Blocking Democracy as Syria’s Solution

Exclusive: The long-cherished neocon dream of “regime change” in Syria is blocking a possible route out of the crisis  a ceasefire followed by elections in which President Assad could compete. The problem is there’s no guarantee that Assad would lose and thus the dream might go unfulfilled, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

The solution to the crisis in Syria could be democracy letting the people of Syria decide who they want as their leaders but it is the Obama administration and its regional Sunni “allies,” including U.S.-armed militants and jihadists, that don’t want to risk a democratic solution because it might not achieve the long-held goal of “regime change.”

Some Syrian opposition forces, which were brought together under the auspices of the Saudi monarchy in Riyadh this past week, didn’t even want the word “democracy” included in their joint statement. The New York Times reported on Friday, “Islamist delegates objected to using the word ‘democracy’ in the final statement, so the term ‘democratic mechanism’ was used instead, according to a member of one such group who attended the meeting.”

Secretary of State John Kerry at a press conference on Dec. 4, 2015. (State Department photo)

Secretary of State John Kerry at a press conference on Dec. 4, 2015. (State Department photo)

Even that was too much for Ahrar al-Sham, one of the principal jihadist groups fighting side-by-side with Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, the two key elements inside the Saudi-created Army of Conquest, which uses sophisticated U.S.-supplied TOW missiles to kill Syrian government troops.

Ahrar al-Sham announced its withdrawal from the Riyadh conference because the meeting didn’t “confirm the Muslim identity of our people.” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has sought to maintain a secular government that protects the rights of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other religious minorities, but Sunni militants have been fighting to overthrow him since 2011.

Despite Ahrar al-Sham’s rejection of the Saudi-organized conference, all the opposition participants, including one from Ahrar al-Sham who apparently wasn’t aware of his group’s announcement, signed the agreement, the Times reported.

“All parties signed a final statement that called for maintaining the unity of Syria and building a civil, representative government that would take charge after a transitional period, at the start of which Mr. Assad and his associates would step down,” wrote Times’ correspondent Ben Hubbard.

But the prospects of Assad and his government just agreeing to cede power to the opposition remains highly unlikely. An obvious alternative favored by Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin is to achieve a ceasefire and then have internationally supervised elections in which the Syrian people could choose their own leaders.

Although President Barack Obama insists Assad is hated by most Syrians and if that’s true, he would presumably lose any fair election the U.S. position is to bar Assad from the ballot, thus ensuring “regime change” in Syria, a long-held goal of Official Washington’s neoconservatives.

In other words, to fulfill the neocons’ dream of Syrian “regime change,” the Obama administration is continuing the bloody Syrian conflict which has killed a quarter million people, has created an opening for Islamic State and Al Qaeda terrorists, and has driven millions of refugees into and through nearby countries, now destabilizing Europe and feeding xenophobia in the United States.

For his part, Assad called participants in the Saudi conference “terrorists” and rejected the idea of negotiating with them. “They want the Syrian government to negotiate with the terrorists, something I don’t think anyone would accept in any country,” Assad told Spanish journalists, as he repeated his position that many of the terrorists were backed by foreign governments and that he would only “deal with the real, patriotic national opposition.”

Kinks in the Process

Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters on Friday that he was in contact with senior Saudi officials and noted, “there are some questions and obviously a couple of in our judgment kinks to be worked out” though expressing confidence that the problems could be resolved.

A key problem appears to be that the Obama administration has so demonized Assad and so bought into the neocon goal of “regime change” that Obama doesn’t feel that he can back down on his “Assad must go!” mantra. Yet, to force Assad out and bar him from running in an election means escalating the war by either further arming the Sunni jihadists or mounting a larger-scale invasion of Syria with the U.S. military confronting Syrian and now Russian forces to establish what is euphemistically called “a safe zone” inside Syria. A related “no-fly zone” would require destroying Syrian air defenses, now supplied by the Russians.

Obama has largely followed the first course of action, allowing Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other Sunni “allies” to funnel U.S. weapons to jihadists, including Ahrar al-Sham which fights alongside Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front as the two seek to transform Syria into a Islamic fundamentalist state, a goal shared by Al Qaeda’s spinoff (and now rival), the Islamic State.

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, has termed Obama’s choice of aiding the jihadists a “willful decision,” even in the face of DIA warnings about the likely rise of the Islamic State and other extremists.

In August 2012, DIA described the danger in a classified report, which noted that “The salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISI or ISIS and then the Islamic State] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” The report also said that “If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared salafist principality in eastern Syria” and that “ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”

Despite these risks, Obama continued to insist that “Assad must go!” and let his administration whip up a propaganda campaign around claims that Assad’s forces launched a sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013. Though many of the U.S. claims about that attack have since been discredited and later evidence implicated radical jihadists (possibly collaborating with Turkish intelligence) trying to trick the U.S. military into intervening on their side the Obama administration did not retract or clarify its initial claims.

By demonizing Assad much like the demonization of Russian President Putin Obama may feel that he is deploying “soft power” propaganda to put foreign adversaries on the defensive while also solidifying his political support inside hawkish U.S. opinion circles, but false narratives can take on a life of their own and make rational settlements difficult if not impossible.

Now, even though the Syrian crisis has become a tsunami threatening to engulf Europe with a refugee crisis and the United States with anti-Muslim hysteria, Obama can’t accept the most obvious solution: compel all reasonable sides to accept a ceasefire and hold an internationally supervised election in which anyone who wants to lead the country can stand before the voters.

If Obama is right about the widespread hatred of Assad, then there should be nothing to worry about. The Syrian people will dictate “regime change” through the ballot box.

Democracy supposedly one of the U.S. government’s goals for Middle East countries can be the answer to the problem. However, since democracy can be an unpredictable process, it might not guarantee “regime change” which apparently makes democracy an unsuitable solution for Syria.

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 barnesandnoble.com).

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34 comments for “Blocking Democracy as Syria’s Solution

  1. Andrew X
    December 17, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    Saudi Arabia is fueling the Syrian “revolution” with the intent of turning it into another Sunni Islamic state. The US has bought into this plan because it sees the benefit of ousting the pro-Russian Assad who allows the Russians to maintain a naval base in the country. For the US (and to all the NATO nations), the Cold War has never ended, and Russia is still the adversary. Wake up people. Russia communism died 25 years ago. Russia may not be allowing Jack in the Box and Starbucks and Goldman Sachs to overrun the country, but that doesn’t mean the Russians aren’t our allies. The enemy is radical jihadists; DAESH, AL Nusra, Hezbollah, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood,…..and yes, Israel is also our ally.

  2. Paddo
    December 16, 2015 at 4:43 am

    Kerry would be far more credible if we weren’t all focused on his absurd wig….

  3. jimbo
    December 13, 2015 at 8:54 am

    This bit from the newest Paul Craig Roberts rings the truest re this whole mess: “The Western peoples are so dimwitted that they have not yet understood that the “war on terror” is, in fact, a war to create terror that can be exported to Muslim areas of Russia and China in order to destabilize the two countries that serve as a check on Washington’s unilateral, hegemonic power.” http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2015/12/12/quarterly-call-for-donations-and-new-column/

  4. Call A Spade
    December 13, 2015 at 6:07 am

    Everyone is waking up slowly it will take time but the end will come fore those that deceive.

  5. WG
    December 13, 2015 at 1:11 am

    Think back to the successful 2006 elections in the Gaza Strip. George Bush couldn’t fathom that Hamas could win and didn’t block their participation in the election.

    After Hamas won, Fatah was likely pressured not to participate in the new government, the US did everything they could to overthrow the new Hamas government. They did wonderful things like blocking aid and assistance, imposing sanctions against government officials, endorsed and enabled Israeli violence, and sealed the borders blocking travel of ordinary Palestinians.

    Let’s get real, the US doesn’t do democracy, it hasn’t for decades.

    • Mortimer
      December 13, 2015 at 11:09 am

      WG — “They did wonderful things like blocking aid and assistance, imposing sanctions against government officials” …

      It’s the same tactic used in Syria –train and arm factions to war against the standing gov’t in order to create a “civil war”.

      Excerpt:

      Elliot Abrams’ Uncivil War
      07.01.2007

      Is the Bush administration violating the law in an effort to provoke a Palestinian civil war?

      While those closest to him now concede the Abrams’ words were issued in a moment of frustration, the “hard coup” talk was hardly just talk. Over the last twelve months, the United States has supplied guns, ammunition and training to Palestinian Fatah activists to take on Hamas in the streets of Gaza and the West Bank. A large number of Fatah activists have been trained and “graduated” from two camps — one in Ramallah and one in Jericho. The supplies of rifles and ammunition, which started as a mere trickle, has now become a torrent (Haaretz reports the U.S. has designated an astounding $86.4 million for Abu Mazen’s security detail), and while the program has gone largely without notice in the American press, it is openly talked about and commented on in the Arab media — and in Israel. Thousands of rifles and bullets have been poring into Gaza and the West Bank from Egypt and Jordan, the administration’s designated allies in the program.

      The Abrams program was initially conceived in February of 2006 by a group of White House officials who wanted to shape a coherent and tough response to the Hamas electoral victory of January. These officials, we are told, were led by Abrams, but included national security advisors working in the Office of the Vice President, including prominent neo-conservatives David Wurmser and John Hannah. The policy was approved by Condoleezza Rice. The President then, we are told, signed off on the program in a CIA “finding” and designated that its implementation be put under the control of Langley. But the program ran into problems almost from the beginning. “The CIA didn’t like it and didn’t think it would work,” we were told in October. “The Pentagon hated it, the US embassy in Israel hated it, and even the Israelis hated it.” A prominent American military official serving in Israel called the program “stupid” and “counter-productive.” The program went forward despite these criticisms, however, though responsibility for its implementation was slowly put in the hands of anti-terrorism officials working closely with the State Department. The CIA “wriggled out of” retaining responsibility for implementing the Abrams plan, we have been told. Since at least August, Rice, Abrams and U.S. envoy David Welch have been its primary advocates and the program has been subsumed as a “part of the State Department’s Middle East initiative.” U.S. government officials refused to comment on a report that the program is now a part of the State Department’s “Middle East Partnership Initiative,” established to promote democracy in the region. If it is, diverting appropriated funds from the program for the purchase of weapons may be a violation of Congressional intent — and U.S. law.

      Of course, in public, Secretary Rice appears contrite and concerned with “the growing lawlessness” among Palestinians, while failing to mention that such lawlessness is exactly what the Abrams plan was designed to create. “You can’t build security forces overnight to deal with the kind of lawlessness that is there in Gaza which largely derives from an inability to govern,” she said during a recent trip to Israel. “Their [the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority] inability to govern, of course, comes from their unwillingness to meet international standards.” Even Middle East experts and State Department officials close to Rice consider her comments about Palestinian violence dangerous, and have warned her that if the details of the U.S. program become public her reputation could be stained. In fact, Pentagon officials concede, Hamas’s inability to provide security to its own people and the clashes that have recently erupted have been seeded by the Abrams plan. Israeli officials know this, and have begun to rebel. In Israel, at least, Rice’s view that Hamas can be unseated is now regularly, and sometimes publicly, dismissed.

      http://www.conflictsforum.org/2007/elliot-abrams-uncivil-war/

    • Mortimer
      December 13, 2015 at 11:22 am

      (Please tell me this isn’t a cunningly crafted conspiracy.)

      http://www.conflictsforum.org/2007/elliot-abrams-uncivil-war/

    • Peter Loeb
      December 14, 2015 at 7:43 am

      WHILE WE DISCUSS SYRIA AND ISIS AND…

      With thanks to many of the commenters above it
      deserves repetition that…

      Each and every day more Palestinian homes are
      demolished , more Palestinians are shot dead, more
      Israeli oppression is cheered on in the US and West
      because Israel “has a right and an obligation
      to defend itself.”(Obama). All this continues
      daily with international impunity. And amid
      international silence.required for survival
      of our “free” press for failing that their
      ability to obtain further employment.is in jeopardy….

      My Dad, a political functionary, used to say
      “He is an SOB but he is OUR SOB!”

      Those like Israel who are OUR SOB’s are
      empowered to do whatever they want.
      And they do.

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  6. F. G. Sanford
    December 13, 2015 at 1:04 am

    Bless her soul, I can’t help but wonder what kind of questions Helen Thomas would be asking today if she were still around.

    “Mr. President, you keep saying Assad must go, but you never tell us why he must go. Are you saying that he is more evil than the Saudi or the Iranian dictators? Or the Bahraini or Qattari dictators?

    “Mr. President, a U.S. Treasury spokesman recently claimed that ISIS is selling oil to Assad, but multiple sources confirm they are selling it to Turkey and Israel. Can you elaborate on the motives behind these fictional statements by a member of your cabinet?

    “Mr. President, the self-proclaimed Caliph al-Baghdadi, head of ISIS, is rumored to have sustained wounds in a recent raid. Sources claim he then received medical treatment in Turkey, a NATO ally, which then assisted in spiriting him off to a secure safe-haven in Sirte, Libya. Was that a humanitarian gesture, or are our allies aiding the enemy?

    “And a follow-up question, Mr. President, Israeli soldiers have been observed rescuing wounded Salafist Jihadi fighters in order to provide emergency medical attention. Is that also a humanitarian gesture?

    “Mr. President, sources report that Qattar obtained Russian made weapons from Ukraine, then used them in an attempted false-flag attack on Syrian Army targets. Their communications were intercepted by the Russians and exposed. Does this action expose Victoria Nuland to potential war crimes accusations, or is the Ukrainian regime simply a loose cannon on the world stage?

    “And a follow-up question, Mr. President. Prime Minister Yatsenyuk recently attempted to address the Verkhovna Rada, but another elected official reportedly grabbed him by the testicles and removed him from the podium. A fist fight broke out, and no planned government reforms were addressed. Does your administration continue to support the legitimacy of the Ukrainian government?

    “Mr. President, Hillary Clinton recently made the false claim that ISIS had established a presence in Gaza. Can you shed any light on what might motivate her to make such an outrageous claim?

    “Mr. President, a gun used in the recent Paris attacks has been linked to CIA arms smuggling front corporation Century Arms. Does the recent effort to extract al-Baghdadi from Syria with the help of our Turkish allies represent an effort to keep him from talking if he were captured by the Russians?

    “Mr. President, questions still persist regarding the 2000 vote count in Florida and the 2004 vote count in Ohio. How could the Syrian people have faith in “democratic measures” if they look to the American example? A recent secret meeting of Republican power-brokers sought to prevent primary voters from electing the candidate of their choice. Would Syrian candidates be chosen by the same American back-room secret methods?

    “And one last question, Mr. President. Reports indicate that when Russian jamming systems were energized in Syria recently, British, American, Turkish and Lebanese air traffic had to cease because their air traffic control was completely disabled. This is rumored to have extended to the British airfields on Cypress. Does this concern you at all?

    “Thank you, Mr. President.

    • Abe
      December 13, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      […] are social media and traditional journalism operating under the same ground rules? I put that question to several veteran reporters who have covered the White House while witnessing pronounced changes in the journalistic model of the news business.

      “What happens with social media reporting is that because it’s so instant and it’s supposed to be so instant, the necessity of fact-checking and source-checking is not there and there is no assumption that it should be there,” says Victoria Jones of Talk Radio News. So if an error is not caught quickly enough, Jones cautions, “the mistake can go viral and the correction may never get picked up.”

      Alexis Simendinger, White House correspondent for RealClearPolitics, notes that “the siren song of Drudge … encourages a really rapid assimilation of the material in the video.” Simendinger, who has made the transition from print to online journalism herself, adds that this temptation can run roughshod over the traditional — and safer — practice of allowing a seasoned editor to review the content for accuracy before it is launched on the web. “First impressions are everything,” she observed. “The first flush of information, however … unfair or incomplete … is the entirety of what most people know about it.”

      Disturbed by the lessons of the Thomas and Sherrod videos, I pitched an idea to the Newsmaker Committee at the National Press Club to hold a press event on social media standards. The club subsequently held a panel discussion composed of journalists and communications specialists, including W. Joseph Campbell (author of “Getting It Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism”); C-SPAN Communications Director Howard Mortman; Christian Science Monitor staff writer Linda Feldmann; and Politico reporter Patrick Gavin.

      The panelists concluded that social media can be a force for good if reporters who base stories on tweets, Facebook postings and YouTube videos follow traditional journalism standards. Mortman said C-SPAN uses tweets constantly in concert with its mission “to provide all voices access to policy and to give people a chance to talk back.” Campbell added, “Social media is democratizing media.”

      Nonetheless, Gavin — a prolific tweeter for Politico — warned journalists who use tweets for stories to be “very, very careful” about getting false information from 140-character-limit messages that are being sent to them in rapid-fire succession. Feldmann noted that “journalism is the rough draft of history, and blogs and tweets are the rough draft of the rough draft.”

      To the surprise of the panelists and reporters, Helen Thomas showed up for the discussion. This time she was a guest in the audience. Feldmann turned the tables on Helen at the end of the discussion, asking her what she thought of new media. The retired White House reporter shot back, “I don’t see how you can operate without an editor. Anyone with a computer thinks they’re a journalist nowadays.”

      I couldn’t help but smile at that answer. Thomas, whether you admired her for speaking her mind or condemned her for it, managed to have the final say on the state of modern journalism. Only this time, she expressed her strong opinion at a public forum that was open for sound and camera.

      There is no taking back what Helen said in the 42 seconds of a video posted on YouTube, but those weren’t her last words on that hot late-spring day. She ended her conversation on the North Lawn the way she began it — by encouraging two young people to enter the profession she loved: “Go for journalism. You’ll never regret it.”

      42 Seconds That Sullied Helen Thomas — and New Media
      By Paula Cruickshank
      http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/07/31/42_seconds_that_sullied_helen_thomas_–_and_new_media_119431-2.html

    • Abe
      December 13, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      Helen Thomas (4 August 1920 – 20 July 2013) was an American reporter who worked for the Hearst News Service, as a dean of the White House press corps, as a White House correspondent, and King Features Syndicate columnist. Thomas covered every President of the United States from John F. Kennedy Barack H. Obama II. Perhaps her most famous quote is “Thank you Mister President.” This is how practically every presidential news conference was traditionally ended for over 40 years, from Kennedy to Clinton, and the honor was reserved for Helen Thomas to say. The tradition was started by UPI’s Merriman Smith during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 2003, the George W. Bush administration put an end to this tradition.

      “peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.” — Helen Thomas

    • Joe Tedesky
      December 14, 2015 at 12:44 am

      Mr President, do you think it was a blow to our freedom of speech, that when Helen Thomas got Briebarted that her honest off the cuff response to her interviewers question should have cost her, her job? Also, Mr President, why was Ms Thomas’s remarks considered crossing a line? Is there a law, that now by questioning Israeli policies used against the Palestinians is unlawful? Thank you, Mr President, I look forward to your reply.

    • Abe
      December 14, 2015 at 3:48 pm

      Helen Thomas on Her Resignation and the Middle East
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2M1Qo83CoGU

    • Abe
      December 14, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      HELEN THOMAS: “It would be pitiful if we took his answer truthfully, because he said, ‘I didn’t want to speculate.’ Well, the president is not supposed to speculate as to who has nuclear arms or not. He’s supposed to know.”
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3Oz8M_FnV4

      President Obama had his inaugural Helen Thomas question at his first press conference.

      Thomas’ question, asking President Obama to name all the countries in the Middle-East that have nuclear weapons, was avoided by the President, who claimed to not want to “speculate”.

      Thomas affirmed that knowledge of Israeli nukes is very public in DC and Obama’s answer showed a lack of credibility. She explained the importance of this question for U.S. policy in the region. Finally, she confided that she had not been called on by the President since that day, but that if she were to be called upon, she would ask him whether or not he has found any more information about nukes in the Middle-East since their last encounter.

  7. Abe
    December 12, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    It should go without saying that the internal political processes of a sovereign country belongs to the people of that country, and no-one else. Nevertheless, as Washington insists on a prerogative to determine who can or cannot lead another country, some background on Bashar al Assad and the political reform process in Syria might be useful.

    We find little reasonable discussion of either, in western circles, after the Islamist insurrection of 2011. Instead, the wartime discussion descended into caricatures, conditioned by ‘regime-change’ fervour and bloody war, of a bloodthirsty ‘brutal dictator’ mindlessly repressing and slaughtering his own people. None of this helps sensible or principled understandings. Fortunately, there are a range of Syrian and independent sources that allow us to put together a more realistic picture […]

    The June 2014 Presidential elections were the most authoritative indication of support for Bashar al Assad. Even though the great institutional advantage of the incumbent made this more of a hybrid of plebiscite and election, his support in the first competitive Presidential elections in decades was clear and fairly consistent with other estimates […]

    The Syrian President enjoys more than two-thirds popular support in the country. This reality is not really challenged by Bashar’s institutional advantage. Support for the Syrian Army is probably higher than that for the President, while that for the Ba’ath Party is lower. The combined data confirms the idea that a range of non-Ba’ath parties and social forces rallied to the President during the crisis.

    We can see from the earlier reform statements (in particular the 2005 Damascus Declaration) the reasons why most of the domestic opposition did not join in armed attacks on the state. Most of them backed the state, against the foreign-backed sectarian terrorism. The major exception to this was the Muslim Brotherhood and other smaller Salafi groups. They were not concerned about any sort of democracy, looking instead for their own version of a religious state. For that, once again, they needed and sought foreign military assistance.

    America’s “Dirty War on Syria”: Bashar al Assad and Political Reform
    By Prof. Tim Anderson
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/americas-dirty-war-on-syria-bashar-al-assad-and-political-reform/5492661

  8. December 12, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    The Syrian crisis has indeed become a tsunami, with possible consequences far more dangerous than the European refugee crisis and the US anti-Muslim hysteria.

    Is this still about Syria and Assad, or has this morphed into the opening of WW III, where Russia and China, the last obstacles to complete world dominance by the USA plus allies and vassals, have to be destroyed?

    British, German, French, US fighter jets and troops are gathered at Incirlik and Diyarbakir base. Spain has Patriot missiles in Turkey, Denmark and Germany are sending war ships to the Mediterranean Sea. Are they fighting terrorists or protecting Turkey from Russia?

    Turkish troops are near Mosul and Turkish jets bomb PKK Kurds in northern Iraq. Iraq’s ultimatum to withdraw the Turkish troops in 48 hours is ignored, President Erdogan says that a withdrawal is “out of question.”

    Do US experts indeed renovate the Abu Hajar airport in Syria’s Hasakah province?

    Turkey deployed an ASELSAN Koral electronic jammer system at the border to counter the Russian Krasukha-4 jamming system. An Israeli jamming system has reportedly blinded Russian radar when the Israelis bombed Hezbollah positions.

    US jets attacked a Syrian army base in Ayyash, Deir Ezzor Province, and three soldiers died. Is this a first provocation to test Russia’s reaction?

    Will Turkey close the Bosphorus?

    When will the nuclear option come into play?

    The USA and Russia are both modernizing their nuclear arsenals. Some 200 nuclear warheads are stationed in the NATO members Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, and Turkey.

    20 new B61-12 nuclear bombs were brought to the Luftwaffe’s Buchel Air Base. Th B61-12 is a dial-a-yield bomb from 0.3 to 50 kilotons with GPS aided tail kit, which can be used as a tactical nuclear weapon.

    Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Republican presidential contender, hints at the use of tactical nuclear bombs, saying: “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.” This is nothing new, Dick Cheney in 1991 was considering the use of tactical nukes against Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard.

    Did Israel use a tactical nuclear bomb in Yemen on May 20 and before in Khiam, during the 2006 war against Hezbollah?

    Russian President Putin reminds the West, that Russia is also a nuclear power:

    “We know that high-precision weapons can be equipped with both conventional warheads and with special warheads, that is, with nuclear warheads. Naturally, in the fight against the terrorists, we hope that is something that will never be needed.”

    The Russian military reports, that in 2015 it has received 35 new intercontinental ballistic missiles and two new nuclear-powered submarines equipped with intercontinental ballistic missiles.

    The missile regiment of the Kozelsk unit equipped with the improved Yars ballistic missile system has been put on full combat alert.

    Will we be able again to avert armageddon? Will we be as lucky as we were in October 1962?

    Should we forget about global warming and rather prepare for a nuclear winter?

    Am I just a naive victim of baseless scaremongering?

    • Abe
      December 12, 2015 at 8:01 pm

      Will nuclear winter be marketed as a solution for global warming?

      • Fat, dumb & happy American
        December 13, 2015 at 5:05 pm

        Will they have a “going out of business sale” for America, Inc.?

      • David Smith
        December 14, 2015 at 2:16 pm

        Awesome comment, Abe. I have been thinking the same for a few years now, but I can’t bear to hold the thought for long……

    • Abe
      December 12, 2015 at 8:15 pm

      The United States and NATO militaries now function as proxies for their own proxies.

      How post-postmodern.

      • WG
        December 13, 2015 at 5:24 am

        All that’s missing is to google ‘yo dawg meme generator’ and immortalize the following…

        Yo dawg I heard you like proxies

        So I became a proxy for my proxy to fight your proxy

      • WG
        December 13, 2015 at 5:26 am

        All that’s missing is to google ‘yo dawg meme generator’ and immortalize the following…

        Yo dawg I heard you like proxies

        So I became a proxy for my proxy to fight your proxy

  9. Abe
    December 12, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    A 2013 analysis of conflicts of interest in the Syria debate identified numerous defense industry ties of experts and think tanks who commented on military intervention.

    As unnamed US official sources are now claiming that ISIS is developing chemical weapons, those same experts and think tanks are back with a vengeance.

    As reported by the Public Accountability Initiative:
    http://public-accountability.org/2013/10/conflicts-of-interest-in-the-syria-debate/

    During the public debate around the question of whether to attack Syria, Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to George W. Bush, made a series of high-profile media appearances. Hadley argued strenuously for military intervention in appearances on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and Bloomberg TV, and authored a Washington Post op-ed headlined “To stop Iran, Obama must enforce red lines with Assad.”

    In each case, Hadley’s audience was not informed that he serves as a director of Raytheon, the weapons manufacturer that makes the Tomahawk cruise missiles that were widely cited as a weapon of choice in a potential strike against Syria. Hadley earns $128,500 in annual cash compensation from the company and chairs its public affairs committee. He also owns 11,477 shares of Raytheon stock, which traded at all-time highs during the Syria debate ($77.65 on August 23, making Hadley’s share’s worth $891,189). Despite this financial stake, Hadley was presented to his audience as an experienced, independent national security expert.

    Though Hadley’s undisclosed conflict is particularly egregious, it is not unique. The following report documents the industry ties of Hadley, 21 other media commentators, and seven think tanks that participated in the media debate around Syria. Like Hadley, these individuals and organizations have strong ties to defense contractors and other defense- and foreign policy-focused firms with a vested interest in the Syria debate, but they were presented to their audiences with a veneer of expertise and independence, as former military officials, retired diplomats, and independent think tanks.

    The report offers a new look at an issue raised by David Barstow’s 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times series on the role military analysts played in promoting the Bush Administration’s narrative on Iraq. In addition to exposing coordination with the Pentagon, Barstow found that many cable news analysts had industry ties that were not disclosed on air.

    If the recent debate around Syria is any guide, media outlets have done very little to address the gaps in disclosure and abuses of the public trust that Barstow exposed. Some analysts have stayed the same, others are new, and the issues and range of opinion are different. But the media continues to present former military and government officials as venerated experts without informing the public of their industry ties – the personal financial interests that may be shaping their opinions of what is in the national interest.

    This report details these ties, in addition to documenting the industry backing of think tanks that played a prominent role in the Syria debate. It reveals the extent to which the public discourse around Syria was corrupted by the pervasive influence of the defense industry, to the point where many of the so-called experts appearing on American television screens were actually representatives of companies that profit from heightened US military activity abroad. The threat of war with Syria may or may not have passed, but the threat that these conflicts of interest pose to our public discourse – and our democracy – is still very real.

  10. Abe
    December 12, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    Syria will not negotiate with terrorists to end the conflict on their terms, no matter how hard the West tries to present armed gangs as grassroots political opposition, the country’s President Bashar Assad told Spanish News Agency EFE.

    The problem, Assad says, lies with the fact that large portion of armed fighters and terror gangs in Syria are foreign mercenaries, which the US and their allies in the Gulf region are craving to include in the negotiation process.

    “Opposition is a political term, not a military term. So, talking about the concept is different from the practice, because so far, we’ve been seeing that some countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United States, and some western countries wanted the terrorist groups to join these negotiations. They want the Syrian government to negotiate with the terrorists, something I don’t think anyone would accept in any country,” Assad told EFE.

    At the same time, Assad once again reiterated that his government is always open for negotiations with the real opposition – but emphasized that opposition must be defined.

    “Opposition, for everyone in this world, doesn’t mean militant,” Assad stressed. He said that Damascus is already engaged in dialogue with certain armed “groups, not organizations”, so they would lay down their arms in exchange for “amnesty from the government” and a chance to return to “normal life.”

    “This is the only way to deal with the militants in Syria. Whenever they want to change their approach, give up the armaments, we are ready, while to deal with them as a political entity, this is something we completely refuse,” Assad clarifies.

    An agreement on a peaceful resolution to the crisis, according to Assad, can only be reached with the “real, patriotic, national opposition” that has grassroots in and related to Syria, “not to any other state or regime in the world.”

    In Syria “more than 100 nationalities” have united with the government in their fight with the extremists, including Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra. Fighting these jihadi groups in the long term should focus on tackling“Wahabi” militant ideology of Islam, Assad said.

    “The ideology, something that’s been instilled in the minds of the people or the society in the Muslim world for decades now, because of the Wahabi institutions, because of the Saudi money that’s been paid to support this kind of dark and resentful ideology,” Assad said.

    “Saudi Arabia and Turkey and Qatar are the main perpetrators in the atrocities of ISIS,” he stressed.

    https://www.rt.com/news/325690-syria-negotiate-terrorists-assad/

  11. Slogans are cheap
    December 12, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Poroshenko must go.
    Yats must go.
    Erdogan must go.
    Salman must go.
    Obama must go. (And take Biden with him.)

    See how that works?

    • December 12, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      obama will go … in January 2017, but the replacement will only pick up where obama left off. what needs to go is the zionist influence in the whitehouse, congress, and the u.s. supreme court. when the u.s. electorate votes in favour of a president, and congress that will remove the zionist influence from u.s. politics, there will be a rise in “terrorism,” perhaps even assassinations … but with a more conscious, vigilant citizenry, the trespasses will not go unpunished. the hammer of u.s. “shock n’ awe” will fall where it should have fallen back in November of 2011 … about 10 degrees longitude east of Baghdad.

      • December 13, 2015 at 1:36 am

        I must amend my comment …
        that is “10 degrees longitude WEST of Baghdad.”

      • December 13, 2015 at 1:37 am

        I must amend my comment …
        that is “10 degrees longitude WEST of Baghdad.”

    • Herman
      December 12, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      Why keep Assad from running for office?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_presidential_election,_2014

      However tainted the elections may have been, and it would be surprising if they were 99.9% pure, the numbers suggest there is reason for those who want regime change to worry.

      He needs to be removed because he will win any fair election.

    • Peter Loeb
      December 13, 2015 at 6:50 am

      ASSAD MUST STAY….

      “But the prospects of Assad and his government just agreeing to cede power to the opposition remains highly unlikely. An obvious alternative – favored by Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin – is to achieve a ceasefire and then have internationally supervised elections in which the Syrian people could choose their own leaders….”
      –Robert Parry, above

      There is no reason whatsoever for Assad to hold any “election” or to
      “compete”. The process of elections and their manipulation by the US and
      the west is in too many cases (a majority?) a means by which the US
      and its “allies” remove governments it does not like.”

      The Government of Bashar Assad is the Government of Syria. America
      and as such it should be supported according to the letter and spirit in
      the spirit of many resolutions, most recent S/Res/2249(2015) of
      November 20, 2015 which was ratified unanimously.

      Realistically, this will not happen. The American people and its
      so-called “allies” and the west (eg EU) have swallowed the
      demonization of Syria and Russia whole. And, of course,
      America has never been wrong. Never!

      There doesn’t need to be any “transition” whatsoever.
      When all terrorist government and foreigners invading
      Syria have been “withdrawn” (defeated) there will be
      a possibility for the US to–as many have said—“work with
      the Arab governments themselves.” The US should
      work in each and ever case to support the Syrian Government.

      See also S/Res/2139(2014), point # 14 (page 4 of the document)

      —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

      of the UN Security Council

      • Joe Tedesky
        December 14, 2015 at 12:15 am

        Great comment Peter. What drives me crazy, is how (by the MSM reporting) there are many Americans who buy what their U.S. Government is selling. Such, as Iraq has WMD’s, Gaddafi is evil, Assad must go, all Muslims are terrorist, and the list goes on, and on. You know the ignorance to all of this, has a direct link to how the American media purposely paints this type of picture, too be consumed by the average everyday American person. I wish more Americans would start questioning all of this American waged war, if for no other reason other than America has been at this for fourteen years. Maybe more than that if you throw in Desert Storm. I use to believe the lies that were fed to me, until eventually I seriously started to wonder, for how bad would it have to be for a person to blow themselves up over a cause. Yes, I stopped buying the idea about the seventy two virgins, and got busy reading as much as I could, in order to get a better view. You Peter, always lend something to the debate, that is worth researching, or worth contemplating. Thanks for that.

        • Peter Loeb
          December 15, 2015 at 8:14 am

          PREPARING FOR THE NEXT INVASION

          It is (not) comforting to hear on the radio that
          President Obama has sent his Secretary
          of Defense to meet with Saudi Arabia in Saudi
          Arabia (our”client” and another invader of Syria whose
          “independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty”
          we yearly reaffirm in rhetorical US ratifications of UN
          Security Council resolutions.

          Why not disengage from Saudi Arabia and give
          all our support to the Government of Syria in its
          battle of ISIS?

          The reason must be that the US feels it is
          much more important to defeat Assad than to
          defeat ISIS.

          During these days, weeks and months we can
          easily discern Washington’s progress toward
          a full-fledged invasion. The markings of our
          invasion are palpably clear as many writers
          and commenters have so often pointed out.

          —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

          • Joe Tedesky
            December 15, 2015 at 10:45 am

            This isn’t hard to figure out. Saudi Arabia and Israel own the U.S., and the U.S. owns Europe. The U.S. should ally with Russia and China, and do good things together, to make the world a better place.

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