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Syria--To Bomb or Not To Bomb

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 Anyone who will use chemical weapons on another person is a savage. 

 

On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry was more emphatic in stressing the ethical basis for intervention. 

"Let me be clear: The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders, by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity." 

The obscenity of such attacks is a reality Kerry is all too familiar with, as the decorated war veteran served at a time when the US was engaged in a decade of chemical warfare in Vietnam. 

From 1962 to 1971, the US military sprayed an estimated 20 million gallons of defoliants and herbicides over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in a bid to deprive the Vietcong of food and cover. 

The Vietnamese government estimates that 400,000 people were killed or maimed and 500,000 children born with birth defects as a result of the so-called 'rainbow herbicides.' 

Christopher Busby, an expert on the health effects of ionizing radiation and Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, said it was important to make the distinction that defoliants such as Agent Orange are not anti-personnel weapons designed to kill or deform people, and are thus "not quite the same as using a nerve gas or something that is intended against personnel." 

"But nevertheless, it had a very serious effect, and they shouldn't have used it because they must have known that it would have these side-effects," Busby said. "At least, when they were using it they must have learned that there would be these side-effects, and they should have stopped using them at this or that point. But they didn't." 

A similar legacy was left by the deployment of white phosphorous and depleted uranium following the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. 

Busby said that while the genotoxic effects of white phosphorous were debatable, the deadliness of depleted uranium was beyond question. 

"All of the genetic damage effects that we see in Iraq, in my opinion, were caused by... depleted uranium weapons. And also [non]-depleted uranium weapons of a new type. And these are really terrible weapons. These are weapons whic have absolutely destroyed the genetic integrity of the population of Iraq," he said. 

The people of Fallujah, where some of the most intense fighting during the Iraq war took place, have since suffered a veritable health crisis. 

Four studies on the health crisis in the city were published in 2012. Busby, an author and co-author of two of them, described Fallujah as having "the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied." 

There is a case to be made that in terms of Agent Orange, White Phosphorous and depleted uranium, the often deadly consequences have been a side-effect rather than the goal of their deployment. 

While Washington currently argues that the use of chemical weapons is a "red line" that requires a swift and immediate military response to deter future crimes against humanity, the US has a checkered record on the issue, said former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, citing the time when then-US ally Saddam Hussein deployed chemical weapons against Iran during the Iran-Iraq War - with US knowledge

"We had the famous picture of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein," McGovern told RT. "That happened the day after the first public announcement that the Iraqis had used mustard gas against the Iranians. So [turning a] blind eye, yeah, in spades." 

"The problem is that we knew what was going on, and there is a Geneva Convention against the use of chemical warfare. Our top leaders knew it," McGovern continued. "The question is: had they no conscience, had they no shame?"

 

 

http://rt.com/news/us-chemical-weapons-portnaya-152/

 

And this is all post Geneva Convention, you know, the thing that was enacted at the end of the Second World War. During the first world war there was a veritable gas arms race between Germany and England to figure out who could kill each other better with chemical weapons. This lead to the development of "Mustard Gas". 

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Even if they are, the Russian navy has nothing on what we have:

 

1307473767392.gif

 

Look at the entire U.S. Naval Fleet:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_current_ships_of_the_United_States_Navy

 

Now look at the Russian Naval Fleet:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_active_Russian_Navy_ships

 

Russia's fleet is not only smaller, it is also older and less sophisticated.

 

Our naval strength cannot be matched.

 

 

Thank you Ronald Reagan?

 

Rant on//

 

Not sure even Ron would endorse this gargantuan waste of US resources on the military. Taking him at his word, I would hope not.  "Government isn't the solution to our problems, government is the problem."

 

When he authorized an increase to our military budget during the nineteen eighties, it was in response to rebuilding an eviscerated military post Vietnam.  It was about providing those serving in the military with a decent paycheck, allowing them to get off of welfare and food stamps.  It was about giving our military the tools they needed to stand toe to toe with the Rooskies.

 

What this graphic shows is a radically different world from the one President Reagan knew.  Where all but two of these navies are considered friendly, if not allies, and that the Chinese and Russians, are at best, little more than regional seagoing powers.

 

If the biggest threat to US national security today were included on this graphic, the ship's size alone would make the rest of these vessels appear to be little more than a child's tinker toys.  This naval vessel, if it were built, would cost the US taxpayer something a little north of sixteen trillion dollars and it would likely be named the USS Titanic National Deficit.

 

This graphic, even without the USS TND, is very effective at demonstrating an important point:  How insanely wasteful and out of control our nation's military spending has become. 

 

The Military Industrial Complex thanks you, the American taxpayer, for your endless contributions to their corporate welfare.

 

//Rant off

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I mean, I'm sort of at a loss for what point you were trying to make here. It's almost as if you're arguing that caring about this sort of thing is pointless because,...... well I don't know why?

I think his arguement is that nothing is going to happen. 

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Can't wait for the timetable/target list Obama/Kerry will provide to Assad...

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All this talk of projection of naval power reminds me of the Gunboat policies of the late 1890s during the beginning of the spanish-american war. And venom, I don't think being a military power is a bad thing. Its an expensive thing, but would you rather be dominated, or be the dominator ?

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This is a difficult decision for Obama.  I haven't read all of this thread so perhaps someone has already had this opinion, but on one hand it is hard to justify doing nothing, but unless you go after a full regime change you aren't really accomplishing a whole lot.

 

We as a nation can't afford another war emotionally or financially, but you don't want to just stand by and let guys use chemical weapons on his own people.

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at least powell had grainy satellite pics of trucks. It's like kerry's not even trying.

 

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Where's the coalition...

 

Just running through all the normal Iraq speak.  Madea Benjamin seems to be out of money now as well.

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It seems the pres has himself a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario on his hands
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Yep.  There's really no good guy here.  What the president has to do then is decide moves way ahead in order to protect OUR national interest.  Something that's insanely difficult for someone brought up with an anti-colonialist mentality.  Who would you rather control the region.  We can pretend it's not a proxy conflict/war, but we all know that's what some are hoping.

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Remember the Rumsfeld handshake with Saddam?

 

Wonder how much press this will get...

 

pelosi-assad.jpg

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This is a difficult decision for Obama.  I haven't read all of this thread so perhaps someone has already had this opinion, but on one hand it is hard to justify doing nothing, but unless you go after a full regime change you aren't really accomplishing a whole lot.

 

We as a nation can't afford another war emotionally or financially, but you don't want to just stand by and let guys use chemical weapons on his own people.

 

Well there is that pesky little thing - there's absolutely no evidence that he's even responsible for the attacks. Even the inspectors say that it's inconclusive, yet somehow the US has "undeniable proof" - Give me a break.

 

 

Then there's poo like this.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, the governments of America and Britain have made up their minds. They have accepted without question that the Assad regime must be punished for what the Prime Minister called “the massive use of chemical weapons”. They are not interested in examining any contrary evidence.

 

As in 2003, only Parliament, in today’s vote and the one that will follow the report of the UN inspectors, stands between Britain and military action, the latest of a long series of attacks by the West on Muslim countries.

 

With Labour seeming likely, despite some prevarication, to support a strike, and Nick Clegg rather surprisingly on board, Mr Cameron may not have to make the speech of his life (as Mr Blair did in 2003) to win either vote. To gain the support of a sceptical nation, however, he needs to do exactly that.

 

He will not achieve this with the long-winded and contradictory motion he has submitted to the Commons for debate today. His problem is that the British and American foreign policy, intelligence and military establishments have made a series of dreadful mistakes over the past 15 years. It can be stated with complete fairness that the Stop the War Coalition (a miscellaneous collection of mainly far-Left political organisations, by no means all of them reputable, which marches through London this Saturday in protest) has consistently shown far more mature judgment on these great issues of war and peace than Downing Street, the White House or the CIA.

 

More surprising still, the Stop the War Coalition has often proved better informed than these centres of Western power, coolly warning against the diet of propaganda masquerading as bona fide intelligence.

 

So Mr Cameron first of all needs to show us that we have solid evidence, capable of standing up in a court of law, that proves his claim that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on a large scale against its own people. On the face of things, it looks highly unlikely that Assad would have carried out such an action – let alone within three days of international inspectors arriving in Syria.

 

Consider this: the only beneficiaries from the atrocity were the rebels, previously losing the war, who now have Britain and America ready to intervene on their side. While there seems to be little doubt that chemical weapons were used, there is doubt about who deployed them. It is important to remember that Assad has been accused of using poison gas against civilians before. But on that occasion, Carla del Ponte, a UN commissioner on Syria, concluded that the rebels, not Assad, were probably responsible.

 

The rush to judgment by Britain and the US looks premature, especially in view of the record of our intelligence agencies in providing misleading and fabricated evidence as a justification for war before 2003. (This time it is said that they have been convinced by intercept evidence, but this too can prove seriously misleading.)

 

The second question that Mr Cameron must answer is: why now? There have been numerous other atrocities, many far worse, carried out across the Middle East in the past few years. For example, there is no doubt at all that the Egyptian military junta has shot dead more than 1,000 protesters, the vast majority unarmed civilians, since seizing power. Yet there has been no outraged condemnation. Indeed, the West, by continuing to supply arms to the Egyptian army, is quietly condoning this policy of mass murder.

 

The moral authority of Britain and America in the Middle East is shaky, as an article published in Foreign Policy magazine last week reminds us. It provides documentary evidence that the US helped Saddam Hussein’s Iraq launch a series of chemical weapons attacks upon Iran in the late 1980s, an offensive that killed approximately 20,000 Iranian troops – which dwarfs the number of victims of the Syrian attack. Iran, of course, is Assad’s closest ally. Our moral indignation over chemical weapons looks selective.

 

This raises questions about Western objectives. Are we merely intending to teach Assad a lesson? Or does an unspoken strategy to “rebalance” the war away from him and back towards the rebels lurk behind this intervention?

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10271248/The-rush-to-judgment-on-Syria-is-a-catastrophic-and-deadly-error.html

 

 

and this:

 

 

Ghouta, Syria — As the machinery for a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria gathers pace following last week’s chemical weapons attack, the U.S. and its allies may be targeting the wrong culprit.

 

Interviews with people in Damascus and Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital, where the humanitarian agency Doctors Without Borders said at least 355 people had died last week from what it believed to be a neurotoxic agent, appear to indicate as much.

 

The U.S., Britain, and France as well as the Arab League have accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for carrying out the chemical weapons attack, which mainly targeted civilians. U.S. warships are stationed in the Mediterranean Sea to launch military strikes against Syria in punishment for carrying out a massive chemical weapons attack. The U.S. and others are not interested in examining any contrary evidence, with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry sayingMonday that Assad’s guilt was “a judgment … already clear to the world.”

 

However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.

 

“My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.

 

Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”

Ghouta townspeople said the rebels were using mosques and private houses to sleep while storing their weapons in tunnels.

 

Abdel-Moneim said his son and the others died during the chemical weapons attack. That same day, the militant group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is linked to al-Qaida, announced that it would similarly attack civilians in the Assad regime’s heartland of Latakia on Syria’s western coast, in purported retaliation.

 

“They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K.’ “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

 

“When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” she warned. She, like other Syrians, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution.

 

A well-known rebel leader in Ghouta named ‘J’ agreed. “Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other rebels, except with fighting on the ground. They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material,” he said.

 

“We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” ‘J’ said.

Doctors who treated the chemical weapons attack victims cautioned interviewers to be careful about asking questions regarding who, exactly, was responsible for the deadly assault.

 

The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders added that health workers aiding 3,600 patients also reported experiencing similar symptoms, including frothing at the mouth, respiratory distress, convulsions and blurry vision. The group has not been able to independently verify the information.

 

More than a dozen rebels interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government.

 

Saudi involvement

In a recent article for Business Insider, reporter Geoffrey Ingersoll highlighted Saudi Prince Bandar’s role in the two-and-a-half year Syrian civil war. Many observers believe Bandar, with his close ties to Washington, has been at the very heart of the push for war by the U.S. against Assad.

 

Ingersoll referred to an article in the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph about secret Russian-Saudi talksalleging that Bandar offered Russian President Vladimir Putin cheap oil in exchange for dumping Assad.

 

“Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord,” Ingersoll wrote.

 

“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” Bandar allegedly told the Russians.

 

“Along with Saudi officials, the U.S. allegedly gave the Saudi intelligence chief the thumbs up to conduct these talks with Russia, which comes as no surprise,” Ingersoll wrote.

 

“Bandar is American-educated, both military and collegiate, served as a highly influential Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., and the CIA totally loves this guy,” he added.

 

According to U.K.’s Independent newspaper, it was Prince Bandar’s intelligence agency that first brought allegations of the use of sarin gas by the regime to the attention of Western allies in February.

 

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the CIA realized Saudi Arabia was “serious” about toppling Assad when the Saudi king named Prince Bandar to lead the effort.

 

“They believed that Prince Bandar, a veteran of the diplomatic intrigues of Washington and the Arab world, could deliver what the CIA couldn’t: planeloads of money and arms, and, as one U.S. diplomat put it, wasta, Arabic for under-the-table clout,” it said.

 

Bandar has been advancing Saudi Arabia’s top foreign policy goal, WSJ reported, of defeating Assad and his Iranian and Hezbollah allies.

To that aim, Bandar worked Washington to back a program to arm and train rebels out of a planned military base in Jordan.

The newspaper reports that he met with the “uneasy Jordanians about such a base”:

 


 

His meetings in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah sometimes ran to eight hours in a single sitting. “The king would joke: ‘Oh, Bandar’s coming again? Let’s clear two days for the meeting,’ ” said a person familiar with the meetings.

Jordan’s financial dependence on Saudi Arabia may have given the Saudis strong leverage. An operations center in Jordan started going online in the summer of 2012, including an airstrip and warehouses for arms. Saudi-procured AK-47s and ammunition arrived, WSJ reported, citing Arab officials.

 

Although Saudi Arabia has officially maintained that it supported more moderate rebels, the newspaper reported that “funds and arms were being funneled to radicals on the side, simply to counter the influence of rival Islamists backed by Qatar.”

 

But rebels interviewed said Prince Bandar is referred to as “al-Habib” or ‘the lover’ by al-Qaida militants fighting in Syria.

 

http://www.mintpressnews.com/witnesses-of-gas-attack-say-saudis-supplied-rebels-with-chemical-weapons/168135/

 

The second part of the above article is a topic that I had already linked to it's source at the Telegraph, earlier in this thread. Of course you said that you hadn't read through it, so I decided to quote this particular articles discussion of it while quoting their interview information.

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