not of My Spirit,
        In order to add sin to sin;
        Who proceed down to Egypt
        Without consulting Me,
        To take refuge in the safety of Pharaoh
        And to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
        “Therefore the safety of Pharaoh will be your shame
        And the shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation.
        “For their princes are at Zoan
        And their ambassadors arrive at Hanes.
        “Everyone will be ashamed because of a people who cannot profit them,
        Who are not for help or profit, but for shame and also for reproach.”
        Isaiah 30:1-5 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

        Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help
        And rely on horses,
        And trust in chariots because they are many
        And in horsemen because they are very strong,
        But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord!
        Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster
        And does not retract His words,
        But will arise against the house of evildoers
        And against the help of the workers of iniquity.
        Now the Egyptians are men and not God,
        And their horses are flesh and not spirit;
        So the Lord will stretch out His hand,
        And he who helps will stumble
        And he who is helped will fall,
        And all of them will come to an end together.
        Isaiah 31:1-3

        The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes. Proverbs 21:1

    3. Jess

      After the last reapportionment realignment Waxman ended up as my Congresscritter. (Going from Jane Harman to Waxman: talk about frying pan to fire.) What a complete scumbag. One of the things that came out was that he hasn’t even maintained a residence in CA in something like 14 years. He’s a full-time permanent resident of the District of Corruption. Voted against him in the primary and left that race blank on my general election ballot.

  10. Hugh

    I think it is likely that the Senate will approve a Syria resolution. The House is something of a toss up. A lot of undecided is an indication of members willing to shop their vote, seeing which way the wind is blowing, or avoiding public criticism until the last minute and then voting yes.

    The kicker is AIPAC and the Israel lobby. Many conservative members thinking of their evangelical backers might be swayed by them. Only the true blue libertarians I can see holding out against them. As for the Democrats, they tend to whinge and wail but when it comes down to it (as with Obamacare), they dump the kabuki and go with the President.

    Another consideration for Democrats is that a defeat for Obama would cement his lame duck status.

    We should remember that our political system is totally corrupt. So considerations like reality, evidence, or what’s best for the country have absolutely nothing to do with anything the Congress or Obama is likely to do.

    1. from Mexico

      Hugh says:

      The kicker is AIPAC and the Israel lobby. Many conservative members thinking of their evangelical backers might be swayed by them.

      I think that’s key in understanding the lay of the political landscape. As Andrew Bacevich explains:

      In 1967, evangelicals delighted in Israeli territorial gains made as a result of the Six Day War, particularly the seizure of East Jerusalem from Jordan. Believing that the restoration of the Old City to Jewish control is a predcondition of the Second Coming, dispensationalists were not inclined to quibble over the legality of annexation; this was conquest in service of a larger cause. Similarly, in bombing Iraq’s nuclear reactor and invading Lebanon, Israel enjoyed uncritical support from the preponderance of American evangelicals. More recently still, conservative Christians have adamantly rejected any criticism of the measures that Israel has employed in its efforts…

      Confronted with violence between Israel and its neighbors, writes one scholar, “the Christian Zionist does not have to rework the ethical aritmatic…in order to reckon whose side his is on.”

      –ANDREW J. BACEVICH, The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War

      1. WJ

        Goddam evangelicals. All Luther’s fault, they…

        Love the reference to a Gracchus brother de Mexico. That’s why this site is so awesome.

        Everything I’ve read suggests: (1) the unofficial word from prior investigations strongly implied that it was the rebels who had on occasion used sarin; (2) this has less to do *directly* with the absurd Iran-Israel stuff than it does with the pipeline that Saudi Arabia and Qatar wanted Syria to approve, but which it didn’t, seeing as said pipeline would harm its economic interests as well as Russia’s. It’s another gambit by which we try to wrest control of resources via humanitarian action.

        The timing, though, suggests that it’s also intended to distract from the NSA leaks. (Perhaps starting a needless war is how the administration will ‘get ahead’ of the story). On many levels, of course, this doesn’t make much sense, but that only goes to support the theory, given the incompetence of our leaders.

        Next thing you know military grade anthrax will start being mailed to Larry Kudlow and Soledad O’Brien. One can only hope.

    2. charles sereno

      Polling results on the Syrian issue will be very useful in gauging future political trends. I wonder, eg, if there is a split between evangelicals and secular tea-partiers.

    3. Cynthia

      I am an agnostic who despises all fundamentalists, including the Christian variety, since the most dangerous individuals are those that conflate known unknowns with unknown unknowns. They know and therefore can’t be wrong and are going to force it down your throat whether you want it or not and won’t consider the possibility they might actually not know, since it would destroy everything they based their whole lives on if proven otherwise. When you live an outright lie your whole life, the truth is the biggest enemy to it of them all.

      1. F. Beard

        I am an agnostic Cynthia

        Equals cowardly atheist? Or too lazy to seek and therefor find? Are you sure that you yourself are above deserved contempt?

        who despises all fundamentalists, including the Christian variety, Cynthia

        Fundamentals like truth, justice, mercy, tolerance, forgiveness, liberty, faith, hope and love? Because those are fundamentals in the Bible. Perhaps those you despise are not fundamentalists at all?

      1. Cynthia

        If President Obama really wanted to bring down the Assad regime, he’d simply convince the Syrian government to massively increase its defense budget and pass a law banning single-payer health care.

  11. Conscience of a Conservative

    It’s hard to have much confidence in Obama when it comes to Syria. He ignored it for the most part for the first two and a years, drew a couple of red lines in the sand only to draw more red lines, finally announces that the U.S. will act only to get cold feet at the last second after the U.K. vote and punts the decision(unnecessarily) to Congress.

    Engaging Congress is fine, but it needed to happen before Obama made threats on the camera with regards to Syria. Absent from Obama’s discussion is what I believe a very behin the scenes topic, “Iran”, “Hezbolah” and the fight going on in the Arab World of Shia vs Sunni. No accident here that Saudi Arabia and other rich Arab states are willing to fund a Syria initiative.

    1. Antifa

      Pretty sure Israel got tired of this shilly-shally and told President Obama, We’re gonna whack Iran before October — you in or out?” Nothing else would get him to stick to a timetable like he is, or let it be known that whatever Congress votes is irrelevant. We’re already at war.

  12. Jon C

    Different take on Warren from New England Cable News than Huffington Post based on the asme event: http://www.necn.com/09/02/13/Syria-the-topic-for-Warren-Markey-at-Lab/landing.html?blockID=851233&feedID=11106


    Sen. Elizabeth Warren believes President Obama made the right decision in seeking congressional approval before any possible strike. The Senator spent hours reviewing the evidence in a briefing Sunday and isn’t convinced military action is the right course of action.

    “Slowing down a little seems to make some sense here,” Warren said.

    “What Assad has done is reprehensible but our job is to look out for the best interest of the United States,” she said. “It’s a very complicated situation on the ground.”


    To me, she reads as a “lean no,” but she’s clearly not being bold about that. As you said, I think she needs a push from her constituents (like myself) to give her the confidence to vote no. I’ve been calling her office daily.

    1. Banger

      Malmo, this needs to be repeated over and over again. The official story is ludicrous on the face of it–doesn’t mean that it’s false–it is possible it could be true. Assad could have lost his mind and is just lashing out madly at people using chemical weapons to kill people for fun instead of artillery, bombs or incendiary devices.

      The madness is that the public intellectual class in the USA and in the West has failed to maintain even a semblance of rigor–everything is about going along to get along. Conformity and fear is as constant in the U.S. as the USSR it seems. It’s stunning–people are everyday making arguments that are the equivalent to resurrecting the idea that the Sun goes around the earth. The issue of our collective idiocy of our public intellectuals, including, mainstream “journalists” and commentators.

      And where is the left? I’ll tell you where it is–it’s dead, stone cold dead!

      1. Jim Haygood

        The left is, and always has been, just as red in tooth and claw as its alleged ideological opponents on the right.

        The Depublicrat War Party does not care where you are on the ideological spectrum. It just wants to suck your wealth, kill your kids, and build its unaccountable, unassailable national security state.

      2. Antifa

        The fact that sarin gas killed some people can be determined at the scene of the deaths, if qualified inspectors are allowed to do their jobs.

        Determining who got the sarin to the scene is no longer possible, because the chain of evidence has already been completely destroyed.

        It could have been the two missiles tracked to impact at that location. It could have been some sarin tanks the missiles hit. Everything is on an anecdote basis now, it’s all “He said, she said, he said.”

        We can never know for sure.

        1. Malmo

          @ Antifa

          Precisely, which is in part why a military strike is preposterous. John Kerry’s “beyond a reasonable doubt” is complete and utter bullshit. He’s twisting the intelligence as I’ve linked below to get the preordained result he seeks. Until we, the people, actaully see the evidence he’s claiming is irrefutable, and judge for ourselves, there isn’t a chance in hell I nor any thinking and reasonable person can believe what these war criminals, plotting the next US war, are spoon feeding us.

      3. WJ

        Yes, Yes, and Yes. Unfortunately, though, Wolf Blitzer starts to seizure as soon as he deviates from the talking points he’s received from Pentagon “sources” prior to going on air.

        What can be done? Not much. Call your congresswomen/men. Write them a note. Whoopee. The Brazilians were out in the streets in tens of thousands when bus fare was raised. We Americans sit at home watching Netflix as our government blithely plans to kill hundreds of Syrian children for the sake of a natural gas pipeline that will probably not work out anyway.

        The faux moralism of our foreign policy discourse–evidenced in Warren’s quote–is nauseating. Give me de Maistre over these people. At least you can argue with him!

  13. Tom Denman

    “Indeed, one has to wonder as to why the US is trying to pre-empt UN evidence-gathering and analysis. Might it be that it would finger the rebels, as in the folks the US has been funding? Are we prepared to go after them if they were the ones who crossed Obama”s red line?”

    Exactly. If the rebels are proven to be behind the attack it might be instructive to see John Kerry contort logic to convince us that they don’t deserve to be “punished.” And it would be even more interesting to watch the President go before the cameras to explain that the evidence turned out not to be as..uh..”compelling” as we thought.

    Jimmy Carter recently said that the United States is no longer a “functioning democracy.” If either house of Congress were to reject Mr. Obama’s war authorization it would be a great first step in restoring our democracy.

    1. sleepy

      I don’t believe that scenario will ever be allowed to happen.

      No matter what the UN investigators say, the admin will be capable of muddling the findings enough to keep hawking their message.

      Absent some cracks in the MSM, I just don’t see it. This admin, and others of course, have consistently lied about facts to advance their agenda. Just look at social security.

      Now about those cracks in the MSM–I think a wild card in all of this could be some leaks from Eric Snowden. The NSA has claimed that it doesn’t know exactly what he took. Assuming that’s true, some earthshaking revelation out of the Guardian could perhaps open the floodgates, though I think that’s unlikely.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I think Glen has been on the ball releasing documents in response to Administration lies. Obama’s NSA story keeps changing in response to new documents. I know it might be popular to think Syria is a distraction, but his current course is probably doing more to destroy Obama’s standing than anything Greenwald could release because people could always rationalize that Obama inherited the problem, ignoring Obama ran for President as opposed to be selected. Obama’s behavior during the buildup to Syria can’t be ignored.

      2. Synopticist

        You must be kidding if you hope you’ll get something out of the Guardian about the rush to war in syria. The Guardian is probably the most pro-war paper in the UK this time round, bar none.

        For 2 years they’ve been pushing the same line about the brave rebels and the nasty regime. Their readers are overwhelmingly opposed, but that hasn’t stopped them.

        I’vr mentioned this before, but I suspect they’re subsidised by the Qatari government.

  14. Chromex

    They don’t need to make a case. As someone who has worked for leigislatures before the “undecided” voters know exactly how they “feel” about the issues, which is irrelevant.
    They are no more undecided than they can fly. What “undecided” means in this context- a big stakes vote- has NOTHING to do with facts or issues. The question is “what can you give me for my vote”. Expect a lot of behind-the -scenes haggling and a narrow victory for the warmongers.
    Really- when, since about 1990 has Congress ever taken an important sibstantive vote on the merits of the issues before it? The trend is ALWAYS political posturing and what’s in it for “my” district.
    It’s one of the big reasons that Carter is correct.

  15. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

    There is an article at The Guardian web-site, “Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin set for collision over Syria at G20 summit”. I sense a lot of astonishment there about the Obama administration seemingly willing to Bet the House on what intelligence they have received and presented so far. It just about feels like a “Through the Looking Glass” series of events has transpired…

  16. Handgrip

    The DC criminal war mongers are the “axis of evil”,… they are the wicked.
    We must stop these insane war criminals now and put them on a Nuremberg type trial.

    “The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one”
    Matthew 13:38

    1. Cynthia

      It’s sickening to see this temporary halt to the start of another U.S. war. The world knows that America worships the God of War and his twin brother, The God of Greed!

      Yeah, the U.S. idolizes these two Gods while it sings: “Killing is Thrilling, Whether for a Pound or a Shilling, We are always Willing!”

  17. ltr

    Well done, Yves.

    I want the United States to stay out of Syria now, and to stop supporting the civil war which we have been doing for the last 18 months.

  18. Peteybee

    Please. It’s just beltway huffing and puffing. The media is following along just as they always do. I sincerely hope we do not go to war but without some very loud opposition it is still looking like Iraq 2.0.

    And you know what, the only people I see opposing it are rabidly anti-Obama conservatives.

    Today’s Anti-Propaganda is brought to you by the word “Credibility”, read about the Orwellian master stroke that is this one word:

  19. Banger

    Congress is skittish but it would like to approve the venture. Why? Because the Mighty Wurlitzer props up everybody in power–that is one of the mighty pillars it rests on.

    As I peruse the press and listen to statements from pols who oppose the intervention no one is questioning the fundamental assumption that Assad gassed a neighborhood of Damascus 10 miles from where the Arms inspectors were staying when, if he simply enjoyed killing people he could have flattened that neighborhood and no one would have cared. Instead, the mainstream story goes, Assad chose to endanger his dominant strategic position and invite the possibility of defeat. Makes sense? Of course, since we are dealing with an “intellegetia” in the United States that has all the ability to cogitate of Cargo Cultists we have to spell it out here–no it doesn’t make sense! The rebels, in stunning contrast have everything to gain.

    OK that doesn’t mean it’s a “slam dunk” that the rebels, the Saudis or the CIA did this–we just don’t know for sure. But the key fact here is that IT IS NOT BEING DISCUSSED!!!!!! And it is not being discussed because the mainstream media is controlled and is not free to discuss this issue using reason and science.

  20. Dr. Pitchfork

    E. Warren is my senator, too.

    Before Obama decided to go to Congress, I tried for DAYS just to get someone to tell me her position on Syria and whether the Prez could attack without Congress. Her staff couldn’t even tell me her opinion. They are so “cautious,” they wouldn’t even put anything in an email, but insisted on talking over the phone, because, you know, “these issues are very complex.”

    Justin Amash has a firm position, Rand Paul has a firm position. Why can’t my Senator have an effing opinion? She and her staff get half a million dollars a year and they can’t form an opinion???

    And yes, this is like TARP all over again.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think she was on the Daily Show discussing credit card reforms, and it struck me she was responding to bad policy from the late 1980’s. She was a Republican, although one from Massachusetts, into her early 30’s (possibly 30).

      Despite the myriad of problems in America, her proposed reforms ignored people depend on credit cards for bills and small businesses. She wasn’t advocating anything to change course. In many ways her reforms would be a short term disaster without corresponding program to balance the pain.

      It occurred to me she is a legitimate technocrat. Within certain confines, she would be wonderful to run a program, but for the most part, her liberalism is largely a result of appearance and the current state of affairs among American liberals. They are non-entities concerned with a cultivation of an appearance. On a few issues, they may have stumbled upon they can be good, but in simplest terms, Democrats don’t elect Democrats. They elect post-partisan non-entities who might inure them from Republicans being mean.

    2. Banger

      I think we need to dispense with the Warren issue here. Warren has chosen to become a politician and as such she has to respond to the power relations she is faced with. If she wants to run for President or VP she needs to be in the game. If she choose the Dennis Kucinich path she is done and may not be re-elected. She has to be orthodox on national security issues in order to gain traction on issues she cares about. If she doesn’t she will be ignored and/or humiliated in the mainstream media who always demonize dissent and that will not change–the press is controlled; no matter how cogent an argument you make, no matter what evidence you present you cannot offend the main pillars of the Deep State–that state rests on the corporate oligarchy and the national security state–Warren cannot attack both as Dennis did and expect to live politically or, indeed, live should she get some traction.

      1. Synopticist

        I have to agree. We need mainstream politicians who deliberately want to shift the overton window leftwards. If sh’e going to stand a chance of weakenning the economic oligarchy, she can’t take on the securicrats as well.

        I’m not willing to give up on parliamentary democracy yet. Give me room to hope.

        1. Malmo

          We at least have the polls strongly on our side, so at least the first part of the democratic impulse is being given voice. What we need now is a political class that responds to said voices in kind. Based on what the people are telling their legislators this military action cannot take place. I’m willing to give our politicians the benefit of the doubt, because I do think this reasonates like the TARP vote. Democracy is teetering, but not done just yet–at least on this score. If we lose this one, then perhaps the final nail in the coffin has been hammered.

          1. Banger

            In order to keep the polls on “our side” the pressure should be on the mainstream media which still presents, more or less, a unified front, i.e., pro-war, pro the national security state. Politicians cannot remain long in their skeptical (of going to war) positions unless the media reflects that skepticism to some degree at least.

            1. Malmo

              Banger, yes, you are correct. The media giants want war, and they bang the drum for it incessantly. It feels like a psy ops event on their part too. Today was a particularly distinct day for the banging. Most of thier guest were war mongering scoundrels. CNN and MSNBC were the primary culprits. FOX was to a lesser extent. But I must admit I watch it little.

              I did see where the vote will be by next Wed. This weekend will be especially important to round up the congressional turds to do the work of these psychopaths.

              1. Banger

                The War Party almost always wins because they control the mainstream media. How that happened is a beautiful story that goes back to “Operation Mochingbird” which created what was referred to as the as “the Mighty Wurlitzer” excellent and robust in design and lives to this day with more refinement and power than it had back in the day.

                However, if the War Party fails in this new war it will mean that that organ has lost some of its power and then I think we are in for a lot of surprises and perhaps rapid changes in power-relations in Washington.

        2. JTFaraday

          “If sh’e going to stand a chance of weakenning the economic oligarchy, she can’t take on the securicrats as well.”

          I fail to see how you can weaken the economic oligarchy without weakening the global terror and domestic police state.

  21. washunate

    Happy vacation Yves. It does feel a lot like TARP. Which makes me wonder how many leftists/liberals/progressives/Democrats will end up supporting it like many now support bailing out the banksters or not prosecuting torturers or overthrowing the sovereign government of Libya or implementing GOP non-healthcare or imprisoning drug users and immigrants or cracking down on occupy…

    One small quibble, I would offer a defense of Warren. She’s not a progressive hope. Rather, she’s a former Republican chased out of the party because she cares about what the data has to say (Two Income Trap and all) and has been pushing banking/finance/consumer protection regulations.

    If moderate Republicans are the progressive hope in fixing higher education and militarism, that shows the utter destruction of the left, not the failing of Elizabeth Warren. She should be one of the most conservative Democrats in Washington, not one of the most liberal.

    Even Milton Friedman knew the drug war was idiotic. Even Ron Paul knew the PATRIOT Act and FISA Amendments Act were beyond dumb. Even Federal Reserve presidents have spoken out against Too Big To Fail. Even the Army’s own investigator concluded that war crimes had been committed and the only question was whether the perpetrators would be held to account. Etc.

    1. jrs

      Good point, if she’s an ex-Republican it makes her positions understandable especially on foreign policy.

      Sometimes I’ve gotten into debates where I figured the debater was at least a real social democratic in their outlook because the economics were left enough, and then I’ve found their positions on non-economic issues so strange (why are they so authoritarian? why such supporters of rigid social orders? – and I mean the *existing* ones not even commie utopia)) Turned out to be ex-Republicans gone left economically.

  22. Howard Lippitt

    Maybe Obama can get Colin Powell to march over to the Hill with a nice PowerPoint presentation to convince the undecided on the veracity of the intelligence.

    1. Cynthia

      If President Obama really wanted to bring down the Assad regime, he’d simply convince the Syrian government to massively increase in its defense budget and pass a law banning single-payer health care.

  23. clarence swinney

    Obama is being attack violently for a no win involvement
    How many involvements preceded this one?
    Reagan=Nicaragua-El Salvador-Honduras-Lebanon-Grenada
    Bush I = Gulf War—Kosovo–Somalia
    Bush II—Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan
    Will not bombing sites spread Sarin gas?

  24. jfleni

    Of course Barry is going to get his head handed to him (along with one of Barry’s favorite epithets a “Turd Sandwich”!) because it’s patently obvious that the whole thing is based on the dulusions of “Bibi the Mad”, AIPAC, a clutch of deranged neocons, and last but not least fanatical Saudis and Qataris.

    Citizens and Congress are starting to smarten up and reject the foolish mistakes that led to Iraq and Afganistan.

    1. Antifa

      “Citizens and Congress are starting to smarten up and reject the foolish mistakes that led to Iraq and Afganistan.”

      True, true. But citizens will only count when they get out in the streets and stay out in the streets until they shut down their cities and stop the government from pursuing a bigger American empire.

      Time to bring our government back to our shores. We’ve got a country to govern here, and they sure as hell aren’t doing it. Aren’t even trying.

  25. Malmo

    I can’t believe what I just heard. Peter King, the warmongering dolt from NY, was just on CNN claiming it’s no big deal that the calls against the military action are running 30,40, 50 to 1 since only those opposed to the action being pursued are the ones who call congress. In other words what really matters is those who don’t call, and their numbers outweigh the callers 50 to 1.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Peter King is a noted terrorist and long time supporter of the IRA. The mere idea that he is given a platform to espouse his violent platform on U.S. MSM is a sign of the descent into a fascist state.

  26. Jeff N

    Elizabeth Warren disappoints again – Yves was the only person I know who predicted this before she was even elected.

    My senator (Durbin) is on foreign relations committee and voted for the attack. I sent him a message yesterday asking him why he disregards the will of the people.

    1. nycTerrierist

      “My senator (Durbin) is on foreign relations committee and voted for the attack. I sent him a message yesterday asking him why he disregards the will of the people.”

      Great question. Someone should ask Obama, too.

    2. AbyNormal

      “why he disregards the will of the people”

      the design of ‘Profits Before People’ has been in the works for decades. we’ve been warned for decades and by so many…unfortunately today’s PBP is detrimental to the worlds largest wealth transfer.
      the only representation available will be for the security of this transfer.

    3. Banger

      It’s important to understand that anybody playing on the national stage cannot color outside the lines. You can make noises from the periphery but if you don’t play the game you don’t get press and you remain like Dennis Kucinich and others who aren’t taken seriously by the press and are constantly attacked by those that profit from the national security state. Don’t be irritated with individual pols, they may have good intentions but they have to be realistic.

      Warren needs to do what she does because she needs the “juice” for matters she knows she can have make a diffence with. National security matters are off limits–there is one agenda in that area.

    4. Bill Frank

      Haven’t you heard, the will of the people is not a consideration anymore. This is not a democracy. Anyone who believes otherwise is blind to our reality.

  27. barrisj

    There seems to be quite a bit of speculation across the blogosphere that the Obama/Kerry Show is being conducted in a deliberate cack-handed manner as to sink any real chances that some sort of Congressional or international/Nato cover for US military operations can be secured. How else to explain the patent absurdity and over-the-top hyperbole that has characterised Kerry’s performances these past few days?
    And Obama and his “red line” that really wasn’t his “red line” but that of the “international community”? And to try to carry the case to G-20 meeting – in St. Petersburg, yet! – when he knows Russia and China will make a huge show of dumping all over it. Now, either Obama is really such an amateurish fool who still believes that the US gets its way regardless, or this is a clever ploy designed in fact to scuttle the whole missile “retaliation” business quick-smart, but allowing Obama to keep to the “moral high ground” by continuing to demonise Assad and concomitantly to claim that “his hands are tied” by cowardly world leaders and by a war-fatigued US public. Certainly one can plausibly argue that any “momentum” for a US military response has been arrested by the sheer vapidity and clownishness of putting the case for the government that has been on offer this week; and unless the UN inspection team’s report conclusively and incontestably implicates the Assad regime in the alleged chemical agents use, Tomahawk missiles over Damascus will remain but an Israeli or neocon fantasy for the time being.

    1. jrs

      And so we wait for the war to be rejected and maybe it was never a real plan in the first place and even Obama was faking his support of it, or for WWIII to commence. Without any real knowledge of which will happen and everything at stake. Absurd, absurd, absurd is the word, the bird bird bird ….

  28. craazyman

    nobody’s gonna bomb anybody. This is the opening week of the NFL season. Think about that. All we have is Sunday — just one f**king day to lay around and watch football in peace — and they’ll take that away from us with bombs and “spasmodic moral outrage”? That’s a good one!

    I think all these politicians are living in their own universe and every few weeks a window opens up and we get a glimpse of it, and then the window closes. Some people think this is reality, but it isn’t reality. It’s just an emanation from the dream of a madman, and if the madman recovered his sanity the window would close forever and you’d see nothing but the strangers on the street and all their faces and the trees.

    1. craazyboy

      Sadly, I believe you may be too optimistic about that, craazyman.

      Back when we had the somewhat sane Bush I (relatively speaking), they regularly preempted the remake of Dark Shadows with Gulf War I footage.

      This was like unplugging the Nielsen box for Dark Shadows, and math doing what math does, the ratings fell. Network execs had no choice but to cancel the series when faced with numbers like that!

      Dark Shadows premiered as a four-hour miniseries event on January 13 and 14, 1991, and then moved to a regular Friday night schedule.[3][4][5] Though the series debuted to great success, watched by nearly 1 in 4 households, ratings declined as the onset of the Gulf War disrupted the broadcast schedule.[citation needed] With the 12th and last episode of the season ranked 64th among 83 shows, Dark Shadows was canceled.[6] NBC received over 7000 letters of protest from disappointed fans, who also picketed network headquarters in both Los Angeles and New York City.[6][7]


      I truly fear for NFL Sunday broadcasts today – our wackos got so much wackier in recent years.

  29. 72 virgins for Hussein

    Not sure I care if the Congressional worm turns or not. It would be fun to see them kick Obama when he’s down, but in reality, the crooked fawning chumps in Congress are helpless to stop the permanent state. That’s up to the outside world – and the outside world is doing a pretty good job of it so far.

    The permanent state has forced Obama to prove that he can stuff an unwanted war down the throats of the subject population. If Obama fails, every US apparatchik will compete to stomp him flat. But if Obama gets the kamikazi war he’s been assigned, he will pay for the ensuing rout and bloodbath.

    Obama is PNAC’s suicide bomber, pampered and praised and then pushed out the door to go Ka-BOOM.

  30. susan the other

    Even if we go to war in Syria, full-blown war, nukes and all, it will only buy us a little time. It will never be enough to get our financial act together because our western financial system cannot be repaired. It is inherently illogical. Nonlogical. Instead of going to war, we should change our financial system. And fast track renewables and sustainability. Forget the “Trade Pacts” because all they do is perpetuate the system. The middle east conflict, along inevitable political lines, was always going to happen within this financial system. “System,” because it is not systematic, it is always ad hoc in favor of the biggest gangsters. A system based on extortion and control of natural resources, using a veneer of money to control politics. It would be my cynical guess hawks like McCain would love a holocaust. We should expect an attack on Washington soon. The chips are down.

    1. Cynthia

      The lies and half-truths I expect. It’s the utter nonsense, the absurdities of their arguments even if the lies were true, that I find maddening.

      The US intends to launch upwards to a billion dollars worth of weapons at another country, but it’s not a war?

      The US does not intend to put boots on the ground unless its initiation of hostilities creates a situation requiring it to put boots on the ground.

      These people are not merely mendacious; they are clearly insane and irresponsible. Either incapable of thinking through the consequences of their actions or simply not caring, they are ad libbing their way to catastrophe.

      1. Banger

        Well, you may have a point there but I think the current policy is just the same policy that has dominated our foreign policy for some time now. The goal is to destabilize or destroy independent regimes in the region (and, the truth be told, everywhere where opportunity rears its head) and isolate Iran and Hezbollah–as usual Israel plays a role here but not chiefly–I think control of the ME in general trumps even that.

        I don’t think they’ve lost their mind though the clumsiness here seems a little suspect. I think it reflects a considerable difference of opinion within the government. This was true during the Iraq War and the Vietnam War. Senior career people within State, CIA, and the military (particularly the Army) are very skeptical of an expanded war in the region–but they aren’t making the decisions.

  31. Bridget

    Rand Paul, if he filibusters the Senate vote, will be the gift that keeps on giving to progressive Senators like Warren, sparing them the necessity of making this vote. No fun, Senator Paul, let’s have a vote!

  32. Hugh

    All these excuses for Elizabeth Warren sound a whole lot like those made for Obama in his first years in office. I am surprised that no one hasn’t suggested she’s playing 11-dimension chess, although they have come close.

    Look, if someone is on our side, we will know it because they will say the things we are thinking and feeling and they will fight for us and what we believe out in the open. If we have to stand on our head squint through one eye, throw a couple handfuls of pixie dust, and really, really wish it, then that person is on our side, has never been on our side, will never be on our side.

      1. Alexa

        IMO, Warren appears to be a “standard fare” so-called liberal politician–mostly useless.

        OTOH, she at least seems to be willing to tackle a few FIRE issues, which is more than I can say for most Dem politicians.

        Let’s face it–the DLC/Third Way/No Labels Crowd (also known as the Dem Party Leadership) “selects” all of the Democratic Party candidates.

        And guess what?

        There “ain’t no way” that a true liberal or progressive will EVER stand for election in the Dem Party for any major national office, UNLESS the moribund Dem Party “base” wakes up, stiffens its spine, and starts at least attempting to primary sitting “corporatist” lawmakers.

        The problem with this is, it appears (in my less than 2 years blogging) that many progressive bloggers are obsessed only with winning–never mind that the Dem Party Base continues to elect the most right-wing corporatist Dems on earth, LOL!

        And I mean very corporatist Democratic Party lawmakers who “work against the self-interest of most Americans.”

        Go figure.

        Personally, I’m very close to calling it quits on even trying to find a solution to this connumdrum.

        But before I do so, maybe someone can explain to me, “What has gone wrong?”

        Should one start from the premise that it is “ignorance of policy” on the part of many voters, that is driving this debacle?

        Or, is it based upon–as radio talk show host Thom Hartmann has often surmised–a sort of “battered spouse” type of syndrome (or, a type of “learned helplessness”) on the part of the “Dem Party Base.”

        IOW, having been mocked, marginalized and treated with such disdain and contempt by its “Party Leaders” for so many decades, could it be that the “Dem Base” is no longer capable of constructive action?

        This is really very frustrating!

        Let’s just look at the “Tea Partiers,” for instance.

        “The left” can belittle and mock them all that they want, but one fact remains–THEY [the Tea Party] actually seem to get the results that they desire, much of the time.

        Heck, THEIR Party Leadership asks “How high?” when they say “jump.”

        But, what does anyone in the Dem Party base get–derision and marginalization, that’s what.

        And I truly don’t see this changing, until the majority of the Dem Base decides that this treatment is simply unacceptable.

        Even if it means voting for another Party.

        Even if it means “losing” elections.

        After all, conservatives did not take control of the Republican Party because they continued to “capitulate” to their Party Leaders.

        Can the Dem Party Base learn this lesson–or is it too late?

    1. Doug Terpstra

      By stating, “What the Assad regime did is reprehensible…” she shows she’s already swallowed the presumption-of-guilt Kool-Aid, so it seems Kerry’s sleight-of-mind leap of logic worked like a charm. The verdict is in; now do we want to start WWIII? This is not Libya.

      Why not say “what the CIA did is a moral obscenity”? I know, I know, how dare I?

    2. Banger

      The defense is that Warren has no choice in her position but to play the game. The alternative, as I’ve said here before, is to be a Dennis Kucinich and snipe at things from afar. If you want to play the game of power, and that is what politics is, you play by the rules. No Senator can go up against the national security state and few have tried since Senator Wellstone died.

      As for Obama, he has a little more leeway but not that much–he is not in charge and he knows it and he acts like it with his body language and bearing. However, the difference between him and Warren is that Warren has a record that far surpasses Obama and she elbowed her way in on her own. Obama was put forward by other forces–he never established a political base so he’s beholden to the bosses and he did that willingly and I believe he is not and never has been a leftists–he is, and I believe always was, a center-right politician who seeks stability at all costs, not reform. His PR team created this fiction to attract the public that’s wh his group won Advertiser of the Year or whatever the award was after the 08 campaign.

      American politicians are power-brokers not “leaders” as we imagine them to be–they mediate between various power-groups and occasionally forward their pet interests as Warren has–but you can’t last and you cant even come close to influencing legislation if you don’t agree to the rules. And one of the main rules is you don’t mess with the national security state.

      1. JTFaraday

        Well, but at 3:56pm you said the following, which seems contradictory:

        “I don’t think they’ve lost their mind though the clumsiness here seems a little suspect. I think it reflects a considerable difference of opinion within the government. This was true during the Iraq War and the Vietnam War. Senior career people within State, CIA, and the military (particularly the Army) are very skeptical of an expanded war in the region–but they aren’t making the decisions.”

      2. Hugh

        The “game” is kleptocracy. Anyone who plays that game is already lost to us. It’s like saying that Elizabeth Warren wants to reform the Mafia but first she has to become a “made man”. None of it makes sense. The mafia of our rich and elites, responsible for the greatest looting in human history, can not be reformed. So what is the point of Warren playing footsie with it? She wants to tweak how we are being looted? give it a Cass Sunstein “nudge”? And what? We are supposed to applaud her for her efforts, run her for President? This seems profoundly misguided. Establishmentarians like Warren, or Krugman, or Stiglitz, no matter how much they criticize isolated aspects of the system remain loyal to their class –the elites, the Establishment–, and it is that class which is looting us. It is delusional to place any hope in them. They will always choose their class over us, and so ultimately our looting by that class.

        As for Obama, he is an imperial President with vast powers never facing another election. He will get pension and benefits, including staff and Secret Service protection worth (varying in 2012 between $518,000 for Carter to $1.319 million for Bush). Obama is under no effective constraints other than those dictated by his allegiance to his class. That is he is an eager and willing participant in our looting is because he wants to be.

  33. bob goodwin

    I think a more interesting post would be “This might still pass the house despite the public outrage.” I wish I understood what the motivations were, as I find it harder to be cynical about motivations (Might it be that it would finger the rebels, as in the folks the US has been funding?). My best guess is that power wants to protect its power by using its power, but I am really not sure.

    I still think that if the progressives didn’t hate the tea party so much we could oust the Bush/Obama types and their misadventures in the Mideast and Wall Street. But we get at swords points over tactics even if we agree on the desired outcomes. If we started to agree, all Bushbama would have to do is say racist global warming tax fairness, and then they can do whatever they want.

  34. TC

    So disagree that, Elizabeth Warren’s “student loan bill … was a narrow technocratic fix that set out to preserve the terrible American system of higher education indentured servitude.” Given it called for financing Department of Education Stafford loans at the Fed discount rate of 0.5% versus the 7/1/2013 threatened rate of 6.8% the difference in interest costs student borrowers would be facing is huge. On a $100,000 loan the difference between $500 and $6800 in annual interest charges hardly seems a narrow technocratic fix. Rather, this reduction in interest charges could have represented the stuff a demand constrained economy might assuredly have benefited from. All the more if, following passage of Warren’s bill, another bill offering to refinance all student loans at the Fed discount rate were passed.

    Preserving the terrible American system of higher education indentured servitude is another matter not necessarily directly related to student loan financing. Addressing this issue in separate bills seems an entirely logical political approach, particularly as Warren’s Bank on Students Fair Lending Act represented a necessary foot in the door to at least partially nationalize the Federal Reserve so that it serve something more than a gaggle of hopelessly insolvent albatrosses. Indeed, this very approach to directly financing the build out of a physical economic platform worthy the 21st century will be necessary if the indentured servitude trap currently a function of an economy that has been turned into a post-industrial scrap heap masked by an unsustainable casino and other forms of make work and money grab ever is to be broken.

  35. TC

    Per Syria, just as is the case with Bernanke’s forced “retirement”–this coming about rather suddenly and backed by a bi-partisan consensus, while there has been barely a peep about this in the financial press serving the very same bailout junkies Helicopter Ben has been accommodating–why is no one talking about the fact Europe’s imperialist Siamese twins (Britain and France) have been since 6/5/2013, when the al Qaeda backed “rebels” in Syria were smashed in Qusayr, screaming for U.S. intervention, but now that they have their “red line” are nowhere to be found in the coalition of the [one] willing? That’s the far bigger question, particularly as Obama still has considerable cover in what is proving a very inept Secretary of State, this by the fact he can’t even get blood thirsty imperialists on board.

  36. mrtmbrnmn

    The Wizard behind the curtain orchestrating the prezzie’s preposterous lying machinations about chemical weapons in Syria is not Israel. It is (drum roll here) Saudi Arabia!!

    This is all part of the First Arab World War. And we should butt out! It is really none of our business (tho we seem to think it is our bu$ine$$). When this war is over in about 10 years or so, there will be a new Middle East (can you say: Kurdistan is coming!?). But the oil will still be there. So patience, jackasses! Patience!
    As for prezzie’s pathetic selling job, the only thing he was ever able to sell was the selling out of his progressive/liberal constituency of dreamers & fantasists 5 years ago. He never could sell Obamacare and didn’t try (it was essentially a hoodwink of the people anyway). And however this trickeration turns out, he is probably finished. He may yet try to sell out Social Security and Medicare, but nobody is actually listening to him anymore…

  37. Paul Tioxon

    Why Russia evacuated its naval base in Syria

    Now that Russian ships can stop in Cyprus, having personnel in Syria isn’t worth the risk.

    By Fred Weir, Correspondent / June 27, 2013


    In a surprise move, Russia has pulled all its military and nondiplomatic civilian personnel out of Syria. That includes a complete evacuation of the naval supply station in the Mediterranean port of Tartus, which is often discussed as one of Russia’s key reasons for its long and stubborn support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

    “We have neither servicemen nor civilians in Syria anymore. Or Russian military instructors assigned to units of the Syrian regular Army, for that matter,” a Russian defense ministry spokesperson is quoted as telling the Moscow business daily Vedomosti yesterday.

    The Tartus naval supply station, Russia’s only military base outside the former USSR, has been effectively closed, Russian deputy foreign minister and special Middle East envoy Mikhail Bogdanov confirmed in an interview with a Turkish newspaper. He insisted that the base, which housed about 70 fulltime military technicians to service visiting Russian warships, was of no strategic importance to Russia.

    RECOMMENDED: What is Russia thinking on Syria? A brief guide

    “It’s just a technical facility for maintaining ships sailing in the Mediterranean,” he said.

    That answer seems a trifle inadequate. The obvious question is: Why abandon Tartus now, given that the Russian naval presence in the Mediterranean has never been so large?

    Earlier this month Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will maintain a permanent naval flotilla in the region for the first time since the collapse of the USSR more than 20 years ago. “This is a strategically important region and we have tasks to carry out there to provide for the national security of the Russian Federation,” he said.

    The Russian Navy has been holding almost nonstop maneuvers in the eastern Mediterranean for more than a year, and currently has a 16-warship task force in the area.

    “The first and likeliest reason for the closure is that Russia doesn’t want to risk the lives of 70 military personnel stationed at Tartus,” says Vladimir Sotnikov, expert with the official Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow.

    “Now that the battlefield initiative in Syria’s civil war is in the hands of the Assad regime, Russia might fear some [rebel] provocations against our people. Another possible reason may be to help promote the Geneva-2 talks. We have information that Russia, the United Nations and the US have agreed to a format for the talks. So, perhaps Russia wants to dispel impression that its position is based on some desire to hold on to this station,” Mr. Sotnikov says.

    “In any case, Russian ships have the opportunity to go to Cyprus for supplies and maintenance, and it’s safer for them to do so right now,” he adds.

    Russia has also been steadily evacuating the estimated 30,000 Russian citizens living in Syria since early this year, and yesterday the Ministry of Emergency Services reported that it had extracted another 130 Russians from Latakia in northwest Syria and flown them back to Russia.

    Other Russian analysts agree that, whatever the reasons for Russia’s personnel pullout, it probably doesn’t signal any change of the hard, pro-Assad position that Mr. Putin most recently reiterated at last week’s G8 summit in Northern Ireland.

    “Russia’s position hasn’t changed. In fact it’s getting tougher,” says Sergei Strokan, a foreign affairs columnist with the pro-business Moscow daily Kommersant.

    “The reasons behind this evacuation probably come down to security. That base’s importance has been greatly overrated in Western reporting. It just isn’t that big a deal. So, I guess the thinking is, why risk some major incident that the rebels might stage by attacking Russians at this sensitive moment when all the hopes are pinned on a new Geneva peace conference?”


    Could the serious security threat to the 30,000 Russians living in Syria, presumably nearly all in Damascus, causing them to be evacuated from Syria be the open window of opportunity just about now that would allow a bold military move such as bombing that was impossible with Assad under the Aegis of the Russian Naval Base and Russian personnel presence? Not saying that Russia cleared the way for bombs away, but in making a sensible move to protect their own people, Pentagon military planners with the ever enterprising spirit saw this as their chance and ginned a baby killing monster legend as a pretext to attack?

  38. Tim

    Yves – I can see you are still on vacation. Warren is not a Congressman, she’s a Congresswoman. You are also misinterpreting realism for gutlessness. Of course it is easy to take pot shots as a blogger. I find your comments morally devoid of any concern for the genocide going on in Syria. And as for all the co-conspiracy rants above, I see you attract like spirits…yes, let’s identify with cute little critters (I do like the pics) but lets ignore the death that Assad has rained down on demonstrators, families and gas victims (he is also using outlawed cluster bombs as well). The time for action has come (took Obama long enough), yet folks like you show little compassion…very sad.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      1. I always apply “Congressman” to both genders.

      2. “Genocide”? Please tell me how the response that Obama says he will engage in (enough to show we are pissed, not enough to change squat) will change anything. Oh, and if we do manage to kick off a hot conflagration, tell me how a full blown war improves things. It’s easy for people who watch TV to advocate warfare and putting American lives at risk for dubious outcomes. Even the DoD is opposed to intervention. We lack a clear strategy or aims. If we foment an all-out war, we create a failed state. And you are seriously trying to say that’s a compassionate outcome?

      This is not about Syria. This is about Israel and Iran.

      And if you are so concerned about genocide, Somalia and Palestine are much higher on that list.

      1. skippy


        Hay its like shipping all the BANNED pesticides and herbicides to Mexico, what they do with it is their problemo.

        skippy… that would be improperly stored and utilized product that had horrendous physical and neurological effects on the kids living in those Ag areas. Well documented IMO.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Yes, I don’t see Syria on the list of leading perps:

        The technology to manufacture the cluster bombs and the deadly bomblets they contain has since expanded to most of the world, and they have been used by at least 15 nations. As a recent Congressional Research Service report noted:

        “Cluster munitions were used by the Soviets in Afghanistan, by the British in the Falklands, by the Coalition in the Gulf War, and by the warring factions in Yugoslavia. In Kosovo and Yugoslavia in 1999, NATO forces dropped 1,765 cluster bombs containing approximately 295,000 submunitions. From 2001 through 2002, the United States dropped 1,228 cluster bombs containing 248,056 submunitions in Afghanistan, and U.S. and British forces used almost 13,000 cluster munitions containing an estimated 1.8 million to 2 million submunitions during the first three weeks of combat in Iraq in 2003.”

        Israel is said to have dropped almost 1 million unexploded bomblets in Lebanon in the 2006 war against Hezbollah, which fired 113 cluster bombs filled with thousands of bomblets at targets in northern Israel….

        On Aug. 1, 2010, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, banning such weapons, became a matter of international law for the 111 nations, including 18 NATO members, that signed the agreement. The U.S. was not one of them. Current American policy, according to the Congressional Research Service report, is that “cluster munitions are available for use by every combat aircraft in the U.S. inventory; they are integral to every Army or Marine maneuver element and in some cases constitute up to 50 percent of tactical indirect fire support.”


    2. Banger

      Well, certainly I don’t ignore the facts about the Assad regime and that of his brutal father–I’ve been monitoring the situation there for decades. But, and you will not agree here, I believe the more brutal actor in this is the American national security state guilty directly and indirectly with millions of deaths throughout the world through the imperial ambitions of the heirs of the grand visions of Henry Luce when he wrote “the American Century” over seventy years ago.

      Yes, Assad is a brutal rule as rulers have been throughout the ages and as we both externally and internally have been for some time (Indian Wars, slavery etc.). But let’s get realy here–the United States government doesn’t give two and a half f!cks for the Syrian people or the Iraqi people or the Vietnamese people nor any of the people in any of the countries it has victimized and brutalized in ways that Assad or Saddam Hussein could only dream about.

      The proper action is to re-invigorate international institutions like the World Court, or create a regional conference to settle the Syrian people. The USG and the mainstream media (is there a difference?) claim Assad used these chemical weapons despite the fact he had no clear motivation to do so. Because the USG has a long history of using false pretexts to go to war the evidence should be evaluated through a trial of some kind not simply USG assertions.

      The USG and its allies in the Gulf (are you sure about those “allies”?) as well as the Europeans, the Turks, the Jordanians and, above all, the Israelis want to overthrow the Assad government and perhaps the majority of Syrians want a new government as well–then lets settle this diplomatically rather than through the unilateral use of force using billions of dollars better spent for the benefit of the American people.

      The Assad regime, like many regimes that try to hold together disparate people, is authoritarian (like our allies in the Gulf) and the country, by all accounts (I read a long New Yorker article a few years before the civil war), was doing rather well then, like in Libya a revolt takes place and war and disorder reign (as in Libya to this day).

  39. Malmo

    Excerpt from above article:

    “Grayson, however, says “the claim has been made that that information was completely mischaracterized.”

    He points to an article published by The Daily Caller that alleges the communications actually showed Syrian officers were surprised by the alleged chemical weapon attack. The communications, according to unnamed sources paraphrased in article, were intercepted by Israeli intelligence and “doctored so that it leads a reader to just the opposite conclusion.”

    “What they say in The Daily Caller is that [intercepted communications] would lead one to the opposite conclusion,” Grayson said. “I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, [but] there’s a very simple way to find out, that’s for the administration to show me and other members of Congress” translated transcripts of the intercepts, he said.

    Members of Congress are “not being given any of the underlying elements of the intelligence reports,” according to Grayson. He’s not sure if the information will come before the votes on a proposed strike next week….The anti-war Democrat said there are other examples of intelligence he believes has been manipulated to favor war.

    “Well yes,” Grayson said, “but I’m very constrained about talking about it. … This has become a fundamental problem with our system: The information we do get is limited, but beyond that we are very constrained in discussing it.”

  40. John Jones

    Does anyone know how long the oil and gas in those regions
    will last for?

    Middle East, Caspian Sea etc?

    1. Paul Tioxon

      Speaking of the obvious issue, oil and gas and OPEC, here is AN answer to your question. According to THE TELEGRAPH(UK):

      Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria

      Saudi Arabia has secretly offered Russia a sweeping deal to control the global oil market and safeguard Russia’s gas contracts, if the Kremlin backs away from the Assad regime in Syria.



      “… President Putin has long been pushing for a global gas cartel, issuing the `Moscow Declaration’ last to month “defend suppliers and resist unfair pressure”. This would entail beefing up the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), a talking shop.

      Mr Skrebowski said it is unclear what the Saudis can really offer the Russians on gas, beyond using leverage over Qatar and others to cut output of liquefied natural gas (LGN). “The Qataris are not going to obey Saudi orders,” he said.

      Saudi Arabia could help boost oil prices by restricting its own supply. This would be a shot in the arm for Russia, which is near recession and relies on an oil price near $100 to fund the budget.

      But it would be a dangerous strategy for the Saudis if it pushed prices to levels that endangered the world’s fragile economic recovery. Crude oil stocks in the US have already fallen sharply this year. Goldman Sachs said the “surplus cushion” in global stocks built up since 2008 has been completely eliminated.

      Mr Skrebowski said trouble is brewing in a string of key supply states. “Libya is reverting to war lordism. Nigerian is drifting into a bandit state with steady loss of output. And Iraq is going back to the sort of Sunni-Shia civil war we saw in 2006-2007,” he said.

      The Putin-Bandar meeting was stormy, replete with warnings of a “dramatic turn” in Syria. Mr Putin was unmoved by the Saudi offer, though western pressure has escalated since then. “Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters,” he said, referring to footage showing a Jihadist rebel eating the heart and liver of a Syrian soldier.”

      1. John Jones

        Thanks for the link and info Paul.
        But do you know of any estimate for oil and gas in those regions by how many years would be estimated to be left?

    2. Paul Tioxon

      You know John, your gas question is really turning up a lot of interesting political arm twisting. UK turns down military assist and Russia meets with UK to build Nord Stream #3 & #4. Nord Stream is the direct to Germany under the Baltic Sea gas line from Russia. Read the following:

      19:11 September 5, 2013 Interfax

      Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and UK Minister of State for Energy and Business and Enterprise Michael Fallon have discussed Russian-UK interaction in the potential construction of the third and fourth strings of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, the Russian Energy Ministry said in a statement.

      In order to move towards concrete steps to develop pipeline infrastructure, negotiations need to be held at a corporate level, and their results need to be enshrined in long-term fuel supply contracts, Novak said.

      A likely platform where this project and the development of the European gas market as a whole might be discussed is a gas seminar that Novak and Fallon agreed to hold in London at the end of next month.

      There are also plans for the consultative committee on energy efficiency to meet in Moscow in October in conjunction with a Russian-British energy audit seminar.


      What is amazing is that for us to bomb Syria, with a Russian Navy port facility in Syria and over 30,000 Russians in and around Damascus would be as much an act of war against Russia as Syria. The reason we have stationed over 24,000 American troops on the Korean DMZ is not because they can hold off or even slow down a N Korean invasion, but it would be a trip wire setting off a war with the US and its South Asian allies by treaty. Syrian may have broke international treaties banning the use of nerve gas in any capacity, but that is irrelevant to the reaction that Russia presents as a consequence of any action on our part against Syria. No matter the reason, real or fabricated for other national interests.

  41. maroonbulldog

    Our peerless leader doesn’t care whether he bombs Syria or not. If he did care, he wouldn’t have made a big show of asking for two houses of Congress for a permission he might not get. This is a distraction, something to get our collective eyes directed away from something else he doesn’t want us to look at.

    No one has said much about the red jeopardy attached to October 1 implementation of the Obamacare exchanges since this subject came up. Have they?

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