OK, I'll Weigh In (Syria)
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2017-04-07 09:24 by Karl Denninger
in Foreign Policy , 1289 references Ignore this thread
OK, I'll Weigh In (Syria)
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Oh hell, why not.

First things first: Who used chemical weapons in Syria recently?

The US says it was Assad.

Does anyone remember that Assad allegedly gave up all his chemical weapons?  You forgot that story, right?  It was touted as one of Obama's "wins"; in fact Susan Rice (yes, that Susan Rice who stands accused of "unmasking" Trump and his pals in "accidental" intelligence intercepts and spreading same all over the government to, some say, "encourage" leaks) said in January that the Obama Administration had secured the removal of all chemical weapons under Syrian government control.

Now maybe she was wrong and maybe she was lying.  But if she wasn't wrong then obviously Assad didn't use what he didn't have.

And let me remind you that there were myriad news reports at the time (2014) that in fact those weapons were gone.

The salient question is this: Who actually used these weapons and where did they come from?

Let me remind you of a few other facts:

1. Assad is winning against the "rebels"; why would he use chemical weapons in a war he is winning when he knows that will bring immediate and serious problems for him?  Assad is a five-alarm bastard but he is not stupid.

2. The "rebels" contain a very large contingent of ISIS backed or affiliated terrorists.

3. The "rebels" would love to see the US come blast their opponent who is beating them in their civil war.  There's nothing like getting someone else to come blow up the guys who are trying to kill you, especially when you're losing!

4. The "rebels" don't give a damn about international law either (terrorists, remember, generally could give a crap about what anyone else thinks.)

The manifest weight of the publicly-visible evidence is that the rebels had motive and perhaps opportunity.  Assad had no motive; he was winning and, according to Susan Rice as recently as January he had no opportunity either.

How do you use something you don't have?

So on a first-blush look I got two negative factors on one side and one positive and one neutral on the other.  Without some pretty firm evidence I'd say the odds are far higher than the "rebels" used the chems than Assad did, but I don't have access to classified intelligence.

There are other issues too.  I saw plenty of pictures of medic-type workers tending to people allegedly gassed but not wearing any sort of PPE.  Folks, Sarin, if that's what was used (and it is what was claimed) is a moderately long-persistence nerve agent especially in liquid form, which incidentally it is at room temperature and pressure. While the residue might not kill a medic after the fact it sure isn't anything good to be around or get on you and it does penetrate through unprotected skin.  Would you go tend to those injured in a gas attack using a long-persistence agent without wearing full PPE?

Just asking, you know.

Now maybe it wasn't Sarin.  Maybe it was chlorine or some other quick-dispersing light-molecule agent (e.g. a gas at room temperature and pressure) that has little residual risk.  But we have been told it was Sarin, so who's lying and what are they lying about because I'm quite certain that no medic in his or her right mind is going to tend to neurological agent victims without taking appropriate precautions against becoming a victim themselves.

Given that we fired 59 cruise missiles (at what -- $2 million each?) resulting in a few blown up airplanes and concrete shelters, plus apparently a fuel depot on a Syrian airbase (but apparently not a destroyed runaway, I note) did we just witness a very expensive fireworks display "for show" or is there something to this?

And if the latter did we actually hit the guy who used chemical weapons or did we just provide military assistance to terrorists?

I'm not at all sure -- and that's not so good.

It's especially not so good, if you think about it, if Assad did use the chems.  See, if he really did do it then he had them, which means Rice was either wrong or lied.  Before you dismiss this as "politics as usual" let me remind you that we were also repeatedly assured that Iran does not possess a nuclear weapon, and that Obama prevented that from occurring, just as he "disarmed" Assad's chemical stockpile.

You might want to contemplate laying in backstock of SPF 50,000,000 Sunblock -- just in case Rice and the Press lied twice.

Since many seem to have trouble understanding the meaning of the above ("fireworks display") I'll help you: Contemplate the circumstances. The strike came while the Chinese head-of-state was having dinner with Trump.  There is this little problem over in the South China Sea, and a military confrontation of any sort there would get messy -- fast.  The Chinese are not stupid, and knowing that Trump is willing to cook off nearly 60 cruise missiles while having dinner just might have been as much for Xinnie Boy's consumption as Assad's.  Oh, and add to that the fact that the Russians are very interested in not having things get out of hand between Japan and China since both are in their back yard, never mind the little Korean issue so....... yeah.

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Gatecrasher
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I'd lay odds Rice and the press have lied twice since breakfast.

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Steph4liberty
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Karl, do you think the rebels had access to the fixed wing aircraft used in the attack?

I honestly don't know what to believe. I'm fairly sure Assad is a bastard and I wouldn't put this kind of atrocity past him. On the other hand, if he's winning, what's the motive (other than just being a bastard)?

I don't want the US to be the world's policeman, but I certainly hate seeing the horrors that were foisted upon the innocent.

Waiting for clearer information before passing judgement either way...not sure if I'll get it.

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Tickerguy
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Quote:
Karl, do you think the rebels had access to the fixed wing aircraft used in the attack?

No.

I suspect the so-called "chemical attack" was a consequence of a Syrian government hit on a rebel base where chemicals were (but not Sarin), or that the rebels used something a whole lot simpler (and common, like chlorine.)

The problem with the claim that Sarin was used is that the medics would have been taking a ridiculous risk handling the injured (and corpses) without full PPE on. Sarin is skin-permeable and it will **** you up or kill you very dead whether you're the intended victim or not. Medics, especially combat medics, know this and IF they didn't for some reason we'd be reading about a bunch of severely-****ed up or dead medics, and we're not.

Thus the overwhelming evidence is that the original insult was NOT Sarin. That a chemical agent nailed a bunch of people looks to be true, but that doesn't prove agency or even intentional action; either side could have hit a rebel location with stored chemicals, for example, that were then dispersed and nailed the civilians in the area. But that's not a chemical attack, it's collateral damage.

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Winding it down.
Flyanddive
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It looks like it was Phosgene being made by rebels to me.

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Maynard
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Tejas
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I think your analysis is correct. I am interested why, with all the apparent documentation footage that the real story hasn't been reviled. The whole area this happened to should know the truth.
Steph4liberty
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Once again, your knowledge of just about everything astounds me. And this is also why I typically weigh what I'm seeing on the news & other platforms against what I read here before drawing any conclusions.




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Lunatic_fringe
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I haven't seen any confirmed reports of what was destroyed at the base. My guess would be damage was light and this was expensive bluster to not only put the fear of god into Assad but Putin, China, North Korea and Iran.

Hopefully it works.
Eli
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Yeah, the gas attack was perfect, dead kids make great theater.

Could you come up with a better reason for the US to get into this mess?

You have ISIS backed by Saudi, Asaad backed by Iran and Hamas and the Russians, Israel in the mix worried about Iran leaving next door.

We are being told a story or should I say sold a story.

Funny that Hitlary came out hours before this and said we need to attack Syria, funny I thought she was supposed to be in jail. I guess not, criminals are still in charge.

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Zappafan
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Thanks for lending your voice here. None of us have access to direct evidence, but as usual the circumstantial evidence and reports filtered by the western media don't hold water.

How about an autopsy on one of the dead bodies? That would tell the truth wouldn't it? Of course getting a hold of a body and proving chain of custody is impossible in such a war zone. How convenient.

It looks a lot like Trump just got rolled for good by the war machine. If all it takes to get him to blast some airbase in a sovereign land with cruise missiles is some pictures of dead children with no investigation or attempt to get to the truth of the matter, then we are in for some seriously ****-up times.


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Nolaguy
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I wouldn't be surprised if this was somewhat coordinated with Russia to help dispel the "Trump is an agent of Russia" narrative.

Don't get me wrong, the neo-cons got a huge boner over this, but perhaps Trump's motives were different than theirs.

Whatever the reasons/motives, it's crazy ****.

Jazen
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I think it's bluster. For what? Who knows, we will find out soon.
My wife asked me what I thought about it, I said, don't you find it interesting how quickly they plastered footage of kids everywhere.
This was a set up for the US to get into a conflict.
Can't trump go to war without the approval of congress for a certain time period? If so, can he also authorize unlimited spending to support such a war?

Isn't the .gov almost out of money?

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Gable
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I tend to agree with most here...the whole thing does not pass the smell test. Add to that I think Trump is being played by his "advisors". Obamacare will be adjusted around the edges, but nothing of substance will be done. Tax cuts will be watered down...and as someone point out above, Hillary is still not in prison.

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Wootendw
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"Assad is winning against the "rebels"; why would he use chemical weapons in a war he is winning when he knows that will bring immediate and serious problems for him? Assad is a five-alarm bastard but he is not stupid."

Assad (an Alawite) was an ophthalmologist not groomed to replace his father (who sent troops to Iraq I to fight on our side). His succession was approved (overwhelmingly) in a plebiscite. He won a multi-party election in 2014 and his party won a majority in Syria's parliament in April of last year. Assad's wife (a Sunni) is British and highly educated with degrees in computer science and French literature. She has worked as an investment banker and had been accepted in an MBA program at Harvard before marrying Assad. The Assads could live comfortably anywhere as both speak several languages. Assad does not fit the mold of a dictator clinging to power as the USG claims.

Using CWs when you are already winning with legal ones makes no sense. My hope is that this is a one time thing that Putin (and maybe Assad) agreed to in order to take the pressure off Trump (Putin 'stooge', etc.). Putin cannot afford to let the USG take over Syria and install some Mubarak-like puppet such as Ayman Asfari. That would only whet the appetites of McCainiacs to attack Crimea and eastern Ukraine 'republics'. That would be the end of Russia and who knows what Putin and Russia might do to avoid ending up like Qadaffi and Libya.

Tickerguy
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Quote:
Can't trump go to war without the approval of congress for a certain time period? If so, can he also authorize unlimited spending to support such a war?

Isn't the .gov almost out of money?

Meh.

You sound like the folks who said the same thing every time Obama launched a missile.

Naw.

Reports now pretty-much confirm that we didn't get ONE Russian accidentally. Therefore, I surmise they were told -- maybe 5 minutes in advance, but told. (e.g. Tell your guys in this place now: "Run!") Syria is crawling with Russians and it would have been nearly impossible to hit Syria with that sort of ordnance and not accidentally kill a couple of Russkies otherwise.

Can the President order what amounts to "hot pursuit" without a Congressional declaration? Sure. Is that part of the calculus here? No. Why not? Because if we get into it with the Russians we're both going to glow and "how much can I spend" won't be part of the menu.

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Little_eddie
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I think last night shows us that they are going to drive this train straight into the brick wall with the pedal to the medal.

They are not going to give up anything, full throttle, no other option.

You can see it in Health Care, debt and the rule of law.

smiley

I am now in the winding it down mode.

Good luck everyone

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Vernonb
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Quote:
I suspect the so-called "chemical attack" was a consequence of a Syrian government hit on a rebel base where chemicals were (but not Sarin), or that the rebels used something a whole lot simpler (and common, like chlorine.)

This is what Assad and the Russians are claiming.

Quote:
Reports now pretty-much confirm that we didn't get ONE Russian accidentally. Therefore, I surmise they were told -- maybe 5 minutes in advance, but told. (e.g. Tell your guys in this place now: "Run!") Syria is crawling with Russians and it would have been nearly impossible to hit Syria with that sort of ordnance and not accidentally kill a couple of Russkies otherwise.


The Russian spokesperson said the US notified them of the strike to get personnel out of the area.

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Goforbroke
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I have watched way too many episodes of Homeland to trust anything I hear from anyone in the .gov, and to resign myself to knowing that the truth will never out.

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Jazen
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Burst my bubble why don't ya :)
The .gov still needs to find a way to come up with $.

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Tickerguy
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Pfffft.....

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Idiom
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Looking at the whole board, Trump is talking with China about North Korea, and benefits greatly from looking like he is willing to mash the big button at any time.

The chems? No benefit to Assad, little benefit to Russia or the US. Who does benefit?
Bagbalm
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So how much of this information was from intelligence agencies and how much from commercial media? Because I'm wondering how Trump can believe this story but accuse them of lying about pretty much everything else.
Asimov
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The two things I've gotten out of it are...

1) The thing with the medics handling them barehanded with dust masks.

2) Trump was in a meeting with the chinese guy when the attack happened - that wasn't an accident.

I don't know enough to even try to draw any conclusions as to what was actually going on. I just know that there are important bits of the narrative we're not being told.

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Tickerguy
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Psst - re-read the Ticker.... me thinks there's more to this than what originally meets the eye...

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Tickerguy
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Quote:
2) Trump was in a meeting with the chinese guy when the attack happened - that wasn't an accident.

Of course not. "**** with us and..."

Very clear message, delivered over Dover Sole with a fork in-hand -- and not a single word said.

Remember, there are TWO hot issues there with Chinese involvement -- the Senkaku Islands and North Korea.

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Winding it down.
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