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Trump Had No Choice But to Launch Syria Air Strikes

President Donald Trump had little option but to order a missile strike against a Syrian airbase after holding Syria responsible for that poison gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed 80 civilians. He had criticised President Obama for being weak, slow and indecisive when facing similar challenges, so he could scarcely do nothing when President Bashar al-Assad appeared to breach the agreement in 2013 to hand over all his chemical weapons to be destroyed.

The fact that the US has taken its first direct military action against Assad is significant, not so much because it has done much damage to the Syrian armed forces, but because it may be repeated. Senior politicians and generals in the US have been calling for air strikes to take out or at last “ground” the whole Syrian air force. This option is now more on the table than it was previously, but that does not mean that it is going to happen.

The launching of 59 Tomahawk missiles that killed six people and did an unknown amount of damage at al-Shayrat airbase in Homs province in central Syria is symbolic. But it is a warning that is likely to be taken seriously in both Moscow and Damascus, because full-scale American intervention against Assad is the one thing that would deny them victory in the war.

Those who argue that the Syrian armed forces would not have done anything quite so foolish and against their own interests as to launch the strikes, probably underestimate the extent of the stupidity present in all armies. There is an old Israeli military saying, employed about a number of their commanders, which is apposite and says that the general “was so stupid that even the other generals noticed”.

Despite the air strike overnight, the Assad government and the Russians remain in a strong military position because they control all the biggest cities in Syria since the capture of east Aleppo in December. The number of Syrians still in Syria is probably about 16 million, assuming there are five or six million refugees, and of these 10 million are in areas under Assad’s control and two million apiece in zones held by Isis, the non-Isis armed opposition and the Syrian Kurds. The Syrian Kurds remain a powerful force, but the Isis and al-Qaeda armed opposition movements are crumbling.

The exiled anti-Assad opposition, who have little strength on the ground in Syria, has welcomed the US missile strike, saying it ended Assad’s “impunity”. They have called for more of the same, but if this does not happen – and it is unlikely that they will – then the political and military balance of power in Syria will not change significantly.

The war is by no means over, but it has jelled and it is getting towards the endgame. It is very unlikely that Washington will want to change its present level of engagement to the point that it became involved as it did – with disastrous results for all concerned – in Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011. The White House contrasted overnight its swift and decisive response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons with the supposed feebleness of President Obama but, in reality, the policies of both administrations are much the same.

Obama was giving priority to eliminating Isis and the al-Qaeda-type movements that dominate the armed opposition and Trump is doing likewise. Obama had long ago placed getting rid of Assad on the back burner and the same is more publicly true of Trump, or so it seemed until the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on Tuesday. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was much criticised by interventionists in Washington for saying a few days earlier that “the fate of Assad was in the hands of the Syrian people” or, in other words, the Syrian leader was going to stay.

Trump said that Tuesday’s suspected chemical gas attack had changed his attitude towards Assad and developments in Syria. But this is doubtful as American policies will probably stay the same because they are working successfully and the self-declared Islamic State is getting weaker by the day. The Iraqi armed forces have suffered heavy losses – perhaps 6,000 dead and wounded – in the battle for Mosul, but they will eventually capture it. The US-backed Syrian Kurdish advance on Isis’s de facto Syrian capital at Raqqa is likely to succeed in taking it.

The US alliance with the Syrian Kurds and the Russian alliance with Assad are defeating Isis and the al-Qaeda clones in Syria. This is different from in the past when Isis’s many enemies detested each other as much, if not more, than they hated the salafi-jihadi extremists they were supposedly fighting.

The US will probably not want to let Isis and al-Qaeda off the hook now by weakening the Syrian armed forces that remain the strongest military power in Syria. At the same time, the Americans do not intend to allow Assad to flaunt his success and, even before the chemical attack, there were reports of the US resuming aid to some opposition groups deemed to be anti-jihadi and anti-Assad.

As for the Russians, their military intervention in Syria has hitherto been highly successful because it has re-established them, at least in the Middle East, as a superpower. If they conclude that Assad was indeed behind the chemical attack – something they currently deny – then they will be infuriated that he has risked so much for so little. The Kremlin will be eager to continue to pursue parallel policies with Washington, something that dates back to 2015 when Obama decided not to oppose Putin’s military intervention on the side of Assad. This was a critical moment in the outcome of the war.

ORDER IT NOW

From Trump’s point of view there is a great advantage in any cross words coming from Moscow because they will counter accusations in the US that he is too close to the Russians. Democratic Party and media criticism, based on conspiracy theories claiming that Russian hackers determined the course of the election, will be deflated and Trump will have his first foreign policy success. The missile strike could do more change to the political landscape than in Syria.

(Reprinted from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Donald Trump, Syria 
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  1. An american incursion into Syria would be a terrible idea and the USA would not win. Unz is wrong to treat an American invasion as a cake walk.

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    • Replies: @Ram
    The slow illegal invasion of Syria by the US has been a fact for a considerable time. Kurds have been trained and armed and have become willing proxies in the NE. They are however fighting to keep out other terrorist groups, again trained, funded and armed by the US and it's Arab "allies", Saudi Arabia (remember 9/11), Kuwait, Qatar etc. The latter forces have brought about the destruction of much of the infrastructure in Syria while committing atrocities to cause fear among the Syrians.

    These Wahabbi terrorists (our allies) have decimated religious minorities, raped women, made them sex slaves when not fighting the State forces. Al Assad is the ONLY hope for the people doing his best to protect them from the mainly foreign terrorists let loose in the country to further the US aim of regime change. The Syrian Army consisting mainly of Sunnis, did NOT lay down and die as widely expected.

    Do not forget the US attack on the Syrian Army in Deir Az Zohr in open support of the ISIS terrorists till the Russian warned them off. The US has a policy of shoot first and question later if at all. That was what we saw yesterday. There is NO rhyme or reason for Assad to use chemical weapons, when he is clearly in the driving seat, thus clearing the way to take over the North East of the country which the US has been eyeing for military bases and an oil/gas pipeline.
    As Trump said US interests are at stake here. He, nor the Pentagon gives a damn about the Syrians.
    , @Jensen McWallaby
    1) Unz didn't write the article.

    2) No one said that an American invasion would be a cakewalk.

    3) If the US entered the war, it would win.
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  2. Nah. A false-flag operation from the git-go. After what Assad went through after the last gasps of feigned horror by the global MSM over Sarin escapades, ain’t a chance in hell he ordered a chemical attack.

    Utter, utter nonsense.

    Syria is to be absorbed by Israel, with US troops, as usual, providing the military support necessary to the long-term acquisition of Syrian land and resources by Israel. It will take many years for Israel to fully enslave Syria, while sending millions of Syrian “refugees” to be supported, housed and educated by America, under the guidance and tutelage of Israeli supervision, and great cost to real, working, productive American citizens.

    Russia will keep their naval and air-bases, and a strip of territory along the Syrian coast. No harm, no foul — Israel doesn’t need ports.

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  3. Anon says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “If they conclude that Assad was indeed behind the chemical attack – something they currently deny – then they will be infuriated that he has risked so much for so little.”

    Is it possible that one of Assad’s commanders did this without Assad’s approval?

    If Assad ordered this, he should be called Ass-hat.

    If Assad did this, it is vile indeed.

    But suppose it comes out that he didn’t do it, and something else happened.

    Will the US apologize and pay reparations for the damage?

    Btw, even if Assad did use chemical weapons, the US response is BS.

    After all, US and Israel used white phosphorous in Iraq and Gaza.
    IDF killed 1000 kids in Gaza. Israel still holds Golan Heights stolen from Syria. And yet, US said NOTHING about that.

    Also, the real outrage about Syria should be that US allies — Saudis, Qatar, and Turkey — gave aid and support to all sorts of risible terrorist elements in Syria who escalated the war to biblical proportions, thus leading to deaths of 100,000s and millions of refugees.

    And yet, the US never condemned its sick allies.

    Also, US sanctions killed 100,000s of kids in Iraq. Who made the US the moral preacher of the world?

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    • Replies: @Psyops
    Q: Is it possible that one of Assad’s commanders did this without Assad’s approval?
    A: nope. The theatrics occurred in rebel held territory. Govt forces can't get into this region.
    There were no chemicals. If it was sarin the "responders" would be dead too.
    It's just movie- fake acting. After all the "white helmets" did win an oscar!
    , @Jensen McWallaby
    I've seen a number of terrible pictures and video of dead and suffering children over the last few days, but for some reason the US media could never be bothered to show same of all the Iraqi ones blown to pieces during both Bush wars. If I didn't know better I might wonder if perhaps the media have an agenda.
  4. Once upon a time I used to respect Cockburn as one of the few journalists who understood the ME and could look at an issue from both sides. Recently, however, his work seems to be much more one-sided and more in line with the MSM groupthink policies.

    Here he claims that Trump had no choice but to launch his Tomahawks against government targets in response to a supposed chemical attack that has all the hallmarks of another DAESH/ISIL/SOHR/White Helmets co-production. No need for evidence, no need for proof, just launch the missiles.

    Cockburn doesn’t even attempt to look at the Syrian side, or even seriously entertain the idea that the government might not have had anything to do with it. For a journalist of his former stature this is a truly pathetic capitulation, and drops his credibility to the level of most of his colleagues at the Independent.

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    • Agree: Hail
    • Replies: @CalDre
    The neo-cons and liberal (Communist) warmongers have finally found a cause celebre for Trump. He has officially joined the Global Dictatorship by the Evil Empire paradigm. All they needed was to send their puppet terrorists in Idlib some chemical weapons and wait for them to be used - in this case, destroyed by the Syrian air force, with some quite terrible (and likely unexpected) collateral damage.

    Already in unison the fake news media - CNN, Fox, Daily Mail, The Telegraph - are trumpeting the lie that the attack was in "retaliation" for "Assad's chemical attack". In the Empire Media, accusations by political operatives substitute for facts. And death and carnage ensues. Same old, same old.

    , @uslabor
    I agree, Cockburn doesn't know that the Assad government is responsible. Where's the evidence?
    , @Verymuchalive
    Why are you so surprised ? His old Dad, Claude, was a Stalinist hack denounced by George Orwell. Rather ironically, son Patrick won the Orwell Prize. The Orwell Prize, like the Turner etc, is a Prize named after a dead person who did not give their consent. The Real Orwell would be apoplectic about Pat Cockburn winning a prize in his name. Cockburn minor is just an establishment hack. A hack by any other name is still a hack.
    , @Hail

    No need for evidence, no need for proof, just launch the missiles.
     
    This whole affair seems too bizarre to be true. No evidence indeed. The global establishment has dived in and lined up behind Puppetized Trump as if this Gas Attack were taken from the pages of the Holocaust itself (the One, True Religion).
    , @Jensen McWallaby
    You mean the "generals are stupid" argument didn't convince you.

    Trust me, when every person on FOX news, regardless of political persuasion, says that Assad gassed children, you can be sure it's the truth.

    Sean Hannity and Charles Krauthammer both announced triumphantly that "America is back." And Krauthammer gleefully noted that "...after 8 years of Obama, there's now a sheriff in town."

    I really had no idea that firing off five dozen flying bombs to a place we shouldn't give two craps about was all it would take to bring America back.
  5. Anon says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Trump had no choice because he can’t get anything done in Washington where Deep State, Congress, and rest of government are ruled by Jews. And Media too.

    So, Trump has been stalled and thwarted by all sides. So, he figured on winning some good graces from Jewish globalists, and so, he pulled this little stunt.

    He knows MSM, the fake news, will blow up this issue with the Narrative, EVIL ASSAD GASES HIS OWN PEOPLE WITH RUSSIAN HELP BUT TRUMP DOES NOTHING BECAUSE HE IS RUSSIAN AGENT.

    So, he had to play ball.

    What Trump should have done is say he will seriously look into what happened and then consider all options based on the investigation of what really took place.

    Anyway, whatever happened, the real crime in Syria is that US and its allies created the conditions of this massive civil war that killed so many.

    If US weren’t such a shill for Israel/Zionists and allied with such rotten nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, the mess in Syria wouldn’t have happened. Assad, like most autocratic rulers, would have crushed the rebellion and that would have been that. (It’s like Sisi in Egypt ended Islamic Brother’s government — elected by democratic elections — with machine guns that killed 1000s.) But US sent signals to its allies that it might do another Iraq-Libya on Syria, so Saudis, Turks, and Qatarese decided to back their Jihadi elements so that they will have a stake in post-Assad Syria.

    US also created conditions for the Korean War by colluding with USSR to divide Korea.
    US also created conditions for the Vietnam War by dividing that country in half.

    When will US stop messing with the world?

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  6. President Donald Trump had little option but to order a missile strike against a Syrian airbase after holding Syria responsible for that poison gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed 80 civilians.

    Bs. Investigating what happened would be the most obvious option. If indeed it was the Syrian government, then not violating international law should’ve been the first option.

    From Trump’s point of view there is a great advantage in any cross words coming from Moscow because they will counter accusations in the US that he is too close to the Russians.

    Bingo. As usual, theonion’s got it:

    http://www.theonion.com/article/trump-confident-us-military-strike-syria-wiped-out-55722

    Trump Confident U.S. Military Strike On Syria Wiped Out Russian Scandal

    WASHINGTON—After ordering the first U.S. military attack against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, President Donald Trump held a press conference Friday to express his full confidence that the airstrike had completely wiped out the lingering Russian scandal. “Based on intelligence we have received over the past several hours, the attack on the al-Shayrat air base in Homs has successfully eliminated all discussions and allegations about my administration’s ties to the Russian government,” said Trump, adding that at approximately 4:40 a.m. local time, 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from U.S. naval ships obliterated all traces of the widespread controversy in news outlets across the media. “Ordering this strike was not a decision I took lightly, but given that it was the only way to decisively eradicate any attention being paid to congressional investigations into possible collusion between key members of my staff and high-ranking Kremlin officials, I decided it was a necessary course of action. If we learn that any remnants of this scandal remain after this attack, I will not hesitate to order further strikes.” Trump went on to say that he is leaving the option open for a potential ground invasion of Syria if any troubling evidence emerges that the Russian government manipulated the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

    Read More
    • Replies: @El Dato
    But like the "chemical attack" made using a stash the Syria doesn't have (and if the US suddenly knows where the stash is, how come no-one raised the issue a bit earlier?), the "russian scandal" is a 100% media / derp state construction.
  7. @Sampa
    Once upon a time I used to respect Cockburn as one of the few journalists who understood the ME and could look at an issue from both sides. Recently, however, his work seems to be much more one-sided and more in line with the MSM groupthink policies.

    Here he claims that Trump had no choice but to launch his Tomahawks against government targets in response to a supposed chemical attack that has all the hallmarks of another DAESH/ISIL/SOHR/White Helmets co-production. No need for evidence, no need for proof, just launch the missiles.

    Cockburn doesn't even attempt to look at the Syrian side, or even seriously entertain the idea that the government might not have had anything to do with it. For a journalist of his former stature this is a truly pathetic capitulation, and drops his credibility to the level of most of his colleagues at the Independent.

    The neo-cons and liberal (Communist) warmongers have finally found a cause celebre for Trump. He has officially joined the Global Dictatorship by the Evil Empire paradigm. All they needed was to send their puppet terrorists in Idlib some chemical weapons and wait for them to be used – in this case, destroyed by the Syrian air force, with some quite terrible (and likely unexpected) collateral damage.

    Already in unison the fake news media – CNN, Fox, Daily Mail, The Telegraph – are trumpeting the lie that the attack was in “retaliation” for “Assad’s chemical attack”. In the Empire Media, accusations by political operatives substitute for facts. And death and carnage ensues. Same old, same old.

    Read More
  8. @Sampa
    Once upon a time I used to respect Cockburn as one of the few journalists who understood the ME and could look at an issue from both sides. Recently, however, his work seems to be much more one-sided and more in line with the MSM groupthink policies.

    Here he claims that Trump had no choice but to launch his Tomahawks against government targets in response to a supposed chemical attack that has all the hallmarks of another DAESH/ISIL/SOHR/White Helmets co-production. No need for evidence, no need for proof, just launch the missiles.

    Cockburn doesn't even attempt to look at the Syrian side, or even seriously entertain the idea that the government might not have had anything to do with it. For a journalist of his former stature this is a truly pathetic capitulation, and drops his credibility to the level of most of his colleagues at the Independent.

    I agree, Cockburn doesn’t know that the Assad government is responsible. Where’s the evidence?

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  9. He had a choice and decided to break the law. He should, at the very least, be censured; I favor impeachment. He didn’t consult congress and get their approval (constitutional violation) nor did he get Security Counsel authority (violation of international law). This madman, in the middle of the night, launched a massive assault against a military installation of a sovereign country. El Trumpbo didn’t even bother to try and get public support. That kind of man can’t be allowed to remain in power. Imagine him doing the same with North Korea at some point. Scary thought, huh.

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  10. President Donald Trump had little option but to order a missile strike against a Syrian airbase after holding Syria responsible for that poison gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed 80 civilians. He had criticised President Obama for being weak, slow and indecisive when facing similar challenges, so he could scarcely do nothing when President Bashar al-Assad appeared to breach the agreement in 2013 to hand over all his chemical weapons to be destroyed.

    This is flat out bullshit.

    Contrary to Cockburn’s convenient “incompetence” assertion, the prima facie assumption about any chemical attack in Syria must be that it was not carried out by the Syrian government because they are winning ad almost the only way they could throw all that way would be to carry out a chemical attack and give the US regime a pretext to attack them. It’s not as though they aren’t well aware of the danger, after the close call in 2013, and it’s not as though their closest and most important backer, Russia, won’t have made it absolutely clear to them that a chemical attack would be absolutely verboten.

    To counter all that survival level motivation for not using chemical weapons, what motive could there be for doing so? Trivial tactical/terror gains in an area that isn’t even currently their primary focus, since the recent Al Qaeda offensive from Idlib has already been defeated.

    And Trump had a ready made reason for not acting, in the uncertainty about what actually happened. It’s only been two days since the event took place ffs! He hasn’t been afraid in the past to openly call bullshit on the mainstream media’s hot button groupthink issues. As for the nonsense about retaining consistency with past statements, since when has that ever been a primary Trump concern? And even if it was, you can hardly get any more dramatically inconsistent than this attack on Syria after all his Tweets condemning such attacks.

    No, Trump chose to do this, he wasn’t in any way forced into it.

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    • Agree: JL
    • Replies: @Jeff Blankfort
    While I agree that for Assad, himself, to have ordered such an attack would have been plain out stupid, it is not of the realm of possibility that an officer within the Syria air force assigned to the bombing did it on his own or was paid by one of Syria's foreign enemies to do so. It is also possible that someone of the ground used the opportunity of the attack to set off the sarin gas release. None of us and nobody outside of the area attack (not involved with it) can say for sure.

    I also, however, agree with Cockburn, that Trump, who is the target of non-stop anti-Russian hysteria, had little choice but to act and suspect that he was advised to do so by his generals. Had he not done so, the liberal hawks in the media, all Hillary bots, would have been all over him for his failure to act and there seems little question, at this point, that Trump wants to be seen as Mr. Tough Guy and envisions himself as much as commander in chief as did Clinton.

    I have been opposed from the beginning to regime change in Syria as I was to it happening in Libya despite my strong feelings against Khadafy and the late Hafez al-Assad, based on my own personal experience with some of forces and their participation with the Lebanese Christians in the massacre of Tal al Zaatar in 1976 which was every bit as deadly as Sabra and Shatila,

    Even while Israel was occupying all of Lebanon up to Beirut in 1983, Daddy al-Assad had his own Palestinian militia under Abu Musa launch attacks on the Palestinian refugee camps north of Tripoli, Bedawi and Nahr al-Bahred, leaving so many wounded or dead that the hallways of the Tripoli hospital were running in blood. I didn't have to read about it--and you'll never read about it elsewhere, but I was there and know what the Assads are capable of,

    , @Flavius
    Keep it up: you are the voice of reason and even at unz a breath of fresh air - I hope that in the end reason matters, but even if it doesn't, keep it up.
  11. If the ME nations were smarter, they would get these chemical weapons completely out of their hands and have a complete inspection by the international agency. They seem only to be a complete liability. If they are used then it’s usually on your own people. And even if the people who sold them to you from the West actually approved of the use a decade ago, they’ll use the evidence against you when the time is right for their own political purposes to oust you or set you up.

    Completely useless; it’s like a drug dealer who sells you drugs and then rats you out to the cops so he can steal your girlfriend or something.

    Peace.

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    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji

    If the ME nations were smarter, they would get these chemical weapons completely out of their hands and have a complete inspection by the international agency.
     
    Ha-ha, quelle naivete. Syria did just that, just a few years ago, and yet here we are...
  12. Complete crap.

    There is no proof that Syria used chemical weapons. None.

    And of course Cockburn citing the Israel military gave his game away.

    ‘Join the US army, Fight for Israel

    http://68.media.tumblr.com/639563970a638b606f4adb0ef05c778b/tumblr_inline_o7t4eewwJn1r75mb5_500.jpg

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    • Replies: @Anon
    So Patrick Cockburn does Israel's bidding?

    Really?
    , @Jensen McWallaby
    Sure, there is proof. I saw a graphic that the Defense Department released to FOX news that proves it. Mind you, it would take me a whole hour to replicate the document of proof in one of my vector programs, but I doubt the US government would ever lie about such things. It's not like they've done that in the past, more often than not.
  13. @Randal

    President Donald Trump had little option but to order a missile strike against a Syrian airbase after holding Syria responsible for that poison gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed 80 civilians. He had criticised President Obama for being weak, slow and indecisive when facing similar challenges, so he could scarcely do nothing when President Bashar al-Assad appeared to breach the agreement in 2013 to hand over all his chemical weapons to be destroyed.
     
    This is flat out bullshit.

    Contrary to Cockburn's convenient "incompetence" assertion, the prima facie assumption about any chemical attack in Syria must be that it was not carried out by the Syrian government because they are winning ad almost the only way they could throw all that way would be to carry out a chemical attack and give the US regime a pretext to attack them. It's not as though they aren't well aware of the danger, after the close call in 2013, and it's not as though their closest and most important backer, Russia, won't have made it absolutely clear to them that a chemical attack would be absolutely verboten.

    To counter all that survival level motivation for not using chemical weapons, what motive could there be for doing so? Trivial tactical/terror gains in an area that isn't even currently their primary focus, since the recent Al Qaeda offensive from Idlib has already been defeated.

    And Trump had a ready made reason for not acting, in the uncertainty about what actually happened. It's only been two days since the event took place ffs! He hasn't been afraid in the past to openly call bullshit on the mainstream media's hot button groupthink issues. As for the nonsense about retaining consistency with past statements, since when has that ever been a primary Trump concern? And even if it was, you can hardly get any more dramatically inconsistent than this attack on Syria after all his Tweets condemning such attacks.

    No, Trump chose to do this, he wasn't in any way forced into it.

    While I agree that for Assad, himself, to have ordered such an attack would have been plain out stupid, it is not of the realm of possibility that an officer within the Syria air force assigned to the bombing did it on his own or was paid by one of Syria’s foreign enemies to do so. It is also possible that someone of the ground used the opportunity of the attack to set off the sarin gas release. None of us and nobody outside of the area attack (not involved with it) can say for sure.

    I also, however, agree with Cockburn, that Trump, who is the target of non-stop anti-Russian hysteria, had little choice but to act and suspect that he was advised to do so by his generals. Had he not done so, the liberal hawks in the media, all Hillary bots, would have been all over him for his failure to act and there seems little question, at this point, that Trump wants to be seen as Mr. Tough Guy and envisions himself as much as commander in chief as did Clinton.

    I have been opposed from the beginning to regime change in Syria as I was to it happening in Libya despite my strong feelings against Khadafy and the late Hafez al-Assad, based on my own personal experience with some of forces and their participation with the Lebanese Christians in the massacre of Tal al Zaatar in 1976 which was every bit as deadly as Sabra and Shatila,

    Even while Israel was occupying all of Lebanon up to Beirut in 1983, Daddy al-Assad had his own Palestinian militia under Abu Musa launch attacks on the Palestinian refugee camps north of Tripoli, Bedawi and Nahr al-Bahred, leaving so many wounded or dead that the hallways of the Tripoli hospital were running in blood. I didn’t have to read about it–and you’ll never read about it elsewhere, but I was there and know what the Assads are capable of,

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    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
    " I was there and know what the Assads are capable of."
    No you weren't. You're nothing but a Hasbara troll.
  14. @Sampa
    Once upon a time I used to respect Cockburn as one of the few journalists who understood the ME and could look at an issue from both sides. Recently, however, his work seems to be much more one-sided and more in line with the MSM groupthink policies.

    Here he claims that Trump had no choice but to launch his Tomahawks against government targets in response to a supposed chemical attack that has all the hallmarks of another DAESH/ISIL/SOHR/White Helmets co-production. No need for evidence, no need for proof, just launch the missiles.

    Cockburn doesn't even attempt to look at the Syrian side, or even seriously entertain the idea that the government might not have had anything to do with it. For a journalist of his former stature this is a truly pathetic capitulation, and drops his credibility to the level of most of his colleagues at the Independent.

    Why are you so surprised ? His old Dad, Claude, was a Stalinist hack denounced by George Orwell. Rather ironically, son Patrick won the Orwell Prize. The Orwell Prize, like the Turner etc, is a Prize named after a dead person who did not give their consent. The Real Orwell would be apoplectic about Pat Cockburn winning a prize in his name. Cockburn minor is just an establishment hack. A hack by any other name is still a hack.

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    • Replies: @Dan Hayes
    Verymuchalive:

    I have much more respect for his late brother, Alexander Cockburn.

    I was initially infuriated with Alex when he had a Wall Street Journal column. Years later I realized that I was terribly wrong in my initial response - chalk it up to my political naïveté.

    I first started appreciating Alex's honesty when his writings appeared in Chronicles' website. As usual, Editor Tom Fleming made a good decision in publishing him.
  15. @Mao Cheng Ji

    President Donald Trump had little option but to order a missile strike against a Syrian airbase after holding Syria responsible for that poison gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed 80 civilians.
     
    Bs. Investigating what happened would be the most obvious option. If indeed it was the Syrian government, then not violating international law should've been the first option.

    From Trump’s point of view there is a great advantage in any cross words coming from Moscow because they will counter accusations in the US that he is too close to the Russians.
     
    Bingo. As usual, theonion's got it:
    http://www.theonion.com/article/trump-confident-us-military-strike-syria-wiped-out-55722

    Trump Confident U.S. Military Strike On Syria Wiped Out Russian Scandal

    WASHINGTON—After ordering the first U.S. military attack against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, President Donald Trump held a press conference Friday to express his full confidence that the airstrike had completely wiped out the lingering Russian scandal. “Based on intelligence we have received over the past several hours, the attack on the al-Shayrat air base in Homs has successfully eliminated all discussions and allegations about my administration’s ties to the Russian government,” said Trump, adding that at approximately 4:40 a.m. local time, 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from U.S. naval ships obliterated all traces of the widespread controversy in news outlets across the media. “Ordering this strike was not a decision I took lightly, but given that it was the only way to decisively eradicate any attention being paid to congressional investigations into possible collusion between key members of my staff and high-ranking Kremlin officials, I decided it was a necessary course of action. If we learn that any remnants of this scandal remain after this attack, I will not hesitate to order further strikes.” Trump went on to say that he is leaving the option open for a potential ground invasion of Syria if any troubling evidence emerges that the Russian government manipulated the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
     

    But like the “chemical attack” made using a stash the Syria doesn’t have (and if the US suddenly knows where the stash is, how come no-one raised the issue a bit earlier?), the “russian scandal” is a 100% media / derp state construction.

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    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji

    the “russian scandal” is a 100% media / derp state construction
     
    Everything is 100% media/deep state construction; perception is reality.
  16. @Jeff Blankfort
    While I agree that for Assad, himself, to have ordered such an attack would have been plain out stupid, it is not of the realm of possibility that an officer within the Syria air force assigned to the bombing did it on his own or was paid by one of Syria's foreign enemies to do so. It is also possible that someone of the ground used the opportunity of the attack to set off the sarin gas release. None of us and nobody outside of the area attack (not involved with it) can say for sure.

    I also, however, agree with Cockburn, that Trump, who is the target of non-stop anti-Russian hysteria, had little choice but to act and suspect that he was advised to do so by his generals. Had he not done so, the liberal hawks in the media, all Hillary bots, would have been all over him for his failure to act and there seems little question, at this point, that Trump wants to be seen as Mr. Tough Guy and envisions himself as much as commander in chief as did Clinton.

    I have been opposed from the beginning to regime change in Syria as I was to it happening in Libya despite my strong feelings against Khadafy and the late Hafez al-Assad, based on my own personal experience with some of forces and their participation with the Lebanese Christians in the massacre of Tal al Zaatar in 1976 which was every bit as deadly as Sabra and Shatila,

    Even while Israel was occupying all of Lebanon up to Beirut in 1983, Daddy al-Assad had his own Palestinian militia under Abu Musa launch attacks on the Palestinian refugee camps north of Tripoli, Bedawi and Nahr al-Bahred, leaving so many wounded or dead that the hallways of the Tripoli hospital were running in blood. I didn't have to read about it--and you'll never read about it elsewhere, but I was there and know what the Assads are capable of,

    ” I was there and know what the Assads are capable of.”
    No you weren’t. You’re nothing but a Hasbara troll.

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    • Replies: @anon
    Lol since you're incapable of googling have some links
    http://www.jeffblankfortphotography.com/
    http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/jeff-blankfort-on-zio-con-wars-palestine-and-paul-jay.html
  17. Patrick,

    Ron Unz goes out of his way to offer a balanced range of viewpoints. But many of us have a curt phrase to describe your disingenuous apologetics: Happy horse shit!

    I would like to engage, but there are too few points upon which a rational person can engage. An example:

    Obama was giving priority to eliminating Isis and the al-Qaeda-type movements that dominate the armed opposition and Trump is doing likewise.

    Seriously, as a retired military officer in air operations who keeps a close watch on current events, the Russians were more effective against ISIS in two months with 28 ground-attack aircraft and multi-role fighters than the coalition was with 700+ aircraft over two years. And, lest we forget, the United States birthed both Al-Qaeda and ISIS to attack Russian interests in the Mideast and Asia. Does Zbigniew Brzezinski ring a bell?

    You need to try harder … you can do better.

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  18. Anon says:     Show CommentNext New Comment
    @Wally
    Complete crap.

    There is no proof that Syria used chemical weapons. None.

    And of course Cockburn citing the Israel military gave his game away.

    'Join the US army, Fight for Israel
    http://68.media.tumblr.com/639563970a638b606f4adb0ef05c778b/tumblr_inline_o7t4eewwJn1r75mb5_500.jpg

    So Patrick Cockburn does Israel’s bidding?

    Really?

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  19. Anon says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    Trump did right, Only the Syrian (and Russian) airforces had the capabilty to bomb from the sky with chemical weapons. In a war, that is enough evidence. We are not talking about the policehere. Attack without warning is going to earn the US some serious respect. Trump needs 2 or 3 more of these and things-China next? will go America’s way much more often.

    Russia has been in Syria two years. i supported the intervention as the fastest way to end the war. I have been disappointed. Actually, it has made things worse by prolonging the life of a crippled regime. Russia’s impact has been modest. It has held off the defeat of the Syrian government and recovered lost parts of Aleppo. That’s it. The opposition clearlyl has real support. It did not collapse in any way. Russian led talks post Aleppo failed to produce peace and Turkey is facing down Russia again.

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    • Replies: @CalDre

    Only the Syrian (and Russian) airforces had the capabilty to bomb from the sky with chemical weapons
     
    And the Turks, Saudis, Israelis, Americans, and, let's see, who else has been bombing Syria?

    But even that misses the point. Where is the proof the chemical weapons were dropped from the sky? Even if the release occurred at the same time as the bombings, it does not rule out (1) Syria's claim that they hit a jihadist chemical depot and gas was accidentally released, and (2) someone on the ground time a release of gas to coincide with the bombing to blame Assad. Show us the proof, Mr. Omniscient!
  20. The author is on the side of the deep state, as evidenced by the book he wrote. More lying to the masses and wars for Israel. These people have no shame.

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  21. Well, that sure was convincing.

    I’ve never seen such a compelling case for war. Reminds me of when the British set the white house on fire in 1814. Fort Sumter, 1861. Lexington Green, 1775.

    I didn’t think Trump would be this reckless.

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    • Replies: @Jeff Blankfort
    It was an ancestor of the Cockburns that burned down the White House and next to his father, Claude, he was Alex's favorite ancestor and I suspect that of Patrick, as well.
  22. @Verymuchalive
    Why are you so surprised ? His old Dad, Claude, was a Stalinist hack denounced by George Orwell. Rather ironically, son Patrick won the Orwell Prize. The Orwell Prize, like the Turner etc, is a Prize named after a dead person who did not give their consent. The Real Orwell would be apoplectic about Pat Cockburn winning a prize in his name. Cockburn minor is just an establishment hack. A hack by any other name is still a hack.

    Verymuchalive:

    I have much more respect for his late brother, Alexander Cockburn.

    I was initially infuriated with Alex when he had a Wall Street Journal column. Years later I realized that I was terribly wrong in my initial response – chalk it up to my political naïveté.

    I first started appreciating Alex’s honesty when his writings appeared in Chronicles’ website. As usual, Editor Tom Fleming made a good decision in publishing him.

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  23. All is good for Trump now? I disagree, this was just a quick diversion to show that he is bold and that he does not care about displeasing the Russians. Everybody including Hillary Clinton applauded. He lost many supporters with that.
    Yet his oponnents won’t leave him off the hook. The difference is that now he has one more powerful enemy who wants a revenge for the humiliation: Putin
    If he decides to, Putin may easily play a key key role in triggering Trump’s impeachment. He simply leaks information that confirms the collusion between him and Trump. The MSM will do the rest throwing the USA in the worst political crisis since Watergate. Trump is at Putin’s mercy now.
    Therefore Tillerson will get the hint next week. If Trump wants to continue on the pass of ignoring and humiliating Russia to boost his own position, then Putin will make sure that Trump won’t have any position to boost anymore.
    I expect either a quiet U-turn of Trump on Syria or the beginning of his fall.
    Trump played a dirty trick on Putin, he will pay.

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    • Replies: @JL
    This is an interesting point I hadn't considered. The problem, of course, is that Trump's replacement, were he to be impeached, would be much worse. The only hope would be for an early election, but my understanding is that is not prescribed in the constitution. As it is, Trump lost a good deal of support from the margins that got him elected, while probably not getting much besides a temporary show of approval from his political enemies in return.
  24. Strange but your assuming that Syria was to blame in the gas attack no evidence, yet go on to say that well yes Assad is stupid enough to do it when he’s not, then you go on to say Russia and the U.S. has them on the run when it was Russia Iran the Syrian army and some others allied with both Iran and Syria that put them on the run, the U.S. was way late for the dance because they had been busy feeding ISIS and clan and as far as Trump getting any political advantage I rather doubt it, for somewhere Putin will repay him for he looks at it as just some more anti-Russian anti-Putin bullshit,I think its called blowback…

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  25. Cockburn makes stuff up when it counts, which is key to a successful career in newspeak. (He was actually given an award named for George Orwell, which is delightfully hilarious considering his work in throwaway gossip.)

    If anyone takes the Irishman’s prattle seriously do consider his attempt at serious journalism as it concerns the so-called Adra massacre. Saying that he flat out lied about that phony event doesn’t really describe what he was up to. It is an effort to plant seeds in readers minds about a topic that is most important.

    Cockburn, the blathering Joshua Frank and the other regulars who deliver an earful do have a wide fanbase of credulous believers and their offered version of the world is a serious effort. Counterpunch (nor Unz) doesn’t exist for fun and they don’t “plant seeds” because they are providing the truth. They are gathering intelligence. You don’t even own your own postings, and it’s all legal and just about all of it is for sale.

    It is satisfying to read a spook if the reader knows first hand that they are intentionally lying to you, because you know enough to not be fooled. That is rare indeed, because the amount of noise on the web is on purpose, you’ll never really know which salesman’s pitch is going to stick in your conscience. The most important military effort of all is the presentation of information provided to the citizens of the state.

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  26. This factually thin, weak article has cost Cockburn a lot of my respect. The evidence, including the staged White Helmets scenes, does not point to a sarin attack. The plan for an airstrike on a weapons warehouse was reported to the US under the flight deconfliction agreement, and monitored on US radar. The bomb delivered by the Su-22 attack aircraft was not of a type that would have been used for a sarin payload. All of that information was available to Chump had he sought it. Photographic evidence of the victims indicates that they were killed by an asphyxiant, which could be either incidentally released in the warehouse attack, or deliberately administered to residents of villages that Al Qaeda were known to have kidnapped by force as they were retreating. Sarin is not an asphyxiant. There were reports of a smelly yellow cloud after the bombing. Sarin is colorless and odorless. Victims were evidently photographed in a quarry southwest of Khan Sheikhoun, but not in any homes near the airstrike. There is speculation that the quarry victims were executed with cyanide gas in enclosed spaces. All of this information was easy to find for anyone looking beyond the press releases; Cockburn evidently didn’t bother.

    The the missile strike had a mission completion rate a hair under 40% (!). Either something went horribly wrong in the USN’s execution or they encountered something that mucked up their guidance systems. Either way, it’s a cold shower for anyone planning US ops against Syria. The main result of the missile strike is Russia upgrading their air defense in the region, bringing in more aircraft, and renouncing the deconfliction agreement. If there is to be a no-fly zone it will be one enforced by Russia on Russia’s terms. Those results can hardly be called a foreign policy “success” as Cockburn has done.

    Now that the US and Al Qaeda have shown simultaneous bad faith, there is no disincentive for the pro-Syria alliance to wage unlimited war to wipe out Al Qaeda in Idlib under beefed-up Russian air power. And what they find when they overrun Khan Sheikhoun is likely to be highly embarrassing to the western warmongers.

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    • Replies: @Jeff Blankfort
    I admit to viewing "expert" opinion about such subjects with some skepticism when submitted by people who are afraid to provide their name (unless, of course, they agree with me. :) But, I am curious where the writer, in this instance, has obtained his information and assumes it is waiting out there for any journalist to seize upon.

    I also wonder how many of those participating in this exercise, including ThirdEye, have ever spent any time in the Middle East.

    , @Don Bass
    @randall
    You nailed it buddy.
    One other point to those who say Assard did this. It occurred in rebel held territory.
    Syrian army or Assard people can't get into this area.
    And the rebels have not allowed verification by independent agents.
    It's a Gulf of Tonkin, or worse, false flag.
  27. @Randal

    President Donald Trump had little option but to order a missile strike against a Syrian airbase after holding Syria responsible for that poison gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed 80 civilians. He had criticised President Obama for being weak, slow and indecisive when facing similar challenges, so he could scarcely do nothing when President Bashar al-Assad appeared to breach the agreement in 2013 to hand over all his chemical weapons to be destroyed.
     
    This is flat out bullshit.

    Contrary to Cockburn's convenient "incompetence" assertion, the prima facie assumption about any chemical attack in Syria must be that it was not carried out by the Syrian government because they are winning ad almost the only way they could throw all that way would be to carry out a chemical attack and give the US regime a pretext to attack them. It's not as though they aren't well aware of the danger, after the close call in 2013, and it's not as though their closest and most important backer, Russia, won't have made it absolutely clear to them that a chemical attack would be absolutely verboten.

    To counter all that survival level motivation for not using chemical weapons, what motive could there be for doing so? Trivial tactical/terror gains in an area that isn't even currently their primary focus, since the recent Al Qaeda offensive from Idlib has already been defeated.

    And Trump had a ready made reason for not acting, in the uncertainty about what actually happened. It's only been two days since the event took place ffs! He hasn't been afraid in the past to openly call bullshit on the mainstream media's hot button groupthink issues. As for the nonsense about retaining consistency with past statements, since when has that ever been a primary Trump concern? And even if it was, you can hardly get any more dramatically inconsistent than this attack on Syria after all his Tweets condemning such attacks.

    No, Trump chose to do this, he wasn't in any way forced into it.

    Keep it up: you are the voice of reason and even at unz a breath of fresh air – I hope that in the end reason matters, but even if it doesn’t, keep it up.

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  28. As a Russian I’m not too worried about US invasion of Syria. There is zero enthusiasm for another Mideast adventure among the US public. And even if US government were this stupid, the outcome of Iraq invasion was a massive blow to American prestige and power. I doubt the war in Syria will go much better for them.

    It is also worth mentioning that US has thousands of military personnel on the ground in Syria and Iraq: soldiers, advisors, spies. Russia and Iran know where they are. They are easy targets.

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  29. If USA had any proof of the attack being ordered by Assad,it would have played the entire episode over a larger time frame and would have reframed the importance of it through many more angles . It would have agreed for the investigation . It would have asked for immediate UN meetings and a decision to send experts . If it were sure , it would have used the fact to ensnare. belittle accuse and isolate not only Assad but – Russia and Iran. USA doesn’t have the proof .

    Even if Assad did it , it is no business of USA .

    The more blood curdling desires prompted among the generals and bastardized liberals ,by the attack and from lack of response from Syria or Russia prove one thing and one thing only – success even if that were based on theft ,lying,and forgery,naked power and a killing is still a success and the Mafia is not going to turn suddenly into Mother Theresa . They would come out and commit same crime because their visibility and moral claims or grandstanding depend on hiding their immorality and corrupted racial bloodthirsty habits of killing the innocent .

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  30. Failing on China , experiencing a fiasco in building wall , passing bans on Muslim , and losing health care in addition to losing Flynn and Bannon , the safe bet for Trump was to swallow the plans that have no downside – killing some foreigners in the name of humanitarian intervention .
    That’s what he did . That’s what Clinton did against Sudan and Iraq because …..

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  31. Anonymous says:     Show CommentNext New Comment

    “Trump Had No Choice But to Launch Syria Air Strikes”

    Well, aside from the fact that he specifically said that we should stay out of Syria, and it would just be a waste of billions and American lives?

    I guess we know the real reason Bannon was given the boot, and a cuck general who is happy to bow before the establishment was installed in his place on the National Security Council.

    Worried more about second part of this equation- the part that always comes after an invade-the-world, invite-the-world episode. It will now be justification to invite those ‘poor Syrian refugees we are responsible for’ to the US- the establishment agenda gets fulfilled, one way or another.

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  32. @Sampa
    Once upon a time I used to respect Cockburn as one of the few journalists who understood the ME and could look at an issue from both sides. Recently, however, his work seems to be much more one-sided and more in line with the MSM groupthink policies.

    Here he claims that Trump had no choice but to launch his Tomahawks against government targets in response to a supposed chemical attack that has all the hallmarks of another DAESH/ISIL/SOHR/White Helmets co-production. No need for evidence, no need for proof, just launch the missiles.

    Cockburn doesn't even attempt to look at the Syrian side, or even seriously entertain the idea that the government might not have had anything to do with it. For a journalist of his former stature this is a truly pathetic capitulation, and drops his credibility to the level of most of his colleagues at the Independent.

    No need for evidence, no need for proof, just launch the missiles.

    This whole affair seems too bizarre to be true. No evidence indeed. The global establishment has dived in and lined up behind Puppetized Trump as if this Gas Attack were taken from the pages of the Holocaust itself (the One, True Religion).

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  33. @Anon
    Trump did right, Only the Syrian (and Russian) airforces had the capabilty to bomb from the sky with chemical weapons. In a war, that is enough evidence. We are not talking about the policehere. Attack without warning is going to earn the US some serious respect. Trump needs 2 or 3 more of these and things-China next? will go America's way much more often.

    Russia has been in Syria two years. i supported the intervention as the fastest way to end the war. I have been disappointed. Actually, it has made things worse by prolonging the life of a crippled regime. Russia's impact has been modest. It has held off the defeat of the Syrian government and recovered lost parts of Aleppo. That's it. The opposition clearlyl has real support. It did not collapse in any way. Russian led talks post Aleppo failed to produce peace and Turkey is facing down Russia again.

    Only the Syrian (and Russian) airforces had the capabilty to bomb from the sky with chemical weapons

    And the Turks, Saudis, Israelis, Americans, and, let’s see, who else has been bombing Syria?

    But even that misses the point. Where is the proof the chemical weapons were dropped from the sky? Even if the release occurred at the same time as the bombings, it does not rule out (1) Syria’s claim that they hit a jihadist chemical depot and gas was accidentally released, and (2) someone on the ground time a release of gas to coincide with the bombing to blame Assad. Show us the proof, Mr. Omniscient!

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  34. “Here he claims that Trump had no choice but to launch”

    Yes, if he wanted to survive the domestic political storm that was making it impossible to govern. Never before has an incoming President been so overtly as well as covertly attacked and undermined, to the extent of accusing him of treason by the Deep State with corporate mass media volunteering propaganda services.

    Obama infamously explained that he didn’t attempt to fulfill his promises because “it would have pissed off too many powerful people.” Disgruntled by the failure to offer any hope for change, a large slice of the electorate opted for an outsider who said he would make the necessary chnges. Here was a President who really did “piss off too many powerful people.”

    With Obama, they did it the easy way. With Trump, the hard way has produced the same outcome. We now know by whom we are ruled, and it is not by ourselves.

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  35. @Backwoods Bob
    Well, that sure was convincing.

    I've never seen such a compelling case for war. Reminds me of when the British set the white house on fire in 1814. Fort Sumter, 1861. Lexington Green, 1775.

    I didn't think Trump would be this reckless.

    It was an ancestor of the Cockburns that burned down the White House and next to his father, Claude, he was Alex’s favorite ancestor and I suspect that of Patrick, as well.

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  36. @Thirdeye
    This factually thin, weak article has cost Cockburn a lot of my respect. The evidence, including the staged White Helmets scenes, does not point to a sarin attack. The plan for an airstrike on a weapons warehouse was reported to the US under the flight deconfliction agreement, and monitored on US radar. The bomb delivered by the Su-22 attack aircraft was not of a type that would have been used for a sarin payload. All of that information was available to Chump had he sought it. Photographic evidence of the victims indicates that they were killed by an asphyxiant, which could be either incidentally released in the warehouse attack, or deliberately administered to residents of villages that Al Qaeda were known to have kidnapped by force as they were retreating. Sarin is not an asphyxiant. There were reports of a smelly yellow cloud after the bombing. Sarin is colorless and odorless. Victims were evidently photographed in a quarry southwest of Khan Sheikhoun, but not in any homes near the airstrike. There is speculation that the quarry victims were executed with cyanide gas in enclosed spaces. All of this information was easy to find for anyone looking beyond the press releases; Cockburn evidently didn't bother.

    The the missile strike had a mission completion rate a hair under 40% (!). Either something went horribly wrong in the USN's execution or they encountered something that mucked up their guidance systems. Either way, it's a cold shower for anyone planning US ops against Syria. The main result of the missile strike is Russia upgrading their air defense in the region, bringing in more aircraft, and renouncing the deconfliction agreement. If there is to be a no-fly zone it will be one enforced by Russia on Russia's terms. Those results can hardly be called a foreign policy "success" as Cockburn has done.

    Now that the US and Al Qaeda have shown simultaneous bad faith, there is no disincentive for the pro-Syria alliance to wage unlimited war to wipe out Al Qaeda in Idlib under beefed-up Russian air power. And what they find when they overrun Khan Sheikhoun is likely to be highly embarrassing to the western warmongers.

    I admit to viewing “expert” opinion about such subjects with some skepticism when submitted by people who are afraid to provide their name (unless, of course, they agree with me. :) But, I am curious where the writer, in this instance, has obtained his information and assumes it is waiting out there for any journalist to seize upon.

    I also wonder how many of those participating in this exercise, including ThirdEye, have ever spent any time in the Middle East.

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  37. @El Dato
    But like the "chemical attack" made using a stash the Syria doesn't have (and if the US suddenly knows where the stash is, how come no-one raised the issue a bit earlier?), the "russian scandal" is a 100% media / derp state construction.

    the “russian scandal” is a 100% media / derp state construction

    Everything is 100% media/deep state construction; perception is reality.

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  38. @Talha
    If the ME nations were smarter, they would get these chemical weapons completely out of their hands and have a complete inspection by the international agency. They seem only to be a complete liability. If they are used then it's usually on your own people. And even if the people who sold them to you from the West actually approved of the use a decade ago, they'll use the evidence against you when the time is right for their own political purposes to oust you or set you up.

    Completely useless; it's like a drug dealer who sells you drugs and then rats you out to the cops so he can steal your girlfriend or something.

    Peace.

    If the ME nations were smarter, they would get these chemical weapons completely out of their hands and have a complete inspection by the international agency.

    Ha-ha, quelle naivete. Syria did just that, just a few years ago, and yet here we are…

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    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey Mao,

    I know Assad declared he had no weapons - but did he actually have international inspectors verify and confirm this?

    And I know this is a tricky thing, because sometimes CIA and other agencies infiltrate those teams, but it still seems to be worth it because just the idea of having them seems to be a major target placed on one's back.

    Peace.
  39. @Virgile
    All is good for Trump now? I disagree, this was just a quick diversion to show that he is bold and that he does not care about displeasing the Russians. Everybody including Hillary Clinton applauded. He lost many supporters with that.
    Yet his oponnents won't leave him off the hook. The difference is that now he has one more powerful enemy who wants a revenge for the humiliation: Putin
    If he decides to, Putin may easily play a key key role in triggering Trump's impeachment. He simply leaks information that confirms the collusion between him and Trump. The MSM will do the rest throwing the USA in the worst political crisis since Watergate. Trump is at Putin's mercy now.
    Therefore Tillerson will get the hint next week. If Trump wants to continue on the pass of ignoring and humiliating Russia to boost his own position, then Putin will make sure that Trump won't have any position to boost anymore.
    I expect either a quiet U-turn of Trump on Syria or the beginning of his fall.
    Trump played a dirty trick on Putin, he will pay.

    This is an interesting point I hadn’t considered. The problem, of course, is that Trump’s replacement, were he to be impeached, would be much worse. The only hope would be for an early election, but my understanding is that is not prescribed in the constitution. As it is, Trump lost a good deal of support from the margins that got him elected, while probably not getting much besides a temporary show of approval from his political enemies in return.

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  40. The premise of this piece assumes facts not in evidence, that is, the truth of the raghead story of events, an absurdity in light of their record of repeated previous such incidents such as the one at Ghouti in August 2013 eventually proven to have been committed by the jihadis themselves. The US record of multiple war crimes in middle eastern countries, meanwhile, eliminates any legitimacy of any rationale for an additional war crime, which this attack was. Trump was pushed over the top by those such as myself who realized the Clintons were corrupt war mongers who were threats to our continued survival. With this attack, Trump has done a 180 on his campaign positions and revealed that the deep state and its war mongering are more powerful than any single man. The propagandistic nature of the lamestream media in practically every western country is reminiscent of the Nazi era in Germany where different emphases were permitted, but the regime’s propaganda line was stuck to. How Russia is handled by the commercial yankee, British, Canadian, German, and French press bears this fact out. Cockburn, to keep working for the UK Independent, probably has to self-censor and write some of this drivel to allow him to continue to provide a measure of truthful reporting, thus his view that this war crime doesn’t mean that much to what will eventually happen. He would rather not share responsibility for another failed state controlled by barbaric elements, which is the logical end result of the policies he espouses here.

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  41. @LG
    An american incursion into Syria would be a terrible idea and the USA would not win. Unz is wrong to treat an American invasion as a cake walk.

    The slow illegal invasion of Syria by the US has been a fact for a considerable time. Kurds have been trained and armed and have become willing proxies in the NE. They are however fighting to keep out other terrorist groups, again trained, funded and armed by the US and it’s Arab “allies”, Saudi Arabia (remember 9/11), Kuwait, Qatar etc. The latter forces have brought about the destruction of much of the infrastructure in Syria while committing atrocities to cause fear among the Syrians.

    These Wahabbi terrorists (our allies) have decimated religious minorities, raped women, made them sex slaves when not fighting the State forces. Al Assad is the ONLY hope for the people doing his best to protect them from the mainly foreign terrorists let loose in the country to further the US aim of regime change. The Syrian Army consisting mainly of Sunnis, did NOT lay down and die as widely expected.

    Do not forget the US attack on the Syrian Army in Deir Az Zohr in open support of the ISIS terrorists till the Russian warned them off. The US has a policy of shoot first and question later if at all. That was what we saw yesterday. There is NO rhyme or reason for Assad to use chemical weapons, when he is clearly in the driving seat, thus clearing the way to take over the North East of the country which the US has been eyeing for military bases and an oil/gas pipeline.
    As Trump said US interests are at stake here. He, nor the Pentagon gives a damn about the Syrians.

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  42. @Anon
    "If they conclude that Assad was indeed behind the chemical attack – something they currently deny – then they will be infuriated that he has risked so much for so little."

    Is it possible that one of Assad's commanders did this without Assad's approval?

    If Assad ordered this, he should be called Ass-hat.

    If Assad did this, it is vile indeed.

    But suppose it comes out that he didn't do it, and something else happened.

    Will the US apologize and pay reparations for the damage?

    Btw, even if Assad did use chemical weapons, the US response is BS.

    After all, US and Israel used white phosphorous in Iraq and Gaza.
    IDF killed 1000 kids in Gaza. Israel still holds Golan Heights stolen from Syria. And yet, US said NOTHING about that.

    Also, the real outrage about Syria should be that US allies -- Saudis, Qatar, and Turkey -- gave aid and support to all sorts of risible terrorist elements in Syria who escalated the war to biblical proportions, thus leading to deaths of 100,000s and millions of refugees.

    And yet, the US never condemned its sick allies.

    Also, US sanctions killed 100,000s of kids in Iraq. Who made the US the moral preacher of the world?

    Q: Is it possible that one of Assad’s commanders did this without Assad’s approval?
    A: nope. The theatrics occurred in rebel held territory. Govt forces can’t get into this region.
    There were no chemicals. If it was sarin the “responders” would be dead too.
    It’s just movie- fake acting. After all the “white helmets” did win an oscar!

    Read More
  43. @Thirdeye
    This factually thin, weak article has cost Cockburn a lot of my respect. The evidence, including the staged White Helmets scenes, does not point to a sarin attack. The plan for an airstrike on a weapons warehouse was reported to the US under the flight deconfliction agreement, and monitored on US radar. The bomb delivered by the Su-22 attack aircraft was not of a type that would have been used for a sarin payload. All of that information was available to Chump had he sought it. Photographic evidence of the victims indicates that they were killed by an asphyxiant, which could be either incidentally released in the warehouse attack, or deliberately administered to residents of villages that Al Qaeda were known to have kidnapped by force as they were retreating. Sarin is not an asphyxiant. There were reports of a smelly yellow cloud after the bombing. Sarin is colorless and odorless. Victims were evidently photographed in a quarry southwest of Khan Sheikhoun, but not in any homes near the airstrike. There is speculation that the quarry victims were executed with cyanide gas in enclosed spaces. All of this information was easy to find for anyone looking beyond the press releases; Cockburn evidently didn't bother.

    The the missile strike had a mission completion rate a hair under 40% (!). Either something went horribly wrong in the USN's execution or they encountered something that mucked up their guidance systems. Either way, it's a cold shower for anyone planning US ops against Syria. The main result of the missile strike is Russia upgrading their air defense in the region, bringing in more aircraft, and renouncing the deconfliction agreement. If there is to be a no-fly zone it will be one enforced by Russia on Russia's terms. Those results can hardly be called a foreign policy "success" as Cockburn has done.

    Now that the US and Al Qaeda have shown simultaneous bad faith, there is no disincentive for the pro-Syria alliance to wage unlimited war to wipe out Al Qaeda in Idlib under beefed-up Russian air power. And what they find when they overrun Khan Sheikhoun is likely to be highly embarrassing to the western warmongers.

    @randall
    You nailed it buddy.
    One other point to those who say Assard did this. It occurred in rebel held territory.
    Syrian army or Assard people can’t get into this area.
    And the rebels have not allowed verification by independent agents.
    It’s a Gulf of Tonkin, or worse, false flag.

    Read More
  44. https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/08/trumps-59-tomahawk-tweet/

    references

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/04/donald-trump-is-an-international-law-breaker.html

    and says:

    – The Russians briefed the United States on the proposed [Syrian Air Force] target in Idlib. There is a dedicated phone line that is being used to coordinate and de-conflict on any upcoming operation (i.e. prevent U.S. and Russian air assets from shooting at each other).

    – The United States was fully briefed on the fact that there was a target in Idlib that the Russians believed was a weapons/explosives depot for Islamic rebels.

    – The Syrian Air Force hit the target with conventional weapons. All involved expected to see a massive secondary explosion. That did not happen. Instead, smoke – chemical smoke – began billowing from the site. It turns out that the Jihadist rebels used that site to store chemicals (not sarin) that were deadly. The chemicals included organic phosphates and chlorine and they followed the wind, and killed civilians.

    – There was a strong wind blowing that day and the cloud was driven to a nearby village and caused casualties.

    – We know it was not sarin. How? Very simple. The so-called “first responders” handled the victims without gloves. If this had been sarin they would have died. Sarin on the skin will kill you.

    Read More
  45. @Mao Cheng Ji

    If the ME nations were smarter, they would get these chemical weapons completely out of their hands and have a complete inspection by the international agency.
     
    Ha-ha, quelle naivete. Syria did just that, just a few years ago, and yet here we are...

    Hey Mao,

    I know Assad declared he had no weapons – but did he actually have international inspectors verify and confirm this?

    And I know this is a tricky thing, because sometimes CIA and other agencies infiltrate those teams, but it still seems to be worth it because just the idea of having them seems to be a major target placed on one’s back.

    Peace.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destruction_of_Syria%27s_chemical_weapons

    The destruction of Syria's chemical weapons began on the basis of several international agreements with Syria that stipulated an initial destruction deadline of 30 June 2014. The UN Security Council Resolution 2118 of 27 September 2013 required Syria to assume responsibility for and follow a timeline for the destruction of its chemical weapons and its chemical weapon production facilities. The Security Council resolution bound Syria to the implementation plan presented in a decision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). On 23 June 2014, the last declared chemical weapons were shipped out of Syria for destruction.
     
    " just the idea of having them seems to be a major target placed on one’s back"

    No. No causation or even correlation. Those who refuse to submit to the western domination are targeted.
  46. @Talha
    Hey Mao,

    I know Assad declared he had no weapons - but did he actually have international inspectors verify and confirm this?

    And I know this is a tricky thing, because sometimes CIA and other agencies infiltrate those teams, but it still seems to be worth it because just the idea of having them seems to be a major target placed on one's back.

    Peace.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destruction_of_Syria%27s_chemical_weapons

    The destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons began on the basis of several international agreements with Syria that stipulated an initial destruction deadline of 30 June 2014. The UN Security Council Resolution 2118 of 27 September 2013 required Syria to assume responsibility for and follow a timeline for the destruction of its chemical weapons and its chemical weapon production facilities. The Security Council resolution bound Syria to the implementation plan presented in a decision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). On 23 June 2014, the last declared chemical weapons were shipped out of Syria for destruction.

    ” just the idea of having them seems to be a major target placed on one’s back”

    No. No causation or even correlation. Those who refuse to submit to the western domination are targeted.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey Mao,

    Those who refuse to submit to the western domination are targeted.
     
    Agreed, but you are missing my point. When the Western nations attack, do these countries ever use them? No.

    It's just useless to have them, they allow imperialists excuses that make their aggression more palatable in the wider public. The current situation is Evidence A.

    Also, were their facilities officially completely certified after they shipped the stuff out?

    Your wiki source also says this:
    "A late disclosure in 2014 regarding Syria's ricin program raised doubts about completeness of the government's declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile,[21][22] and in early May 2015, OPCW announced that inspectors had found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at a military research site in Syria that had not been declared previously by the Assad regime.[23]"

    Peace.

  47. @Mao Cheng Ji
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destruction_of_Syria%27s_chemical_weapons

    The destruction of Syria's chemical weapons began on the basis of several international agreements with Syria that stipulated an initial destruction deadline of 30 June 2014. The UN Security Council Resolution 2118 of 27 September 2013 required Syria to assume responsibility for and follow a timeline for the destruction of its chemical weapons and its chemical weapon production facilities. The Security Council resolution bound Syria to the implementation plan presented in a decision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). On 23 June 2014, the last declared chemical weapons were shipped out of Syria for destruction.
     
    " just the idea of having them seems to be a major target placed on one’s back"

    No. No causation or even correlation. Those who refuse to submit to the western domination are targeted.

    Hey Mao,

    Those who refuse to submit to the western domination are targeted.

    Agreed, but you are missing my point. When the Western nations attack, do these countries ever use them? No.

    It’s just useless to have them, they allow imperialists excuses that make their aggression more palatable in the wider public. The current situation is Evidence A.

    Also, were their facilities officially completely certified after they shipped the stuff out?

    Your wiki source also says this:
    “A late disclosure in 2014 regarding Syria’s ricin program raised doubts about completeness of the government’s declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile,[21][22] and in early May 2015, OPCW announced that inspectors had found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at a military research site in Syria that had not been declared previously by the Assad regime.[23]”

    Peace.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji

    raised doubts about completeness of the government’s declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile
     
    Well, that was the official UN plan: "The Security Council resolution bound Syria to the implementation plan presented in a decision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)". With inspections and all. That's how it's done. You can't dig up every square meter of a country, so there's always a possibility for doubts and speculations. Someone had doubts, but OPCW had no comments.

    Anyway, the article has links: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Sep-19/271276-syria-had-ricin-program-opcw-document.ashx?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter#axzz3Dngpo7W5

    , @Randal

    When the Western nations attack, do these countries ever use them? No.

    It’s just useless to have them
     
    Reminiscent of Ahmadinejad's explanation of why Iran doesn't need or want nuclear weapons.

    I've never been a fan of nuclear unilateralism, spent a lot of my younger years arguing against CND in fact, but his (in translation) was the best articulated argument against their utility I've read (and I certainly include Bertrand Russell's in that).
  48. @Talha
    Hey Mao,

    Those who refuse to submit to the western domination are targeted.
     
    Agreed, but you are missing my point. When the Western nations attack, do these countries ever use them? No.

    It's just useless to have them, they allow imperialists excuses that make their aggression more palatable in the wider public. The current situation is Evidence A.

    Also, were their facilities officially completely certified after they shipped the stuff out?

    Your wiki source also says this:
    "A late disclosure in 2014 regarding Syria's ricin program raised doubts about completeness of the government's declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile,[21][22] and in early May 2015, OPCW announced that inspectors had found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at a military research site in Syria that had not been declared previously by the Assad regime.[23]"

    Peace.

    raised doubts about completeness of the government’s declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile

    Well, that was the official UN plan: “The Security Council resolution bound Syria to the implementation plan presented in a decision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)”. With inspections and all. That’s how it’s done. You can’t dig up every square meter of a country, so there’s always a possibility for doubts and speculations. Someone had doubts, but OPCW had no comments.

    Anyway, the article has links: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Sep-19/271276-syria-had-ricin-program-opcw-document.ashx?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter#axzz3Dngpo7W5

    Read More
    • Replies: @Talha
    Hey Mao,

    Look bro, I hear you - it was the same game played with Saddam and Qaddafi. That's a given. That's one of the reasons I think it's just inane to even start these WMD projects.

    I mean beyond the reprehensible immoral aspects about it.

    Peace.
  49. @Mao Cheng Ji

    raised doubts about completeness of the government’s declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile
     
    Well, that was the official UN plan: "The Security Council resolution bound Syria to the implementation plan presented in a decision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)". With inspections and all. That's how it's done. You can't dig up every square meter of a country, so there's always a possibility for doubts and speculations. Someone had doubts, but OPCW had no comments.

    Anyway, the article has links: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Sep-19/271276-syria-had-ricin-program-opcw-document.ashx?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter#axzz3Dngpo7W5

    Hey Mao,

    Look bro, I hear you – it was the same game played with Saddam and Qaddafi. That’s a given. That’s one of the reasons I think it’s just inane to even start these WMD projects.

    I mean beyond the reprehensible immoral aspects about it.

    Peace.

    Read More
  50. @LG
    An american incursion into Syria would be a terrible idea and the USA would not win. Unz is wrong to treat an American invasion as a cake walk.

    1) Unz didn’t write the article.

    2) No one said that an American invasion would be a cakewalk.

    3) If the US entered the war, it would win.

    Read More
    • Replies: @El Dato

    1) Unz didn’t write the article.

    2) No one said that an American invasion would be a cakewalk.

    3) If the US entered the war, it would win.

     

    Yes
    Yes
    LOLNO

    As no-one knows what "winning" even means in this context (only pictures of dead babies by Hellfire missiles, maybe?), the US would declare victory and leave, letting ethnic cleansing continue unabated under a news blackout.
  51. @Anon
    "If they conclude that Assad was indeed behind the chemical attack – something they currently deny – then they will be infuriated that he has risked so much for so little."

    Is it possible that one of Assad's commanders did this without Assad's approval?

    If Assad ordered this, he should be called Ass-hat.

    If Assad did this, it is vile indeed.

    But suppose it comes out that he didn't do it, and something else happened.

    Will the US apologize and pay reparations for the damage?

    Btw, even if Assad did use chemical weapons, the US response is BS.

    After all, US and Israel used white phosphorous in Iraq and Gaza.
    IDF killed 1000 kids in Gaza. Israel still holds Golan Heights stolen from Syria. And yet, US said NOTHING about that.

    Also, the real outrage about Syria should be that US allies -- Saudis, Qatar, and Turkey -- gave aid and support to all sorts of risible terrorist elements in Syria who escalated the war to biblical proportions, thus leading to deaths of 100,000s and millions of refugees.

    And yet, the US never condemned its sick allies.

    Also, US sanctions killed 100,000s of kids in Iraq. Who made the US the moral preacher of the world?

    I’ve seen a number of terrible pictures and video of dead and suffering children over the last few days, but for some reason the US media could never be bothered to show same of all the Iraqi ones blown to pieces during both Bush wars. If I didn’t know better I might wonder if perhaps the media have an agenda.

    Read More
  52. @Sampa
    Once upon a time I used to respect Cockburn as one of the few journalists who understood the ME and could look at an issue from both sides. Recently, however, his work seems to be much more one-sided and more in line with the MSM groupthink policies.

    Here he claims that Trump had no choice but to launch his Tomahawks against government targets in response to a supposed chemical attack that has all the hallmarks of another DAESH/ISIL/SOHR/White Helmets co-production. No need for evidence, no need for proof, just launch the missiles.

    Cockburn doesn't even attempt to look at the Syrian side, or even seriously entertain the idea that the government might not have had anything to do with it. For a journalist of his former stature this is a truly pathetic capitulation, and drops his credibility to the level of most of his colleagues at the Independent.

    You mean the “generals are stupid” argument didn’t convince you.

    Trust me, when every person on FOX news, regardless of political persuasion, says that Assad gassed children, you can be sure it’s the truth.

    Sean Hannity and Charles Krauthammer both announced triumphantly that “America is back.” And Krauthammer gleefully noted that “…after 8 years of Obama, there’s now a sheriff in town.”

    I really had no idea that firing off five dozen flying bombs to a place we shouldn’t give two craps about was all it would take to bring America back.

    Read More
    • Replies: @El Dato
    BABA-TOM: "Bring America Back Again by Tomahawk

    As a pink hat, please.
  53. @Wally
    Complete crap.

    There is no proof that Syria used chemical weapons. None.

    And of course Cockburn citing the Israel military gave his game away.

    'Join the US army, Fight for Israel
    http://68.media.tumblr.com/639563970a638b606f4adb0ef05c778b/tumblr_inline_o7t4eewwJn1r75mb5_500.jpg

    Sure, there is proof. I saw a graphic that the Defense Department released to FOX news that proves it. Mind you, it would take me a whole hour to replicate the document of proof in one of my vector programs, but I doubt the US government would ever lie about such things. It’s not like they’ve done that in the past, more often than not.

    Read More
  54. @Jensen McWallaby
    1) Unz didn't write the article.

    2) No one said that an American invasion would be a cakewalk.

    3) If the US entered the war, it would win.

    1) Unz didn’t write the article.

    2) No one said that an American invasion would be a cakewalk.

    3) If the US entered the war, it would win.

    Yes
    Yes
    LOLNO

    As no-one knows what “winning” even means in this context (only pictures of dead babies by Hellfire missiles, maybe?), the US would declare victory and leave, letting ethnic cleansing continue unabated under a news blackout.

    Read More
  55. @Jensen McWallaby
    You mean the "generals are stupid" argument didn't convince you.

    Trust me, when every person on FOX news, regardless of political persuasion, says that Assad gassed children, you can be sure it's the truth.

    Sean Hannity and Charles Krauthammer both announced triumphantly that "America is back." And Krauthammer gleefully noted that "...after 8 years of Obama, there's now a sheriff in town."

    I really had no idea that firing off five dozen flying bombs to a place we shouldn't give two craps about was all it would take to bring America back.

    BABA-TOM: “Bring America Back Again by Tomahawk

    As a pink hat, please.

    Read More
  56. @Talha
    Hey Mao,

    Those who refuse to submit to the western domination are targeted.
     
    Agreed, but you are missing my point. When the Western nations attack, do these countries ever use them? No.

    It's just useless to have them, they allow imperialists excuses that make their aggression more palatable in the wider public. The current situation is Evidence A.

    Also, were their facilities officially completely certified after they shipped the stuff out?

    Your wiki source also says this:
    "A late disclosure in 2014 regarding Syria's ricin program raised doubts about completeness of the government's declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile,[21][22] and in early May 2015, OPCW announced that inspectors had found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at a military research site in Syria that had not been declared previously by the Assad regime.[23]"

    Peace.

    When the Western nations attack, do these countries ever use them? No.

    It’s just useless to have them

    Reminiscent of Ahmadinejad’s explanation of why Iran doesn’t need or want nuclear weapons.

    I’ve never been a fan of nuclear unilateralism, spent a lot of my younger years arguing against CND in fact, but his (in translation) was the best articulated argument against their utility I’ve read (and I certainly include Bertrand Russell’s in that).

    Read More
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