Obama’s Last Stand Against War on Syria

Exclusive: For five years, President Obama has resisted neocon/liberal-interventionist pressure to go to war against Syria, but – as his departure grows near – the hawks see more “regime change” wars coming into view, says Joe Lauria.

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

Through five years of war in Syria, President Obama has been in a constant internal struggle with hawks in his administration who want the U.S. to directly intervene militarily to overthrow the Syrian government.

On at least four occasions Obama has stood up to them, although at other times he has compromised and gone half way toward the hawkish position. Now, with less than three months to go in office, Obama appears to be leaving his Syria policy to those aligned with the lead hawk who might soon take Obama’s place.

President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

As Secretary of State until early 2013, Hillary Clinton failed to convince Obama to consistently take a tough line on Syria. She wanted him to realize her two main policies, which she still clings to: a “safe zone” on the ground and a “no-fly zone” in the air – meaning that Syrian government forces and their allies, including the Russians, would be barred from operating in those areas.

Protected by U.S. air power and other military means, rebels seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would, in effect, have an untouchable staging area to launch attacks on the government without its ability to hit back. Clinton has called removing Assad a top foreign policy priority.

Clinton followed a similar model in 2011 when she convinced a reluctant Obama to adopt a plan in Libya to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi under the pretext of “protecting civilians” when Gaddafi launched an offensive against rebels in eastern Libya whom he identified as terrorists. After the U.S. and European military intervention, Gaddafi was ousted, tortured and murdered – prompting Clinton to quip “we came, we saw, he died” – but the “regime change” turned Libya into a failed state.

Indeed, the Libyan chaos – now with three rival governments and terrorist enclaves – has become emblematic of the disarray following “regime change” that has marked nearly two decades of neoconservative influence in Washington, a strategy of dividing and weakening defiant states while U.S. contractors profit from the chaos that bleeds the locals to death.

Lost Lessons

Obama learned from Libya, which he deemed his biggest regret for having no plan for the aftermath. The fiasco left him deeply skeptical about intervention in Syria, although – given his prescient opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq – he should have already understood what happens after the U.S. overthrows regimes these days.

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.

In the early years of the CIA — in Syria in 1949, Iran in 1953, and Guatemala in 1954, as illegal and as unjustified as those coups were — the agency had viable leaders groomed to take over. But all that changed after the Cold War ended. Then careless wishful thinking — or intended chaos — replaced any careful planning for the future of the countries that were at the receiving end of “regime change.”

“We can use our military in the Middle East and the Soviets won’t stop us,” arch-neocon Paul Wolfowitz boasted before the Iraq invasion.

Today neoconservatives and liberal interventionists (such as Clinton) act like gamblers who can’t leave the table. Disasters for Iraqis, Libyans and others haven’t dissuaded these American war advocates from pushing more chips onto the table over Syria. Indeed, their failures – and the lack of any personal accountability for their catastrophes – seem to have only emboldened them to keep gambling.

These “regime change” schemes – in the guise of “spreading democracy” in the Middle East – have only spread chaos and terrorism, but those conditions give the hawks more reasons and excuses to intervene, thus creating more chaos and making more money, while weakening nations defying Washington.

Clinton began laying a bet on “regime change” in Damascus by pushing to arm rebels in the summer of 2012. One of her leaked emails explains her motive: to break up the Teheran to Damascus to southern Lebanon supply line to Hezbollah — a longstanding Israeli objective.

At that point, Obama refused to arm the rebels, but the President apparently didn’t have full control over his national security bureaucracy, which seemed to have found ways to aid the Syrian rebels despite Obama’s reluctance, possibly by encouraging U.S. regional allies, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Israel.

An August 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency document, which was made public last year, showed that U.S. intelligence agencies were well aware of where these operations were headed, with or without Obama’s approval.

Ret. Gen. Mike Flynn, who ran the DIA at the time, has said it was a “willful decision” in Washington to support a “Salafist principality” — a safe area for jihadist rebels — in eastern Syria to put pressure on Assad’s government in Damascus. Flynn didn’t say who in Washington ultimately decided on this risky scheme, but the DIA document warned that the Salafists could join with jihadists from Iraq to form an “Islamic State.” And indeed two years later, that was exactly what happened.

While this “Salafist principality” was gestating in summer 2013, Obama again showed some independence on Syria after assessing the disastrous consequences of the Clinton-led “regime change” in Libya, i.e., a failed state radiating arms and jihadis to Syria and the Sahel.

However, at this point – battered by think-tank and media commentaries decrying him as “soft” and “weak”  – Obama compromised with the hawks and eventually agreed to arm and train some of the rebels, supposedly the “moderate” kind. But he resisted pressure to launch cruise missiles against Syrian government targets after his “red line” was supposedly crossed by a chemical weapons attack outside Damascus that killed hundreds of people.

As we now know, the CIA did not think it was a “slam dunk” that the Syrian government did it, though the mainstream U.S. media imposed a “group think” blaming the sarin attack on Assad. But significant evidence pointed to the rebels trying to create an incident that would draw the U.S. military into the war directly on the jihadist side.

Sensing that a trap was being laid to entice the U.S. into another Mideast war, Obama instead took Russia’s offer to have Syria give up its chemical weapons stocks, which in time it did, infuriating the neocons.

An Even Bolder Putin Offer

Russian President Vladimir Putin followed with another offer to the United States in September 2015, delivered from the podium of the U.N. General Assembly. He proposed joint U.S.-Russian airstrikes against the now fully formed Islamic State and associated jihadists.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

More than three years earlier, I reported that Russia’s motive to support Assad was to stop the spread of jihadism that threatened the West and Russia. Before the U.N., Putin put it on the record, invoking the World War II alliance between the Soviet Union and the West to confront a greater threat, Nazism.

“Similar to the anti-Hitler coalition, it could unite a broad range of parties willing to stand firm against those who, just like the Nazis, sow evil and hatred of humankind,” Putin said.

By then, the jihadists had clearly become the greater evil in Syria with their practice of decapitating Western hostages as well as locals deemed religious “apostates.” In time Islamic State also would plan or inspire terror attacks in France, Belgium, Germany, Egypt and the United States. By contrast, Assad was an undemocratic leader governing a police state but he posed no threat to the West.

However, by 2015, the demonization of Vladimir Putin was well underway and his offer was spurned by Western leaders. Obama, who faced mainstream ridicule for “failing to enforce his red line” in Syria and for not being tough enough on Russia, joined in rejecting Putin’s offer.

We now know why. In a leaked audio conversation with Syrian opposition figures in September, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S., rather than seriously fight Islamic State in Syria, was ready to use the growing strength of the jihadists to pressure Assad to resign, just as outlined in the DIA document.

“We know that this was growing, we were watching, we saw that Daesh [a derisive name for Islamic State] was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened,” Kerry said. “We thought however we could probably manage that Assad might then negotiate, but instead of negotiating he got Putin to support him.”

Russia began its military intervention in late September 2015 without the United States, with the Kremlin’s motives made abundantly clear by Putin and other Russian officials.

For instance, last month, Putin told French TV channel TF1: “Remember what Libya or Iraq looked like before these countries and their organizations were destroyed as states by our Western partners’ forces? … These states showed no signs of terrorism. They were not a threat for Paris, for the Cote d’Azur, for Belgium, for Russia, or for the United States. Now, they are the source of terrorist threats. Our goal is to prevent the same from happening in Syria.”

Such clear explanations are rarely reported clearly by Western corporate media, which instead peddles the line from officials and think tanks that Russia is trying to recover lost imperial glory in the Middle East.

Worries about Damascus 

But Kerry knew why Russia intervened. “The reason Russia came in is because ISIL [another acronym for Islamic State] was getting stronger, Daesh was threatening the possibility of going to Damascus, and that’s why Russia came in because they didn’t want a Daesh government and they supported Assad,” he said in the leaked discussion. Kerry’s comment suggests that the U.S. was willing to risk Islamic State and its jihadist allies gaining power in order to oust Assad.

 United States Secretary of State John Kerry with Samantha Power, US Permanent Representative to the UN, during the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session. 20 September 2016 (UN Photo)

Secretary of State John Kerry with Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N., at the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 20, 2016. (UN Photo)

Kerry’s comments echoed those of senior Israeli officials who have pronounced the “Shiite crescent” from Iran through Syria to Hezbollah’s territory in Lebanon as Israel’s greatest strategic threat and have expressed a preference for an Al Qaeda or even an Islamic State victory in Syria to shatter that centerpiece of the “Shiite crescent.”

In September 2013, in one of the most explicit expressions of Israel’s views, its Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al Qaeda.

In June 2014, Oren reiterated his position at an Aspen Institute conference. Then, speaking as a former ambassador, Oren said Israel would even prefer a victory by Islamic State, which was then massacring captured Iraqi soldiers and beheading Westerners, than the continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria.

“From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.

Israel’s preference extended into a tacit alliance with Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front in Syria, with which the Israelis developed essentially a non-aggression pact, even caring for Nusra fighters in Israeli hospitals and mounting lethal air attacks inside Syria against Lebanese and Iranian advisers to the Syrian military.

In hoping that the jihadists could spearhead the overthrow of Assad while somehow not achieving a full-scale victory, U.S. officials may have thought they could somehow eat their cake and have it, too.

Yet, that represents a major risk, essentially assuming that Assad would step down in some orderly transition of power rather than be ousted in a chaotic fight to the finish. But U.S. officials were apparently willing to take the chance of an Al Qaeda/Islamic State victory in Damascus.

Putin warned the General Assembly about such a gamble with terrorism: “The Islamic State itself did not come out of nowhere. It was initially developed as a weapon against undesirable secular regimes.” He added that it was irresponsible “to manipulate extremist groups and use them to achieve your political goals, hoping that later you’ll find a way to get rid of them or somehow eliminate them.”

Stopping the Jihadists

Russia’s intervention seriously reversed the jihadists’ advances, alarming Saudi Arabia and Turkey. In February, they demanded that the U.S. support their invasion of Syria. It was a momentous moment for Obama: Would he risk war with Russia to save another “regime change” project?

Video of the Russian SU-24 exploding in flames inside Syrian territory after it was shot down by Turkish air-to-air missiles on Nov. 24, 2015.

Video of the Russian SU-24 exploding in flames inside Syrian territory after it was shot down by Turkish air-to-air missiles on Nov. 24, 2015.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, a committed neocon, “welcomed” the Saudi-Turk plan to launch an invasion by air from Turkey’s Incirlik NATO air base and by land through the wastelands of Jordan or western Iraq. The Saudis staged a 30,000-man invasion war game in the desert. But Obama again stood up for reason and stopped it, at least for a time.

In July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his backers crushed an attempted coup. Erdogan seized the opportunity to eliminate almost all opposition to his near-total one-man rule. By late August, Erdogan was ready to make his next move with no one left in Turkey to oppose him.

On Aug. 24, with U.S. air cover, Turkey invaded Syria. This time Obama did not stop him. Washington clearly approved as its planes protected Turkish tanks and infantry rolling across the border. Vice President Joe Biden was in Ankara a day before the invasion.

The pretext was to fight Islamic State, but it became clear immediately that Turkey’s main target was to block advances by the Syrian Kurds, one of Islamic State’s toughest foes on the ground. The U.S. protested those attacks, but Washington surely knew what Turkey’s intentions were.

The date – Aug. 24 – was significant because it was the 500th anniversary of the start of the Ottoman empire when the Ottomans left Turkey and invaded their first country — Syria.

It was hardly a coincidence when one considers Erdogan’s history. He spurred a violent police crackdown in Istanbul’s Ghezi Park in 2013 against demonstrators protesting his plan to build a replica of an Ottoman barracks in the park. In April, Erdogan named a new bridge over the Bosphorus after Osman, founder of the Ottoman Empire.

An initial target of the invasion also was significant. On Oct. 16, Turkish-backed rebels captured the Syrian town of Dabiq from Islamic State, the site of a victory in 1516 that established the Ottoman Empire.

Listening to Russia

Still, Obama continued to drag his heels regarding a deeper U.S. role in Syria. Obama resisted the hawks again this summer by allowing Kerry to negotiate with Russia on Putin’s offer at the U.N.: to form a military alliance against Islamic State and Al Qaeda in Syria. Russia’s 2015 entry had turned the tide of the war in Syria’s favor but the war against the insurgency has stalled in Aleppo, where a third of the city remains largely under Al Qaeda control.

Map of Syria.

Map of Syria.

While Obama publicly slammed the Russians, projecting that they were on an imperial adventure that would wind up in a quagmire (exactly what has afflicted U.S. imperial adventures in various theaters), he kept plans for a safe zone and no-fly zone on hold.

Nearly a year after Putin’s U.N. offer and after months of intermittent talks, Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sept. 9 finally reached a deal to jointly fight terrorists in Syria. It was clear the agreement would ground the Syrian air force, resume humanitarian aid and agree on the identity of rebels to be jointly attacked, but U.S. officials insisted the terms remain secret.

But Defense Secretary Ash Carter made no secret of his objection. On Sept. 8, he said: “In the current circumstance, it is not possible for the United States to associate itself with — let alone to cooperate in — a venture that is only fueling violence and civil war.”

It was an extraordinary act of insubordination for which Carter was not punished. Once again Obama chose not to completely stand up to the hawks while authorizing a policy that they opposed.

But then Carter’s objection to the deal went beyond words. Two days before it was to go into effect, warplanes from the U.S. military coalition killed more than 60 Syrian soldiers near Deir ez Zor in an air strike the Pentagon later said was an “accident.” U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power was hardly repentant as she condemned Russia’s attempt to discuss the incident at the Security Council as a “stunt.”

Four days later, a U.N. aid convoy was attacked near Aleppo, killing more than 20 aid workers. The U.S. immediately blamed Russian air strikes without presenting any evidence. Russia says rebels were responsible. The U.S.-Russia deal was dead.

Moscow eventually revealed the deal’s terms. At its heart was the separation of U.S.-backed rebels from Al Qaeda, which dominates a third of Aleppo. But once again, despite repeated pledges to do so, the U.S. government failed to separate them. Indeed, some “moderate” groups double-downed on their alliance with Al Qaeda.

Syria and Russia had enough and declared all rebels fighting with Al Qaeda to be fair game. They commenced a furious bombardment of east Aleppo to crush the insurgency there once and for all.  Putting all of Aleppo back into government hands would be a major turning point in the war but it has not proven easy. Instead the fierce aerial assaults have claimed numerous civilian lives, handing Russia’s opponents a public relations coup.

Complaints of War Crimes

Washington, London and Paris are leading the chorus of war crimes accusations against Russia (though the U.S. and Britain invaded Iraq without Security Council authorization in an act of aggression that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and can reasonably be seen as the supreme war crime.)

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush shake hands after a joint White House press conference on Nov. 12, 2004. (White House photo)

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush shake hands after a joint White House press conference on Nov. 12, 2004. (White House photo)

Russia’s actions in Aleppo have been compared to Israel’s in Gaza. Two U.N. reports have said Israel may have been guilty of war crimes in 2012 and 2014 attacks on Gaza, but Israel has not been prosecuted at the International Criminal Court.

The differences between Gaza and Aleppo are stark, however. Gazans are an indigenous people attacked by an Occupying Power. Syria and Russia are attacking the occupiers of east Aleppo – many of them foreign-backed mercenaries.

People in Gaza cannot escape the city because of their attackers, while people in east Aleppo can’t escape because civilians who attempt to leave come under sniper fire. Also, rebel rockets fired from east Aleppo into west Aleppo kill large numbers of civilians, unlike Hamas’ rockets fired into Israel.

But the most significant difference between the two cases of terrible human suffering is that the West defends Israel and deflects charges of war crimes while it accuses Russia and Syria of war crimes.

Isolated from the context of the entire Syrian war against a foreign-backed rebellion, the battle for east Aleppo (usually reported as the whole city) has been framed by Western liberal media in the same way Sarajevo was in the 1990s.

Then a highly complex war was boiled down to one battle, where Bosnian Serbs fired into civilian areas as part of a larger war aim (although the attacks were portrayed as simply a lust to kill civilians). Today it is Russia that Is accused of acting out of the pure intent to kill civilians with no other motive.

The media’s reaction to the bombardment of east Aleppo has led to a sharp increase in rabid calls for Western military intervention against the Syrian government and possibly against Russia. The British parliament held a Russia-bashing session in October, including calls for war against Moscow. Neocon newspapers, such as The Washington Post, are itching for battle. A British general said the U.K. would be ready to fight Russia in two years — enough time for a Clinton administration to prepare.

Already, U.S. neocons and liberal hawks are dreaming about “regime change” in Moscow with Putin replaced by a Wall Street-friendly leader like Boris Yeltsin who let Western interests plunder Russia’s resources during the 1990s. Yet, that may be just another example of the U.S. failure to anticipate the likely consequences of interventions.

Even if Russia could be destabilized sufficiently to unseat Putin, the more likely result would be the rise of a fierce Russian nationalist, not a pro-Western “liberal” in the mold of Yeltsin. That might increase the risks of nuclear war, rather than give the West another compliant Russia.

Plus, Putin would not be easily ousted, especially given his strong popular support, according to opinion polls. Indeed, some internal criticism of Putin has been that he has tried too hard to accommodate the West.

But Washington’s modus operandi has been to continually provoke and blame a country until it becomes an adversary and stands up for itself, as Putin’s Russia has done. Then, the West accuses the country of “aggression” and justifies attacks against it as “self-defense.”

We see these winds of war blowing in Ukraine, the Baltics, Poland and the Balkans — with NATO’s military posturing to counter “Russian aggression” — and in Syria, where neocon calls are increasing for the U.S. to strike the Syrian government.

One More Stand

Obama, apparently for the fourth time, kept the hawks at bay after a White House meeting last month in which military action was turned down in the face of Russia’s warning that it would target attacking U.S. aircraft.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

Over the past five years, Obama has been almost the only brake on keeping the Syrian conflict — and relations with Russia — from spiraling completely out of control. But his voice is fading as he prepares to leave office on Jan. 20, 2017.

Into this fevered environment steps Hillary Clinton who may win the White House within the week. She continues to call for a safe zone and a no-fly zone, despite the warning last month from Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the joint chiefs, that that would mean war with Russia.

Still, Hillary Clinton has continued pushing for a military intervention as recently as the last presidential debate.

“I’m going to continue to push for a no-fly zone and safe havens within Syria … not only to help protect the Syrians and prevent the constant outflow of refugees, but to gain some leverage on both the Syrian government and the Russians,” Clinton declared.

She said this after admitting in one of her paid speeches, released by Wikileaks, that a no-fly zone will “kill a lot of Syrians.”

The “safe zone” is supposed to shelter internally displaced Syrians to prevent them from becoming refugees. But it could also be used as a staging ground to train and equip jihadists intent on regime change, as was done in Libya. A safe area would need ground troops to protect it, although Clinton says there will be no U.S. ground troops in Syria.

But Turkey also has been clamoring for a safe area on the ground for the past few years. Erdogan called for one (as well as a no-fly zone in northern Syria) as recently as last September in his address to the U.N. General Assembly.

Russia’s reaction has been defiant, setting up an ominous game of chicken that could go nuclear. Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Russia would shoot down any American plane attacking the Syrian government. Russia has also deployed sophisticated air defenses in the country. This has given U.S. brass deep pause about confronting Russia in Syria. So far Russia has come out on top there, lessening the risks of confrontation that could escalate to the most dangerous levels.

But would Hillary Clinton back down from her harsh rhetoric if she’s elected? Or would she appoint more hawkish military leaders? Obama’s half-way measures in Syria have left the door open to a Clinton administration that appears determined to ratchet up the regime change operation by calling Putin’s bluff.

She also seems poised to arm the Ukrainian government and perhaps give Putin an ultimatum: give back Crimea or else. But what if Putin calls Clinton’s bluff and refuses, given the fact that the people of Crimea voted by 96 percent in a referendum to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia? It’s a roll of the dice the hawks might be ready to toss.

Washington’s hawks appear to have bested Obama this last time, since he has not stood in the way of Clinton’s allies inside his administration letting Erdogan pursue his neo-Ottoman fantasy (even to the point of fighting U.S.-backed Kurds) in exchange for Turkish NATO forces establishing a safe area without U.S. ground troops. Turkey and its rebel forces already control about 490 square miles in northern Syria.

With less than three months left in office, Obama appears to have finally surrendered on Syrian policy, ceding it to the next president.

Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the U.N. since 1990. He has written for the Boston Globe, the London Daily Telegraph, the Johannesburg Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. He can be reached [email protected]  and followed on Twitter at @unjoe.

64 comments for “Obama’s Last Stand Against War on Syria

  1. LJ
    November 7, 2016 at 16:41

    Obama has been a hardliner foreign policy president. He pushed about as hard as he could since the American People made it clear they did not support going to War behind the Presidential Paper that his Administration put forward concerning the alleged sarin attack outside Damascus. The military did not support this the British House of Commons either so the American People won . He was not going to get a Declaration of War out of Congress at that time. Obama kept Gates and made Her Secretary of State. The Self proclaimed pipeline President said ” I’m good at killing people” I am not accepting any white washing of Obama. He loved his work and the world is more unsafe because of it. But with fracking, QE3 , the Cold War 2.0 and California booming it’s a hotter economy than when he got into office.

  2. bluto
    November 7, 2016 at 15:11

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  3. J'hon Doe II
    November 7, 2016 at 13:31

    state in which the conditions of life are extremely bad as from deprivation or oppression or terror

    now election 11/7/16 ensues, ‘Obama’s Last Stand Against War on Syria and, we descend into literal


    true freedom is void of duplicities and void of arrogations of power
    imposed under rule of ‘law’ ritually taught/believed unto the self absorbed

    the strong rulers appropriate authority, aka atlas shrugged
    and,freedom of thought and speech become totally abolished/

    actual reality/truth, is freedom.

  4. J'hon Doe II
    November 6, 2016 at 16:46

    “The Dirty War on Syria”: A Systematic Critique of Western Fabrications,
    by Tim Anderson
    Global Research, June 13, 2016


  5. Kim Dixon
    November 6, 2016 at 09:19

    This article is written as if Obama does not have the ability to fire the warmongers. But he does.

    In fact, he has the power to *prosecute* these people, as well the war criminals unique to the Bush administration.

    That he has not done these things is proof positive that he’s one of them.

  6. Carl
    November 6, 2016 at 00:41

    I agree, great article. But what really makes evaluating Obama’s intentions difficult is his earliest decision, after he had a clear mandate for change and the authority to make it, to keep Petraeus and Gates in place. They were part of the problem, part of the reason the Republicans lost the presidency. Did Obama lack self-confidence? Was he afraid to go against the (long-discredited) establishment thinking? Maybe he had no plan to substitute? Was he already thinking about a 2nd term and the additional difficulties he’d face by making waves early? Or leaning too heavily on his advisers? His waffling as depicted above mirrors these early contradictions.

    Unlike a lot of commentators here, I’m not sure of his intentions, although I will agree his Nobel prize makes of mockery of the term “Peace.” I think he was just too weak to resist the pressure placed on him, and too worried about how his legacy would be viewed. Its easier to be wrong with the group than be a maverick and take the chance of being wrong alone, although the rewards for heading off the us war machine could have been far greater too.

    • Sam
      November 6, 2016 at 21:49

      You may want to read Bob Woodward’s The War Within which looks closely at the Obama-Hillary-Biden decisions on the :”surge” in Afghanistan. Hillary immediately rubberstamped whatever those boys with the medals wanted to do. Obama wanted evidence from the generals that it would lead to success; they stonewalled him and he capitulated to social pressure. Biden persisted and was disinvited from NSC meetings. There you have Hillary and Obama.

    • John
      November 7, 2016 at 14:55

      One does not need to look any further than Chicago to determine Obama’s ill will. At the same time as his sudden rise to celebrity, it was becoming well known that the Chicago PD John Burge specifically, had long been running a torture for confessions ring in the very area Obama was supposedly representing. It was so notorious that the governor, a Republican, placed a moratoium on the death penalty. Obama never said jack shit about it.

      That’s why i voted Cynthia McKinney in 08.

  7. Abe
    November 5, 2016 at 17:14

    “since even before ‘day 1,’ the US has banked its entire strategy on the use of Al Qaeda and other designated terrorist organizations for the overthrow of the Syrian government and the division of the Syrian state […]

    “US Institute for Peace (USIP) vice president of Applied Research on Conflict Steven Heydemann in the New York Times would write in an article titled, ‘You Don’t Need a No-Fly Zone to Pressure Russia in Syria,’ that:

    “‘The most effective diplomatic means for the United States to regain leverage in Syria is for Washington to lead an international effort to undermine the Assad government’s claims and recognize a different government as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

    “‘The best candidate for recognition is the little-known Syrian Interim Government, or S.I.G. Unlike many other opposition groups, which are based in Turkey, the S.I.G. is based inside Syria, with offices in Idlib and scattered throughout opposition-held territory.’

    “The problem with Heydemann’s proposal is the same problem that has plagued the entirety of US policy toward Syria, the essential but unobtainable requirement of covering up the opposition’s obvious ties to Al Qaeda […]

    “Over 60% of the Syrian population lives in government controlled territory, with this number rising monthly as security operations to restore order across the country continue to garner success, particularly in Aleppo. This includes control over most of Syria’s largest cities, including Damascus itself, most of Aleppo, Homs, Latakia, Hama, Tartus, and Daraa.

    “Idlib, on the other hand, doesn’t rank even among Syria’s top ten most populated cities – making plans to designate it a de facto capital all the more transparently absurd.

    “Heydemann’s plan – like all US ‘plans’ before it – at face value and amid its more intricate details contradict the US’ own rationale for becoming involved in Syria in the first place. Handing a nation over to an unpopular, illegitimate minority in no shape, form, or way constitutes ‘democracy’ – even the strained definitions used by the West to describe it. With Heydemann’s ‘Syrian Interim Government’ existing in the very center of Al Qaeda’s operations in Syria, no plan to date has so transparently attempted to protect and preserve designated terrorist organizations operating in Syria.

    “Considering the second part of Heydemann’s plan includes a revised version of a US-initiated no-fly zone, US assets would literally be used in Syria to protect Al Qaeda’s de facto capital in Idlib from Syrian or Russian attacks.”

    US Plan “C” in Syria: Make Al Qaeda Central the New Capital
    By Tony Cartalucci

  8. Lillie
    November 5, 2016 at 12:31

    Great article! Great site!

    I give Obama credit for pushing back against the neocon entrenched State Department, CIA,and the Military Industrial Complex, who represent the”Deep State”, and that is the source of power.
    Oddly, Obama has never proudly/loudly explained the times he has pushed back against what his foreign policy guru,Ben Rhodes, called “the blob”, referring to the forejgn policy elite.
    In the long Atlantic article, “The Obama Doctrine” http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/04/the-obama-doctrine/471525/
    Obama described how he pushed back against what he referred to as “the Washington playbook, where military solutions are the choice for resolving conflict.

    My figuring is that the President doesn’t have all the power.
    The antiwar left, whatever remains of it, has to get its act together and work together to find points of leverage.

    One small start, there needs to be an effort to pressure Amy Goodman to recognize the facts of the U.S.regime change effort in Syria, where Syria and Syrians are nothing more than necessary collateral damage in order to further U.S., Israel. Saudi, and Qatari geopolitical goal of installing a Sunni head of Syria.

    Amy Goodman, like other prominent lefties has supported regime in Libya and Syria.
    She has drunk the kool aid of the awesome State Department propaganda [what will they sell next…?]
    I would like to see Goodman be pressured into returning her Right Livelihood award, now that it has been desecrated by having been given to the White Helmets, a tool of State Department regime change.

    Inside the Shadowy PR Firm That’s Lobbying for Regime Change in Syria
    Posing as a non-political solidarity organization, the Syria Campaign
    leverages local partners and media contacts to push the U.S. into
    toppling another Middle Eastern government.
    How the White Helmets Became International Heroes While Pushing U.S. Military Intervention and Regime Change in Syria
    Created by Western governments and popularized by a top PR firm, the White Helmets are saving civilians while lobbying for airstrikes
    “Boy In The Ambulance” Is Fake – This Proves It
    Inside the Shadowy PR Firm That’s Lobbying for Regime Change in Syria
    Posing as a non-political solidarity organization, the Syria Campaign
    leverages local partners and media contacts to push the U.S. into
    toppling another Middle Eastern government.
    How the White Helmets Became International Heroes While Pushing U.S. Military Intervention and Regime Change in Syria
    Created by Western governments and popularized by a top PR firm, the White Helmets are saving civilians while lobbying for airstrikes
    “Boy In The Ambulance” Is Fake – This Proves It
    Inside the Shadowy PR Firm That’s Lobbying for Regime Change in Syria
    Posing as a non-political solidarity organization, the Syria Campaign
    leverages local partners and media contacts to push the U.S. into
    toppling another Middle Eastern government.
    How the White Helmets Became International Heroes While Pushing U.S. Military Intervention and Regime Change in Syria
    Created by Western governments and popularized by a top PR firm, the White Helmets are saving civilians while lobbying for airstrikes
    “Boy In The Ambulance” Is Fake – This Proves It
    The US funds the White Helmets, but denied entry to a White Helmet representative, Raed Saleh. If a White Helmet representative is radioactive to the US, be suspicious.



    ???? See also article “Syria, ISIS, and the US-UK Propaganda War” by Eric Draitser
    Avaaz Investigative Report Series (2013) about NGOs of the Soros network
    Founding of Res Publica with fellows: Ricken Patel, Tom Perriello and Tom Pravda; on advisory board John Podesta
    ? How Britain funds the ‘propaganda war’ against Isis in Syria | The Guardian |

    The antiwar left needs to examine their lack of EFFECTIVE action, and do more than complain.
    I hope those who care are routinely contacting Obama and telling him to stop regime change in Syria, and to work with Assad to bring calm to Syria, with a focus on UN sponsored elections, with Assad participating.

    good website to share for links to articles from various sources for understanding the Syrian conflict.

    • John
      November 7, 2016 at 14:47

      Look at Amy Goodman’s funding, and you will understand that she will NEVER be against the invasion of Syria.

      I remember during the Libya invasion, she broadcast her show online through livestream, and it had a real time chat for people watching the show. The chat was filled with people fecrying that she had gotten it wrong, and providing multiple links to make their case. It was that chat room that opened my eyes as to what was happening there.

      Shortly afterwards, DN! changed its streaming provider to one without the chatroom.

      Amy has done many good things over the years, and her coverage of domestic issues is usually spot-on. It is by her gatekeeping on foreign affairs issues, however, that she butters her bread.

  9. James lake
    November 5, 2016 at 10:32

    Obama is involved. In the war in Syria – shipping weapons to their allies in the region who arm the terrorists

    The U.S. had run training programmes for terrorists
    This article could have been written by obama himself
    Full of lies

    This writer needs to open his eyes obama is a warmonger just like bush – he just hides it better
    He has support from the media who still treat this failure as the messiah

    War in Syria is not worse because Rusdia has intervened

    • Joe Lauria
      November 7, 2016 at 19:21

      Sounds like you only read the headline and not the story.

  10. November 5, 2016 at 08:15

    The US government has lied to the people of the US and the people of the world about what has happened in Syria, much like they did in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. If people wish to believe the lies that come out of Washington DC, surely they will reap what they have sown. https://waitforthedownfall.wordpress.com/get-bashar-al-assad/

    • Bill Bodden
      November 5, 2016 at 12:43

      As the great I. F. “Izzy” Stone said, “All governments lie.” He might have added “all the time.”

  11. Regis Tremblay
    November 5, 2016 at 07:31

    Russia AND China have entered Syria to help Assad not just to stop terrorism, but to ensure that their vision of a multi-polar world replaces the US unipolar New World Order. Russia and China envision a new Silk Road, One Bridge One Road from Beijing to Portugal. Their vision is based on the sovereignty and respect for all nations, large and small. It is based on strict adherence to international law, diplomacy vs conflict, cooperation vs blood-thirsty competition. It is a vision that eliminates poverty and hunger and one that is all about development for all nations.

    The situations in the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America, and with the Pivot to Asia are to destabilize and conquer the world. So, the Russians and Chinese drew their own line in the sand and they are not posturing. This is the epic battle for the future of humanity. Life on earth is hanging in the balance.

  12. Elwood Anderson
    November 5, 2016 at 00:10

    Obama’s goal all along has been to please everyone, but leave a legacy. He’s relied on getting along with the establishment to accomplish this. He likes to exercise power and cover his tracks. We would probably be at war with Syria now, if Putin hadn’t pulled his chestnuts out of the fire by working out a way to pull the chemical weapons out of Syria. He sometimes leans into the wind, but more often than not, he goes with the flow to please the powers that be. He never really has had the courage to fire anyone. He should have cleaned house at State and Justice Departments long ago. He filled his administration will old Clinton hacks and corporate shills. We’re still at war all over the world, the drone killing goes on, health care is a mess, and Guantanamo is still open. He’s failed more than he has succeeding and has slipped by with his oratorical skills and glibness.

    • snedly arkus
      November 5, 2016 at 01:30

      Actually Putin saved Obama by giving him an out. When Obama wanted to attack the American public rose up and said no way. So Obama deferred to Congress and to try and let them take the blame. It was claimed that for every ship the US had in the Mediterranean that was ready to fire missiles into Syria there was Russian ship nearby daring them to fire and having their missiles shot out of the sky.

    • backwardsevolution
      November 5, 2016 at 03:00

      Elwood – I think that’s why Obama was chosen in the first place; he was a player who would go along. Had he been anything else, the big money and the military-industrial complex would not have backed him like they did.

      I really don’t think he cares about his legacy with the American people so much as he cares about pleasing the elites, leaving a legacy with them, so that he is sought after after he leaves office. In fact, he’s done very little for the American people, preferring to enrich the elite. After all, they’re the ones who will be hiring him after he’s done.

      As you say, the writing was on the wall when he didn’t clean house. He was never interested in doing that. His job was to maintain the status quo and let the rich get richer. He did that well. The elites will be very happy with his performance.

    • Bill Bodden
      November 5, 2016 at 12:40

      He filled his administration will old Clinton hacks and corporate shills

      It is probably more accurate to say that it was the party oligarchs who stacked the deck.

  13. Joe Tedesky
    November 5, 2016 at 00:01

    I’m going to settle on the reality that the reason John Kerry could not separate the ‘moderate’ terrorism from the extremist terrorist, was because he doesn’t know any ‘moderate’ terrorist. Which leads to the bigger picture that all of these adventures of war that the U.S. has sold to the American public are all based upon a lie. A lie to cover up the fact, that these Middle East wars are all but the implementation of the Israeli Yinon Plan. This coalition the U.S. find itself apart of, are several countries each with their own set of goals. How in any way could there be any clear cut goal to be accomplished when so many of our allies have different ambitions? Tell Israel to get real, and except and cooperate to create a peaceful Middle East with their neighbors, as this is what responsible nations should do. Israel has failed at being a good nation, and between their Zionist and our Neocon’s they are collectively taking us all down with it.

    I just have to mention that after watching Bill Maher tonight I feel like we are off to war with Russia. Maher drank the koolaid and had a field day on his show trashing Putin. Someone please tell our Hollywood media that we are tired of hating Russians. Also ask the Bill Mahers of our country, when was the last time they read a Putin speech? I have been reading his speeches, and in almost everyone I can remember Putin reaches out to the U.S. and the West to band together and defeat this terrorist plaque that has fallen upon our modern day world.

    So my fellow American brothers and sisters, it’s not that I don’t love you all, and yes baseball and football ranks as high as an old fashioned American apple pie with me, but you will need to excuse this old guy this time when it comes to the remake of the bitter Cold War and hating all Russians, because this time I decided to sit this one out.

    • backwardsevolution
      November 5, 2016 at 02:50

      Joe – I used to watch Bill Maher. I watched him all the time, and I thought he was very witty and brilliant. That was before I started to read on my own, started to form my own opinions. Now I can’t even watch his show for a few minutes before having to turn him off. He’s still funny and very quick, but IMO he’s just not informed – at all. What he’s telling people is not the whole truth, and in most cases it’s not even close to the truth. Too bad. We need funny, bright people who can inform the public, but he’s not the one. I cringe when I think that some people are getting their news from him. What a waste. He needs to spend time over here learning the truth, but then he’d be fired so fast it would make our heads spin.

      I feel for Putin. As you say, he HAS reached out, and is still reaching out, but every time he does he gets fried in the press.

      “…implementation of the Israeli Yinon Plan.” I think you may be right here. When you read what Helen Thomas said in my above post and what learned minds are saying, it really makes you wonder if this is ALL just about Israel. Wow, a reverse holocaust.

      • Sam
        November 5, 2016 at 12:08

        Yes, it is a “reverse Holocaust” for the US, and for Israel as well, having gone the way of their former Nazi persecutors, the bullied becoming the bullies. I once supported a two-state solution, but with military opposition the only hope against Israeli fascism, I would be quite happy now to see IS and AlQaeda put an end to the Saudis and the Israelis, and the sooner the better. They owe the US far more than Israel is worth in damages to democracy alone. But fear not, I will follow their model in claiming to be “negotiating” a two-state solution until the last of them is beheaded. How lamentable.

        Maybe the nuking of Israel is the loss the US really needs to emasculate its zionist/opportunist armchair warriors and disaffect its proxies. We should encourage an aerial attack by Israel on an ally of Russia (perhaps Iran, Iraq or Turkey), a massive counterattack on Israel, a nuclear attack by Israel on the ally of Russia, and a nuclear reprisal by Russia against Israel. A geostrategic win-win except for the poor ally of Russia. Perhaps we could encourage Russia to make a more expendable temporary ally like Saudi Arabia.

      • Joe Tedesky
        November 6, 2016 at 00:36

        backwardsevolution, you saying how badly informed Maher is, is what I said to my wife while watching the political incorrect comedian. I also sense that there are many among the celebrity class who are lacking in their knowledge of current events. This lacking shouldn’t matter, but in a country such as the U.S. where celebrity idolizations run deep, sadly it may matter much more than it should.

        What Maher did by demonizing Putin to the extend he did, is so disturbing on so many levels, that I find it hard to accept his humor as being something easy to laugh too. I know it’s me, but don’t other Americans sense what’s going on here with all of this Putin bad America good rhetoric? Can’t our fellow countrymen see through this Putin demonization campaign? It wouldn’t be this way if America had an objective truth searching media to report the news without the Neocon filter. Funny thing, Maher in his interview with President Obama talked about this very thing, of how to improve the media.

        There are two governments in this world which needs changed out badly, and they are Israel and the U.S.. Not all Jewish people are aligned to Netanyahu, and not all Americans are Neocon, and with that let’s hope there is hope left for future generations to straighten out this mess our generation has made for them to struggle through. All of this misery and bankruptcy, and then we say we are a country who loves it’s children. Sadly, like the many other mantras we chant as a nation this love of our children is for the most part a big lie….war anyone?

        • backwardsevolution
          November 6, 2016 at 04:55

          Joe – the only thing I can think of is that Maher must have been invited to some fancy Democrat parties, mingled with some of the higher-ups, and became star-struck with the likes of Obama and Clinton. It just doesn’t make sense otherwise. I mean, the guy is quick and witty, and in my opinion, intelligence usually follows those two traits. He’s either playing along in order to keep his job (remember that the network did cancel his show at one point), he’s just plain ignorant/ill-informed of domestic/world affairs, or he hates the Republicans so much that he goes through life with his eyes wide shut, refusing to see the evil in the party he so loves.

          He spends half his show defending every segment of society (transgender, gays, illegals, etc.), which is fine, but then he laments the fact that when he goes out to do a comedy show now, nobody laughs at his jokes anymore. They’re all too serious, too politically correct. What he doesn’t realize is he helped make society that way, to the point that we can’t laugh about our differences or even laugh at ourselves anymore. Sometimes things just go too far, and then they have a way of going back.

          Because Maher is so well-spoken, so quick, I think people assume (as I used to) that he must know what he’s talking about. Boy, are they getting fooled! He needs to spend some time with us, Joe, and we’d set him straight. He’s bright enough, but he just has blinders on.

          • Bill Bodden
            November 6, 2016 at 13:36

            the only thing I can think of is that Maher must have been invited to some fancy Democrat parties, mingled with some of the higher-ups, and became star-struck with the likes of Obama and Clinton.

            and, perhaps, he also decided to go where the money is, something I always suspected happened to Christopher Hitchens.

        • John
          November 7, 2016 at 14:02

          Before you hope for what you state too hard, look into the Samson doctrine.

          Israel has nuclear weapons, but due to geography, has never been able to develop long range missiles capable of carrying them.

          However, they do not need missiles, just diplomatic pouches (which is a misleading term, as they can be large crates).

          They have embassies worldwide.

          I have heard that, for instance, if you take a geiger counter to the Israeli embassy in New York City, you will see it go nuts as you approach. (I have not verified this myself).

          Golda Meir openly threatened the Samson Option if anything happed to Israel long ago. Soon afterwards, the US began vetoing all UN resolutions relating to Israel. Coincidence?

    • Bill Bodden
      November 5, 2016 at 12:02

      Bill Maher lost me a long time ago when he said he admired Colin Powell. Christopher Hitchens got it right on Powell when he stated Powell was the most overrated man in Washington.

    • John
      November 7, 2016 at 13:54

      You give Maher too much credit. He is not ill-informed, but is knowingly lying. He knows damned well that Putin is probably the greatest statesman of our time (by this I do not mean to imply that he is all goodness, but that he, despite his flaws, understands diplomacy and statecraft, and works for the good of his people as a whole, and not only a small group of elites).

      Maher is a propagandist in the grand tradition of Goebbells. Perhaps he believesvthat if he repeats what he knows to be lies often enough that they will become truths.

      But he is not ill-informed. He knows he is lying.

    • Peter Loeb
      November 8, 2016 at 08:52


      Has anyone noticed that the US, the UK and France have invaded
      the so-called “sovereign” (?) nation of Syria??( See bl a
      Nicolas Davies article of a few days ago.)

      Does Syria have the right to invade Iraq and bomb Mosul?

      Who cares about the UN…???

      I await an analysis of this in Consortium.

      Should Syria and Russia and Iran and Lebanon shoot down
      foreign planes over Syrian air space?? Why not??

      (This got buried in news about who wanted to play
      with whom (male-female) and on and on and on. Don’t
      get me wrong: I don’t like this campaign —neither
      of them (I did not vote for either) —but I don’t think
      these scandals belong on page one and a misleading
      story on the western invasion is hidden inside the
      local paper in our city.)

      —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  14. F. G. Sanford
    November 4, 2016 at 22:56

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here. About a year ago, right here on this site, I said people shouldn’t write off Trump. Everybody said Hillary could win playing the “woman card”. I said Trump could win by playing the “Archie Bunker card”. Somebody said I was delusional or irrational or out of touch, or some such thing. A couple of weeks ago, I said it looked like Hillary would win, but the margin would be close, and her “lame duck” presidency would begin on 21 January. For those of you who don’t understand “statutory liability”, it means you’re guilty just because you did it. The decision to ignore the law and not prosecute Hillary was political. It will no longer hold up under scrutiny. CNN did everything they could. President Obama did everything he could. Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein did everything they could. Webster Tarply Did everything he could. But rather than the GOP destroying itself, the Democrats have done exactly that. Even if she wins, Clinton is politically finished. But at this point, I don’t see her winning. The best part of that is no nuclear war. And, I think the “last stand” was actually the decision to let Comey make that announcement. What…you think he would have done that without permission?

    • Bill Bodden
      November 5, 2016 at 12:36

      About a year ago, right here on this site, I said people shouldn’t write off Trump

      Several months ago, probably on this site, I said Donald Trump’s mouth would do him in. In three days we will have an idea who got it right. Admittedly, Trump survived longer than I thought he would.

      • Abe
        November 5, 2016 at 18:34

        Donald also did himself with his hand. But that’s politics. Ask Anthony Weiner.

    • Abe
      November 5, 2016 at 17:45

      Forget all this poppycock about the GOP “destroying itself” or the Dems being “finished”.

      Both legions of pro-Israel paid partisans are doing quite well and rolling in cash.

      The near-right (Democrats) is teamed up with the far-right (Republicans) to cock block any semblance of lawful government in the United States.

      With Hillary however tenuously seated in power, Israel will have effectively grabbed the U.S. by the pussy.

      Get your war on.

      • Abe
        November 5, 2016 at 17:51

        “…by the pussy”

        No, Lindsey Graham doesn’t count.

      • John
        November 7, 2016 at 13:45

        And what a puss laden pussy it is…

  15. Bill Bodden
    November 4, 2016 at 22:40

    … he also lavished praise on Donna Brazile, the -interim- head of the Clinton campaign.

    Several months ago I heard Donna Brazile on CNN claim that Condoleezza Rice was a friend of hers and that she had a lot of respect for Ms. Rice – the same person who was fear mongering on the Sunday talk shows about smoking guns and mushroom clouds to get the Iraq war going that would destroy millions of lives.

    Ms. Brazile replaced the odious Debbie Wasserman Schultz who was fired as chair of the Democratic National Committee because she was caught engaging in unethical conduct – not because she was engaged in unethical conduct but because she was caught and exposed. Hillary Clinton immediately hired her for some spot on her team.

    What a disgusting cesspool!!

    • Joe Tedesky
      November 5, 2016 at 01:43

      A cesspool it is. All these opportunist are blinded by the bright lights, and bling. New money bumping up against old, and an invitation to the Hamptons for the weekend will make your mother proud of you. In the elites stratosphere there are no lines. The lines only appear when these elites entertain the taxing public with their divide and rule maneuver. The hard part is figuring where the elites marching orders come from. I was told along time ago that DC was lost, because they are all guilty of something, and something is everything to hide.

  16. backwardsevolution
    November 4, 2016 at 21:32

    Obama is a political animal. This is a good article: “The Office of the President of the United States”.


    “On Monday, Obama seemed to back FBI director Jim Comey, or at least he refused to join his party in attacking Comey.”

    Soon after, he slammed Comey:

    “‘We don’t operate on innuendo,” Obama said in his first remarks since the FBI’s announcement last Friday. “We don’t operate on incomplete information and we don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.’

    Obama acted presidential on Monday; he did not on Wednesday. And that’s not all. On Monday, Obama had already made another questionable move. Not only did he seem to ‘support’ Comey, he also lavished praise on Donna Brazile, the -interim- head of the Clinton campaign.

    He did so mere hours (!) after Brazile had been fired by CNN, a network that drools Clinton 24/7. So when even CNN had had enough, Obama found it appropriate to say “she is a person of high character”.”

    Brazile got caught feeding questions to the Clinton campaign BEFORE the debates, and yet “she is a person of high character.”

    “What does it tell you when the Clintonians, and Obama, are fine with something even CNN won’t stand for? It can only mean that a network like CNN, not exactly famous for its moral stances, has higher moral standards than the campaign for a candidate for the presidency of the United States, a position where moral standards are a high priority.

    These are the things that drag down the entire American political system. Obama’s statements on the FBI and Donna Brazile drag down the office of the president. And if Hillary would be elected on November 8, that office would be dragged down that much more.

    And not only can we now foresee, and must we prepare for, serious domestic unrest no matter what the election result will be (I liked the notion I read somewhere of ‘America between 9/11 and 11/9’), the damage will also reverberate globally. I’ve said it before, I don’t see how Hillary and her people can still backtrack on all the innuendo they spread on Russia, but to be presidential, she will not have a choice.”

    The whole article is great. He talks about how what Brazile did was wrong, but how about the people who received the debate questions beforehand, and then ran with the leaked information? What does it say about them?

    • Joe Tedesky
      November 5, 2016 at 01:32

      Not in anyway to compare Helen Thomas to Donna (cheat sheet) Brazile, but I was disappointed when Obama didn’t stand by Helen Thomas for her caught on tape truism regarding Israel’s position in the Middle East. Although as you rightly pointed out Obama stands up for Donna Brazile, I guess that’s politics. I miss Helen!

      • backwardsevolution
        November 5, 2016 at 02:26

        Joe – I had to look Helen Thomas up on Wiki. She was quite the character, wasn’t she? Long, long career, which ended abruptly and sadly because of some remarks she made.

        “Rabbi David Nesenoff of RabbiLive.com, on the White House grounds with his son and a teenage friend for a May 27, 2010, American Jewish Heritage Celebration Day, questioned Thomas as she was leaving the White House via the North Lawn driveway. When asked for comments on Israel, she replied: “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.” and “Remember, these people are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not German, it’s not Poland…” When asked where Israeli Jews should go, she replied they could “go home” to Poland or Germany or “America and everywhere else. Why push people out of there who have lived there for centuries?” She also mentioned she was of “Arab background.””

        Later she said:

        “On December 2, 2010, shortly before a speech for the eighth annual “Images and Perceptions of Arab Americans” conference in Dearborn, Michigan, Thomas told reporters that she still stood by the comments she had made to Nesenoff. Referring to her resignation, she said “I paid a price, but it’s worth it to speak the truth.” During the speech, Thomas said: “Congress, the White House, Hollywood and Wall Street are owned by Zionists. No question, in my opinion.” Thomas defended her comments on December 7, telling Scott Spears of Marion, Ohio radio station WMRN, “I just think that people should be enlightened as to who is in charge of the opinion in this country.”

        Whoa! She responded to the attacks about her being anti-Semitic by saying, “I’m a Semite.” Interesting that even she says that Zionists own the U.S. Who knows. But her comments ended her career, and it happened almost immediately. I guess you just don’t say anything about Israel if you want to work as a journalist.

        “She also said that not even Richard Nixon tried to control the press as much as President Obama.” It would have been fascinating to interview her re the decline of free speech.


        • Joe Tedesky
          November 5, 2016 at 09:56

          If ever there is a model for a new media it is Helen Thomas.

      • Bill Bodden
        November 5, 2016 at 12:28

        … I was disappointed when Obama didn’t stand by Helen Thomas for her caught on tape truism regarding Israel’s position in the Middle East

        Helen Thomas was a giant among the diminutive note takers in the White House presstitutes pool. If there has been anyone close to her courage and knowledge since her departure, I’m not aware of it. One of my more indelible memories of Helen Thomas relates to a question she posed to Ronald Reagan. I can’t recall the question, but it was penetrating and should have put Reagan on a spot if he tried to give an honest answer. Instead, he went through his “aw-shucks” schtick and cracked some corny joke that had the presstitutes chuckling instead of backing up Ms. Thomas. Of course, Reagan never answered the question.

        This has given me a thought to offer a suggestion to Robert Parry for a feature on Consortium News. After each presidential news conference it would be interesting to have a posting of the questions posed and answers given at the charade then open the post to contributors with questions they wished had been asked. Here is a question I would like to pose to President Obama.

        Mr. President. When then-Bradley Manning was being abused in violation of the 8th Amendment at the Quantico Marine Base brig you said you thought his treatment was “appropriate.” Now as Chelsea serving an excessively long sentence at Fort Leavenworth prison Manning tried to commit suicide. Instead of receiving psychiatric care she was visciously given a week in solitary confinement. Mr. President. Do you consider this continued persecution of this courageous whistleblower also “appropriate”?

  17. November 4, 2016 at 21:25

    Fantastic analysis! I listened to the Kerry/opposition tape too and some of that said was eye opening for anyone still blind to the undercurrents of this tragic war. Thanks for giving me even more insight. We can but hope Clinton will have so many other things to do before starting something she will not be able to wind back.

  18. Realist
    November 4, 2016 at 20:13

    If Obama is such a peacenik, he should have sacked every member of his administration who defied his stated policies. I assume Trump would do so. Obama has abandoned control of foreign policy to the rabid neocons who must scare the bejeesus out of him. If Clinton wins, the barbarians are inside and in control of the castle. If Trump wins, hopefully they are out on their collective asses. Never has the life and safety of so many human beings hinged on a single election. Not Nixon, Reagan or even Dubya threatened so many lives both foreign and American as Killery does.

    • Joe Lauria
      November 7, 2016 at 19:18

      Who said he was a peacenik? Sounds like you only read the headline, and not the story.

  19. Bill Bodden
    November 4, 2016 at 18:48

    Appointing Hillary Clinton as secretary of state was among Obama’s first big blunders. She may be out now, but the seeds she planted remain. Early in Obama’s presidency – in some cases before – some observers contributed to Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion with eye-catching “HOPELESS” in large print on the front cover of the book – https://store.counterpunch.org/product/hopeless-barack-obama-and-the-politics-of-illusion/. With no national experience Obama was clearly out of his league in Washington, and his regents were no help – to put it mildly. It is only recently that he appears to be getting the hang of it, but it is too little, too late. His one consolation will probably be rule by the Queen of Chaos making him look good by comparison.

    • Bill Bodden
      November 4, 2016 at 22:55

      Then there are Obama’s violations of the U.S. Constitution, especially his considering the cruel and unusual punishment of Chelsea Manning at the Quantico Marine Base brig to be “appropriate.” Obama can probably claim some credit for the excessively long sentence given to Chelsea and her subsequent attempts at suicide. Obama has not shown Chelsea one shred of mercy so he deserves no sympathy for his current predicament and stain on his legacy.

      Chelsea Manning made second suicide attempt, attorneys say: Manning ‘tried to kill herself’ last month at Fort Leavenworth prison – Former army intelligence analyst is serving 40 years for leaking secrets – https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/04/chelsea-manning-second-suicide-attempt-attorneys-prison-sentence

  20. jfmxl
    November 4, 2016 at 18:41

    Obama was every bit the neo-con tool that Bush XLIII was and SoS Hillary was and wants to be. The ongoing attempt to create him an entirely bogus ‘legacy’, to cast him as the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate he never was, is utterly obscene. I guess there are some folks who never saw it coming: Barack Obama is really good at killing people. He’s a stone cold liar, murderer, and war criminal, and a Wall Street flunky, no different from George W Bush on the one hand or the Hill/Billy Clintons on the other. Number XLIV, the worst POTUS yet, till XLV, whichever s/he’s likely to be. It’s been bad leading to worse since Ronald Reagan, and promises to continue in that vein until we snap out of and take the pledge : no more Jackasses no more Elephants. The vote for ‘other’ in 2012 was a disgraceful 1.6%. We need to make that at least 16% in 2016. ‘Other’ at 35% with the Elephant at 33% and the Jackass at 32% would be ideal, Maybe then we’ll wake up … “Hey! We coulda had a V8!”

  21. Patricia P Tursi
    November 4, 2016 at 17:34

    Everyone now knows via emails, and it w as known by anyone really following things ayear ago that the US was arming ISIS. With Libya out of the way, IS poured into Syria. Obama is currently bombing in 7 countries and has military operations in over half the world’s nations. Not bad for a Peace Price President. What a hypocrite.

    • Peter Loeb
      November 5, 2016 at 06:47


      I agree totally with Richard Steven Hack above (comment). I have no tears for
      Barack Obama parading as a peacenik bla bla bla.

      The neocons in his administration serve (and served) at his pleasure. With
      the cleverness of Obama the lawyer, he wanted to avoid invading Syria
      as long as someone else gets the blame. And he can pretend he is a peaceful
      type and always was.


      The legacy of the Obama administration is one of a warrior rule, a pro-Zionist
      supporter (no questions asked), marvelous oratory which evades basic
      issues (why can’t people of color walk out of their doors
      without being shot dead??) and no action to prohibit arming
      local police forces as militia via mostly Israeli companies,
      increased inequality in the USA and poverty for millions, defeating
      of a real universal health care in favor of a plan controlled by
      the giant insurance companies (former donors to Obama campaigns)
      and individual states wit no interest in helping the poor at all.

      For all his talk, talk, talk of courage in the civil rights movement,
      I can hardly picture Barack Obama getting out to demonstrate
      in Mississippi’s hot highways in the 60’s. Nor will he ever
      support Native Americans. Nor will he ever support people
      of color who are being shot. Nor will he support BDS
      (Boycott Divest, Sanction). Nor will he support Palestinian
      rights anywhere. For example the UN. Such “courage” to
      leave as a “legacy” is simply non-existent. If Jews don’t
      like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, neither does he. That is, Jews
      of the AIPAC/neocon variety.

      Perhaps he will stand alongside Andrew Jackson and
      James Polk (“Manifest Destiny”) who murdered Native
      Americans with pride. In today’s language, we murder
      foreigners. Who as the poet says, “should
      not be bitter”.

      And more.

      There’s no reason why this President who bombs folks in other
      lands, helps military contractors stay rich etc. should come out
      smelling like a rose.

      I give him credit for being clever.

      Under the Obama years, the realities for the lower middle class
      have become so bad, the profits of the wealthy so great.

      It may take years or perhaps decades for someone with
      talents and guts to write an honest evaluation.

      I hope it includes the complicity in the creation of a mass of
      Americans so hopeless they will vote for Donald Trump for
      President in desperation. They will remain a major factor in US
      politics whatever happens on November 8, 2016.

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

      • backwardsevolution
        November 5, 2016 at 13:05

        Peter – good rant, and right on the money.

      • onno
        November 6, 2016 at 10:04

        Although Obama made more wars than most presidents before him, he is still believes of himself as a peacemaker since he received the Nobel Peace Prize. But most of all Obama is the typical ‘TEFLON GUY’ as most politicians are today, they don’t excel in intelligence but always have a BIG STORY which are mostly lies. And the MAIN CHARACTERISTIC of politicians are they NEVER take responsibilities for their actions and NEVER for their FAILURES but always brag about their ‘TINY’ accomplishment if any.

  22. Richard Steven Hack
    November 4, 2016 at 17:27

    As I’ve said MANY times before, Obama has never been “reluctant” to attack Syria. He demonstrated that CLEARLY, first in the THREE UNSC Resolutions the US submitted with Chapter 7 language in them, which were vetoed by Russia and China (burned by Libya), and then by his readiness to go to war based on bogus intelligence over the Ghouta chemical attacks in 2013, and just recently by discussions at the White House over imposing a “no fly zone” in Syria.

    In every case, it was RUSSIA which prevented the war, not Obama. In the Ghouta case, Putin convinced Assad to remove his chemical weapons. In fall., 2015, Obama was considering imposing a “no fly zone” – which motivated Putin to intervene militarily in Syria. Then a couple week ago, when Obama AGAIN was considering some sort of military intervention in Syria, the Russian government made it absolutely clear that ANY attack – or even apparent attack – on Syrian forces would be shot down by the Russian military.

    Obama’s only concern in these situations is whether he might be BLAMED for starting a new Middle East war. As long as he thinks he can run some justification for military action up the flagpole (such as the Ghouta chemical attacks), he is perfectly happy to go to war. But if the scenario runs into a snag – such as direct Russian opposition – he backs down.

    In short, Obama is a self-aggrandizing, self-regarding narcissist who has no principles whatever. His only concern, like any other black Chicago hustler, is “looking good.”

    People need to stop drinking the Obama Kool-Aid and see him for what he is: a pre-Emancipation South plantation foreman doing the bidding of his rich masters in Chicago.

    • Secret Agent
      November 4, 2016 at 23:01

      That’s right. Obama is only concerned with his legacy. He allied the United States with nazis and cannibals. His legacy is chaos and murder.

    • snedly arkus
      November 5, 2016 at 01:20

      Quite a few media scribes have taken the totally wrong line that Obama is a peaceful innocent and is just a victim who kept us out of a bigger war. Obama has shown that he is a blood thirsty clown, who once bragged he was good at killing people, who is cultivating the image that he was in over his head so history will look upon him with pity and a victim of those big bad war hawks. One only needs to look at how he shredded the Constitution and turned the oval office into the worlds biggest dictatorship shows his lust for power and control. Idiots claim Trump has divided the American people but the reality is it was Obama who did it. The most open administration in US history, as Obama promised us, has been the least open and most devious.

      • Joe Lauria
        November 7, 2016 at 19:05

        Like many other commenters here it appears only the headline was read and not the story. It’s long but it doesn’t remotely say what you think it does. It’s always wise to comment not on an impression, but knowledge.

    • Sam
      November 5, 2016 at 09:42

      An excellent article. But Obama could easily have purged rather than empowered the zionist-Saudi faction controlling Kerry, DIA, and State, so it does not seem plausible that he has opposed them.

      Any delay in his decision “to arm and train some of the rebels” after a DIA-Kerry “willful decision” to support a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria, may only reflect Putin’s greater wisdom that this was “hoping that later you’ll find a way to get rid of them.”

      Surprising that Obama stopped a 30,000-man Saudi-Turkey-Pentagon plan to invade Syria in early 2016. But the invasion by Turkey to fight U.S.-backed Kurds may be as much a result of the 2016 coup attempt as an “exchange for … a safe area without U.S. ground troops”

      • Lin Cleveland
        November 5, 2016 at 10:49

        But Obama could easily have purged rather than empowered the zionist-Saudi faction controlling Kerry, DIA, and State, so it does not seem plausible that he has opposed them.“–Sam

        Really? I just don’t buy that “most powerful person in the world” mantra. The president of the United States is a figurehead who owes her/his loyalty to the moneyed interests who run the campaigns. Obama has the power to agree with his handlers, but dare not disagree.

        P.S. Could you provide a link showing that Obama stopped a 30,000-man Saudi-Turkey-Pentagon plan to invade Syria? I’m not doubting you but couldn’t find the information on the web.

        • Sam
          November 5, 2016 at 11:32

          The article describes a Saudi-Turkey invasion plan approved by SecDef Carter, which surprised me as well.

          The President has Constitutional authority as commander in chief to purge those executive agencies if necessary. If any agency refuses to enforce, he can certainly use other agencies: any branch of the military, National Guard, FBI, DIW, Secret Service, etc. Even state or local police would be glad to make arrests if no one else. If they All refused,which is extremely unlikely, he would have the duty to report that to the people and to the other branches.

          So while he might not dare disagree with oligarchy handlers, on pain of losing their support or perhaps even being assassinated, he does not have the excuse that he could not disagree. There is no excuse.

          • Bill Bodden
            November 6, 2016 at 13:30

            Harry Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur when he became too inflated with his life-long self-importance. Barack Obama is no Harry Truman.

        • Sam
          November 5, 2016 at 16:21

          I should add that Erdogan’s purge of the Gulenists in Turkey (right or wrong) is an example of what Obama should have done to the warmongers throughout the executive.

          Obama should have dismissed all Supreme Court judges who approved Citizens United, under the Constitutional provision that they may serve only “during good behavior,” which has no provisions as to enforcement. Then he should have seized the mass media and turned them over to the universities (with due preparation) under the Sherman Act or as a national emergency measure, as propagandists, RICO violators, and saboteurs of democracy. Then he should have investigated Congress and the Judiciary for oligarchy bribes and imprisoned or dismissed all who took them, and prohibited electronic voting by executive order. Finally, with a new Congress elected to represent the people, he should have demanded from them constitutional amendments to protect elections and mass media from money influence. If they refused, he should have dismissed them again and held new elections again and again until they had eliminated oligarchy influence.

          Anyone unprepared or unwilling to restore democracy is not qualified for high office, and should get out of the way.

          • backwardsevolution
            November 5, 2016 at 19:56

            Sam – excellent comments. I agree.

        • Joe Lauria
          November 7, 2016 at 19:10

          The Turks and Saudis said they would not invade without the US taking the lead. Carter “welcomed” it. But Obama never gave the plan approval and it didn’t happen.


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