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Too much of the commentary on Syria around here reeks of conspiracy-theorizing and disaster hyperbolism. This is not a particularly new phenomenon; I encountered it quite a bit during my involvement with the now moribund “Eyes on Egypt and the Region” group, and it simmers in some corners of the site on a near-daily basis. Neither has it been exclusive to Syria, as evinced by the (un)timely flurries of wild-eyed commentary on Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Iran et cetera when events draw the attention of this community. Recent developments in and related to Syria have certainly brought this class of comments and diaries to the fore manifesting, in Hofstadter's words, “the big leap from the undeniable to the unbelievable.”

My intent in this diary is to address one of the oft-cited conspiracy theories with respect to Syria—the PNAC CT—and then offer a few thoughts on the forms and difficulties of some of the disaster hyperbolism. I'll conclude with my perspective on the wisdom of any U.S. or allied military intervention in the Syrian crisis. For those unheeding of twigg's exhortation to R.T.F.D. (have you made it even this far, or are keywords in the title mere chum in the wine-dark waters of the Sea of Outrage?) I look forward with especial bemusement to your comments.

The PNAC CT refers, obviously, to the neoconservative think-tank "The Project for the New American Century," founded in 1997. The views expressed in PNAC's Statement of Principles and in Rebuilding America's Defenses—the authors and signatories of which stand as a Who's Who of the depraved assholes whose exaggerations, lies and jingoism helped to drive and sustain the invasion and occupation of Iraq—represent an ideology that should without doubt be anathema to us in this community. It is not hyperbole, I think, to state that the PNAC agenda, their obsession with regime change in a broadly defined Middle East, was a malevolent force throughout the long and dark Presidency of Bush the Younger, exacting in blood and treasure and fundamentally harmful to the credibility of American foreign policy. Often cited in this context are comments and remarks by Wesley Clark who in his 2007 memoirs and various speaking engagements mentioned having been told of a strategy-document originating from the Office of SecDef Rumsfeld detailing a plan for fomenting regime-change in seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, culminating with Iran. The “seven countries in five years” memo is typically held to represent the PNAC agenda.

So far, so good, right? PNAC's neoconservative obsession with regime change in the broad Middle East is well-documented in both their Statement of Principles and in Rebuilding America's Defenses (add in A Clean Break, if you'd like) their ideology was an undoubtedly strong influence on the policies of the administration of Bush the Younger and, while admitting the inaccessibility of the memo to which Clark refers, a long-term strategy culminating with regime change in Iran sounds like something those zealous assholes would have fantasized.

Where the reality of PNAC crosses into PNAC CT... where too many diarists and commenters take Hofstadter's “big leap from the undeniable to the unbelievable”... is in the assertion that the PNAC agenda has remained operative in the Obama administration and is guiding current U.S. policy on Syria. Let's take a reality-based approach to the situation, shall we? Shortly after taking office, the Obama administration began to expand diplomatic contacts with Syria, a move in line with not only statements by Obama during his campaign but also the perspective offered by Kerry and Hagel in their co-authored “It's Time to Talk to Syria” (Wall Street Journal, 5 June 2008), and a move in sharp contrast with Bush' rigid opposition to direct talks with the al-Assad regime. Given the flak that President Obama received from conservatives for expanding diplomacy with Damascus, and given the  foregrounding of Kerry's and Hagel's op-ed in conservative opposition-research during their confirmations on account of their advocacy for intensive diplomacy with the Syrian regime, it is absolutely ludicrous to suggest that the neoconservative PNAC agenda has somehow remained operative. Absolutely ludicrous. The Obama administration has taken and continues to take considerable heat from conservative politicians and pundits for its patent rejection of that agenda. To suggest otherwise is simply unbelievable.

The Obama administration's actual diplomatic engagement with Damascus, evident through late Spring 2011, is elided by conspiracy theorists who take two “dots”—1) PNAC's undoubted significance during the Bush years and 2) the incrementally stronger rhetoric from the administration in the wake of al-Assad's appallingly heavy-handed crackdown on the political opposition since late March 2011—and “connect the dots” with an erroneous, indeed counter-factual, bridging-theory. Such is the hallmark of conspiracy-theorizing.

So, absent PNAC, how did we arrive now at a point where President Obama is considering military intervention in Syria to punish the al-Assad regime for the alleged use of chemical weapons? The reality, I propose, is far more dull than the titillation of unmasking Teh CT. Diplomatic engagement with Damascus, always intended as a means toward a comprehensive Middle East peace-plan, depended upon regional stability. The unanticipated anti-authoritarian movements folded under “the Arab Spring” shattered that requisite stability. The administration has been knocked completely off its game by the heavy-handed and at times cruel response by the al-Assad regime to an opposition that the regime views as an existential threat. Thus, deprived of its initial strategic vision, the Obama administration has been forced to react and has done so in a muddled, ill-conceived manner. There have been four major missteps: 1) recognizing the opposition-in-exile as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, thereby eclipsing the non-militarized domestic political opposition; 2) announcing that al-Assad “must go”; 3) demarcating the use of chemical weapons as a “red line”; and 4) announcing the intent to provide small-arms and ammunition to some subset of the militarized opposition. Through these decisions, the administration has backed itself into a rhetorical corner where staying out of the situation altogether (the least bad of a whole range of bad policy-decisions) is viewed as untenable, particularly when confronted by the very real neoconservative impulses of numerous political foes across the aisle. I think that wu ming got it right in a comment earlier this week proposing (I paraphrase) that Obama is trying to figure out what is the least action he can take that quiets the hawks calling for vigorous intervention. No conspiracy necessary, just muddled policy.

In addition to conspiracy theories, we've seen our (un)fair share of disaster hyperbolism in recent diaries and comments on Syria as well. These have taken various forms ranging from “it'll be just like Iraq and/or Libya and/or Afghanistan and/or Vietnam et cetera” to “it'll be worse than Iraq et cetera” to the ultimate “holy shit, it'll be World War Three!!! Russia! China! Iran! Israel!” In the first two instances—“just like […]” and “worse than [...]”—we encounter the methodological difficulties associated with historical analogies. Certainly, both foreign-policy decision-makers and the commentariat (professional or not) use historical analogies as heuristic devices both to establish precedent and make predictions, on the basis of which they can articulate and justify policy decisions. The difficulties relate to the strength of the selected analogy. How certain is the inference that two events or processes that may correspond in one respect necessarily correspond in other respects? How many correspondences between two events or processes are sufficient for an analogy to hold predictive value? Given the simplifying and generalizing nature of analogies, is there an inherent risk of obscuring significant non-correspondences between the comparanda? Finally, is that inherent risk susceptible to manipulation by those using an analogy to advocate for a particular policy outcome?

Myself? I don't place much value on the “just like [...]” and “worse than [...]” historical analogies invoked in the commentary on Syria here because for any presumed correspondence there are, in my view, as many if not more points of non-correspondence that render the analogies to Iraq, Libya et cetera mere rhetorical flourish. I prefer to weigh the cases for and against any intervention in Syria on the basis of specifics rather than presumptive generalization.

As for the “holy shit, it'll be World War Three! Russia! China! Iran! Israel!” comments that pop up here and again, I suggest that this strain of alarmist thought is quite overwrought. I actually find those comments darkly entertaining to the extent that replacing “Russia / China / Iran” with “Gog and Magog” brings such comments fairly neatly in line with fanatical prophecies of the End Times. What can I say, I'm amused by odd things...

Finally, I'm obliged to offer my opinion on potential American military intervention, of any scale and with or without allies, in Syria. The zeal for “purity” around here pretty much demands such a statement lest, as is too often the case, one come under fire in comments for being something along the lines of a war-mongering supporter of the neocon MIC totalian oligarchs (season with “!!1!” and “Fuck You!” to taste). I am opposed to American military intervention. My view is that any intervention, by further internationalizing the crisis, will exacerbate both the regime's and militarized opposition's callous and short-sighted strategies of pitting indigenous communities against each other through claims (some real, some spurious) of foreign interference. Cognizant of the humanitarian aspects, I nonetheless conclude that intervention is likely to do more harm than good. It's a calculus that leaves me feeling cold, but there it is.

Now, having spent faaaaar too much time on meta, I'll suggest you take yourself over to ivorybill's excellent diary and implore him for more. Reality, it's what's for dinner...

Originally posted to angry marmot on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 02:25 PM PDT.

Also republished by Adalah — A Just Middle East.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (111+ / 0-)

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 02:25:53 PM PDT

  •  Quality diary. (51+ / 0-)

    I also don't see a compelling argument for military intervention at this time, but the ct's really have become too commonplace here on DailyKos.

    The "The Obama Administration is going to strike because.... oil/gas pipeline!!" is the one that annoys me the most because it is so illogical.

    Tipped and recced.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 02:42:13 PM PDT

    •  Yes, "annoyed" is a good word for it... (21+ / 0-)

      So much nonsense, so little context, so little marshalling of facts and evidence. I'm off now to check out a new brew-pub in town. Perhaps that'll improve my mood.

      Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

      by angry marmot on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 02:50:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No conspiracy, no risk, no purpose, no problem! (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador, ukit, caul, JVolvo

        The New Yorker Magazine is on exactly the same page as this diarist!

        WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Attempting to quell criticism of his proposal for a limited military mission in Syria, President Obama floated a more modest strategy today, saying that any U.S. action in Syria would have “no objective whatsoever.”

        “Let me be clear,” he said in an interview on CNN. “Our goal will not be to effect régime change, or alter the balance of power in Syria, or bring the civil war there to an end. We will simply do something random there for one or two days and then leave.”

        “I want to reassure our allies and the people of Syria that what we are about to undertake, if we undertake it at all, will have no purpose or goal,” he said.

        Hurrah!
        Pick up the bags and get in the limousine
        Soon we'll be away from here
        Step on the gas and wipe that tear away
        One sweet dream
        Came true today
        Came true today
        Came true today

        One two three four five six seven
        All good children go to heaven

        Elizabeth Warren for President 2016!

        by Frank Whitaker on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:47:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You know that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          petral

          Andy Borowitz at the New Yorker is a satirist....?

          "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

          by La Gitane on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 03:18:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You mean that... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ukit

            The idea of bombing Syria isn't satire?

            So we're about to bomb Bashar Hafez al-Assad just to send him a message?

            You think Obama would commit UNCONSTITUTIONAL ACTS OF WAR against a government which has never threatened much less attacked the USA?

            Yowza!

            You probably believe in the Kenyan birth certificate, too!

            Elizabeth Warren for President 2016!

            by Frank Whitaker on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 04:17:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  The "distraction from NSA revelations" (17+ / 0-)

      was much more annoying to me. It made absolutely no sense. At least the oil pipeline thing would be beneficial to US interests.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 03:24:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Eh, which "pipeline thing" are you talking (14+ / 0-)

        about here?

        There are actually numerous pipeline CT's swishing around.

        They all seem to be based on the false premise that a pipeline has to run through Syria in order to transport natural gas to Europe.

        Pipeline CT #1 is that we are going to attack Syria because Qatar wants a pipeline through Syria and Turkey to Europe.  This one makes little sense because a. that pipeline can also run through Iraq and Turkey, without going through Syria and b. Qatar is already banking big time on selling its gas via its huge, new LNG gas terminal and ships that ship it to the highest bidders, who are in Asia.

        Pipeline CT #2 is that we are going to attack Syria because we want to block an Iranian pipeline from the Gulf to Europe, through Syria and Turkey.  This one makes even less sense because Iran borders on Turkey and can just as easily build the pipeline without it being routed through Syria.  Furthermore, who in Europe exactly is going to buy that gas, since there is an embargo against Iran?

        I'm sure there are other ones swirling around, with some kind of variation, but likely just as nonsensical.

         

        "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

        by Lawrence on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:53:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Iraq-Syria pipeline would be the one (12+ / 0-)

          that makes sense. It's being built as we speak. I don't think it would be the sole reason for an attack but I'd bet that there are lobbyists out there pushing for an attack because of it. I don't see it so much as CT but as a reasonable expectation that the oil industry is going to lobby for something that will increase their profits regardless of how many it might kill. Ditto with the military industrial complex and the privatized intelligence industry. Which, by the way, is where much of the info on this situation is coming from.

          None of it is Obama sitting in a smoke filled room nefariously planning this stuff.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:07:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Any pipeline from the Gulf to Europe doesn't need (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            vcmvo2, petral

            to be routed through Syria..

            And why would our oil industry lobby for that anyway, since they pretty much lost out to Asian state oil companies in Iraq?

            "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

            by Lawrence on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:35:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's not going to Europe (9+ / 0-)

              It's going to a Syrian port from which it will be shipped in tankers.

              In regards to oil companies, this would let less oil on the market and so prices would stay up. In terms of national interest it is also about control of oil routes as much as anything else. If a friendly regime were in Syria then it would be easier to do things like embargoes on other countries, etc.

              If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

              by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:41:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Doesn't make sense either. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                petral, poco

                That can be routed through Turkey just as easily to the Mediterranean , too.

                Sorry, but to state that Obama is going to strike Syria because of some gas or oil pipeline that can be routed elsewhere is just pretty ludicrous, especially since the administration is well aware of the fact that a regime change could very well lead to an even unfriendlier regime and a break-up of the country, which would make any potential pipeline through Syria even more problematic.

                The fact on Syria is that a wave of social and generational change rolled through the Arab World.  It managed to unseat dictatorships in numerous countries, especially in those where a vast majority of the citizenship was against the regimes and the population is fairly homogenous, namely in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.

                When it arrived in Syria, however, it arrived in a country with a much more complex mosaic of ethnicities and religions, where the sectarian and ethnic and religious divides were inflamed by the Regime's violent reaction and the violent counterreaction of the Sunni rebels, ie. it became a population pretty strongly divided in all kinds of ways.

                Nothing short of a full scale invasion with massive amounts of boots on the ground or some peace agreement where all parties come together will bring enough semblance of stability to Syria for pipelines to be built, and both of those scenarios would take lots of time and the outcome would be highly questionable.

                Making this all about some pipeline denies the reality of the actual situation in Syria, the reality that chemical weapons are being used in Syria and that Syria has lots of chemical weapons, and the fact that the Syrian people consist of a mosaic of different people with different desires and goals.

                "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                by Lawrence on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 03:51:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You're not listening to the point here (0+ / 0-)

                  What I'm saying is that the oil companies want insecurity and do not want this pipeline because it means higher oil prices. Especially Western oil companies because the oil going through this pipeline would not be from Western oil companies. And these forces have been pushing for intervention for a while now.

                  How is it that suddenly oil just doesn't matter at all in the US plans to go to war. I mean, it certainly isn't the only thing that plays a role, but it is part of it. You seem desperate to claim that there is absolutely nothing at play here except chemical weapons, which seems pathetically naive given the history of US interventions.

                  If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                  by AoT on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 12:02:34 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  I was going to respond above, but I saw AoT (6+ / 0-)

              had already.

              I don't pretend to be an expert in any of these things, but the less oil which flows through the Straits of Hormuz, the less we have to worry about any "bad actor" problems with Iran.

              Pumping Iraqi oil through Syria to tankers on the Mediterranean (and perhaps oil from another country or two would make at least that oil flow less vulnerable to disruption.

              I don't pretend to hold any special CT information about that. It simply makes sense. We've long maintained a very strong naval presence near the Straits, including mine sweepers, to keep Iran from shutting down that narrow channel and choking off vast amounts of oil.

              We've still got to deal with (we are told) the looming nuclear problem with Iran. Reducing vulnerability in the area makes sense from a planning perspective.  Not CT.  Just makes sense.  

              I make no claim as to whether that is anyone's secret plan or whatever.

              "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

              by YucatanMan on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:17:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That suggests that the US would be in favor of (0+ / 0-)

                building the pipeline, as it would reduce Iran's ability to cut off oil supplies in the event of hostilities.

                •  Or in favor of a regime change in Syria (5+ / 0-)

                  so that we would control all of the oil routes. Syria is a strong ally of Iran so having the pipeline undertheir control would mean that Iran would still have the ability to cut of supply if they were attacked. So it makes sense that the US wouldn't want an unfriendly power to have control over that.

                  In my mind it is more a matter of oil companies wanting conflict in the region so that prices are driven up. Or at least being pressured by the market to act in that manner. This is what hapens when profit is the most important thing, various forces are going to push to kill people so thatthey can make more money. No conspiracy theory needed.

                  If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                  by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 10:07:20 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I wrote a long comment about all the various (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Tweedledee5, ukit, mickT, JVolvo

                  pipelines which exist already, which are expected to be built, which are threatened by the fighting, which are in bad condition and need to be rebuilt, the competition for whether a pipeline crossing Syria begins in Iran or Qatar, etc. (The USA favors the Qatar origin; Russia the Iran origin, etc).

                  There's simply a ton of information out there. The fact that Syria doesn't produce much oil doesn't mean that Syria is a complete non-player as far as angling for advantage in the global oil supply. Iraqi oil fields are not far away, for one thing.  It would provide a Mediterranean port for tankers, rather than the Persian Gulf, for another.

                  On and on.  It's one of those things Biden might call "a Big F...g Deal."

                  Oh and the comment? Lost it when the bored cat jumped on the keyboard for attention.

                  "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                  by YucatanMan on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 11:21:11 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  You're assuming that a new regime would (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                YucatanMan

                be any better for us than an old regime.

                With all the Jihadists in Syria, that seems kind of unlikely, no?  And even if there is regime change, if you look at the ethnic make-up and where the different ethnicities are located, it is unlikely that this new Sunni regime would control the coast, as well.

                In fact, regime change could make it even more difficult for a pipeline through Syria to be successful.

                It makes sense on paper only, and only if one discounts the actual country and people living in the country and the actual situation there.

                "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

                by Lawrence on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 04:01:19 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Actually, I don't assume that but (0+ / 0-)

                  Villagers are known for doing exactly what you state: acting on things which only make sense on paper without considering the realities of the region.

                  I'd offer all our adventures over the past dozen years as evidence.

                  What I think is that Washington believes they can get something decent out of regime change.... even as unlikely as that is. Hubris knows no shortages in Washington.

                  "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                  by YucatanMan on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 09:15:46 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  no wonder you're confused (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JVolvo, ukit

              you have no idea what you are talking about.

              These are NATURAL gas pipelines.

        •  I don't understand why bringing energy politics (6+ / 0-)

          into the discussion is automatically dismissed as "conspiracy theory."

          Is it really so implausible that these interests might play a key role in a Middle East conflict that includes Syria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran...along with Russia?

          There's a difference between unhinged conspiracy mongering of the type the diarist discusses, and real-world analysis of agendas and motives underlying conflicts like these. It would be quite naive to take the publicly stated motives of governments at face value, and assume there is no other agenda involved.

          •  exactly (6+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ukit, AoT, Tweedledee5, gulfgal98, mickT, JVolvo

            thoughtful articles written by experts discuss this exact topic.
            http://www.theguardian.com/...

            its ridiculous to dismiss it as CT.  I mean do these people who toss around the CT label so easily really think so shallow as to believe in such rubbish as " they hate us because of our freedom" nonsense.

            Such people are not nearly as intelligent as they believe themselves to be.

          •  The issue is that people have constructed (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MrBigDaddy, Tweedledee5

            CT around energy politics and so when anyone says "pipeline" some folks hear "the government is secretly planning this war so they can build the pipeline and control it, and that's the only reason." Ignoring of course that there are numerous reasons a country is pushed into war.

            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

            by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 10:11:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  i find it (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              onionjim, ukit, AoT, mickT, JVolvo

              embarrassing that we have a history full of wars and skirmishes over resources, but now we have some foolish people who think its suddenly is above humanity to fight over dwindling resources.

            •  Right, by definition there is never going to be a (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              AoT, gulfgal98, JVolvo

              single motive simply because there is no single entity behind these conflicts.

              I find it kind of amazing though that people seem to buy the notion that "humanitarian concerns" can drive a country's leadership to war, but that realpolitik and control over oil and pipelines never would. The people running the government and formulating policy certainly don't believe that, and they would probably laugh someone out of the room for proposing it.

              Which is a more plausible rationale, concern over the deaths of a few hundred people, or geopolitics and control of the world's energy resources? You could even interpret control over resources as the more "humanitarian" endeavor, since it potentially affects lives of millions.

              Of course, the end result may also benefit no one except for a small group of self-interested people, but it's hard to determine that when debate over the topic is off-limits.

          •  CT now basically means being against the (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT, caul, Blue Wind

            narrative of the status quo.  Anything that deviates a tad from the narrative of the establishment is quickly branded CT, and that's that; the conversation ends.

            •  It does seem to be a way to shut down (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ray Pensador, AoT, gulfgal98, JVolvo

              conversation. Although deviating "a tad" is certainly allowed in a more open society like ours. But I think you're right that it serves as a way of signaling the appropriate parameters of the debate.

              Of course, many conspiracy theories are just flat out wrong. But almost by definition, the American establishment view can't fully accurate either. In order for it to be fully accurate, you would have to believe the following:

              -The political/media elite have perfect information about the world.
              -They have no existing ideology or bias
              -Those in power are always honest. They never have a hidden agenda.
              -Current methods of reporting allow for fair and accurate dissemination of the facts.
              -There is only one universal truth. There is no room for alternate interpretations and understandings.

              Etc..

          •  I'm not dismissing energy politics. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            poco

            They often play a considerable role.

            But a lot of people seem to want to make virtually every single foreign event about some pipeline and that is just downright ludicrous.

            There are all kinds of factors at play.

            And in this region, where there is a kind of regional sectarian conflict that resembles the former Protestant - Catholic wars, thinking that it is all about some pipeline that may or may not even be necessary is seriously uninformed.

            The Bush Admin was, btw, seriously uninformed when it thought it could just swoop into Iraq and oil companies could then just gobble up everything after regime change.  It sure didn't work out that way because one of the major factors that they ignored was the Sunni-Shia divide.

            "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

            by Lawrence on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 04:23:28 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree that people over simplify it (0+ / 0-)

              I'm not claiming complete knowledge of all the complexities involved, which would probably take considerable time to research and fully understand. But it seems clear that there's much more to this than just a sectarian/religious war. The sectarian conflict on the ground is one dimension, the one the media talks about. But when you look at who's backing and funding the various factions, they obviously have more strategic interests, the kind that people like Zbigniew Brzezinski like to write about.

              So on a different level there is a geopolitical struggle between major powers, which is interlinked with both the sectarian conflict and control of resources.

              The pipeline referred to above is just one of many planned pipelines to exploit the growing market for natural gas. It will run from the Iranian controlled South Pars field, which is the largest known reserve of natural gas in the world, through Iraq and then Syria, where it will be shipped through a port controlled by Russia. So you have an entirely Shiite controlled pipeline route from the world's largest reserves which could potentially greatly empower Iran and Syria. At the same time, Syria apparently has recently discovered its own substantial reserves of natural gas.

              The interesting thing is that the South Pars field is actually half controlled by Qatar, which is Sunni and also happens to be the location of U.S. Central Command in the region. Qatar, which has its own plans to export natural gas to the European market, would obviously not like to see the competing Iranian pipeline through Syria go into effect.

              Qatar has also been backing and funding the Arab Spring uprisings, allying itself with the Muslim Brotherhood. As one analyst puts it:

              A Muslim Brotherhood regime in Jordan and also in Syria, backed by Qatar, would change the entire geopolitics of the world gas market suddenly and decisively in Qatar’s favor and to the disadvantage of Russia, Syria, Iran and Iraq. That would also be a staggering negative blow to China.
              So you can start to understand why the U.S. and its Sunni allies might be interested in the outcome in Syria. And Qatar along with Saudi Arabia has been a major force in arming the rebels, with the covert support of the U.S. Qatar alone has reportedly poured billions in spending into trying to overthrow Assad, but more recently Saudi Arabia seems to have taken the lead.

              Conversely, Iran and Russia have a great deal to lose if the Assad government is defeated. Russia currently supplies much of the European market, and these new sources of natural gas are a threat to their economy. If Assad survives, then Russia will, the thinking goes, be able to play a major role in developing and exploiting the Syrian resources.

              And then adding another twist on all this, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia reportedly offered to make a deal with Russia on energy issues if they would stop funding and supporting Assad. According to the report, Bandar (who is a close ally of the Bush family) was "purporting to speak with the full backing of the US." So this is pretty blatant evidence that there is a strong energy politics dimension to the conflict, but I think if you consider the issues above it's hard to see how it couldn't be.

      •  Its like saying the NFL is a CT to distract us (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, Lawrence

        from the NSA. Like, come on. It's not the media's fault that there's something more interesting to talk about at the moment.

        "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

        by TheHalfrican on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 06:51:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Curz says Syria is linked to Obamacare on Rush (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, Lawrence

        "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

        by Lefty Coaster on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:00:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm tipping you Lawrence (7+ / 0-)

      but I'm not sure I agree with you (and the diarist), I'm not sure about much here except that I believe the chemical weapons cannot become acceptable.

      There has to be a real consequence. The question is, what is that consequence and is it comparable with the deed that instigated it? That is rub. I don't necessarily want a military strike, but then what do we do? Like I said, I'm not sure.

      "Humidity built the snowman. Sunshine brought him down" John Prine

      by high uintas on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 06:29:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh! (8+ / 0-)

        And the CT shit? Eye rollingly stupid. That I do totally agree with.

        "Humidity built the snowman. Sunshine brought him down" John Prine

        by high uintas on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 06:30:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  What country in the world has the most CW? (4+ / 0-)

        I would guess that Syria is not even near the top. Plenty of countries have CW programs. Should they all be outlawed? That would be nice, and most of the nations in the UN would agree, but the US would likely veto any such a resolution.

        Is the demonizing of Syria a bit Islamophobic? Why the rush to punish Assad without waiting for the results of the UN inspection report? This makes me recall how Blix was not given the time to complete his inspection work in Iraq. We all know what the cost of that rush to war was.

        What I would like to see in Syria is a UN supervise election with a run off between the two top candidates. I would also like to see an immediate ban in Syria on all weapons and fighters from all foreign countries. Whoever runs for election has to pledge to honor the people's choice. That's what we do in America.

        War is costly. Peace is priceless!

        by frostbite on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 07:28:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I haven't found a "most" yet (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Justanothernyer, Lawrence

          but Syria has extensive Chemical Weapons

          including nerve agents such as sarin and VX, and blistering agents, according to governments and media sources. There are also some allegations of deployed CWs on SCUD missiles.
          .

          "Humidity built the snowman. Sunshine brought him down" John Prine

          by high uintas on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:46:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Syria used chemical weapons. (0+ / 0-)

          to say other countries have cw is speculation, and a distraction from the question what happens when a country uses CW in violation of international law.  If you answer nothing, you join a lot of people who want to let this slide.

          One can ask the question:  is Obama response the right response?  That would provide some interesting discussion, but to argue for no response is old fashioned isolationism.

          That time is gone forever.

    •  "OIL!" analysis isn't just illogical, it's lazy. (7+ / 0-)
  •  Thanks for an excellent diary, am. (22+ / 0-)

    This, along with ivorybill's diary clarifies quite a few things.

    Have to admit that my first impulse was to write a snark comment excoriating you for not giving me simple and uncomplicated monsters like PNAC CT to focus my outrage:-))

    Seriously though, I am absolutely against this intervention, as are you, and I am sorry that that the muddle and shifting terrains (along with policy missteps) have provided this administration with an ever narrowing set of options. Despite that, any military adventure right now is unacceptable.

    It's *Gandhi*, not Ghandi

    by poco on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 02:43:48 PM PDT

    •  Good to see you, poco. Long time! n/t (7+ / 0-)

      Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

      by angry marmot on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 02:53:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hard to disagree (8+ / 0-)

      But I can't help feeling like a lot of the criticism is of the 'hindsight is 20/20' variety.

      Had Obama not drawn the red line, for example, we might be getting complaints that the latest CW assault is Obama's fault because he didn't put the Syrian regime on notice.

      But such is always the case, I suppose. I would like to see a bit more from opponents of military intervention as to what it is the international community should do to deter Assad's future use of such weapons. Or is the answer, 'nothing?'

      You never trust a millionaire/Quoting the sermon on the mount/I used to think I was not like them/But I'm beginning to have my doubts -- The Arcade Fire

      by tomjones on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:34:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  One of the problems I see is that (3+ / 0-)

        no one really took the apparent previous chemical attack seriously. If there was a red line it was crossed there.

        I would like to see a bit more from opponents of military intervention as to what it is the international community should do to deter Assad's future use of such weapons. Or is the answer, 'nothing?'
        Sanctions would be an obvious one. Heavy sanctions.

        Along with massive help for refugees.

        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

        by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:45:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But imposing sanctions (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          high uintas, Onomastic

          runs into the Russia veto issue. So a non starter. I definitely agree that nonviolent options would be preferable, I just don't see what they are.

          You never trust a millionaire/Quoting the sermon on the mount/I used to think I was not like them/But I'm beginning to have my doubts -- The Arcade Fire

          by tomjones on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:50:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The US has had sanctions against Syria since '04 (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT, wu ming, poco

          See US Trade and Financial Sanctions Against Syria.  What more would you propose to do?

          You could impose a naval blockade but I'm not sure how much trade Syria is doing by water at this point.

          Also, keep in mind that serious sanctions in a military dictatorship will primarily hurt civilians, while not likely hurting the regime.

          •  Same with bombing in regards to civilians (4+ / 0-)

            I suppose that was me wanting to propose something. I really don't think anything effective as a deterent would be morally acceptable. Maybe just start spending shit tons of money on feeding al Syrians as well as a blockade? But if the president is going to throw some bombs their way without UN approval he should have just done it the first time around. If you're going to play the tough guy then do it already.

            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

            by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:41:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  The answer is nothing. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, gulfgal98, JVolvo

        Why didn't we intervene in the Congo war? Or Darfur?
        Why should we intervene is Syria?
        As for alarmism, can this diarist assure us that a western attack on Syria won't lead to the war spreading into neighboring countries?

  •  I would like to see some of the comments (24+ / 0-)

    you are labeling CT.  It seems to me you're making a counter argument to arguments you disagree with, and instead of them being actually CT, you choose to label them CT to dismiss their relevance.  That is why the label CT has lost all meaning on DKos, because its get applied to arguments people don't like.  First you exaggerate their argument to grotesque levels, than you label it CT, than you dismiss it.  It seems like you're labeling CT anyone who believes that there is a continuance of policy from the Bush to Obama administration.  

    "The assertion that the PNAC agenda has remained operative in the Obama administration and is guiding current U.S. policy on Syria" is not CT, its an argument, a belief, that can be just as easily argued as what you are claiming.  Didn't we bring about regime change in Libya?  Aren't we contemplating tipping the scales to the rebels in Syria?  

    You're just labeling arguments you disagree with and sometimes hyperbolic statements of people you disagree with as CT.  Yet another diary extolling the correct way to criticize President Obama.  

    •  I've read, I think, every diary on Syria (22+ / 0-)

      this week in addition to most MENA-related diaries since I started participating here. I've a good nose for CT in these contexts. We clearly disagree about what constitutes CT, though I would note objectively that faulty bridging-theories (how "dots" are connected, or not) are part of their identification. A callout diary wasn't my intent, as it would most certainly turn into a world of shit. This may, too, but fuck it... I'm off for a pint of IPA.

      Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

      by angry marmot on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 02:59:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  People - and a lot of them no idiots by any (21+ / 0-)

      stretch - warning that this could develop into a much wider war is defintiely not "CT."

      •  The LA Times is engaged in CT (10+ / 0-)
        Iranian political and military leaders joined Russia on Thursday in warning the United States and its allies that any military strike on Syria would ignite a wider Middle East war, lead to Israel's destruction and violate international law.
        http://www.latimes.com/...

        As is Yahoo -

        On Sunday a strident warning came from Washington's archfoe Iran.

        "If the United States crosses this red line, there will be harsh consequences for the White House," armed forces deputy chief of staff Massoud Jazayeri said.

        His comments come a day after Obama held a rare meeting with his top aides and discussed Syria by phone with British Prime Minister David Cameron

        http://news.yahoo.com/...

        as are CNN, MSNBC, Wa Post, everyone who is covering the story.  I don't believe US airstrikes in Syria will lead to a regional war, but its ridiculous, given the statements by Iran and Russia as well as well informed people on the issue, including the diary he links to, to claim that its CT to say this could spread to a wider war.  It doesn't hold up.

      •  Sorry that you read it that way... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        poco

        The issue of "mission creep" is certainly valid. MENA has become considerably more complex in the wake of the Arab Spring, unleashing a host of local, national, regional and international complications that were formerly held more-or-less in check. I'd suggest that there are no good predictive models for the potential ramifications of intervention. That said, postulating WWIII and a nuclear apocalypse (off the top of my head I can think of three recent diaries of this order) is hysterical and disingenous, imo.

        Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

        by angry marmot on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 05:42:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But what you're doing is disingenuous. (0+ / 0-)

          By making such a big deal about people who maybe go to far with those warnings you're downplaying all warnings. Which I think you know, and which I think is what you wanted in this, isn't it?

    •  Examples of CT: (11+ / 0-)

      --insisting the Assad regime would never use chemical weapons on Syrians, and attributing such attacks to the opposition killing its own in order to draw the US into intervention.
      --disregarding the very obvious signs over the last several months that Obama dreads intervening and does so now only because he has been boxed in by his own sloppy rhetoric.
      --disregarding the fact that so far the Obama administration has found ways to ignore Israeli/PNAC/Republican calls to make airstrikes on Iran.

      Obama, the old PNAC crowd, McCain, etc. are not singing from the same sheet music, at least not yet.

      But like angry marmot, I oppose US intervention. It would accomplish nothing and carries some risk of backfiring.

       

      •  Could you elaborate as to who 'its own' are and (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, truong son traveler, caul, JVolvo

        why you think they are 'its own'?

        ... to the opposition killing its own...

        Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

        by InAntalya on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:06:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Its own"-- Sunni Syrian civilians in (0+ / 0-)

          its own neighborhoods. Those dead children are certainly not of the Alewite ruling class.

          (Google "Maher al-Assad" and you'll see why I consider it more likely that he launched this latest chem weapon strike)

          On Obama's sloppy rhetoric: indeed, Obama is usually very careful in the way he qualifies his statements. It's one of his most distinguishing and admirable characteristics. (Of course it doesn't prevent him from sometimes being misrepresented by ignorami and literalists in the media or by dishonest Republicans.) But this time Obama clearly made a mistake in declaring use of chemical weapons the crossing of "a red line" requiring a tougher US response. It ignored context and restricted his freedom of response. Perhaps he felt pressured to make such a statement because of all the noise Republicans were making over "Benghazi" at the time.

          •  You seem to be under the impression that (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            poco

            the 'opposition' in these areas east of Damascus are local people who are fighting for their freedom who wouldn't possibly harm their neighbors or are just Sunni Syrians form other areas who are fighting for their freedom and who wouldn't possibly harm other Sunni Syrians.

            Some of them may be, but the 'opposition' in control in these areas are al-Nusrah, a very radical Islamic group who have a long record of killing civilians in the areas under their control whenever the like for whatever reason they like.

            It doesn't matter if the civilains are Sunni, Shia, Alawite, Christian, Druze, Arab, or Kurdish.

            And I don't need to do a search for Maher al-Assad. I already know very well who and what he is.

            Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

            by InAntalya on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 05:29:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  While we argue back and forth over (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              InAntalya

              who is more likely to have ordered the use of chem weapons against civilians, are we losing sight of the fact that a US air strike is unlikely to deter further use of chem weapons by either side?

              I remain opposed to the US taking sides in what is becoming a Sunni/Shiite-Alewite Civil War.

              •  I am not discussing who is more likely to (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                poco

                have carried out the chemical weapons attack.

                I am trying to draw people's attention to the fact that a false positive image can be created for rebel groups such as al-Nusrah by senences such as these

                ... attributing such attacks to the opposition killing its own ...

                Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

                by InAntalya on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:12:52 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I have no interest in offering (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  InAntalya

                  apologies for al-Nusrah or other groups. I just consider it much more likely that Maher al-Assad ordered the sarin attacks, given the resources he commands and his past record of atrocities.

                  •  Maher al-Assad is a possibility, one of a few that (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    poco

                    I think are plausible, to varying degress. And these do not include scenarios like the 'a secret US operation launched from Jordan' or 'Israel did it' scenarios I have seen put forward by a few.

                    Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

                    by InAntalya on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 08:23:17 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Obama? Sloppy rhetoric? Rarely happens. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:20:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  similar outcomes does not equal same ideology (5+ / 0-)

      I'm sorry, but I studied the PNAC ideology. Nothing resembling what we are doing, our rhetoric, etc. If anything, PNAC ideology would be opposed to bombing Syria because it doesn't go far enough. Take Libya, for example- many PNAC signatories were opposed because were were not "leading" enough.

      It's not a conspiracy theory, per se. It is, however, misinformed and indicative of a superficial understanding of the issues and ideologies involved here. When someone says that the Obama administration is carrying out neoconservative foreign policy, I think of tea partiers ranting about liberals as "fascists." It is an attack that says more about the attacker than about the issue involved.

      "Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." --Ed Abbey

      by progreen on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 06:03:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nice diary, Angry Marmot! (20+ / 0-)

    I've been trying to get my head around an effective way to address this issue on DK, but it's pretty challenging. A lot of comments and diaries are driven by a strong, heart-felt opposition to war and violence, which I respect. And the US history of political and military engagement in the Middle East is very problematic.

    That said, I do feel that a significant number of criticisms of potential military action in Syria miss the mark badly, by assuming actions and motivations that are extremely unlikely. Suggesting a "boots on the ground" large scale invasion like Iraq2 would be an example.

    Strong arguments based on unreasonable assumptions, inadequate information, unlikely analogies, or incorrect historical references don't contribute constructively to the discussion, IMHO.

    I definitely appreciated Kos' diary "On Syria", because I felt it gave good reasons to avoid military action in Syria without ever referencing "Conspiracy Theories and Disaster Hyperbolism"...

  •  Tipped for realism. (17+ / 0-)

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 02:52:07 PM PDT

  •  Good info lost in meta. (12+ / 0-)

    Somewhat insulting meta.

  •  I've been writing about Syria for a long (39+ / 0-)

    time and often got crickets.

    Now it's the hot topic and I hope people will take the time to learn something.

    Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

    by InAntalya on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 03:03:11 PM PDT

  •  tipped and recced (8+ / 0-)

    Personally speaking I'm past 'annoyed' at people so willing to sweep the use of chemical weapons under the rug as if it is nothing really important.

    That said the CT and disaster hyperbole is indeed quite annoying. tipped and recced

    •  Cite one of these, please (14+ / 0-)
      people so willing to sweep the use of chemical weapons under the rug
      Because what I've been seeing is people acting as if it's somehow worse to kill someone with chemicals than it is to kill them with, say, a bomb. Perhaps you can direct the readers to a comment that actually says what you allege?

      This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

      by lunachickie on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 03:13:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  let's do some math (4+ / 0-)

        First I'm going to assume it was sarin used okay?

        0.05 milligrams of sarin is more then enough to kill a single person.

        A 9mm bullet weights on average about 11.5 grams

        Now 0.05 milligrams is 5e-5 grams that means that a bullets worth of sarin is probably enough to kill 230,000 people.

        And that's not just any death you are going to die convulsing, choking to death as your neurons shut down one by one.

        That among many reasons is why chemical weapons are one of the few means we've developed to maim, hurt and kill that practically EVERYONE agrees should be off limits.

        •  That's not what you were asked, of course. (13+ / 0-)

          Nobody asked you about MATH.

          What you said was:

          people so willing to sweep the use of chemical weapons under the rug
          What you were asked to do was:
          direct the readers to a comment that actually says what you allege?

          This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

          by lunachickie on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 03:25:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  anyone trying to frame this as (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NedSparks, VelvetElvis

            'no worse then anything else' is trying imo to sweep this under the rug hence the point of my above math.

            As to comments, I suggest people go reread most of yesterday's diaries including kos' which I strongly disagree with.

            •  How so? (6+ / 0-)
              anyone trying to frame this as 'no worse then anything else' is trying imo to sweep this under the rug
              Your opinion fails to take into account that dead is dead, regardless of the means used to kill.

              That's not "sweeping it under the rug". That is "stating a fact".

              This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

              by lunachickie on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 03:30:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ummm....Let me preface this by repeating (3+ / 0-)

                that I am implacably opposed to any military adventure in Syria, and will be hitting the streets protesting it, just as I did with the Afghanistan war and the Iraq war.

                However, the "dead is dead" formulation hides more than it reveals.

                A bomb takes your life or your limbs--horrible! A chemical weapon that does not take your life may seriously compromise your children, who will now be born with birth defects. And the effects may last through a couple of generations--chemical weapons are more horrible forms of warfare than conventional weapons, despite what Kos says.

                It's *Gandhi*, not Ghandi

                by poco on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 03:38:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Nobody is saying they aren't horrible (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  truong son traveler, onionjim, JVolvo

                  what they are saying is that A) the end result is the same and B) it's not enough of a justification--particularly when there are still questions about the "facts" alleged here to begin with.

                  And I'll be protesting just like you, so I'm not sure why that needed clarity. It's just really hard to give a shit about "the method of delivery" when it is so goddamn wrong for us to even be considering this "unilateral" action at all.

                  This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

                  by lunachickie on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 03:53:02 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    NedSparks

                    A) is pointless and frankly a fallacy. It's like saying that since both manslaughter and murder lead to the same result there is no difference there.

                    B) is subjective at best never mind that there are actual treaties that are being violating right now.

                    And I would have thought the math would have been enough of a reason to 'give a shit'. Though I do agree with you that it would be best if this wasn't just the US acting.

                •  And again (6+ / 0-)

                  that is not "sweeping it under the rug". God, the weasel-isms from that one are monumentally tedious.

                  This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

                  by lunachickie on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 03:56:16 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You'd think that given the (4+ / 0-)

                    sweeping under the rug of the misdeeds of the NSA some folks would be less blase about using the term.

                    If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                    by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:23:43 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  No shit. I read this and my Irony Meter broke: (0+ / 0-)
                      Personally speaking I'm past 'annoyed' at people so willing to sweep the use of chemical weapons oh, a certain massive govt surveillance program under the rug as if it is nothing really important.

                      The GOP says you have to have an ID to vote, but $ Millionaire donors should remain anonymous?

                      by JVolvo on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 05:21:44 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  dead is not dead (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                poco

                A slow painful death is much worse than a quick painless one.

                Praxis: Bold as Love

                by VelvetElvis on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:48:14 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Gosh, reminds me of some one else who, when (0+ / 0-)

            the scope of a certain problem became irrefutable, had only mathsplaining as a distraction.

            See?  Out of 250,000,000 communications, x is only 0.003%!  Nothing to see here...

            The GOP says you have to have an ID to vote, but $ Millionaire donors should remain anonymous?

            by JVolvo on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 05:18:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  in your math, you might also want to consider the (10+ / 0-)

          dispersal range for Sarin in an artillery shell sufficient for an LD-50.

          You'll find that it would take one hell of a big fucking artillery shell to kill 230,000 people.

          Just sayin'.

          I published some writings on chemical weapons back during the binary nerve gas debate in the US in the 1980's (I had some sources in the Pentagon), so it's a topic I know a few things about.

          As far as their military use, chemical weapons were never really intended to kill people--their true utility is to force opposing forces to wear bulky and restrictive anti-contamination suits, which slow enemy forces down and interfere with their ability to perform military tasks. Indeed, the "persistent" chemical agents were specifically designed for use in rear areas like fuel depots, staging areas, or airfields, to cripple operations as much as possible. Whether the agents actually kill anybody or not is a side issue--that's not the intent.

          Civilians, of course, do not have access to such anti-contamination suits, and are therefore sitting-duck targets for chemical weapons.  But that still leaves all the problems associated with spreading enough chemical agent in sufficient concentrations to produce an LD-50 in a large area. It is not as easy as it sounds.

          •  meh that introduces things I wasn't comparing (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NedSparks, VelvetElvis

            like population density for example. Because that's besides the point I was making.

            That said you might be right about the military purpose of it but when you release nerve agents into civilian populations you have only one goal and that is mass murder on a level that is only really rivaled by nuclear weapons.

            •  It's no where near nuclear level n/t (6+ / 0-)

              If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

              by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:27:50 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  full scale use of chemical weapons (0+ / 0-)

                on a city would be as bad as a nuclear warhead.

                •  As would fire bombing or anything on a city wide (5+ / 0-)

                  level. You can destroy entire cities with a bunch of people with fire. Nuclear is an entirely different level. They are not the same.

                  If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                  by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:44:22 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I never said they are the same (0+ / 0-)

                    I said as bad.

                    •  So then fire bombing is as bad as nuclear? (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      YucatanMan, onionjim

                      Anything can wipe out a lot of people. Nuclear does it on a different level and destroys the land in a way nothing else really does.

                      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                      by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:51:27 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  fire bombing requires a lot of planes (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        NedSparks

                        and bombs and frankly certain factors to achieve the same level of death as nuclear or chemical so no.

                        Chemical is really the only thing as bad as nuclear (though biological is kinda of close)

                        •  Biological can be much worse (3+ / 0-)

                          As the Native Americans found out on various occasions. That one is the really scary one if used wrong.

                          But what you're basically saying is that chemical is as bad as nuclear because it's easy to deploy when you don't have a large military. Which really would make it worse than nuclear because poor countries could afford it so proliferation is a bigger problem. As in the US those things that give the poor power are always considered worse than those that give the rich power.

                          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                          by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:01:39 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  biological takes time though (0+ / 0-)

                            and no chemical/nuclear kill indiscriminately on orders of magnitude and quickness that nothing else readily matches.

                          •  They don't spread though (0+ / 0-)

                            That's the scary part of biological. At least some of it.

                            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                            by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:21:06 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You're making a class issue out of this? (0+ / 0-)

                            really?

                            You're leaving out the empire factor.  Even in the post cold-war era, the US and Russia still arm most of the world.  Syria has a substantial fleet of MIGs as well as other Russian supplied conventional armaments.  

                            Even with the cold war over, countries that fly migs and countries that fly F-16s seem to still always find themselves at odds.  

                            The parties most likely to use chemical weapons are non-state actors, guerrilla forces some might call "terrorists."  I think it's far more likely that a rebel group was responsible for the deployment of chemical weapons than Assad.  Assad is armed to the teeth with Russian hardware and has no need to use chemical weapons.

                             

                            Praxis: Bold as Love

                            by VelvetElvis on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:04:11 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  There is a class issue (0+ / 0-)

                            I'm not making anything of it. Chemical weapons are more available to poorer countries. And I'm not sure that your assertion that chemical weapons are mainly used by non-state actors is actually backed up. I'm not saying it's wrong, but I'd want some evidence on that before I believe it.

                            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                            by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:10:42 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  actually, producing an LD-50 over an area the (5+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          YucatanMan, AoT, onionjim, wu ming, JVolvo

                          size of any decently-populated city would require an equally large number of planes and bombs. The area covered by a single chemical bomb is not as large as you seem to think. And the area covered by a chemical artillery shell is very very much smaller.

                          There is no practical way to produce nuclear-level casualties in a city (even a city of completely unprotected civilians) using chemical weapons.  It simply can't be done. It would take a bombardment at a level that most militaries simply cannot carry out.

                          •  I would suggest that you haven't seen (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            NedSparks

                            most of the modern delivery systems then as it would not require even half of the level of bombardment as you seem to think it would to cover a 'decently populated city'

                          •  you are simply wrong (8+ / 0-)

                            I am intimately familiar with all modern chemical weapon delivery systems----since the time I wrote an article for "The Nation" about the then-new BLU-80B "Bigeye" binary VX chemical bomb, right up to the development of the chemical warhead for the MLRS.

                            There are numerous problems when faced with attempting to cover a large area, the size of a city, with chemical weapons.  Each individual munition only covers a small area --- the 155mm GB artillery shell, for instance, produces an LD-50 in a radius of about 40 feet, in ideal conditions. That effect would be lessened by weather conditions such as winds. Even without windy conditions, the gas would naturally disperse as it drifted, and would quickly become ineffective.  So each particular area would have to be hit with its own shell. Covering an entire city would therefore require thousands of artillery shells.

                            The delivery system with the largest payload made by the US was the Sergeant tactical missile, which could carry either a nuclear or chemical warhead.  With VX nerve gas under normal conditions, the Sergeant was capable of producing an LD-33 in an area of just under one square mile. It would take about 40 Sergeant tactical missiles to produce an LD-33 in a city the size of Damascus. To produce an LD-50 would require almost twice as many missiles.

                            One nuclear warhead or bomb, delivered by one plane or missile, would destroy that same city and kill virtually everyone in it.

                            The idea that chemical weapons are comparable to nuclear weapons, is simply silly. They're not in the same league.

                          •  an "LD-50", for those who don't know, is a (7+ / 0-)

                            "lethal dose 50", which means an amount of gas sufficient to cause death among 50% of those exposed to it.

                            An "LD-33" is a "lethal dose 33", which will kill 33% of those exposed.

                          •  I don't want to bog this discussion down (0+ / 0-)

                            into a techinifest so I'm not going to continue this.

                            If you have some proof to show me then please do so but I've already made my point and honestly you started this 'is not' stuff earlier too and I simply am not going to keep doing this with you.

                            There's nothing silly about comparing chemical weapons to nuclear espeically given how lethal both are with only small amounts of material.

                            I get that you want a practical discussion but I'm not getting involved in one I made the point I wanted so good bye.

                          •  as a chemist and one that has studied (0+ / 0-)

                            organophosphates I think I can be alright in shrugging right back at you.

                          •  Did you miss the point that you were talking to... (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            onionjim, mickT, JVolvo

                            a person who is...

                            ...intimately familiar with all modern chemical weapon delivery systems----since the time I wrote an article for "The Nation" about the then-new BLU-80B "Bigeye" binary VX chemical bomb, right up to the development of the chemical warhead for the MLRS.
                            WTF is wrong with you? Are you so ingrained to your beliefs that you can't admit when you are wrong?

                            'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

                            by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:30:49 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  to those that read this (0+ / 0-)

                            I know exactly who I am talking to, namely someone that has claimed to have written a lot about chemical delivery though mostly so far the cites have been limited to artillery and rocketry and are about a decade out of development or more.

                            This expertise has little to do with the point I was making though about the general destructiveness of chemical weapons and on any other day I'd be more then willing to have a prolonged technical discussion with Lenny. But not today for a variety of reasons.

                            bye

                          •  To those who read this, we have no proof that (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            onionjim, mickT

                            duhban is a person knowledgeable of any kind of Chemistry at all. In fact we don't even know if he is a human being and not some sort of complex conversation algorithm.

                            Good luck in proving that you are human, duhban.

                            'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

                            by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:43:07 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  the LD-50 is the same for a CW shell, or rocket, (2+ / 0-)

                            or bomb--no matter who makes it. They all work the same way. (shrug)

                          •  You are swimming upstream with this one... nt (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            onionjim

                            'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

                            by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:57:54 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  yes and no (0+ / 0-)

                            yes in that LD 50 is a concentration level of __(insert chemical here) generally in mg per something (m3 if you're talking gases generally)

                            no in that different dispersitive methods are able to disperse chemical weapons at lethal levels further out then others.

                            For example artillery shells often only have about 6 lbs of agent and it is this and not the explosive that limits there kill radius. However bombs and rockets often can carry more and thus their possible radius is larger.

                            You're comparing apples and oranges here pretty much with LD 50 being a chemical property (and an important one for any chemist working with a possibly lethal substance) and dispersion radius which while dependent on LD 50 is not a chemical property.

                          •  let me repeat: (5+ / 0-)

                            The delivery system with the largest payload made by the US was the Sergeant tactical missile, which could carry either a nuclear or chemical warhead.  With VX nerve gas under normal conditions, the Sergeant was capable of producing an LD-33 in an area of just under one square mile. It would take about 40 Sergeant tactical missiles to produce an LD-33 in a city the size of Damascus. To produce an LD-50 would require almost twice as many missiles.

                            For example artillery shells often only have about 6 lbs of agent and it is this and not the explosive that limits there kill radius.
                            Um, the reason that's all they have is because that's all that will fit in a 155mm shell.  And 155mm shells are all the same size, no matter who makes them.

                            You really have no idea what you are talking about.

                            Are you THAT desperate to not admit you are mistaken? It won't kill you.  Honest, it won't.

                            (sigh)  I guess, unlike you, I am simply not still young enough to know everything.

                          •  really? (0+ / 0-)

                            You keep missing my point Lenny but that's okay I get it you have to be right never mind you're not even on point.

                            This is why I really should have stayed away.

                            Let's continue this when you understand the point I am making okay?

                          •  I understand the point you are making (4+ / 0-)

                            And I have no problem with the point you are making. Indeed, I agree with the point you are making; chemical weapons are a special kind of bad. Which is indeed why they have been banned by international treaty.

                            But facts matter---and half the stuff you've been spouting out about chemical weapons is simply wrong.  As in factually incorrect.  As in not true.

                            Sorry if you don't like it being pointed out that you are simply wrong.  You'll get over it, I promise.

                            You keep missing my point Lenny but that's okay I get it you have to be right never mind you're not even on point.
                            I am right. That is because I know enough about the subject to discuss it, and you don't. (shrug)  
                          •  bullshit (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Christin

                            The only fact I've mentioned is the lethal dosage of sarin gas (if I remember right it's 0.05 milligrams) everything since is my opinion based on the sheer lethality of chemical weapons.

                            You may not like that opinion but it's my opinion.

                          •  ps (0+ / 0-)

                            you've yet to demonstrate you actually get my point and your dogged insistence on bogging this down into some technical discussion on the deployment of chemical weapons truly is besides my point so if you actually do understand my point why the hell are you trying to change the subject?

                            Sounds to me like you just admitted to a fallacy there.

                          •  he is trolling. best to ignore him n/t (2+ / 0-)
                          •  whatever (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            onionjim

                            Perhaps you could tell us what the payload is for binary VX from the BLU-80B Bigeye glide bomb, and the radius for its LD-50 . . . . ?

                            With all due respect, you have no idea what you are talking about.

                            I do.

                            (shrug)

                          •  :sigh: (0+ / 0-)

                            the LD 50 for VX is only an estimation because it's so freaken toxic. The one I know of is ~ 2.3 micrograms which is 2.3e-6 per kg.

                            We done with show and tell?

                            PS Bigeye was a failure so I am not sure why you are interested in it. That said I believe the VX load was about 80 kg.

                          •  OK, so you can Google (3+ / 0-)

                            Here's why I am interested in the Bigeye: no Syrian chemical bomb (if Syria even HAS chemical bombs) will deliver any more VX than the Bigeye could.  Hence no Syrian chemical bomb can cover any larger area than the Bigeye could.  Hence it will take no fewer Syrian bombs to cover Damascus than the number of required Bigeyes. And that is a lot of Bigeyes--at least 150 of them.

                            Which means you are simply wrong when you assert:

                            fire bombing requires a lot of planes and bombs and frankly certain factors to achieve the same level of death as nuclear or chemical so no.
                            and
                            I would suggest that you haven't seen most of the modern delivery systems then as it would not require even half of the level of bombardment as you seem to think it would to cover a 'decently populated city'
                            I do realize that you're young enough to know everything, and nobody can tell you anything.

                            Nevertheless, you are simply wrong.  (shrug)

                          •  that has absolutely fuck all to do with the point (0+ / 0-)

                            I was making all the way back up there with Lenny.

                            I realize you're old enough to think you know everything but you don't. Your gaff about 'the ld 50 of the bomb' is proof enough of that.

                            Just leave it be, you don't understand the point and I'm tired of going round and round with you. You either can not or will not listen and I don't frankly give a damn either way.

                          •  whatever (1+ / 0-)

                            You're mistaken.  You are factually incorrect.

                            Live with it. And get over it.

                          •  given that you don't know the difference (0+ / 0-)

                            between a chemical property and a derived statistic I would be careful talking about being factually incorrect.

                          •  Your point was that there was a significant (1+ / 0-)

                            difference between a firebomb attack and a chemical attack in that it would be easier to kill an entire city with a chemical attack as opposed to a fire bomb attack. From what I can tell, and I'm clearlt biased, you can't actually back up the assertion that mass death is easier with chemical weapons that with fire bombing.

                            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                            by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 11:54:38 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  :sigh: one last time (0+ / 0-)

                            Since you are so hung up on firebombing let's do some comparing and we'll use the worst fire bombing in WW2 in Europe, Dresden.

                            Now according to wiki, it took 4 raids of 722 bombers using 3,900 tons of high explosives/incendiaries to destroy 15 square miles and kill 22,000 to 29,000 people.

                            You could achiever that same result with 15 missiles (using Lenny's own claims not my own) and 1.1 to 1.45 grams of  sarin.

                            Just for comparison sake it took 3,538,020,486 grams of high explosives/incendiaries.

                            So using 2% of the numbers used on Dresden and using about 4e-8% (or .00000004%) of the material used on Dresden you can achieve the same result. Never mind that those payloads are much larger the that. Never mind that it's entirely possible you actually are going to kill more people because of the chemical properties of sarin.

                            You sure you want to keep saying they are the same?

                          •  Ja, wir haben gelernt, dass Teh duhban die (1+ / 0-)

                            Möglichkeit, die Google zu nutzen, um mehr zu wissen scheinen in den Kopf, als tatsächlich im Kopf hat.
                            Ein Googspert, wenn man so will.
                            Es ist zu lachen. Aber mit Tränen der tiefen Trauer und Bestürzung denn es ist nicht eine lustige Veranstaltung.

                            Realize, good sir Lenny, that you have informed us well with your actual knowledge (not Googsmarts) however you will never reclaim the minutes spent shadowboxing with this entity.  :o(

                            The GOP says you have to have an ID to vote, but $ Millionaire donors should remain anonymous?

                            by JVolvo on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 05:38:35 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  the entity was not my target (1+ / 0-)

                            The audience was--and if I have informed the audience, I am happy.  :)

                          •  ...and it's all about how anything makes you feel. (0+ / 0-)

                            Manning/Snowden in 2016

                            by Immigrant Punk on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 06:34:48 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thanks Lenny. You made me a bit smarter, (0+ / 0-)

                            and duh made me a bit dumber. So, all in all, a wash.

                            :)

                            'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

                            by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 05:51:51 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

            •  Er, what if you are fighting a civil war? (0+ / 0-)

              You don't have to make your point by exaggerating an evil act.   Civil wars (and insurgencies) take place where the people are.    Initial reports of the attack claimed that it was preparation for the Syrian army to reclaim territory in East Ghouta, citing as evidence a buildup of tanks and thousands of troops.    This was used as evidence for why Assad would have used gas.

              Now we have changed it to "because he is a madman who felt like it" because that sells war better (obviously a madman might decide to attack anywhere, as opposed to a desperate military relying upon evil tactics to accomplish a rational goal.)

      •  You are suggesting that high explosive bombs (9+ / 0-)

        are no worse than chemical weapons.

        Chemical weapons are far worse as you can kill far more people with chemical weapons.

        A shell filled with sarin has a much larger area of effect than one filled with high explosives and there is no shelter from it.

        "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said." "The War Prayer" by Mark Twain

        by Quanta on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 03:29:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sigh (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          onionjim

          and they'll all still be dead.

          There aren't enough facts surrounding THIS "chemical weapons action". That's the real problem overall, not whether one type of weapon is worse than another. That argument was foisted on the nation to justify it and it's thin gruel, given the totality of these circumstances.

          This war-drum beating over the pithy, ridiculous, contorted justifications grow tiresome quickly. If this were W. threatening this action, you'd all be screaming from the rooftops the same things the majority of the rest of the country is already yelling right now:

          NO.

          This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

          by lunachickie on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 03:38:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I suggest you read the memoirs (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            high uintas, NedSparks, KayCeSF, Lawrence

            of the people who lived through large scale chemical warfare, who are also the ones who created the conventions against their reuse.

            A thought experiment: is it worse to shoot a person in the head or torture them to death.

            They're both still dead.

            47 is the new 51!

            by nickrud on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 06:06:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  it seems (6+ / 0-)

            that you've put out a request for specific examples of "sweeping it under the rug" and then sidestepped it by stating that it is insufficient cause when it is pointed out that the "dead is dead" argument does minimize the importance of chemical weapons.  

            There is no treaty that all but a handful of the countries of the world have signed banning the use of bombs. None banning the use of bullets. There is one banning the use of chemical and biological weapons.

            I'm not saying that using chemical weapons is sufficient reason to bomb Syria, nor that it is wise to do so. I'm actually undecided on where I fall on this one (I was opposed enough to Iraq to get arrested doing civil disobedience). However, arguments that the use of chemical weapons doesn't matter, or that "dead is dead" are not persuasive when arguing against a strike against Syria.

            "Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." --Ed Abbey

            by progreen on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 06:13:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's gotten terribly macabre at this point (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              onionjim, wu ming, caul, Teiresias70, JVolvo

              hasn't it?

              At some point I expect someone to write a diary listing the various horrible things people can do in war and rating them from bad to worst. Is mass rape above or below chemical weapons? Are nuclear weapons the very worst, or would nano weapons theoretically be worse? Do nano weapons realy just count as chemical weapons, or vice versa? Do we multiply the number of dead by the suffering of each person to get the badness?

              Ultimately, chemical weapons are worsethan bombs in my mind. And dead is dead.

              If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

              by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 10:24:54 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  it's not just macabre, it's irrelevant (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AoT, wu ming, Lawrence, JVolvo, poco

                It's not about chemical weapons killing people--it's about chemical weapons being illegal under international law. International law MUST be defended---the world is a better place because of it, and the world gets worse if international law is not defended or enforced. Countries that use chemical weapons--under any circumstances and with whatever effect--MUST be punished for it under international law. Otherwise there is no "law" at all.

                So in that sense, I guess that makes me an "interventionist".

                BUT . . . .

                The United States MUST be prevented from appointing itself the world's police force. We ourselves have ignored international law for 75 years and have refused to accept the World Court's jurisdiction when WE were the subject of international law. Allowing the US to act as the global cops will only insure that international law will only be enforced against countries we don't like, and not against countries we DO like.  That is simply superpower imperialism under a legal figleaf.  And it cannot be tolerated. International law MUST be enforced by international bodies like the UN or NATO. The world cannot allow the "sole remaining superpower" to unilaterally enforce international law, on its own whim and using its own criteria.

                So in THAT sense, I am an "ANTI-interventionist".

                The world must act to prevent the use of illegal weapons and to preserve the rule of law. Not the US.

                •  But it isn't about international law (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  wu ming, caul, JVolvo

                  Because the enforcement of the law must be within the law or there is no law, is there? But international law, like all law, is political first and foremost. So there's no where to go from there.

                  A question for you, do you know if any country has ever been punished for using chemical weapons? I've asked it numerous times and haven't gotten an answer. Syria can't be the first country to use chemical weapons, right?

                  If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                  by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 11:09:38 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  that's actually a good question . . . . (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    AoT, caul, mickT, JVolvo

                    The short answer---no, no country has ever been punished for using chemical/biological weapons.

                    The long answer: accusations of use of CBW have tended to fly pretty freely. Right off the top of my head, I can think of:

                    the Allies accused Japan of using biological weapons in China during World War II

                    China accused the United States of using biological weapons in the Korean War

                    the UN accused Egypt of using chemical weapons during the civil war in Yemen

                    Vietnam and Russia accused the US of using chemical and biological weapons in the Vietnam War

                    Cuba accused the US of using biological weapons against Cuban agriculture from 1964 to 1980

                    Nicaragua accused the US of using biological weapons against the Sandinista economy in the 1980's

                    the US accused the Soviet Union of using chemical and biological weapons in Laos and Vietnam in the 1970's (the so-called "yellow rain")

                    Iran and Iraq both accused each other of using chemical weapons in the 1980's during the Iran-Iraq War

                    Chad accused Libya of using chemical weapons during their border wars in the 1980's

                    Vietnam and Thailand accused each other of using chemical weapons during their border fights in the 80's, and during ITS border fight with Vietnam, China also accused the Vietnamese of using chemical weapons

                    and South Africa was accused of using chemical weapons during its intervention in Angola

                    I think I recall some accusations being made during guerrilla fights in the Phillipines and Ethiopia, too

                    Most of those accusations were never substantiated.  Some of them, however, were: Japan definitely used biological weapons in China, Egypt definitely used nerve gas in Yemen, and Iraq definitely used nerve gas against Iran. Rather than punish the Japanese units for war crimes, the US classified the whole thing and brought the Japanese officers to the US to help with the American biological weapons program. There were some UN noises about punishing Egypt, but nothing ever happened. And of course the US protected Saddam from punishment after the Iran/Iraq War.

  •  Great diary (12+ / 0-)

    I agree with it, including your statement of position at the end.

  •  Common sense. Reasonable. (17+ / 0-)

    Fair-minded diary. I'm betting it won't fly here.

    Why do I have the feeling George W. Bush joined the Stonecutters, ate a mess of ribs, and used the Constitution as a napkin?

    by Matt Z on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 03:09:08 PM PDT

  •  Syria is the new NSA people get emotional over (8+ / 0-)

    these type of stories. You see sides being forced instead of issues being looked at. If you do not fully agree then people attack you.

    Wisdom is the result of knowledge through reason and understanding of common sense. Do you have Wisdom or seek it?

    by LonelyPagan1 on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 03:21:18 PM PDT

  •  The problem is that we know that there was (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wu ming, Johnny Q

    a PNAC conspiracy to invade various countries and as part of that the intelligence services that the admin is getting it's information from were privatized and undermined by partisans. We know these intelligence services will lie. We have as much evidence that they've done this as we have that Assad did it currently. I expect we'll find out that either Assad or the rebels have done this, or some rogue element of the Assad regime who will them be punished.

    But worrying about a regime that has used chemical weapons on it's own people using those same weapons on Israel if it's existence is threatened doesn't seem like hyperbole to me at all. It seems like common sense that our biggest ally in the region would bear the brunt of the damage of a flailing country.

    If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

    by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 03:28:51 PM PDT

  •  But you're avoiding the point which might be (6+ / 0-)

    behind some people finding CTs attractive: why such a rush on the part of the Obama admin. to intervene with insufficient evidence and before the UN has finished its job?

    Or are you saying (between the lines) that while the CTs are stupid, the Obama admin. has dealt with this in an utterly incompetent, amateurish manner?

    Moreover, if the CTs are wrong, and President Obama has not been following a Neocon (PNAC) agenda, what guidelines (whose agenda) has he been following in a simplistic and uncritical manner: those of interventionist Samantha Powers and Susan Rice who convinced him to intervene in Libya?

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 03:37:42 PM PDT

    •  The diarist does describe (4+ / 0-)

      an alternative to the PNAC theory, in the paragraph starting with:
      "So, absent PNAC, how did we arrive now at a point where President Obama is considering military intervention in Syria to punish the al-Assad regime for the alleged use of chemical weapons?"

      As to the "rush to judgement", my personal theory is that the Obama administration has access to better data than is available to the public, but that there's been a complete clusterfuck in the discussion in the public arena.

      •  "better data" that comes from the mostly (7+ / 0-)

        privatized intelligence services. That were privatized by...

        PNAC's influence on policy in these regards is far, far, from gone.

        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

        by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:29:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT

          Do you believe that the admin is under the sway of PNAC or don't you? It seems like your comments walk right up to the line but fail to step on it, let alone over it.

          Srsly, I'm trying to figure out where you come down on the subject.

          "Humidity built the snowman. Sunshine brought him down" John Prine

          by high uintas on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:06:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think Obama is part of PNAC (11+ / 0-)

            nor do I think he shares their goals. I think that the PNAC plan still has a lot of adherents in government and that because of that the goals are still on the table and being pursued. Obama has clearly resisted the calls for attacking Iran and will likely continue to.

            The point I'm trying to make is that regardless of whether Obama wants to pursue these goals relying on a privatized intelligence service is an incredibly dangerous thing that can only lead to corporate goals being prioritized over national interest in the long run.

            It's not as easy as "It's a conspiracy" or "There's no conspiracy". There's a bunch of different factions some of which are open about their goals and some of which aren't. People at this site seem to think that the only people who have power are the people who openly espouse their goals. Or something. Bush did massive purges of the government when in power. The people he replaced those purged with haven't left for the most part. If anything they've been moved up the ladder by superiors that Bush put in place.

            I would betthat the majority of people working in inteligence currently knew about the illegal and unconstitutional actions of the various inteligence services during the Bush years and did nothing to stop them. That doesn't make for a group of people I would trust.

            Not to mention the consistent lying about pying on Americans accross the board.

            If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

            by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:25:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thank you for your response. (7+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              AoT, poco, KayCeSF, onionjim, wu ming, Lawrence, JVolvo

              I agree with what you just wrote. I believe it would take several administrations, each with the goal to rid the government of these people to do just that. And when I think of the judiciary I despair almost entirely.

              "Humidity built the snowman. Sunshine brought him down" John Prine

              by high uintas on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:36:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Important comment (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JVolvo, AoT

              Decisions are made based upon the information that is given.  It is not about who is lobbying the President or whether he is a part of a "conspiracy," but who controls the information.  Intelligence information is  power.

              The point I'm trying to make is that regardless of whether Obama wants to pursue these goals relying on a privatized intelligence service is an incredibly dangerous thing that can only lead to corporate goals being prioritized over national interest in the long run.
              I made a comment in a similar vein as part of a longer comment on another diary recently.  Here is the excerpted portion of my comment.  
              The influence for those decisions does not necessarily have to be put upon White House for this to happen.  The control of information is coming from the Pentagon, so that is where the influence is being exerted.

              "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West speaking to Occupy Tallahassee on January 18, 2012

              by gulfgal98 on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 03:32:18 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  It's hard to get past the diarist's sneeringly ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        truong son traveler, mickT

        immature arrogance. I stopped reading after the 2nd paragraph and I'm one of the few people who typically read diaries from first word to last.

    •  Libya is not Syria, and it's absurd to call (3+ / 0-)

      Powers and Rice "interventionists" as if they always followed the knee-jerk response of advising intervention. That better describes McCain.

    •  Obama's policy here (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      high uintas, oldliberal, Lawrence

      seems entirely in line with Clinton-era humanitarian interventionism.

      Not neoconservatism.

      Seriously, when people describe his policy as neoconservatism it makes them look uninformed.

      "Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." --Ed Abbey

      by progreen on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 06:16:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What "rush"? Were there a real "rush", we (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justanothernyer, Lawrence

      would have intervened many months ago when Clinton, McCain, and pundits in the MSM were demanding it.

      •  First we needed a pretext (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wednesday Bizzare, caul

        as per The Gulf of Tonkin incident

        as per Saddam's WMDs.

        and we need to supply and train the opposition forces, which we have been doing for at least one year.

        For well over a year, the US has pursued a policy of regime change in Syria. This policy is rooted in Washington’s broader regional interest: maintaining obedient client states and eliminating states that challenge US hegemony. More specifically, the US is interested in breaking the “Iranian sphere of influence” in which Syria is key.

        In pursuit of regime change, the US has been supporting the rebels. This support includes hundreds of millions of dollars in aid; the facilitation of arms transfers to the rebels; the training of rebels in Jordan; and the provision of actionable intelligence to select rebel factions.

        An intervention in Syria, whatever form it might take, will simply mark an escalation of tactics in a pre-existing policy.

        Jane Powers for Anti-War - May 2013

        Orwell - "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable"

        by truong son traveler on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:17:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Let's see who labels this as CT (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      YucatanMan

      It comes from an independent source and the conclusion as to which side used chemical weapons does not fit the Obama Administration's claims.

      "Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack"

      mint press news

      “My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.

      Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”

      Ghouta townspeople said the rebels were using mosques and private houses to sleep while storing their weapons in tunnels.

      Abdel-Moneim said his son and the others died during the chemical weapons attack. That same day, the militant group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is linked to al-Qaida, announced that it would similarly attack civilians in the Assad regime’s heartland of Latakia on Syria’s western coast, in purported retaliation.

      Orwell - "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable"

      by truong son traveler on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:05:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the larger PNAC agenda was to maintain the (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, truong son traveler, k9disc, caul, JVolvo

    USA's place as the pre-eminent world power in the 21st century, through increased military strength, expanded military presence in the world (especially in the Middle East and the Pacific), more "national security" measures on the domestic front, and the willingness for the USA to go it alone in the use of power.

    That agenda is bipartisan. The Dems and Repugs may argue over the most practical ways to achieve those goals (indeed Dems and Repugs argue with each other over it), but nobody questions the goals themselves.

  •  I'm trying to gather my thoughts here. (14+ / 0-)

    Your diary does a better job putting it into words than I could, but I think the thing that really bothers me about all of the "conspiracy theories" is that in order for any of them to work you have to actually think Obama's motivations and thought processes are...what's the word? Sinister. I dunno man, I just don't have that in me. Call me a sell-out, Obamabot, whatever. I just think that the idea of a Barack Obama cackling evilly while rubbing his hands together while planning his nefarious plot to turn the United States into a fascist dictatorship seems...goofy. Doesn't it? Am I crazy in thinking that?

    I mean, yeah you TOTALLY argue the point that George W. Bush was some kind of sociopath. I had a hard time believing it at first but the evidence kept piling up. Like his mocking Karla Faye Tucker's pleas for mercy, or him going to bed early on the night of Saddam Hussein's execution, or admitting that he didn't really give two craps where Bin Laden was. Bush really DIDN'T care about anyone else and I don't even think he cared if people knew it. That's messed up.

    Has Obama EVER done anything remotely like that? Ever? Yeah, he's lied to us many times but if you believe ANY politician when they say "I will never lie to the American people" your gullibility is on YOU. Obama hasn't lied to us any more than any other politician and considerably less than some. And he has NEVER demostrated a lack of empathy or inability to care for others. Never.

    All that said, I too am super pissed off at the idea of a Syria strike but I think it's simply saber rattling run amok rather than sinister. Obama stupidly painted himself in a corner with his words, probably because he foolishly thought the circumstances he stated to require an intervention wouldn't actually happen. It was admittedly dumb. But a nefarious plot to enrich his puppet overseers on the blood of dead children? That's just dopey.

    I can't do it. I can't be that angry all the time. I don't have it in me. Maybe I don't belong here but I've long thought Kos has been the best place for political news and even if the rec list has devolved into revolution porn the front page is still worth checking out as are many of the Kos communities like Black Kos and Tree Climbers. But I don't think of Obama as some kind of Bondian supervillain and unless something dramatically changes, I probably never will. Does that make sense?

    Thank you again for the diary.

    Why do I have the feeling George W. Bush joined the Stonecutters, ate a mess of ribs, and used the Constitution as a napkin?

    by Matt Z on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 03:56:43 PM PDT

  •  1% of CT can be explained by actual conspiracies. (7+ / 0-)

    The other 99% can be explained through A.) greed and B.) stupidity that others add all sorts of inferences and bells and whistles to.  i.e., if it looks like a complicated plan that requires a flowchart, it probably isn't real.  

    The question I always ask is this:  do you honestly believe that the same bumbling, bureaucratic idiots who constantly put their feet in their mouths and let information leak everywhere are truly capable of perfectly cloaking their other, deeper, even more nefarious schemes?  Ha.

    Thank you for a superb diary!

    Odds and ends about life in Japan: 1971wolfie.wordpress.com

    by Hatrax on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:01:44 PM PDT

  •  one of the most irritating things about facile (12+ / 0-)

    comparisons (ie. "X is just like Y!") is that they ignore the historical, political, ethnic, economic, factional, etc. context of the specific conflict being discussed. in doing this, it unintentionally repeat one of the cardinal errors of orientalist tropes about "the arabs" (or whatever formerly colonized people being discussed) being fundamentally the same across the region. when in reality the local/national/historical specifics of the situation are, more often than not, going to give you the key insights into why this is happening and how it's likely to play out.

    that's why i love those background info diaries, when events like this happen. keep 'em coming, folks.

  •  There used to be "liberal interventionism" (6+ / 0-)

    Once upon a time, liberals were internationalists, engaged with international groups, sought international consensus (the League of Nations and the UN were born in liberal thought), and, when necessary, were willing to intervene for humanitarian or human rights situations.  Most of Wilson's 14 Points read like a liberal playbook.

    It was the liberals who rallied to the cause of the Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.  FDR sought a deliberate internationalist policy, after his three conservative predecessors spent most of their time with their heads in the sand.  

    Conservatives?  Isolationists, America-firsters, Know Nothings.  

    But then came Vietnam. And then neo-con thought being tied to conservative social values and free trade economics under Reagan.  Much of the left moved to isolationism or pacifism.

    The end result is that when we do intervene under a Democratic admin for humanitarian reasons, we hear the echos of Vietnam.  Wesley Clark today came out in favor of intervention in Syria.  The response here?  Neo-con!  

    Yes, our military is too big and yes, we were lied into war by Bush and yes, many in the media and Congress who cheerled for intervention in Iraq are cheerleading now.  Yes, the MIC is alive and well.  

    But that does not mean that every intervention should be seen in this light.  There are true, liberal reasons for intervening diplomatically or militarily.  

    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:37:11 PM PDT

    •  Well, some here do seem to have liberalism (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tony Situ, VelvetElvis, oldliberal

      with libertarianism.

      Isolationism, imo, is one of the worst aspects of libertarianism.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:08:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  typo, that should read: (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tony Situ, VelvetElvis, sviscusi

        some here do seem to have liberalism confused
        with libertarianism

        "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

        by Lawrence on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:39:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is a tired charge (4+ / 0-)

          And it grows more and more so.

          Just call people paulites and be done with it so we all know exactly what you're doing rhetorically.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:54:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  anarchism isn't liberalism (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT

            and many can't see the fundamental difference of each from paulistic libertarianism.

            But I don't think that you will deny that anarchism is fundamentally localist.

            47 is the new 51!

            by nickrud on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 06:14:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It depends very much on the anarchism (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ukit, wu ming, JVolvo, ZhenRen

              Internationalism is also a very strong trend in anarchism. The Spanish civil war being the best example. Anarchists from around the world went to go fight the fascists there.

              But no, anarchism is definitely not liberalism, and neither is libertarianism.

              If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

              by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:08:51 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  except US libertarians are Ano-caps (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AoT, ukit, caul

                You'll find no sympathy for Proudhon amongst their midsts.  "Libertarianism" used to be much closer to Anarchism than it is to the minarchists who now go by that name in the US.

                Praxis: Bold as Love

                by VelvetElvis on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:13:06 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Ugh, ancaps aren't even really anarchists (5+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ukit, wu ming, caul, JVolvo, ZhenRen

                  The whole idea that you can have private property without a government is patently absurd. And you are completely correct about the term libertarian. In fact in the 50s or 60s the right wing libertarians were bragging about how they appropriated the term from the left. They're trying to do the same thing with anarchism now, and democrats are helping with their constant references to the tea party as being anarchists. Anarchists and anarchist methods of organizing have become the most visible resistance to neo-liberalism and as such the attempted recuperation is well under way.

                  If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

                  by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:21:35 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Anarchism is quite capable of global (0+ / 0-)

              organization.

              "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

              by ZhenRen on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 01:27:58 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  It just great US is standing up for Israel! (0+ / 0-)

    These weapons of mass destruction are a direct threat to Israel . It great to see the good ol’ USA draw the line in the sand and say: Never Again!
    And let anti-sematic cranks squawk……………

  •  Well said, am. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean, poco, Deep Texan, angry marmot

    With the Decision Points Theater, the George W. Bush Presidential Library becomes the very first Presidential Library to feature a Fiction Section.

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:40:24 PM PDT

    •  It’s the cockamamie Microsoft Word. (0+ / 0-)

      You make a typo and that what you get--automatically...

      Sematic: describes bright colorings on animals that act as a warning to predators, e.g. because the animals are poisonous (gas).  I guess I’m pro-sematic?

  •  Except for what I read as (0+ / 0-)

    an I'm-too-smart-by-half smugness (even if the diarest may be brighter than some of us), I largely agree with the diary.

    I think Assad's response threw most people off guard. I supported the idea of more dialogue back in 2008. While no expert, I am far less ignorant than the average American on geopolitical issues (that's not saying much) and I was shocked by the extent of Assad's commitment to holding power. I was foolish enough to think him more like his Jordanian nextgen peer, only a slightly more authoritarian version. Boy, was I wrong. I think I'm in good company on that score though.

    As for assigning parallels to Syria like Iraq or Libya, or maybe Egypt, I don't think any of them are close to being similar. Seems to me Syria is far more complex and dangerous.

    I disagree though when you admonish folks for what you view as hyperbole. Truth is, you've no more a damned clue than anyone else unless you can read the future and you should stop the superior pretense on that notion. People can be scared and it is justified. The equation here IS far more complex and dangerous, for many reasons, such as:

    1. Its large chemical stockpiles and may even have some nuclear materials (not weapons, but raw materials).
    2. It next door proximity to both Jordan, Turkey and Israel.
    3. It home to the only Russian naval base in the region.
    4. Its large mix of many factions where none is a majority.
    5. Its military is the 39th largest in the world.

    I'm just Double Tapped the hell out.

    by pajoly on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:55:04 PM PDT

  •  Where's the snark tag? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, Petered, snoopydawg, caul

    Surely a diary that opens with multiple insults toward Daily Kos users within just the first two paragraphs is meant as snark. I mean, does this "diarist" expect people to take her/him seriously after a batch of immature putdowns?

    •  thank you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT, caul

      I found the tone of the diary insulting too.

      Passing a law that the Constitution doesn't allow does not negate the Constitution, it negates the law that was passed. Secret courts can't make up secret laws. SORRY FOR THE TYPOS :)

      by snoopydawg on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:10:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If we're all so opposed to the intervention... (5+ / 0-)

    Then why are so many diaries critiquing other opponents of intervention? Why the cheap shots? I ask, because I really appreciate the perspective in this diary, and in a lot of ways I agree with so much of it....

    And yet, we find ourselves on the verge of making war, and at least half of the dialogue on this site on the issue, seems to be people critiquing each other for finding different ways of ending up at the same damn conclusion: that we shouldn't intervene. What's up with that?

    Nonetheless, T&R'd for making sense and bringing a unique perspective.

    •  I think there's a need by some to (9+ / 0-)

      defend the president in some way regardless of what he does. So they aren't really, really for intervention, but they want to make sure that intervention doesn't look too bad on the president. Mostly because the "trust him," which is a theme I've seen popping up more.

      But also, and probably more importantly, it's just part of the general nonsense meta fight that happens here where no one can let any statement go and has to attribute it to some large group of people and say how crazy or horrible that group of people is.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:36:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And there is a need in some (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        edwardssl, sviscusi, AoT, Lawrence

        to hang every evil in world on him, to the point of never being able to examine any single act without looking for that hidden agenda.

        I like the President but don't feel the need to defend him in real life as much as I do here. Probably because the insults thrown at him here are far worse than the insults coming from my devout Mormon conservative fellow citizens. They are more thoughtful and more grounded in reality. (teahadists excluded)

        "Humidity built the snowman. Sunshine brought him down" John Prine

        by high uintas on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:27:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And this is what Imea by the meta-war (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          high uintas, wu ming

          I've had so many people accuse me on this issue of blaming the president, or close enough, that the only reason I can see is because some of them has decided that I don't like the president and am just here to bad mouth him. And that'sbecause I'm on the "other side" in the meta war. And the worst is wen someone brings up the president to say that they support this because they trust him and then someone else counters that maybe he and the intelligence agencies aren't so trustworthy, which leads to someone else screaming about how the commenter hates the president.

          And I'm quite sure it happens the other direction too. There are in fact sock puppets and shills here paid to disrupt the conversation and you'll never be able to tell who they are by what "side" they are on. I can guarantee that.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:38:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have no idea about socks or shills (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT, Lawrence

            I know that when I disagree vehemently with someone long enough I start to assign all kinds of nefarious intents.

            I agree with you on the meta wars, they get totally out of hand when people take a side and then build bunkers and watch towers and prepare to defend to the death. No way they can question their own opinions or grok the opinions of the "others".

            On the "other side" as you put it you get things like "clap louder" and insinuations that you are just into hero worship. It does go both ways and it is a waste of our time, IMO.

            "Humidity built the snowman. Sunshine brought him down" John Prine

            by high uintas on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:01:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Because lots of the arguments against intervention (0+ / 0-)

      are total bullshit and weaken the anti-interventionist stance.

  •  let me educate you (7+ / 0-)

    there is no pnac ct.  but there is a successor organization that is made up of many of the original players along with some well known democrats.  the oranization is called the foundation for defense of democracies

    foundation for defense of democracies

    if you think that the neocons have gone away then you are kidding yourself.  they may not be part of obama's government but they still exert influence over the conversation about foreign policy.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Riane Eisler

    by noofsh on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:19:49 PM PDT

  •  If I may add some anecdotal experience (9+ / 0-)

    I have traveled to Israel many times, having been employed by Israeli companies for over 10 years. I've met many movers and shakers there in the business community and I count a fair number of regular folks as friends.

    I was there during the 2nd Intifada a couple of times. I've been there when bombings have occurred. Of course I've been there as the Iraq war was in progress.

    As a rule -- and there are some generalities that are the rule -- Israelis are tough-minded (often hard-headed) and not prone to fear. They'll take in stride what sends Americans into a 12 year fucking hissy fit of fear. They live with decisions like not having the whole family out at a restaurant at once, in case it gets blown up. The have to live with decisions about what's the best place to sit in case the place is hit with a suicide bomber. But they go about their lives with otherwise little change. Well, okay, during the height of the Intifada the restaurant scene took a hit.

    Yet today I read about Israelis breaking lines to rush stations where gas masks are being distributed. That's new. If Israeli's are doing this it means they are jarred by the Syrian drum beating, fearing what a cornered Assad may do.

    So when I read someone, who I suspect is sitting here in the states, mocking people for hyperbole when I -- with intimate knowledge of the Israeli culture and ethos -- know Israelis are scared, I get a bit testy thinking, "Who are you to scold people for hyperbole? What's your secret knowledge of the situation? What's your qualification for your opinions?"

    I'm just Double Tapped the hell out.

    by pajoly on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 05:22:35 PM PDT

    •  Must be serious if the Israelis are buying masks! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming

      http://articles.chicagotribune.com/...

      Still, all around Israel, in the news and on the streets, there were signs of panic. Schools had made emergency preparations, and hundreds of thousands of Israelis waited in long lines for gas masks to prepare for a rain of toxins that most thought was highly unlikely to come...

      So we found ourselves getting out a map of the region, explaining that Iraq was trying to get dangerous weapons to spread deadly germs and how the Americans might decide to drop some bombs to stop that.

      Chicago Tribune -- March 5, 1998

      The Israeli government handed out masks to the entire population in 2010...

      •  as an aside . . . . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wu ming

        Nerve agents like GB and VX are lethal when they touch exposed skin.

        So wearing a gas mask won't help a shred.

      •  You realize that potential war in 1998 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wu ming

        caused fear because everyone thought Iraq had chemical weapons. Which we know Syria has. It was a reasonable response in '98 given whatthe public knew and it's a reasonable response now. It's far from certain that Syria would launch chemical weapons at Israel but the idea that it's impossible is absurd. If I lived there I'd make sure to be safe.

        If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

        by AoT on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 10:32:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  So you want to reach back to 1998 (0+ / 0-)

        in order to assert that this is no big deal for the Israeli people? You don't know shit I'm guessing. I'm writing about people I know and love being concerned and scared this time around. You go ahead there, in your armchair and tell me how wrong I am if that makes you feel better....again (since this is the second time you've jumped in on me unprovoked to be a prick on this exact topic).

        I'm just Double Tapped the hell out.

        by pajoly on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 05:45:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bemuse yourself. Nt (0+ / 0-)

    I have three politically incorrect, straight, white male, grandchildren; and I don't care if you think they're important or not.

    by dkmich on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 06:06:30 PM PDT

  •  You "pragmatists" slay me (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snoopydawg, k9disc, caul, mickT, JVolvo

    "Everybody calm down!" "Stop the Hyperbole!" "Enough with the Conspiracy Theories!"

    And yet time and time again the US gets involved in pointless bullshit military action after pointless bullshit military action.

    How exactly is it hyperbole to be yelling our asses off to keep us out of yet another pointless bullshit military action?

    Just because the yelling makes you uncomfortable doesn't mean it isn't necessary.

    “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.” 1984

    by Stentorian Tone on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 06:16:13 PM PDT

  •  You misunderstand how things work. (13+ / 0-)

    PNAC was the distillation, the result, of the thinking of thousands of people in the military, the conservative world, the financial world, corporate media, the defense industry, politicians, bureaucrats, the Christian Dominionists within the military, etc.

    When Cheney, Kristol, etc were termed neo-con "leaders"... well there are no leaders without followers, are there?

    These groups named above would be them. What used to be called "hawks" back when we had public discussions about the use of military abroad. (Of course, nobody who isn't a hawk has a chance in hell of getting into political prominence these days, so "hawks" and "doves" has disappeared as meaningful terms in our politics today.)

    To say "The Bush Administration" and the "Obama Administration" as if all the power structure of the United States (or any large country for that matter) takes on a monolithic character after each change of leadership is giving the matter superficial thought. It doesn't reflect reality very well. Nuance disappears.

    Now, without a doubt in my mind, Pres. Obama has done all that he can to slow down the military adventurism urged upon him by the hawkish Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex (and Eisenhower was NOT a conspiracy theorist). To minimize the cost in carrying on the manifest "global hegemony" agenda which is the default foreign policy position, and has been since before the Soviet Union fell.

    Nonetheless, there's a reason that in the face of the end of the Status of Forces agreement with Iraq, the Administration pushed, and pushed hard, to maintain at least one major US base there.

    There's a reason the President "surged" in Afghanistan and had troops there even though anyone with half-a-wit and a little knowledge of the area knew it was futile, self-destructive, and pointless. At least, for the "Fighting Terror" reasons we've been fed.

    These reasons are connected with the way the real world of power is played. Obama has to deal with the reality of a very deeply entrenched power structure hell bent on US global hegemony by dint of arms.

    And this power structure had it's "vision" expressed in PNAC and "Rebuilding America's Defenses." That the signers of that document are out of office, or shifted to other positions of power, does not make the huge portion of our political establishment which PNAC spoke for go away.

    You can go back and look at the holdovers in military/intelligence Pres Obama kept on to see that.

    That the nations named in their agenda are precisely those nations in which we have financed and aided civil wars is not a coincidence.

    In fact, the claim that this is not a conscious objective of the way we use our military and financial power abroad is so extraordinary -- now we're talking "show me your extraordinary evidence." Ordinary proof is in front any eyes reading plain news reports for the last decade-plus. Right through this Syria lunacy.

    As to your point which boils down to: "well, gosh it probably won't get out of control." Listen, talk to Archduke Franz Ferdinand about that, will you? Or any freaking general or historian on war from the last few hundred years.

    (btw, one of the great ironies of the day is that "conspiracy theory" as a pejorative was an operation created by the CIA, who then had their friends in the Press (see The Church Committee's findings) push it about as a means to discredit people without examining any of the questions they raised. Its current use is just the way to sign to everyone "I just believe what I'm told and I'm not asking any questions anymore" and worthless beyond that.)


    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 06:28:48 PM PDT

    •  Great comment. I agree with both you (7+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming, AoT, Jim P, caul, gulfgal98, JVolvo, Onomastic

      and the diarist.

      Basically there are two extremes. On one side, the conspiracy theorist who tends to automatically buy into any story, no matter how fantastical, that fits their storyline. This storyline is usually a morality play in which the world's population is being oppressed by a cabal of evil doers. The evil doers vary from Marxists to multinational corporations to Jews to lizard people depending on the conspiracist's ideology and level of stupidity. But regardless, these conspiracy theorists tend to believe that they've uncovered the horrible secret truth and that the rest of the population are gullible sheep. In reality of course, the conspiracists themselves are among the most gullible and deluded.

      On the other extreme is the "rational" conformist. This includes most of the people you see on mainstream news networks, the so-called Beltway media or Washington consensus crowd, and their readers. These people are avid consumers of the news, and follow politics in great detail. They tend to believe that they are smarter and better informed than the rest of the population. Ideas and ways of understanding that deviate too much from the way they understand the world are dismissed as "radical", "fringe thinking" or "conspiracy theorism."

      Both forms of indoctrination appeal to the subject's vanity and self image. You, Alex Jones tells the conspiracy theorist fanbase, are the only one brave and free-thinking enough to uncover The Truth. You, Fareed Zakaria and Ezra Klein tell the conformist, are the only one rational and intelligent enough to see the world as it really is...as opposed to that uneducated crowd of idiot conspiracy theorists over there.

      However, in reality, these elites are, in a different way, just as brainwashed as the conspiracy theorists. Because they have been fully indoctrinated into a particular way of thinking, they are often unable to look outside of the current social/ideological paradigm. In their own way, they have no better grasp of the world and are no less biased than, say, government-aligned elites in Putin's Russia.

      Let's consider the idea, for instance, that energy politics plays a major role in Middle East conflicts. Within the American establishment, this tends to be regarded as fantasyland, a fringe conspiracist view pushed by the far/anti-war left. On the other hand, the idea that great powers like the U.S. would go to war on the basis of humanitarian intervention, or to nobly support rebel forces fighting against an evil tyrant is treated seriously.

      But which is actually the rational view and which is the conspiracy theory? Are the Washington consensus crowd trying to say that natural resources and geopolitics are not a major motivating force, in an oil rich region against the backdrop of an increasingly energy hungry and energy scarce world? That control over the world's rapidly dwindling oil reserves isn't of interest to a great power like the U.S.? Are they suggesting that struggles between nations stopped being about natural resources at some point? And if so, when was that exactly?

      More broadly, how likely it is, by truly rational standards, that governments' motives can be taken at face value in the context of a conflict like this? Or that one country's political establishment and mainstream press will give you a good, honest picture of what is going on in the world?

      •  The third option about "conspiracy" is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mickT, JVolvo

        that they are often real. And seeing it has nothing to do with one's overvalued or low self-esteem.

        The LIBOR rate-fixing. Top banks fixing the rates every day for over a decade (at least.) The identical mortgage frauds, many many many types of mortgage frauds, played identically across several banks.

        The GOP/Fox Obamacare Death Panels lie.

        Enron. The Joint Chiefs of Staff proposing to Pres. Kennedy that we bomb our own cities and say it was Cubans doing it.

        Anyone who gets into the nitty-gritty of history -- the stated and written intentions of concerned players, court records, official investigations and their witnesses and reports, memoirs by players... gets to understand pretty clearly that almost all of human history since Sargon overthrew Ur-Zababa 4500 years ago is the result of successful and failed conspiracies.

        I think the funny thing about the topic is people think conspiracies are secret, so secret "someone would have talked."

        Well, son of a gun, they often do. That's how you find out about them. But at the same time conspiracies are conducted right out in the open. Ten million ordinary people around the world marched the same day, knowing that "the facts and intelligence were fixed around the policy" when it came to the Iraq invasion. The lies weren't hidden; they were just constantly repeated.


        Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

        by Jim P on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 12:28:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Whatever the reaction is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JVolvo

    It should be via an international coalition of regional and European countries and NATO. The US is not and can't be the world's policeman. This isn't just about what's right, but about the only solution that could work.

  •  Well done! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poco, oldliberal, angry marmot

    I think among all the hyperbolic statements and postulations made, the PNAC = Obama remarks had me galled the most.

    Thank you!

    I would rather spend my life searching for truth than live a single day within the comfort of a lie. ~ John Victor Ramses

    by KayCeSF on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:32:50 PM PDT

  •  You give the CTers too much credit. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poco, oldliberal

    Most have never heard of PNAC.   They just jump to "Obama = Bush" on the basis of the fact that Obama didn't turn the US into a socialist utopia in his first two years in office.

  •  Thoughtful Diary, thanks. A question for you. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Justanothernyer, AoT, angry marmot, poco

    In reading through the four steps you mentioned -- where you say Obama painted himself into a corner.
    I'm wondering if it's possible that some of the people leading him to each of those steps (advisers) knew the outcome it would lead to - of having no choice, and since it was an outcome they wanted maybe that's why they advised him that way.

    Il est dangereux d’avoir raison dans des choses où des hommes accrédités ont tort. - Voltaire
    Don't trust anyone over 84414 - BentLiberal

    by BentLiberal on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 09:09:02 PM PDT

    •  Very interesting question: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BentLiberal, poco
      I'm wondering if it's possible that some of the people leading him to each of those steps (advisers) knew the outcome it would lead to - of having no choice, and since it was an outcome they wanted maybe that's why they advised him that way.
      My sense, and it's only a sense, is that each of those decisions was taken with an honest intent to pressure al-Assad to some degree of reform and the abatement of violence. I think that the admin was very late to recognize that al-Assad viewed the protests, from their very onset, as an existential threat and that under that circumstance he would not / could not be diverted. That non-recognition, combined with subtle and not-so-subtle encouragement of the militarized opposition, was a failure. While I never trusted SoS Clinton on MENA, it's nonetheless difficult to see that she or anyone else was using these missteps to manipulate a specific outcome. Just my $0.02...

      Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

      by angry marmot on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 11:54:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for a much needed and well written (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angry marmot, poco

    diary.

  •  The only Conspiracy Theory I can pull out of this. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, wu ming, caul, Lawrence, JVolvo

    If President Obama attacks Syria without consulting Congress the Tea Party will begin impeachment proceedings against him.  They are seeking justification to do it ... Hell, they've wanted to impeach him since he was sworn in in January of 2009.  I know common wisdom is that the Republicans wouldn't dare because it would set a precedent that harms the next Republican that wins the White House.

    That is wrong thinking, the Republicans don't give a crap about precedent, as we know by the Robert's Court throwing out 100 years of campaign finance precedent when they ruled on Citizens United.

    And, if the Canadian Ted Cruz wound up the Republican President in 2016, and he decided to follow the EXACT same hypothetical path of attack without consulting Obama did that led to articles of impeachment ... the Republicans would shriek that anyone who dared to call for impeachment was a collaborator with the enemy, and Democrats would curl up in a fetal position and suck their thumbs. We've been there before.

    So, if Obama attacks Syria without a sign off from Congress, he will be hamstrung for a significant period of his remaining term dealing with Bircher-Republican Impeachment nonsense, whether or not they succeed in removing him ... I don't think that is a wise use of Obama's time.

    So, no PNAC, no Syrian Oil Pipeline ... none of that from me, but HUGE problem for Obama if he thinks he has the Republicans standing behind him for any reason beyond pushing him down.

  •  Kerry and the Obama administration bow (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    caul, mickT

    down openly to the fringe far-right extremists harboring terrorists out of Miami in support of the US embargo on Cuba despite the majority of us exiles opposed.

     My point is -- and it's coming relevant to this diary --Kerry casually continuing to list Cuba on the list of sponsors of terrorism without justification is because?

    Therefor, if segments of this community, not me, believe they got a whiff of PNAC, for us to say that we don't smell anything because Obama and company "take considerable heat from conservative politicians and pundits for its patent rejection of that agenda" is not in my opinion the strongest  challenge to their shrieking hyperbole.

    This administration has taken the extreme right side on the Cuba policy so what are the defining distinctions between the Obama administration's carrying out of aggression abroad -- including support for and condoning of right-wing and violent aggressors against a country that poses absolutely no threat whatsoever to the United States [Cuba] and the pertinent PNAC document's outline?

     If it smells like PNAC to them what do we offer as the express, direct, unambiguous difference between "PNAC's neoconservative obsession with regime change in the broad Middle East" and President Obama's administration's persistent preoccupation with the Middle East?  Yes, I am aware obsession and persistent preoccupation mean the same thing...

    War-mongering nastiness, drone attacks, et al, harboring a terrorist, has not taken a break in 2013,  PNAC or no PNAC.

    A good horse is never a bad color.

    by CcVenussPromise on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 10:15:25 PM PDT

  •  Y Iz U Makin Cents? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angry marmot, poco

    I've read so much nonsense over the last week that it's really cool to read somebody WHO IS JUST MAKING SENSE.  Thanks for this one, O Infuriated Large Ground Squirrel!!

    Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

    by mbayrob on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 11:39:26 PM PDT

  •  Let's just watch and see who's left alive (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence

    after years of see-saw civil war go on and on. 100K Syrian dead, 200K dead, what the heck ... almost 2 million Armenians were slaughtered by the Turks, so they got a way to go to beat that record. With 22 million Syrians, they might do it.  
    As long as the US isn't bothered by any involvement, we can have a clear conscience, right?

    Ash-sha'b yurid isqat an-nizam!

    by fourthcornerman on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 02:28:53 AM PDT

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