US Hawks Advance a War Agenda in Syria

Exclusive: The U.S. government, having illegally sent American troops into Syria, is now threatening to attack the Syrian military if it endangers those troops, an Orwellian twist that marks a dangerous escalation, explains Daniel Lazare.

By Daniel Lazare

War, like politics, is filled with surprises. While the focus in Syria has been on a U.S.-backed rebel offensive in Aleppo that has succeeded in turning tables on Bashar al-Assad’s government, a new and unexpected flashpoint has developed 200-plus miles to the east where U.S. jets are engaged in a dangerous showdown with Syrian warplanes near the city of Hasakah.

The trouble began on Wednesday when, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Kurdish forces advanced on the pro-government National Defense Forces that controls portions of the city. When the NDF responded with arrests, the fighting took off.

President Barack Obama walks through the Rose Garden to the Oval Office following an all-appointees summer event on the South Lawn, June 13, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama walks through the Rose Garden to the Oval Office following an all-appointees summer event on the South Lawn, June 13, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This is not the first time that Kurdish and government forces have clashed in Hasakah, which is divided among Kurds, Arabs, Aramaic-speaking Assyrians, and a small number of Armenians. But what makes the latest confrontation so serious is that the U.S. quickly upped ante by scrambling two F-22 fighters to intercept a pair of Syrian Su-24s bombing Kurdish positions.

NBC News reported that the jets came within a mile of one another on Thursday and were in visual contact before the Syrian aircraft left the scene. U.S. jets chased away two more Su-24s the next day as well.

Noting that the Kurdish units are part of a U.S.-backed coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Forces and that U.S. Special Operations forces were in the area at the time, Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis, a Navy captain, said that the U.S. was resolved to protect the safety of both.

“We view instances that place coalition personnel at risk with the utmost seriousness” he declared, “and we do have the inherent right of self-defense when U.S. forces are at risk.”

“As we’ve said in the past,” he added, “the Syrian regime would be well-advised not to interfere with coalition forces or our partners.”

Such statements are little less than Orwellian since the United States has essentially invaded Syria by inserting military forces without Syrian government permission in violation of international law. What Davis was saying, therefore, is that the U.S. will prevent Syria from protecting its own forces on its own soil, which was rather like the Wehrmacht condemning Poland for daring to defend its own territory in September 1939.

A Pro-War Establishment

The upshot is the latest example of how Washington’s vast pro-war foreign-policy establishment continues to get its way despite President Barack Obama’s efforts to limit military involvement in the Middle East. Establishment of a no-fly zone in northern Syria has long been a neocon priority. Indeed, Hillary Clinton, a neocon favorite at this point, reiterated her call for a no-fly zone as recently as April during a televised debate with Bernie Sanders.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Obama has opposed a no-fly zone because it would draw the U.S. into a direct conflict with the Assad government and likely its Russian and Iranian backers as well. But now with the U.S. promising to continue patrolling the skies over Hasakah, he finds himself backing into a no-fly zone regardless.

The confrontation begs the question of who is really calling the shots with regard to Syria, the President or well-placed hawks whose specialty is maneuvering the White House into doing their bidding.

It also raises the question of the role of the Clinton presidential campaign. The White House is obviously coordinating closely with Clinton’s campaign headquarters, and with prospects of a landslide victory that will give Democrats control of both houses of Congress plus the presidency, the stakes couldn’t be higher. But since a quick and easy victory over Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies would vindicate the neocon position, the issue is whether pro-Hillary forces are pulling strings to make events in Syria go her way as well.

This is not conspiracy mongering but simply the way policy in Washington is made. Hawks and doves are constantly jockeying for advantage with Obama standing haplessly in the middle. Moreover, the hawks seem to be winning since U.S. foreign policy has turned distinctly more robust since the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in late July.

Around the time that retired four-star Marine General John Allen was warning America’s enemies, “You will fear us,” and Gold Star parent Khizr Khan was telling Trump to go home and read the Constitution, Obama gave Ashton Carter, his interventionist Secretary of Defense the go-ahead to bomb ISIS positions in Libya.

On July 31 – three days after Clinton gave her acceptance speech – Syrian rebels led by Al Nusra, the local Al Qaeda affiliate, launched its powerful offensive in Aleppo.

Whether or not Washington OK’d the offensive – citing reports of massive arms shipments to the rebels, the well-informed Moon of Alabama website argues persuasively that it did – there is no doubt that it encouraged and helped coordinate a powerful propaganda campaign that has followed in its wake.

Omran Daqneesh, the dazed and dirt-encrusted five-year-old boy who has become “a symbol of Aleppo’s suffering,” according to The New York Times, is one example of how the campaign has borne fruit. Lina Sergie Attar’s powerful Aug. 13 Times opinion piece, “Watching My Beloved Aleppo Rip Itself Apart,” was another, while the rabidly anti-Assad Guardian has hardly let a day go by without running a heart-rending tale about this or that horror that Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin have visited on Syria’s civilian population. (Examples here, here, and here.)

U.S. Media on the Bandwagon

Context, balance, and plain accuracy have fallen by the wayside as various media outlets hop on the pro-war bandwagon. Why, for example, focus on one the fate of one child in rebel-held eastern Aleppo when the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the mainstream media’s favor go-to source for Syrian casualty figures, reports that virtually the same number of civilians have died from random rebel shelling of government-held western Aleppo as from Syrian or Russian aerial bombardment in the east, i.e. 163 versus 162?

U.S.-backed Syrian "moderate" rebels smile as they prepare to behead a 12-year-old boy (left), whose severed head is held aloft triumphantly in a later part of the video. [Screenshot from the YouTube video]

U.S.-backed Syrian “moderate” rebels smile as they prepare to behead a 12-year-old boy (left), whose severed head is held aloft triumphantly in a later part of the video. [Screenshot from the YouTube video]

While trumpeting the fate of Omran Daqneesh, who was shaken but apparently not seriously hurt, why has The New York Times failed to report the plight of 12-year-old Abdullah Issa, whose throat was slit last month by members of a U.S.-backed rebel force known as Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zinki because he had allegedly fought on the government side?

“We are even worse than ISIS,” the fighters bragged before finishing the boy off. Yet even though the entire gruesome image was caught on video, the “paper of record” has refused to report a single word.

The same goes for Lina Sergie Attar’s stirring Times op-ed. Although it invokes the infamous 2013 Queiq River massacre to describe the suffering that Assad has heaped upon the people of Aleppo, it fails to mention that the slaughter was most likely the work of Al Nusra. Why spoil a good story with the facts?

Much the same can be said for Hasakah where The Wall Street Journal blandly reported that “Syrian government bombers had been striking Kurdish positions near the city of Hasakah, where the U.S. has been backing Kurdish forces in the fight against Islamic State,” also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.

Since the U.S. is battling the Islamic State, the quintessence of evil, its role must be above reproach while the Syrian government is plainly up to no good.

Nonetheless, the questions continue to multiply. If U.S. military personnel are helping the Kurds battle ISIS, why are the Kurds fighting with pro-government forces instead? Since the Syrian Observatory says they started the fight, did the Americans do anything to restrain them or call them off? Or did they encourage them to attack in order to provoke a wider conflict? What, moreover, happens if the U.S. ends up downing a Syrian plane? Clinton will cheer. But what happens if Russia decides to join in the fray?

Making Clinton Happy

A happy romp in the skies over Hasakah would serve the Clinton campaign well. It would show that toughness pays, as Clinton has repeatedly argued. But the trouble with war is that it is rarely goes according to plan.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Indeed, the Syrian conflict grows more complicated by the day. Syria and Russia are battling ISIS, Al Nusra, and other Islamist groups while the U.S. is battling ISIS as well while indirectly aiding Al Nusra by channeling arms to allied Islamist groups with which it shares weaponry and coordinates battlefield tactics. The U.S. has so far steered clear of conflict with Assad, although Hasakah may signal a change of heart.

Turkey’s megalomaniacal President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, opposes ISIS but supports Al Nusra outright – “it should not be considered as a terrorist organization” since it opposes Islamic State, he declared in a recent interview – but reserves his real enmity for the America’s Kurdish allies.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are battling Assad in Hasakah but at the same time fighting alongside Assad’s forces against U.S.-backed rebels in Aleppo. China has declared its support for Assad and has even sent military advisers to help his regime in its fight with the rebels, thereby introducing yet another explosive element into the mix.

This is more intervention than one small country can handle, and tripwires are therefore multiplying. Obama’s aggressive actions in Hasakah may help Clinton against Trump but they could all too easily blow up in the administration’s face. War, indeed, packs just as many surprises as politics.

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


58 comments for “US Hawks Advance a War Agenda in Syria

  1. Louis Proyect
    August 28, 2016 at 18:32

    So sad to see Daniel Lazare turn into a clone of Zero Hedge, Global Research,, Moon of Alabama, Inforwars, et al. When he writes about anything else except talking points, he is not only rational but worth reading.

  2. Keepitsimple66
    August 25, 2016 at 20:35

    “We view instances that place coalition personnel at risk with the utmost seriousness” he declared, “and we do have the inherent right of self-defense when U.S. forces are at risk.”
    What a pompous ass to say “self-defense” while illegally trying to overthrow a country. This person should be locked up.

    August 23, 2016 at 00:24

    Unfortunately the Hawks has no brain, they are blind about the new geopolitics in the world. They seem to deliberate ignore that a multipolar world is inevitable. Both China and Russia and even Iran has expressed their sickness about Washington Imperialist behaviour. Until now Russia has refrained to use more sophisticated weaponds. For example they can use their S-400 to protect any Syrian or Russian combat aircraft, and from this point we could see a further scalation.

    The USA must be told to get out of Syria, that could be done by the United Nations Security Council meeting convocation. All of the chaos in which the middle east has descended is solely the hawks dirty job, they are a danger even for the Americans, all of their military adventures are paid with people’s taxes.

    Finally I would like to add that the purpourtely chage of one of the terrist groups, say Al-nusra, was just to save them by including into the so-called moderates. The same who beheaded a young palestinian boy

  4. Zachary Smith
    August 22, 2016 at 21:28

    Noting that the Kurdish units are part of a U.S.-backed coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Forces and that U.S. Special Operations forces were in the area at the time, Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis, a Navy captain, said that the U.S. was resolved to protect the safety of both.

    “We view instances that place coalition personnel at risk with the utmost seriousness” he declared, “and we do have the inherent right of self-defense when U.S. forces are at risk.”

    “As we’ve said in the past,” he added, “the Syrian regime would be well-advised not to interfere with coalition forces or our partners.”

    When I first read about this I concluded that Obama has already begun to defer to the desires of the person who will “continue his legacy”. Hillary couldn’t have been any better represented by this belligerent crap if she’d said it herself.

    A nation which has no legal right of ANY kind to be in Syria is threatening the legal government there with military action because that legal government is defending itself against US-supported thugs, goons, and head-choppers.

    It’s really beyond disgusting – it’s frightening.

  5. August 22, 2016 at 21:15

    So we are getting news of all these suspicious DNC-related deaths, even with rewards attached, (thanks for the info., yonatan) ( and the NYT comes out with a Sunday front-page story this week about strange deaths in Russia. Let’s hope they send investigative reporters out post-haste to get onto the more compelling mystery here at home.

  6. mikegilli
    August 22, 2016 at 19:33

    Oh come on.. so now you support Assad’s right to Rule after 5 years massacring and torturing his own people and still claiming he will wipe out all but his minority sect. Of course we oppose US policy, but in this case they are ironically supporting the SDF Rojava revolution who are the only progressive ( and even feminist!) movement in the entire Middle East, and the only rebels successfully defeating ISIS., which the Hassakah regime offensive, and Turkish bombing are designed to stop..

    • jdd
      August 22, 2016 at 21:11

      You know very little about Syria, where all religions are protected, but I will point out that the true “Syrian opposition” rests in its diverse parliament. Someone who picks up a kalishnikov to fight his government is a terrorist, not a “rebel.” If, as you say, Assad has been “massacring and torturing his own people,” perhaps you can explain why his support did not long ago collapse, as did so easily the Shah’s, for example. No, if the Assad government falls it will be ISIS, or whatever it has morphed into, that will rule in Damascus, just as happened in Hillary’s and Obama’s Libya. And it would be a catastrophe for civilization.

  7. Tom Welsh
    August 22, 2016 at 12:20

    It is absolutely appalling to realize how often American political campaigns have brought about wars, revolutions, murders and subversion in countries that have hardly anything at all to do with the USA.

    It’s appalling because so much terrible harm is caused so lightly and arbitrarily. So that a politician can get a few sound-bites that make her sound “hard”, thousands of people die horribly.

    It’s even more appalling, if that’s even possible, in what it reveals about the nature and thoughts of the people responsible. They have no more concern or empathy for their victims than they would have for a nest of ants.

  8. J'hon Doe II
    August 22, 2016 at 11:36

    “War Agenda” is a misnomer – Genocide is the realistic term for what we’re doing in the Middle East. Profitable Mass Murder.

    This rain of destruction was made possible by the material and moral support of the United States, which supplied most of the bombers, bombs, and missiles required for the aerial onslaught. (Admittedly, the United Kingdom, France, and other NATO arms exporters eagerly did their bit.) U.S. Navy ships aided the blockade. But no one that I talked to in Washington suggested that the war was in any way necessary to our national security.

    The Obama Administration was already bent on expanding arms sales as part of its drive to boost exports, and now manna fell from heaven. Shocked by their poor performance against the Houthi guerrillas, the Saudis embarked on a massive weapons-buying spree.

    At the top of their shopping list were eighty-four specially modified Boeing F-15 jets, along with around 170 helicopters. They also purchased a huge quantity of bombs and missiles — notably, 1,300 cluster bombs sold by the Textron Corporation at a cost of $641 million. Fortunately for Textron, neither the United States nor Saudi Arabia had endorsed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a 2008 treaty already signed by more than one hundred nations, which banned these weapons on the grounds that they caused “unacceptable harm” to civilians.

    This enormous deal totaled $60 billion: the largest arms sale in U.S. history.

  9. Tom Welsh
    August 22, 2016 at 09:27

    “The confrontation begs the question of who is really calling the shots with regard to Syria, the President or well-placed hawks whose specialty is maneuvering the White House into doing their bidding”.

    It’s an interesting – and profoundly worrying – commentary on the US Constitution and the degree to which it is, or is not, implemented that we are told a private group like this can push the US government into a possible war with a thermonuclear power that could annihilate the USA within minutes.

    If the President, assisted by his executives and the Congress, cannot keep Americans safe from the ultimate man-made disaster – thermonuclear war – what use are they? And how can the USA be described as a democracy?

  10. Joe L.
    August 21, 2016 at 23:17

    Well I just read that China is recently providing aid and training to Syria (on the BRICS Post). I just believe more and more that we are on the wrong side of history in the Middle East. It is also frustrating to know that years before there was a conflict in Syria that US 4-star General Wesley Clark was speaking of a US plan to overthrow 7 countries in the Middle East – Syria included. So what now, is the US coalition willing to kill Russians, Iranians, Syrians etc. in our illegal campaign and will that draw the Chinese into the conflict as well? Well if WWW3 starts in Syria, I can honestly say that I will not be blaming our “enemies” but our own governments. Or maybe these wars are a sign of the decline of the American Empire? I truly do hope that we are seeing the end of the American Empire, and hopefully Empires in general. Endless war for profit is just pure evil and cannot, and should not, be the path forward for the 21st Century.

  11. August 21, 2016 at 20:14

    This article comes close to spilling the beans: the US (and Israel) created ISIS and support these other groups. They are funded by the US and the Gulf states.

  12. ltr
    August 21, 2016 at 19:11

    Forgive this aside, but what does an article like this mean? The comments to this seemingly conjectural article, which is scary enough, are even more scary:

    August 20, 2016

    More of Kremlin’s Opponents Are Ending Up Dead

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 21, 2016 at 21:14

      Itr, I too read that article, and came away wondering to how true it could be. Articles like the one published in NYT, are always hard to deal with since the truth to who’s behind these deaths is like watching another elusive UFO show, which never provides any smoking gun conclusion. Although I will read such articles, I don’t buy that much into it, since there is nothing concrete to buy into. So because I don’t buy into these type of stories in any determinable way, it is good for Hillary Clinton that I don’t add these kind of stories towards her resume, when equating the strengths and weaknesses of a celebrated politician. This nature of mine is disappointing, and it scares the hell out me to have been inflicted with the ‘James Comey Syndrome’… Is there a doctor in the house?

      • ltr
        August 21, 2016 at 21:40

        I appreciate the response, but the article and comments are meant to be intimidating and smack of a McCarthyism that people around the Democratic candidate are surely stoking. Leading Democrats evidently really do want a Cold War, according to the words they use.

      • ltr
        August 21, 2016 at 21:42

        Sorry, but I will not read the essay on the Democratic candidate. I do not ever deal in such reading, which is why I am so shocked by the NYTimes report.

      • F. G. Sanford
        August 22, 2016 at 03:17

        Joe, it’s very frustrating to be unable to read comments from others unless we submit one ourselves. I saw yours, then couldn’t find it again. Glad you mentioned UFOs. Hillary is even courting the “Full Disclosure” crowd, perhaps egged on by John Podesta. UFOs are a psy-op dating back to the late forties. A careful study of the issue reveals government/intelligence community promotion of this fraud on every level. Rather than hiding anything (there isn’t anything to hide), various government agencies have waged a proxy campaign to encourage belief. Mark Felt (“Deepthroat”) was involved in the Maury Island UFO incident, and Guy Bannister was involved in another episode which I believe took place in the midwest. At every turn of events, someone with a “security clearance” turns up to lend credibility to this nonsense. Of course, real whistleblowers would end up in jail, but not these guys! Hollywood has pushed it beginning with, “The True Story of Flying Saucers” in 1956. If you’re into old radio broadcasts, the “Long John Nebel Show” on WOR New York (available on Youtube) covered these stories extensively beginning in about 1952. All of the same UFO issues discussed today were being discussed then, including the nonsensical idea of “Full Disclosure”. In 1952, they were claiming that the government would probably have to reveal what it knows “within the next five years”. By 1957, there were still no “disclosures”. There won’t be any in 2017, either, but that won’t stop Hillary voters from believing that there’s a “there” there!

      • Joe Tedesky
        August 22, 2016 at 11:07

        Believing there are UFO’s is one thing, but believing that Hillary Clinton is progressive is another.

        Read this;

    • ltr
      August 21, 2016 at 21:35

      August 20, 2016

      More of Kremlin’s Opponents Are Ending Up Dead

      Mysterious deaths and close calls have some opposition figures worried that political murder is resurgent in Russian foreign policy.

      [ Continuing, this article is mere conjecture but along with the comments reflects a hatred of Russia that I would never have imagined possible. Completely lunatic comments, so much so that writing any mild dissent is too scary to entertain. ]

      • ltr
        August 21, 2016 at 22:06

        Reading the article again and a few more comments, the article is conjecture with a bent to slander and the comments show me what McCarthyism must have been like in the 1950s. Terrifying stuff, but how can this be undone when the staff of the Democratic candidate is encouraging such antipathy?

        How could Russians be so subject to prejudice? Well, we manufacture peoples for whom disdain is due now and again. Iraq? Vietnam?

      • John
        August 21, 2016 at 22:25

        Take a couple deep breaths….you’ll be okay. Question. Did the world come to an end when the north Vietnamese ran all foreign occupiers from their country ? The north Vietnamese were considered an evil force that must be disposed of. Think of all the people who died for really no reason ……except profit……Now that is both pathetic and terrifying….

      • dahoit
        August 22, 2016 at 09:56

        The ziomonsters hate the Russians for being bad hosts to their fifth column activities.
        Historical hatred by wacko creeps,who are subverting our own democracy with their obvious agent HRC.

    • Yonatan
      August 22, 2016 at 05:57

      It means the US are desperately trying to distract people from the fact that they created, armed and support terrorists in Syria.

      Strangely enough, a number of people in the US who blew the whistle on Hilary Clinton have ended up dead.

      • RHarwell
        August 23, 2016 at 08:55

        The list is long for those connected to the Clintons who have died mysteriously/violently/cases unsolved. Those who didn’t were ruined professionally and financially. Last count 90 plus and 47 plus dead violently.

    • David G
      August 22, 2016 at 16:17

      I skimmed the Times article. Three reactions:

      • The Times has lost so much credibility on Russia issues that no informed person will take an article like this at face value. Even if it is, or were, basically true, the Times has fouled itself as a source.

      • I did notice that the article plays up the Magnitsky story. On that, see:

      • An assassination campaign by the Kremlin against domestic opponents would be unfortunate, but peripheral to the “Russian aggression” that we are supposed to be so terrified of. Thus, without context, such an article is propagandistic even if accurate (which I’m not saying it is).

      • LongGoneJogn
        August 23, 2016 at 13:27

        So where can we see that Magnitsky film? Surely it has to be out there somewhere?

      • David G
        August 23, 2016 at 21:41

        I really don’t know. It seems pretty well supressed.

      • stinky rafsanjani
        August 23, 2016 at 22:11

        does putin maintain a “kill list”?

        does putin operate a fleet of drones used to
        assassinate people in foreign countries who appear
        to maybe look a little suspicious from 6000 miles
        away on video?

        does putin authorize the execution of his
        country’s citizens without trial or appeal?

        if hillary wins…………

    • August 23, 2016 at 12:51

      NYT aint a newspaper its a propaganda machine just like the Guardian and all other western news outlets. They all make Goebbels look like a real journalist. NONE MORE HOPLESSLY ENSLAVED THAN THOSE WHO BELIEVE THEY ARE FREE Quote from Goethe. How this is so true of our so called western democracies, when anybody with any grey matter can easily see we r living in a CORPORATE STATE. The title to Mussolini’s manual on modern day FASCISM. Hitler was so inspired by it he went on to write Mien Kemp.

  13. John
    August 21, 2016 at 18:37

    Excellent observations !!

    America….is it time to take the trash out to the curb….yes ? no ?

  14. ltr
    August 21, 2016 at 17:05

    Especially important essay, for which I am grateful.

  15. August 21, 2016 at 16:21

    The war party has completely taken over because there is no where else to make money.

    War is the health of the state.

  16. August 21, 2016 at 15:59

    Maybe Obomber should become a whistleblower! Something tells me, though, that he will continue to go along to get along. Call that resistance if you must.

  17. Tristan
    August 21, 2016 at 15:25

    There are so many foreign interests making war by proxy or directly in Syria that the chances of this blowing up into a conflict of major world wide dimensions are increasing daily. The U.S. is operating illegally in Syria, funding terrorists in the greater middle east, supplying weapons to all, while claiming to seek peace. We know the kind of peace the U.S. likes, a peace that is subsumed by the goal of a policy of a state of constant war where weapons aplenty are sold by U.S. arms manufacturers to any and all who seek peace by warfare.

    Yes, Orwell was correct in his writings; we are now post Orwell. This unnatural state of affairs is nothing more than the culmination of human endeavors where greed and power have been elevated to religious deification, we seek to dominate, hold others in our grasp, if nothing other than for a moment, as power, however fleeting is the drug of the moment and it is in the moment that Washington’s power players live, for if not now, when? Let’s do another line and stay up all night!

    • jdd
      August 22, 2016 at 20:43

      The Russians do not see this as a “proxy war,” as President Putin has repeatedly called for a US-Russian united front, going back to his address to the UN General Assembly last October, where he compared it to the US-USSR alliance to defeat Hitler. While the Obama-Clinton camp are increasingly embracing Al-Queda, which it knows was excluded from Kerry-Lavrov cease fire, the remarkable diplomatic coup by President Putin to gain Turkey’s commitment to oppose ISIS, as well its implicit acceptance of Iran’s role, may be a turning point from which the barbarians and their allies in the White House, Riyadh and London may not recover.

  18. Exiled off mainstreet
    August 21, 2016 at 12:48

    The US backed element have done the killings mentioned by the apologist for imperialism above. This post points up the danger the corrupt system is leading us into. It is also deplorable that the press has degenerated into a chearleader for what could be the final destruction. The Guardian seemed to be neutered when MI5 came in and smashed its mainframe. The lack of trust in it by its former readers may hopefully lead to its demise unless it now has access to regime financial sources. The story of the boy has been exposed as a likely propaganda initiative in Moonofalabama and elsewhere. The photographer apparently was present both in the photograph of the boy and in the photograph of the beheading. One also has to wonder whether the kurdish element is now being manipulated by the yankee imperium so it can have its war.

    • Kiza
      August 22, 2016 at 09:27

      I wrote about two years ago that nothing good would come out of US training Kurdish YPG. It is the same old rouse, the same one as with US weapon supplies – give them to the “moderates” to end up in the hands of Al Qaeda and ISIS. I always believed that the US will train the Kurds against ISIS but will end up using them against Syrian Government. Of course, all of this is because of Israel.

  19. james
    August 21, 2016 at 12:29

    you point out the legality of us forces. how about the legality of a madman killing over a quarter million of his own people? how about holding everybody accountable for their own actions, including the US?

    • Tannenhouser
      August 21, 2016 at 14:19

      The illegal nature of USG actions is extensively documented. The madman murdering a quarter million of his own remains in the Wag the dog pile, yes?

    • John Puma
      August 21, 2016 at 14:56

      The nerve of that bastard Assad! Doesn’t he know that killing HIS people is the exclusive right of Exceptional-stan!?!

    • Bart Gruzalski
      August 21, 2016 at 15:13

      That’s a good idea. Hold everyone responsible. Would Clinton still have her maniacal laugh when she saw how many children and woman we’ve killed with drones? Maybe she would. She seems to be a madwoman.

      I’m checking out your statistic of of a madman killing over a quarter million of his own people.

      Till then, yes, each country needs to be held responsible for the people they’ve killed.

      Does that mean we’d be held responsible for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Neither of those events were necessary for ending the war.

      • John E. Reuter
        August 21, 2016 at 21:32

        The debate on whether the bombs dropped on H & N were necessary to “end the war” has endured for decades and will continue to be vigorously debated for decades to come among scholars, historians and good people with strong opinions. It’s likely that the outcome will result in a hung jury no matter how many times the issue is argued between those who feel compelled to address it. Regardless, those bombings have no relevance to the essay here other than to suggest that indeed America is bogged down in a quagmire that has of late morphed into deadly quicksand slowly sucking America deeper into its suffocating muck.

      • b.grand
        August 21, 2016 at 23:59

        Killery would still kakkle, no question,

        Didn’t she bring Madeleine Albright (the “it was worth it” supporter of Bill Clinton’s killing 500,000 Iraqi children by sanctions) to the DNC convention and numerous campaign events? Shameful flaunting of cold and calculated policy of genocide. A few drone murders? Small potatoes.

      • jdd
        August 22, 2016 at 20:29

        There is no “moral equivalency” here.The US and its allies, which now openly includes Al-Nusra, are fighting a war of aggression on behalf of barbarism, therefore an unjust war, and a Nuremburg crime. The government of Syrian is fighting on its own territory against a rebellion, created and maintained by foreign forces and thus definition cannot be an aggressor.It is defending civilization from the barbarians and as a small country would have been defeated long ago were it not solidly behind its leadership. Would you also hold one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, responsible for the 700,000 deaths caused by the Confederate rebellion which was aided and encouraged by Great Britain and France?

      • stinky rafsanjani
        August 23, 2016 at 12:01

        ah, so it’s aye-oh-kay to use nukes if necessary “to end a war?”
        we really “needed” to vaporize 100,000 humans….so, um…ok.
        i’m sure hillary’s lawyers can put together a memo stating same
        in short order. all legal, then.

        as to the quarter million dead……that is apparently the current
        running total of both sides. note a huge percentage of casualties
        come from syrian armed forces. no matter,…of course all blamed
        on assad.

    • Stephen Sivonda
      August 21, 2016 at 22:47

      James, it seems to me that you’ve got a lot of research and reading to do, as your assertion is off the mark. You don’t see the big picture…and what reality is in the world as far as US hegemony is concerned. Oh…all the madmen ,and women are in our Govt.,

  20. Michael
    August 21, 2016 at 12:20

    “…who is really calling the shots with regard to Syria, the President or well-placed hawks…”

    Commander in Chief indeed. Ha Ha.

    • Bart Gruzalski
      August 21, 2016 at 14:13

      You’ve got that one right. Commander in briefs? Commander in a fig leaf? Commander in gold leaf?

      Daniel Lazare: “The upshot is the latest example of how Washington’s vast pro-war foreign-policy establishment continues to get its way despite President Barack Obama’s efforts to limit military involvement in the Middle East. Establishment of a no-fly zone in northern Syria has long been a neocon priority. Indeed, Hillary Clinton, a neocon favorite at this point, reiterated her call for a no-fly zone as recently as April during a televised debate with Bernie Sanders.”

      Hillary Clinton? The very one with the maniacal laugh that has physicians and psychiatrists wondering whether the concussion has permanently damaged her brain?

      The author continues: “Since a quick and easy victory over Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies would vindicate the neocon position, the issue is whether pro-Hillary forces are pulling strings to make events in Syria go her way as well.

      Did you see Hillary Clinton’s picture with her maniacal laugh? This is one symptom that she’s off her marbles. Remember when you heard the same laugh when she minimized the value of Gadaffi’s life when she heard he was murdered? She said “ha ha ha ha, we came, we saw, he died, ha ha ha ha ha.” Besides raising questions about her mental health, it’s just not the response you want from a president.

      Now that merits a maniacal laugh. Hillary president? Hah hah hah hah hah hah….a real stomach buster and enough to drive any citizen who’s worried about WWIII
      into a brainless convulsion of fear for loved ones that will exhibit itself as, you guessed it, an uncontrollable maniacal evil laughter that goes on and on and on: Hah Hah Hah Hah Hah Hah Hah Hah Hah Hah Hah Hah Hah Hah Hah Hah hah hah had hah ha ha ha…..

      • Realist
        August 21, 2016 at 23:42

        How much cackling will Hillary be doing when Syria finally says, this is our sovereign territory, we have a right to defend it from invading head-chopping mercenaries equipped and paid by America, you’ve pushed our backs to the wall and we refuse to simply roll over and die to accommodate your plans of conquest, and then shoots down a couple of American fighter jets protecting a nest of Daesh rats with some of the S-500 missiles installed by Russia? Washington said it was totally legitimate for Turkey to “defend” its sovereign territory and shoot down the Russian jet. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, no? Why should our exceptional hot shot “top guns” be given a pass to kill others with impunity? Or, will Killery stop laughing when she (or Obomber if the timetable is moved up) unleashes the nukes in response to a chain of such foolhardy moves? It’s Syrian and Russian turf (in Crimea) we are talking about, not American soil. They have made clear they are not backing down and surrendering. And yet the American neocons will take it to the limit? Extinction of life on the planet? Really? To prove what point, Barack? Hillary? Or whoever the hell is in charge of the American military monstrosity? That choice won’t be heroic, it will be reprehensible and tragic. You won’t even have the time to savor being mindlessly tough, which is the only motive I can discern in your reptilian brains. So, laugh it up… while you can, jackals.

      • Kiza
        August 22, 2016 at 09:19

        Well said. US Exceptionalism is definitely going to cause huge problems, just like its predecessor – German Exceptionalism (Superior Race Übermenschen). These two are identical, only US is not mono-ethnic, thus the superiority is attached to citizenship instead of ethnicity. German Exceptionalism caused WW2 and 50 million dead, the US Exceptionalism is likely to cause the extinction of humans. But it is the Ziocons who are feeding the US citizens the diet of bull, that somehow for US citizens the laws and rules of international behavior do not apply. And the proof is in the fact that they have been getting away with it. Of course, the US has been getting away with it because it had the world’s reserve currency and built this huge military which serves absolutely no other purpose then to terrorise the world. It is just a matter of time when a large part of the world ditches US$, in which case the US will either bring its spending under control, or it will fall apart as a country.

      • RHarwell
        August 23, 2016 at 09:08

        Let’s be clear here. Mini-nukes have been developed and the Neocons intend to use them since they are convinced the collateral damage (radiation fallout) will be minimum. HRC is totally on board and Syria would be the perfect place to drop/launch one just for fun. This is way beyond resource war and has been since Obama took office. HRC will escalate that even further. This has become personal with arrogance, greed and total ineptitude the rallying cries. No one tells the US what it can and cannot do. Bush 2, Obama and HRC have made that very clear.

      • Realist
        August 23, 2016 at 14:57

        I think that nukes (mini or maxi) are like potato chips (crisps). No one can stop at just one.

  21. Lin Cleveland
    August 21, 2016 at 11:53

    Thank you so much, Daniel Lazare, for such an informative post! So many points worthy of discussion. From the article I first selected:

    The confrontation begs the question of who is really calling the shots with regard to Syria, the President or well-placed hawks whose specialty is maneuvering the White House into doing their bidding.

    So, who IS really in charge here? There was a time when I listened attentively to the promises and goals of those petitioning to become the next president and voted for the one who most closely dovetailed with my own hopes and dreams. However, once that guy took the oath of office it appeared “circumstances” dictated that those goals must be placed to simmer on the back burner in order to attend more urgent matters. Every four to eight years we voters laboring under the delusion of democracy hold our proverbial “purple fingers high” applauding as a shiny new cog gets inserted into corrupted imperial machine. During a recent radio interview activist, Chris Hedges, expressed his distaste for institutions because no matter the high sounding mission statement, eventually key figures devolve into serving to maintain the institution along with the income and status the institution provides. In other words no one person is in charge.

    The media isn’t, in my opinion, merely jumping on the bandwagon, but leading or more aptly misleading the band. Our mainstream media is owned by weapons and fossil fuel interests and such who profit from war, therefore talk of winning the peace is but empty propaganda. The “talking heads,” not unlike the president must stick to the script or lose a nice income. Remember Phil Donahue who dared to challenge the warrior paradigm?

    Only We_the_People have the real power to break the stronghold. We keep hearing wake up calls and yet too many push the snooze button hoping to rest just a bit longer to enjoy dreaming “the American Dream” before waking up to the reality of the nightmare. War, environmental degradation, population surge of the homeless and refugees–all these problems are interrelated. We can no longer afford to look to the political, military or corporate elites to solve the problems they have created right before our eyes.

    • Gregory Herr
      August 21, 2016 at 14:20

      “War, environmental degradation, population surge of the homeless and refugees–all these problems are interrelated. We can no longer afford to look to the political, military or corporate elites to solve the problems they have created right before our eyes”

      So well said.

    • Bill Bodden
      August 21, 2016 at 19:06

      So, who IS really in charge here?

      Regardless of who is calling the shots, the buck still stops at the Evil Office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Hillary will not doubt continue Obama’s legacy.

    • Peter Loeb
      August 22, 2016 at 06:40


      With thanks to Daniel Lazare, much of the content above is hardly “news”.
      It does provide additional details to the base knowledge one already
      has mostly from sources such as Consortium.

      A more profound essay is that of Nicolas S. B. Davies which just
      appeared (dated 8/15,2016 but printed in a subsequent
      issue of Consortium).



      This essay of Davies’ addresses many of the significant points
      Lazare raises. Details are additional contributions by Lazare.

      I can only recommend study of Davies’ essay many times
      over and its conceptual framework as a base for continued
      assessments. Davies applies not only to Syria but to other
      actions of the US Government.

      —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • Brad Benson
      August 22, 2016 at 11:24

      Since you mentioned the media, here’s an example of how official propaganda has actually made it into not only the above story, but many other stories on legitimate progressive sites. Following is a modified comment that I posted to another site, which describes the people behind both the little boy in the back of the ambulance and also the little boy that was beheaded. They are tied together through the same photographer who is apparently with the terrorists.


      The fact is that no one can prove that the allegations of ANY air attack are even true, since the damage in the area around which this child was found is more indicative of a shell strike–not a bomb, which would have leveled everything in the area. Further, the Russians and the Syrians have both categorically denied the accusations of an air attack, but apparently that is not worth reporting.

      I also did a little quick research on the “Syrian Network on Human Rights”, which has made the bogus claim that, “Russian bombings recently overtook Islamic State as a cause of civilian deaths in the country,” and which was, of course, duly reported by the wholly-owned CIA/MI-6 Subsidiary, The Guardian. (This “Syrian Network on Human Rights” is the same outfit that is cited above in Mr. Lazare’s Article).

      As always, if the Guardian reports it, XXXX feels obligated to publish it, as if it came down from the mountain on tablets of stone. However, as is usually the case with anything taken from The Guardian these days, it turns out that the information was pure propaganda.

      In fact, with just a tad more research, the following information might have been discovered in regard to the sources of both the picture of the little boy and the false report of an air attack, but that would be journalism.

      First, on the Syrian Network for Human Rights, we have this:

      “…And the source for all this “newsworthy news”? Unnamed Sources. And the ambiguous “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights”, a one man show with highly questionable information that some believe comes from UK intelligence feeds…”

      “…There are now two organizations claiming to have boots on the ground knowledge of every airstrike, every casualty, every name, all knowledge of the events in Syria: Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (also mentioned in Mr. Lazare’s Article above), and Syrian Network of Human Rights. Both claim to have begun their business as of 2011. Both are based in the UK…”

      “…Despite claims that The Syrian Network of Human Rights has existed since 2011, observance as a source of information was not marketed until sometime in 2013. And while it claims to have dozens of activists and researchers, and hundreds of members, its website names no one. In fact, it picks up its stories from other sites.

      Then, there’s this…

      Here are the facts about the photographer of the little wounded boy sitting in the back of an ambulance after being pulled from the rubble in Aleppo. It would seem that he was also present during the beheading of a 12 year old Palestinian Boy who was accused of spying for the Syrian Army.

      Later the same guy posed for a selfie with two of the killers and posted it on his Facebook Page.
      It would seem that the guy is a terrorist. Perhaps sometimes one should consider the source of these horrible photographs and recognize that they are actually intended to generate anger and thus—more violence.


      It should not be forgotten that, without the US Regime Change efforts in Syria, none of this would likely have happened. Now the Syrians and the Russians are going to finish this despite our best efforts.

      Until that time, pictures like this will continue to appear. Even more sadly, they will only be shown in the West if they can somehow be used as propaganda to rouse the public against the evil Assad.

      • RHarwell
        August 23, 2016 at 09:16

        I can almost guarantee Turkey will be next on the list for regime change. The President blames the US for the military attempted coup. The US refuses to hand over the cleric hiding out here since ’99. HRC will go after Turkey as she attempts to destroy Syria and continues her provocation to Russia, Iran and China. I’m sure she has been convinced one mini-nuke detonated will convince everyone else to kneel at her feet. and kiss her ass. What a shocker that is going to be for her and all Neocon war lovers. Of course, it will be really bad for the rest of us and the world.

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