The US Hand in the Syrian Mess

Exclusive: Neocons and the mainstream U.S. media place all the blame for the Syrian civil war on President Bashar al-Assad and Iran, but there is another side of the story in which Syria’s olive branches to the U.S. and Israel were spurned and a reckless drive for “regime change” followed, writes Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

Syria’s current leader, Bashar al-Assad replaced his autocratic father as president and head of the ruling Ba’ath Party in 2000. Only 35 years old and British educated, he aroused widespread hopes at home and abroad of introducing reforms and liberalizing the regime. In his first year he freed hundreds of political prisoners and shut down a notorious prison, though his security forces resumed cracking down on dissenters a year later.

But almost from the start, Assad was marked by the George W. Bush administration for “regime change.” Then, in the early years of Barack Obama’s presidency, there were some attempts at diplomatic engagement, but shortly after a civil conflict broke out in 2011, the legacy of official U.S. hostility toward Syria set in motion Washington’s disastrous confrontation with Assad which continues to this day.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in front of a poster of his father, Hafez al-Assad.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in front of a poster of his father, Hafez al-Assad.

Thus, the history of the Bush administration’s approach toward Syria is important to understand. Shortly after 9/11, former NATO Commander Wesley Clark learned from a Pentagon source that Syria was on the same hit list as Iraq. As Clark recalled, the Bush administration “wanted us to destabilize the Middle East, turn it upside down, make it under our control.”

Sure enough, in a May 2002 speech titled “Beyond the Axis of Evil,” Under Secretary of State John Bolton named Syria as one of a handful of “rogue states” along with Iraq that “can expect to become our targets.” Assad’s conciliatory and cooperative gestures were brushed aside.

The Assad regime received no credit from President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney for becoming what scholar Kilic Bugra Kanat has called “one of the CIA’s most effective intelligence allies in the fight against terrorism.” Not only did the regime provide life-saving intelligence on planned al-Qaeda attacks, it did the CIA’s dirty work of interrogating terrorism suspects “rendered” by the United States from Afghanistan and other theaters.

Syria’s opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and its suspected involvement in the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri deepened the administration’s hostility toward Damascus.

Covertly, Washington began collaborating with Saudi Arabia to back Islamist opposition groups including the Muslim Brotherhood, according to journalist Seymour Hersh. One key beneficiary was said to be Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian vice president who defected to the West in 2005. In March 2006, Khaddam joined with the chief of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood to create the National Salvation Front, with the goal of ousting Assad.

Thanks to Wikileaks, we know that key Lebanese politicians, acting in concert with Saudi leaders, urged Washington to support Khaddam as a tactic to accomplish “complete regime change in Syria” and to address “the bigger problem” of Iran.

Meanwhile, the Assad regime was striving mightily to reduce its international isolation by reaching a peace settlement with Israel. It began secret talks with Israel in 2004 in Turkey and by the following year “had reached a very advanced form and covered territorial, water, border and political questions,” according to historian Gabriel Kolko.

A host of senior Israelis, including former heads of the IDF, Shin Beit, and Foreign Ministry, backed the talks. But the Bush administration nixed them, as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek confirmed in January 2007.

As Kolko noted, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz then “published a series of extremely detailed accounts, including the draft accord, confirming that Syria ‘offered a far reaching and equitable peace treaty that would provide for Israel’s security and is comprehensive’, and divorce Syria from Iran and even create a crucial distance between it and Hezbollah and Hamas.

“The Bush Administration’s role in scuttling any peace accord was decisive. C. David Welch, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, sat in at the final meeting [and] two former senior CIA officials were present in all of these meetings and sent regular reports to Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. The press has been full of details on how the American role was decisive, because it has war, not peace, at the top of its agenda.”

Isolating Assad

In March 2007, McClatchy broke a story that the Bush administration had “launched a campaign to isolate and embarrass Syrian President Bashar Assad. . . . The campaign, which some officials fear is aimed at destabilizing Syria, has been in the works for months. It involves escalating attacks on Syria’s human rights record. . . . The campaign appears to fly in the face of the recommendations last December of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which urged President Bush to engage diplomatically with Syria to stabilize Iraq and address the Arab-Israeli conflict. . . . The officials say the campaign bears the imprint of Elliott Abrams, a conservative White House aide in charge of pushing Bush’s global democracy agenda.”

Not surprisingly, Vice President Cheney was also an implacable opponent of engagement with Syria.

Attempting once again to break the impasse, Syria’s ambassador to the United States called for talks to achieve a full peace agreement with Israel in late July 2008. “We desire to recognize each other and end the state of war,” Imad Mustafa said in remarks broadcast on Israeli army radio. “Here is then a grand thing on offer. Let us sit together, let us make peace, let us end once and for all the state of war.”

Three days later, Israel responded by sending a team of commandos into Syria to assassinate a Syrian general as he held a dinner party at his home on the coast. A top-secret summary by the National Security Agency called it the “first known instance of Israel targeting a legitimate government official.”

Just two months later, U.S. military forces launched a raid into Syria, ostensibly to kill an al-Qaeda operative, which resulted in the death of eight unarmed civilians. The Beirut Daily Star wrote, “The suspected involvement of some of the most vociferous anti-Syria hawks at the highest levels of the Bush administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney, have combined with US silence on the matter to fuel a guessing game as to just exactly who ordered or approved Sunday’s cross-border raid.”

The New York Times condemned the attack as a violation of international law and said the timing “could not have been worse,” noting that it “coincided with Syria’s establishing, for the first time, full diplomatic relations with Lebanon. This was a sign that Syria’s ruler, Bashar Assad, is serious about ending his pariah status in the West. It was also a signal to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan that Assad, whose alliance with Iran they abhor, is now eager to return to the Arab fold.”

The editorial added, “if President Bush and Vice President Cheney did authorize an action that risks sabotaging Israeli-Syrian peace talks, reversing the trend of Syrian cooperation in Iraq and Lebanon, and playing into the hands of Iran, then Bush and Cheney have learned nothing from their previous mistakes and misdeeds.”

In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, Syrian ambassador Imad Moustapha noted that his government had just begun friendly talks with top State Department officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “And suddenly, this [raid in eastern Syria] happens,” the ambassador said. “I don’t believe the guys from the State Department were actually deceiving us. I believe they genuinely wanted to engage diplomatically and politically with Syria. We believe that other powers within the administration were upset with these meetings and they did this exactly to undermine the whole new atmosphere.”

Despite these many provocations, Syria continued to negotiate with Israel through Turkish intermediaries. By late 2008, according to journalist Seymour Hersh, “Many complicated technical matters had been resolved, and there were agreements in principle on the normalization of diplomatic relations. The consensus, as an ambassador now serving in Tel Aviv put it, was that the two sides had been ‘a lot closer than you might think.’” Then, in late December, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, a devastating assault on Gaza that left about 1,400 Palestinians dead, along with nine Israeli soldiers and three civilians.

Israeli Sabotage

The brief war ended in January, just before President Obama’s inauguration. Assad told Hersh that despite his outrage at Israel “doing everything possible to undermine the prospects for peace we still believe that we need to conclude a serious dialogue to lead us to peace.” The ruler of Qatar confirmed, “Syria is eager to engage with the West, an eagerness that was never perceived by the Bush White House. Anything is possible, as long as peace is being pursued.”

Of Obama, Assad said “We are happy that he has said that diplomacy, and not war, is the means of conducting international policy.” Assad added, “We do not say that we are a democratic country. We do not say that we are perfect, but we are moving forward.” And he offered to be an ally of the United States against the growing threat of al-Qaeda and Islamist extremism, which had become major forces in Iraq but had not yet taken hold in Syria.

Assad’s hopes died stillborn. The new government of Israel under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which took office in March 2009, steadfastly opposed any land-for-peace deal with Syria. And the Obama administration lacked the clout or the will to take Israel on.

President Obama did follow through on promises to engage with Syria after a long period of frozen relations. He sent representatives from the State Department and National Security Council to Damascus in early 2009; dispatched envoy George Mitchell three times to discuss a Middle East peace settlement; nominated the first ambassador to Damascus since 2005; and invited Syria’s deputy foreign minister to Washington for consultations.

However, Obama also continued covert funding to Syrian opposition groups, which a senior U.S. diplomat warned would be viewed by Syrian authorities as “tantamount to supporting regime change.”

At home, Obama’s new policy of engagement was decried by neoconservatives. Elliott Abrams, the Iran-Contra convict who was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush and who directed Middle East policy at the National Security Council under President George W. Bush, branded Obama’s efforts “appeasement” and said Syrian policy would change only “if and when the regime in Iran, Assad’s mainstay, falls.”

Syria, meanwhile, rebuffed Washington’s demands to drop its support for Iran and for Hezbollah and reacted with frustration at the administration’s refusal to lift economic sanctions. Said Assad, “What has happened so far is a new approach. Dialogue has replaced commands, which is good. But things stopped there.”

As late as March 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued to defend talks with Assad, saying: “There’s a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.”

But that stance would change a month later, when the White House condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the Damascus regime’s “completely deplorable” crackdown on political opponents in the city of Dara’a, ignoring the killing of police in the city.

That August, following critical reports from the United Nations and human rights organizations about the regime’s responsibility for killing and abusing civilians, President Obama joined European leaders in demanding that Assad “face the reality of the complete rejection of his regime by the Syrian people” and “step aside.” (In fact, a majority of Syrians polled in December 2011 opposed Assad’s resignation.)

Washington imposed new economic sanctions, prompting Syria’s U.N. ambassador, Bashar al-Jaafari, to assert that the United States “is launching a humanitarian and diplomatic war against us.” Obama’s policy, initially applauded by interventionists until he failed to send troops or major aid to rebel groups, opened the door to support from the Gulf States and Turkey for Islamist forces.

The Rise of the Salafists

As early as the summer of 2012, a classified Defense Intelligence Agency report concluded, “The salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq, later the Islamic State]” had become “the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.”

As Vice President Joseph Biden later admitted, “The fact of the matter is . . . there was no moderate middle. . . . [O]ur allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. . . . They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and . . . thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis.”

As with Iraq and Libya, do we never learn?, “regime change” in Syria may well bring about either fanatical Islamist state or a failed state and no end to the violence.

Recalling Israel’s folly in cultivating Islamist rivals to Fatah (notably Hamas), Jacky Hugi, an Arab affairs analyst for Israeli army radio, recently made the remarkable suggestion that “What Israel should learn from these events is that it must strive for the survival and bolstering of the current regime at any price.” He argued:

“The survival of the Damascus regime guarantees stability on Israel’s northern border, and it’s a keystone to its national security. The Syrian regime is secular, tacitly recognizes Israel’s right to exist and does not crave death. It does not have messianic religious beliefs and does not aim to establish an Islamic caliphate in the area it controls.

“Since Syria is a sovereign nation, there is an array of means of putting pressure on it in case of conflict or crisis. It’s possible to transmit diplomatic messages, to work against it in international arenas or to damage its regional interests. If there’s a need for military action against it, there’s no need to desperately look for it amid a civilian population and risk killing innocent civilians.

“Israel has experienced years of a stable border with the Syrian regime. Until the war broke out there, not a single shot was fired from Syria. While Assad shifted aggression toward Israel to the Lebanese border by means of Hezbollah, even this movement and its military arm is preferable to Israel over al-Qaeda and its like. It’s familiar and its leaders are familiar. Israel has ‘talked’ through mediators with Hezbollah ever since the movement controlled southern Lebanon. It’s mostly indirect dialogue, meant to serve practical interests of the kind forced on those who have to live side by side, but pragmatism guides it.

“While Hezbollah fighters are indeed bitter enemies, you will not find among them the joy in evil and cannibalism, as seen in the last decade among Sunni jihadist organizations.”

Washington need not go so far as to back Assad in the name of pragmatism. But it should clearly renounce “regime change” as a policy, support an arms embargo, and begin acting in concert with Russia, Iran, the Gulf states and other regional powers to support unconditional peace negotiations with Assad’s regime.

President Obama recently dropped hints that he welcomes further talks with Russia toward that end, in the face of prospects of an eventual jihadist takeover of Syria. Americans who value human rights and peace ahead of overthrowing Arab regimes should welcome such a new policy direction.

[Part Two of this two-part series is available at “Hidden Origins of Syria’s Civil War.“]

Jonathan Marshall is an independent researcher living in San Anselmo, California. Some of his previous articles for Consortiumnews were “Risky Blowback from Russian Sanctions”; “Neocons Want Regime Change in Iran”; “Saudi Cash Wins France’s Favor”; “The Saudis’ Hurt Feelings”; and “Saudi Arabias Nuclear Bluster.”]

19 comments for “The US Hand in the Syrian Mess

  1. Abe
    July 24, 2015 at 14:22

    The plan to balkanise and redraw the Middle East was laid out by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2006 called “The Project For a New middle East”. The US’s policies during the Iraq war, such as the use of death squads and the introduction of federalism, were designed to cause sectarian divisions. Even as early as 2007, think tanks such as the Brookings Institute were suggesting the ‘soft partition of Iraq’. In 2013, at the University of Michigan, Henry Kissinger stated that he would prefer to see the partition of Iraq and Syria. The strategy is becoming more and more openly discussed not only amongst think tanks but in the media.

    The neocolonialist powers in the United states have exploited Wahhabism to pave the way towards balkanisation. Saudi Arabia, ISIS, Al Qaeda and the Taliban have all been useful to this end. In the book Confessions of a British Spy and British Enmity Towards Islam it is claimed that Britain founded Wahhabism in order to weaken the ottoman empire. Whether or not the book’s claims are legitimate, it is clear that Wahhabism and specifically ISIS objectives fit seamless with the imperialist agenda of the United States. A declassified Defence Intelligence Agency document stated that creation of the Islamic State, would be useful in order to isolating Syria from Iraq and Iran. Dividing and conquering, these nations into sectarian based state lets in constant antagonism towards each other, will make them perpetually weak and unable to defend themselves. Israel has already set out its designs to claim the Golan heights as its own if Syria disintegrates.

    The balkanisation process is expedited by dismantling a nations Identity. Syria and Iraq derive their national identity from there thousands of years of history. By destroying these ancient artifacts ISIS are wiping out any tangible evidence of Syrian and Iraqi ancient civilisations even existed. Looting these artifacts, and selling them to Europe and the US, also detaches these ancient civilisations from modern day Iraq and Syria. ISIS also useful in that it shares the US government’s disdain for middle eastern nationalism. They believe all loyalties should lie in religion rather than the nation state. British citizens of Pakistani origin who have joined ISIS are claiming Syria as land that belongs to them, though they have never stepped foot in Syria, simply because they perceive it to be a ‘Muslim country’.

    It is because of these powerful imperialist interests, that world stands by and watches as ISIS destroys the cradle of human civilisation. The so called ‘Anti-ISIS coalition’ spear headed by the US, is nothing more than window dressing and is never serious about defeating ISIS. They US doesn’t just want to destroy Syria and Iraq, they want to wipe out any memory that these countries ever existed.

    The Agenda Behind ISIS’ Cultural Genocide
    By Maram Susli

  2. Abe
    July 24, 2015 at 11:36

    The alternative press has noted for months that Israel is supporting jihadis in Syria. But Israel has consistently denied these allegations … until now.

    The Times of Israel reported 3 weeks ago:

    “Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday that Israel has been providing aid to Syrian rebels…”

    Israeli Military Admits to Supporting Syrian Jihadis

  3. jg
    July 21, 2015 at 19:50

    And why is it the blatant criminality, the illegality of US policy is never just stated as such? We live in a world where the supposed critics hide behind rhetoric. Any simple reading of the UN Charter would show that supporting “regime change” and the terrorists carrying it out, is illegal everywhere and in all cases. Obama and his predecessors are then war criminals. They are directly responsible for a quarter of a million deaths so far, with more mounting every day.

    How can US journals be so blind to the most black and white issues of international law? Are they deluded by nationalism? Can US presidents not be considered war criminals… just because?

    It is this sort of double standard and hypocrisy that leaves most of the world skeptical and even loathing America’s endless stream of platitudes and grandiose moral claims. No one believes you, unless they are grossly uninformed or misinformed.

  4. Abe
    July 21, 2015 at 11:35

    Senior members of the Washington political and military establishment often land positions in high finance later in their careers.

    In 2013, both Clark and Petraeus were hired by giant American multinational private equity firms who specialize in leveraged buyouts.

    Wesley Clark was hired by the Blackstone Group to serve as a Senior Advisor with a focus on the energy sector.

    David Petraeus was hired by KKR & Co. to serve as a Senior Advisor and as Chairman of the newly formed KKR Global Institute, focusing on communications and public policy.

    The generals advise on issues with foreign governments and matters that could affect transactions in emerging markets.

    Obviously it helps to know where there’s likely to be US hands in the mess.

  5. Abe
    July 21, 2015 at 00:43

    In 2007, Wesley Clark recalled that the Bush administration “wanted us to destabilize the Middle East, turn it upside down, make it under our control.”

    Yes, and Clark knew exactly how it all worked.

    The strategic objective of the US-NATO military operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia was to destabilize and destroy the Yugoslav Federation using Al Qaeda terrorist operatives.

    In the post-9/11 era, the Bosnia-Kosovo model has been replicated in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine.

  6. Abe
    July 20, 2015 at 23:05
  7. F. G. Sanford
    July 20, 2015 at 16:56

    The last three or four articles present an opportunity – if one is willing – to take this all out from under the microscope and stop looking at it on the cellular level. Regarding the Saudis, we tolerate their intransigence because that’s what props up our money. There’s no way any near-future plan will include wholesale abandonment of fossil fuels. Nobody seems to be able to figure out who orders what, but everybody seems to agree there is no coherent strategy. It’s easy to blame it all on the Neocons, because they’re uniformly repugnant. They go along as unwitting ‘cutouts’ as long as Israel seems to benefit. Meanwhile, the SCO, AIIB, ASEAN, Silk Road and BRICS nations are consolidating their potential. USA’s debt is 200% of its GDP, while Russia’s is only 17%. At the same time, suicidal trade deals are being pushed which effectively gut American industrial productivity. Cartelization, internationalization, trans-national corporatization and international privatization is removing intellectual property and research and development autonomy from American control. Sure, Raytheon still makes missiles. But where do they buy the parts? Who controls their titanium and beryllium? A guy who bears an uncanny resemblance to Jeff Dunham’s ventriloquist dummy, “Walter”, is happy as a schoolboy because bombing Iran will be “his responsibility”. Donald Trump seems to be doing well in the polls, but he hasn’t started talking about “da Jooz” yet – trust me, he hates them too. All Republicans do. Most Americans haven’t read that article about “Bernie the Bomber”, so progressives are full of false hopes. Hillary’s worst crime – engineering the collapse of Libya using bogus “human rights” arguments supplied by Rice and Power – has been eclipsed by Benghazi, which was nevertheless also a crime. Now, we’re told nobody is sure who ordered clandestine incursions into Syria during productive peace negotiations. Germany just engineered a successful ‘cold coup’ against Greece an a progressive, incremental strategy to usurp economic hegemony over the totality of the Eurozone. She keeps extending her tentacles, and America keeps embroiling herself in acts of economic attrition. The Petro-Euro and all the misery it promises for USA isn’t far off. I’d say its only one more nonsensical war away. Who’s in charge? I haven’t got a clue – but they ain’t rootin’ for America.

    • Mark
      July 20, 2015 at 18:57

      Looks like it’s every person for themselves.

      And if anyone or any group can make an alliance with some unsavory group or government to benefit themselves and their new or old collaborating friends — it’s all just too bad for the rest of the world.

      Greed and tyranny to acquire personal wealth has been the driving force and philosophy in the West for centuries and now that there are not so many places and people in foreign lands to exploit, the Western powers will canibalize and destroy each other as well as their own from the inside out.

      Lawless free-for-all, whatever you can grab for yourself and any way you can get it is now fair game thanks to the beacon of freedom and democracy having sold out to the highest bidders — all again for personal greed and to h e l l with everything everything else.

  8. Joe L.
    July 20, 2015 at 13:40

    Well for me, I knew of the US plan to overthrow 7 countries in 5 years through General Wesley Clark. I am just willing to bet that US NGO’s, the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID, had a hand in funding “regime change” in Syria, as they have done in numerous countries including Egypt, Ukraine, attempt in Venezuela, Honduras etc. Al Jazeera wrote an article about how US NGO’s funded protesters, and anti-Morsi government forces in Egypt which ultimately resulted in a coup overthrowing the “democracy” in Egypt.

    Al Jazeera: “Exclusive: US bankrolled anti-Morsi activists” (July 10, 2013):

    “Berkeley, United States – President Barack Obama recently stated the United States was not taking sides as Egypt’s crisis came to a head with the military overthrow of the democratically elected president.

    But a review of dozens of US federal government documents shows Washington has quietly funded senior Egyptian opposition figures who called for toppling of the country’s now-deposed president Mohamed Morsi.

    Documents obtained by the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley show the US channeled funding through a State Department programme to promote democracy in the Middle East region. This programme vigorously supported activists and politicians who have fomented unrest in Egypt, after autocratic president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising in February 2011.”

    “Washington’s democracy assistance programme for the Middle East is filtered through a pyramid of agencies within the State Department. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars is channeled through the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL), The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), USAID, as well as the Washington-based, quasi-governmental organisation the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

    In turn, those groups re-route money to other organisations such as the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and Freedom House, among others. Federal documents show these groups have sent funds to certain organisations in Egypt, mostly run by senior members of anti-Morsi political parties who double as NGO activists.

    The Middle East Partnership Initiative – launched by the George W Bush administration in 2002 in a bid to influence politics in the Middle East in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks – has spent close to $900m on democracy projects across the region, a federal grants database shows.

    USAID manages about $1.4bn annually in the Middle East, with nearly $390m designated for democracy promotion, according to the Washington-based Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED).

    • Abe
      July 20, 2015 at 14:43

      “Weasely” Clark certainly does say things.

      In March 2015l, a team consisting of Clark, a former supreme allied commander, Europe during NATO’s War in the Balkans on the 1990s; Lieutenant General Patrick M. Hughes (Ret.), former director, defense intelligence agency; and Lieutenant General John S. Caldwell (Ret.), former Army research, development and acquisition chief, went to Ukraine.

      Clark and team met with senior civilian and military officials, including Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian Chief of the General Staff Viktor Muzhenko, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, and Ukrainian ministers, parliamentarians and leaders at all levels of the military, both in Kiev and in the operational area.

      Clark, known as the guy who almost started World War III in 1999, urged immediate military assistance, including plenty of “lethal aid” to Ukraine.

      But don’t worry, Clark now has a plan for Americans at home:

      Wesley Clark Promotes Internment Of “Radicalized” US Citizens

      • Joe L.
        July 20, 2015 at 15:34

        Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of General Clark especially when now I believe he actually does work for the National Endowment for Democracy but I do believe that his speech about US plans to overthrow the governments of 7 countries in 5 years was a rare glimpse of truth on his part.

      • Abe
        July 20, 2015 at 16:28

        Understood, Joe.

        But we have to watch out for many a good general.

        “Weasely” Clark remains every bit as much of an “ass kissing” errand boy as “King Rat” Petraeus.

      • Mark
        July 20, 2015 at 17:00

        Wow, Clark used to seem like a reasonable person and it is ironic that he’s now talking about self-radicalizing US citizens in the video, and says it’s the countries “right” to lock up any radical that doesn’t agree with US policies.

        Did I hear that right?

        I guess he no longer comprehends the people running this country radicalized themselves during the Reagan era and haven’t looked back from their fascist inclinations as we’ve become even more disoriented and lost in the dark and growing darker wilderness.

        Everybody who’s part of the establishment is now right of center where citizens have no rights in their mind while fascism becomes more and appealing to protect the “state” and those fascists that were reasonable people at some point in time long ago…

    • Abe
      July 20, 2015 at 16:15

      Clark’s infamous March 2007 Democracy Now interview detailing the neo-con “hit list”

      AMY GOODMAN: So, go through the countries again.

      GEN. WESLEY CLARK: Well, starting with Iraq, then Syria and Lebanon, then Libya, then Somalia and Sudan, and back to Iran. So when you look at Iran, you say, “Is it a replay?” It’s not exactly a replay. But here’s the truth: that Iran, from the beginning, has seen that the presence of the United States in Iraq was a threat — a blessing, because we took out Saddam Hussein and the Baathists. They couldn’t handle them. We took care of it for them. But also a threat, because they knew that they were next on the hit list. And so, of course, they got engaged. They lost a million people during the war with Iraq, and they’ve got a long and unprotectable, unsecurable border. So it was in their vital interest to be deeply involved inside Iraq. They tolerated our attacks on the Baathists. They were happy we captured Saddam Hussein.

      But they’re building up their own network of influence, and to cement it, they occasionally give some military assistance and training and advice, either directly or indirectly, to both the insurgents and to the militias. And in that sense, it’s not exactly parallel, because there has been, I believe, continuous Iranian engagement, some of it legitimate, some of it illegitimate. I mean, you can hardly fault Iran because they’re offering to do eye operations for Iraqis who need medical attention. That’s not an offense that you can go to war over, perhaps. But it is an effort to gain influence.

      And the administration has stubbornly refused to talk with Iran about their perception, in part because they don’t want to pay the price with their domestic — our US domestic political base, the rightwing base, but also because they don’t want to legitimate a government that they’ve been trying to overthrow. If you were Iran, you’d probably believe that you were mostly already at war with the United States anyway, since we’ve asserted that their government needs regime change, and we’ve asked congress to appropriate $75 million to do it, and we are supporting terrorist groups, apparently, who are infiltrating and blowing up things inside Iraq — Iran. And if we’re not doing it, let’s put it this way: we’re probably cognizant of it and encouraging it. So it’s not surprising that we’re moving to a point of confrontation and crisis with Iran.

      My point on this is not that the Iranians are good guys — they’re not — but that you shouldn’t use force, except as a last, last, last resort. There is a military option, but it’s a bad one.

    • Abe
      July 20, 2015 at 16:20

      Clark’s infamous March 2015 Atlantic Council address detailing what steps the United States and NATO take to help Ukraine withstand “Russian aggression”

      So much for “you shouldn’t use force, except as a last, last, last resort”.

      Apparently Clark has signed up for the “hit list”.

      • Joe L.
        July 20, 2015 at 17:57

        Seems also your “friend” Bellingcat, Elliot Higgins, is also associated with the Atlantic Council and NATO. What a twisted web we weave, when we practice to deceive!

      • Abe
        July 20, 2015 at 18:39

        Clark was fully on board for the old post-1989 “hit list” that included Yugoslavia.

        Now Clark is back and fully on board for the new post-2013 “hit list” that includes Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia itself (not to mention China).

  9. Abe
    July 20, 2015 at 13:22

    US Plans to Use Al Qaeda in 2007, Now Fully Realized

    It must be repeated that even as early as 2007, under the administration of then US President George Bush, it was reported that the United States, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and other regional allies planned to fund, arm, and support a wide terrorist front – affiliated with Al Qaeda – to wage proxy war against Iran, Syria, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” which explicitly stated:

    “To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

    It is clear that this premeditated and documented conspiracy has been fully implemented, manifesting itself as the “Islamic State” which is clearly being used both as a proxy military force with which to wage war against Western enemies, as well as a pretext for justifying Western military aggression around the world. It is also being used conveniently to maintain an iron grip at home via an increasingly Orwellian police state predicated on “fighting the threat of terrorism.”

    Propaganda Wave Portends Invasion of Syria
    By Tony Cartalucci

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