Syria Shows No White House Should Be Trusted

Syrian Refugees

Seymour Hersh has written a really interesting article in the London Review of Books, Whose sarin? It is about the actual intelligence that we have about the sarin attack. It turns out that the Assad regime was not the only group that has the ability to make the stuff. In particular, there is the al-Nusra Front. They are “a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida.” What’s more, They have “mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity.” Could they have been the source of the sarin attack?

As you may remember, I was skeptical of the reporting on the use of sarin by the Assad Syrian government. Hersh throws a whole lot of uncertainty on our government’s case that it was so. I’m not convinced one way or another at this point. But there is something really important here that goes way beyond the specific issues of this attack. Hersh shows conclusively that the Obama administration was playing with what intelligence it did have. It was cherry picking information exactly the way that the Bush administration did in making its case for war with Iraq.

This doesn’t come as a surprise. It seems that one of the great perks of occupying the White House is that you get to start wars for no reason in particular. And unlike many of my liberal friends, I don’t think there is a whole lot that distinguishes Obama from others. Soon, I will be writing about a political test that I got a bunch of readers to take. The possible scores range from -10 (extremely liberal) to +10 (extremely conservative). Obama got a score of +6, only slightly more liberal than Mitt Romney, who got a score of +7. Think about that for the next week and get back to me.

Hersh tells the story of al-Qaeda groups growing in strength in the Syrian resistance, and that the intelligence agencies are actually more concerned about that than they are about the Assad regime. That makes sense. Assad may not be great, but he’s fairly stable. And revolution in Syria is going to mean huge numbers of casualties, even compared to what we’ve already seen. But none of that really matters; the Obama administration continues to be in favor of overthrowing the Assad government.

A series of secret dispatches from Syria over the summer reported that members of the FSA (Free Syrian Army ) were complaining to American intelligence operatives about repeated attacks on their forces by al-Nusra and al-Qaida fighters. The reports, according to the senior intelligence consultant who read them, provided evidence that the FSA is “more worried about the crazies than it is about Assad.” The FSA is largely composed of defectors from the Syrian army. The Obama administration, committed to the end of the Assad regime and continued support for the rebels, has sought in its public statements since the attack to downplay the influence of Salafist and Wahhabist factions. In early September, John Kerry dumbfounded a Congressional hearing with a sudden claim that al-Nusra and other Islamist groups were minority players in the Syrian opposition. He later withdrew the claim.

So what is this all about? Regime change? I’ve come to hate that term. For one thing it means that we here in the United States know better what governments different countries should have. I’d be on board with that, if it weren’t for our utter hypocrisy. Why are we not in favor of regime change for Saudi Arabia? That’s a vile regime. But they are our friends, so they’re just fine. Anyone who thinks that international politics has progressed since the time of the Greek city states, is naive or just stupid. And now, we have quite possibly made the situation in Syria far worse:

While the Syrian regime continues the process of eliminating its chemical arsenal, the irony is that, after Assad’s stockpile of precursor agents is destroyed, al-Nusra and its Islamist allies could end up as the only faction inside Syria with access to the ingredients that can create sarin, a strategic weapon that would be unlike any other in the war zone. There may be more to negotiate.

That’s just like America: disarm a stable government and give the advantage to the terrorists. Go team!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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