BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN WROTE A COLUMN FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES. JOHN MCCAIN HAS ANNOUNCED HE DISLIKED IT
THE WORLD WAS SURPRISED.
WHO KNEW JOHN MCCAIN COULD READ?
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
that Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes Russia's initiative to
ease the tensions (with regards to the US march to war on Syria) by
supervising any chemical weapons and putting them under international
At 9:00 pm EST yesterday, US President Barack Obama gave a nationally
broadcast speech begrudgingly acknowledging the Russian effort. From last night's speech (link is transcript with video option on the far right)
When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the
world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from
memory. But these things happened. The facts cannot be denied. The
question now is what the United States of America, and the international
community, is prepared to do about it. Because what happened to those
people -- to those children -- is not only a violation of international
law, it’s also a danger to our security.
Let me explain why. If we fail to act, the Assad regime
will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons. As the ban against
these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice
about acquiring poison gas, and using them. Over time, our troops would
again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield. And it
could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons,
and to use them to attack civilians.
First off, allegations are not "facts." As Revolution newspaper notes
"Whether the deaths were the result of chemical weapons and, if so,
whether the attack was launched by the Syrian government or by rebel
forces, has not been independently verified. U.S. Secretary of State
Kerry initially demanded that the Syrian government allow UN
investigators into the area, but then when the Syrian regime responded
that it would give inspectors unlimited access, Reuters reported that:
'[A] U.S. official said such an offer was "too late to be credible" and
Washington was all but certain that the government of President Bashar
al-Assad had gassed its own people'." Alex Lantier and Joe Kishore (WSWS) also note
Barack's 'facts' were assertions, "Without providing a scintilla of probative evidence, Obama repeated
claims that the Syrian government of Bashar Al-Assad was responsible for
a chemical weapons attack on August 21. Obama tried to bolster this
assertion with various unsubstantiated assertions, combined with lurid
images of the victims of the attack."
Lurid images from YouTube videos. As a US Senator was explaining to me
of Senator Dianne Feinstein's idiotic support of war on Syria, Dianne's
seeing YouTube videos, these are sparkly, new things to her. This is
the woman who, after all, was born three years before Charlie Chaplin
made his silent film masterpiece Modern Times
, she was born the year silent film star (and producer, director and writer) Mary Pickford
announced her film retirement. Talkies, color pictures, black and white
TVs, color TV productions, satellite TV, now streaming, it's all been
such a long and crazy trip for Dianne who, at 80-years-old, is the
oldest member of the US Senate. Could whomever cuts her food for her
show her the door to gracefully leave the Senate or are we next to see
her with drool on her face during Senate hearings? Or, worse, someone
has to explain to her that "40 Days of Dating" is staged. ("But I saw
it on the computer thing!" Dianne insists.)
Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) points out
the larger problems with Barack and Secretary of State John Kerry's 'intell':
Evidence of sketchy claims and lack of support for them came very
early on in the propaganda process. The president and secretary of state
made their initial appeal by claiming there would be no “boots on the
ground.” The horrendously Orwellian phrase was meant to give them cover
from criticism and get hesitant congress members on board. But when
asked at a Senate hearing,
Kerry hedged. “ I don't want to take off the table an option that might
or might not be available to a president of the United States to secure
our country.” The so-called gaffes
were constant. When a reporter asked if the United States would be
amenable to forsaking an attack if Assad gave up weapons, Kerry
initially said it would be acceptable.
“Sure, if he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons
to the international community, in the next week, turn it over. All of
it, without delay and allow a full and total accounting for that, but he
isn't about to do it, and it can't be done, obviously.”
The White House and State Department back pedaled furiously from
Kerry’s comment. His own spokesperson said that the secretary “was not
making a proposal." The evil doers had exposed themselves as the
aggressors that they are. They admitted to the world community that the
stated reason for going to war is a sham and that there is nothing Assad
can do to call off the dogs. Even if a diplomatic process begins, the
United States and the other NATO nations will try something else to
bring about the regime change that they claim not to want in Syria.
On the subject of the information and intelligence
The Institute for the Study of War has learned and confirmed that, contrary
to her representations, Ms. Elizabeth O'Bagy does not in fact have a
Ph.D. degree from Georgetown University. ISW has accordingly terminated
Ms. O'Bagy's employment, effective immediately.
Who is she? Leslie Larson (New York Daily News) explains
who and how she figures into the Syrian debate, "A Syria expert at a U.S. think tank, whose research was cited by both
Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. John McCain during Senate
testimony, has been fired for lying about having a Ph.D." Greg Myer (NPR) explains
her conflicts were more than lying about a degree, "In an interview on Fox News
and in other appearances, she came under criticism
for serving as a both an independent analyst at her institute and for
working on a contractual basis with an advocacy group that supports the
Syrian opposition, the Syrian Emergency Task Force. That group
subcontracts with the U.S. and British governments to provide aid to the
Poor John Kerry, he really has become the joke of the administration.
Along with offering 'facts' that were not facts, Barack also made an
illogical assertion. How do you claim that you have a right to break
international law in order to enforce international custom?
IPS analyst Phyllis Bennis
has repeatedly explained how the law works. We'll include her speaking to Peter Hart on FAIR's Counterspin two Fridays ago
Phyllis Bennis: Only if the [United Nations] Security Council votes
to endorse the use of force is the use of force legal. No other agency,
institution, organization has that right. So the Kosovo precedent that
you refer to and that unfortunately this is being talked about in the
press. It's being asserted that if the Security Council doesn't agree,
there are other options. Yeah, there are other options. The problem is
they're all illegal. The Kosovo model was illegal. What the US did in
1999, when it wanted to bomb, to start an air war against Serbia over
Kosovo, realized it would not get support of the Security Council
because Russia had said it would veto. So instead of saying, 'Well okay
we don't have support of the Security Council, I guess we can't do it,'
they said, 'Okay, we won't go to the Security Council, we'll simply go
to the NATO High Command and ask their permission.' Well, what a
surprise, the NATO High Command said 'sure.' It's like the hammer and
the nail. If you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you're
NATO everything looks like it requires military intervention. The
problem is, under international law, the UN charter is the fundamental
component under international law that determines issues of war and
peace. And the charter doesn't say that the Security Council or NATO or
the President of the United States can all decide over the use of
force. The only agency that can legally approve the use of force is the
Security Council of the United Nations. Period. Full stop.
It's hypocritical to argue that international custom must be upheld . . . by breaking international law.
It makes no sense. Neither did today's US State Dept press briefings moderated by spokesperson Jen Psaki
QUESTION: Based on what the President said last night and what
the Secretary said yesterday afternoon, is it correct that the
Administration wants to first work with the Russians to get a deal on
securing the chemical weapons and taking care of them, and then take
that agreement and somehow enshrine it in a UN Security Council
resolution – a binding resolution, not a presidential statement – and
use that as the basis for going forward? Is that right?
MS. PSAKI: Well, you’re getting a little ahead of where we are in the process.
QUESTION: No, I know, but I’m asking about what your long –
what your hope and intention is, based on what the President and the
Secretary said yesterday.
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me start with Geneva as the first step,
since that, of course, is where the Secretary is heading. So as you all
know, over the last 48 hours I guess it is, the credible threat of U.S.
military action has created a diplomatic opportunity to remove the
threat of chemical weapons in Syria without the use of force. The
Secretary will be heading to Geneva, as I mentioned, later this evening
to meet with not only Foreign Minister Lavrov, but we will also be
bringing a team of experts to meet with their team of experts and
So our goal here is to hear from the Russians about the modalities of
their ideas that they have put forward, and to assess whether they will
meet our requirement for the final disposition of Assad’s chemical
weapons. In this stage of the process, our goal here is to test the
seriousness of this proposal, to talk about the specifics of how this
would get done, what are the mechanics of identifying, verifying,
securing, and ultimately destroying the chemical weapons. And this
requires, of course, a willingness from both sides. That’s what we’re
focused on here.
At the same time, I would look at this as parallel tracks, or there
are three tracks happening at once. One is that. The second is the UN
and their efforts that are going to be ongoing in New York. We will not
be – the Secretary will not be negotiating or discussing a UN Security
Council resolution as part of the next couple of days. That is not our
goal here. Those efforts and that work will be done in New York. And
then, of course, there is the efforts that we’ve had underway with
Congress. And there’s no question, and it doesn’t come as a surprise –
in fact, we welcome it, as the President said last night – that they
would take into account the events of the last couple of days.
QUESTION: I understand. But are you – are – is it your desire,
is it the Administration’s desire, to see any potential, acceptable
agreement with Russia on the weapons – is it your desire to have that as
part of or at least referenced in a Security – a binding Security
MS. PSAKI: We do – we are working towards, of course, a binding UN Security Council resolution.
QUESTION: That would include – that would be the enforcement
mechanism for the agreement with the – because an agreement just between
Russia and Syria on this is not going to be good enough for you, is it?
I mean --
MS. PSAKI: There’s no question that there has to be an
international community engagement here and role. What that is and the
form it takes, we’re not quite there yet. But when I say credibility and
verifiability, that’s all related to what the outcome would be.
QUESTION: So it is – is it – so is it correct or not that you
want to see this – if some kind of acceptable agreement can be reached
with the Russians, that you would like to see that as part of a UN
MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to litigate what could or couldn’t be in a UN resolution.
QUESTION: All right.
MS. PSAKI: Obviously, we’re pursuing that.
QUESTION: Then let’s leave --
MS. PSAKI: We’re focused on day-by-day here.
QUESTION: Then let’s leave that out of it for a second --
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: -- and just talk about the UN resolution.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: What do you want this resolution to have in it?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more to tell you about what we would like to see --
QUESTION: But do you – all right. But you do want a resolution?
MS. PSAKI: Yes. That’s what we’re pushing for, absolutely.
QUESTION: Yes. Why do you want – why is it – I guess I’m
asking – this is a major and significant change from last week and from
even on Monday, because the Russians have still said that they don’t
want a resolution. And on Friday, your Ambassador to the UN said it
would be – what did she say – “It is naive to think that Russia is on
the verge of changing its position and allowing the UN Security Council
to assume its rightful role as the enforcer of international peace and
security. In short, the Security Council the world needs to deal with
this urgent crisis is not the Security Council we have.” Now that was
Samantha Power on Friday, not John Bolton in 2003, and frankly it makes
her – she kind of sounded more – makes him sound kind of moderate, those
lines. Why is it that you now think that the Russians, even after
Lavrov and Putin said they don’t want a resolution, will go for one?
MS. PSAKI: Well --
QUESTION: And this is when Lavrov and Putin said this
yesterday, after the whole – their whole thing about getting a deal with
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I can’t obviously predict what the
Russians will or will not – I understand – I saw their comments
yesterday. Let me take the first part first, the reference to the
speech. There’s no question that in the last 36 hours events have
changed. And leadership is having the flexibility to seize opportunities
when there’s potential for them. We’re not naive about the challenges.
We don’t think this will be easy. But that’s why we’re going to Geneva,
and these events of the last 36 hours happened post the speeches that
QUESTION: I understand. Okay.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: But the problem here – and maybe you don’t – maybe
I’m misunderstanding what the Russian position is – the Russians have
said that they’re willing to push the Syrians for a deal on the chemical
– on their chemical weapons --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- an agreement on that. They have not said that
they’re willing to have this go to the UN or they’re willing even to
have a UN Security Council resolution.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Your Ambassador to the UN and the National Security
Advisor, the former UN ambassador, have both said, essentially, it’s a
waste of time at the – the President said that, essentially. So I don’t
get why it is now even – I don’t get why it is now that you think that
such an endeavor would be productive.
MS. PSAKI: Well, a couple of things. One is a lot of those
comments from our Ambassador to the UN and Susan Rice and the President
came before the last two days. I understand you’re also referring to the
comments of the Russians.
MS. PSAKI: I can’t predict what they’ll be willing to support.
But what has changed is that on Monday, when Foreign Minister Lavrov
came out and made his statement, that was a more serious statement that
showed a greater willingness to engage on this than we had seen in the
QUESTION: But his statement said nothing about the UN.
MS. PSAKI: That’s correct.
QUESTION: Or any kind of an enforcement mechanism, right?
MS. PSAKI: That’s correct. And those negotiations and
discussions will happen at the UN with appropriate UN counterparts. But
there’s no question that was a positive step and an indication of more
of an openness than what we had even 72 hours ago.
QUESTION: All right. Well, assuming that the UN Ambassador and
the former – the current National Security Advisor, former UN
Ambassador speak for the Administration, is it still the
Administration’s view that it was – it is naive to think that the
Russians are on the verge of changing their minds in the Security
Council, and that then it’s not realistic – the first was Power, this is
Rice – it’s not realistic that it’s going to happen?
MS. PSAKI: Well I --
QUESTION: Is that still the position of the Administration?
MS. PSAKI: I read and watched both of their speeches.
QUESTION: Right. But is that still the position of the Administration --
MS. PSAKI: Matt, the --
QUESTION: -- given the fact that the Russians have not said
anything or made any sign that they’re willing to allow the Security
MS. PSAKI: You are correct, and I’m not implying that they
have. But things have changed in the last 36 hours. We’re working
towards a goal here of working with them. I can’t predict what will or
won’t come out of the UN Security Council. I know they have a meeting
later this afternoon. And beyond that, everyone in the Administration
who gave those speeches are all working towards the same effort.
QUESTION: Okay. But I can – I’m a big fan of the Emerson line
that “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” but I –
aren’t you, by going back to the UN, guilty of the naivete that
Ambassador Power discussed on Friday?
MS. PSAKI: Well --
QUESTION: I don’t see how what the Russians have said changes
anything at the UN, and I don’t see how it can be acceptable for you for
there just to some kind of a buddy-buddy agreement between Putin and
Assad on the chemical weapons if there’s no enforcement, as --
MS. PSAKI: I just said we’re fully supportive of and pushing for a resolution. What I’m --
QUESTION: I know. But why isn’t that – why doesn’t that make --
MS. PSAKI: Let me just finish.
QUESTION: All right.
MS. PSAKI: What I’m also conveying is that we don’t conduct
diplomacy and foreign policy with inflexibility, just to say the things
we said last week, when events on the ground change and when a greater
opportunity presents itself.
QUESTION: So would you say that the Administration – despite
what Ambassador Power said on Friday about being naive, you would say
that it is not naive to think that Russia is now on the verge of
changing it? I mean, --
MS. PSAKI: Matt, we have --
QUESTION: -- either you are guilty of being naive, as she said on Friday, or you’re not.
MS. PSAKI: I simply don’t think it’s that simple.
QUESTION: All right.
Tom Hayden (Los Angeles Times) observes
The dominant mantra we heard from the president’s allies Tuesday was
that it was the credible threat of American military force that caused
Russia, Syria and Iran to agree to dismantle Assad's chemical weapons.
If that argument keeps us out of another war, it deserves some credit,
even if it's only partly true.
But it could also be said that it was the “credible threat” of
democracy -- a defeat of his war plan in Congress and in public opinion
polls -- that caused the Obama administration to back away from the
military brink and seek an honorable way out.
Let's note some reactions to the speech. Frank Rich (New York Magazine) offers
this on the speech, "He started with a call for military action, then veered into a prayer
for diplomacy before trailing off into an inchoate 'stay tuned'
denouement. I guess this proves that if you mate a hawk with a dove, you
end up with the rhetorical equivalent of turducken. I'd like to believe
there was some other aim, but what could it have been? A humanitarian
preemption of ABC’s The Bachelor
? This address should have been
put on hold by the White House the moment the attack was put on hold
because the urgency of the appeal for force had evaporated. Now, if the
Hail Putin Pass proves a Russian-Syrian bluff or some other form of
mirage, the president can't give the same speech again, minus the
diplomacy part. One prime-time strike to sell the country on air
strikes, and you're out." Truth-Out
posts a Real News Network (link is text and transcript) of a discussion
on the speech moderated by Jaisal Noor and featuring Rania Masri and
NOOR: So, Rania, let's start with you. As an
activist that's been speaking out against this possible intervention,
against U.S. involvement in Syria, what's your response to this speech?
Obama asked Congress to delay a possible vote authorizing intervention
MASRI: It really was what we had expected. I mean,
those of us who've been spending time at the Hill and following the
news, President Obama's speech was what we had expected. The
postponement was expected. And [incompr.] that he postponed it not only
because the Russians provided him with a really strong political way
out, a political possibility for chemical weapons deterrence in Syria,
but also because he simply didn't have the votes in Congress. Were this
to go to the House, it would have failed. It might even have failed in
NOOR: And, Chris, I want to pose that question to
you. It seems like within the past few weeks and days, this war has
become or this possible intervention in Syria has become increasingly
unpopular. At least that's how it's been reported in the press. What's
your response to his speech and the fact also that he had to delay this
vote in Congress?
HEDGES: Well, Rania is right. He didn't have the votes, so he had no choice.
But I think this is really symptomatic of an exhaustion on the part
of the American public after 12 years of war, 12 years in Afghanistan,
ten years in Iraq. They have seen this scenario before. The clips of
atrocities, the appealing to American exceptionalism, the high-blown
rhetoric of patriotism. Kerry even trotted out once again World War II,
calling this the Munich moment and referring to the graves, Normandy.
And none of it worked.
It didn't work because at this point people have been lied to so many
times. The excuses and propaganda that is pushed forth and has been
pushed forth year after year just fall flat. It doesn't work anymore.
And I think people understand that when you drop Tomahawk missiles, each
Tomahawk missile carries a 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bomb or 166
cluster bombs. And they're talking about dropping hundreds of them.
You know, this circular logic whereby we go in and kill
civilians--and Dempsey, the chief of staff, said there would be,
quote-unquote, collateral damage to stop the Assad stopping regime from
killing civilians, it just--it doesn't work anymore after Iraq and
Afghanistan. I think we're really seeing a kind of implosion of the myth
of war, which has sustained these imperial adventures. And I think
Obama just got cornered. You know, left, right, it didn't make any
difference. The [incompr.] sick of it.
And let's not forget that internally, we are, like all dying empires,
being hollowed out from the inside in terms of infrastructure. I live
near Philly, I live in Princeton. The school system is shattered with
closings and layoffs. Libraries are being shuttered. Head Start is being
cut back. Unemployment benefits are not being extended. You know, we've
reached a point of both physical and emotional exhaustion.
Libertarian Justin Raimondo (Antiwar.com) points out
We are told a Kerry gaffe, an impressive display of Putin’s diplomatic jiu-jitsu, and – most of all – the "credible threat"
of war led to what the Obamaites and their media cheerleaders are
hailing as a great victory for this administration. A look at the
timeline of events, however, effectively debunks the official narrative.
The key development here wasn’t Kerry’s fumble and the Russian interception but the announcement by majority leader Harry Reid that the Senate vote on the war resolution would be delayed: the War Party simply didn’t have the votes. What the administration discovered, to their horror, was that the more they made their case to the American people the less support
they had: every time Kerry opened his mouth, their poll numbers went
down a few points, and a few more members of Congress came out against
The World Can't Wait
Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) dissects
five claims from the speech:
1. “I possess the authority to order military strikes.”
No you don’t, Mr. President. Only Congress has the authority to
declare war, and ordering military strikes would be a clear act of war,
thus violating the Constitution. It would also violate the War Powers
Act, which says that the President can’t engage in hostilities without a
declaration of war or specific Congressional authorization unless there
is “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its
territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” And Syria has done no
The U.S. war threat against Syria has not ended. But the particular path
to war has required a shift because of resounding domestic and global
The U.S. Congress will now be asked to pass a
different resolution than the one originally supported by the White
House. The new resolution will be constructed to authorize Obama to
carry out military strikes if the U.S. government decides that Syria is
not in full compliance with a new UN resolution calling for its chemical
weapons stockpiles to be totally destroyed.
This was precisely
the scenario used by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney when they launched
the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Even though the Iraqi government
complied with UN weapons inspections demands and was actively disarming
its own military forces, Bush simply declared that Saddam Hussein was
not complying with UN resolutions and launched the U.S. war that toppled
In Syria, like with Iraq, Libya and Iran for the
past decades, the U.S. government goal of toppling independent,
nationalist governments uses an assortment of tactics, including
economic and financial sanctions, funding and arming internal domestic
opposition, providing international legitimacy and recognition to the
internal opposition, cyber attacks, and in some cases direct bombings
Fred Goldstein (Workers World) also views the speech as a charade
, "Many are hoping that this proposal will put the skids under the U.S. war
drive against Syria. But that would be a fatal error and a complete
misunderstanding of Washington, the Pentagon, the oil companies and the
military-industrial complex, which are behind the drive to overthrow the
independent, sovereign government of Syria." BBC News provides
this video reaction of various people in the Middle East to an attack on Syria. Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report -- link is text and audio) has a strong commentary
on the lies used to call for war on Syria.
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