The Memo That Helped Kill a Half Million People in Syria

The memo shows the advice Hillary Clinton was getting to plunge the U.S. deeper into the Syrian war. As Trump seeks to extricate the U.S. the memo has again become relevant, writes Daniel Lazare.

By Daniel Lazare
Special to Consortium News

memo sent to Hillary Clinton that WikiLeaks made public in 2016 has not gotten the attention it deserves. Now is the time. After President Donald Trump tweeted that he was pulling American troops out of Syria, Clinton joined his vociferous critics who want more war in Syria.

Actions have consequences, and whether we’re in Syria or not, the people who want to harm us are there & at war,” Clinton tweeted in response to Trump. “Isolationism is weakness. Empowering ISIS is dangerous. Playing into Russia & Iran’s hands is foolish. This President is putting our national security at grave risk.”

Actions indeed have consequences.

The memo shows the kind of advice Clinton was getting as secretary of state to plunge the U.S. deeper into the Syrian war. It takes us back to 2012 and the early phase of the conflict.

At that point, it was largely an internal affair, although Saudi arms shipments were playing a greater and greater role in bolstering rebel forces. But once the President Barack Obama eventually decided in favor of intervention, under pressure from Clinton, the conflict was quickly internationalized as thousands of holy warriors flooded in from as far away as western China.

The 1,200-word memo written by James P. Rubin, a senior diplomat in Bill Clinton’s State Department, to then-Secretary of State Clinton, which Clinton twice requested be printed out, begins with the subject of Iran, an important patron of Syria.

The memo dismisses any notion that nuclear talks will stop Iran “from improving the crucial part of any nuclear weapons program—the capability to enrich uranium.” If it does get the bomb, it goes on, Israel will suffer a strategic setback since it will no longer be able to “respond to provocations with conventional military strikes on Syria and Lebanon, as it can today.” Denied the ability to bomb at will, Israel might leave off secondary targets and strike at the main enemy instead.

Consequently, the memo argues that the U.S. should topple the Assad regime so as to weaken Iran and allay the fears of Israel, which has long regarded the Islamic republic as its primary enemy. As the memo puts it:

Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly.  Then, Israel and the United States might be able to develop a common view of when the Iranian program is so dangerous that military action could be warranted.”

This document, making the case to arm Syrian rebels, may have been largely overlooked because of confusion about its dates, which appear to be inaccurate.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, April 18, 2012. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, April 18, 2012. (DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo )

The time stamp on the email is “2001-01-01 03:00” even though Clinton was still a New York senator-elect at that point. That date is also out of synch with the timeline of nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

But the body of the email gives a State Department case and document number with the date of 11/30/2015. But that’s incorrect as well because Clinton resigned as secretary of state on Feb. 1, 2013.

Central to the Great Debate

Consequently, anyone stumbling across the memo in the Wikileaks archives might be confused about how it figures in the great debate about whether to use force to bring down Syrian President Bashir al-Assad. But textual clues provide an answer. The second paragraph refers to nuclear talks with Iran “that began in Istanbul this April and will continue in Baghdad in May,” events that took place in 2012. The sixth invokes an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Rubin’s wife, conducted with then-Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak “last week.” Since the interview took place on April 19, 2012, the memo can therefore be dated to the fourth week in April. (After it was sent as a memo to Clinton, Rubin published a version of it in Foreign Policy on June 4, 2012.)

The memo syncs with Clinton’s thinking on Syria, such as calling for Assad’s overthrow and continuing to push for a no-fly zone in her last debate with Donald Trump even after Gen. Joseph Dunford had testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that it could mean war with Russia.

The memo was sent to her shortly before Clinton joined forces with then-CIA Director David Petraeus to push for an aggressive program of rebel military aid.

Needless to say, the memo’s skepticism about negotiating with Iran proved to be unwarranted since Iran eventually agreed to shut down its nuclear program. The memo, which Clinton twice asked to be printed out for her, underscores the conviction that Israeli security trumps all other considerations even if it means setting fire to a region that’s been burned over more than once.

But the memo illustrates much else besides: a recklessness, lack of realism and an almost mystical belief that everything will fall neatly into place once the United States flexes its muscle.  Overthrowing Assad would be nothing less than “transformative,” the memo says.

“…Iran would be strategically isolated, unable to exert its influence in the Middle East. The resulting regime in Syria will see the United States as a friend, not an enemy. Washington would gain substantial recognition as fighting for the people in the Arab world, not the corrupt regimes. For Israel, the rationale for a bolt from the blue attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be eased. And a new Syrian regime might well be open to early action on the frozen peace talks with Israel. Hezbollah in Lebanon would be cut off from its Iranian sponsor since Syria would no longer be a transit point for Iranian training, assistance and missiles.”

It was “a low-cost high-payoff approach,” the memo says, that would eliminate one enemy, weaken two more, and generate such joy among ordinary Syrians that peace talks between Damascus and Tel Aviv will spring back to life. The risks appeared to be nil. Since “the Libyan operation had no long-lasting consequences for the region,” the memo supposes, referring to the overthrow of strongman Muammer Gaddafi six months earlier, the Syrian operation wouldn’t either. In a passage that may have influenced Clinton’s policy of a no-fly zone, despite Dunford’s warning, the memo says:

Some argue that U.S. involvement risks a wider war with Russia. But the Kosovo example [in which NATO bombed Russian-ally Serbia] shows otherwise. In that case, Russia had genuine ethnic and political ties to the Serbs, which don’t exist between Russia and Syria, and even then Russia did little more than complain. Russian officials have already acknowledged they won’t stand in the way if intervention comes.”

So, there was nothing to worry about. Sixty-five years of Arab-Israeli conflict would fall by the wayside while Russia remains safely marginalized.

How it Turned Out

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

Needless to say, that’s not how things turned out. At that moment, Libya seemed under control. But three or four months later, it would explode as Western-backed Islamist militias blasted away at one another, imposing strict Sharia law, re-instituting slavery and rolling back decades of social progress. Once President Barack Obama approved a modified version of the Clinton-Petraeus plan, Syria would plunge into the same abyss as jihadis funded by Saudi Arabia and the other oil monarchies, many of whom came from Libya, spread sectarian violence and fear.

The memo’s assumption that the U.S. could neatly and cleanly decapitate the Syrian government without having to worry about broader consequences was little short of deluded.

The notion that ordinary Syrians would fall to their knees in gratitude was ludicrous while Clinton’s disregard for the intricacies of Syrian politics was astonishing.

There is also the memo’s blithe suggestion that Washington “work with regional allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to organize, train, and arm Syrian rebel forces.”

In late 2009, Secretary of State Clinton sent another diplomatic memo made public by Wikileaks saying that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” So what made her think two years later that the kingdom would not fund Syrian jihadis of precisely the same ilk?

The 2009 memo slammed Qatar for allowing Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups to use the sheikdom “as a fundraising locale.” She was well aware then that a pro-Al Qaeda autocracy would now help Syrians “fight for their freedom,” as the memo she sent puts it.

There is a remarkable continuity between the Syria policy that Clinton backed and earlier policies in Afghanistan and Libya. In the first, U.S. military aid wound up flowing to the notorious warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a religious sectarian and raging anti-western xenophobe who nonetheless was “the most efficient at killing Soviets,” as Steve Coll put it in “Ghost Wars,” his bestselling 2004 account of the CIA’s love affair with jihad.

Hekmatyar’s cutthroats wound up with the lion’s share of American arms. More or less the same thing happened in Libya once Clinton persuaded Qatar to join the anti-Gaddafi coalition. The sheikdom seized the opportunity to distribute some $400 million to various rebel militias, many of them extreme Islamist. The Obama administration said nothing in response.

British fighters with International Freedom Battalion in northern Syria. (Wikimedia)

Once again, U.S. arms and materiel flowed to the most reactionary elements. The same would happen in Syria where U.S. and Saudi arms went to the local Al Qaeda affiliate, known as Jabhat al-Nusra, and even to ISIS, as a meticulous report by Conflict Armament Research, a Swiss and EU-funded study group in London, has shown. (See Did Obama Arm Islamic State Killers?” Consortium News, Dec. 21, 2017.)

Insurgency Mix

By August 2012, a secret Defense Intelligence Agency report found that Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Qaeda were already “the major forces driving of the insurgency” and that the U.S. and Gulf states backed them regardless. The report warned that the U.S. and some of its allies were supporting the establishment of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria to pressure Assad that could turn into an “Islamic State”–two years before the Islamic State was declared in 2014. Clinton was among senior Obama administration officials who had to have seen the report as it was sent to the State Department among several other agencies.

In 2016, then Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed this policy in a leaked audio conversation,  saying that the U.S., rather than seriously fighting the 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 [an Arabic 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.”

Speechwriter Ben Rhodes summed up the problem of “moderate” rebels who were indistinguishable from Al Qaeda, in his White House memoir, The World As It Is.” He writes:

“Al Nusra was probably the strongest fighting force within the opposition, and while there were extremist elements in the group, it was also clear that the more moderate opposition was fighting side by side with al Nusra. I argued that labeling al Nusra as terrorists would alienate the same people we want to help, while giving al Nusra less incentive to avoid extremist affiliations.”

The problem was how to separate the “good” Al Qaeda fighters from the “bad.” Rhodes later complained when Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he and his fellow Obama officials were “trying to climb a spruce tree naked without scratching our ass.” This was “smug,” Rhodes writes. But Putin was merely using a colorful expression to say that the policy made no sense; which it didn’t.

The cost of the Clinton-backed policy in Syria has been staggering. As many as 560,000 people have died, and half the population has been displaced, while the World Bank has estimated total war damage at $226 billion, roughly six years’ income for every Syrian man, woman, and child.

A cockeyed memo thus helped unleash a real-life catastrophe that refuses to go away. It’s a nightmare from which Trump is struggling to escape by trying to withdraw U.S. troops in his confused and deluded way. And it’s a nightmare that warmongers from arch-neocon John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, to “liberal” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to Hillary Clinton are determined to keep going. 

Daniel Lazare is the author of “The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy”(Harcourt Brace, 1996) and other books about American politics.  He has written for a wide variety of publications from The Nation to LeMonde Diplomatique and blogs about the Constitution and related matters at

CORRECTION: The first memo discussed in this article was written by U.S. diplomat James Rubin to Hillary Clinton and not by her, as an earlier version of this article said. It has also been revised with additional information.

134 comments for “The Memo That Helped Kill a Half Million People in Syria

  1. Petouche
    January 24, 2019 at 12:30

    Thank you consortium news for reporting the important stuff.

  2. Obama's lovechild
    January 20, 2019 at 19:09

    State and its employees exist in a different plane of existence from ordinary mortals. Its illusions do not correspond to reality, facts, nor ordinary circumstances, nor do they have to. No decision ever has consequences that impact on its authors, because there is never an author, just a massive bureaucracy that signs off on measures that never have real goals that are measurable, just fantasies about some future utopia.

    This is why State signs endless agreements that are never enforced. Why the inevitable disasters and failures never result in the removal of the idiots that constructed them. The term “career diplomat” indicates the lowest form of scandalous rogue. The individual that steals from widows and orphans yet tells them how much they have made, except of course that they are ruined. The Paris Peace accords, the Panama Canal Treaty, the Middle East agreements, the endless nuclear limitation agreements, and of course the laughable trade agreements that are the norm at State are never subjected to realistic examination.

    This is why no one listens to State in Washington except the clueless, the uninformed, and those who aspire to the title Ambassador.

  3. January 18, 2019 at 00:45

    Ecceptional essay that shows that US Foreign policy Can Be understood only dividing the One in two. The internal dialectique in washington elite Is essential to the development of a policy of peace. The “Total” anti-americanism Is Dangerous ad knows dell’ Moscow, that Is probably Trieste that in some way supported. Forum istance Trump against the criminal Hillary Rodham Clinton

    • January 18, 2019 at 00:47

      Errata corrige. Is probably true

      • January 18, 2019 at 00:49

        Anyway. Abu policy that defendes the o of legitimity od Assad government Is right

  4. dean 1000
    January 17, 2019 at 22:43

    Another good one Daniel Lazare. The memo you expose freebases on wishful thinking. Too bad the corporate media won’t run it.

    I think Washington was involved in the overthrow of an elected government in Syria in 1949. Sixty eight years later everything has changed except the geography and Washington’s refusal to accept a Syria free and independent of its domination. No surprise then that Syria decided to fight and request outside help. Washington’s policy of slaughter and displacement produced what it didn’t want – Russia back in the Mid-east.
    Syria’s Christians know it wasn’t Washington who saved them from the head choppers.

  5. vinnieoh
    January 17, 2019 at 13:43

    I’ll post this here since this is the most relevant article wrt the following comment. Maybe tomorrow it will be part of the thread – I really don’t understand what CN is doing to these forum threads.

    The incident of the bombing that killed, among others, 4 US servicemen stinks to high heaven. Since the US involvement in the campaign to remove Assad from power, aka “the war against Islamic State” dating back to 2014, a total of two active duty US personnel had been killed. Now, assuming that Trump was serious about pulling out of Syria, in one day that death toll has been tripled. How “convenient” to inconvenience Trump’s statements and his declaration to pull the US out of Syria.

    Trump, in his persistent overblown way, stated that ISIS, ISIL, whatever has been defeated “decimated” and no less, by the efforts of the US. Putting the dubious truth of these assertions aside, and assuming that the jihadists are truly on the run, why do the one thing that might instead, as our macho warriors might say, once again “bring the pain”? It has the same preposterous warped flavor the supposed gas attack by Assad – the crossing of the red line – exhibited. Why would Assad do the one thing most likely to bring the full force of the US military down on him and his regime, and under the noses of a UN envoy?

    I won’t belabor these points further. I submit that these obvious efforts to prolong the conflict, propaganda by murder, are not conceived so that you and I, dear citizen, are meant to believe them. It is only necessary to invent the narrative that it happened, jihadists are to blame, and we must reverse the course of the loose cannon Trump. This event, like so many others are incorporated into the fictional narrative of the whole shitty mess to provide cover for the political lackeys to support more death and destruction and the removal of Israel’s opponents.

    With my suspicions in hand I watched the NBC Nightly News last night concerning this incident. All the tell-tale signs of a manufactured event were there: video clips of Trump declaring Islamic State defeated and then their correspondent, Richard Engle I believe, making the bold and incongruous statement that this was Islamic State declaring they had not been defeated, and therefor begging the US “Please sir, can I have some more?” ???

    There is so much about Trump that makes absolutely no sense. His disdain for US military interventionism is of long standing and seems sincere, and yet he appoints Bolton, one of the most ruthless and deranged US war-mongers as NSA director. So, Mr. President Donald J. Trump, make a believer out of me: recall both Bolton and Pompeo from their war-incitement tour and immediately dismiss Bolton, at least. You appointed him Donald, and you can shit-can him, a pastime you seem to take great pleasure in. Otherwise, just stfu.

    • Hank
      January 21, 2019 at 18:52

      It IS crazy that a President who was elected partly because of his non-interventionist stance would hire warmongers like Bolton in these unstable times! Maybe Trump is putting these people out in the spotlight to try and expose them as they really are- warmongers for the military/industrialists instead of “protectors” of freedom and democracy! “Let’s appoint Bolton and let him make an ass of himself” – something like that. Line up all the Deep State traitors and then knock them all down like bowling pins! Indictments would do the trick and a GREAT majority of Americans WOULD rally to Trump’s side, I have no doubt. Those morons that are UNKNOWINGLY part of the mainstream media’s lynch mob against Trump are just useful idiots anyway!

  6. LJ
    January 17, 2019 at 02:00

    Hillary was a liberal interventionist, as were Obama, Susan Rice and others in the previous Administration.. Liberal Interventionists are the Democratic repackaging of Neoconservativse for political reasons, basically votes from a base that disagree with prevailing US Foreign Policy, New York Times notwithstanding. The line between Interventionist and Neocon with her was especially blurred as she was the preferred candidate of prominent Neocon Robert Kagan, a man who she listed as a main foreign policy advisor back when she was in the Senate . Later she hired Kagan’s wife ,Victoria Nuland, to be Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs etc. when she was Secretary of State. You may have seen Robert Kagan, co-author of Project for a New American Century, praising Clinton on National Television during her run at the Presidency. This memo is more of the same. This is what Neoconservatism is all about. Hilary is a Neocon but so was Obama. It is worthy of note that the anti-Hillary, President Trump, asked Victoria Nuland to remain on the job in his Administration and she declined the offer. Politics makes really strange bedfellows. Victoria Nuland made her bones as a protege of Dick Cheney who anointed her to become Ambassador to NATO when he was Vice President . Kinky.

    • perikles
      January 18, 2019 at 06:09

      This is precisely the kind of kink that makes any decent human puke instantly..

  7. Duleep Jesudian
    January 16, 2019 at 18:46

    All wars are due to arms manufacturers whose main aim is to increase profits to which politicians are willing participants. These companies are all western ones which helps incidentally all third world dictatorships diverting money that helps the people of that poor country, to the already rich countries. If those countries don’t cooperate the arms manufacturers with the governments support divisive groups that plunges it into civil war increasing sales to both sides. The quotation ” oh! what a tangled web we weave , when we practice to deceive ! If humans would put down their self interests to humanities well being we will have heaven on earth.

  8. Jay
    January 16, 2019 at 13:43

    Can we finallyy stop pretending arms flowing to Islamist jihadis and Al Qaeda affiliates was some sort of slip -up? A failure of oversight?

    • Joe
      January 17, 2019 at 00:22

      Its okay when its in Israel’s “best interest”. We are just supposed to believe that Iran is the largest sponsor of ‘state terrorism’, although Shia countries have the best track record for not killing religious minorities. It doesn’t matter that KSA pales in comparison to terror than anyone else.

    • Hank
      January 21, 2019 at 18:58

      Just like the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a “mistake”? There is a difference between a mistake and ignoring ALL the evidence that points AGAINST wars. I call the Iraq War the Iraq RAPE, because that is exactly what it was- a bunch of Western nations ganging up on a depleted and weakened country that actually was ready to negotiate for peace when it was attacked(another cover up courtesy of the CIA media!) Calling invasions “mistakes” only serves to protect the guilty from their INTENTIONAL crimes, not their MIOSTAKEN ones!

  9. January 16, 2019 at 13:39

    Does anyone here believe Trump and the US will really withdraw from Syria? I don’t.

    • AH
      January 19, 2019 at 18:47

      I believe the purpose of removing US troops is so they are available for a possible start of a war with Iran, Lebanon, Venezuela, and or Nicaragua while using private militias (such as Blackwater/Erik Prince) to continue the older conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.

  10. William
    January 15, 2019 at 19:06

    Secretary Clinton should be indicted and tried for war crimes and criminal conspiracy. She won’t be, obviously, because the U.S. congress is spineless, greedy, and immoral. Neither will any of the Bush officials who drew up the legal argument for torture, nor will any official of the Justice Dept. be held accountable for its failure to investigate U.S. war crimes in Iraq, war crimes which disgrace
    this nation. As of today, no govt. official has been held accountable for war crimes of the greatest magnitude, torturing prisoners, or treason (attacking countries on behalf of Israel) which has resulted in the deaths and maiming of thousands of Americans and tens of
    thousands of Iraqis.
    I am a proud American and I love my country, but it tears my heart to see supporters of a foreign nation push and pour billions of dollars into the effort to subvert this great, albeit unsuspecting, country.

    • Cika Stevica
      January 16, 2019 at 15:16

      If America stops “ liberating “ wast number of countries and spend money at home on burning issues like health, high crime rate, jobs, economy, social justice AND REAL AND TRUTHFUL EDUCATION supported by facts of what horrible crimes have been done in the name of ordinary good American people- then the healing process and massive hate of American establishment could eventually lower down . To do that “ the biggest democracy on the planet” would have to accept the rules of INTERNATIONAL LAW AND TO ABIDE BY IT. Somehow I believe that this is not going to happen any time soon…

    • Joe
      January 17, 2019 at 00:24

      You are right, not until Assad is toppled and a Sunni government is installed will we leave. We have to what KSA and Israel tells us.

    • Joe
      January 17, 2019 at 00:26

      William, you are right on all counts. Hillary should be responsible for what happened not only in Syria but also Libya. I also think you should have included Obama, because in the end he had the final say. He was a phony from the get go. When he said he was going to ‘adopt’ a dog and ended up with a pure bred dog from Ted Kennedy I knew he was full of it.

  11. January 15, 2019 at 15:13

    Pompeo must have his name added to Bolton’s, as well as Mueller’s, Brennan’s names with those of pop-uo internet politico-smearing groups.

  12. GKJames
    January 15, 2019 at 12:51

    (1) Why so timid? Why not a headline, “Clinton Killed Half a Million People”? Through mindless — and disingenuous, though profitable — repetition, Clinton is part of the political fabric as a warmonger. It’s become fashion. There is much to criticize about US foreign policy, but it has always been a collective enterprise whose launch-point is an attention-deficit, largely (and willfully) ignorant public that has never been averse to the use of American military might worldwide as long as it wasn’t “our boys” doing the bleeding and dying. The country’s institutions have always followed. To single out Clinton is intellectually flabby, not to mention highly selective. It also reeks of a double standard. (2) As with all policy matters under all presidents, there were different views in the Obama administration about Syria. That the US preferred the execrable Assad to be gone is neither secret nor surprise (nor, in terms of aspiration, unreasonable). While Obama’s instincts about limiting US involvement were sound, it’s useful to recall that his political opposition bellowed for MORE participation in the Syrian civil war. Barrels of ink were spilled challenging Obama’s spinlessness, yet not a peep about “warmonger McCain” or “warmonger Graham” or any of the other countless warmongering guiding lights running the US show. (3) All the Rubin memo shows is the vacuum where thought should be. This, too, though, is hardly news in the American foreign policy firmament, where ignorance about far-away places has always toxically — and fatally — combined with the entrenched myth that Washington can determine outcomes in other countries. (4) Implicit in laying blame on Clinton for half a million victims is the far-fetched notion that had US policy been entirely hands-off, the Syrian fratricide would have been less vicious and insane. This ascribes to Washington an omnipotence it doesn’t possess. It also ignores the other significant parties prepared to further militarily their own (non-US-related) geopolitical objectives. (5) The reference to obsession is right enough. Washington happens to have the luxury of two: Israel AND Iran, both long-standing and both evidence of a pathology where knee-jerk has for decades smothered reason (along with decency) in its crib. There is not an iota of evidence that either obsession is on the wane, even with Clinton now several years removed from policy. And, newsflash: whatever the current president says — and assuming one can get past the incoherence — the US approach to each of its obsessions in the Middle East will not change: Israel’s carte will remain as blanche as it’s ever been, and Iran will be bombed. Why? It’s the American way. Not Clinton’s way; the American way.

    • Gregory Herr
      January 15, 2019 at 19:02

      Certainly “other significant parties”–notably Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the Brits–contrived with Uncle Sam and the boys at The Farm to fund, arm, and otherwise logistically support an influx of terrorist mercenaries into Syria for “geopolitical objectives”. But the U.S. is clearly a major, major driver of the wars to destroy or subjugate Iraq, Libya, and Syria (with a view toward Iran). The impossibility of disentangling the U.S. from the war on Syria aside–I doubt that the other “parties” would have been able to pull off the level of viciousness and insanity perpetrated against the Syrian people had they not had Sam on their side.

      There has never been a “civil war” in Syria and Assad is not “execrable”. And yes, there is a “collective enterprise” known as the foreign policy “establishment” that takes part in these lies. The purpose of the lies are to create a story, a “cover”, for the real shit that goes down. Because a lot of it is just plain heinous. Which is why Hillary and Petraeus and everyone else with position to either expedite or muck-up a criminal policy should be called on the carpet.

  13. Mike from Jersey
    January 15, 2019 at 11:52

    The very idea that so many people can be killed based upon such childish reasoning is an indictment of the American political system.

  14. David Walters
    January 15, 2019 at 08:29

    And some wonder why swing voters like me, denied of a Sanders candidacy chose to support Trump vs. Clinton, the heinous warmonger that she was, is and always will be.

    January 15, 2019 at 07:34

    An old poem—–For when the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name— .He writes–not that you won or lost—but how you played the game .

  16. DH Fabian
    January 14, 2019 at 23:16

    Want peace in the Mideast? Get US oil corporations out of the region.

    • SPQR70AD
      January 15, 2019 at 13:15

      yes so we can go back to horseback. get Israel out of the Mideast and put them in antartica

      • gronk
        January 18, 2019 at 06:31

        I would suggest Bavaria instead of Antarctica..
        It should have been Bavaria all along, with Munich as the new Jerusalem.
        But the “allies” never really wanted to punish the Nazis, did they?

  17. DH Fabian
    January 14, 2019 at 22:51

    The Clinton wing’s role in sticking us with the most destructive domestic and international policies will continue to be ignored by the liberal bourgeoisie, and the media that market to them.

  18. Smedley Butler
    January 14, 2019 at 21:54

    “Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly.

    Absolute proof that EVERY member of congress and EVERY president that has voted for aid to Israel is in violation of the Symington amendment. And, therefor is grounds to remove ALL of them from office!

    • DH Fabian
      January 14, 2019 at 23:01

      Look beyond the trendy (absurdly simplistic) anti-Israel propaganda. Israel has been of very little consequence in this entire ordeal. US priority #1 remains access to Mideast oil. Mideastern countries, naturally, exploit this. Obviously, even middle class liberals would be fine with the destruction of the sole Jewish nation if they were convinced that it would reduce costs at the gas pumps. It won’t, but today’s Americans aren’t very particular about the details. US dependency on oil has driven our Mideast wars, military conflicts in South America, increased hostilities toward Russia, etc. What American politicians learned from the Arab Oil Embargo of the 1970s is that high prices and fuel shortages can gravely damage the careers of US politicians.

      • SPQR70AD
        January 15, 2019 at 13:17

        yes Israel had nothing to do with the oil embargo. are you insane?? pissrael has cost the US tens of TRILLIONS and counting. they trying to push us in another 10 trillion dollar war with iran. do you want us on horseback or battery cars?

      • Deniz
        January 15, 2019 at 17:01

        “Israel has been of very little consequence in this entire ordeal. ”

        “In January 2017 Israel started attacking in Syria almost every day, dropping 2,000 bombs in 2018 alone, according to Eisenkot.”
        -Outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot
        The Sunday Times and The New York Times published 1/13/19

        You need to get an updated set of talking points.

      • Antipropo
        January 15, 2019 at 17:14

        Nothing ADSURBLY simplistic nor rhetoric. Israel has repeatedly attacked and occupied neighbouring countries including Syria. The Israeli chief of staff has just proudly boasted that Israel has carried out THOUSANDS of attacks on Syrian territory including on Christmas Day using civilian planes landing in Damascus and Beirut to inhibit Syrian air defence response. Israel DAILY enters Lebanese air space to conduct these attacks.

        • Gregory Herr
          January 17, 2019 at 17:09

          On Christmas Day and using civilian airliners as “human shields”! Really galling isn’t it?

      • Jimbank
        January 16, 2019 at 13:17

        Absolute nonsense.

      • Harpo kondriak
        January 17, 2019 at 05:10

        It’s not the oil, it’s the oil markets. It’s fear of Wallstreet getting cut out of the deal. They will sell us oil regardless of who is pumping it.

    • DH Fabian
      January 14, 2019 at 23:15

      In reality (which should still count), Israel gets the smallest portion of US Middle East aid, with nearly all of it going to the Arab oil states. This indicates that the “popular” theory about the near-magical powers of the Jews over governments (a long-familiar theme to Euro-Americans) is wrong. There is no way around the fact that the Arab oil-producing countries have their hands firmly around Amereica’s throat. For a bit of perspective: Note that Israel is a tiny country, roughly the size of New Jersey. Jews are, indeed, indigenous to that bit of land, formerly known as Palestine, restored as the Jewish nation in 1948 and renamed Israel. They are not an oil-producing state, and are therefore of no concern to our bourgeoisie. If Israel disappeared, our oil wars would continue. The US went through a phase (roughly from FDR to Reagan/Clinton) when there was concern about things like “justice,” “right and wrong,” human rights, etc. Rest assured that our government has been working for years to root out those policies that reflect such concerns.

      • SPQR70AD
        January 15, 2019 at 13:22

        what is going on here?? are you people insane?? Israel has cost the US trillions .how can you read this article where haggary says US war in Syria would benefit Israel and not know the war on Iraq was pushed by Israel with false intel. now they want us to attack Iran. WE WOULD HAVE NO TROUBLE WITH ARBS IF ISRAEL WAS NOT THERE. we would simply buy the oil. WE ARE FORCING IRAN CAUSE OF ISRAEL NOT TO SELL OIL. we destroyed iraqs oil production and what little they produce is stolen by Israel. aid to Egypt and Jordan in the billions IS ALSO AID TO ISRAEL CAUSE WE PAY THEM TO BE ISRAELS SERVANTS. now the Saudis bow to the jews

    • pappa gone
      January 15, 2019 at 08:38

      and then, doing work in favor of another nation, in Usa what mean? only remove from office? they must be hanged

    • Cika Stevica
      January 16, 2019 at 15:24


  19. Mild - ly Facetious
    January 14, 2019 at 21:54

    Daniel Lazare,

    In another Time,
    another Occupation,
    another Reshuffling

    of History’s players
    according Powers
    that be/ in Control

    a Dilatory epoch/
    Abraham Lincoln\
    Andrew Johnson/

    Specificity of edict\
    40 acres= peace/
    And Reconciliation

    War is a Racket the
    Feudalistic Scheme
    of World Control

    And in This Epoch of
    Last Days Times when
    the Profane own Rule

    There’ll be No one to
    care/ for your life as in
    Yemen\ Central America/

    Appalachian \Coal /Dirty
    Water Detroit/Displaced
    in North Dakota Pipelines|

    Outside America/ the Dregs
    of CAPITALISM drowns
    Human Beings in Floods

    And Hostile Takeovers\
    Interest Debt/Police Rule
    Coerced Migration/Flight

    have freedom of thought
    expression as you resist
    Capitalist Power
    Encroachment upon
    Your Very Way Of Life …

    Remember The Time
    When Negro’s Fled
    To The North in Escape
    From Southern Bigotry
    Police Violence,Hangings,
    Cross Burnings, Beatings,
    State Sponsored POVERTY
    Falsified Imprisonment,
    Hopelessness/Wretchedness —

    This Is That which forces
    Central Americans to Flee
    from US IMPOSED Poverty
    in the NAME of US
    $$$$$$ Corporate PROFIT.



    • Duleep Jesudian
      January 16, 2019 at 19:11

      Really well put – the world lives in a cloud of deception – the marriage of power & money.

  20. Dunderhead
    January 14, 2019 at 21:29

    Thank you, Daniel Lazare great article! And thank you consortium news for printing this.

  21. January 14, 2019 at 20:48

    This is an excellent article but leaves out the most important point: the destruction of Libya was all about control of money, banking, and the petrodollar.
    Robert Parry is referenced in the body of the article.

    • TS
      January 15, 2019 at 03:04

      Instead of carrying on about links and Web sites being deleted, you need to be more careful in typing and citing references — “dumb” computer programs won’t find them when they include typos.

      In this case, not the late-lamented “Alistair Cooke”, but “Alistair CRooke”

  22. Mild - ly Facetious
    January 14, 2019 at 19:28

    “The Memo That Helped Kill a Half Million People in Syria”
    Special to Consortium News

    or – Hiding Reality and Truth from the Impertinent/Unaffected Citizens of America.

  23. Guy
    January 14, 2019 at 19:17

    After reading the comments up to this point ,it does give me hope to read that not all Americans are asleep.As an outsider looking in and have been for many years ,there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel .What is being trumped up ,forgive the pun, as democracy, does not hold a candle to what real democracy is or should be .As citizens ,we use our privilege to actually vote in our preferred candidate only to find that it was all lies .I hope I live long enough to see it change .There are bright stars in the world today , I hope people are discerning enough to recognize them .
    Cheers to all .

  24. January 14, 2019 at 17:52

    “The resulting regime in Syria will see the United States as a friend, not an enemy. Washington would gain substantial recognition as fighting for the people in the Arab world, not the corrupt regimes. ” This is a common justification for all “humanitarian interventions”, but in Middle East it has a separate set of problems, leading to more spectacular failures than elsewhere — not that Haiti and Honduras got governments replaced with anything better, but at least in the Western Hemisphere the more friendly governments, however crappy, raised above the level of “failed state”.

    One possible reason may be (cultural) racism, American operatives, be them military, intelligence or diplomatic, have deep distaste for working with the backward folks in the region, they do not like them, and in turn, these folks do not like us — thus proving how backward they are. So the actual human contacts, disbursement of money, weapons etc. is subcontracted to Middle Eastern feudals — or, in Pakistan, ISI, they speak English fluently, have proper table manners and best of all — they put down their own money. The only thing they need is a blessing, something that a memo discussed here can produce.

    Then surprise, democracy developed under close tutelage of feudals with mentality more proper for Middle Ages (they would be backward even then) is not flourishing. People who get most weapons and money happen to exhibit more or less the same extremist worldview as our “moderate Gulf allies”. Furthermore, more pragmatic mercenaries lack discipline and cohesion, while religious fanatics have both, thus producing “results”. The question arises: why it is actually a surprise?

    One reason is meritocracy. People like Clinton, Obama, Pompeo have been diligent students with good grades and absorbed what they were thought, which unfortunately is full of prejudices and misconceptions. They interpret all new facts through the lens of that background. Second reason is that they do not care, the true goals are quite different but they cannot be put in writing. Thorough decline of few countries can be exactly what they want, or, compatible with what they want.

  25. January 14, 2019 at 17:37

    Thanks for publishing this, Joe Lauria. I chuckled while reading Jamie Rubin’s memo, citing his wife Christiane Amanpour’s interview with Ehud Barak, reminding us of the cozy connections between corporate media figures and key government appointees, which are rarely acknowledged in either circle.

  26. rosemerry
    January 14, 2019 at 17:28

    “James P. Rubin, a senior diplomat”-well, that explains why the USA seems to rely on force and violence, not diplomacy.

    Hillary’s recent comment was just as bad- pretending the USA fights ISIS, then suggesting Iran and Russia are NOT the ones actually doing this.

    The obsession with Israel is palpable. Has the USA no real life of its own?

  27. Andrew Thomas
    January 14, 2019 at 17:27

    The Wikileaks treasure trove has been worse than not given the attention it deserves; aside from such great journalists as Mr. Lazare, it has been utterly ignored except as a source of outrage by the media. How dare anyone divulge information that gives us peons any insight into the batshit madness that passes for “strategic analysis? Thanks for your wonderful work.

  28. Guy
    January 14, 2019 at 17:16

    It is very telling in the statement “it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly” that confirms to the world that Israel has nuclear weapons but still not content wants to destroy Iran .They know Iran does not have them , but that is not enough for them ,it seems Israel wants to destroy the whole world ,so that they feel safe.
    The wicked bitch of the West, destroyed Libya and then went on to attempt to destroy Syria .God it is not hard to hate that woman.

    • Dunderhead
      January 14, 2019 at 21:38

      I hear you man, hating Hillary, I don’t like hating anyone but that woman is pure evil, I am not much of a trump fan but when he was elected I felt like it was an intervention by the soles dead from the Middle Eastern wars and I’m not a religious person. I think we dodged a bullet not only in Syria but with Russia, this is what happens when absurd avarice makes alliances with people like the neocons and Likudniks, we’re a lucky to be alive.

  29. Mild - ly Facetious
    January 14, 2019 at 16:34

    OR, you site administrators who’ve erased my previous links to the site that has suddenly DISAPPEARED,
    will more likely grant approval to this far less Implicating link
    — as compared to – The Link That Did Not Appear/ AND COMPLETELY – DISAPPEARED)!!!

  30. Mild - ly Facetious
    January 14, 2019 at 15:58

    The Memo That Helped Kill a Half Million People in Syria
    January 13, 2019 •

    The memo shows the advice Hillary Clinton was getting to plunge the U.S. deeper into the Syrian war. As Trump seeks to extricate the U.S. the memo has again become relevant, writes Daniel Lazare.

    By Daniel Lazare

  31. Spencer
    January 14, 2019 at 15:54

    Hillary needs to be prosecuted for her crimes and don`t forget Bolton and Pompeo and the rest of the Ivy League Gangsters.

  32. nonya
    January 14, 2019 at 15:46

    Confused and deluded? Think again. You grossly underestimate President Trump.

  33. Mild - ly Facetious
    January 14, 2019 at 15:37

    Daniel Lazare raises some pertinent old-school/half-baked points of interest.
    … . welcome to the Real World, you gullible people of America … .

    Entering a Major Regional Re-set – The Syria Outcome Will Haunt Those Who Started This War


    The Middle East is metamorphosing. New fault-lines are emerging, yet Trump’s foreign policy ‘hawks’ still try to stage ‘old movies’ in a new ‘theatre’.

    >>>> (… all tha “news” that’s NOT fit to print in brainwashed America —- as follows…) <<<<


    The ‘old movie’ is for the US to ‘stand up’ Sunni, Arab states, and lead them towards confronting ‘bad actor’ Iran. ‘Team Bolton’ is reverting back to the old 1996 Clean Break script – as if nothing has changed. State Department officials have been briefing that Secretary Pompeo’s address in Cairo on Thursday was “ slated to tell his audience (although he may not name the former president), that Obama misled the people of the Middle East about the true source of terrorism, including what contributed to the rise of the Islamic State.
    Pompeo will insist that Iran, a country Obama tried to engage, is the real terrorist culprit. The speech’s drafts also have Pompeo suggesting that Iran could learn from the Saudis about human rights, and the rule of law. — — (”umm "yeah/right")

    Well, at least that speech should raise a chuckle around the region. In practice however, the regional fault-line has moved on: It is no longer so much Iran. GCC States have a new agenda, and are now far more concerned to contain Turkey, and to put a halt to Turkish influence spreading throughout the Levant. GCC states fear that President Erdogan, given the emotional and psychological wave of antipathy unleashed by the Khashoggi murder, may be mobilising newly re-energised Muslim Brotherhood, Gulf networks. The aim being to leverage present Gulf economic woes, and the general hollowing out of any broader GCC ‘vision’, in order to undercut the rigid Gulf ‘Arab system’ (tribal monarchy). The Brotherhood favours a soft Islamist reform of the Gulf monarchies – along lines, such as that once advocated by Jamal Khashoggi .

    GGC states therefore, are hoping to stand-up a ‘front’ to balance Turkey in the Levant. And to this end, they are trying to recruit President Assad back into the Arab fold (which is to say, into the Arab League), and to have him act, jointly with them, as an Arab counter to Turkey.

    The point here is obvious: President Assad is closely allied to Iran – and so is Moscow and Turkey. To be fashionably Iranophobic – as Pompeo might wish the GCC to be – simply would spoil the GCC’s anti-Turkey ‘play’. Syria indeed may be (justly) skeptical of Turkey’s actions and intent in Syria, but from President Assad’s perspective, Iran and Russia are absolutely crucial to the managing of an erratic Turkey. Turkey does represent an existential Syrian concern. And trying to lever President Assad – or Lebanon or Turkey – away from Iran, would be absurd. It won’t happen. And the GCC states have enough nous to understand this now (after their stinging defeat in Syria). The Gulf anti-Iranian stance has had ‘the burner’ turned sharply down, (except when their need is to stroke US feathers).

    They can see clearly that the Master of Ceremonies in the Levant – putting together the new regional ‘order’ – is not Mr Bolton, but Moscow, with Tehran (and occasionally Ankara), playing their equal part ‘from behind the curtain’.

    The second notable emerging regional fault line then, evidently is the one that is opening between Turkey and the US and Israel. Turkey ‘gets it’: Erdogan ‘gets it’ very clearly: that Washington now deeply distrusts him, suspects that Turkey is accelerating into Moscow and Beijing’s orbit, and that DC would be happy to see him gone – and a more NATO-friendly leader installed in his stead.

    And it must be clear to Washington too ‘why’ Turkey would be heading ‘East’. Erdogan precisely needs Russia and Iran to act as MCs to moderate his difficult relations with Damascus for the future. Erdogan needs Russia and Iran even more, to broker a suitable political solution to the Kurds in Syria. He needs China too, to support his economy.

    Still … Turkey, Syria, Iran and Russia now all want America gone from Syria. And for a moment, it seemed it might proceed smoothly after Trump had acquiesced to Erdogan’s arguments, during their celebrated telephone call. But then – Senator Lindsay Graham demurred (against the backdrop of massed howls of anguish issuing from the Beltway foreign policy think-tanks). Bolton did the walk-back, by making US withdrawal from Syria contingent on conditions (ones seemingly designed not to be met) and not tied any specific timeline. President Erdogan was not amused.

    It should be obvious now that we are entering a major regional re-set: The US is leaving Syria. Bolton’s attempted withdrawal-reversal has been rebuffed. And the US, in any event, forfeited the confidence of the Kurds in consequence to the original Trump statement. The Kurds now are orientated toward Damascus and Russia is mediating a settlement.

    It may take a while, but the US is going. Kurdish forces (other than those linked with the PKK) are likely to be assimilated into the Syrian army, and the ‘buffer’ will not be directed against Turkey, but will be a mix of Syrian army and Kurdish elements – under Syrian command – but whose overall conduct towards Turkey will be invigilated by Russia. And the Syrian army will, in due time, clear Idlib from a resurgent al-Qaida (HTS).

    The Arab states are returning to their embassies in Damascus – partly out of fear that the whipsaw of American policy, its radical polarisation, and its proclivity to be wholly or partially ‘walked-back’ by the Deep State – might leave the Gulf unexpectedly ‘orphaned’ at any time. In effect, the GCC states are ‘hedging’ against this risk by trying to reconnect a bifurcated Arab sphere, and to give it a new ‘purpose’ and credibility – as a balance against Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood (Syria’s old nemesis).

    • Dunderhead
      January 14, 2019 at 21:25

      Man strategic culture has got to be my favorite publication right now. I was just reading that very article.

      So what do you think about being here in front row seats watching the Empire slide, I’m us I am a little worried on the one hand but on the other it seems like to me anyway this neocon and Likudnik bastards are going to get hung out to dry buy the rest of their governments, I say let the games begin.

  34. January 14, 2019 at 14:35

    I think that various journos reporting on Syria will present a mix of established facts, speculation and personal interpretations and theories. There’s no avoiding it. It shouldn’t even be a problem – when everyone’s intentions are good. We all learn together.

    I find the above account by Daniel to be very cogent, but lacking in a couple areas. No, I’m not an expert. I’m just someone who tries to pay attention. Daniel no doubt is technically correct when he says that the origin of the present Syria catastrophe was mostly an internal affair. Any number of sources make it clear that the people’s revolution (begun in 2011) in Syria was phony, that Syria was a US target for regime change from way back (2001 I believe). Also, I am very, very sure (but not absolutely) that Trump’s move to withdraw from Syria, which wouldn’t come about because solely because of Trump’s decision-making, are not so bumbling. “Donald Trump’s big announcement to pull US troops out of Syria and Afghanistan is now emerging less as a peace move, and more a rationalization of American military power in the Middle East,” writes Finian Cunningham. There’s a wider rationalization happening, no doubt, and Tony Cartalucci hints at the wider, geopolitical rationalization happening when he notes that US withdrawal from Syria clears Israel to attack Syria, which it did on Christmas day. (Whitney Webb overstates the matter – as do others – in his article titled “Trump Admits His Mideast Policy Guided by Israeli, not American, Interests.” The US certainly cares about it crucial middle east base, aka Israel, while Israel behaves and is an ally.) “You mean to tell me that US leaders and leaders of its Mideast base, Israel, don’t talk?

  35. Chjristo Meyer
    January 14, 2019 at 12:56

    I enjoyed reading this article and have only one criticism. The sixth paragraph of this article suggest that the memo begins with discussion of Iran, when in fact, it begins with the sentence, “The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.” The topic is clearly about helping Israel. Israel as usual, seems to be the main concern of the U.S. State Department officials during this era of politicians (and want to be politicians) willing to do anything to gain the support of deep pocket Zionists to fund their political campaigns. I thank Daniel Lazare for clearly exposing the real reasons for U.S. involvement in Syria, it’s all about helping Israel (not the U.S.A., the Syrian people, or any other Middle Eastern country).

    • Dunderhead
      January 14, 2019 at 21:17

      Excellent observation and it needs to be said, I think people are actually starting to get that specific point so people need to keep saying it are there going to lose their ability to be able to say it, that is to say.

  36. Joe Tedesky
    January 14, 2019 at 12:52

    To add to this very fine article Gary Leupp sums it up pretty darn good with his own take on the USA invasions of the ME.

    I cannot help but add also that what we Americans are experiencing is the roll out of the infamous Israeli Oded Yinon plan. A plan also fortified by Colonel Ralph Peters plan to devastate the Middle East into forming a Greater Israel. This is exactly what General Westley Clark was referring to when he stated that the USA was going to invade 7 nations within 5 years. How this all matters to the state of Kansas, or any other USA owned property is beyond my comprehension.

    The foreign collusion most harmful to the USA isn’t so much to be found in Russia, in as much as it is to found inside of Tel Aviv/Jerusalem and London. These dishonest actors of state diplomacy are the real culprits of America’s foreign failures… so wake America to who your real enemies are.

    • Skip Scott
      January 14, 2019 at 13:10

      Hi Joe-

      The only possible link to the state of Kansas is the likelihood of some kids from there coming home in flag-draped coffins. Our congress does us a great disservice in not really debating the usefulness of these regime change wars and kowtowing to the MIC.

    • Sam F
      January 14, 2019 at 19:47

      Yes, the Gary Leupp article is very worthwhile, as they usually are. Often those who tiptoe around the obvious lead the reader to finally see it and question the propaganda of our zionist mass media. It is the betrayal of the people of the United States by the politicians to get Israeli campaign bribes, coupled with the MIC passion for war anywhere, against the weak, for money alone.

      We do not have a democracy, as president Carter said recently, and until we have amendments to the Constitution to restrict funding of elections and mass media to limited registered personal contributions, we cannot restore democracy. The MIC needs to be 80% re-purposed for building infrastructure in developing nations, until we have spent as much on that as on our mad wars since WWII.

  37. January 14, 2019 at 12:43

    Zionism, the god that failed.

  38. Drew Hunkins
    January 14, 2019 at 12:12

    the memo says.

    “…Iran would be strategically isolated, unable to exert its influence in the Middle East. The resulting regime in Syria will see the United States as a friend, not an enemy. Washington would gain substantial recognition as fighting for the people in the Arab world, not the corrupt regimes. For Israel, the rationale for a bolt from the blue attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be eased. And a new Syrian regime might well be open to early action on the frozen peace talks with Israel. Hezbollah in Lebanon would be cut off from its Iranian sponsor since Syria would no longer be a transit point for Iranian training, assistance and missiles.”

    This is the level the ruling class analyzes things at. Look at that gish gallop, look at it and stand back in awe.

    • michael
      January 14, 2019 at 16:01

      March 16, 2003 – “I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” – U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney to U.S. television network NBC.
      November 14, 2002 – “The Gulf War in the 1990s lasted five days on the ground. I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks or five months. But it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.” – Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

      ‘Still, A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.’– Simon and Garfunkel

      • Antipropo
        January 15, 2019 at 19:00

        As some sage wrote: “it’s difficult to change a man’s mind when his salary depends on not changing it”.

  39. nondimenticare
    January 14, 2019 at 12:01

    This brilliant article and the equally brilliant comments in response to it are an archetypal example of why Consortium News is such an indispensable source of news and perspective. Thank you.

  40. Rob
    January 14, 2019 at 11:52

    It is important to understand that the delusional memo is only important in retrospect, because it was directed to a favorably inclined recipient. Clinton was, and remains, a liberal interventionist, which is barely distinguishable from a neoconservative. She believes in a militarized foreign policy designed to preserve and expand U.S. hegemony around the world. Past failures of such efforts do not affect her belief in their correctness. As awful as Trump may be, his instincts on foreign policy have been better than hers in this regard, though his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal was a major blunder.

  41. Brian
    January 14, 2019 at 11:16

    Let’s not forget the ~19 million total displaced persons. This is the current “newspeak” for war refugees. By playing word games, redefining the word to only apply to people leaving the borders of their country or region the refugee crisis was whitewashed. That is more refugees than World War II. 1 million of them flooded into Europe, which probably pushed the Brexit vote over the edge.

    Other elements of this memo show HRC to be arguably the worst Secretary of State that the USA has ever seen, with John Kerry’s fecklessness competing for the prize. The Russia of the Kosovo war is not today’s Russia. The Kosovo war was USED by the group that elected Putin to gain power with the argument that the USA was not, and could never be trusted – backed up by bombs falling on Serbia. Primakov used Milosevic and Serbia to flip the politics of Russia.

    The continuing saber rattling directed at Russia, including direct threats to nuke every installation using missiles launched locally that fly under the radar shows that these people in power, particularly in the Democratic party, (historically mine) are living in a bubble, possibly of senility, possibly of simple delusion. As a consequence, there is no more dangerous set of actors on the world stage today than those inside the beltway in Washington DC.

    • Skip Scott
      January 14, 2019 at 13:15

      In the mindset of tit-for-tat I intend to start referring to our government as “The Trump Regime”, or the “Obama Regime”. Our Oligarchy has about the same legitimacy as the ones we call “regimes”. Fight newspeak with newspeak.

      • Smedley Butler
        January 14, 2019 at 21:19

        My favorite line from Borat.
        “I’m in Washington DC! Home of world’s biggest warlord! Premiere Bush!”

  42. Drew Hunkins
    January 14, 2019 at 10:33

    Killary didn’t need much of a memo. She was already a staunch warmonger to begin with, she didn’t need much coaxing. I’ll never forget watching Killary debate Trumpenstein, she actually called for a no-fly zone in Syria. I jumped out of my chair thinking that could likely mean World War III.

    • Smedley Butler
      January 14, 2019 at 14:51

      That did mean WW3.
      The death cult Hillary is a member of has only one rule. That rule is they must tell you what they are going to do to you and that makes it A-okay in their world.
      She campaigned on starting a world ending nuclear war. And, an unbelievable number of people voted for that.
      It’s absolutely unreal!

  43. G256
    January 14, 2019 at 10:15

    It’s refreshing to see our government’s behind the scenes machinations and manipulations exposed periodically. Some us presume these things happen and it’s nice to see confirmation. Well done

  44. January 14, 2019 at 09:53

    I appreciate the article. Can the timestamp incongruity be explained? Is this common? Is it possible the memos could be fabricated?

  45. TomG
    January 14, 2019 at 09:43

    This type of journalism should be front and center of our mideast ‘news,’ yet alas, it is not even part of the cycle. Today in the American Conservative, Gareth Porter has an equally fine report on the longstanding Israeli effort to keep the U.S. in Syria.

    Paul Jay (Real News) is discussing Cheney in a three part interview with Larry Wilkerson. Wilkerson says Chaney is evil which in his mind is characterized by Chaney’s unwillingness to equivocate. As Wilkerson says, he [Chaney] would do the same thing again and again and again. So it is with presidents, secretaries of state, defense secretaries and the interests who buy their loyalty. And our ignorance and destruction goes on and on and on.

  46. Gronk
    January 14, 2019 at 09:21

    “Since the Libyan operation had no long-lasting consequences for the region..”

    How many people have drowned in the Mediterranean since then, and continue to do so?

    How many migrants have managed to enter Europe through Libya, thus destabilizing the political balance in Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Spain, the UK,.. to the point where even the prime neoliberal project “EU” is under threat of implosion?

    What does Lybia, a once prosperous country, look like today ?

    What kind of deranged shmock would write a sentence like the above and pass it on to his equally idiotic superiors as “political analysis”?

    Wasn’t Den Haag invented for this very type of desktop warriors? But since Den Haag doesn’t apply to Washington’s braindead gangsters, can’t we rid these people of their passports and credit cards, stick ’em in a helicopter and drop them off somwhere in the Libyan desert, so they can negotiate with the local mad-max-headchoppers first-hand what is to become of their sorry asses?

    • Tim
      January 15, 2019 at 03:21

      > “Since the Libyan operation had no long-lasting consequences for the region..”

      Remember that Lazare deduces that this was written in late April 2012. The blow-back outside Libya had not begun yet.

  47. Josh
    January 14, 2019 at 09:15

    Excellent article. I was actually disappointed but not surprised at the inability of the presidential election process, or the questioning in Congress in Benghazi, to confront a candidate such as Hillary Clinton with the real and full truth and consequences of her decisions. The combination of Libya and Syria provide ample ammunition to expose both her chosen bias and narrow, jingoistic views; yet because to expose this would require that the person asking the question also questions the entirety of the USA’s militaristic mindset, any questions thrown at her are meek at best.
    The astonishingly little amount of traction that peace-activism or anti-war activism currently gets in the US, and even in the population of its European allies, is what is truly worrisome. Because there are plenty of other Clintonesque jingoists waiting in the wings, propelled by a rich militarist kabal, and our cries are unfortunately on the fringes.

  48. Jusro
    January 14, 2019 at 09:13

    And there it is…..,

    • Jusro
      January 14, 2019 at 09:15

      Western mainstream media; advertising and marketing departments for big weapons!
      Know Thine enemy, Humans!

  49. mike k
    January 14, 2019 at 08:41

    Our Rulers love war. It gives them more power and money than anything else. They fear peace like the plague, therefore they must demonize it as “capitulation”, and tell the people that peace is more dangerous than war. As in Orwell, they tell us that their constant calls for war are really intended to secure peace. War is peace. 1984.

    That most of the US public swallows this blatant lie, is a measure of their zombiefication by mass propaganda.

  50. vinnieoh
    January 14, 2019 at 08:35

    Well, the correction makes all the difference in the world, and it was the question I asked when this article briefly appeared here on Friday, I believe. What I wanted to know then was to whom HRC addressed it, the implication in the (previous) article being that HRC wrote it.

    The commitment to overthrow Assad predates HRC, Rubin, Kerry, Obama, etc. Look into an earlier document produced by many of the same sociopaths that founded the PNAC, a document entitled “Securing the Realm.” The difference between the two documents is that “Securing the Realm” is a Zionist’s wet dream, and the Rubin memo is the official US State Dept. adoption of that wet dream.

    I understand why the article was pulled; as previously written it incorrectly implied that it was authored by HRC, and that erroneous implication would have been used to discredit an artifact that nonetheless clearly shows how openly the grinding machinations of the MIC are systematically mowing down any and all that might stand up to Israel.

    • Antipropo
      January 15, 2019 at 19:07

      Remember too that arse licking State Department functionaries generally provide the advice their masters need to justify the unjustifiable.

  51. EJR
    January 14, 2019 at 08:14

    How ironical that Clinton declares that “actions have consequences”. Indeed. After her multiple disasters in Libya, Syria, and Honduras she runs for president, carries the popular vote, and now her advice sought by potential Democratic candidates. As the classical Greeks put it: Reward is never commensurate with merit.

  52. F. G. Sanford
    January 14, 2019 at 05:12

    Tempting analogies may include the Suez Crisis of 1956. Delusional French and British plotters thought they could play footsie with Israel in an attempt to deprive Nasser’s government of the canal. Nasser had nationalized the canal with the intention of using the revenue to pay for the Aswan High Dam, a project which promised to enhance modernization of the Arab world. Later, Syria and Egypt would form an alliance, the “United Arab Republic”. No stone has been left unturned in the effort to insure that no political, economic or secular modernization of the region would ever occur. The Suez Crisis proved an abject failure for Britain and France, and effectively terminated Britain’s status as an empire with an ability to predictably influence geopolitical events. It took them years to face reality. American neocon loons are now confronted with the same looming realization even as Bolton and Pompeo, the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb of American foreign policy, prance about the Middle East on a mission to promote Israel’s delusional dreams of Biblical revanchism. So far, this intractable psychosis has not led to a nuclear confrontation, but the neocons are still trying. Perhaps Lazare’s article will expose enough of the intractable lunacy now prevailing. But a recent interview between Seymour Hirsch and Ralph Nader provides a sobering anecdote. Hirsch lamented that no scandal he had ever exposed served to change the trajectory of American imperialism. These revelations should, however, inspire other questions. If this level of amoral subterfuge is so casually perpetrated, what else have they been up to which we remain too timid to confront? Surely, the evil at hand pales in comparison to the things they would never dare commit to a printed page.

    • Sam F
      January 14, 2019 at 20:02

      Most are too timid to confront the abject corruption of the judiciary, in part due to lack of information, and the layer of sycophant lawyers who accept all decisions as justice however corrupt.

      And of course most are too timid to confront the abject corruption of 99% of politicians, because they don’t know what do about that, or any other problem, so they choose to ignore it.

      And of course most are too timid to confront the abject corruption of mass media, because the TV tells them that everyone believes the TV, and they are afraid to disagree with fools like themselves.

  53. Tim Slattery
    January 14, 2019 at 04:45

    Clinton, Cheney, Bolton, etc. are current examples of the sort Napoleon meant when he said, “The only man I fear is an energetic fool.” The military industrial system inevitably produces such fools, causing contradictory exstential risk to the system itself. Avoiding that risk requires more than weeding out the current fools. Instead, we must (with far greater difficulty) redesign the military insdustial system to eliminate its evil features.

  54. KiwiAntz
    January 14, 2019 at 04:31

    When will this blood soaked American Empire & it’s heinous, criminal Leaders, such as Hillary Clinton & others, be brought before a International Court & trialled for War Crimes against Humanity?? Millions dead by US hands around the Globe in all sorts of Military invasions & coups d’état’s, CIA clandestine Regime change operations & economic terrorism & now half a million Syrians dead & the Country in ruins because of Obama & his evil, twisted sidekick HRC & the murderous actions of a pathetic, sick, arrogant, ignorant Country in massive decline in every way, be that spiritually, morally, economically & militarily, that believes it has the divine right to meddle, interfere & murder in other Countries, to satisfy its own demonic ambitions to dominate all Nations & people on Earth? Is it any wonder why people hate America so much & the Middle East Countries refer to it as “the great Satan” because it’s actions are that of the Anti-Christ! And this irrational support of this Zionist Terrorist Nation called Israel, which is to blame for all this conflict in that Middle East region & gets billions in support from America because it foolishly believes that this Nation is God’s people, well they should re-read their Bibles again to get the true picture ? The modern day Nation of Israel aren’t Gods people, their house or Nation was abandoned to them 2000 yrs ago when they killed the Messiah! They are a cursed people, not a divine possession! In the grand scheme of things, all these Nations & their Leaders will face real justice from the ultimate Judge of all men? How will America & it’s demented Leaders stand under the glare of that judgement & scutiny? None to well I think according to the Book of Revelation & Daniel regarding the fall of the last World Empire called America!

    • Guy
      January 14, 2019 at 19:05

      For most people that have been paying attention,I am sure you echo their sentiments .I know I do .Although not a religious person , as I find religion these days is only used to suit ones personal beliefs and excuses , I do think I know evil when I see or hear about it .
      Well said and so true.

    • January 15, 2019 at 08:25

      The present ICC? Never.

  55. Realist
    January 14, 2019 at 03:59

    It’s a good thing the Clinton regime was pre-emptively toppled by the voters in 2016. If only both the war parties could be driven from the landscape.

  56. bill
    January 14, 2019 at 03:53

    HRCs intentions and foreign policy “reasoning” were long clear and are merely a resonation of policies long since worked out by NEOCON ET AL forces beyond her ambit…she was maybe convinced or simply going along or possibly even there when some or all of these plans were actually formalised … Its important to realise that the Gulf States , S Arabia and Turkey etc were coordinated in their joint hostilitie against Assad ….they did not severally decide on their own foreign policies.Erdogan did not suddenly decide to help import by offering passports and bed and breakfast en route across Turkey to 10000s of Chinese terrorists into Idlib( tho many came by a Malaysian route)…There was a wider plan by higher forces e.g within Nato than Clinton, a plan she had no problem accepting and the article merely restates the known public official actions of various agencies and thus only scratches the surface…….
    This doesnt mean its a bad article but it only negotiates the visible part of the iceberg as indeed do 99% of analyses of the origins of Daesh ( the usual Iraqi chaos mime)……maybe its too early to expect much more,if ever ;the concern surely is that US forces are now being deployed in a war plan against Iran as per Col Wilkersons claims ( former aide to Colin Powell repentant of the fraudulent casus belli and especially of the run-up media propaganda made with great gravitas by CP to the UN)

  57. Zhu
    January 14, 2019 at 01:40

    Why do our idiot politicians keep thinking people want to be attacked by the USA?

  58. Charles Seifried
    January 13, 2019 at 22:33

    It is very tiring to read about our top politicians being “in the bag” of Israeli influence. It is also tiring in seeing that both parties are beholding to a criminal organization that rules our country. How many more wars, conflicts, destruction are going to take place until we rid our selves of this insanity? Most people in this country are tired of our wars where we are not being attacked. If Israel wants to fight Syria, Lebanon, Iran etc then all I can say is have at it. But I do not want any more of my tax dollars helping them. I am tired of seeing people worldwide being subjected to such horrors.

    • January 14, 2019 at 09:41

      I agree with you on every point. My only response is the people will wake up only after they understand the media is an apparatus of the banking/military/intelligence/oil/pharmacuticals complex and we don’t live in a democracy, but an oligarchy.

  59. bardamu
    January 13, 2019 at 22:00

    Very nice to see this information brought to the fore over the common twists of commentators that such people and policies are somehow “moderate” or “centrist” rather than radically barbarous and catastrophic.

  60. CitizenOne
    January 13, 2019 at 21:59

    It seems clear to me that H. Clinton and Obama were deluding us all under the spell of the neoliberal mantra of an “Arab Spring” arising in Syria to sell weaponizing and supplying arms to any group or more accurately the groups who would have the best chance of overthrowing Assad. I am not sure that the democrats knew outright that the money was flowing to radicals or whether they too were deluded by their own assumption that overthrowing Assad was the ultimate goal and any force which could do that was perhaps a force for good in their eyes. Obama did resist the aims of the DOD and their backers to supply the “rebels (jihadists) with anti aircraft missiles and I think that this was a good move since it might have drawn the Russians into a direct conflict with the USA if Russian airplanes were shot down by US missiles.

    The deeper possible implications of US and Israeli fervor to overthrow Assad were thus avoided but it does reveal the reckless abandon and the unwarranted optimism of the “Arab Spring” euphoria that captured the military strategy that almost got us into a nuclear war with Russia. I do give Obama credit for resisting the urges to go full on in Syria but still the resulting catastrophic loss of life and displacement of half of the population of a country we deliberately chose to destroy cannot be forgiven because of overly simplistic thinking.

    Perhaps it will come to be realized one day after the realization of the enormous loss of life because of military “solutions” that the constant and disastrous theater wars we wage are best solved at the negotiating table or in radically new policies (abandon oil) but the current belief clearly stated by Cheney that negotiation is useless and only armed aggression wins geopolitical conflicts is still at the bedrock of the US military planning in the middle east.

    The delusional thinking and actions as revealed in this article about how Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama fell in line with the simplistic thinking that overthrowing Assad would be a cake walk and would result in a new friendly government in Syria allied with the US and Israel and free from interference from Iran and other middle eastern regimes as well as Russia seems like it was conceived over cocktails.

    That is the real threat we face. Washington leadership planning and enacting massive military actions in a vacuum. Free from the consequences of their actions and shielded by the corporate media from negative attention from the devastation they wreak across the globe, we here at home are cocooned in an isolation chamber shielded from the horrendous cost in human lives for our actions. Half a million dead in Syria and many millions more displaced as refugees of war losing their homes and businesses have not been displayed on any TV screen. Americans are not aware of the horror of the war we created.

    Gary Johnson, libertarian candidate for president in the 2016 presidential campaign famously stated when asked, “As president, what would you do about Aleppo?” Johnson responded, “And what is Aleppo?”. After a clarification, Johnson answered by saying that “the only way that we deal with Syria is to join hands with Russia to diplomatically bring that to an end.” Johnson criticized U.S. support for the Free Syrian Army and Kurdish forces and stated that the “mess” in Syria was “the result of regime change that we end up supporting. And, inevitably, these regime changes have led to a less-safe world.”

    Even though Gary Johnson was uninformed about the war in Syria he was able to correctly identify that we needed to solve it diplomatically with Russia and that “these regime changes have led to a less safe world”.

    Amidst the latest angst about the repeated efforts of Trump to pull out of Syria possibly leading in the past to false flag events designed to keep the US engaged militarily in Syria which have worn out their welcome, analysts have come up with new reasons we should keep up the war effort stating that our objective now is to prevent Syria from becoming a base for terrorists who could plan to launch attacks on the USA.

    With that logic, the USA should focus military attacks on countries which have already proven to be the locations where terrorist plots were planned against the USA such as Germany where the 9/11 hijackers made their plans. The notion that the USA needs to attack any location on the planet which might harbor terrorists leaves the entire planet including the United States as possible targets since terrorists can make plans in secret anywhere. Perhaps we should have bombed Boston to prevent the Boston Bombers at the Boston Marathon. The goal of denying terrorists safe harbor through bombing campaigns are not logical nor actionable except the logic of supporting the current continuing military strategy where we are engaged or where we feel we can be engaged next. The effectiveness of such a plan is also highly unlikely.

    But then again, that seems to be where our ever expanding forever war against the rest of the world is heading.

    If the USA funneled all the money it spends on attacking other nations into productive enterprises such as solving our energy crisis we would become the world’s greatest economy ten fold over. We would also deny all the money flowing to the middle east which fuels their radical religious based fanaticism. We would also avoid the very real severe destabilization and international security crises which are right around the corner due to climate change, sea level rise and environmental destruction of the Oceans and entire regions on land.

    Perhaps instead we will form an even greater military to deal militarily with these catastrophes as well. It seems that our national consciousness about how we deal with refugees and immigrants is already forming with the current administration and the military option seems more likely to prevail as we face new challenges. Trump might be withdrawing from Syria but he exclaims immigrants are terrorists and has banned travel and wants to hold the government hostage until they agree to fund building a wall shutting out the “murderers and rapists”

    Thus continues the simple reactionary thinking of our leaders with lots of propaganda from our government and our press. It seems like even if we scoot out of Syria our views that the rest of the world are our enemies are alive and well on many fronts. It is hard to see the forest from the trees when we are being led by the nose by our military establishment into permawar against the rest of the planet. Perhaps it is time to recognize the forestwe are in and change course instead of attempting to fell all the trees.

    • Dan
      January 13, 2019 at 23:45

      Nicely stated!

    • michael
      January 14, 2019 at 06:56

      “Trump might be withdrawing from Syria but he exclaims immigrants are terrorists and has banned travel”. While I agree with most of what you wrote, Trump is focused on ILLEGAL immigrants, and some don’t understand that distinction (America has 300,000 citizens in jail for misdemeanors less serious than avoiding border control). Trump’s entry bans were precisely the same ones that Obama had in place, which by law should be the prerogative of the President (DACA on the other hand is an executive order that constitutionally should have expired with his term. The do nothing Congress by now should have ensured the Dreamers could stay.)
      Perkins in “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” points out that America operates its foreign policy by sending engineering countries and others to ‘modernize’ countries at great cost and unpayable debt. If the leaders are resistant the jackals (CIA) make sure they have accidents and are replaced by more malleable tinhorn dictators or fundamentalist fanatics; if that doesn’t bring about debt peonage an excuse is made to send in the military (as Smedley Butler noted in a “cruder” time.) “Terrorists” and “freedom fighters” are the same thing; ISIS was a terrorist organization though we supported them directly and indirectly against Assad. We always team up with the very worst people; maybe because they are like our leaders?
      Neoliberalism is based on a zero sum game where rentier behavior steals resources from weaker countries. Diplomacy is cheaper and more effective and often increases value for both sides. It is ironic that Reagan, a demented cowboy, was instrumental in ending the Cold War (I give most credit to Gorbachev, who is reviled for the aftermath in Russia.) The Russians did no more than complain about Clinton’s war in Yugoslavia because they had been gutted under Clinton’s puppet Yeltsin. The Russians have recovered since Putin replaced Yeltsin in 1999, and are both stronger and more dangerous; they make better allies than enemies, and unlike Americans, Russians have long memories (as do most of the Arab countries destroyed by us).
      Jefferson paid off the Barbary pirates as a cheaper solution, and America fought them (in coalition with European nations) only when the ‘tribute’ no longer worked.

    • Joe Tedesky
      January 14, 2019 at 11:11

      Once again Citizen One your perspective lends greatly to furthering the narrative of a great article here at the Consortium. Good to read your view point. Joe

    • Tom
      January 14, 2019 at 13:31

      Your insight is clear and knowledgeable. A very impressive summary of our never ending war mongering and support of the military machine that runs our country. Being one of trumps first actions was to bomb Syria for a fictional gas attack proved to me that he’s just another dark state subject. I’m going to copy and paste and pass along your intellectual remarks, thank you!

  61. jared
    January 13, 2019 at 21:42

    Awesome article.
    Still, is depressing.
    I think maybe the ultimate problem that people like Bolton and Hillary and NYT have with a pull-out is thst it amounts to final admission that thier scheme was waste of lives and money – never mind illegal and immoral.

    • Gronk
      January 14, 2019 at 08:09

      Sounds about right. Expecting a psychopath to admit to an error is foolish and can result in death and possibly armageddon. Hell, this is hard enough for any regular, good-hearted people, even kids, let alone for professional criminals.
      Therefore it is imperative to identify psychopaths at an early stage, so as to avoid voting for them later on, when they are much harder to recognize, having undergone the full publicity preparation treatment by stylists/fashion advisors/plastic surgeons/PR advisors/communication advisors/strategy advisors/lawyers… in short, all those professionally corrupt leeches, who are paid by “the hidden hand” (usually fat cats way beyond the billion dollar mark), to make a candidate appear as if she/he had anything substantial to say. So maybe next time, voting for the sane person might just do the trick, even if he/she doesn’t look and sound as perfect in front of the cameras.
      Hillary and her friends, however, are beyond repair. It is obvious, that all they want is continuous war, forever, because war is bizness, war is change and progress, war is proof that the neoliberalcons and their grotesque misunderstanding of poor Darwin were right all along, alas, war is not only God’s ultimate plan for us, it is also fun and empowering, when it happens elsewhere, to lesser people, that is.

  62. Bob Van Noy
    January 13, 2019 at 20:53

    The most salient feature of the Neocon Philosophy is the complete lack of concern for the price that must be paid for their arbitrary thinking. They are Always assured, it seems, that their form of narrative is rational and correct. Since they also never participate in the actual combat, they never suffer the consequences of their flawed planning… This thinking goes all the way back to Zbigniew Brzezinski’s deeply flawed thinking in the Carter Administration. Read this brilliant article by Natalie Baldwin…

  63. DW Bartoo
    January 13, 2019 at 20:52

    I much appreciate seeing this amended version of this article appear at Consortium News.

    It is very importatant in terms of making clear the fact that both US legacy political parties are aligned in the use of force and the threat of such force as the primary expression of US foreign policy, as well as revealing the influence of Israel in the application of that policy.

    However, as most US citizens are seemingly all too ready to believe childish notions and myths of US purity and innocence, it is very likely that most will never learn about the history this article relates. The MSM does not provide the information that would educate those citizens any more than does academia, at any level. Thus, the US public has little realization that ours is a fully militarized society with military bases all over the world, many that are secret, operating in far more nations than the citizens have any idea whatever.
    Further, many citizens do not care to know and firmly believe that it is best that they not know.

    The military is so pervasive in its influence and infiltration into our society that when “Military Science” courses are made part of high school curricula, no one among the “adults in the room”, especially parents, even bother to ask just what, precisely, such “Military Scienes” might actually be.

    As well, many people too young to recall the “old” Cold War seemingly are unconcerned about the intended developement of “tactical nuclear devices”, and appear to uncritically accept the absurd notion being bandied about that nuclear war is “winnable”, apparently believing that any such war will be “over there,” somewhere, and that any consequences will not involve them.
    Of course, it is older folks who stand to make a killing, financially, from the decision by the Military Industrial Congressional Complex ( to give it the quaint old name Eisenhower originally gave it, before Congress had a hissy fit),
    to build and deploy such devices, who are trying to convince the many that nuclear weapons are merely bigger bangs than “convential” weapons and nothing to worry about.

    Indeed, I have seen far too many comments on various web sites suggesting that nuclear weapons, “do not actually work,” that they are merely pretend instruments of bombast and chest-beating. One can only assume that those who make such comments are woefully uninformed and hope that they shall have but little influence on an already deeply and intentionally made ignorant public.

    It is my impression and deep concern that we are already well into an era of threat and counter-threat, of idiotic assumptions that barbaric use of lethal destruction is effective “policy” and that the world’s faltering , flailing, and failing “leading” hegemony can do as it wishes.
    It seems horrifyingly obvious the US bipartisan “leadership” is convinced that everything would be just “fine” if everyone else simply did as they are told to do.

    Because the US public is little travelled and even less well tutored in any genuine understanding of the rest of that world, which, as I have said, is deliberately intended to be the case, that public has little care what is done in their name, in sufficient percentage that very few will make the consistent effort to read articles such as this, visit sites such as this, or engage in the discussions readily encouraged by the caliber of comments, many an education in themselves, that this site supports and makes available.

    • Skip Scott
      January 14, 2019 at 08:22

      Good comment DW. It is a shame that we are already poisoning the environment in our chosen war zones with “depleted” uranium leading to a surge in birth defects and cancer that remains long after the war is over. Once the public accepts the idea of “tactical nuclear weapons” it will only get worse.

      As a retired merchant seaman, I am very sympathetic with your last paragraph. I am forever and constantly amazed at how insulated the US public is from the rest of the world. It is almost like foreign countries are some imaginary play thing on their TV sets. The reality of the cruelty our military inflicts doesn’t seem to penetrate at all. If we could just wake them up, I think we would have a huge peace movement in no time at all.

      • Joe Tedesky
        January 14, 2019 at 11:09

        Always Skip with your mentioning your prior life as a merchant marine you bring back fawn memories of my days back in the Navy of bumping into the worldly merchants of the high seas, and how their prospective was always laced with their real well travelled life experiences. In other words I learned a lot from such meetings within your people of your occupation.

        You brought up some good stuff here, and Ted Rall quite pointedly refers to what you mentioned as you described it.

        In my past I have dealt with the many contractors hired by our government who machine and manufacturer for our thriving DOD purchases. A machinist only works on what prints are in front of them. It wouldn’t matter if their finished product were a piece made for war, or a quality part used for rebuilding our sorry infrastructure. It’s a matter of priorities and where a nation sets them.

        Take care Skip. Joe

        • Skip Scott
          January 14, 2019 at 13:29

          Great link Joe. Thanks. Counterpunch still has a lot of good articles, but I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive them for jumping on the “bash Putin” bandwagon. How in the world can that square up with demilitarization?

        • Tim
          January 15, 2019 at 03:37

          > and Ted Rall quite pointedly refers to what you mentioned as you described it.


          But this has nothing to do with Ted Rall (whom I also admire)…

      • DW Bartoo
        January 14, 2019 at 16:07

        Skip Scott, might I suggest that were you to find some way if sharing the wealth of your experience in your travels that the inculcated fear of the “other”, so profitable to politician, military contractor, munitions manufacturer, and media scride as a primary means of manipulating the public, such sharing might go a very long way in replacing the fear with appreciation for difference?

        I am rather certain that you feel very enriched by your opportunities of experiencing other cultures and ways of looking at life and the world.

        I further suspect that you do not insist that those whom you visit genuflect to any notion of US cultural superiority nor are you, in any way, pleased with the very notion of “Full Spectrum Dominance”.

        Personally, I would love to hear of your adventures, the insights you’ve gleaned, and the fascinating people whom I am certain you have met, as equal beings, all over this world.

        Were you to collect these experiences in book form, you might well run the risk of becoming widely read and much appreciated.

        Not an “innocent” abroad, but a compassionate, deeply understanding, and very well educated observer of our time and a world increasingly plunged into calculated mayhem and vicious attempts at thought-control by a relative handful of obscenely wealthy and pathological beings intent upon gaining power over everyone and everything, even at the cost of destroying, by several methods, the viability of higher life on this planet.

        Years ago my father told me that he considered our knowledge compared to a mud puddle, while our ignorance compared to the oceans.

        You have sailed upon the ocean of curiosity and honest observation.

        A most marvelous journey and one I hope you might share with the rest of us yet confined to our pud muddles.

        • Skip Scott
          January 15, 2019 at 08:37


          Thank you for this very kind reply. I am not sure I have the talent for that level of writing. I am grateful for my years at sea, and the perspective gained from the experience. My job aboard ship was Radio Operator, and in the early days it involved watch-keeping on 500khz for someone sending an SOS, along with sending and receiving telegrams for the ship’s business, weather reports, etc. It was a fantastic job for someone who enjoys reading.

          As for the mindset I’ve gained from my travels, I’ve found them very well expressed in this poem by Mattie Stepanek. He wrote this poem on 9/11/2001, at age 11. He died in 2004.

          For Our World

          We need to stop, just stop
          Stop for a moment
          Before anybody says or does anything
          That may hurt anyone else
          We need to be silent, just silent
          Silent for a moment
          Before we forever lose the blessings of songs
          That grow in our hearts
          We need to notice, just notice
          Notice for a moment
          Before the future slips away into ashes and dust of humility
          We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts
          To nurture, to offer, to accept
          We need to be, just be
          Be for a moment
          Kind and gentle, innocent and trusting
          Like children and lambs
          Never judging or vengeful
          Like the judging and the vengeful
          And now, let us pray
          Differently, yet together
          Before there is no earth, no life
          No chance for peace

          • DW. Bartoo
            January 15, 2019 at 12:30

            Thank you, Skip Scott, for your response.

            I suggest that your response confirms that you do, indeed, possess the skill and capacity to communicate your experience and your witness, that is your fully conscious sense of conscience in observing, sharing and, clearly, inspiring by example, the deep powers of humanity and the opportunity of existing on this planet, which in the immensity of universe, vast beyond the comprehension of all of us, is our only home.

            That you gift me with that deeply perceptive poem by young Mattie Stepanek, makes clear that you know precisely those things to share that reflect on what truly matters.

            That you fully understand that permitting the world to encounter those who have the capacity to crystallize the shared truth of our ephemeral existence, as you have done with Mattie’s poem, rather than agrandizing yourself or your own insights, is the measure of exactly what is required of those who really do understand, from the humility of comprehending just how much more none of us can begin to understand.

            It is the possibility of future that is at stake.

            Against the madness of unfettered greed (which is not “good”) and the pathologically destructive tendencies of those who seek total domination, it does fall to those who can imagine that things need not be as they are, that beauty and, indeed, paradise is all around us, however little it might be appreciated by far too many.

            You have lived a life of appreciation. You have valued what many overlook, ignore, or are blind to.

            I suspect that you are an autodidact, whatever your formal education, in the truest sense.

            I have had the privilege of encountering several in my life, and consider such beings to carry a large measure of consistently encouraging that which is truly good and necessary to the fundamental appreciation of life.

            Whatever insights people of that nature share with the rest of us might just make all the difference in the world.

            Whether you write or not, is immaterial.

            For you understand that it is not the daily outrages, which have been occurring for decades, it is rather, the deeper compassion and truth of the magic of existence itself that we must cherish, share, and protect.

            Those who, like yourself, have the capacity to reveal that magic, that sacred opportunity and possibility, are the true philosophers of this age.

            You arouse curiosity and wonder, you are an ambassador of understanding, not as some high minister of state, but as one who cares.

            Tell me more about young Mattie. How did you come by his poem?

            Share with me what you know, if you might, about this young man whose soul was wise and fully cognizant, who spoke with an understanding so lacking among many who are older but terribly unwise and so dangerous to life, to being, to sentient awareness beyond playing with their own little toes,while toying with all that really matters.

            Which is neither money nor power.

          • Skip Scott
            January 15, 2019 at 15:13

            Thanks again DW. I saw a bumper sticker that comes to mind. It said, “I am trying to become the person that my dog already thinks I am.” It is still a work in progress.

            I first came upon Mattie Stepanek’s wonderful poem on the back of a CD by Charlie Haden titled “American Dream”. If you like jazz, it is a wonderful album. Here is the wiki on Mattie. He was a truly amazing and inspiring person.


    • irina
      January 15, 2019 at 13:17

      In observance of the 1st anniversary of the “Hawai’i Alert Scare” WaPo published an article about Bomb Awareness:

      This was clearly written by millennials (as evidenced by the sloppy writing, lack of research, casual approach to nuclear war).

      The comments are quite interesting and are divided between older generations, who came of age in the 1950’s and 1960’s,
      and younger commenters. The older generations are bleakly realistic about survival; the younger ones blithely optimistic.
      They are so habituated to all the infrastructure we rely on that they fail to factor in what happens when it no longer works,
      even if they survive the initial event . . .

      • DW. Bartoo
        January 15, 2019 at 14:01

        Further, Irina, none of the comments that I read, in the article you linked to, mentioned the effects of “nuclear winter”, which was not understood in the 1950s when I was in grade school and told, in the event of an nuclear attack (I grew up in a university town where that university was second only to MIT in military funding), I would be “safe under my desk”. I did not believe it. When I was about seven, I asked my father, who was a professor at the university, whether the teachers really believed what they were telling us or whether they were just trying to reassure us even though they must have, as adults, at least some notion that the proximity of my school to the university would suggest rather different results for all of us. My father asked me, “What do you think?” I said I thought they were simply trying to reassure us. I think that was the beginning of my concern that those in authority might not always tell the truth.

        I do wish the complacent might research “nuclear winter” because, as it turns out, the threshold minimum of exchanged nuclear devices that could well bring about the firestorms and resultant dust thrown high into the atmosphere, effectively blocking sunlight from reaching the earth and disrupting the production of food for significant time periods is, no pun intended, chilling, in how few “exchanges” of sufficient magnitude would cause this condition, which would be world-wide.

        I have estimates that as few as eight bombs, if of adequate destructive capacity, might well suffice.

      • LJ
        January 17, 2019 at 13:37

        Thank for the link Irina. I feel better . This new input regarding survival of an impending Holocaust is quite therapeutic for me , it pushes those vague memories of being instructed in the proper technique of “Duck and Cover” by Catholic Nuns in childhood back into the dark recesses of my mind where they belong. As for the differences in generational responses to this article , only us dummies regardless of age would waste time reading this garbage . An aging boomer on the edge of retirement would not be assigned with the task of writing this garbage. so you have a case of shared interests, the readers and writers are sharing optimism rooted in the fact that most Millennials are still way looking forward to the next time they might get laid. It’s really important to them. Old jaded folks can be rather blase about such things.

  64. Jeff Harrison
    January 13, 2019 at 20:08

    Several things come to mind:
    (1) Great comment by Mr. Alatalo
    (2) And Three Names was “the most qualified candidate ever?” Most qualified for village idiot but not much else.
    (3) I haven’t heard such arrogance, hubris, and stupidity since I heard “L’etat c’est moi”

    But, alas, this is what empire building looks like. A bunch of crazy people (crazy as defined by Albert Einstein – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result) killing an untold number of people so that they can stand on the ruins and proclaim victory. Sadly for everybody, nothing that they predicted has come true yet and it won’t now. They lack the cold blooded mental processes of Niccolo Machiavelli and they lack the comprehensive understanding of the other societies in the world that the best British diplomats had developed by the 19th century. In other words they are not bright enough to know what the realm of the possible is nor are they vicious enough to execute a real plan to get any of it. We will ultimately be made to pay….

    • Martin - Swedish citizen
      January 14, 2019 at 13:23

      It is shocking and simply terrifying to see the daft reasoning in the excerpts from the diplomatic cable and the equally naive, completely irresponsible and criminal action taken by US and Western leaders.

    • LJ
      January 17, 2019 at 21:36

      L’etat c’est moi? Is that a line from La Cage aux Folles? Ha ha , slightly more seriously, someone coined the phrase Empire of Chaos, I first read it in a Pepe Escobar article. Sowing this kind of destabilization in various theaters, Africom, Centcom, Startcom….gives the military and intelligence (not to mention FOX News and the rest) an excuse to ply their trades and demonstrate expertise in all things. It keeps everything going nicely, especially cash. . Remember Karl Rove? Fat , bald,argumentative white dude…,and the like expressing their belief that the future was malleable and the outcome of all the anarchy could be molded by the US Government. That is the Drean of the New American Century. It is the difference between the Neocons and the “Realist” Foreign Policy pundits who have been marginalized and driven into the hinterland. Realists believe that negative contingencies are not only unexpected but they cannot be controlled. Hillary is not a realist. Is Trump?

  65. January 13, 2019 at 18:10

    I’m assuming the memo is authentic. But I must ask, why is there a timestamp incongruity? Is that common?

    • Econoclast
      January 14, 2019 at 15:30

      This is the only of about 50 (so far) comments that even begins to inquire about authenticity. I am concerned about Consortium News articles being scrupulously accurate, and I have a question about this one: the author in 2001 had no official relationship with Hillary Clinton at that time, nor with Bill, nor did he in April 2012. According to Wikipedia he was entirely a private citizen. Because the article discusses the date and time-stamp issue, the author’s relationship to the recipient seems relevant for purposes of authenticity. Just saying in this strange Twittery political atmosphere.

    • anon4d2s
      January 14, 2019 at 20:16

      The timestamp on the first day of 2001 is likely a Y2K error such as zeroing out the timestamp in the date system used, caused by any process that altered the date or set it to its earliest value. The later date may be a guess.

  66. January 13, 2019 at 17:19

    Thank you Consortium News for publishing this article, and a very special thank you to Mr. Daniel Lazare for an outstanding effort and real example of rare, genuine journalistic courage. People may perceive the information presented variously with regard to potential civilization-wide impact, however, one finds it impossible to describe the revelations as anything less than world changing, and in the “arc of history” category.

    It is difficult to come up with adequate superlatives when thanking Daniel Lazare for his absolutely amazing and important writing: “The Memo That Killed Half a Million People”.

    One might imagine Mr. Lazare as a player in the World Series of baseball, stepping back into the batter’s box with (2) outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, the count (3) balls and (2) strikes with the bases loaded, the series tied 3-3, Mr. Lazare’s team behind 7-4, and him smashing the full-count pitch in tape measure fashion for a series-winning walk-off Grand Slam – over the fence, out of the stadium, and onward … out of this world.

    It is simply enough to say … The great founder of Consortium News Robert Parry would be immensely proud.


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