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The Race for Iran

Why the Obama Administration Charges the Syrian government May Be Preparing to Use Chemical Weapons…and the “Benghazi Effect”

Commenting on Obama administration claims that the Syrian government appears to be making preparations to use chemical weapons in its fight against armed rebels, Hillary noted on Al Jazeera’s Inside Story Americas last week, see here, that

“we’ve been down this road before.  We went down this road in invading Iraq on the basis of so-called evidence, that was really manufactured, that Saddam Husayn had weapons of mass destruction—that he didn’t have.  We went in to disarm him of weapons he didn’t have.  And here nobody is asking the basic question:  How do we know that chemical weapons are being mixed or moved…

We, honestly, probably have no way of knowing.  This is not something you can get at by flying a drone over these fortified bunkers, or having your satellite take pictures over a fortified bunker.  These are things that go on inside a fortified bunker.  By definition, you need to have human intelligence to tell you what’s going on.  And since we closed our embassy and left Syria, we have very little ability to get that human intelligence.  There’s a really serious question here about whether this so-called evidence of [Syria] moving chemical weapons and preparing them, whether that has any basis in fact whatsoever.”

So why is the Obama administration leaking such reports so prolifically?  In Hillary’s view,

There are three basic reasonsOne is to gain leverage over Russia and China, and potentially Iran, so that they will not be as opposed to a plan to push [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad out or collapse the Assad governmentThe second is potentially to create a pretext, whether it’s by President Obama or by others in the administration or by our so-called allies, to take some [overtly] militaristic action to intervene in Syria.  And the third is to scare Assad and his loyaliststhat the military intervention is imminent, so you better get out of town fast

It’s not a real fear that Syria is going to give chemical weapons or somehow going to lose them to Hizballah—that’s what’s being played up, to play to peoples’ concerns that are unfounded; that if Hizballah got hold of these chemical weapons—which are not candy that can just be handed off or lost down the drain—that Hizballah would use them against our ally Israel.  That’s what they are playing to here in Washington among the foreign policy elite, but that’s not a real, founded fear.”

And for all that there may be some in the Obama administration, perhaps even President Obama himself, who consider themselves reluctant to embark on direct U.S. military intervention in Syria, hyped claims about the disposition of Syrian chemical weapons can put those officials in much the same position as then-Secretary of State Colin Powell—who had a similarly “real aversion to being sucked into an invasion of Iraq”—in the run-up to the George W. Bush administration’s March 2003 invasion:  “That’s what so neat and convenient about the chemical weapons story” Hillary noted, “You can bring in some people who have that aversion, who don’t want a pretext…It’s the convenient lowest common denominator.”

So why has the Obama administration defined not just the use of chemical weapons, but perhaps even certain unspecified deployments of chemical weapons as a “red line?”  To answer that, Hillary draws a parallel with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his carton bomb at the United Nations General Assembly:

Both for the Israelis trying to stare down the Iranians, and losing, and for the United States trying to stare down two-bit Bashar al-Assad and losing, you have to constantly redraw where the red line is, to make up for the fact that you have not ousted these people from power, you have not effected regime change.

The fact is that the Obama administration has a problemMore than twenty months ago, they said that Bashar al-Assad has to go—and he has not goneSo they keep moving the red lines.  So when you ask about chemical weapons, where is the red line for it, you get into this ridiculous to and fro over how many people are killed [by conventional weapons], whether that matters, how they are killed.  And you also get into a ridiculous debate about, well, does he have the chemicals mixed, have they put them in the right canisters or not.  I mean, who even knows if this is based on science.  It’s all about…the problem that both the United States and Israel have—that they cannot face down these political orders that they don’t like.”

But, Hillary underscores, “there’s a reason we have to do it”; there’s a reason the United States, even under a reelected President Obama, feels compelled to keep putting itself in such strategically obtuse positions:

The ability of the United States to affect outcomes through the projection of military force has gone down precipitously and probably is not recoverableBut we hold on to it, desperately, because we have no soft power argument to give to Arabs, to give to Muslims, on why we should be in their countries, in their societies.”

For the same reason, the United States can’t pursue or even support real “conflict resolution” in Syria, for “that would require dealing with the Assad government, dealing with Bashar al-Assad, and not only not having ‘preconditions’ for the talks, but getting rid of this idea that we can have ‘pre-results.’  That would be real conflict resolution, and we are steadfastly opposed to that.”

Hillary also casts a skeptical eye on reports suggesting that the Obama administration may be “taking more seriously the ‘Benghazi effect’:  that when you arm, train, and fund jihadists, either directly or indirectly, as we did in Afghanistan, in Libya, and now in Syria, that you could face consequences, as serious as 9/11.  For that’s what we have in our history, [including] the assassination of [U.S. Ambassador to Libya] Stevens.”  She attributes these stories not to some genuine reconsideration of a well-established aspect of America’s Middle East policy, but to elements within the intelligence community seeking to protect themselves, to the extent possible, from

“congressional investigations over what’s going on in Benghazi, and the likelihood that we will have increased congressional investigations come January…With increased congressional scrutiny, we may find out that the very people who killed Ambassador Stevens did so with arming, training, and funding indirectly from the United States…whether it’s the Qataris, the Emiratis, the Saudis, or somebody else, the U.S. authorized it—the White House, not the CIA, the White House authorized it.”

It’s all about “who’s to blame for a disastrous policy,” not genuine strategic revision.  The United States isn’t going to give up arming rebels—even jihadists—fighting to overthrow governments it doesn’t like.  For, Hillary explains, there is “something deeply cultural, something deep in American strategic culture” that leads one generation of policymakers after another to believe

“that no matter who we arm, train, and fund, as long as they knock off the political order that we don’t like, that is defying the United States, that somehow organically the population will rise up and construct a liberal, secular political orderNotwithstanding the fact that the fighters are jihadists, they will construct a liberal secular political orderWe have this delusion time and time again, and I think it’s something deeply embedded in American strategic culture.”  And the growing impact of money from Arab states in the Persian Gulf makes it “increasingly difficult to question what some of our friends are doing,” in Syria and elsewhere.

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett


78 Responses to “Why the Obama Administration Charges the Syrian government May Be Preparing to Use Chemical Weapons…and the “Benghazi Effect””

  1. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    December 14, 2012 at 1:46 pm
    James Canning says:
    December 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm
    Nothing I have seen,read or heard has giving me the slightest indication that the us or the rest of the western bootlicks has changed their policy on iranian enrichment,you say obama will accept 5% enrichment but you produce nothing to back that statement up apart from reading between the lines,indeed everything I have read between the lines or otherwise is that the us cannot,will not accept irans right to enrich period

    “Iran has sufficient 20% U to fuel the TRR for decades”
    Actually the consensus seems to be 4-5 yrs worth depending on how much testing and how many problems iran has producing the plates high scrap rate etc..

    “Your position is that Iran must threaten to build nukes in order to get some sanctions lifted”
    That sounds to me like you`re trying to equate 20% enrichment with nuke building or at least the threat of it.Having a large stockpile of fissile material is not the same as threatening to build nukes and at this point in time the amount it has produced is of less importance than the fact that iran can enrich to 20% and will continue to until a deal is made,of course the longer this takes the more 20% leu there will be

    “I take it you comprehend that Burma achieved a lifing of the sanctions without any express specific agreement with the US or other countries. In other words, the government of Burma (Myanmar) proceeded in the expact opposite manner you insist is correct for Iran.”

    Burma is not iran,the two do not even remotely compare,the burmese junta no doubt new ahead of time the minimum the us would accept so there may not have been a formally negotiated deal,that we know of tho` that does not rule out a back room one which I think is quite likely,but they had a good idea of what they could get away with ie they still had a degree of political and economic power.Now as for iran its pretty clear what the us idea of a guide/roadmap would be probably little different to the doha protocol for syria posted by
    Fiorangela December 13, 2012 at 7:21 pm.Personally I`m surprised you didn`t try and use libya as an example instead of burma but then considering how that turned out that was probably wise
    Now as I have repeated several times before the danger with the sort of unilateral acts that you are proposing is that there is no guaranty that it will be reciprocated and then you will have potentially thrown away a valuable bargaining chip for nothing or even worse the act will be misinterpreted,perhaps deliberately perhaps not,as a sign of surrender or appeasement and that now is the time to tighten the screws yet further to which iran would have to reply in some way,so now you have potentially thrown away a valuable bargaining chip and only increased the tensions between both sides.The only way this situation may be solved is with face to face negotiations between the us and iran and even then the gulf between the two is so wide I would have my doubts

  2. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    December 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm
    I imagine they thought that the chances of the iranians doing it themselves were very very slim and that if they did attempt it it would take quite sometime to succeed if they succeeded at all,after all at that point if iran could have done it itself it would not have needed to obtain them from a foreign source,or perhaps we are giving them far too much credit and they didn`t even bother thinking at that level of complexity they just denied it because that was the standard policy when it came to iran and nuclear technology,deny them everything,one only has to look at the enormous effort and no doubt expense that the us squandered on trying to halt foreign participation in the bushehr reactor project.We have seen the west use medicine as a weapon of blackmail or just a weapon before it does not surprise me that the west would do the same thing with nuclear medicine as well.

  3. Rd. says:

    Russia changes tack on Syria
    By M K Bhadrakumar

    The ambassador, though resourceful, at times misses the mark. Perhaps for a reason.

    The reality on the ground is much different, so as the commitment to defend Syria against the terror camp.

    “[AsSafir] “…More than two weeks into the clashes in the Rif Dimashq governorate, the fog began to lift on the facts behind the rebel “invasion.” Apparently, the armed opposition — Jabhat al-Nusra in particular — suffered serious casualties.“


  4. James Canning says:


    You claim I offer no evidence to support my argument that Iran follows the wrong course in attempting to force Obama into openly accepting Iranian enrichment to 5%, before Iran will agree to stop stockpiling 20% U.

    I have never suggested Iran could build nukes with 20 U.

    I do argue that Iran clearly has no need for more 20 U.

    Burma (Myanmar) has shown that sanctions can be lifted if a government is cooperative to some degree.

  5. James Canning says:


    I asked whether you think American leaders actually believed Iran could not resupply the TRR if they blocked Iran’s IAEA application.

  6. James Canning says:


    In diplomatic matters, one somethimes needs to read betwee nthe lines.

    I take it you comprehend that Burma achieved a lifing of the sanctions without any express specific agreement with the US or other countries. In other words, the government of Burma (Myanmar) proceeded in the expact opposite manner you insist is correct for Iran.

    Obviously, if the US blocks any P5+1 deal with Iran, there is no deal with Iran.

    I take it you urge Iran to continue to stockpi9le 20 percent uranium in order to pressure Obama into allowing Iranian enrichment to 5%. Fair statement?

  7. James Canning says:


    BBC America had a good report on Bahrain Thursday (yesterday).

  8. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    If these “khoshk muqaddasa-ha” in the words of Imam (r) could understand the sawab of one day’s struggle to help your fellow Muslim- even for mundane worldly affairs. Better than a hundred years of night prayer. They don’t get it and never will.

    I had a relative who was very religious and did all the wajibat as ordered. At one point he built a bridge for some far-off villages in Khorasan (like 60-70 years ago). After he died he came to the dream of his son and said that the building of the one bridge was worth all my prayers and fasting of my whole life.

  9. Photi says:

    “Chuck Hagel said idea of going to war with Iran is ‘Alice in Wonderland’”


  10. fyi says:


    Ambassador Bhadrakumar on Syria:


    [He has been often more right than wrong.]

  11. Photi says:

    Unknown Unknowns,

    Thank you for brushing past my first comments to you. i am definitely not the language police, and i support your right to label the US government as you like.

    On the second part, on the subject of liberalism and Islam, to me there are more questions than answers as i do not find your explanations satisfying. I think a lot of what you said about the vacuity of humanism the Western governments are ideological talking points that have arisen out of the specific Iranian national experience. Other environmental conditions will lead to other conclusions about government, even from within an Islamic worldview.

    For instance: In America, if the Christian Right were to succeed in establishing some sort of non-secular US government, the Muslims here would be the first to lose out. It is already hard enough for ethnic Muslims to navigate the suspicion of the broader American public, if you introduce the religion of the Americans into the government, i would literally fear for the Muslims safety.

    For Muslims to peacefully survive among Americans then, we rely on these liberal ideals and protections of minority rights. As such, every time i am able to vote to increase the power of the people, i do. Without the protection of minority rights, our American ability to live in peace with such a diverse population within our borders would quickly fade.

    Tell me brother, isn’t this liberalism from within an Islamic worldview? The Iranian concept of government does nothing for the Muslims in America.

    Again (from the previous post), how does Islam address the inherent tension between the individual and the state, especially when the state is equated with Islam? Shouldn’t religion first and foremost protect its followers and establish peace?

  12. nahid says:

    Dear fyi

    How about the ambassador article, It is different than yours. Is he wrong, and what Iran should do.


  13. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    December 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm
    So obama has told you this himself has he?,its funny because the us position is no enrichment and the rest of the western nations in the p5 will do what the us tells them to
    You`ve made these statements more times than I can count

  14. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    December 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm
    No I do not concede that at all james far from it in fact as I have repeatedly stated in my posts I do not believe in your “cunning plan” theory which frankly seems crazy considering the efforts that the west went to to prevent 5% enrichment or less,the last thing they would want is to provide iran with a legitimate reason to enrich to 20%,if that was the “cunning plan”/conspiracy then it seems to me it back fired horribly.As for burma there is no comparison between it and iran,in burma the military made some token democratic “reforms” but ones that still left the military with a huge amount of power and influence politically,in many ways it reminded me of suhartos indonesia.Burma was not seen as a threat nor was it one to us influence in its region unlike iran and increasingly the us has gone from containment and wanting iranian acceptance of the status quo in the middle east to wanting iranian surrender or even regime change,the gulf between the us and iran is to wide to bridge at this point in time and it will remain that way for the foreseeable future,by comparison the differences between the us and burma were very small indeed.I would appreciate it if you would stop trying to put words into my mouth,this is the second time you have done that,my position was not that iran needed to build nukes to get sanctions removed that is ludicrous,incidentally as I`m sure you know it is impossible to build nukes from leu especially leu that is under iaea safeguards,y position was that unilaterally giving up 20% enrichment and hoping that the us would reciprocate out of the goodness of it heart was at best unsound ie throwing away a valuable bargaining chip that could`ve been used in actual negotiations in return for…..nothing???,or at worst a terrible mistake ie this gesture is misinterpreted either deliberately or by error as a sign of surrender,capitulation or appeasement and that us policies or if you prefer “the cunning plan” are working and just need more time/made harsher etc..
    I don`t know how many times or in how many different ways you want me to restate my argument james but it is starting to get tedious especially when you do not produce any rebuttal of the points I have raised you just repeat your “iran should stop 20% enrichment” mantra

  15. Sineva says:

    Fiorangela says:
    December 13, 2012 at 7:21 pm
    That sounds like unconditional surrender,syria reduced to a puppet state in everything but name,truly terrifying but I think the chances of this actually happening are very slim

  16. Sineva says:

    fyi says:
    December 13, 2012 at 11:31 pm
    I agree,I think bahrain would seem to be a real possibility,the western media is all but ignoring the strife there preferring to focus on syria,for iran one of the big payoffs of making bahrain ungovernable would be the likely removal of the carrier group based there.Personally I think the gulf states need to be sent a clear message that the continuing export of and support for the jihadists in syria will not be tolerated and that there will be consequences for what they have done

  17. Unknown Unknowns says:


    Thank you for your comments. You are right on the first count, but mistaken on the second, with regards to which it seems to me you fall into the same trap that every other advocate of the “separation of church and state” has fallen into, namely, that your assumption that this is even possible betrays your failure to understand the real nature of revelation and the final religion based thereon. Let me try to make it simple. Let us say, for the sake of the argument, that our (ideal) state is rational. Well, guess what? Religion is not. (Call it irrational, a-rational, trans-rational, whatever.) So it is not like oil and water, where there is a clear separation. Rather, it is like an ocean, where every time the waves come crashing down on the shore, millions upon millions of grains of otherwise rational (=stable, predictable) sand are set in fractal motion in tiny whirlpools. You can separate the state from *other* religions (such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, paganism, shamanism, post-Christian “Christianity”, etc.), but you cannot do so with a religion such as Islam, which (still) takes revelation seriously. Of course Islam itself is in transition. Sunnism is dying off, and its replacement, post-Sunni salafism, kharejism, takfirism, Wahhabism, whatever, is indeed compatible with the separation of church and state, which is the dynamic and demand of the godless word order that man is creating in his own humanist image. It wants you to have your “religion” on the side, as a side dish, as it were. The problem is this little thing called ‘adl, justice – a principle of faith is Shi’a Islam (but not in Sunni Islam).

    On the other hand, the architects of the Shi’a Fortress, the Islamic Republic, are laboring under mistaken thinking of similarly gargantuan proportions: it is NOT possible to manufacture the Virtuous City “on Earth, as it is in Heaven”. Hell, none of the prophets were able to do *that*! Even the greatest of them, with whom be peace, could not pull it off, although he did have a run for his money. But the ignorant masses and the hypocrites ignored the revelation at Ghadir Khumm and the sermon which he was commanded to deliver (see Shi’a commentaries on 5:3 & 5:67) and *did* deliver (see, say, ebn-e hanbal’s *musnad* as an appetizer), told him he was “delusional” when he asked for Ink & Paper on his deathbed, kicked the door down on his beloved holy daughter, and routed his entire family, the epitome of which was on Ashura at Karbala, after which the pagan clan which the prophet had risen up against who was in charge of Mecca, consolidated its unholy grip on the so-called “omma” , fulfilling the Marwanid plan; all of which begs the question of what would have happened if our beloved prophet’s sacred presence was extended on the earthly plane, in this Tavern of Ruin, for another year or two, or another decade or two; the answer to which, surely, is that his project, too, would have come crashing to the ground *in his time* – just as it actually did after he passed.

    Seeing the futility, or better, vacuity/ nullity (ta’til) of the secular (“humanist”) project in light of God’s insistence for social as well as individual justice, while at the same time seeing the impossibility of the project of building the Virtuous City on the Hill, where does that leave us? It leaves us in the position of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. Except that in these modern absurdist times, I must hasten to qualify this statement, lest it be misconstrued as implying a Camusian intent. We part from the French-Algerian existentialist in that we do not believe our struggle to be meaningless and absurd, as it is witnessed by God (and sacralized thereby), who loves us and cares deeply about our fate; and also in that our efforts are rewarded both in human history, with the advent of the Mahdi (Aj.), and in the Hereafter with Paradise eternal. As such, we also differ with Titian and other quasi-gnostic interpretations of the myth which see the human condition as a punishment by the “gods” (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/43/Punishment_sisyph.jpg).


    همچو فرهاد بُوَد کوهکنی پیشه ی ما
    کوه ما سینه ی ما ، ناخون ما تیشه ی ما

    For those who cannot read Persian, there is always Google Translate, which gives us this precious rendering:

    Farhad was like our own Kuhkan
    We bust our mountains, our Nakhvn our hatchets

  18. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    fyi says:
    December 13, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    The document itself may be invented but the list it contains is a realistic recitation of the demands that the West has made against Syria combined with the changes in policy that would be the results of putting the current group of Turish and Qatari backed thugs in power. Unfortunately for the West and contrary to the opinions of some on this blog the combined power of Syria and Iran is more than a match for those Western and GCC puppets that wish to destroy Syria.

  19. fyi says:

    Fiorangela says:

    December 13, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    This is probably a propaganda plant by Syria or her friends.

    There is no chance for that; someone needs to smash the Syrian State and occupy Syria for a generation (2 decades) with several hundred thousand soldiers for this to stick.

    Axis Powers do not have the soldiers to do so and Turkey will not do it.

    That leaves the prolonged Civil War – like the Spanish Civil War – as the most lkely outcome.

    The Axis Powersincurred between 200 are doing their best trying to revrse their losses in 2003-2011 period.

    They are clearly on the offensive against the Resistance Alliance.

    At this time, I expect the Resistance Alliance to go on offensive elsewhere; there has to be a counter-attack in any war.

    Let us wait and see how the counter-attack is going to shape-up.

    This war has destroyed the possibility of reform in Syria for a generation as well.

  20. Empty says:

    Castellio & Irshad,

    Unfortunately, my answer would be “no” and “no” to your requests. I have a filtered access to the internet and am unable to get the actual sources and the names to you. However, I could give you “how” I came across that information and perhaps, if you have unrestricted access and patience, you could re-trace my steps and find the info.

    A while back, working on an unrelated (to RFI) matters about environmental and occupational exposure to airport security devices and equipment (more relevant to my field of study), I came across an international security company with the list of clients. The company had “airport security” in its title but was a “service” company (i.e. it was not a manufacturer of security equipment and devices but actual service company). I don’t remember the full name but when I saw the list of clients, I was struck by how wide spread a single security company operated. Geographically, it ranged from the US to Austria to many European airports, Turkey and several Arab states that included Saudi Arabia. Because Jeddah airport was on the list, (and the importance Jeddah has in transporting Hajj pilgrims) I became more curious and followed the links to learn more about the company and its work. The name of the fellow listed as the top person was somewhat “different” (at least to me). When I searched the origin of the name, it had Jewish origin. More search about the company, I found it was an Israeli company with key top people on it “retired” Israeli military people (they appeared too young to be retired but I am not at all familiar with Israel’s military retirement system). In their bios, they had listed “head of security” for cities of Mecca and Medina, security of Jeddah airport, and another SA international airport (it was not in Jeddah but another city in SA). It was interesting to me that a security company a) could provide security for two decidedly different environments (i.e. a city environment vs. an airport environment) ; b) be “head of security” for two of the holiest cities for Moslems, and the main transit site for Hajj pilgrims; and c) be Israeli in Saudi Arabia. I also searched to see who the main custodians of the two holy cities are. Unfortunately, the answer did not surprise me.

    Now I wish I had saved my efforts. At the time, I was searching for something else and ended up discovering something entirely different: that the security advisors to Al-Saud especially on matters that pertain to a significant pillar of Islam are Israeli.

    I apologize for not being helpful enough with the names and sources. If I ever come across them again, I most certainly post it for you. Perhaps if someone with unrestricted access to internet could duplicate these parallel searches (and be patient with his/her search) we could get the names. Please note that you have to follow (deductively) one link to another because no document would clearly say “SA royal family’s Israeli Advisors” (or at least I have not seen a credible one that states that).

  21. Fiorangela says:

    The Doha Protocol

    contains the following 13 points:

    1. Syria should reduce the number of soldiers of the Syrian army to 50,000;

    2. Syria will assert its right to sovereignty over the Golan only by political means. Both parties will sign peace agreements under the auspices of the United States and Qatar;

    3. Syria must get rid of, under the supervision of the United States, all its chemical and biological weapons and all of its missiles. This operation must be carried out on the land of Jordan;

    4. To cancel any claim of sovereignty over Liwa Iskenderun (Alexandretta) and to withdraw in favor of Turkey from some border villages inhabited by Turkmens in “muhafazahs” in Aleppo and Idlib;

    5. To expel all members of the Workers Party of Kurdistan, and to hand over those wanted by Turkey. This party should be added to the list of terrorist organizations;

    6. To cancel all agreements and contracts signed with Russia and China in the fields of subsurface drilling and armaments;

    7. To allow Qatari gas pipeline passage through the Syrian territory toward Turkey and then on to Europe;

    8. To allow water pipes to pass through the Syrian territory from the Atatürk Dam to Israel;

    9. Qatar and United Arab Emirates pledge to rebuild what has been destroyed by the war in Syria on the condition that their companies have the exclusive access to contracts for reconstruction and for exploitation of Syrian oil and gas;

    10.To terminate relations with Iran, Russia and China;

    11.To break off relations with Hezbollah and with Palestinian resistance movements;

    12. The Syrian regime should be Islamic and not Salafi;

    13. This agreement will come into effect as soon as power is taken ((Algerian) Editor’s note: by the “Opposition”).”

  22. Kathleen says:

    On Democracy Now today Amy Goodman points out the UK and other European countries communicating real criticism of Israel’s announcement right after the UN vote that they will expand illegal settlements. And how the Obama administration and the Pentagon will be resupplying Israel’s military stockpile specifically the weapons used in the latest Gaza attack. That Obama went as far as to call the ever expanding settlements “counter productive” Whoa Obama don’t step off the cliff by going so far as “counter productive” Can’t believe I voted for Obama again. But what else could we do

  23. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Sources: Syrian Rebels Training On Anti-Aircraft Weapons In Jordan


    “In recent weeks, the rebels have acquired anti-aircraft weapons from Syrian military arsenals, after capturing key air-defense bases in northern and central Syria.”

    Notice how the US-led insurgents are targeting Syria’s air defense installations. This is deliberate in preparation for the US/NATO air campaign.

  24. humanist says:


    I thought about responding to your invitation for comments on the Counterpunch article entitled “Does Islam need reform?”

    Then I paused doubting that, at present time, expressing my one-sided opinions on that subject might not be prudent.

    From your writings I thought of you as a well-educated scholar for whom the intricacies surrounding the issue of religion are amply explained by modern sciences, thus, at this junction of history when the survival of life on earth is in danger, the archaic religions do not deserve any further investigation. Question is, here in RFI, why are you interested to know what experts or amateurs think about reforming Islam?

    I also thought you must have be fully realizing the gravity of the present critical times when the solidarity between all antiwar and anti-imperialists is so vitally important. Then don’t you think no energy should be wasted on discussing ideological differences among us and all efforts should be directed towards further empowerment of our common endeavors?

    If you convince me debates about reforming Islam is still timely then I might join in…but then get ready for my very sharp positions on all antiquated ideologies including all of the monotheistic religions

  25. James Canning says:


    Do I take it you concede that there may well have been a conspiracy to block Iran’s IAEA application to buy replacement nuclear fuel for the TRR even though this would mean Iran would commence enrichment to 20%? The conspirators would need cover.

  26. James Canning says:


    Normally, reciprocity is the way to proceed in negotiations. But the ISRAEL LOBBY makes it impossible for the US to engage openly in negotiations with Iran. Or, if you prefer, Obama is not willing to pay the political price. But I think Obama would accept Iranian enrichment to 5%, if Britain, France and other P5+1 countries favor that course.

  27. James Canning says:


    Myanmar made a deal, off the record. This is what Iran needs to attempt to accomplish. Sanctions against Myanmar have been lifted. Economic growth is accelerating.

    Iran has sufficient 20% U to fuel the TRR for decades. Your position is that Iran must threaten to build nukes in order to get some sanctions lifted. I think this course is unwis.

    I take it you concede that US intelligence must have believed Iran could enrich to 20% and to build fuel plates for the TRR, and that US officials only pretend to have believed Iran would not be able to do this.

  28. Castellio says:

    FYI, UU, a sincere thanks to each of you for your reply.

  29. Photi says:

    Unknown Unknowns,

    It is good to see you commenting here. I would not take censorship of some of your more colorful phrases as too deep of an affront to your voice. More neutral language in your critique of America is likely to reach a wider audience of “lurkers” here on this board than phrases like “Uncle Weasel.” I say that one brother to another, as one who struggles with tempering the anger out of my own language. “Weasel” is insulting. Conversely, demonstrating the ways in which America has harmed the people of the World with evidence and neutral language is at its core a rational argument and will therefore aid in visualizing the way forward.

    If the aim of Iranians is to “get back” at America, then in my opinion more violence awaits. If the aim is to establish peace and sovereignty for Iran, then the “fight” must be intellectual and emotions must be dealt with rationally. “Uncle Weasel” is live ammunition, is it not?


    Specifically concerning liberalism, what was the initial goal of Islam? Was it to establish a healthy government, or was the goal to establish a healthy group of followers freed from the superstition that kept the ignorant and corrupt in power? To me it looks like the initial goal of Islam was the latter, meaning the initial goal of Islam was to establish the protection of the people against government. Power to the people.

    As soon as Islam is equated with the state, it often ceases to perform the function it initially came to perform, which is guidance and protection to ‘the people’ despite and often against government.

    How does modern Islam deal with the inherent tension between the individual and the state, especially when the state is equated with Islam?

  30. Unknown Unknowns says:

    I read the interview. There is nothing new there… here is a well-intentioned soul trying to do his part… He understands that there is a problem, but as per usual, he falls short of understanding the depth of it, so he ends up spewing the same old liberal clap-trap about women’s rights, gay rights, et cetera ad nauseum. By so doing, he betrays his ignorance of the basic tension between reason and revelation. The West can put aside the injunction against, say, sodomy (which, unless I am quite mistaken, is called an “abomination” in the Bible), because the West has put aside God in toto, or at least put aside taking Him and His Word seriously. But Islamdom has not, and therefore, cannot dispense with His ordinances. The intersections of the axes of reason and revelation are the prophets, but absent their personal (in person) guidance, and adding the element of time (to a sufficient extent), we have a problem, as not only do the laws not obtain (in the way they were originally intended), but *nothing else does either* (!) It is not enough to dismiss the original mode of revelation as “literalist”, “fundamentalist”, “Pharisee”, etc. From the PoV of revelation, anything else is an unwarranted departure. And dismissing revelation altogether does not work either.

    The first thing to do is to understand the nature of the problem (and its intractability). Once moderns do that (and I include the interviewee in this category), they will most likely not get any closer to a solution, but at least they will know where we are at, and perhaps even begin to get a glimpse of the chiliastic impetus and yearning for the Remnant of God, the Baqiatollah (Aj.), may the Lord hasten the advent of his noble person. Ameen.

  31. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    December 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm
    It does not mater who blocked it james,or the reasons why,that is now irrelevant.The only way iran would agree to limit enrichment would be as part of a negotiated solution and that involves a little thing called reciprocity its the basis of a little something called negotiation,you may have heard of it,hers how it works I give up something I value but I get back something of value in return and so does the person I`m negotiating with,you on the other hand seem to favor unilaterally giving up 20% enrichment in return for……??? I`m assuming that you hope that the us will somehow reciprocate this generous gesture,the danger of course with assuming is..well I`m sure you know that old saying no need for me to repeat it,of course the real danger with gestures like this is that they can be misinterpreted as a sign of weakness,appeasement and capitulation and that is something iran in the current cold war situation cannot afford to give

  32. Unknown Unknowns says:

    From the excellent work by Syed Husain M. Jafri, *The Origins and Early Development of Shi’a Islam*

    On his deathbed Mu’awiya advised Yazid:

    “O my son, I have arranged everything for you, and I have made all the
    Arabs agree to obey you. No one will now oppose you in your title to the
    caliphate, but I am very much afraid of Husayn b. Ali, Abd Allah b. ‘Umar,
    Abd ar-Rahman b. Abi Bakr, and Abd Allah b. az- Zubayr. Among them
    Husayn b. Ali commands great love and respect because of his superior
    rights and close relationship to the Prophet. I do not think that the people of
    Iraq will abandon him until they have risen in rebellion for him against you.
    As far as is possible, try to deal with him gently. But the man who will attack
    you with full force, like a lion attacks his prey, and who will pounce upon
    you, like a fox when it finds an opportunity to pounce, is Abd Allah b. az-
    Zubayr. Whenever you get a chance, cut him into pieces.”

    Walid read to him Yazid’s letter and asked for immediate recognition of the new caliph. Husayn replied uncommittedly that the bay’a, in order to be valid, must be made in public and that the governor should arrange a public gathering in the mosque where he would also be present. With this reply, when Husayn rose to leave the palace, Marwan b. al-Hakam, who was present there as well, rebuked the governor, saying: “By God, if you allow Husayn to leave without paying the homage now, you will never be able to get it from him; so arrest him and do not free him until he pays the homage, or behead him.” In fact, Marwan had already advised Walid to call these two for the bay’a, and if they refused, to kill them at once before the news of Mu’awiya’s death became known to the people. Walid, however, did not accept this advice: as Husayn left the palace, the former retorted to Marwan’s harsh attitude, saying:

    “Do not reproach me for this, O Marwan. You have advised me to do
    something in which there lies complete destruction and the ruin of my
    religion. By God, if the entire wealth and treasures of the whole world were
    given to me I would not kill Husayn. Should I kill him only because he
    refuses to pay homage, I would suffer total destruction on the Day of
    Judgement, for in the sight of God there cannot be anything more
    accountable than the blood of Husayn.”

    After each of the two prayers, Husayn explained to his adversaries the reasons which had caused him to set out:

    “O people of Kufa! You sent to me your delegations and wrote me letters
    saying that you had no Imam and that I should come to unite you and lead
    you in the way of God . . . You wrote that we, the Ahl al-Bayt, are more
    qualified to govern your affairs than those who claim things to which they
    have no right and who act unjustly and wrongfully. . . . But if you have
    changed your minds, have become ignorant of our rights, and have forgotten your delegations and repeated appeals to me to come for the sake of your religion . . . I shall turn back.”

    Then Husayn showed Hurr two sacks full of the letters sent by the Kufans to him, but
    Hurr said he knew nothing of these and that he had come with the orders of Ibn Ziyad to arrest him and his party as prisoners to be handed over to Ibn Ziyad. Husayn refused to submit, but still Hurr did not use force against him. After some argument it was agreed that Husayn should keep on travelling along the Euphrates in the opposite direction from Kufa until fresh orders arrived from the governor, and that Hurr would follow Husayn closely. When they reached the district of Ninawa (or Naynawa) a horseman arrived from Kufa. Without greeting Husayn, he gave Hurr a letter from Ibn Ziyad ordering him not to allow the “rebels” to make a halt except in a desert place without fortifications or water.32 Zuhayr b. al-Qayn, a companion of Husayn, then suggested that he should attack Hurr’s small detachment and occupy a fortified village called Al-‘Aqr, but Husayn refused to be the one to initiate hostilities. Husayn, however, managed to proceed only a little farther until they reached the plain of Karbala and there pitched their tents. It was 2 Muharram 61/2 October 680.

    On the third of Muharram the situation deteriorated as ‘Umar b. Sa’d arrived with the Umayyad army of 4,000 men. and assumed overall command on the field. Upon
    reaching Karbala Ibn Sa’d learned that Husayn now intended to return to Medina; but
    Ibn Ziyad, on receiving word of this development, ordered that all the “rebels” should render homage to Yazid. Meanwhile, they were to be prevented from reaching the river. ‘Umar b. Sa’d accordingly stationed a force of 500 cavalry on the road to the river, and for three days before the massacre on the tenth of Muharram Husayn and party suffered terribly from thirst. A daring sortie led by Abbas, Husayn’s brother, managed to reach the river but succeeded in filling only a few waterskins. Ibn Sa’d was still trying to persuade the governor to find some peaceful means to avoid shedding the blood of the grandson of the Prophet, but all in vain. Ibn Ziyad sent his final orders through Shamir b. Dhu’l- Jawshan (commonly written as Shimr) either to attack Husayn immediately or to hand over the command of the army to Shamir, the bearer of the letter. The orders also specified that when Husayn fell in the fighting his body was to be trampled,because he was “a rebel, a seditious person, a brigand, an oppressor”. Ibn Sa’d had to act, as he was anxious to retain his appointment as the deputy of the governor of the province of Ray’ and was well aware of the fact that Husayn would never submit, for the
    latter “had a proud soul in him”.

    Soon after receiving these new orders on the evening of 9 Muharram, Ibn Sa’d advanced with his army towards the camp of Husayn. Noticing this, Husayn sent his brother Abbas, along with some followers, to ascertain the reason for their approach. Abbas was told of the orders of Ibn Ziyad, and when informed of this Husayn sent Abbas back to request a respite of one night. This was granted. At this point Husayn assembled his relatives and supporters and delivered a speech. This speech is unanimously reported in the events of the night of Ashura by the sources through different authorities, and it is useful in understanding Husayn’s thinking. He said:

    “I give praise to God who has honoured us with the Prophethood, has
    taught us the Qur’an, and favoured us with His religion . . . I know of no
    worthier companions than mine; may God reward you with all the best of
    His reward. I think tomorrow our end will come … I ask you all to leave me
    alone and to go away to safety. I free you from your responsibilities for me,
    and I do not hold you back. Night will provide you a cover; use it as a
    steed . .. You may take my children with you to save their lives.”

    With only a few exceptions, his supporters, from among both friends and relatives,
    refused to leave or survive after him; through their speeches, to be discussed later, they showed an unshakable devotion to his cause. After some measures were taken for the safety of women and children and for defence by bringing the tents closer together, tying them to one another, digging ditches in the rear and on the flanks and filling them with wood, the rest of the night was spent in prayer, recitation of the Qur’an, and worship and remembrance of God.

    The borrowed night ended, and the fateful morning of 10 Muharram brought with it the
    summons of death and the tragic end of the family of the Prophet and its handful of
    supporters. Husayn drew up in front of the tents his small army of 72 men: 32 horsemen and 40 foot soldiers of varying ages ranging from the seventy-year-old Muslim b. Awsaja to the fourteen-year-old Qasim b. Hasan b. Ali. The rear of the tents was protected by setting on fire the heaps of wood and reeds. Zuhayr b. al-Qayn was given command of the right wing, Habib b. Muzahir al-Asadi of the left, and Abbas b. ‘Ali was entrusted with the standard of the Hashimite house.

    Husayn, preparing himself for the fateful encounter, dressed himself in the cloak of the Prophet, perfumed himself with musk, and rode on horseback with the Qur’an raised in his hand. Addressing his enemies and invoking God in a long and beautiful sermon, he said:

    “O God, you are my only Trust in every calamity. you are my only hope in
    every hardship; you are the only promise in the anxiety and distress in
    which hearts become weak and [human] action becomes slight, in which
    one is deserted and forsaken by his own friends, and in which the enemies
    take malicious pleasure and rejoice at his misfortunes. O God, I submit
    myself to You; my complaint is to You alone against my enemies, and to
    You alone is my desire and request. Who else other than you can relieve me
    from grief. You alone are the custodian of every blessing and the Master of
    every excellence and the last resort for every desire.”

    The enemy replied to Husayn’s discourse with the most insulting and heinous remarks;
    among them, Shamir, seeing the fire burning by Husayn’s tents, said: “Husayn, you are hastening for the fire in this world even before the Fire of the Day of Judgement.” Husayn’s companion, Muslim b. Awsaja, could not control himself at this heinous insult and asked his permission to reply with an arrow, but Husayn stopped him, saying: “We will never start the fighting from our side.”38 As the situation grew hotter and an attack from the Umayyad army imminent, Husayn once again came forward; after praising God and praying for His blessing on Muhammad, he addressed his enemies:

    “O people! you are accusing me, but think who I am! Then search your
    hearts for what you are doing to me. Consider well if it be lawful for you to
    kill me and violate my sacrosanctity. Am I not the son of the daughter of
    your Prophet, the son of the Prophet’s wasi [legatee] and cousin…? Did not the
    Prophet say of me and my brother that ‘they are the lords of the youth of
    Paradise’? You cannot deny the truth of what I have said concerning the
    merits of the family of Muhammad. Are all these not sufficient to prevent
    you from shedding my blood?”

    And again:

    “If you search in the whole East and the West you will not find a grandson
    of the Prophet other than me.”

    Husayn’s numerous speeches and repeated appeals in the name of the Prophet to his
    enemies’ religious sentiments, which he made throughout the day and after each loss of life among his supporters, were all in vain. The only reply he received was that he must submit himself to Yazid or be killed. To this demand Husayn’s reply was that he could never humiliate himself like a slave.

  33. Castellio says:

    Nasser, thanks for the link to the article by Jones.

  34. fyi says:

    Castellio says:

    December 12, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    This man has no grasp of intellectual history of Europe or the Near East.

    Nor does he understand Islam as a religion.

    Do not waste time on him for he has not understood that “Modernity” itself is a problem and not Islam per se.

  35. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Moon of Alabama hits it on the head…

    Obama Issues Scud Propaganda For War On Syria

  36. Richard Steven Hack says:

    German Paper: U.S. Pressing For NATO War On Syria

    So once again, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who has been frequently quoted as ruling out a NATO intervention in Syria – JUST AS HE DID IN LIBYA – has now done a “U-turn”…exactly as predicted.

  37. Nasser says:

    Global Trends 2030: AlternAtiveWorlds
    A publication of the National Intelligence Council


  38. Nasser says:

    The Laureate of Empire by Toby C. Jones


  39. Castellio says:

    If anybody here wants to comment on this article, I’d appreciate it:


  40. Kathleen says:

    Syrian has responded by saying they would not use chemical weapons on their own people..right? So is that a warning to any troops or rebels from other countries that might or are intervening/

  41. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Castellio: “RSH, quit quitting and stay with the site; posting when you have something to add and not taking it personally when confronted.”

    If I’m confronted personally, I will take it personally.

    “Contrary to that, there are those, led by FYI, who argue that it can’t be done”

    And they have provided zero evidence for this assertion, merely claiming that Syria is militarily powerful enough to defeat the US AND NATO AND Turkey AND Israel, when Syria can’t even control its own territory.

    Fyi in particular is prone to simply making assertions with zero evidence to support them. He’s on a par with Canning in that respect.

    “There is little Russia can do.”


    “Will Iran actually use its forces to stabilize Syria? I doubt it.”

    Agreed. Zero chance Iran will attack the US and NATO and Turkey and Israel to save Syria regardless of any agreement. That will be a setback for Iran in terms of influence in the region, but there’s nothing they can do about that.

    “you dismiss the Iranian abiity to fight assymetrically and deter American military action.”

    To be precise, I don’t dismiss Iran’s asymmetric capability. As I’ve said, Iran WILL win the upcoming war, no matter how long it takes, in the sense that the US will eventually be forced to stop the war because Iran will never surrender. It just can’t DETER that war because the US elite doesn’t care about Iran’s asymmetric capability in comparison to the war profits and degradation of Iran that the US can achieve during that war. Eventually, like all wars, it will end with the US withdrawing. The US elite doesn’t care about that as long as they’ve made their money and Iran is a mess at the end requiring ten years to rebuild itself like Iraq.

    “Exposed is your primary antagonist on this front, and the conflict between the two of you has actually provided clear alternate visions. The other readers have benefitted from the argument, and I imagine that there are several of us who think it unfortunate that the two of you present it so personally.”

    I wasn’t the one who started the insults. I’m also not the one making hyperbolic claims unsupported by any evidence whatsoever about Iran’s military capability. It’s simply impossible to take that troll’s comments seriously. As long as he’s here, I see no reason to participate here except when events are moving along precipitously as they have over the last few days.

    Not to mention the rest of the comments here have devolved to people engaging with Canning – which is an utter waste of bytes – and arguing Iran’s history – which is fine except it doesn’t interest me.

    Fortunately for me, when the US and NATO attack Syria, Exposed will be exposed – as a complete and utter idiot. So will everyone who dismissed my predictions. Perhaps then my predictions on Iran will be taken more seriously – but I doubt it because stupid people don’t learn.

  42. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Syria Fires Scud Missiles at Insurgents, U.S. Says

    And here we have the US telling the world precisely what the Syrian crisis is all about – protecting Israel from Syria’s missiles! By making this accusation, as well as the BS about chemical weapons, the US, NATO and Israel have clearly stated what the goal is, just as I’ve been saying all along.

    Events are clearly escalating. I now predict war with Syria within ninety days. Of course I could be wrong and some other event might intervene, but given the escalation of just the last few days clearly the US and NATO have decided the time to move on Syria is drawing closer. They have clearly laid down the justification for intervention down over the past week.

  43. Castellio says:

    Empty writes: ” The top “advisers” to Saud royal family are two Israelis.”

    Can you back this up?

  44. James Canning says:


    did “the West” block Iran’s IAEA application to buy replacement nuclear fuel for the TRR? Or should one be more accurate and say that the US very stupdily, to be kind, blocked that application thanks to the power of the ISRAEL LOBBY?

  45. James Canning says:


    I assume you are aware that most sanctions against Myanmar (Burma) have been lifted, and the pace of economic growth in that couuntry has accelerated considerably. Do you regard this situation as a “defeat” for the Burmese government?

  46. James Canning says:


    You think US intelligence on Iran was so pathetically bad, that G W Bush thought Iran would be unable to enrich to 20% and build the fuel rods/pates for the TRR?

    Fanatical supporters of Israel right or wrong in the US were (and are) determined to block any improvement in relations between the US and Iran. Iran’s enriching to 20% has helped them achieve this object.

    I think American official have pretended to be so stupid as to think Iran would be unable to refuel the TRR, if the US continued its idiotic blocking of Iran’s IAEA application to buy replacement nuclear fuel for the TRR.

    I assume you are aware that William Hague proposed that the Iranian application be approved. Hillary Clinton refused to back Hague’s proposal. Why? ISRAEL LOBBY.

  47. Irshad says:

    The UK military is resisting pressure to be involved in another conflict in the ME – this time Syria:


    Since Napolean’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 – the ME has been a playground for European powers and since WW2, American’s. Too many people have been killed and injured. Too many countries destroyed. Too many lifes ruined. This must be put to a stop – one way or another. The Erupeans and Americans must realise they cannot start wars or bully countries in the region to follow their diktats.

    How many US or British politicans, soldiers, policy makers, journalists have been arrested and tried in the ICC for the 2003 Iraq war? Their actions has no consequences to these people accept to the innocent victims of their fantasy projects.

    The same thing is now happening in Syria and slowly but surely, Iran, unless its rolled back or another financial Tsunami hits the Axis powers and there are uprisings in Saudi, UAE, Qatar and regime change in Turkey.

  48. Irshad says:

    Empty says:
    December 12, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Do you know the names of these two Isreali “top advisers”?

    @fyi – I dont forsee Iran walking out of the NPT whilsts it chairs the NAM movement – its leadership has made too many promishes not to do so. However, after those 3 years (by 2015) and as sanctions affect different aspsects of peoples lives in Iran, there will be a natural public pressure on Iranian leaders to do something as they are been punished with sanctions, murders and threats and seeing their allies (Syria) pulverized internally, whilst US/EU further militarise the Persian Gulf region by opening military bases and selling weapons to the client regimes (protection money)- Iranian leaders may then decide enough is enough and leave the NPT (whats the point of being part of something that is bringing no tangible benefits).

    They may then decide to stay out of the NPT and not dash for a nuclear weapon and maintain nuclear ambiguity and keep the US/EU guessing – or they may decide to leave the NPT and carry out a “peaceful” nuclear test like India in 1974.

    I doubt very much that neither the US or EU will do anything about it – unless they are prepared for a long war, which they are not.

    I think Iran should build a nuclear weapon as soon as conveniently possible as thats the only thing the warmongers seem to understand – the power of death.

  49. M. Ali says:

    Did a search for Syria in Google News and whats the first two articles I see?

    Obama: Syria Rebels Now Recognized By US Government
    Huffington Post-8 hours ago

    US designates Syria rebel group a terrorist organization
    Los Angeles Times-7 hours ago

    Hah. What contradition.

  50. Castellio says:

    Exposing: I have no argument with what you say nor, in general, your interpretation. The US certainly prefers proxies and drones to boots on the ground in its current wars. However, I do think people overestimate the “rationality” of the American decision making process, and I also think people underestimate the influence of major military industrial congolmerates on that process.

    ToivoS: I can’t see where you get the impression that American escalation has been taken off the table. Increasing technical, financial and intelligence assistance to proxies is an escalation, and that’s the current ‘minimum’ policy.

  51. Empty says:

    Let’s not pretend that Persian Gulf Arab states and Al-Saud are some independent political entities making some sort of independent decisions. The top “advisers” to Saud royal family are two Israelis.

  52. Empty says:

    Unknown Unknowns,

    Good to “see” you brother! Although I don’t really “see” you and also you being “unknown unknowns”, it essentially bars me from knowing what I could potentially see or not see. You see?

    Yes, I did clearly say that I have not seen one part of Quran contradicting another part of Quran. Your examples illustrate that different interpretations contradicting one another. So, it is the “interpreted” and the “interpreters” that are trapped in the vortex of contradiction.

    The linguistic argument of the “hand” and “sitting” examples do not contradict the infinite ذات of the Almighty. You “see”?!

  53. fyi says:

    ToivoS says:

    December 11, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Americans just recognized the anti-government military formations as the “sole legitimate representatives of Syrian people:.

    Thus we have entered an explicit Mini-World War in Syria.

    Let us see if Axis Powers and their local allies will win this one.

    I am led to conlude that years of bitter struggle are ahead.

    This war will last, I should think, well into the term of the next president of the United States.

  54. ToivoS says:

    The take home lesson from Hillary’s comments seems to be that the Obama administration has no idea on how to proceed on Syria. All options seem to have been rejected. Dipomacy, check; Escalation, check; Descalation, check.

    Unfortunately, doing nothing is an option. That just means either circumstances or outright manipulation by outside forces will determine what the US will do.

  55. Sineva says:

    BiBiJon says:
    December 11, 2012 at 10:52 am
    Sad but true.What will it take to discredit these people another war?,I hope not

  56. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    December 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm
    The west didn`t need any excuse to block improvements in relations james,because so long as their demand was zero enrichment the chances of that were nil anyway.You see this as some sort of cunning plan were as I see this as yet another western underestimation of iranian abilities,now based on the Wests previous history in the middle east what do you think is more likely cunning plan or just another western f**k-up,and thanks to that iran now has one more bargaining chip that you would throw away for nothing

  57. James Canning says:

    “Iran open to talks if P5+1 shows goodwill: Iran deputy FM”


  58. James Canning says:

    The Financial Times reported this week that some high-level US officials admit they do not think Bashar al-Assad would use chemical weapons against Syrian insurgents.

  59. Pirouz says:

    Yes, the CW story is all about leverage. It might initially provide more support, domestically, for further supporting rebel groups. But it isn’t going to sway the Russians. (It really is getting tiresome to see the Russians behaving more like the adults on the world stage, compared to our administration.)

    The story only has a limited life, as down the road when CW is not employed it could recede.

    I still notice that the rebel groups provide a lot of information that turns out to be less than accurate or just plain wrong, while the MSM pushes it in all their reports and newswires.

    The Syrian regime and military continue to hold out, while the rebels continue with their ability to engage. Yes, if only conflict resolution were our American intention, the Syrian people wouldn’t be suffering as they do. But that bully mentality we possess in our American makeup just will not countenance such.

  60. Fiorangela says:

    Steve Clemons’ argument that Obama wants to get out of the Middle East rang hollow. If that were the case, he would have adopted the (ethical, imo) position that Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov explained almost a year ago; namely, It is not for Russia to choose the winners and losers http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2012/s3420041.htm

    As Hillary stated, Americans labor under the delusion that they have the right and ability to make those choices for other peoples. The concept could be traced to aspects of the Judeo-Christian foundation of the American psyche: American exceptionalism persuades Americans they are the ordained moral leaders of the world. This notion must be uprooted and the ground around it doused with Round-Up.

    = = =

    Does Ahmed Chalabi have a Qatari brother?

  61. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Castellio says:
    December 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    You are right that the US, etc. is in fact supporting extremists in Syria in the hope that they will cause as much chaos and destruction as possible leading to the eventual overthrow of the Syrian government. This is the plan that has been followed from the beginning of the manufactured rebellion in Syria. Where Hack and others err is their baseless assumption that this means that the US is willing to go to war to support them. Events clearly show otherwise. The US is happy to allow its proxies to spend their own money and provide weapons to support a failing insurgency in Syria. What the US is not going to do is expend the huge amount of resources, etc to support that insurgency directly. Deployment of a few Patriot batteries to Turkey that could be easily destroyed by Syria’s Fateh 110 missiles, its airforce, or even its long range artillery in the event of aggression do not change that. Let’s remember that the absurd propaganda about Syrian “chemical weapons” mirrors the anti Iran propaganda that the US uses to demonize Iran. As I and others here have explained, the US has not and is not going to attack Iran if it cares about the survival of its own economy. It also will not attack Syria, both because of Syria’s own very substantial capacity to defend itself in case of attack, and because of the mutual defense agreement that exists between Iran and Syria. For evidence that the US plan has failed and is now in total confusion just look at its recent designation of a large part of the “FSA” as a terrorist group.

  62. fyi says:

    Castellio says:

    December 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Yes, Iranians will do all they can to keep Mr. Assad and the Ba’ath state in power.

    In the event that the state collpases – highly unlikely – they will remian in Syria to advance their agenda.

    They did that in Lebanon, in Afghanistan, and in Syria.

    Axis Powers and their local allies will not obtain a clear and decisive victory in Syria; that is a bridge too far for them.

    My own expectation, based on the Internet sources in Persian, is that Syrian government will prevail.

  63. Castellio says:

    RSH, quit quitting and stay with the site; posting when you have something to add and not taking it personally when confronted.

    There have been two sets of arguments with your posts: you (though not alone) have claimed that the west would continue to ratchet up the military pressure on Syria, following its own timetable but moving resolutely towards regime change or state degradation. I have argued that as well. Contrary to that, there are those, led by FYI, who argue that it can’t be done, and the Syrian regime, supported by Iran, would endure. In fact, if I remember correctly, FYI has argued in the past that the financial collapse of the west in 2008 made this increasing pressure on Syria impossible.

    In any case, the west has decided to support civil war in Syria, and the degradation of the state is continuing at an increasing pace. There is little Russia can do. Why engage in another Chechnya, and this one further away? Will Iran actually use its forces to stabilize Syria? I doubt it.

    The second set of arguments with your posts is that you dismiss the Iranian abiity to fight assymetrically and deter American military action. Exposed is your primary antagonist on this front, and the conflict between the two of you has actually provided clear alternate visions. The other readers have benefitted from the argument, and I imagine that there are several of us who think it unfortunate that the two of you present it so personally.

  64. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Syria Boils. War Propaganda Abounds. Full Scale Western-led Intervention Looms?

    Israel now claiming Syria has given Hizballah chemical weapons…

  65. Richard Steven Hack says:

    And more evidence of a “false flag” operation…

    A troubling video appears on YouTube showing rebel fighters testing chemical weapons in Syria

  66. James Canning says:


    (From prior thread) – – Ask yourself whether US officials pretended to believe Iran could not enrich to 20 percent and manufacture fuel rods/plates for the TRR. Those officials needed cover for their utter imbecility in forcing Iran to enrich to 20%.

    Was their a plan to force Iran to enrich to 20 percent, to facilitate blocking any improvement in US-Iran relations?

  67. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Addendum: Where the alleged chemical weapons fake intelligence really comes from…

    Israel tracks Syria’s chemical arsenal

    Fabricating WMD “Evidence”: Israeli Covert Operation inside Syria to “Track Chemical Arsenal”

    You think Obama doesn’t KNOW that Israel is faking these reports? Is he that stupid? Hell, no!

  68. James Canning says:

    I think it highly unlikely the Syrian government would use chemical weapons against insurgents in Syria. Full stop. Do Obama administration officials think the same, but pretend otherwise? Seems all-too-likely.

  69. Castellio says:

    UU writes; ” the problem is much deeper, and that those who make US foreign policy know perfectly well that no “secular democracy” shall obtain, and that this was never their intent, but rather, that their intent was to fan the flames of sectarian strife”

    Yes. I agree entirely. The makers of US policy are quite clear on this; they are using any means possible to create sectarian strife and division, with the intent of weakening “the enemy”. Jane Harman, for one, has stated this publicly in terms of Iran. Those who slavishly follow a sectarian analysis of events in the Middle East are siding with, and strengthening, those who are using these divisions to their own advantage.

    It is not an “error” or “ironic reality” that the US is in bed with the most extreme of the sectarian “insurgents” in Syria – it reflects the confluence of interests.

  70. BiBiJon says:

    Deep Culture

    Unknown Unknowns says:
    December 11, 2012 at 2:23 am

    A few threads ago, Smith of Qazvin had posted a link to a Munk debate between Nasr-Zacharia vs Yaldin-Krauthammer. In the middle of the debate Krauthammer lets out “WE bombed Ozirak.” He then quickly corrects himself “Israel, on our behalf, bombed Ozirak.”

    The likes of Krauthammer ‘deeply’ do not distinguish between the interests/actions of the apartheid pipsqueak, and the interests/actions of USA. The ‘deep’ convictions held by Tony Blair about “45 minutes”, cemented the political paradigm in UK which Thacher started with her convictions about reverse Robin Hoodism. Conviction politics in the US was ushered in by Ragan, resurrected by Bush junior, and now has become an unshakable reality in Washington with Obama. The folks Hillary is talking about deeply abide by their delusions. Ultimately these people take as a given their primacy and supremacy in all affairs and are only willing to argue at the margins, the tactics, etc.

    Politicians infect the public, and the tribal instinct flourishes among the masses. These things don’t change until we descends beyond the abyss, methinks.

  71. Sineva says:

    kooshy says:
    December 10, 2012 at 11:21 pm
    Quite right,sadly we are seeing the continuing “unscomisation” of the iaea one can only hope that mr amano will receive the same fate of dishonor and disgrace that a certain mr butler did,at the very least hopefully he may learn as mr butler did not that it doesn`t pay to trust or do deals with western intelligence.Personally if I was iran I would strictly limit my cooperation with the iaea to the barest minimum until it has regained its former impartiality and integrity and this is very unlikely with a hand picked western stooge running the show

  72. Fiorangela says:

    NPR is on the case, Dr. Leverett. This morning’s news included an interview with a Syrian general who defected, who claimed to have had some authority over Syria’s “largest in the world” chemical weapons stash. NPR repeated for emphasis the general’s declaration that he was “certain” that Basher Assad would use the weapons on his own people, if his situation became desperate.

    The NPR report also mentioned that Syrian rebels knew where chemical warehouses were and were closing in on them. The rebels were NOT, emphasize NOT intent on gaining access to chemical weapons, mind you — heaven forbid. Besides, they had likely been moved by Assad’s forces. Rather, the rebels sought to storm the warehouses to acquire gas masks.

  73. Unknown Unknowns says:

    Hillary-san says:

    It’s all about “who’s to blame for a disastrous policy,” not genuine strategic revision. The United States isn’t going to give up arming rebels—even jihadists—fighting to overthrow governments it doesn’t like. For, Hillary explains, there is “something deeply cultural, something deep in American strategic culture” that leads one generation of policymakers after another to believe

    “that no matter who we arm, train, and fund, as long as they knock off the political order that we don’t like, that is defying the United States, that somehow organically the population will rise up and construct a liberal, secular political order. Notwithstanding the fact that the fighters are jihadists, they will construct a liberal secular political order. We have this delusion time and time again, and I think it’s something deeply embedded in American strategic culture.” [my emphasis]

    Em, I wonder if *that* is the delusion, or if, in fact, the problem is much deeper, and that those who make US foreign policy know perfectly well that no “secular democracy” shall obtain, and that this was never their intent, but rather, that their intent was to fan the flames of sectarian strife a la divide and conquer and war for war’s (and the military-industrial-congressional-media complex’s) sake. I’m afraid it is the latter, and that, with due respect (of which there is an abundance), not seeing the raw imperialism in display is itself naive to the point of delusion.


    On another topic, I was sorry, Neo-ji, to see you bare a side of you which I had not seen, namely that of the ignorant (and arrogant in his ignorance) liberal, joining the ranks of TovioS. I suggest you read the history of Karbala before spewing ignorance in public. Specifically, for example, the passages where Imam Hosayn plead (gracefully and with impeccable logic, but alas, unsuccessfully) with his adversaries to give him and his entourage passage back to Medina, as well as his entreaty to his troupe on the night of Ashura to steal away from camp under cover of night, as the dawn will surely bring nothing but death to them all. (To their eternal glory, his companions chose to die with him rather than to abandon him).


    Empty-san says: “I am yet to see one part that contradicts another part”

    There are verses where God is described in anthropomorphic terms (His “hand”, for example, or His “sitting” on the Throne), and there are other which clearly “contradict” this: in verses where God is said to be unseen and unseeable, “allahu samad” etc. The interpretation of the word samad itself and all such (potentially) anthropomorphic verses have caused deep fractures within the ‘community’ – so much so that different paradigms have arisen, if you will: the Zaheri school, which as I understand it, Md ibn Hanbal and Ebn-e Taymiyye (and the Salafis and Wahhabis after them) are close to, on one “hand”, and the Mutazileh and Asharites on the other (with the Emamiyye in the middle with their “shay’on ghayr ol-ashya’ interpretation (attributed to Emam Reza, AS.) The tension between interpretations favoring different points of the spectrum of tanzih and tashbih can be explained away by contradiction or by paradox, but either way you slice it, what is incontrovertible is that these contradictions/ paradoxes are causes for division among the believers, giving rise to Asharism, Zaheri ‘aqa’ed, sufic or erfanic approaches, the falasuf traps, and of course, the emamiyyeh aqida or creed.

  74. Richard Steven Hack says:

    I break my self-imposed exile from this site to declare this probably the best and most realistic post the Leveretts have made so far. It’s clear to anyone with a brain that the entire “chemical weapons” story line is made up to justify an imminent US/NATO military attack on Syria.

    As for support for the insurgents, there is a story out today that the US is – are you ready for this – training the insurgents TO HANDLE CHEMICAL WEAPONS! Supposedly this is to allow them to “secure” Assad’s (alleged) chemical weapons if they capture them. In reality, the US is essentially training Al Qaeda in the handling of chemical weapons. It doesn’t get more obvious than this.

    Also note that Syria claims the insurgents have captured a chlorine factory, which means they have the ability to fake a Syrian chemical attack to justify a US/NATO attack. Add that to the “training” the US is providing the insurgents and the option for a “false flag” chemical attack on civilians that can be blamed on Assad is obvious.

    In addition, since the US has moved the Enterprise near Syria as well as other war ships and military assets, and NATO is moving Patriot missiles into Turkey, the Syrians clearly are concerned about an imminent attack. Since the Syrians have said that they would only use chemical weapons against a FOREIGN attack, the Syrians may well have begun moving their chemical weapons in order to protect them from such an attack or prepare them to be used against such an attack. This in turn allows the US to claim the Syrians are going to use those weapons “on their own people”.

    You see how the cause-and-effect here plays right into the West’s hands?

  75. kooshy says:

    From last tread
    BiBiJon says:
    December 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm


    My prediction

    We know that Mr. ElBaradei had seen all these supposed 3rd party provided evidence and dismissed their credibility. In mean time when Mr. Amato was pushed over as the new DG he was tasked to intensify pressure on Iran, so he came up with the last Nov report which was based on the same garbage evidence that ElBaradei had dismissed earlier. I suspect some Robert Kelley like inspectors and analyst in IAEA’s safe guard department are quite upset with political attachment and direction that Amato is taking the IAEA, therefore they decided to leak some of the garbage he uses as evidence for an Iranian Military Nuclear program to discredit him so far it seems it worked so that became necessary for big media to come out to his defense and protection for his reelection.
    This whole story seems a bit too late to affect the Iran case.