If only it were that simple. It seems as if the Obama administration is telling us that we only have two choices: bomb Syria or do nothing.
The Russians are floating another option this morning… diplomacy. Imagine! What a concept!
The AP this morning reports “Russia to Push Syria To Put Chemical Weapons Under International Control”.
MOSCOW — In a surprise move, Russia promised Monday to push its ally Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control and then dismantle them quickly to avert U.S. strikes.
The announcement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov came a few hours after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Syrian President Bashar Assad could resolve the crisis surrounding the alleged use of chemical weapons by his forces by surrendering control of “every single bit” of his arsenal to the international community by the end of the week.
Kerry added that he thought Assad “isn’t about to do it,” but Lavrov, who just wrapped a round of talks in Moscow with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem, said that Moscow would try to convince the Syrians.
“If the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in that country would allow avoiding strikes, we will immediately start working with Damascus,” Lavrov said.
“We are calling on the Syrian leadership to not only agree on placing chemical weapons storage sites under international control, but also on its subsequent destruction and fully joining the treaty on prohibition of chemical weapons,” he said.
Lavrov said that he has already handed over the proposal to al-Moallem and expects a “quick, and, hopefully, positive answer.”
His statement followed media reports alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who discussed Syria with President Barack Obama during the group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg last week, sought to negotiate a deal that would have Assad hand over control of chemical weapons.
Speaking earlier in the day, Lavrov denied that Russia was trying to sponsor any deal “behind the back of the Syrian people.”
The Russian move comes as Obama, who has blamed Assad for killing hundreds of his own people in a chemical attack last month, is pressing for a limited strike against the Syrian government. It has denied launching the attack, insisting along with its ally Russia that the attack was launched by the rebels to drag the U.S. into war.
Perhaps then the so-called “progressives” who spent the weekend attacking Congressman Alan Grayson for speaking truth to power would take a chill pill. Perhaps then President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry would stop sounding like neocons who believe that there is such a thing as a “humanitarian war” or “humanitarian bombing” and seem to prefer the idea of “bomb first, investigate later”.
I hope the president sees the Memorandum sent to him by the members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), titled “Is Syria a Trap?” In it, former intelligence professionals including Ray McGovern, Coleen Rowley, and Col. Ann Wright, among others, say that their intelligence is telling a different story than the one we’re hearing from the administration. I urge you to read the whole thing, but here are a few excerpts:
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Is Syria a Trap?
We regret to inform you that some of our former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this. In writing this brief report, we choose to assume that you have not been fully informed because your advisers decided to afford you the opportunity for what is commonly known as “plausible denial.”
We have been down this road before – with President George W. Bush, to whom we addressed our first VIPS memorandumimmediately after Colin Powell’s Feb. 5, 2003 U.N. speech, in which he peddled fraudulent “intelligence” to support attacking Iraq. Then, also, we chose to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt, thinking he was being misled – or, at the least, very poorly advised.
Our sources confirm that a chemical incident of some sort did cause fatalities and injuries on August 21 in a suburb of Damascus. They insist, however, that the incident was not the result of an attack by the Syrian Army using military-grade chemical weapons from its arsenal. That is the most salient fact, according to CIA officers working on the Syria issue. They tell us that CIA Director John Brennan is perpetrating a pre-Iraq-War-type fraud on members of Congress, the media, the public – and perhaps even you.
We have observed John Brennan closely over recent years and, sadly, we find what our former colleagues are now telling us easy to believe. Sadder still, this goes in spades for those of us who have worked with him personally; we give him zero credence. And that goes, as well, for his titular boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who has admitted he gave “clearly erroneous” sworn testimony to Congress denying NSA eavesdropping on Americans.
There is a growing body of evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East — mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its supporters — providing a strong circumstantial case that the August 21 chemical incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters. The aim is reported to have been to create the kind of incident that would bring the United States into the war.
According to some reports, canisters containing chemical agent were brought into a suburb of Damascus, where they were then opened. Some people in the immediate vicinity died; others were injured.
We are unaware of any reliable evidence that a Syrian military rocket capable of carrying a chemical agent was fired into the area. In fact, we are aware of no reliable physical evidence to support the claim that this was a result of a strike by a Syrian military unit with expertise in chemical weapons.
In addition, we have learned that on August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major, irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and Qatari, Turkish and U.S. intelligence officials took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, now used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors.
Senior opposition commanders who came from Istanbul pre-briefed the regional commanders on an imminent escalation in the fighting due to “a war-changing development,” which, in turn, would lead to a U.S.-led bombing of Syria.
At operations coordinating meetings at Antakya, attended by senior Turkish, Qatari and U.S. intelligence officials as well as senior commanders of the Syrian opposition, the Syrians were told that the bombing would start in a few days. Opposition leaders were ordered to prepare their forces quickly to exploit the U.S. bombing, march into Damascus, and remove the Bashar al-Assad government
The Qatari and Turkish intelligence officials assured the Syrian regional commanders that they would be provided with plenty of weapons for the coming offensive. And they were. A weapons distribution operation unprecedented in scope began in all opposition camps on August 21-23. The weapons were distributed from storehouses controlled by Qatari and Turkish intelligence under the tight supervision of U.S. intelligence officers.
Ray McGovern will be on the show in the first hour tomorrow. I urge you to read the rest of that article and join us tomorrow for what will definitely be a fascinating discussion.
Also on the show today, I spoke with Claire Conner, author of Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America’s Radical Right – which tells of her being raised in the belly of the John Birch Society beast. It’s a compelling story, a fast read and one that every progressive should read under the heading of History Repeating.
If you thought that anyone was discussing anything other than Syria on the Sunday shows, you were fooling yourself. It’s an interesting case to look at where people’s heads are at when discussing Syria. So far all of the politicians seem more to be concerned with their own personal political calculus than any humanitarian concern for Syrians.
Ted Cruz, for example, opposes the Syria attack because we should be focused on …wait for it…Benghazi.
But Juan Williams is sick of Benghazi, so when Karl Rove raises the spectre of it in discussing Syria, Williams loses his cool. (It’s a long clip, but I’m not sure where to cut it)
Buck McKeon simply looks at the Syria resolution as an opportunity to get more military funding.
David Gregory proves he learned nothing about the run up to Iraq and asks WH Chief of Staff Denis McDonough how President Obama could NOT attack Syria, even without Congressional authority?
But Dan Senor is worried that if Congress doesn’t back a military action against Syria they will probably not back an action against Iran that he so desperately, desperately wants.
And just in case you missed it, here’s a clip of Charlie Rose interviewing Bashar Al- Assad about who was responsible for the chemical weapons attack on 8/21: