The Forgotten Libyan Lessons and the Syrian War

Exclusive: Western leaders are plotting to bomb another Mideast nation, this time Syria, citing “humanitarianism.” But similar claims in Iraq and Libya were deceptive and ended up killing far more people than were “saved,” says Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Most intelligent Americans – Republicans as well as Democrats – now accept that they were duped into the Iraq War with disastrous consequences, but there is more uncertainty about the war on Libya in 2011 as well as the ongoing proxy war on Syria and the New Cold War showdown with Russia over Ukraine.

Today, many Democrats don’t want to admit that they have been manipulated into supporting new imperial adventures against Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Russia by the Obama administration as it pulls some of the same propaganda strings that George W. Bush’s administration did in 2002-2003.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before Congress on Jan. 23, 2013, about the fatal attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11. 2012. (Photo from C-SPAN coverage)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before Congress on Jan. 23, 2013, about the fatal attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11. 2012. (Photo from C-SPAN coverage)

Yet, as happened with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, we have seen a similar hysteria about the evil doings of the newly demonized foreign leaders with the predictable Hitler allusions and vague explanations about how some terrible misdeeds halfway around the world threaten U.S. interests.

Though people mostly remember the false WMD claims about Iraq, much of the case for the invasion was based on protecting “human rights,” spreading “democracy,” and eliminating a supporter of Palestinians who were violently resisting Israeli rule.

The justification for aggression against Iraq was not only to save Americans from the supposed risk of Iraq somehow unleashing poison gas on U.S. cities but to free the Iraqis from a brutal dictator, the argument which explained why Bush’s neocon advisers predicted that Iraqis would shower American troops with rose petals and candies.

Those same “humanitarian” arguments were out in force to justify the U.S.-European “regime change” in Libya eight years later. As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted – even this year – Muammar Gaddafi was a “genocidal” dictator bent on slaughtering the people of eastern Libya (though Gaddafi insisted that he was only interested in killing the “terrorists”).

After a frenzied media reaction to Gaddafi’s supposedly genocidal plans, Western nations argued that the world had a “responsibility to protect” Libyan civilians, a concept known as “R2P.” In haste, the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution to protect civilians by imposing a “no-fly zone” over eastern Libya.

But the subsequent invasion involved U.S.-coordinated air strikes on Gaddafi’s forces and European Special Forces on the ground working with anti-Gaddafi rebels. Before long, the “no-fly zone” had expanded into a full-scale “regime change” operation, ending in the slaughter of many young Libyan soldiers and the sodomy-with-a-knife-then-murder of Gaddafi.

As Western leaders celebrated — Secretary Clinton exulted  “We came, we saw, he died” — Libyans began the hard work of trying to restructure their political system amid roaming bands of heavily armed jihadist rebels. Soon, it became clear that restoring order would not be easy and that Gaddafi was right about the presence of terrorists in Benghazi (when some overran the U.S. consulate killing U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.)

Libya, which once had an enviable standard of living based on its oil riches, slid into the status of failed state, now with three governments competing for control and with jihadist militias, including some associated with the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, disrupting the nation. The result has been a far worse humanitarian crisis than existed before the West invaded.

Lessons from Libya

So, there should be lessons learned from Libya, just as there should have been lessons learned from Iraq. But the U.S. political/media establishment has refused to perform a serious autopsy of these monumental failures (U.S. inquiries only looked narrowly at the WMD falsehoods about Iraq and the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi for Libya). So, it has fallen to the British to take a broader view.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honor the four victims of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on Sept. 14, 2012. [State Department photo)

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honor the four victims of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on Sept. 14, 2012. [State Department photo)

The British inquiries have had their own limitations, but the Chilcot report on Iraq catalogued many of the flawed decisions that led Prime Minister Tony Blair to sign up for President George W. Bush’s “coalition of the willing” — and a recent parliamentary report revealed how Prime Minister David Cameron fell into a similar pattern regarding Libya and President Obama.

Of course, it’s always easier to detect the manipulations and deceptions in hindsight. In real time, the career pressures on politicians, bureaucrats and journalists can overwhelm any normal sense of skepticism. As the propaganda and disinformation swirl around them, all the “smart” people agree that “something must be done” and that usually means bombing someone.

We are seeing the same pattern play out today with the “group think” in support of a major U.S. military intervention in Syria (supposedly to impose the sweet-sounding goal of a “no-fly zone,” the same rhetorical gateway used to start the “regime change” wars in Iraq and Libya).

We are experiencing the same demonization of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s Vladimir Putin that we witnessed before those other two wars on Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi. Every possible allegation is made against them, often based on dubious and deceitful “evidence,” but it goes unchallenged because to question the propaganda opens a person to charges of being an “apologist” or a “stooge.”

Past Is Prologue

But looking back on how the disasters in Iraq and Libya unfolded is not just about the past; it’s about the present and future.

Hundreds of refugees from Libya line up for food at a transit camp near the Tunisia-Libya border. March 5, 2016. (Photo from the United Nations)

Hundreds of refugees from Libya line up for food at a transit camp near the Tunisia-Libya border. March 5, 2016. (Photo from the United Nations)

In that sense, the findings by the U.K. parliament’s foreign affairs committee regarding Libya deserved more attention than they received because they demonstrated that the Iraq case was not a one-off anomaly but rather part of a new way to rationalize imperial wars.

And the findings showed that these tactics are bipartisan, used by all four major parties in the U.S. and U.K.: Bush was a Republican; Blair was Labour; Obama a Democrat; and Cameron a Conservative. Though the nuances may differ slightly, the outcomes have been the same.

The U.K. report also stripped away many of the humanitarian arguments used to sell the Libyan war and revealed the crass self-interest beneath. For instance, the French, who helped spearhead the Libyan conflict, publicly lamented the suffering of civilians but privately were eager to grab a bigger oil stake in Libya and to block Gaddafi’s plans to supplant the French currency in ex-French colonies of Africa.

The report cited an April 2, 2011 email to Secretary of State Clinton from her unofficial adviser Sidney Blumenthal explaining what French intelligence officers were saying privately about French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s real motives for pushing for the military intervention in Libya:

“a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production, b. Increase French influence in North Africa, c. Improve his internal political situation in France, d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world, e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.”

Regarding France’s “humanitarian” public rationale, the U.K. report quoted then-French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé as warning the U.N. about the imminence of Gaddafi engaging in a mass slaughter of civilians: “We have very little time left — perhaps only a matter of hours.”

But the report added, “Subsequent analysis suggested that the immediate threat to civilians was being publicly overstated and that [Gaddafi’s] reconquest of cities had not resulted in mass civilian casualties.”

The report also found that “Intelligence on the extent to which extremist militant Islamist elements were involved in the anti-Gaddafi rebellion was inadequate,” including the participation of Abdelhakim Belhadj and other members of Al Qaeda’s affiliate, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. A senior defense official said the jihadist danger was played down during the conflict but “with the benefit of hindsight, that was wishful thinking at best.”

The report stated: “The possibility that militant extremist groups would attempt to benefit from the rebellion should not have been the preserve of hindsight. Libyan connections with transnational militant extremist groups were known before 2011, because many Libyans had participated in the Iraq insurgency and in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda.”

(This year, Belhadj and his jihadist militia were enlisted by U.S. officials to protect the U.S.-U.N.-backed “Government of National Accord,” which has failed to win over the support of rival factions, in part, because more secular Libyan leaders distrust Belhadj and resent outsiders deciding who should run Libya.)

Hyperbolic Claims

The U.K. committee criticized the West’s hyperbolic claims about Gaddafi’s intent to slaughter civilians in eastern Libya when his actions were making clear that wasn’t happening.

Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly before he was murdered on Oct. 20, 2011.

Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly before he was murdered on Oct. 20, 2011.

The report said:  “Muammar Gaddafi’s actions in February and March 2011 demonstrated an appreciation of the delicate tribal and regional nature of Libya that was absent in UK policymaking. In particular, his forces did not take violent retribution against civilians in towns and cities on the road to Benghazi. [North Africa analyst] Alison Pargeter told us that any such reprisals would have ‘alienated a lot of the tribes in the east of Libya’ on which the Gaddafi regime relied. …

“Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence. The Gaddafi regime had retaken towns from the rebels without attacking civilians in early February 2011. …

“During fighting in Misrata, the hospital recorded 257 people killed and 949 people wounded in February and March 2011. Those casualties included 22 women and eight children. Libyan doctors told United Nations investigators that Tripoli’s morgues contained more than 200 corpses following fighting in late February 2011, of whom two were female. The disparity between male and female casualties suggested that Gaddafi regime forces targeted male combatants in a civil war and did not indiscriminately attack civilians.”

The report added: “On 17 March 2011, Muammar Gaddafi announced to the rebels in Benghazi, ‘Throw away your weapons, exactly like your brothers in Ajdabiya and other places did. They laid down their arms and they are safe. We never pursued them at all.’ Subsequent investigation revealed that when Gaddafi regime forces retook Ajdabiya in February 2011, they did not attack civilians. Muammar Gaddafi also attempted to appease protesters in Benghazi with an offer of development aid before finally deploying troops.”

In another reprise from the Iraq War run-up, the U.K. inquiry determined that Libyan exiles played key roles in exaggerating the dangers from Gaddafi, much like the Iraqi National Congress did in fabricating supposed “evidence” of Saddam Hussein’s WMD. The report said:

“We were told that émigrés opposed to Muammar Gaddafi exploited unrest in Libya by overstating the threat to civilians and encouraging Western powers to intervene. In the course of his 40-year dictatorship Muammar Gaddafi had acquired many enemies in the Middle East and North Africa, who were similarly prepared to exaggerate the threat to civilians.”

Qatar’s Al-Jazeera satellite channel, which currently is hyping horror stories in Syria, was doing the same in Libya, the U.K. committee learned.

“Alison Pargeter told us that the issue of mercenaries was amplified [with her saying]: ‘I also think the Arab media played a very important role here. Al-Jazeera in particular, but also al-Arabiya, were reporting that Gaddafi was using air strikes against people in Benghazi and, I think, were really hamming everything up, and it turned out not to be true.’”

Allegations Debunked

The report continued: “An Amnesty International investigation in June 2011 could not corroborate allegations of mass human rights violations by Gaddafi regime troops. However, it uncovered evidence that rebels in Benghazi made false claims and manufactured evidence.

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron talk at the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, June 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron talk at the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, June 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“The investigation concluded that much Western media coverage has from the outset presented a very one-sided view of the logic of events, portraying the protest movement as entirely peaceful and repeatedly suggesting that the regime’s security forces were unaccountably massacring unarmed demonstrators who presented no security challenge. …

“In short, the scale of the threat to civilians was presented with unjustified certainty. US intelligence officials reportedly described the intervention as ‘an intelligence-light decision’. We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya. …

“It could not verify the actual threat to civilians posed by the Gaddafi regime; it selectively took elements of Muammar Gaddafi’s rhetoric at face value; and it failed to identify the militant Islamist extremist element in the rebellion. UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence.”

If any of this sounds familiar – echoing the pre-coup reporting from Ukraine in 2013-2014 or the current coverage in Syria – it should. In all those cases, Western diplomats and journalists put white hats on one side and black hats on the other, presenting a simplistic, imbalanced account of the complicated religious, ethnic and political aspects of these crises.

The U.K. report also exposed how the original goal of protecting civilians merged seamlessly into a “regime change” war. The report said:

“The combination of coalition airpower with the supply of arms, intelligence and personnel to the rebels guaranteed the military defeat of the Gaddafi regime. On 20 March 2011, for example, Muammar Gaddafi’s forces retreated some 40 miles from Benghazi following attacks by French aircraft. If the primary object of the coalition intervention was the urgent need to protect civilians in Benghazi, then this objective was achieved in less than 24 hours.

“The basis for intervention: did it change? We questioned why NATO conducted air operations across Libya between April and October 2011 when it had secured the protection of civilians in Benghazi in March 2011. … We asked [former chief of defense staff] Lord Richards whether the object of British policy in Libya was civilian protection or regime change. He told us that ‘one thing morphed almost ineluctably into the other’ as the campaign developed its own momentum. … The UK’s intervention in Libya was reactive and did not comprise action in pursuit of a strategic objective. This meant that a limited intervention to protect civilians drifted into a policy of regime change by military means.”

Less destructive options were also ignored, the report found: “Saif Gaddafi is the second son of Muammar Gaddafi. He was a member of his father’s inner circle and exercised influence in Libya. … Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who knew the Gaddafi regime better than most Western politicians, confirmed that Saif Gaddafi was ‘the best, if not the only prospect’ of effecting political change in Libya.” But that opportunity was rebuffed as was the possibility of arranging Gaddafi’s surrender of power and exile, the report said, adding:

“It was therefore important to keep the lines of communication open. However, we saw no evidence that the then Prime Minister David Cameron attempted to exploit Mr Blair’s contacts. Mr Blair explained that both Mr Cameron and former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were aware that he was communicating with Muammar Gaddafi. We asked Mr Blair to describe Mr Cameron’s reaction to his conversations with Muammar Gaddafi. He told us that Mr Cameron ‘was merely listening’.

“Political options were available if the UK Government had adhered to the spirit of [U.N.] Resolution 1973, implemented its original campaign plan [to protect civilians] and influenced its coalition allies to pause military action when Benghazi was secured in March 2011. Political engagement might have delivered civilian protection, regime change and reform at lesser cost to the UK and to Libya.”

Spreading Disorder

There was also the consequence of the Libyan conflict, spreading disorder around the region because Libyan military stockpiles were plundered. The report said: “Libya purchased some £30 billion [or about $38 billion] of weapons and ammunition between 1969 and 2010. Many of those munitions were not issued to the Libyan Army and were instead stored in warehouses. After the collapse of the Gaddafi regime, some weapons and ammunition remained in Libya, where they fell into the hands of the militias. Other Libyan weapons and ammunition were trafficked across North and West Africa and the Middle East.

Boko Haram leader

Boko Haram leader

“The United Nations Panel of Experts appointed to examine the impact of Resolution 1973 identified the presence of ex-Libyan weapons in Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Gaza, Mali, Niger, Tunisia and Syria. The panel concluded that ‘arms originating from Libya have significantly reinforced the military capacity of terrorist groups operating in Algeria, Egypt, Mali and Tunisia.’ …

“The international community’s inability to secure weapons abandoned by the Gaddafi regime fuelled instability in Libya and enabled and increased terrorism across North and West Africa and the Middle East. The UK Government correctly identified the need to secure weapons immediately after the 2011 Libyan civil war, but it and its international partners took insufficient action to achieve that objective. However, it is probable that none of the states that intervened in Libya would have been prepared to commit the necessary military and political resources to secure stocks of weapons and ammunition. That consideration should have informed their calculation to intervene.”

Despite these findings, the Obama administration and its allies are considering an escalation of their military intervention in Syria, which already has involved arming and training jihadists who include Al Qaeda militants as well as supposedly “moderate” fighters, who have aligned themselves with Al Qaeda and handed over sophisticated American weaponry.

The U.S. military has spearheaded a bombing campaign against Al Qaeda’s spinoff, the Islamic State, inside Syria. But the Obama administration sometimes has put its desire to oust Assad ahead of its supposed priority of fighting the Islamic State, such as when U.S. air power pulled back from bombing Islamic State militants in 2015 as they were overrunning Syrian army positions at the historic city of Palmyra.

Now, with Syria and its Russian ally resorting to intense bombing to root Al Qaeda and its allies, including some of those U.S.-armed “moderates,” from their strongholds in eastern Aleppo, there is a full-throated demand from the West, including virtually all major media outlets, to impose a “no-fly zone,” like the one that preceded the “regime change” in Libya.

While such interventions may “feel good” – and perhaps there’s a hunger to see Assad murdered like Gaddafi – there is little or no careful analysis about what is likely to follow.

The most likely outcome from a Syrian “regime change” is a victory by Al Qaeda and/or its erstwhile friends in the Islamic State. How that would make the lives of Syrians better is hard to fathom. More likely, the victorious jihadists would inflict a mass bloodletting on Christians, Alawites, Shiites, secular Sunnis and other “heretics,” with millions more fleeing as refugees.

Among the Western elites – in politics and media – no lessons apparently have been learned from the disaster in Iraq, nor from the new British report on the Libyan fiasco.

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

35 comments for “The Forgotten Libyan Lessons and the Syrian War

  1. October 10, 2016 at 19:35

    Even worse, it was the clandestine efforts of the GW Bush and Obama Administrations (our State Department, CIA, and other related US agencies) to foment hatreds between the various religious/ethnic groups in Syria in preparation for an attempted “regime change” coup de tat (as revealed in documents released by Wikileaks) which created the conditions that triggered the 2011 multi-sided civil war in Syria in the first place. They wanted a new regime in Syria that would be more friendly to “US corporate interests” (and a US sponsored oil pipeline as pointed out by Robert Kennedy III).

    President Obama and Hillary Clinton supported this scheme and sought to fund and equip outright insurgency movements against the Assad Regime as well.

    So, as a result of this morally depraved (neocon) US “regime change” foreign policy, hundreds of thousands of Syrian men, women, and children were killed (at least million more wounded), and over ten million refugees were created (about a million of whom risked their lives while fleeing to Europe), an environment was created that enabled ISIS to develop into a successful land-grabbing military force, and even MORE terrorist attacks that “killed Americans on American soil” were inspired.

    As President, will Hillary Clint CONTINUE to support US corporately sponsored “regime change” foreign policies in the Middle East and elsewhere (as in Honduras and the Ukraine)? She has admitted that the US military “regime change” invasion of Iraq was a terrible mistake, but so far at least, she has remained disturbingly “silent” about engaging in such morally depraved, illegal, unconstitutional, and usually DISASTROUS United States foreign policies in general. Our news agencies should ASK HER ABOUT THIS! American voters have a need to know where she “stands” in this regard!

  2. Richard
    October 10, 2016 at 16:16

    Do you remember how the US/NATO enforce a no-fly zone in Libya? They were blowing up Government armor and troops on the ground, in the guise of a no fly zone.

    It is the exact same thing they would do in Syria, but the Russians wont let them do it.

    Obama and his nato friends are why Syria is what it is today, arming so called rebels with arms to fight the established government just like they did in Libya.

    Here is a thought, instead of running away thinking others should take care of you, have the so called refugees fight for their own country.

  3. Truth First
    October 7, 2016 at 21:35

    America has frequently tried to ‘solve’ problems by killing people. Aside from being ‘legalized’ murder it doesn’t seem to work very well.

    Tragic that doing the same failed thing is the only response that America seems to consider?????

    One day a clever team of vengeance seekers are going to commit another payback worse than 9/11.

    • backwardsevolution
      October 8, 2016 at 15:18

      Truth First – unfortunately, it’s not a “failed thing” to some of the players: the arms dealers and weapons manufacturers, the military-industrial complex. They are making out like bandits. Follow the money.

      You’re so right about payback coming.

  4. October 7, 2016 at 15:33

    When it comes to the picture labeled “Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly before he was murdered on Oct. 20, 2011” I find the choice of actual subject rather appropriate, but that’s not a fate I’d wish even on her.

  5. RamboDave
    October 7, 2016 at 14:27

    Here is a link to a Petition you can sign that sends a message to Avaaz, which was a major player in 2011 promoting the Libya “no fly zone”. And now, they have joined the propaganda war once again, calling for a “no fly zone” for Syria. To find out how Avaaz joins in on the propaganda each time there is a call for regime change, and to object to it, click on the link below:

  6. October 7, 2016 at 11:19

    I tend to think that the US and its euro vassals know exactly what they are doing. Even Obama referred to this regime change domino policy in the middle-east as ‘the Washington playbook’. The whole thing goes back to the document: ‘A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, (1996) prepared by Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, two case-hardened zionist neo-cons for consideration by Netanyahu. The introduction specifically proposes three new policies:

    1. Rather than pursuing a “comprehensive peace” with the entire Arab world, Israel should work jointly with Jordan and Turkey to “contain, destabilize, and roll-back” those entities that are threats to all three.
    2. Changing the nature of relations with the Palestinians, specifically reserving the right of “hot pursuit” anywhere within Palestinian territory as well as attempting to promote alternatives to Arafat’s leadership.
    3. Changing relations with the United States stressing self-reliance and strategic cooperation.

    In short, every independent secular arab regime was to be neutralized without delay and pliant pro-US, pro-Israeli puppet regimes were to be put in the conquered countries. In fact, ex-NATO chief Wesley Clark blurted this out in a TV interview. It went as follows:

    About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, “Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.” I said, “Well, you’re too busy.” He said, “No, no.” He says, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?” He said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I guess they don’t know what else to do.” So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?” He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” He said, “I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military and we can take down governments.” And he said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.”

    So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!” Straight from the horses mouth; and this is all in the public realm.

    What the US is doing in north Africa and the Middle-East is exactly in line with the policy recommendations of Perle and Feith. This is basically to destroy Isreal’s enemies preparing the ground for zionist expansion, ‘from the Euphrates to the Nile’, the grand zionist strategy for a Greater Israel.

    I think the penny has finally dropped for Putin and Lavrov, they have been played thinking that diplomacy would work; it hasn’t and it won’t. No mistakes are being made, nothing is being learned since the ‘Washington playbook’ has been successful wherever it has been played. But the US might just be over-playing their hand on this occasion. Hubris comes before a fall.

    • Ethan Allen
      October 7, 2016 at 19:12

      This article is worth re-visiting.
      As Usual,

    • backwardsevolution
      October 8, 2016 at 14:04

      Lee – good post. I think Putin and Lavrov felt they HAD to play the diplomacy card. They’d already been vilified in the press and by world governments. When you’re in a weak position, you don’t start throwing your weight around. Putin had to let the world see that they tried negotiations, they tried ceasefires. They had to let the world see that it was the U.S. who was funding and arming ISIS and Al Qaeda, that there was no difference between the “moderate” rebels and the terrorists, that it was the U.S.-backed terrorists in eastern Aleppo who were hurting the civilians, that Assad did not use chemical weapons, etc. This diplomacy time was necessary to show the true intentions of the U.S.: to take Assad out, using whatever excuse they could find or conjure up.

      Had Putin just gone into Syria and started killing the terrorists before the lie could be exposed (that there were no “moderates”), the whole world would have turned on him and the truth would never have surfaced. The U.S. has indeed over-played their hand, and all because Putin gave them time to hang themselves.

  7. OH
    October 7, 2016 at 09:55

    The Democrats are campaigning to fight the cold war harder than the Republicans, on behalf of the Crimean people. You got to hand it to the conservatives they are always two steps ahead of the conservative-lites. Trump’s praise of Putin, washes off in two seconds, clean as a whistle, and what a surprise, Trump and Pence are strongly anti-Russian now, Trump and Pence are ready to out-war Clinton, and they have lured Clinton into running on war, the one place where they can beat her.
    Russia is the one hope we Americans have to keep what remains of our wages and rights. The one thing that could stop America’s plans to use endless war to endlessly stop the 99% from rising up, and get back their torture powers to use against US dissidents. All US wars are wars top keep US wages low, if there was a better way to attack our wages than indirectly by killing innocent people and imposing failed states…

  8. Albion Moonlight
    October 7, 2016 at 09:48

    “Libya, which once had an envious standard of living based on its oil riches. . .” Envious means feeling or showing envy. Surely the writer means enviable.

  9. Trico
    October 7, 2016 at 09:29

    Why did 9/11 happen? Why is the US trying to remove Assad as head of Syria?
    Why was Muammar Gaddafi killed?
    Why was Saddam Hussein, a stabilizing force in the Middle East, taken down? – Introducing: The Project for a New American Century (PNAC).
    This Washington D.C. Think Tank called for the takedown of 7 Countries in 5 years.
    In 2000, it was decided that the plan would take too long and another Pearl Harbor type Event was needed to get the ball tolling.
    Next year on September 11, 2001 PNAC got their “Pearl Harbor”

    Project For A New American Century (PNAC) PNAC called for the US to invade 7 Countries in 5 years and take down their Governments:
    Iraq, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, Iran
    Note: Russia screwed up the US plans to take down Assad in Syria, so far. Obviously the 5 year plan is way behind schedule.

    “General Wesley Clark: Wars Were Planned – Seven Countries In Five Years ”
    2:12 video

    “General Wesley Clark: The US will attack 7 countries in 5 years”
    17:36 video

    Project For A New American Century (PNAC)

  10. backwardsevolution
    October 7, 2016 at 02:23

    No lessons were forgotten. When you see the same behavior over and over again, you eventually come to the conclusion that what has happened in the past and what is happening now has all been planned from the get-go.

    This is how psychopaths think and operate. Since no one can quite believe they would actually plan these things (go in and take out a sovereign leader), we all offer excuses for their behavior: they got carried away, things got out of hand, they made a mistake, they wrongly thought something was happening when it wasn’t, they listened to the wrong people, they were trying to do good, etc. As Diana Johnstone (author of the Queen of Chaos) says:

    “The plain truth is that Syria is the victim of a long-planned Joint Criminal Enterprise to destroy the last independent secular Arab nationalist state in the Middle East, following the destruction of Iraq in 2003. While attributed to government repression of “peaceful protests” in 2011, the armed uprising had been planned for years and was supported by outside powers: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States and France, among others. The French motives remain mysterious, unless linked to those of Israel, which sees the destruction of Syria as a means to weaken its archrival in the region, Iran. Saudi Arabia has similar intentions to weaken Iran, but with religious motives. Turkey, the former imperial power in the region, has territorial and political ambitions of its own. Carving up Syria can satisfy all of them.

    This blatant and perfectly open conspiracy to destroy Syria is a major international crime, and the above-mentioned States are co-conspirators. They are joined in this Joint Criminal Enterprise by ostensibly “humanitarian” organizations like Avaaz that spread war propaganda in the guise of protecting children. This works because most Americans just can’t believe that their government would do such things.”

    I applaud the report of the U.K. parliament’s foreign affairs committee regarding Libya. They did a good job uncovering what transpired; at least we have that. But they never touch on the real motives for the behavior. This was the murder of a sovereign leader, and again it’s put down to the fact that the British hadn’t gotten all of the information they should have. Could it be they didn’t want all of the information, because then they would have had to stop, and Gaddafi would still be alive? They don’t act otherwise because they don’t want to, that’s not part of their plan. Watch what they do, not what they say. Why would they want to secure all arms when their motive was to get them into the hands of the rebels who would help them against Assad?

    Many people are just not understanding that these people are evil sociopathic criminals. Let’s begin at least by calling them what they are.

    • Daniel Guyot
      October 7, 2016 at 11:06

      “These people are evil sociopathic criminals”. Yes, really, they are! Crazy and dangerous!

      Look for instance at this excerpt from the Sun – UK press :

      ‘WE WILL DESTROY YOU’ US Army chief Mark Milley fires terrifying threat to Russia over Syria and warns: ‘We’ll beat you anywhere, anytime’

      The firebrand speech is likely to ratchet up tensions between the two superpowers as war of words reaches boiling point
      By DANNY COLLINS 6th October 2016, 8:25 am “

  11. Andrew Nichols
    October 7, 2016 at 02:16

    The U.K. committee criticized the West’s hyperbolic claims about Gaddafi’s intent to slaughter civilians in eastern Libya when his actions were making clear that wasn’t happening.

    And if we survive Clintons WW3 with Russia they’ll be saying the same about the BS over Syria – and still noone will be held accountable…

  12. Kiza
    October 7, 2016 at 02:16

    Mt Parry is funny: “Most intelligent Americans – Republicans as well as Democrats – now accept that they were duped into the Iraq War with disastrous consequences”. It appears that most “intelligent Americans” react only when hit on the wallet, because the War on Iraq has cost so many trillions.

    Just imagine for a moment that someone has done to the “intelligent Americans” what the “intelligent Americans” have done to the intelligent Iraqis, or intelligent Libyans, or intelligent Afghanistan, or intelligent Syrians and so intelligent on!

    Now I understand that Mr Parry must stay within the accepted range of themes of the US public discourse, which outright prevents objective analysis, but the side-effect is that it does read funny. I am not blaming Mr Parry for this. There is an old saying among my people: The person with a full stomach never trusts what the person with an empty stomach says, that is they have two totally different perspectives on the same thing. In other words, the US public discourse, even when critical of policy, is about how many terrorists can dance on the tip of a sawing needle.

    • W. R. Knight
      October 7, 2016 at 10:55

      It begs the question, what is the meaning of the word “intelligent”?

      • W. R. Knight
        October 7, 2016 at 11:02

        Do “intelligent” people play “Russian Roulette”, play with fire and explosives or play other self destructive games?

        Do “intelligent” people borrow trillions of dollars to bomb the crap out of other nations?

        Do “intelligent” people nominate the two most reviled candidates for president and then make the choice between them?

        • Kiza
          October 7, 2016 at 22:14

          We all know what Ghandi said about the Western Civilization. Well I say the same about “intelligent Americans – Republicans as well as Democrats” – I think it would be a great idea.

  13. Tannenhouser
    October 7, 2016 at 00:09

    Rose petals and candies. It was honey I believe. Either way almost verbatim what the British plebs were told during the British Empires adventures in Iraq, they even had their own Fallujah. Forgotten lessons indeed. More like par for the course I’d say.

  14. Joe Tedesky
    October 6, 2016 at 23:48

    Wow, things are really heating up. I just read where George Soros is calling on the U.S., Europe, and the Russian people to put an end to Putin’s dictatorship. I also have a link left below to another article where Russia is saying enough is enough. In Syria the Russians have put in place their S300VM surface to air missiles, and Russia is warning all unidentifiable aircraft to stay clear of the Syrian sky’s, or else.

    Now, that apparently the U.S. can’t quite find any moderate rebels, the U.S. is blaming Russia due to their Russian aggression for their forcing the good moderates into the arms of the bad terrorist rebels. You see, it’s Putin’s fault, but you already knew that. Seriously this is the trending meme that America is hanging it’s hat on for now, next week who knows, but for now it’s all Russia’s fault that America can’t locate any moderate rebels.

    If the Pentagon really wants to continue this war, well now is the time to escalate this Syrian affair, before the American 2016 Presidential Election is held. The other question I have, is how stretched out will America go to put more punishing hardships on Russia? Don’t forget China, Iran, and the Ukraine are hot spots too, and who really knows what is going on inside Libya or Africa for that matter. Why the whole world is being placed on the board. The one thing that the Neocon’s seem to love, is playing it big, but the question is, is how much are we willing to lose to reach that big goal, and there in lies the problem. How does a country with 20 trillion dollars in debt, with a DOD missing 6.5 trillion dollars do it, or doesn’t it?

    Could America put the war on hold, until it gets some more money to fight it with? Oh I forgot we are indispensable and exceptional, so we’re okay.

    • Kiza
      October 7, 2016 at 02:30

      No Joe, you just own a fantastic credit card issued by the Fed, called the Reserve Currency, which the US has been abusing over the years more and more with abandon, since Nixon took US$ off gold. He did it to make pay for the part of the War on Vietnam, but the appetites got higher and higher over the years and now all the wars are put on this credit card. US will probably never have to pay it off either, when the US collapses the global financial markets the inflation will wipe-out this debt (and most pensions with it, unfortunately). Someone will have to pay, but for some reason I feel that it will not be the ones who started all these profitable wars.

      6.5 trillion missing!? What is a few trillion among friends: Israelis, Saudis, Qataris, Turks, Ukrainians and so on? A trillion here and a trillion there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money

    • Kiza
      October 7, 2016 at 02:55

      Oh, and one more thing that you mentioned. Now there is already a no-fly-zone in Syria and its name is S300VM, except it ain’t the one imposed by the Ziocons as over Libya. Please note that the Russian public release is in plural, which means that they have sent several S300VM systems, plus S400 at the airport, plus S300 on a ship. This would suggest that Russia has created an air-defense umbrella over the whole of Syria, effectively a no-fly-zone for the US and the rest of the Coalition of the Sponsors of Terrorism (COST) aircraft.

      No Israeli or US fly will be flying over Syria any more: there is a claim that S300VM is effective against low RCS, a.k.a “stealth” aircraft. Will the US risk a few F22s or F35s and a few top-gun i.e. dumb pilots for the benefit of its MIC?

      The Russians are going out on a limb on Syria, taking huge risks, but they are trying to discourage the risqué behavior by the US establishment. Not even Hillary could establish a Western safe-zone for terrorists over Syria any more. Let us see if the USraeli wonks get the message: “Syria is gone, move on gentlemen and ladies to your next war!”

      • Joe Tedesky
        October 7, 2016 at 09:17

        The Russians and Chinese should have jumped into this along time ago, let’s say at least when the Iraq war was started by America ….where’s that WMD war. At least it would have been 5 trillion dollars cheaper. On the other hand the MIC would have lost a ton of profit, and what’s good for the MIC is good (not) for America. America use to be a country that run on wheels, now it’s a country that runs on weapons. More importantly will Brad have custody of any of his and Angelina’s six kids? Besides that huge concern, will Kim and Kanye ever emotionally be able to enjoy traveling again? Let’s stick to the important stuff.

    • Alexandr
      October 7, 2016 at 05:50

      Haven’t read the article yet (I will later), but I must say one short thing. Yesterday (Russian timezone) I watched “60 Minutes” with many respective guests and the general position and conclusion were that all that crap from talking heads from US is simply pre-election rhetoric. There also was an online with Dimitri Simes from “The Center For The National Interest” and “The National Interest” journal, he is an often guest, by the way. It’s to be short… However the main theme of the series was about Plutonium Disposal Agreement hXXps:// no subs again, unfortunately.

      • Joe Tedesky
        October 7, 2016 at 10:14

        The cancellation of the Plutonium Disposal Agreement is very regretful. I can’t blame the Russians for how they feel. With the U.S. bombing Deir ez-Zor and killing over sixty of Syria’s troops all good faith was loss. I personally believe that most Americans are not informed well enough to have any meaningful honest opinion as to make a difference in Syria. Americans have been fed to many lies by it’s media, and as the saying goes, garbage in is garbage out. So don’t get your hopes up if we are to hold out hope of the presidential election results to make any changes that are worthwhile, and aimed towards a peaceful solution. Israel just won’t allow it.

  15. war is coming
    October 6, 2016 at 21:55

    War Hawks Are Sensing an Opening in Syria
    Yet the horrific tragedy now unfolding is partially the result of the West’s support for the overthrow of Syria’s secular government by radical Sunni fundamentalists.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 6, 2016 at 23:15

      I found your link to be really discouraging reading. Especially the parts about how dysfunctional the US Congress has become.

  16. John
    October 6, 2016 at 21:52

    Is this old news ? I think maybe it is……Fund raising is also the oldest game in town. Everyone has a story to sell….Reminds me of Bill and Hillary Clinton who are a lot like Jim and Tammy Baker the TV evangelist …..remember those knucklehead fundraisers ?

  17. ltr
    October 6, 2016 at 21:07

    So worrying, the push for war in the media and by the political leadership is shockingly blind to history, shockingly distorted to what has happened in Syria and blindly self-defeating.

  18. Stefan
    October 6, 2016 at 21:03

    Robert, it is wrong to assume that looking back, should make them rethink. Trying to rationalize the problem in that manner is akin to chasing ones tail.

    On the contrary, looking back, they achieved according to the plan quite plausibly.

    The mountain of bodies and the oceans of blood is not a bug, but a feature from the perspective of the transgressors.

    In their eyes, doing more if the same rhymes perfectly well with their objectives.

    • J. D.
      October 7, 2016 at 12:33

      Yes, Libya turned out exactly as expected. HRC shamelessly boasts of the destruction of that nation to this day. The neo-con goal is to destroy the governments of Syrian, then Iran, and ultimately Russia. The lesson taken away from Libya, by Obama and Clinton,was that and all of the people can be fooled all of the time. It remains to be seen if that is indeed true, now that Congress has dealt Obama a serious rebuke by overriding his veto of JASTA, 97-1 in the Senate.

      • Dennis Berube
        October 7, 2016 at 21:00

        Agreed. Iraq and Libya are only judged failures by rational peoples. The western ruling class is evil and is more likely using those as models than disgraces.

        It is long overdue that we realize the forces in play here are completely insane and will stop at nothing. Millions dead doesn’t seem to matter

  19. Sally Snyder
    October 6, 2016 at 19:46

    Here is an email from Hillary Clinton’s private server about the situation in Libya prior to the unseating of Muammar Qaddafi

    The U.S. Department of State was attempting to force Bashar al-Assad’s hand by providing him with another fine example of what happens to the deposed leaders of countries that fall on the wrong side of America’s agenda for global hegemony.

  20. Exiled off mainstreet
    October 6, 2016 at 19:27

    It is a complete disgrace. It is not only criminal but stupid. The idea that we could be facing armageddon: nuclear war on behalf of el qaeda should the harpy get elected is profoundly depressing. It would be unfortunate if the votes of those usually considered more enlightened were so taken in by partisanism that, like lemmings, they supported the “soft fascism” (after the late Sheldon Wolin’s characterisation) of the Clinton campaign. Their fascist-like view that those opposed to them are only favoring the Russians is symptomatic of this fact. Sanders, by acting as a loyal quisling lapdog despite the proof shown in the wikileaks disclosures and elsewhere that his campaign was derailed by corruption in Nevada and elsewhere has played a significant role in the enabling of the war criminal candidacy of the Clintons and has thereby destroyed his reputation.. The fact that, despite her obvious incapacity she goes on like the energizer bunny reveals the power mad personality of the fascist harpy. Despite the undoubted incapacities of Trump, the obvious threat posed by the continuation of the Clinton dynasty make this election pivotal for our survival. I suspect that there is a significant chance that civilization will not survive a harpy victory.

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