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People run for cover after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa province, eastern Syria June 10, 2013. REUTERS/Nour Fourat (SYRIA - Tags: CONFLICT) - RTX10IYK
Shelling in Raqqa province, June 10th
Earlier today the White House issued a statement declaring that Syria's Assad regime had used chemical weapons "on a small scale" against opposition forces. The use of such weapons had been declared a "red line" by the administration, an event which would precipitate larger U.S. involvement in the conflict.

There is little official word on what that larger involvement will entail, but according to the Wall Street Journal:

President Barack Obama authorized his administration to provide arms to moderate rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to officials briefed on the decision.

The decision lifted Mr. Obama’s ban on providing lethal assistance to the opposition and tasked the Central Intelligence Agency with working with allies to help organize deliveries.

That assistance will likely include small arms and possibly anti-tank weapons, but not antiaircraft weapons that the opposition has been requesting. It will also not include the no-fly zone that Sen. John McCain and other hawks have been urging:
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said the U.S. will send military assistance to the rebels, and it is weighing possible military responses. A no-fly zone is part of a “range of options” being considered, but it will not happen now and may not be the best way to assist rebels, he said.

“A no-fly zone would carry with it great and open-ended costs for the U.S. and international community,” Rhodes said in a conference call with reporters. […]

Pressed on what the United States would do next, Rhodes said the White House would share the information with Congress and U.S. allies but will "make decisions on our own time line."

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Comment Preferences

  •  Just what we need to distract (26+ / 0-)

    us from possible NSA abuses ... another war!

    Timing was perfect.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:32:17 PM PDT

  •  I'm sure those weapons (11+ / 0-)

    will stay with the "moderates".  Yup.

  •  Aw shit. I obv don't support chem weapons (7+ / 0-)

    being used, but there are NO good guys in this fight.

    I was gonna listen to that, but then, um, I just carried on living my life. - Aldous Snow

    by GoGoGoEverton on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:37:55 PM PDT

  •  I heard the senator on NPR today (9+ / 0-)

    He was going on about how aid to the rebels was not enough but I hadn't heard the administration's announcement. Now it makes sense. Nothing is ever enough. We could nuke a million and he would demand a second round just to make sure.

    Libertarianism is something that most people grow out of, not unlike, say, hay fever or asthma. Bob Johnson

    by randallt on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:38:21 PM PDT

  •  We need to stay OUT of this! (8+ / 0-)

    Like twigg stated above, a perfect distraction from the NSA abuses.

    Also, haven't we learned that people just hate us more by interfering?  I mean, seriously people, does ANYONE think that Syria will be all buddy-buddy with us afterwards?

    The best thing we can do is just provide true humanitarian assistance and that is it!

    Never underestimate stupid. Stupid is how reTHUGlicans win!

    by Mannie on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:38:58 PM PDT

  •  Yay WAR! (7+ / 0-)

    Amazing timing to distract us all!

    Obama: self-described Republican; backed up by right-wing policies

    by The Dead Man on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:40:02 PM PDT

  •  War is good for business. (6+ / 0-)

    Invest your children.

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:41:16 PM PDT

  •  We'll be condemned for any possible decision. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If we're sending weapons, we're imperialists waging a proxy war.  If we're not, we're negligently ignoring the suffering and struggle of the Syrian people against a mad tyrant.  All things being equal, I go with helping people defend themselves against a psychotic piece of shit dictator being supplied with advanced weaponry by Russia.  

    There will be unintended though not entirely unforeseen consequences to these decisions if the rebels win, but they would be consequences the Syrian people would have to face anyway: Sooner or later they'll have to deal with the fundies, and at least if we're providing arms it's not just Saudi Arabia deciding who among the rebels has them.  The liberals will have a chance.

    Nothing makes a Republican angrier than a smile on a poor child's face.

    by Troubadour on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:48:40 PM PDT

  •  This is a bailout to our arms industry. (7+ / 0-)

    Are there seriously still people who study policy who think that sending weapons to a region will help in any way?

    This is just more dollars to an industry committed to killing people.

    It is morally so disgusting to outweigh any of its fake excuses of humanitarianism.

    -ds "Labor produces all wealth. Wealth belongs to the producer therof."

    by dstein on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:53:30 PM PDT

    •  What weapons are we providing? (0+ / 0-)

      Are they manufactured in the U.S.?  If I were sending arms I'd make it Russian or Chinese origin like AK-47s so they'd be compatible with what they already have.  Not sure where you get those or if they're produced domestically.

  •  Excellent news (0+ / 0-)

    This thing needs to balanced.   These  factions  of the religion of peace will kill each other for decades as they have already for centuries but it works best if they equally armed.  If Obama is true to form he will do just enough for political expediency  but not enough to really do anything to end it.

  •  Appeasing the McCains (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosette, northerntier, protectspice

    of the world to get through Immigration reform or some brilliant '3d chess move' I imagine....

    This was a given though once Clinton came out in support of arming the rebels and the headlines screamed 'Clintons break from Obama"

  •  I'm going to go out on a limb here.. (7+ / 0-)

    and suggest this the president's decision may be driven by developments on the ground in Syria.

    •  Yes they were (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The Saudi backed opposition got its butt kicked on the ground in Syria in Al Qusayr. So now they are scrambling.

      And if you know how Saudi Arabia operates, it is quietly and with lots of money.

      Which is why it fails quite a lot.

      Like Republicans.

      But sadly we have too many people in Washington that equate lots of money with political power.

      Granted in the U.S. that has been the trend, but elsewhere, no so much.

      And not just here, but in France and England.

      France and Saudi Arabia agreed during a meeting in Paris that the Hezbollah-backed Syrian troops, which defeated the rebels in the strategic town of Qusayr, should not be allowed to repeat the same scenario in province of Aleppo, Al Arabiya correspondent reported Tuesday.

      The two countries expressed their stance after Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, and the kingdom’s intelligence head, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, met with French officials.

      Al Arabiya

      A little history. For over a year, the rebels HATED Aleppo. It did not 'rise up' against Bashar. So they attacked it. Looted the factories. Sold the equipment off to Turkey.

      A 14 year old boy was just murdered in Aleppo for 'blasphemy'. In front of his parents.

      The people of Aleppo, Christians, Kurds, and Sunnis, are not like the Wahabis.

      So for us to think we are going 'save' Aleppo by stopping Bashar from cleaning the few neighborhoods, we are stupid.

      But as long as we have the NYT and WP telling us fairy tales about the brave exploits of the freedom fighters, we are screwed.

  •  Let me get this straight... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smiley7, cosette, mickT, mechboots, Samulayo

    we've decided to do this after it appears that Assad has regained the upper hand, and we're going to sort through the rebels and arm the "moderate" ones.

    This should go swimmingly. Is there not a risk that our moderately-armed moderate rebel army will soon be facing not only the Assad forces, but Hezbollah mercenaries and radical rebels? And oh, all armed to the teeth by Russia?

    I thought John McCain lost the election in 2008.

  •  Can't we support Jordanian humanitarian relief? (6+ / 0-)

    Last I recall we gave them some money for seemed like a smallish amount to me.

    Ask me how Obamacare has helped my family.

    by cosette on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:57:02 PM PDT

  •  If Assad is the problem.. (4+ / 0-)

    Place a drone up his ass. Seriously, why play the long game? That always ends badly.

    And before anyone says it, I don't care about assassinating a thug. Not only would it be cleaner and easier, we won't have to worry about the arms being used against us in the future.

    And, it would get the attention of every would be dictator.

    What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

    by Cpqemp on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 08:03:22 PM PDT

  •  Yay, the forever war goes on... (5+ / 0-)

    We're locked into a never ending cycle of getting into every Middle Eastern war that arises, and all it costs us is billions of dollars in arms, and the probable death and maiming of a few thousand more of our soldiers, who are usually culled from the poor underclass anyway.

    Remember, there's endless billions available to spend for oversea wars, but there's not a dime to spend on food, medical care, education, or infrastructure of our failing cities.

    It has to start somewhere. It has to start sometime. What better place than here, what better time than now? - Guerilla Radio, Rage Against The Machine.

    by Fordmandalay on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 08:07:21 PM PDT

  •  Hey (5+ / 0-)

    The Saudi's are pissed that Al Qusayr was lost. We can't upset one of our largests arms buyers now, can we?

    The neocons are pissed that Bashar might stay in power. American policy as defined by the energy industry demands we remove anyone that isn't supportive of our corporate interest (which by definition is our national interest).

    The corporate masters are pissed that they still can' sit in Aspen and run the world.

    Things gotta change!

    So what if we bring the Middle East to the brink of war, destroy yet another nation (or two or three).

    Bashar HAS TO GO!

    The people we support ethnically cleansed al Halta in Dayr Az Zawr province? The NYT can defend that.

    After all, Bashar used WMD (weapons of minimal destruction)! They can point to about 100 people they may have been killed by some chemicals, and very tenuous data suggests that some of them may even had been killed by Sarin!

    It said the confirmed toll included 25,040 Syrian soldiers and security personnel, and 17,107 pro-Assad militiamen.

    So the Syrian WMD killed 100 or so, maybe, we think.

    The people we support have killed have 42,000.

    Yeah, I'm all for getting in their and kicking butt!

    (WARNING GRAPHIC) I mean who where else but the opposition can you hear Belgium throat slitters?

    Before this, I only was able to hear only Arabic throat slitters. But that was when the U.S. was against the throat slitters.

    Now we support them. King Abdullah of Saudi told us to.

    And our corrupt Washington elite is to entwined with the billions of Saudi money to tell the Wahabi fuckhead to fuck off.

    So we back sick perverts in a war that has already displaced over a million, because a few sick, greedy people want control over Syria.

    And Bill Clinton tells Obama not to listen to Americans, but to corporate masters.

    Speaking on Tuesday at a private session in New York with Mr. McCain, Mr. Clinton said, “Sometimes it’s best to get caught trying, as long as you don’t overcommit.”
    •  Think military industrial complex. eom (0+ / 0-)

      If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

      by John Crapper on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 09:20:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Reply to mickT (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Overseas, Aquarius40

      While I agree with a lot of what you say , my impression is that this all will be the call of The Arab League , I would imagine The Saudis have a big say in that organization also , but there are more voices at work here than just obama , mccain , american and the saudis

      The over flow of refugees ,  crime and dysfunction to the surrounding nations , not to mention Israel is always up every ones ass  , makes for quite the complicated mess

      Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers

      by Patango on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 09:37:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bill Clinton (6+ / 0-)

    Clinton came out today in favor of more action in Syria, interestingly enough.  I don't think he's quite gotten over the results of his inaction in Rwanda.

  •  A Nightmare (4+ / 0-)

    I used to think that the sequester was the dumbest policy line the Obama administration had ever taken. Now it seems that the red line has an excellent chance of replacing it.

    No proxies, no matter how well we arm them, are going to do anything but lose going against Hezbollah. And the more we arm them, the more credence we give to the proposition that we have to keep escalating until Assad is gone.

    Oh, okay, maybe the IDF could win this, could beat Hezbollah and oust Assad. For one thing, that's not a foregone conclusion. But mostly, that proxy is as good (by which I mean "as bad") as no proxy, as bad as direct US involvement. We really, really will be opening the gates of Hell if we have Israel invading Syria and Lebanon (which it has to do to beat Hezbollah in Syria) in order to occupy them, which it has to do to keep Hezbollah from reforming. Israel has invaded Syria twice, but only to wipe out its conventional army, and it has never been dumb enough to try to stay and occupy beyond the Golan Heights. It kinda sorta tried to occupy southern Lebanon once, but that didn't turn out well, even before Hezbollah had gotten as good as it is now.

    This is a nightmare. This is not going to end well.

    The states must be abolished.

    by gtomkins on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 08:25:30 PM PDT

  •  "could" not "would" Libya v. Iraq air superiority (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    compare application of no-fly for Libya v. Iraq re: air superiority for NATO

    “A no-fly zone would carry with it great and open-ended costs for the U.S. and international community,”

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 08:30:27 PM PDT

  •  Losing sight of the bigger picture (5+ / 0-)

    The desired outcome in the Middle East (since the Cheney administration) has always been a single petro state, sponsored by multi-national Big Oil, and policed by the U.S. military apparatus.

    I do not expect this outcome to be consolidated and complete in my lifetime, but I very much believe that this outcome is the goal.  Syria is simply the next nation-state pawn in a much bigger power play.

    "Mitt who? That's an odd name. Like an oven mitt, you mean? Oh, yeah, I've got one of those. Used it at the Atlas Society BBQ last summer when I was flipping ribs."

    by Richard Cranium on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 08:34:04 PM PDT

  •  As long as no fly zone and no boots on the ground (0+ / 0-)

    i am ok.

  •  We will never learn. Stay out of it! eom (0+ / 0-)

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

    by John Crapper on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 09:18:46 PM PDT

  •  Vietnam - The Sequel (0+ / 0-)

    or, when do we start sending in the "advisors"?

    Hate Speech must remain legal. It reminds us that the hate is still out there.

    by SmallTownHick on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 09:19:09 PM PDT

  •  Is this a surprise? I figured that it was going (0+ / 0-)

    to happen eventually, it was only a question of when.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 09:23:31 PM PDT

  •  great...just great (0+ / 0-)

    here we F¥€Kin go again, jumping into another civil war, wasting another $trillion, another mess in the mideast, pi$$ing off a whole new generation of people, arming another new set of future america-hating, american-killing hooligans that will no doubt sometime in the future be labeled 'tairists' and blah-blah-woof-woof...
    it will never end, oceania will always be at war with eastasia
    obama...nobel peace prize...what a sick joke

  •  If I'd wanted McCain's policies (0+ / 0-)

    I would have voted for him.  What the hell is this?  It was stomach churning to listen to McCain gleefully tell the country we were 'going to arm the rebels' and 'we need a no fly zone'.

    There is nothing here but insanity.  What on earth could we possibly do that wouldn't make things worse or blow up in our faces?

    I just don't understand.  Clinton jumped on that bandwagon and actually used the word 'win', as if this war COULD be won by anything we do just by jumping on the military arms gravy train.  

    Did everyone lose their flippin' minds?  If chemical weapons are being used, the best we could do is find out where they are being stored and take that facility out.  Or let the Israelis to it, God knows they are aching to do something.  But don't go arming everyone, we've played that game.  

    A civilized humanity, like reality, has a liberal bias.

    by mechboots on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 10:22:32 PM PDT

  •  We must all rise and say NO! (5+ / 0-)

    to another Middle Eastern war. Especially this one - a brutal sectarian fight-to-the-death in which all sides are committing atrocities.

    This is wrong on so many levels. Obama was elected to END Middle Eastern wars, not start new ones. But no matter which party holds the White House, within the U.S. foreign-policy establishment the bias is always toward war & intervention in foreign conflicts. Instead of listening to the American people, or even just the people who elected him, he's decided to go instead with the Saudi monarchy, Israeli Likud, the neoconservatives & their neoliberal sidekicks. He's decided to forsake relations with Russia, dismiss the U.N., & wage proxy war with Iran. He's decided to follow the unilateralist path of George W. Bush.

    But at least W. had something to gain politically. For Obama there's nothing. By intervening he insures that his base will be fractured & demoralized (or outraged, as I am). He exposes himself to Republican attack & ridicule - even as he adopts what is essentially THEIR policy - as was already on display with McCain's flame on the Senate floor today. I guess this is what the pundits call "courage" in Washington. Meanwhile the antiwar argument - clearly the stronger argument in this debate - is ceded to the likes of Rand Paul, even though that's the minority position by far within the Republican Party.

    Understand, this isn't about human rights or bringing "democracy" to benighted souls. This is about strategic domination, about proxy war with Iran. Once we've committed to this policy, we're in for the long ride. "Arming the rebels" at this point in the game is unlikely to be decisive. It's sure to be more gasoline on the fire. More stalemate, more brutality, more chaos. Never mind that we'll be jumping in on the side of  fundamentalist jihadis aligned with al-Qaeda. The enemy of our enemy is now our friend.

    So when "arming the rebels" fails to achieve the desired result, it's on to deeper involvement, be it a "no fly" zone or sanctions or blockade or missile strikes. And IF all this were to succeed in toppling Assad, that's when the $h!t REALLY hits the fan.

    The Alawis would then face the prospect of genocide, while Syria's Christian & other minority sects face pogroms & oppression as a best-case scenario. As the victorious rebels fight it out for control, amid the chaos the U.S. is impelled to intervene - full-scale, "boots on the ground" - if it hasn't already, in order to "prevent those chemical weapons from falling into the wrong hands". And then we're stuck occupying a disintegrating country & referring this awful sectarian bloodbath.

    And then we're right in the middle of a raging Sunni-Shia war across the Fertile Crescent. And then it's on to the big prize. Make no mistake about this - the decision Obama made today effectively forecloses any peaceful settlement of the Iran nuclear file, & sets us inexorably on the path to war with Iran.

    This is going to end badly. That much we know.

    •  Thank you for saying what I'm feeling in my gut. (0+ / 0-)

      This is just going to lead to another boots on the ground war. Guess I'll keep my health insurance paid up for when I get tear gassed and cracked in the head while I'm on the street protesting this. I am so fucking sick of war. No good is going to come from this.

      if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

      by mrsgoo on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 10:40:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That Nobel Peace Prize (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    looks more and more ironic every day.

    "This is what we call a total disaster ladies. I’m going to ask you to smell your armpits. That’s the smell of failure and it’s stinking up my office." – Sue Sylvester

    by myiq2xu on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 10:47:00 PM PDT

  •  Sad day for Dems! eom (0+ / 0-)

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

    by John Crapper on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 11:10:13 PM PDT

  •  This is insane (0+ / 0-)

    Pouring more small arms into a region that's already a tinderbox is insane -- and is contrary to the spirit (if not the letter? I haven't read the fine print) of the new UN small arms treaty that SOS Kerry just announced.

    I know less about the cast of characters than even John McCain does. All I know is that for the past 75 years, it has been very difficult, especially in that part of the world, to distinguish "rebels," "insurgents," "Muslim extremists," "terrorists," and "freedom-fighters." That's why Saddam was our ally until Bush/Cheney decided he was the Great Satan, and the mujehadin in Afghanistan were the rebels we supported against the USSR until they morphed into our arch-enemies al Qaeda. So arming and assisting people we really don't know that well seems highly likely to end badly.

  •  ridiculous (0+ / 0-)

    stay out of it.

  •  caught in a scandal? start a war! (0+ / 0-)

    what could go wrong?

  •  Is this the side we're going to back? (0+ / 0-)

    Dozens of Shiites Reported Killed in Raid by Syria Rebels

    What was not in dispute was that several battalions of Sunni rebels, including members of extremist Islamist groups, stormed the village and, in video posted online by antigovernment activists, could be seen setting houses on fire as they shouted sectarian slogans, calling Shiites dogs, apostates and infidels.

    “This is your end, you dogs,” a man off camera said as he panned across what he said were the corpses of “pug nosed” Shiites, including one with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the head.

    “We have raised the banner of ‘There Is No God but God’ over the houses of the rejectionist Shiite apostates,” one fighter chanted in another clip as a black cloud billowed above the village and jubilant gunmen brandished black flags often used by the extremist Al Nusra Front and other Islamist fighting groups.

    “Here are the jihadists celebrating their storming of the rejectionists’ houses! The Shiite rejectionists!” the fighter added. Some extremist Sunnis refer to Shiites as rejectionists because the sect arose from a group that rejected the early successors of the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century.

    Play chess for the Kossacks on Join the site, then the group at

    by rhutcheson on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 10:58:28 AM PDT

  •  Vindication (0+ / 0-)

    I've heard it said that true vindication in politics is when one's successors in office, from the political opposition, retain & thus concede the essential wisdom of the previous regime's policies, especially the most controversial ones. So it has been with spying & secrecy, Guantanamo, energy policy, immigration & deportations, cuts to social security, & now war in the Middle East. George W. Bush & Dick Cheney are surely smiling today!

    This just makes me sick to my stomach. Hope . . . change . . . my ass! I said it first 10 years ago, as W. invaded Iraq, & I mean it again today as Obama jumps into the war in Syria: "I hope it turns into a disaster for him, & I have no doubt that it will."

    Bush's presidency went down in flames in the sands of the Middle East, & now Obama's will too.

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