A US-Fueled Syrian Sectarian Bloodbath

The Obama administration helped fuel a conflict in Syria that inevitably was going to degenerate into a sectarian bloodbath, a reckless strategy pushed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as Gareth Porter explains.

By Gareth Porter

The main criticism of U.S. policy in Syria has long been that President Barack Obama should have used U.S. military force or more aggressive arms aid to strengthen the armed opposition to President Bashar al-Assad. The easy answer is that the whole idea that there was a viable non-extremist force to be strengthened is a myth – albeit one that certain political figures in London and Washington refuse to give up.

But the question that should have been debated is why the Obama administration acquiesced to its allies funding and supplying a group of unsavory sectarian armed groups to overthrow the Assad regime.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on March 30, 2012. [State Department photo]

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh on March 30, 2012. [State Department photo]

That U.S. acquiescence is largely responsible for a horrible bloodletting that has now killed as many as 400,000 Syrians. Worse yet, there is still no way to end the war without the serious threat of sectarian retribution against the losers.

The Obama administration bears responsibility for this atrocity, because it could have prevented Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia from launching their foolishly adventurous war in Syria. None of them did so out of desperate need; it was a war of choice in every case.

And each of the three states is part of the U.S. security system in the Middle East, providing military bases to NATO or to the United States and depending on US support for its security.

But instead of insisting that those three Sunni allies reconsider their options, the Obama administration gave the green light at a conference in Riyadh at the end of March 2012 for proceeding with arming those who wanted to replace the regime, leaving the United States ostensibly free to be a peacemaker.

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put it at the Riyadh conference: “Some will be able to do certain things, and others will do other things.”

Seeds of Sectarianism

The policymakers responsible for Syria should have known that the seeds of violent sectarian conflict had already been planted in Syria by the early 1980s and that the present war was deeply infected by sectarianism from the beginning. They knew that the Assad regime ruled from the beginning with an iron hand primarily to protect the interests of the Alawites, but also to protect the Christian and Druze minorities against Sunni sectarianism.

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

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

The faction of the banned Muslim Brotherhood based in Hama adopted a decidedly sectarian line toward the Alawites, not only referring to the Ba’athist government as an “apostate regime” and sought its violent overthrow, but also demonstrated a readiness to kill Alawites, simply because they were not regarded as true believers in Islam.

After the initial failed armed struggle against the regime, the organizers were forced into exile, but in 1979, an underground member of the Fighting Vanguard faction of the Brotherhood named Ibrahim al-Yousef, who had infiltrated the Syrian army artillery school in Aleppo, separated all the Alawite cadets from the non-Alawites and then shot 32 of them dead and wounded 54 before escaping.

In 1980, after the Brotherhood made an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate President Hafez al-Assad himself, the regime took swift and brutal retribution: the very next morning, between 600 and 1,000 Brotherhood prisoners were killed in their cells.

Sectarian violence in Syria reached its climax in 1982, when the Syrian army went into Hama to break the Brotherhood’s control over the city. The operation began when Syrian army troops entered the city to get individuals on its list of Brotherhood members, but were mowed down by Brotherhood machine gunners.

Thousands more regime troops were sent to the city, and the Brotherhood mobilized the entire Sunni population to fight. The mosques blared the message, “Rise up and drive the unbelievers from Hama,” as Thomas L. Friedman recounted in 1989.

After encountering much stiffer guerrilla resistance than it expected in Hama, the Syrian army used heavy weaponry against the areas of the city where the Brotherhood’s military forces were concentrated. After the Brotherhood’s resistance in the city was finally defeated the military completed the total destruction of three whole neighborhoods where the Brotherhood had been dominant, and the army continued to take retribution against families with ties to the organization. At least 5,000 Sunnis were killed; the Brotherhood itself claimed 20,000 dead.

The Past as Prologue

The sectarian extremism expressed both by the Assad regime and by the Muslim Brotherhood 30 years earlier was bound to be repeated in the conflict that began in 2011 – especially in the areas of Aleppo and Hama, where the armed opposition was especially strong.

A scene of destruction after an aerial bombing in Azaz, Syria, Aug. 16, 2012. (U.S. government photo)

A scene of destruction after an aerial bombing in Azaz, Syria, Aug. 16, 2012. (U.S. government photo)

The initial slogans used by anti-Assad demonstrators were not sectarian, but that all changed after the anti-Assad armed struggle was taken over by jihadists and Salafists.

Turkey and Qatar, both of which supported the Brotherhood’s exiled leaders, began funneling arms to the groups with the strongest commitment to a sectarian anti-Shiite and anti-Alawite viewpoint.

A major recipient of Turkish funding and arms was Ahrar al-Sham, which shared its Al Qaeda ally al-Nusra Front’s sectarian Sunni view of the Alawite minority. It considered the Alawites to be part of the Shiite enemy and therefore the object of a “holy war”.

Another favorite of the U.S. allies was Jaish al-Islam, the Salafist organization in the Damascus suburbs whose former leader Zahran Alloush talked openly about cleansing Damascus of the Shiites and Alawites, both of whom he lumped together as “Majous” – the abusive term used for pre-Islamic non-Arabic people from Iran.

If there was any doubt that the anti-Alawite sectarianism of the past is still a major part of the thinking of the armed opposition, it should have been eliminated after what happened during the “Great Battle for Aleppo.”

The newly renamed Al Qaeda franchise Jabhat Fateh al Sham, which planned and led that offensive to break through Syrian government lines around Aleppo, named the offensive after Ibrahim al-Yousef, the Muslim Brotherhood officer who had carried out the cold-blooded murder of Alawite recruits at the artillery school in Aleppo in 1979.

And as Syria expert Joshua Landis tweeted on Aug. 4, a video statement by a masked militant posted by the newly named Al Qaeda organization threatened to do the same thing to the Alawites in Aleppo after taking over the city.

A Foreseen Bloodbath

Could senior Obama administration officials have been unaware that a war to overthrow Assad would inevitably become an enormous sectarian bloodbath? By August 2012, a U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency report intelligence warned that “events are taking a clear sectarian direction,” and that the “the “Salafist[s], Muslim Brotherhood and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq]” were “the major forces driving the insurgency.” Furthermore, the Obama administration already knew by then that the external Sunni sponsors of the war against Assad were channeling their money and arms to the most sectarian groups in the field.

Journalist James Foley shortly before he was executed by an Islamic State operative.

Journalist James Foley shortly before he was executed by an Islamic State operative.

But the administration did nothing to pressure its allies to stop it. In fact, it actually wove its own Syria policy around the externally fueled war by overwhelmingly sectarian forces. And no one in the U.S. political-media elite raised the issue.

It took a remarkable degree of denial and self-deception for the Obama administration to believe that it was somehow acting to rescue the Syrian people from the bloodletting when it was doing precisely the opposite.

No matter how brutal its rule and its war tactics have been, a war to overthrow the Assad regime could only plunge the country into a terrible sectarian bloodbath. And the consequences of the sectarian war will continue for years into the future.

The Obama administration’s failure to firmly reject that war should be viewed as one of the worst of the long parade of American transgressions in the Middle East.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. [This article first appeared at the Middle East Eye at http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/real-us-syria-scandal-supporting-sectarian-war-1378989458 .]


42 comments for “A US-Fueled Syrian Sectarian Bloodbath

  1. September 6, 2016 at 20:45

    Gregory Herr’s assessment is bang on. This article is yet another liberal critique of so-called geopolitical rendition that shields U.S. imperialism and presents war and intervention as a policy option. In the third week of August 2011, the Canadian embassy in Ankara was used for a reception for the newly-formed “Syrian National Council” to give them credibility amongst the NATO legations. I could go back earlier but too many of these comments seem to be just grinding personal axes.

  2. LJ
    September 1, 2016 at 19:10

    Syria was a primary and early target for Regime Change in the Neocons Project for a New American Cenrury. The Axis of Iran , Syria and Hezbollah is the ultimate target . Since Syria was forced out of Lebanon, after the elder Harari assassination through our machinations at the UN, the USA was has been after Assad. Prince Bandar ( AKA Bandar Bush ) of Saudi Arabia and the Emir of Kuwait and Erdogan were never leading the USA in this policy decision. You may recall as I do that Obama was belligerent towards Assad as soon as the ‘protests” in Syria were first reported. He said Assad had , “lost his legitamacy”. He said in the first week that Assad would be gone in 30 days. This was before the assassination attempt that missed Bashir Assad and killed his brother-in-law and blew Assad’s brother’s leg off. To think that the USA was not knowledgeble if not actually in charge of this attempt and did not green light it is naive. The bloodbath is ultimately on Obama’s hands because he green lighted it but it is on all Americans hands because we allow someone like Hillary who supports this carnage to run for President as the favorite. . This carnage could have been stopped at any time. Certainly long before Obama waived two existing portions of American Law through Presidential Order so his Administaration could arm known terrorists with TOW missiles. Saudi Arabia cannot ship the TOWs without our approval and we had instructors on the ground training last i read 10,000 “moderate” Sunni mercenaries taht are deployed in the Syria theater. USA 100% responsible for this and the migrant crisis and the refugee crisis and everything else that this has spawned up to and including sanction on Russia suposedly for Crimea or was it because someone shot down an airliner. Same smell as was the overthrow in Kiev, U-S-A U-S-A We won the most Gold Medals at the Olympics and Russia was barely even allowed to compete

    • Brad Owen
      September 3, 2016 at 07:41

      All 330,000,000 Americans could disappear onernight, and the World would still have EXACTLY THE SAME PROBLEM with a Global Oligarchy, running a Global Empire. The American Oligarchs are actually the lower-ranking new-comers to the Hierarchy. They were given temporary reign over “The Empire” due to temporary advantages garnered from the results of WWII. Due to Labor “getting too uppity” (according to the oligarch’s thinking), industrial management of “Empire” was slowly shifted to China, whose managers “know how to keep the workers in line” (Tiannenmen Square). The top-rank Oligarchs come from very old European families who’ve had millennia of experience in running Empires. They’ve exported it around the World. They’ve got many staunch oligarchic allies around the World, INCLUDING Russia(who correctly calls them “oligarchs” outright), China, India. Killing all Americans won’t solve your Global Oligarchy problem. You’ve been SUCKERED into another Oligarchs’ ploy…divide & conquer, same ole same ole…

      • Brad Owen
        September 3, 2016 at 08:02

        The Bushes trace their family roots to tie-ins with the Queen’s family in England. That doesn’t mean anything in reality, BUT it is all-important in the psychology of oligarchical thinking; family and familial inter-connections are all-important in Oligarchy. The outer circle may consist of servant families who’ve demonstrated loyalty over the centuries. We live in a stealthy Feudal Era…the more things change, the more they stay the same. Only a change in Zeitgeist can change this psychological structure. Right now the best we can hope for is a “New Deal” from an oligarch.

  3. J'hon Doe II
    September 1, 2016 at 18:46

    (who overthrows elected governments in order to establish neoliberal autocracy and openly murders dissenters?)


    Who Reads Global Trends?

    In December 2016, the US President-elect will receive Global Trends 2035, the sixth edition in the National Intelligence Council’s (NIC) series aimed at providing a framework for thinking about the future.

    This time period affords the incoming or returning President and senior staff the opportunity to weigh the report’s judgments and lay the groundwork to address long-range issues of importance to national and global security.

    The report also is publicly released, aiding policymakers, scholars, and others in many countries in better understanding possible trends and discontinuities in the global environment.

    Join the Conversation
    As the NIC prepares Global Trends 2035, it is consulting an increasingly diverse set of voices worldwide—both established and new—to help it question assumptions, identify new issues, and help conceptualize a framework that lays out in a cogent and understandable style the consequential trends and surprises that could occur in the next 20 years.

    Some of the questions the NIC and its partners are exploring include:
    Will power continue to diffuse or concentrate in the future?

    To what extent will further advances in communications technology transform societies and the relationship between citizens and governments?

    How will automation and robotics impact human employment and economies?

    Which currently unresolved questions or uncertainties regarding society, economy, and politics are likely to be most game-changing through 2035?

    Global Trends 2030 | Global Trends 2025 | Global Trends 2020 | Global Trends 2015 | Global Trends 2010


  4. J'hon Doe II
    September 1, 2016 at 18:37

    May I say that it’s this and manifold other National and World Hostile Atrocities that we approve of when we Stand in “honor” of our flag. — just say’n.


  5. Jerry
    September 1, 2016 at 18:14

    For a very informative read not only about the Bush clan but also about the plutocratic oligarchy that runs this country, see “Family of Secrets” by Russ Baker (Bloomsbury Press, 2009). He explains in detail how this country really works: the scheming, planning, manipulating, interrelationships, utter psychopathy, etc. Truth is stranger than fiction.

  6. September 1, 2016 at 17:59

    I believe we are ruled by Hypocrites from Hell.

    They Talk About Law and Order

    They talk about law and order, and the rule of law too
    These evil, lying, war criminals that rule over me and you
    They wear expensive suits and live a life of ease
    They destroy many other lives in countries across the seas

    They have not been held to account for all their evil depredations
    The invasions, the bombings, the killings, and destruction in many nations
    They and their lackeys are the powerful gangsters of the earth
    Some have fancy “honourable” titles. Was hell their place of birth?

    Are they helpers of the devil and satanic followers too?
    Are they responsible for a number of hellish coups?
    Did atrocities follow, from what they plotted and planned?
    Is hell upon earth the result, of their “work,” in many lands?

    These lands are now soaked in blood, and killings occur daily
    Those still alive no longer live or even survive; safely
    Is this what happens when fiends get into power?
    Will the gates of hell open up more, and release another demonic shower?

    Have they corrupted and slaughtered any hopes for peace?
    Do they live off bloody profits and wars that never cease?
    Are they the corporate cannibals and bloody governments too?
    Who speak about law and order, but are they really a hellish crew?

    Who or what can remove them from their seats of power?
    Has justice and truth been slain? Or does it just cower?
    Do criminals rule unpunished and protected by brigands?
    Has law and order been silenced, is this where evil stands?…

    [more at link below]


  7. Realist
    September 1, 2016 at 17:20

    One scene in last night’s episode of Mr. Robot characterized succinctly how many of these ruthless SOB’s think. An American oligarch was having a confidential conversation with a Chinese official. It was clear from their postures, tone and words that the relationship was dripping with enmity. The oligarch summed it up when he said, “it would give me greater satisfaction to see you destroyed than for us to win” (or words to that effect). Back in the 50’s, we used to say “better dead than red.” Same sentiment, no? If the American oligarchs, who pull the strings, cannot have it all, nobody can have any part of it.

  8. September 1, 2016 at 16:54

    Just a point of information – most of the effective fighting against the legal government of Syria is done by the jihadists (al Nusra Front and ISIS). There is much evidence that Israeli policy has been to support al Nusra, and then this appeared in June: the view from the Israeli gov’t: http://news.antiwar.com/2016/06/21/israeli-intel-chief-we-dont-want-isis-defeated-in-syria/

  9. J'hon Doe II
    September 1, 2016 at 15:02

    A US-Fueled Syrian Sectarian Bloodbath

    May I say that it’s this and manifold other National and World Hostile Atrocities that we approve of when we Stand in “honor” of our flag. — just say’n.

  10. Tom Welsh
    September 1, 2016 at 10:41

    “That U.S. acquiescence is largely responsible for a horrible bloodletting that has now killed as many as 400,000 Syrians”.

    That’s not even a low point in US “foreign policy”.

    3 million (possibly 5-6 million) in SE Asia.
    2.8 million and counting in Iraq…

    Incidentally, if anyone cares, those two lines alone add up to a full Holocaust. “Hey, have you heard this one? ‘When does murdering 6 million people really, really matter – and when isn’t it a big deal at all?'”

  11. Joe B
    September 1, 2016 at 08:00

    The administration indeed showed “denial and self-deception” that supporting fundamentalist rebels would somehow “rescue the Syrian people from the bloodletting,” and US admins have done this everywhere else to create a string of disasters worldwide, but this is a slap of the wrist in comparison with the underlying causes:
    1. Failure to separate executive policymaking from the NSC/DOD/CIA who control the social environment and internal debate of the executive branch,
    2. Failure to abandon the secret presidential war, an unconstitutional scheme to get campaign bribes and reward the supporters of tyrants,
    3. Inadequate maturity and wisdom to understand the underlying causes and effects,
    4. Failure to investigate economic influence on Congress and purge the corrupt, and
    5. Failure to seize the propagandist MSM from the oligarchy and give them to regulated mass media corporations.
    It is primarily anti-democracy corruption that drives US foreign policy, not carelessness.

    With the US mass media and elections controlled by economic concentrations, the People do not have the tools to peacefully regain democracy. The right wing revolution against US democracy since WWII has proven far tougher than its former colonial masters, and worse than the Czars of Russia before its revolution. Slaps on the wrist are educational but those educated must destroy the oligarchy.

    • Gregory Herr
      September 1, 2016 at 17:00

      Very much agree with you Joe…but just to put a fine point on something….it is the “fundamentalist rebels” supported by the usual suspects who caused the bloodletting in the first place. They are what the Syrian people need to be saved from.

  12. September 1, 2016 at 05:50

    Not only is Syria a “Bloodbath” but it is way past time that the war criminals who plotted and planned this diabolical hell on earth were put on trial. Therefore, I ask: “Are There War Criminals Living In America, Canada, England, Germany, France and other NATO Countries”?

  13. Realist
    September 1, 2016 at 03:38

    Obviously, all of us who thought that no president could top Dubya’s record for involving this country in senseless wars of choice didn’t really comprehend Barack Hussein Obama’s philosophy and goals of governance. Hurrah, at long last Dubya’s gone, we thought. Things must be getting better. Fact is, every president since Kennedy has been getting progressively worse in creating turmoil across this planet. Watch for another record setter in Hillary.

    • Tom Welsh
      September 1, 2016 at 10:43

      ” Fact is, every president since Kennedy has been getting progressively worse in creating turmoil across this planet”.

      Which should suggest to a physicist or any kind of rigorous thinker that maybe the presidents themselves have nothing to do with the phenomenon. A rolling stone gathers speed as it heads downhill…

      • Realist
        September 1, 2016 at 17:08

        Yes, read “The Deep State” by Mike Lofgren, a former Republican insider who caught on and checked out.

        I wouldn’t say the presidents have “nothing” to do with the devolution we’ve seen, they have been the essential tools of the plutocrats who hand pick them.

    • J. D.
      September 1, 2016 at 16:59

      “Regime Change” was slated long ago for Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran by the neo-cons of the “New American Century” crowd, utilizing religious warfare to destabilize and overthrow the “client states” of the former Soviet Union. Vladimir Putin has successfully derailed those plans, thus the hatred of the Obama-Hillary crew.

  14. August 31, 2016 at 23:23

    6 years to late for the Syrians. Vile evil anglo-zionist hegemonic pax americana washington consensus mobsters. Nuremburg /Hague or firing line is what should happen. But we all know it wont and hang on to what ever is left of humanity onceHitler in drag becomes the Empress of the Empire of KAOS.

  15. Gregory Herr
    August 31, 2016 at 22:15

    “It took a remarkable degree of denial and self-deception for the Obama administration to believe that it was somehow acting to rescue the Syrian people from the bloodletting when it was doing precisely the opposite.”

    Well yes, it WOULD take a remarkable degree of denial and self-deception, wouldn’t it? Is this tongue-in-cheek, or do you, Mr. Porter, actually think that the Administration believed or believes that its actions have anything to do with rescuing the Syrian people? And do you, Mr. Porter think the U.S. involvement here is a matter of acquiescence to allies, a “joining in,” so to speak?

    “…the whole idea that there was a viable non-extremist force to be strengthened is a myth – albeit one that certain political figures in London and Washington refuse to give up.”

    They “don’t give it up”…not because they don’t know it’s a canard, but because it’s part of their cornerstone of deceit.

    As to the 1980’s and the C.I.A.-inspired Muslim Brotherhood attempt at Syrian overthrow…the first Assad may have laid the retribution on a little thick, but the basics of his response were necessary and had nothing to do with sectarian extremism on his part.

    “No matter how brutal its rule and its war tactics have been, a war to overthrow the Assad regime could only plunge the country into a terrible sectarian bloodbath.”

    Yep, Uncle Sam just wants to help, but bad man Assad and the sectarian people of Syria were just a powder keg waiting to happen. What tripe! The rabid sectarianism was brought in from the outside.

    I just bought a book by Porter. Glad I haven’t gotten to it yet. It’s been put up. I’ve lost interest

    • Gregory Herr
      August 31, 2016 at 22:30

      The viable non-extremist force to be strengthened is the legitimate government of Syria.

      The myth, or canard, is that the West ever supported a viable non-extremist force in Syria.

      • b.grand
        September 1, 2016 at 01:42

        Agree completely. I’ve been an admirer of Gareth Porter for several years now, so this disappointing misdirection is something of a shock. His suggestion that “the Obama administration acquiesced to its allies” is ludicrous. The U.S. has been covertly working for regime-change in Syria since 2006, at least. In 2012 the CIA was already training Syrian opposition fighters in Turkey. The notion that the administration would “pressure its allies to stop it,” or that it wove its policy into theirs is pathetic.

        Porter uses the MSM mantra of the “brutality” of the Assad government and its prosecution of the war, but brutality is never defined or substantiated. (Perhaps insurrectionists, assassins, and foreign invaders should be invited to tea.)

        Were senior Obama administration officials unaware? Of course not. They were aware and indifferent. In fact our “ally” Israel considers prolonged blood-letting in Syria most desirable, and the whole US/Israel strategy of chaos has succeeded brilliantly, with their arms industries profiting handsomely.

        Why the limited hangout? Was Porter bribed, or threatened? Who knows, his research on fabrication of evidence against Iran may have garnered him some late-night visits.

        Just for comparison. Richard Black hasn’t been cowed yet. (Senator Black’s timeline at 16:20.)
        U.S. Policy in Syria: An Interview with VA Senator Richard Black

        • Gregory Herr
          September 1, 2016 at 18:31

          Thank you for the link. Everyone should hear Senator Black’s first hand account of his time in Syria. The description of his experience at the theater is something I would particularly like Nelu (below) to soak up.



        • LJ
          September 3, 2016 at 18:26

          CIA asset. There is an attempt at historical revisionism occurring as I type. A new disinformation campaign as the US is supposedly against Turkish moves in Northern Syria as we provide air cover. Porter is evidently part of it. The US / Obama and his Brainless Trust want Assad before he leaves office and are attempting to get the Russians to sell him out. What carrot they have to offer is hard to imagine and why anyone would trust them is a mystery. Judging by Obama’s reception in China yesterday the axis of Russia, China and Iran are not in a trusting mood and really don’t want to hear anything more out of Obama and Kerry.

    • Nelu
      September 1, 2016 at 01:04

      You genius, Shia versus Sunni ethernal battle is as old as 1400 years now. And never was need as someone from outside to bring “rabid sectarianism ” to the area- it has always been there.

      • Gregory Herr
        September 1, 2016 at 16:50

        I’m not a genius, but I do know that religious tolerance has long been a staple of Syrian society. I also know that Iraq was a secular society with a thriving middle class. Sunni & Shia intermarried and lived peaceably together. They thought of themselves as citizens of Iraq, not as tendentious rivals. After wrecking their infrastructure and destroying their society, the U.S. deliberately stoked flames of sectarian division.
        Christianity has had its fair share of infighting and division going back that long as well. But stick to your narrative, it suits your capacities.

    • John the Ba'thist
      September 3, 2016 at 00:13

      Porter has written a well a intentioned little piece here that makes some good points, but there is still a trace of unjustified bias against the Syrian government in it. An example is the assertion that the initial demonstrations against the regime were not sectarian, and only turned that way after the crackdown. Tim Anderson’s book “The Dirty War on Syria” examines that issue in depth and documents the fact that the very first demonstrations in Daraa (the southern Syrian city had longbeen used as a gateway to Syria for intelligence assets, saboteurs and provocateurs from Jordan) prominently featured the chant of “Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the grave” .

      Another factual quibble concerns the ancient dispute over how many were killed when the Syrian Army defeated the Ikhwan rebellion in Hama in 1982. The DIA has recently weighed-in on the question in the form of a recently declassified official assessment from that time which estimates that 2000 – not 5000, not 20,000 – was the toll of human souls. I assume that the DIA had a pretty good idea of how the CIA’s proxies had fared. Also, the 20,000 figure that Porter cites as the MB estimate of its KIAs happens to match exactly with those oft the CIA and State Department. In fact, Foggy Bottom’s communiques about Hama were often identical to statements from the MB headquarters in Germany…hardly surprising in view of the fact that Said Ramadan was probably the CIA’s most important Arab asset at that time…next to Bashir Gemayel.

  16. Herman
    August 31, 2016 at 21:27

    When we did our dirty work in Iraq and Libya, the misdirection experts , the in the know people, told us it was all about oil. It has not been used for Syria because the lie would be so absurd as to risk ridicule by those who mouthed it. It was never about oil, certainly not the primary reason. Countries that have oil have to sell it and we are their biggest customer. In addition, it was hard to ignore the discoveries of oil outside the Middle East, even in our own country. It was about destroying viable nations who chose to align themselves with Russia and/or each other and opposed our policies and our support of Israel. Mr. Porter says we ignored the threat of sectarian violence. I think instead we have used it as the most effective tool in the destruction of viable states. It is a tragedy, but not a mistake in the eyes of our policy makers.

    • Truthster
      August 31, 2016 at 21:42

      Superb comment.
      The US progressives have no grasp of US imperial geopolitics.
      Not surprising since for them such a thing is never admitted to their brains.
      And deep down they have no grasp of the fact of Empire in which many of them have such a great stake.
      The Greens are among the worst on this point.

      • Brad Owen
        September 1, 2016 at 06:45

        Here is one Green supporter who grasps the Empire problem completely. In fact it is “EMPIRE”( merely a glorified “looting operation” to benefit a defacto Imperial ruling class, at the dreadful expense of the people) that is the source of practically all of our societal problems; and of what we are inflicting upon the World…and we are only the latest (and hopefully the LAST) “draftees” into the policy of maintaining & upholding The Empire (which is the same Empire that has been kicking about, in Western culture, since ancient Roman times…with several “changes-of-clothes” of course; the previous British [“The City”] upholders having dragged us back into it, via the willing Tories of Wall Street, after WWII and the death of FDR). The reason WHY I support the Greens, is because their policy proposals are the very remedy to cure us of this disease of Empire. The British Labour Party has willing “allies-for-the-Cause” within it, to help the Greens finally slay this beast of Empire, and free Western Culture of it once-and-for-all. NOW is a unique, historical opportunity to accomplish this. It won’t happen with Democrats. It won’t happen with Republicans. It won’t happen with Libertarians. It won’t happen with “populistic” fascists.

        • Joe L.
          September 1, 2016 at 11:46

          Brad Owen… I agree with most of what you have written but please keep in mind that the United States has been at war something to the tune of 93% of its’ history since 1776. It certainly is an Empire influenced by those that proceeded it but it shoulders the majority of the blame for what it has become. Just because my Mom is an alcoholic does not mean that she shoulders all of the blame if I become one. I do hope that we are seeing the end of the American Empire, and Empires in general, since I believe Empires to be poison for the world which promote thievery (and death) based on lies. I do hope that China does not follow in the US’ footsteps and instead we get a more balanced world – but we will see. One thing that I read lately, as I am a Canadian, is that the US is upset that Canada wants to join the AIIB – which is exactly what I believe Canada should be doing. I do hope that actions like this will slowly break the hold that the US has over the western world and instead the countries within the western world think for themselves rather than constantly looking for an enemy in childish rhetoric of “good guys” and “bad guys” (you’re with us or against us). I just think it is truly stupid if we continue with the Cold War mindset of the 20th Century resurrected for the 21st. We have real “world” problems now and we are more connected than ever with the internet so we should start working together and learn to respect our differences. That is how I feel…

          • Brad Owen
            September 1, 2016 at 14:12

            The problem comes with statements such as: “the U.S. did this, “the U.S. did that; “the U.S. is upset with…”the U.S thinks that so-and-so should do such-and-such, etc…”. Every country is a huge bundle of contesting FACTIONS, more so even in the U.S. , in the sense that it is even more cosmopolitan than other countries. Most European countries have actually, fairly tribal roots and long histories. It makes more sense to me to speak of the U.S. as a group of patriots who sought independence from a very powerful empire (much like Brexit) and a still-powerful group of Tories who never had any intention of separating from said empire. These are the old-timers here. Then various groups of “late-comers” from old European countries seeking escape from their various oligarchies back home, Then “later-comers” from other countries. Also the natives were here, with MANY various approaches to us new-comers, from open-armed welcome to “kill-em-all” and often within the same tribal nation (often siding with one empire or another on the basis of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend [we answered “the friend of our enemy is our enemy”: human nature]). For MOST of our history the “Tory/Empire” Faction has had the upper hand. That’s what nobody gets. We The People weren’t consulted(except in very deceptive & misleading ways) about all of the horrendous policies that have unfolded throughout our history. We (the patriots) are STILL in basic retreat before the Tory onslaught, searching for for an advantageous “hold” in this permanent wrestling match. We’ve experienced more defeats than victories. Nobody gets it. We don’t have control of the narrative. I’ve resigned myself to this situation. We’ll have to find the solution. Nobody else even understands the problem. So be it.

          • Brad Owen
            September 2, 2016 at 07:08

            Joe L; I said David Cararay, down below. It should be David Macaray “In Search of Michael Moore”. Search Counterpunch for it.

        • Joe L.
          September 1, 2016 at 11:52

          Brad Owen… and if I could vote in the American elections, I would most definitely vote for Jill Stein as well. Hillary Clinton I see as pure evil and Donald Trump I view as a bigot. From what I have heard from Jill Stein she seems to have sound foreign policies as well as ratcheting down the military industrial complex in favour of investing back into the American people and America itself. Cheers.

          • Joe Tedesky
            September 1, 2016 at 16:07

            Joe L if you were American you and I could both go vote for Jill Stein, and have a coffee afterwards.

            I don’t know if anyone ever noticed, but back when there was a real communist threat, America was a much different place. FDR came up with the 4 Freedoms. Also, back in FDR’s day America created the Social Security System, and congress passed the Wagner Act which helped workers organize unions. All this was America’s way of preventing communism from taking hold here in the U.S..

            The reason I bring this up, is because since the fall of the Soviet Union America has been on a spreading democracy roll. The Project for a New American Century was written back in 1996. The PNAC document describes how America must spread democracy to every corner of the globe, while America has the military edge. If Americans would wake up from their hibernation, they would see how since 911 all of our democratic freedoms have gone out the window. So, while the U.S. uses the excuse for war as being the only way to fight terrorism, and liberate people, Americans lose their freedoms and liberties.The Trade Agreements send their American jobs to parts unknown, because spreading democracy to cheap labor nations is the order of the day. The corporate overlords dictates over any Constitutional right, and most Americans don’t even realize what they have lose.

            So Joe L if China’s AIIB could do anything, it would be nice if it gave America some competition. No one nation should be at the top of some new kind of new world order. No nation should be any exceptionable than any other nation. International Law must prevail over some president of a country’s interpretation of a widely agreed upon law, such as the Geneva Conference Law regarding torture, and other such war crimes. No nation should feel it their right to disregard another nations sovereignty (Syria).

            Last thing; All media and press should be privately owned, and not be owned by a conglomerate entity. A media who may report based on true facts, and diverse opinion when required. Not a media who is owned by the very corporations who profit so greatly from these wars, is what we need.

          • Joe L.
            September 2, 2016 at 01:30

            Joe Tedesky… I always enjoy your comments and I agree that we could probably sit down for hours and have coffee. I do believe though that the “spreading democracy” line is used to get the American people behind whatever country the US wants to invade or overthrow. Well before the fall of the Soviet Union the US was overthrowing democracy after democracy such as in Iran in 1953 and onward. It is interesting to know that the US has trained 11 Latin American dictators at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia of which replaced democracies all across Latin America. It is also interesting to look back and see the US and Britain supporting Suharto in Indonesia and Pol Pot in Cambodia while they were committing genocide. This is all a game to the people in power, thievery on a world scale, and “spreading democracy” is for the naive since history shows the opposite. People should be looking to Smedley Butler and the ilk because he understood Empire a long time ago. Anyway, I hope we are seeing the end of Empire because it is truly poison and evil. We can, and should, do better for the 21st Century. Cheers.

          • Brad Owen
            September 2, 2016 at 06:37

            Yes that’s the way I’m playin’ it. I’m quite used to losing. But I’m truly looking for a change of “Zeitgeist” to help. A good analogy would be the following: a peasant is wrestling with a vampire in the dead of night. The vampire has all the advantages; speed, strength, night vision, etc…the peasant is in a desperate struggle; broken limbs, bleeding out, which only excites the vampire to greater efforts…THEN the Sun begins to RISE…and suddenly all the advantages are with the peasant, and it’s the vampire who is now in dire straits. That’s how it is with the changing of the Zeitgeists. David Cararay wrote a real good article called “In Search of Michael Moore”. It perfectly captures the on-going patriot/tory struggle here. It’s about the UAW’s fight with the managers of capital over the decades.

          • Joe Tedesky
            September 2, 2016 at 10:59

            Joe L I should have made my comment more specific. What you point out about American instigated coups is correct, I was speaking about how the American government has changed internally. Post 911 has brought a lot of change to the U.S.. I won’t go into it too much here, but just in the way the American government speaks about Social Security, is ignorant and wrong There are countless changes that have gone on since the passing of the Patriot Act. The way America’s police forces have transitioned into military armed ready to go fight battalions is unnerving. In the end the world doesn’t need one new world order running it. A perfect situation could be having five superior governing entities, which would offer the world’s population a variety of places one could choose to live, and not just one mega power who would rule over everyone alive. In short, during the time communism was a scare, it kept these western nation leaders on the straight and narrow towards how they ruled over their people. At least it seemed that way.

    • Joe Wallace
      September 2, 2016 at 21:18

      For Joe L. and Joe Tedesky:

      There’s a picture you may have seen that is pertinent to your discussion of the U.S.’s “spreading democracy” throughout the world. I tried to copy it into this reply but was unable to do so. It shows Putin and a colleague named Lukashenko strolling in a garden.

      Putin says: “There’s less and less democracy in the United States.”

      Lukashenko replies: “Of course. They keep exporting it.”

Comments are closed.