Sleepwalking to Another Mideast Disaster

Exclusive: Denied crucial information about Syria, the American people are being led toward the precipice of another Middle East war, guided by neocons and liberal hawks who are set on “regime change” even if that means a likely victory for Sunni terrorists, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

If sanity ruled U.S. foreign policy, American diplomats would be pushing frantically for serious power-sharing negotiations between Syria’s secular government and whatever rational people remain in the opposition and then hope that the combination could turn back the military advances of the Islamic State and/or Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

But sanity doesn’t rule. Instead, the ever-influential neocons and their liberal-hawk allies can’t get beyond the idea of a U.S. military campaign to destroy President Bashar al-Assad’s army and force “regime change” even if the almost certain outcome would be the black flag of Islamic nihilism flying over Damascus.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Aug. 30, 2013, claims to have proof that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21, but that evidence failed to materialize or was later discredited. [State Department photo]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Aug. 30, 2013, claims to have proof that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21, but that evidence failed to materialize or was later discredited. [State Department photo]

As much as one may criticize the neocons for their reckless scheming, you can’t call them fickle. Once they come up with an idea no matter how hare-brained they stick with it. Syrian “regime change” has been near the top of their to-do list since the mid-1990s and they aren’t about to let it go now. [See’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

That’s one reason why if you read recent New York Times stories by correspondent Anne Barnard no matter how they start, they will wind their way to a conclusion that President Barack Obama must bomb Assad’s forces, somehow conflating Assad’s secular government with the success of the fundamentalist Islamic State.

On Wednesday, Barnard published, on the front page, fact-free allegations that Assad was in cahoots with the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) in its offensive near Aleppo, thus suggesting that both Assad’s forces and the Islamic State deserved to be targets of U.S. bombing attacks inside Syria. [See’s “NYT’s New Propaganda on Syria.”]

On Thursday, Barnard was back on the front page co-authoring an analysis favorably citing the views of political analyst Ibrahim Hamidi, arguing that the only way to blunt the political appeal of the Islamic State is to take “more forceful international action against the Syrian president” code words for “regime change.”

But Barnard lamented, “Mr. Assad remains in power, backed by Iran and the militant group Hezbollah. That, Mr. Hamidi and other analysts said, has left some Sunnis willing to tolerate the Islamic State in areas where they lack another defender. By attacking ISIS in Syria while doing nothing to stop Mr. Assad from bombing Sunni areas that have rebelled, he added, the United States-led campaign was driving some Syrians into the Islamic State camp.”

In other words, if one follows Barnard’s logic, the United States should expand its military strikes inside Syria to include attacks on the Syrian government’s forces, even though they have been the primary obstacle to the conquest of Syria by Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and/or Al-Qaeda’s spinoff, the Islamic State. (Another unprofessional thing about Barnard’s articles is that they don’t bother to seek out what the Syrian government thinks or to get the regime’s response to accusations.)

The Sarin Story

So, “regime change” remains the neocon prescription for Syria, one that was almost fulfilled in summer 2013 after a mysterious sarin gas attack on Aug. 21, 2013, outside Damascus that the U.S. government and mainstream media rushed to blame on Assad, although some U.S. intelligence analysts suspected early on that it was a provocation by rebel extremists.

According to intelligence sources, that suspicion of a rebel “false-flag” operation has gained more credence inside the U.S. intelligence community although the Director of National Intelligence refuses to provide an update beyond the sketchy “government assessment” that was issued nine days after the incident, blaming Assad’s forces but presenting no verifiable evidence.

Because DNI James Clapper has balked at refining or correcting the initial rush to judgment, senior U.S. officials and the mainstream media have been spared the embarrassment of having to retract their initial claims and they also are free to continue accusing Assad. [See’s “A Fact-Resistant Group Think on Syria.”]

Yet, the DNI’s refusal to update the nine-days-after-the-attack white paper undermines any hope of getting serious about power-sharing negotiations between Assad and his “moderate” opponents. It may be fun to repeat accusations about Assad “gassing his own people,” a reprise of a favorite line used against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, but it leaves little space for talks.

There has been a similar problem in the DNI’s stubbornness about revealing what the U.S. intelligence community has learned about the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shoot-down over eastern Ukraine killing 298 people on July 17, 2014. DNI Clapper released a hasty report five days after the tragedy, citing mostly “social media” and pointing the blame at ethnic Russian rebels and the Russian government.

Though I’m told that U.S intelligence analysts have vastly expanded their understanding of what happened and who was responsible, the Obama administration has refused to release the information, letting stand the public perception that Russian President Vladimir Putin was somehow at fault. That, in turn, has limited Putin’s willingness to cooperate fully with Obama on strategies for reining in hard-charging crises in the Middle East and elsewhere. [See’s “US Intel Stands Pat on MH-17 Shoot-down.”]

From the Russian perspective, Putin feels he is being falsely accused of mass murder even as Obama seeks his help on Syria, Iran and other hotspots. As U.S. president, Obama could order the U.S. intelligence community to declassify what it has learned about both incidents, the 2013 sarin gas attack in Syria and the 2014 MH-17 shoot-down in eastern Ukraine, but he won’t.

Instead, the Obama administration has used these propaganda clubs to continue pounding on Assad and Putin and Obama’s team shows no willingness to put down the clubs even if they were fashioned from premature or wrongheaded analyses. While Obama withholds the facts, the neocons and liberal hawks are leading the American people to the cliffs of two potentially catastrophic wars in Syria and Ukraine.

Though Obama claims that his administration is committed to “transparency,” the reality is that it has been one of the most opaque in American history, made much worse by his unprecedented prosecution of national security whistleblowers.

Even in the propaganda-crazy days of the Reagan administration, I found it easier to consult with intelligence analysts than I do now. While those Reagan-era analysts might have had orders to spin me, they also would give up some valuable insights in the process. Today, there is much more fear among analysts that they might stray an inch too far and get prosecuted.

The danger from Obama’s elitist  and manipulative attitude toward information is that it eviscerates the American people’s fundamental right to know what is going on in the world and thus denies them a meaningful say in matters of war or peace.

This problem is made worse by a mainstream U.S. news media that marches in lockstep with neoconservatives and their “liberal interventionist” sidekicks, narrowing the permitted policy options and guiding an enfeebled public to a preordained conclusion as New York Times correspondent Anne Barnard has done over the past two days.

In the case of Syria, the only “acceptable” approach is the reckless idea that the U.S. government must militarily damage the principal force the Syrian army that is holding back the rising tide of Sunni terrorism and then must take its chances on what comes next.

[For more on this topic, see’s “The Day After Damascus Falls” and “Holes in the Neocons’ Syrian Story.”]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

26 comments for “Sleepwalking to Another Mideast Disaster

  1. bluto
    June 9, 2015 at 11:02

    ‘Israel, ISIS, and Saudi Arabia’, the new axis of evil in the Middle East

    Israel to include ‘Kurdistan’ of course, crawling with Israeli Special Forces (reported widely, including Seymour Hersh’s dispositive exposure) as they gin up their last desperate attempt to attack Iran to save Apartheid Israel

    Bibi and the Neocons in the US have been pushing these ‘brave Kurds’ and their Israeli/Neocon supported state for years now…

  2. bluto
    June 9, 2015 at 11:00

    ‘The US Pivot on Israel and the Israeli Lobby/Jewish Lobby in the US’
    …………………….‘The Reset of US-Israeli Relations’

    WHEN: June 10th, Wed evening, 6:00 – 7:00pm
    WHERE: Classroom 214, West Wing, Santa Fe Community College,
    WHO: Dr Lance Dale Call SFCC@ 505-428-1000 to find classroom

    A talk providing description and context of 2 root strategic US policy resets on Israel,
    3 advancing and unstopped existential crises for Israel – as well at the resulting fresh conversations, vantage points, and facts on the ground arising therefrom

    US Strategic Pivots:

    The Pivot on Israel’s strategy on Iran
    The Pivot on Israel’s strategy on Palestine

    3 Advancing Israeli ‘existential crises’:

    The 3 dispositive and concurrent existential crises seen as such by Israel itself:
    Crisis #1: The Iran Nuclear Deal: signed sealed and delivered June 30
    Crisis #2: Successfully advancing Palestinian case at the ICC
    Crisis #3: Catastrophic reversal of US diplomatic cover at UN/international forums

    – ‘Concurrency and synergy of crises and Strategic Collapse of Israeli Apartheid/Strategic Collapse of the Israeli Lobby’

    American Political Consequences and Resets:

    Battle Royale – Obama’s Legacy vs Hillary’s Presidency
    Sheldon Adelson’s ‘Chinese Mafia links’ US Court Case
    ‘The Israel Lobby of Post-Apartheid What*?’ *1P1V1S
    ‘CHECKMATE: Queen Hillary on an AIPAC Horse’


    Goals: General familiarity with current US and Israeli policy position and state of play amidst rapidly evolving events and importance of consumption of Israeli media to understanding above

  3. Joe Hill
    June 9, 2015 at 10:51

    Yup. A bunch of arrogant psychopaths with shiny nuclear toys leading 300 million zombies who are just trying to avoid cops and obey the rules so they can have shelter and food.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  4. Abe
    June 5, 2015 at 16:15

    You can share Consortium News investigative reports via social media:



  5. Canosin
    June 5, 2015 at 06:20

    Thank you all for these comments
    And for all informations that are displayed on this site.

  6. Canosin
    June 5, 2015 at 05:38

    What’s the Agenda?

    I’ve always thought and believed, that critical opinion is found only outside USA, since I had had a serious dispute prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq with american colleagues. Reading and following news in US media convinced me over the years that in USA no critical voices could be found, challenging the foreign policies of US.
    I am very happy to discover now, that I was wrong.
    Since I found this site, I start to hope again, that the public opinion will change and hopefully also the US FOREIGN POLICY.
    But I am afraid too, that the price will be extremely high for so many people outside and inside USA.
    The change as promised to world by Obama will never happen without huge sacrifices and courage.
    I can see how far the manipulation of the people has already gone, when reading and listening the news here in Germany.
    Therefore I am glad to read and follow your articles and the comments on this site. These are really eye opener and should be multiplied all over to make people understand what’s going on with US POLITICS and the dangerous implications leading to another world disaster (100 years ago WW 1).

    World domination never lasted and never succeeded in the end.
    Russia, China, India will not be any sort of lame ducks…..but a bunch of ferocious adversaries when pushed to far.

    It seems to me, that’s not any longer under control of reasonable people in the US administrations. Sleepwalking is the right term……as it was 100 years ago with WW 1.

    Unless miracles starts to happen right now.

    Let’s hope.

    • Eduardo Cohen
      June 6, 2015 at 19:46

      There were many of us disputing the reasons given here in the US for the Iraq War part 3:(Part 1: first invasion of Gulf War; Part 2: 8+ years of sanctions and military attacks under Clinton and; Part 3: the second US invasion of the Iraq War)

      None of us could get the time of day from the mainstream media even when we could thoroughly document our claims. Advocates for the war were dubbed ‘experts’ and needed no evidence to back up their arguments.

      But the left here did allow itself to be trapped by accepting the government’s narrative that the big question was WHETHER Saddam Hussein HAD nuclear and chemical weapons.

      It was foolish for the left to get sucked into that premise. Because implicit in that question of whether he had those the assumption that Hussein would constitute a threat to Israel, US or NATO if he did have them.

      The correct question to ask was ‘SO WHAT if he DOES have those weapons. Who would he use them against? Israel with 200 or more nuclear warheads and Jericho 2 missiles?
      The United States with its thousands of nuclear missiles or NATO with their thousands of nuclear missiles?

      So we were here but the mainstream media ignored us completely, (though they would ironically claim later that “EVERYONE believed Hussein had those weapons.”) and we were asking the wrong questions anyway.

      But about Obama’s promise. It was just political rhetoric at election time. In his acceptance speech and his inaugural address he referred to an unnamed “preacher from Georgia” but refused to mention the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by name. And within his FIRST SEVEN DAYS he ordered his first drone assassination in Pakistan which he said was based on “actionable intelligence” as if Bush was writing his script. And then he went to the Middle East to “begin a new relationship with the Middle East’ shortly after the Israelis had killed over 1400 Palestinians in Gaza and said that PALESTINIANS would have to renounce violence.

      Like that Who song: Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss.

      His promise of change was hollow. Obama is hollow. Many were fooled but they should be awake now.

  7. Mark
    June 4, 2015 at 23:02

    With all the people that are aware of the government and media deceptions, why aren’t protests taking place in front of government buildings and media studios?

  8. Abe
    June 4, 2015 at 18:28

    DoD Document Admits Plot to Carve Out Safe Haven for ISIS

    Judicial Watch, a US-based foundation seeking “transparency” in government, released a 7 page document dated 2012, detailing the background and status of the Syrian conflict. It admits that the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda form the basis of the “opposition.” It then admits that (emphasis added):

    “Development of the current events into proxy war: with support from Russia, China, and Iran, the regime is controlling the areas of influence along coastal territories (Tartus and Latakia), and is fiercely defending Homs, which is considered the primary transportation route in Syria. On the other hand, opposition forces are trying to control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to the western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar), in addition to neighboring Turkish borders. Western countries, the Gulf States and Turkey are supporting these efforts.”

    It also admits that terrorists are entering Syria from Iraq, hardly what one could call a “civil war,” and clearly instead an invasion.

    The document also admits that (emphasis added):

    “The opposition forces will try to use the Iraqi territory as a safe haven for its forces taking advantage of the sympathy of the Iraqi border population, meanwhile trying to recruit fighters and train them on the Iraqi side, in addition to harboring refugees (Syria).

    “If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia Expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

    That “Salafist principality” mentioned by the DoD in 2012 is of course now known as the “Islamic State.” The DoD at the time openly admitted that the opposition’s foreign sponsors supported the creation of such a principality, and clearly ISIS must have had such support to maintain its hold on vast expanses of territory in both Syria and Iraq, while propping up a military machine capable of fighting the combined forces of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Indeed, the DoD’s admissions in this document explain precisely how ISIS has been able to perpetuate its activities throughout the region – with “Western countries, the Gulf States, and Turkey” supporting these efforts.

    Narratives of a US “war on the Islamic State” are meant clearly to obscure this admitted and documented conspiracy, and serve as a means for US troops to directly violate Syrian airspace and territory incrementally until US forces are able to openly begin dismantling the Syrian military and government directly.

    America Admittedly Behind ISIS “Surge”
    By Tony Cartalucci

  9. Brendan
    June 4, 2015 at 18:17

    In the New York Times on 3 June 2015, Anne Barnard was promoting a story that didn’t appear to make any sense. The headline summed it up: “Assad’s Forces May Be Aiding New ISIS Surge”. The same bizaare claim had also been spread on Twitter for a couple of days before that by the USA’s Syrian embassy.

    That allegation was that Syria’s secular government is militarily supporting the fundamentalist extremist Islamic State (ISIS), which is continuing to capture more and more territory from the government, slaughtering its soldiers and posing a real threat to its existence.

    As if that contradiction wasn’t enough, the next day the same writer presented a narrative – about the USA’s position towards ISIS – that was the direct opposite of that expressed in the first article.

    In Anne Barnard NYT article on 3 June, an anti-Assad insurgent spokesman Abu Abdo Salabman had said that “his faction had provided coordinates of Islamic State positions to the United States, but that there was no sign the Americans would take action.”

    The NYT article on the next day, which Barnard co-wrote, quoted a journalist and political analyst Ibrahim Hamidi who said that the United States-led campaign was “attacking ISIS in Syria while doing nothing to stop Mr. Assad …”.

    So the USA is attacking ISIS and also taking no action against it, if you believe the Syrian sources in the two articles. The NYT does not make any attempt to explain that contradiction.

    That doesn’t seem to matter because the main message of both articles is basically the same. The first says that Assad is supporting ISIS (and let’s forget the fact that it is his violent enemy). The second says that the USA is not doing anything against Assad. Both articles are suggesting the same idea as the tweets from USEmbassySyria – regime change.

    • Brendan
      June 4, 2015 at 18:18

      “U.S. Embassy Syria ‏@USEmbassySyria Jun 2
      Coalition partnrs noted the continued deterioration of the situation in #Syria &the inability+unwillingness of the Asad regime to fight ISIL”

      “U.S. Embassy Syria ‏@USEmbassySyria Jun 1
      With these latest reports, #Asad is not only avoiding #ISIL lines, but, actively seeking to bolster their positon. ”

      “U.S. Embassy Syria ‏@USEmbassySyria Jun 1
      We have long seen that the #Asad regime avoids #ISIL lines, in complete contradiction to the regime’s claims to be fighting ISIL.”

      U.S. Embassy Syria ‏@USEmbassySyria Jun 1
      Reports indicate that the regime is making air-strikes in support of #ISIL’s advance on #Aleppo, aiding extremists against Syrian population

      • Stefan
        June 4, 2015 at 22:51

        The Twitter account of the US Embassy in Damascus is the responsability of Daniel Rubinstein, the husband of Julie Adams, who is number 2 in the Intelligance services of the State Department.

    • Joe Hill
      June 9, 2015 at 10:34

      As long as dumb Americans understand that “We’re Good and They’re Evil”, the details don’t matter. In fact, it’s better if the details are confusing and contradictory. That way they’ll just blend into the background and leave the main message.

      Besides, hardly anybody reads past the headline. Before they finish the first paragraph the damn phone is alerting them to another email or text or some other distraction.

  10. Joe L.
    June 4, 2015 at 18:13

    Just over the last few minutes, I started to think of the Aesop Fable of the North Wind and the Sun. I believe that if we look at the story in context of world politics today, it would seem to me that the US is the “North Wind” and China is the “Sun” – think about it, the US tries to force countries to do its’ bidding through brute force (coups or wars) meanwhile China just invests to gain favour!


    The North Wind boasted of great strength. The Sun argued that there was great power in gentleness.

    “We shall have a contest,” said the Sun.

    Far below, a man traveled a winding road. He was wearing a warm winter coat.

    “As a test of strength,” said the Sun, “Let us see which of us can take the coat off of that man.”

    “It will be quite simple for me to force him to remove his coat,” bragged the Wind.

    The Wind blew so hard, the birds clung to the trees. The world was filled with dust and leaves. But the harder the wind blew down the road, the tighter the shivering man clung to his coat.

    Then, the Sun came out from behind a cloud. Sun warmed the air and the frosty ground. The man on the road unbuttoned his coat.

    The sun grew slowly brighter and brighter.

    Soon the man felt so hot, he took off his coat and sat down in a shady spot.

    “How did you do that?” said the Wind.

    “It was easy,” said the Sun, “I lit the day. Through gentleness I got my way.”

  11. F. G. Sanford
    June 4, 2015 at 17:24

    I couldn’t help but wonder, given the obviously stilted nature of her articles, who really is Anne Barnard? That scene from Mel Brooks ‘Robin Hood’ popped into my mind. The Sheriff of Nottingham asks the chambermaid LaTrine about her unusual name. She says, “We had it changed. It used to be Shithouse.” There’s not much to know. A native of New York, she’s a Yale graduate…suspicious already. As Beirut bureau chief, she neither speaks nor reads Arabic, but works through a translator. She’s had a succession of choice journalism gigs, appearing to have never ‘paid her dues’, as the old union studio musicians used to say. Nope, hers is a career that has successfully evaded the tribulations of apprenticeship or meritocracy. But one link was interesting for a number of reasons. The blog site hosts an article called, “The Lies of Anne Barnard”. In the comments section, someone provides a link to the original CNN footage of the on-scene MH-17 investigation immediately after the crash. It includes the three seconds of footage – since edited out – which shows a 30mm cannon projectile recovered from the debris. It’s worth a look. I hesitate to include a link, as my comments rarely post without some difficulty. But I highly recommend checking it out for yourselves. It completely neutralizes the Higgins/Brown Moses disinformation provided by the CIA front group ‘Atlantic Council’.

    • Abe
      June 4, 2015 at 19:43

      CNN video “completely neutralizes the Higgins/Brown Moses disinformation provided by the CIA front group ‘Atlantic Council’?

      Eh, not so much. The CNN video raises more questions than it answers.

      And then there’s the question of the other video we haven’t seen.

      So first things first.

      The Armed Forces of Ukraine use 30 mm weapons in a variety of vehicles, including the Su-25 attack aircraft and Mi-24 helicopter (which have been falling out of the sky due to militia MANPADS), and the BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles. The Donbas militias also have the BMP-2.

      In other words, there are 30 mm rounds littered all over the combat zone in eastern Ukraine.

      It is possible that 30 mm rounds were fired into the wreckage of MH-17 after it crashed, either by a militia BMP-2 or a Ukrainian Su-25 aircraft.

      Ballistic analysis would confirm what type of projectile, if any, was found in the wreckage of MH-17.

      And it should be possible to identify the militia soldier holding the projectile-like object.

      OK. Back to first things first.

      Where’s the damned satellite video of MH-17?

      “Video? We ain’t got no video. We don’t need no video. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ video! We got Bellingcat!”

      • F. G. Sanford
        June 4, 2015 at 20:55

        So…why did they go to the trouble to edit the video…if it doesn’t really matter?

      • Abe
        June 4, 2015 at 23:06

        To make it look it appear that there might be something there that really matters.

        • F. G. Sanford
          June 5, 2015 at 00:37

          Only you…and Dr. Eevil…could come up with an answer that clever! But good luck ever getting to see the satellite pictures. You’ll have better luck getting to see Lee Harvey Oswald’s CIA pay stubs.

      • Abe
        June 5, 2015 at 00:08

        example of a 30 mm anti-aircraft / anti-tank round

      • Abe
        June 5, 2015 at 11:54

        “recently, aerospace companies from Israel and Georgia collaborated to produce the Su-25 K ‘Scorpion’. This variant features a glass cockpit, HUD (Head Up Display) and more advanced navigation and weapons delivery systems. Ironically, these aircraft are now in line with NATO weapons and communication standards


        “The Su-25 is quite a bit smaller than the A-10, but has a top speed of 527 kts – that is over 140 kts faster than the A-10”

    • Abe
      June 5, 2015 at 00:56

      A technical expert team from Almaz-Antey, the manufacturer of the Buk Missile System, has reported on the circumstances surrounding the destruction of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777.

      Boeing MH-17 Downed Over Ukraine: What Really Happened

      The Russians are officially forcing the Americans to put up or shut up.

      Higgins and his Bellingcat mousketeers are collecting lots of overtime pay, but their little “open source” charade is utterly failing.

  12. Abe
    June 4, 2015 at 16:04

    The article concludes:

    “In the case of Syria, the only “acceptable” approach is the reckless idea that the U.S. government must militarily damage the principal force – the Syrian army – that is holding back the rising tide of Sunni terrorism and then must take its chances on what comes next.”

    In reality, Sunni terrorism is the principal force the U.S. government has used to militarily damage the Syrian army.

    Any other way of framing the situation is a “reckless idea” at best.

    We’ve repeatedly seen in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, that the nightmare of “what comes next” is what the US government always intended to have happen.

    • William
      June 9, 2015 at 17:50

      John Kerry is a fool and so is Pres. Obama. Both would destroy this country for the sake of the pernicious, religious zealots of Israel.

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