Neocons Babble Over Syria Crisis

Exclusive: America’s neocons are so wedded to their “regime change” plans for Syria that they even flirted with embracing Al Qaeda. They are now furious over Russia’s expanded engagement in support of Syria’s secular government because it frustrates long-held neocon desires, reports Daniel Lazare.

By Daniel Lazare

Typical of the incoherence now common among U.S. foreign policy pundits discussing the Syrian crisis is Jeffrey Lewis, who took to the pages of the prestigious journal Foreign Policy to venture his opinion. He started out reciting the usual “group think” narrative about the need to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and denounced Russia’s President Vladimir Putin for stepping up support for the Syrian military in the face of gains by Sunni terror groups.

But Lewis, who is billed as an arms-control specialist at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, then admitted that he doesn’t have a clue what to do, which at least is an improvement over all the other “experts” who say the U.S. must do something anything! to counter Russian intervention.

Amid the crisis over Syria, President Vladimir Putin of Russia welcomed President Barack Obama to the G20 Summit at Konstantinovsky Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 5, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Amid the crisis over Syria, President Vladimir Putin of Russia welcomed President Barack Obama to the G20 Summit at Konstantinovsky Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 5, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Lewis begins his article with a lot of scary talk about satellite photos confirming that Russia is expanding an air base near Latakia with the goal of increasing military aid to the evil Bashar al-Assad so as to give his doddering regime another lease on life.

“The satellite image shows far more than prefabricated housing and an air traffic control station,” Lewis observed. “It shows extensive construction of what appears to be a military canton designed to support Russian combat air operations from the base and [which] may serve as a logistical hub for Russian combat forces.”

U.S. officials, he said, “believe Russia will base combat aircraft at the site.” The photos show that “construction crews have completed a taxiway that connects the runway to the construction area,” which in turn “means aircraft shelters for Russian aircraft.” Bottom line: “Russia is substantially expanding its involvement.”

In other words, the Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! After all, alarmism and drumbeating are de rigueur nowadays for U.S. pundits, so Lewis was doing what he had to do to remain in good standing with an increasingly bellicose and delusional foreign-policy establishment.

Lewis then accused Moscow of preventing a U.S.-favored regime change that would somehow please “moderate” Syrians so much that they would rally and defeat Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. That notion of an easy and seamless “regime change” is one of the favorite fantasies of neoconservatives and liberal interventionists who were equally confident that they could neatly transform Iraq by installing think-tank favorite Ahmed Chalabi to replace Saddam Hussein.

But now with the Russian intervention in Syria, at least Lewis and his fellow pundits have an excuse for why their best-laid plans didn’t work out this time. It’s Putin’s fault!

“What Russia has done,” Lewis wrote, “is make it clear that it will not let Assad fall. He can’t win, but Russia won’t let him lose. That dooms Syria to what looks like endless war. So this column does not have a neat and tidy ending. And that is because I am not sure that it is now possible to save Syria. There is no path to resurrect a state that is failing, not so long as Putin has decided to do whatever it takes to preserve Assad’s awful regime and condemn Syria to endless conflict.

“We can, of course, make it difficult for Russia to resupply its forces in Syria.   But these measures won’t replace Bashar al-Assad with a figure who could rally moderate Syrians to restore a stable government, let alone stop the bloodshed.”

In Lewis’s view, Putin’s insertion of Russian forces to defend the Syrian government and fight Al Qaeda and the Islamic State has checkmated U.S. plans for overthrowing Assad and neutralizing his military.

Lewis wrote: “There is now little hope of establishing a no-fly zone over Syria unless Washington wants to be in the business of shooting down Russian aircraft. From a broader perspective, U.S. efforts to arm the opposition to Assad mean fighting a proxy war with Moscow either by trying to down the Russian planes or helping Syrian opposition forces kill Russian combat troops on the ground.”

World War III, Anyone?

Unless President Obama thinks that Syria is a good place to start World War III, he has no choice but to back off. But Lewis’s conclusion rests of two dubious claims that he makes no effort to prove. The first is that Assad is uninterested in fighting the Islamic State and is indeed happy to see ISIS (or ISIL or Daesh as it is also know) open up a “second front” against rebel groups with whom his troops are engaged.

The second claim is that Assad is weak and unpopular yet at the same time so Machiavellian as to foster the growth of an ultra-violent Salafist group that scares the pants off the West and encourages ordinary Syrians to seek shelter in areas under his control.

But these assertions are a variation on the right-wing conspiracy theory that the evil genius in Damascus encouraged the growth of ISIS by springing jihadi elements from prison in the belief that they would rush out to join the opposition and thus bring discredit on the rebels. If you believe this, then you might as well believe that the CIA wired the World Trade Center with explosives in order to provide George W. Bush with a pretext for the War on Terror.

The facts in Syria are otherwise. According to no less an authority than Vice President Joe Biden, Saudi Arabia and the other Arab gulf states “poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world,” groups that eventually morphed into ISIS.

As early as August 2012, the Defense Intelligence Agency noted that Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other such groups were driving the anti-Assad movement, that they were seeking to establish a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria as part of an international anti-Shi‘ite crusade, and that their backers in the U.S., Turkey, and the gulf states were all comfortable with such an outcome. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “On Syria, Incoherence, Squared.”]

So it wasn’t Assad and the Baathists who fostered the growth of ISIS, but their enemies in the super-rich oil sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf. Needless to say, the gulf states declared war on Assad not because he is undemocratic the totalitarians in Riyadh couldn’t care less about anything so trivial but because he is an Alawite, which is to say a member of the Shi‘ite branch of Islam that the Saudis, as even The New York Times recognizes, are obsessed with fighting.

Consequently, the Saudis, Qataris and other gulf state sheikdoms are sponsoring a reign of terror in Syria for the same reason they are imprisoning democratic protesters in Bahrain and conducting nightly bombing raids in Yemen because they are engaged in a growing all-Sunni jihad against a “Shi‘ite crescent” that is supposedly enveloping their countries.

As for Assad’s weakness and lack of popular support, the case is not as proven as Lewis wants us to believe. As the French geographer Fabrice Balanche notes, anywhere from 55 to 72 percent of the Syrian population lives in areas under government control, which suggests that the majority has voted with its feet in favor of the Baathist regime in Damascus.

Moreover, Assad received 88.7 percent of the vote in June 2014 in multi-party elections that the State Department predictably denounced as a “disgrace,” but which 30 other countries certified as “free, fair, and transparent.” These include not just Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela, but also India and South Africa, whose opinion the U.S. usually takes more seriously.

This is not to say that the results would not be different under more normal circumstances. But it strongly suggests that the mass of ordinary Syrians prefer Assad to either ISIS, the Nusra Front (Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria), or any of the “moderate” rebels backed by the U.S. So Assad’s unpopularity is at best unproven.

How to Restore Stability 

As for Lewis’s contention that “Assad must leave” for Syrian unity to be restored, it is a pure non-sequitur. The only thing that Assad’s departure would create under present circumstances is a power vacuum that only ISIS and other jihadists could fill. The result would be unity all right, but unity under a black banner of religious obscurantism that would send millions more refugees fleeing to Europe.

If that’s what President Obama wants, then he should by all means continue with the present policy of ousting Assad at all costs. If not, then he should think very carefully about heeding a U.S. foreign-policy establishment that unanimously backed the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Still, Lewis’s conclusion is telling in a backwards sort of way. As he puts it: “Moscow’s apparent commitment to Damascus raises fundamental questions about what U.S. strategy, if any, can succeed.   There are those who see Syria as a quagmire for Putin, a kind of matched pair to our own folly in Iraq; just as Washington collectively saw Afghanistan as payback for Vietnam.

“While Charlie Wilson’s war [in Afghanistan] helped popularize the idea of bleeding Moscow, I don’t think that can be the basis of U.S. policy either. The moral cost is far too high. Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old boy whose corpse washed up on a Turkish beach, was fleeing Syria’s civil war, as are hundreds of thousands of the refugees now in Europe. More than half of Syria’s 17 million people have been displaced. Bleeding Moscow means bleeding these people. It may sound strategic in a Pentagon war room, but not when children’s bodies wash up on shore.”

According to this thinking, Obama can’t let Moscow prevail in bolstering the Syrian government since that would mean prolonging Syria’s agony. But Obama can’t prevent it either, so the only thing that Lewis foresees is an endless vista of washed-up bodies and desperate refugees. It’s a vision of hell straight out of Hieronymus Bosch.

But if we were to turn Lewis’s argument upside-down or, rather, right side up given his skewed viewpoint it might go something like this:

If true, Moscow’s decision to step up support for Assad means that America and its Arab gulf partners will now have a harder time removing him after all. This raises fundamental questions about what U.S. strategy, if any, can succeed. Conceivably, America and its allies could admit defeat and go home. But “surrender” is not in the imperial lexicon.

Or the West could cooperate with Russia and Iran in organizing a power-sharing “unity government” in Damascus that would allow Assad to remain in office for the time being while adopting democratic reforms. Obama could also put the squeeze on Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the gulf states to stop the flow of money and weapons to Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and ISIS. That multinational cooperation might reestablish at least some stability inside Syria.

But that would require Washington’s foreign policy establishment both the neocons and the liberal interventionists to get down off their high horses and admit their “regime change” approach was wrongheaded and destructive. Instead, they will almost certainly respond by demanding that Obama match Moscow’s move and raise it one higher, more support for the anti-Assad rebels, up to and including Al Qaeda and perhaps even secretly aiding ISIS as well. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocons Urge Embrace of Al Qaeda.”]

The aim will not only be to topple Assad and the Baathists, but to bleed Russia the same way that U.S. and Saudi-backed mujahedeen bled the Soviets in Afghanistan (a strategy that destroyed a pro-Moscow secular regime in Kabul but also led to the rise of the Taliban and the formation of Al Qaeda). Likewise, in Syria, the human cost for upping the ante will be immense, but Washington’s vast corps of laptop bombardiers will tell themselves that it’s all Assad and Putin’s fault. These foreign policy pundits will feel good about themselves and more bellicose toward Russia.

No one knows where it will end, though one can bet that there will be many more dead Syrian children along the way as well as worsening instability reaching into Europe. But the U.S. attempts to counter the Russians will sound strategic both in Pentagon war rooms and Washington think tanks. As Madeleine Albright once said about the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to U.S. sanctions, the price in terms of toppling Assad will be “worth it.”

[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Climbing into Bed with Al-Qaeda.”]

Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).

39 comments for “Neocons Babble Over Syria Crisis

  1. September 18, 2015 at 23:49

    Thanks a lot for this innocent sentence: “The facts in Syria are otherwise.”

    In Syria. I seldomly had the pleasure to enjoy a literaric example of such dry sarcasm. Context is everything.

  2. Veritas
    September 18, 2015 at 14:30

    Lost me at 911. The towers were blown up, but by all means continue with the false narrative.

  3. Bianca
    September 18, 2015 at 14:26

    There are two things that come to mind. Question: what makes neoconservative psychopathy so durable, and now almost omnipresent in all the branches of government, media? We are seeing the consequences on foreign policy, but why are we not seeing the consequences to the cognitive restructuring of our population? All the cultural infrastructure of the country encourages — from the childhood onward — selfish, cruel, vulgar, arrogant and superficial attitudes. All the programming in the sphere of entertainment to the shaping of news and other features — from young to old — ridicule justice, conscience, and kindness. Those are reserved only in a faux obligatory endings of finding “bad guys”, while the body of the message practically glorifies the “bad guys” and their absence of any respect for human values. Why are we conditioned to laugh inappropriately, accept uncomfortable and slimy values as our own, out of fear not to fit, and unable to validate our discomfort? We are very, very far gone. Our cashier clerks today know all about “bad Putin”, or any other neocon-trumpeted issue — in not much different manner then our presumed intelligentsia? Neocon infiltration and outright humiliating auditions our politicians perform for the neocon money bags — we understand. But do we understand how a corrupting influence we have on future generations — from so called “youth culture” promotion under Disney Channel, to many other — one more vulgar then the other — outfits.

    Second thought is a reflection on one comment regarding future without empires — and what hope we have? I do not think that the hope comes from the enlightening of human mind, because if societies are led by psychopathic elite, the enlightenment will always give way to earning the daily bread, and succumbing to the mores of the time. No, I am convinced that only a conscious, and deliberate collaboration among countries can bring that about. Only setting up a system of relationships that is very different from what we have — may stand a chance. It will just have to be a more just world order, not a nirvana. It will have to respect diversity — in the sizes of countries, their cultures, different levels of development, and encourage collaboration and consultation — without forcing anyone to forcibly and drastically change who they are. To do this, it will require at least a few powers to get together, and model a new relationship. Lately I have taken a great deal of interest in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization — its charter, principles and practices over a period of 15 years. And what I see is very encouraging, very much indeed. Its expansion agenda was in keeping with the principles — for it is one thing to proclaim good intentions, and other to implement. What I like about it — it started with solving the problems between two giant neighbors — Russia and China. Sorted out border issues, and then expanded into collaboration within its nearest circle — Central Asia. There was no lack of problems there — and roughly from 2005 to 2010, SCO spent quietly resolving and strengthening relationships in the neighborhood. It focused on infiltration of militants from Afghanistan, and by today, the organization that had six permanent members, is now enlarged by another two with fundamentally same security and developmental concerns: India and Pakistan. I was very much intrigued by the stealth employed in developing projects, creating impression that China and Russia are in competition in the region — and then it turns out that it was pretty much a ruse — projects are coordinated from the start, and then rolled into a coherent whole. The most prominent are Russian initiative, Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), vs. various Silk Road projects led by China. After SCO conference in Ufa, Russia in July this year, it became clear that these are very much coordinated efforts, division of labor, if you will. EEU is a legal and tariff infrastructure connecting Pacific to Baltic, and by eliminating differences, cargo traffic can now traverse from China, across Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus, to EU border in Poland. Silk Road is a series of physical infrastructure, reconnecting former Soviet Central Asian infrastructure, upgrading and building new roads, rail and bridges, along with new towns, warehouses, and logistic centers for the myriad of interconnecting regional economies. It became clearer that EEU tariff infrastructure would be applied as it is an existing, and workable integrated solution. It is no coincidence that many other maritime countries are signing up to EEU as associate members, such as India and Vietnam, while many, many more expressed interest. Quietly, in the last few weeks, EEU and China established an economic alliance, as announced by US based Chinese channel, CCTV.

    As the organization has grown to incorporate most of the continental Asia, while economically incorporating those that are not members — I was curious to see how the principles work in practice. After all, it is easy to say that mutual trust is the basis of the relationship — and much harder to achieve it. It is also nice to say that diversity will be respected, independence of each country. It is easier said then done — to require consultation on all potentially controversial issues. But what I found out is that ONE principle actually has teeth: the principle of no harm. Unlike EU that dictates to its members what they can or cannot do — SCO does not. So, how does it work. If, say Kazakhstan is about to sign up a deal with US corporation, or any other SCO based corporation — the first order of business is to determine that there is no harm to another member. This is where consultation must occur. The outcome may range from some form of compensating benefit to the potentially harmed entity, and that ranges from the simple one on one arrangement, to a more complex harmonizing within SCO — with many other countries finding compromises. Again, solution can be found in modifying the contract, in giving a component of the contract to the harmed party, or even getting out of the deal altogether — if the only reason that company wants the deal is to EXPLICITY harm someone. In such cases various compensation packages are due for relinquishing the opportunity. But that is an extreme case. In most cases — common sense and business prevail, and accommodations are found. The only exception are semi-political efforts by some — especially energy — corporations that want to undermine Russian interests, and Russian-Chinese energy strategy. In that regard — Turkmenistan has been a case in point. It is clear that such a system will not overnight improve many shortcomings in internal politics of those countries: but by making a pledge not to interfere, there is a real benefit. The benefit is that national elites are not looking over their shoulders and bowing to the wind of external pressures — and can therefore evolve based on internal evolution. That guarantees stability, and stability guarantees economic development, and in the long run, positive developments. Even if for whatever reasons a country wants to clam up and hibernate — it may be for a good reason. Societies like humans, need a period of down-time, to digest internal changes and keep social stability and harmony. However, any development that would injure its neighbors, is in check by the organization. Inviting a foreign power to help put a new elite to power would isolate it in the region, and the dependence on the foreign factor for all of its income — over time becomes unsustainable.

    Organization has just ushered new members on the first-level entry basis: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Nepal and Cambodia. All the entrants are carefully picked — for the potential to resolve problems under SCO auspices, to the potential for connecting China, Laos and Cambodia in economic corridor. Nepal is a very important element in a step by step problem solving between China and India.
    What I see is — practice what you preach. If China and Russia were unable to solve their festering Cold War problems, they could not have expected it of Central Asia. But now, expanding into the areas claimed by EU in the form of Eastern Partnership — on one side, into the area claimed by US under Pivot to Pacific, on the other, it seems that one step has been very carefully placed ahead of the other. The model is decidedly anti-imperial, but is not devoid of leadership. For different initiatives, there are different leaders, different models of relationships, more organic and less standardized, more flexible and less bureaucratic. Nobody knows what the future holds, and how will this neocon led Truman Show end — but it is good to know that there are different modes of thinking, and that they are being more attractive to larger number of countries. Neocon conundrum is obvious on the question of South Korea, that just signed up Free Trade Agreement with China. Our conundrum grows, as ideologically SCO is taking a banner of protecting humanity against catastrophic deviant ideology that led to WWII — the ideology that our neocons seem to embrace in spite of their professed remembrance of Holocaust victims. Even bigger conundrum is Chinese clear and unambiguous link between Japanese slaughter of Chinese civilians to the very same Nazi ideology embodied in the alliance of the two. For much of the recent history, efforts are made to make US-Japan fight a separate entity, only remotely linked to Hitler. And to portray then US as the liberator of Asia from Japanese imperialism. China and Russia are now highlighting how the Nazi ideology was not an exclusive European affair — that Europe can then redefine to suit its new neocon-dominated reality. China and Russia are demonstrating the joint battles for the liberation of Manchuria, the part of history of WWII that has remained obscure on purpose — to isolate Hitler’s ideology of global dominance and exceptionality and superiority of European race, to Europe and its nearby regions. China is in many ways giving Japan an out — it was Hitler led ideology and the alliance between the two, that resulted in civilian carnage in much the same way as the deliberate program of exterminating Russian population under Hitler’s Germany resulted in millions of civilians dead. These parallels have multiple benefits — they are taking away the power of neocon controlled European establishment to rewrite the story of WWII and cast Soviet Union in the role of co-villain. They are taking away the inroads that Western media made in recent years of trying to convince Central Asian countries that they did not fight against evil Hitler, as he was not the danger to them — but have been merely forced by Soviet Union to participate in the slaughter of millions. As of July 2015, SCO has adopted resolutions of honoring the WWII victims — and giving them back the place of honor in their respective countries. A number of agreements are signed that would prohibit revisionism in history that dishonors the contributions of soldiers and civilians that perished. By attacking racism, supremacy, exceptionalism, and imperial expansionism that presumes the right to lord over other people and their destiny — is clear ideology that is applicable today in the conduct of many Western led wars, political interference, and economic debt based bondage.

    There are already, in the short two months following the decisions in Ufa, initiatives that make those principles real. For example, founded is an association of museums of WWII, cosponsored by Russia and China, to be headquartered in China. It will be open to all countries, and will sponsor exhibitions, international conferences, roundtables, research, and publishing. It will be linked with Universities across SCO — to further the research and expertise in the field.

    I also read that SCO is drafting a convention on extremism. It is one of the most important issues of our time — as I can without a shade of doubt point to our neoconservative machine as one of the ugliest forms of extremism that has like a cancer spread inside our institutions and the means of media control for purposeful cognitive dissonance and ultimate cognitive restructuring of American population.

    It is an epic battle against psychopathy and the common person’s conscience (as science puts it) or his/her soul (as faith puts it).

  4. Jomper
    September 18, 2015 at 07:04

    “If you believe this, then you might as well believe that the CIA wired the World Trade Center with explosives in order to provide George W. Bush with a pretext for the War on Terror.”

    Such a strange throwaway remark to make, disturbing the tone and impact of the entire article. When is the world going to wake up to the reality that it’s impossible to build even the simplest tower experiment nor the most complicated virtual tower model to experientially validate the official theory of the Twin Towers’ collapses? Does it not seem remarkable to anyone that this is impossible to achieve?

    As Richard Feynman said: if it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. And there are no tower collapse experiments to show how the destruction of the three towers on 9/11 could possibly happen in accordance with Newtonian Laws without a huge source of additional energy to gravity. You only have to look at the video footage to see that the towers exploded. What is the matter with people?

    • Jeff Davis
      September 18, 2015 at 15:54

      Truther fantasist.

      There was no nanothermite. There were no explosives. I’m a graduate of the University of California Berkeley in physics and mechanical engineering. The Truther conspiracy theories are junk.

      The 9/11 Commission report was a whitewash. On that point there can be no argument. The political class in Washington most certainly hangs together to prevent their club members from being held accountable when they screw up, which is often. The various individuals in power at the time turned their back on their duty to protect the United States – – we’re mostly talking about the Bush/Cheney cabal here – – but that is not the same as a US government conspiracy to take down the Twin Towers.

      And don’t bother me with the Engineers and Architects for 911 Truth. There are a thousand of them among a million US architects and engineers. Even among engineers and architects is not hard to imagine that one in the thousand will be so incompetent that they will not know the difference between their back side and a hole in the ground, particularly if the matter in question is outside of their very focused area of expertise. If you ever have need of an engineer or architect you would be well advised to ask them if they are a member of the architects and engineers for 9/11 truth, and if they say yes, to run away from them as fast as you can.

    • Jomper
      September 19, 2015 at 01:56

      When you can use your education to come up with even the simplest model of the towers and then cause it to crush itself to the ground under the force of gravity/momentum of a small upper section, I’ll believe you, Jeff. Until then I’ll be happy to point out that you need experimental verification for your assertions — which you completely lack — and side with Newton against you. You only need to look at the footage if the event to see that the towers were blown up. WTC 7 is even more obvious.

  5. Duglarri
    September 18, 2015 at 01:04

    The article is great as far as it goes, but it fails to go to the root of the Neocon problem: the talking points that are coming from Tel Aviv will never accept any peace that involves an intact Syrian army, let alone one that allows Assad to stick around. The point of the policy is to end any conceivable threat from any conceivable Syrian force for at least the next generation.

    Best of all, Syria might actually be depopulated so that Israel can expand northwards, fulfilling what seemed like ridiculous dreams only a few years ago. To the Euphrates? Who can say?

    And if the necessary massive flow of refugees from an ISIS victory were to destablize Europe, causing failed states there, such as Germany or France, the immediate prospect of the ruin of the EU would at least mean an end to the threat of European sanctions against Israel’s continued occupation, so that too is probably on the table as a convenient by-product of this war.

    So Israel has a strategic win-all-around going here, and is not likely to give it up any time soon. And their employees in the Neocon union will therefore continue to scream bloody murder at any rational approach to the crisis.

    We should at least be very clear about who is providing the script when they spout their homicidal nonsense. Because it’ll never stop until someone gets at the source.

  6. Joe L.
    September 17, 2015 at 12:22

    I think the most sickening part about all of this is the smoke and mirrors to blame anyone else but the United States for the tragedy occurring in Syria, and the greater Middle East. If the US truly cared about the Syrian people then it would have sat down in 2012-2013 for peace talks that Russia suggested and the crisis would most likely be over and ISIS would be nowhere near as large as it is now. I am also believe that Syria, much like many other nations, was a failed coup attempt by the US with funding since 2006. It was Wikileaks that revealed this in 2011 plus we also have speeches such as from US 4-star General Wesley Clark from 2007 (with information from before 9/11) of a US plan to overthrow the governments of 7 Countries in 5 years – Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, & Iran. This all falls in line with other US backed coups whether it be in Iran 1953 where the CIA funded protesters and opposition figures within Iran, the overthrow of Morsi in Egypt where USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy funded opposition figures and protesters, with a graduate of the School of the Americas pulling off a coup in Honduras 2009, US NGO’s funnelling $5 Billion into Ukraine since 1991 where “Ukraine was the biggest prize”, “Yats is our guy”, and we need to “midwife this thing” which resulted in the most obvious coup in history with an American who worked for USAID becoming Ukraine’s Finance Minister etc. The fact is that the US could care a less about the “freedom” and “democracy” of nations around the world, Duane Clarridge sums this up nicely in an interview with John Pilger about the US overthrowing the democratically elected Allende in Chile 1973 – https://vimeo.com/114561495 , otherwise it could never overthrow a democracy let alone support and install dictatorships all around the world.

    • Joe L.
      September 17, 2015 at 12:45

      I just wonder sometimes how much blood will it take to satiate the United States? No wonder we have embedded reporters and our media mainly only talks about our dead soldiers but never about the amount of civilians killed. Well once the US Empire falls or declines, I hope to God that will be the end of “Empire” in the world because whether it be the US Empire, British Empire, Russian Empire, Japanese Empire etc. it has proved detrimental for the world. No more Empires, no more Superpowers, no more Colonialism, no more Imperialism, no more Exceptionalism…

    • Brad Owen
      September 17, 2015 at 15:23

      Your last sentence tidily sums up the Zeitgeist quietly waiting off-stage. This Spirit is just about ready to be born into the hearts and minds of the people of the World, animating every aspect of human societies, displacing the wildly gyrating Dance of the fascistic “Imperial Zeitgeist” that’s been strutting It’s stuff in The West, for about fifteen hundred years now…and It’s finally starting to “peter out”. I’m quite optimistic for our future.

    • Brad Owen
      September 17, 2015 at 15:41

      OOPS. I meant two thousand years. How did I leave out Rome I (not to mention Rome II, Rome III, Rome IV, and the current “Western Empire”, Rome V).

    • Brad Owen
      September 20, 2015 at 09:08

      Joe L. Yes, agreed, the atrocious behavior displayed on mainstream media can be overwhelming…that’s what it’s meant to do. I no longer fall for it, avoiding “news shows” like it’s pure poison, haven’t since the nineties. I’ve trained myself to look where they don’t want me to look, trying to lead me AWAY from looking “over there”. Yes, Coywolf is dangerous, Nature is dangerous, Supernature is especially dangerous. It is very unfortunate that we children of Western Civilization, have been saddled with a cartoonish, Pollyannish, Imperially-sponsored, Cosmology, wherein we can just “skip-&-whistle down the sidewalk” into Heaven, as long as we “obey”. I suspect that, in a REAL Cosmology (such as what our ancestors explored for thousands and thousands of years B.C.), there’s some sh!# out there, in Supernature, that’ll kill you dead…and worse. THAT was the real basis for a protector, or guardian&guide, which got twisted into a Savior-for-all-times-and-places (which people actually treat like their own little “genie-in-a-bottle” whom they’ll actually scold for not granting every little narcissistic wish).

    • Joe L.
      September 17, 2015 at 16:00

      Brad Owen… I hope you are right about a bright future for mankind. Right now though we have no moral compass, no Martin Luther Kings. I remember hearing the MLK speech entitled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” and I think his speech rings true today and we could replace “Vietnam” with any number of countries or group them altogether and it would be true.

      “My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years – especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked – and rightly so – what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

      For those who ask the question, “Aren’t you a civil rights leader?” and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: “To save the soul of America.” We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

      O, yes,
      I say it plain,
      America never was America to me,
      And yet I swear this oath–
      America will be!

      Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.”

      http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/058.html

    • Mortimer
      September 17, 2015 at 19:28

      Bravo that comment.

      I love the part of MLK’s
      speech where he said —

      “A nation that spends more on materialism,
      militarism and racism
      is headed toward spiritual death… .”

      It seems to be app arently true… .

    • Brad Owen
      September 18, 2015 at 08:12

      I trust that, of (moral) compasses and (M.L.) Kings, there are many, working in the wings, just off-stage. They’ve lost the command of mainstream media…for now, but Nature (and “Supernature”, the only difference between the Two, being the limitations of our five ordinary senses) abhors a vacuum.
      Did you know there’s a new predator on the North American Continent?…the Coy-Wolf. Hybrid of the Grey Wolf and Eastern Coyote, born in the Algonquin Park area of Canada (probably as a survival tactic of Grey Wolves; mate with Coyote instead of killing Him). A new, improved version of Trickster’s favorite Totem animal. Smaller than the Wolf, larger than the Coyote, smarter than either of them, he’s an urban-suburban, top-of-the-line predator who’s learned to stealthily co-exist with humans. One of his primary prey animals are the huge flocks of Canada Geese that live in parks and on golf courses. Yes, humanity is NOT alone in this dark universe. Nature and Supernature fills in with what is necessary. This I trust. Trickster’s “Tom-Foolery” tests the mettle of humanity, exposing weaknesses and follies thereby, and setting up the wicked, unlawful Mighty for The Fall (or Knockdown).

    • Joe L.
      September 18, 2015 at 18:01

      Mortimer… I agree that the whole MLK speech is incredibly relevant even for today! Maybe Obama should listen to this speech…

      Brad Owen… Yes, I really do hope you are right but I have my doubts. I look at today and there is almost this supreme glorification of war from video games, movies, tv shows etc. The coverage of the Iraq War was perverse and was like watching the shopping channel talking about how great this plane is or how great this bomb is etc. I even look at around December of last year and “American Sniper” came out and I believe “Selma”, a story of Martin Luther King, came out around the same time. “American Sniper”, which to me was blatant propaganda, came out with rave reviews and was the top movie in theatres meanwhile Selma did not have the same audiences nor as much hype. I also look to the music industry today and where is today’s John Lennon. Where are the songs against war like “Fortunate Son”, “Imagine”, “War Pigs”, “Gods of War”, “Land of Confusion” etc. – I rarely see anything… I mainly just see gold chains, cars and women. Why was it that when people like Phil Donahue or Rosie O’Donnel or the Dixie Chicks denounced the war were they silenced by claims of being anti-American or unpatriotic – even though it turns out they were right. I want to have faith but often I see people more intrigued by the latest gadget or celebrity gossip then the countless people that have been killed at the other end of our bombs today. I am glad that people are migrating away from the mainstream media but, as Robert Parry has pointed out, you now have supposed “independent” bloggers or “independent” media being sponsored by US NGO’s to try to subvert information the same as the mainstream such as Elliot Higgins of Bellingcat! So I do want to have faith and I really hope you are right but I think the only way that things will change is if there is a counterbalance to us in the world and we no longer run the show so to speak… hopefully then we will come to our senses.

    • Joe L.
      September 18, 2015 at 18:07

      Brad Owen… I am also aware of the Coyote-Wolf hybrid in Eastern Canada. I believe one actually killed a girl in Nova Scotia or something like and is causing some havoc. I know that there is a documentary called “Bad Coyote” about this very subject but I have not seen it.

  7. Mortimer
    September 17, 2015 at 11:20

    Polls Show Syrians Overwhelmingly Blame U.S. For ISIS

    By Eric Zuesse
    17 September, 2015
    http://www.countercurrents.org

    The British polling organization ORB International, an affiliate of WIN/Gallup International, repeatedly finds in Syria that, throughout the country, Syrians oppose ISIS by about 80%, and (in the latest such poll) also finds that 82% of Syrians blame the U.S. for ISIS.

    The Washington Post summarized on September 15th the latest poll. They did not headline it with the poll’s anti-U.S. finding, such as “82% of Syrians Blame U.S. for ISIS.” That would have been newsworthy. Instead, their report’s headline was “One in five Syrians say Islamic State is a good thing, poll says.” However, the accompanying graphic wasn’t focused on the few Syrians who support ISIS (and, at only one in five, that’s obviously not much.) It instead (for anyone who would read beyond that so-what headline) provided a summary of what Syrians actually do support. This is is what their graphic highlighted from the poll’s findings:

    82% agree “IS [Islamic State] is US and foreign made group.”
    79% agree “Foreign fighters made war worse.”
    70% agree “Oppose division of country.”
    65% agree “Syrians can live together again.”
    64% agree “Diplomatic solution possible.”
    57% agree “Situation is worsening.”
    51% agree “Political solution best answer.”
    49% agree “Oppose US coalition air strikes.”
    22% agree “IS is a positive influence.”
    21% agree “Prefer life now than under Assad.”

  8. Mortimer
    September 17, 2015 at 11:05

    Why not give an ear to to guy we want to take down… ?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    16 September، 2015
    President al-Assad to Russian media outlets.. “We cannot implement anything unless we defeat the terrorism.. The army is the most important symbol for any society.”

    Damascus, SANA- President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to the Russian media outlets, following is the full text of the interview:

    http://www.sana.sy/en/p=54857

  9. Mortimer
    September 17, 2015 at 10:45

    If there’s anyone here interested in what Mr. Assad has to say ( in place of the obfuscation and biased “opining” we get from our media ) go here —

    http://www.sana.sy/en/?p=54857

  10. September 17, 2015 at 08:04

    This is an excellent article, with not a single line being objectionable. A few minor notions as a humble contribution:

    When Lewis writes: “…replace Bashar al-Assad with a figure who could rally moderate Syrians to restore a stable government…”, one has to ask, who this figure would be and how he or she would be chosen.

    When in 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Teheran millions of Iranians were on the street to enthusiastically welcome him. When Jean Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti in 2011, the streets of Port-au-Prince were full and people were climbing up trees, walls, and rooftops to get a glimpse of him. People were jogging along his motorcade, dancing and singing. When in 2002 Hugo Chavez returned to Caracas after the failed coup, thousands celebrated in front of the Miraflores palace, singing the national anthem and setting off firecrackers.

    How many Syrians would pour into the streets of Damascus to welcome a Western installed puppet?

    Lewis writes: “There are those who see Syria as a quagmire for Putin, a kind of matched pair to our own folly in Iraq.” One has to wonder, if the Iraq invasion is indeed regarded a folly by the US establishment. Bush, Rumsfeld, Powell, Cheney don’t feel remorse and would do it again for sure. For Haliburton, General Dynamics, Lockheed, Northrop, and other military contractors the Iraq war was a rousing success.

    One point could maybe have been emphasized more clearly: The USA has no business there and should leave Syrians alone. 1,200 military bases around the word should be enough to secure all strategic interests of the exceptional nation (to question these strategic interest, which center around resource exploitation, admittedly exceeds the scope of this article).

    The author writes: “Or the West could cooperate with Russia and Iran in organizing a power-sharing “unity government” in Damascus that would allow Assad to remain in office for the time being while adopting democratic reforms.”

    The White Mans Burden again.

    It may not be in the imperial lexicon, but the article could have been crowned with the suggestion of the most logical, simplest, and cheapest solution:

    Ami go home!

    • Bob Van Noy
      September 17, 2015 at 09:01

      “While Charlie Wilson’s war [in Afghanistan] helped popularize the idea of bleeding Moscow, I don’t think that can be the basis of U.S. policy either. The moral cost is far too high. Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old boy whose corpse washed up on a Turkish beach, was fleeing Syria’s civil war, as are hundreds of thousands of the refugees now in Europe. More than half of Syria’s 17 million people have been displaced. Bleeding Moscow means bleeding these people. It may sound strategic in a Pentagon war room, but not when children’s bodies wash up on shore.”

      The grand chess masters always leave The Alayn Kurdis out of the equation, in their haste to somehow prove their credibility. That is why the game always ends with a people’s revolution.
      The revolutionaries then are corrupted, and the new Game begins and brings forth new chess masters. I’m sick of it all, can’t we, just for once avoid that scenario?

    • John the Ba'thist
      September 22, 2015 at 20:25

      In1982, after the defeat of the Ikhwan rebellion (a previous attempt by the US and Israel to bring regime change in Damascus via a Sunni Islamist proxy-war) Bashar’s father was swept-up by the celebrating crowd and carried through the streets of the city on the people’s shoulders for two hours.

  11. F. G. Sanford
    September 17, 2015 at 07:57

    Invaders from 80 countries trained in Jordan, financed by Saudi Arabia, supplied through Turkey, treated in Israel…by what definition does this constitute a “civil war”?

    • Stefan
      September 17, 2015 at 08:27

      In the nasty cuckoo land of Neocons in Wonderland, any lie, slogan, subterfuge, arrogance and obfuscation goes.

  12. Peter Loeb
    September 17, 2015 at 06:13

    “OUR BASE NATION”—DAVID VINE

    This report was originally printed in :

    tomdispatch.com (under “archive, 9/13/2015) and
    was reprinted in the Nation of today.

    It provides an analysis of the background (aka :”context”)
    in which the so-called Russian “aggression” (“to wit “”the
    Russians are coming!”) in which the US now feigns its “shock”..

    Note as well the commitment together with ALL Members of the
    UN Security Council of the urgent need for SUPPORT for
    the “Assad Regime’s battle against “terrorists” and “foreigners”.
    This resolution passed the UN Security UNANIMOUSLY on
    22 February 2014.

    It is called: S/Res/2139(2014). (See especially point # 14.)

    You may or may not recall that Saudia Arabia refused to join
    the UN Security Council earlier.This has never happened before.

    Clearly the neocons would like everyone to forget this public
    commitment by the United States together with all the
    other security council members.

    Also unwanted is any information about at all about Syrians
    who choose to support the Assad regime. Any such intimation
    would, opf course, totally destroy the rightwing, neocon narrative.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  13. Paul Sch
    September 17, 2015 at 05:09

    Quote: “If you believe this, then you might as well believe that the CIA wired the World Trade Center with explosives in order to provide George W. Bush with a pretext for the War on Terror.”

    Well, we know that WTC 1, 2 and 7 were destroyed by pre-placed explosives using nano-thermite. What does that tell us about Bashar al Assad? Right, nothing.

    • quelconque
      September 17, 2015 at 08:59

      Precisely

    • Brisa
      September 17, 2015 at 12:58

      Look at the evidence and shed your 911 delusion. WAKE UP.

    • druid55
      September 17, 2015 at 14:35

      Right-you-are!

    • Chester Eaton
      September 17, 2015 at 15:52

      “If you believe this, then you might as well believe that CIA asset Usama Bin Laden downed 3 skyscrapers with 2 airplanes in utter defiance of Newtonian physics where the buildings collapsed at or at near free fall speeds while at the same time finding the additional energy to obliterate themselves into dust.” If you believe that, you’d better consider that maybe Allah really was on their side, because nothing short of miracle after miracle happened that day.

    • Jeff Davis
      September 18, 2015 at 15:07

      Truther whackadoodle. No nanothermite (which by the way is NOT at all explosive) and no explosives. Just fully-fueled jumbo jets — remember them? — smashing into the buildings.

    • Piotr Berman
      September 19, 2015 at 13:50

      Some folks are not aware that energy is energy, and a jumbo jet at the start is packed with an enormous amount of energy. A ton of airplane fuel has roughly the same amount of energy, or more, than a ton of explosive. This energy can create temperatures of a metal smelting oven, crumbling concrete and softening steel. And the towers did not collapse instantly, but after a pretty long infernal fire.

      And to be picky, Newton physics does not tell much about properties of fuels, explosives and building materials, but MIT experts know all of that and they published a convincing report.

      OTOH, there is a psychological need to explain events in terms of “power” as something that “powerful people” exercise. Thus it is easier to believe that apartment buildings in Tambov were exploded on Putin orders than on orders of some obscure terrorist, that Shin Beth created Hamas (I guess they tolerated Hamas for a while) and Assad created ISIS, Shin Beth + CIA exploded World Trade Center and so on and so on.

    • Zachary Smith
      September 20, 2015 at 23:36

      Wonderful post!

  14. September 17, 2015 at 01:00

    It hurts to know some things beyond the lies that our politicians give us.

    • Mortimer
      September 17, 2015 at 10:34

      Epsy, is that you?! The very knowledgeable guy from the defunct Debate Both Sides forum?
      I hope so… .

  15. Yaridanjo
    September 17, 2015 at 00:56

    israel nuked Syria twice during 2013 and tried to do it two more times, but Obama had the USN shoot down the sub launched missiles. Russia almost hit Israel with nukes then.

    The Russians will be less hesitant this time. It won’t be as easy as the IDF sniping children now.

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=658_1442427622

    • September 17, 2015 at 16:14

      We cannot tolerate in this world a superpower hijacked by a criminal group, neocons, ziocons, neoliberals, a rose by any other name.

      An open declaration of war against the Cancerous Parasites, treasonous traitors is needed to save America from itself.

      Go Putin!

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