The dominant propaganda meme of the day, as already noted by Colonel Lang, is that Bashar al Assad unleashed chemical weapons on "innocent women and children" in rebel held territory and that Russia and Iran, along with Syria, are responsible. We MUST take action (or so we are told emphatically by morons pretending to be news anchors on the various cable outlets). Few media outlets are willing to report that this information is not only uncorroborated but originates with established liars and rebel partisans--i.e., the White Helmets. Oh, and did you know that the White Helmets are funded largely by the Governments of the UK and the United States?
It is critical to keep the source of funds in mind if you are to understand the true nature of these Islamic scam artists. Ironically, Max Blumenthal, son of the infamous Sid, has been a leader in exposing these fraudsters. Blumenthal wrote, more than three years ago, that:
The White Helmets’ leadership is driven by a pro-interventionist agenda conceived by the Western governments and public relations groups that back them. Anyone who visits the group’s website—which is operated by an opposition-funded PR company known as the Syria Campaign—will be immediately directed to a request to sign a petition for a no-fly zone to “stop the bombs” in Syria. These sorts of communiques highlight the dual role the White Helmets play as a civil defense organization saving lives while lobbying for a U.S. military campaign that will almost inevitably result in the collapse of Syria’s government. . . .
The White Helmets were founded in collaboration with USAID’s Office of Transitional Initiatives—the wing that has promoted regime change around the world—and have been provided with $23 million in funding from the department. USAID supplies the White Helmets through Chemonics, a for-profit contractor based in Washington DC that has become notorious for wasteful aid imbroglios from Haiti to Afghanistan. While members of the White Helmets have been implicated in atrocities carried out by jihadist rebel groups, the names of many of the firms that supposedly monitor and evaluate their work have been kept secret by USAID on unspecified security grounds.
In March 2013, a former British infantry officer named James Le Mesurier turned up on the Turkish border of Syria. . . .Le Mesurier’s job was to organize a unique band of people who rush into freshly bombed buildings to extract survivors—while filming themselves—in rebel-held areas facing routine bombing by Syrian army aircraft. In 2014, he established Mayday Rescue, a non-profit based in Turkey that grew out of the Dubai-based "research, conflict transformation, and consultancy" firm known as Analysis, Research, and Knowledge, or ARK. . . Though they were known as Syrian Civil Defense, graduates of Le Mesurier’s course became popularly identified by the signature headgear they wore in the field: White Helmets.
Since being founded under the watch of Mayday Rescue, the White Helmets have received grants worth millions of dollars from the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Japan and USAID. To date, USAID has donated $23 million to the White Helmets, a substantial sum for a civil defense project in a war zone.
While the White Helmets masquerade as an organization providing humanitarian assistance, their true purpose is to spread propaganda and try to create the impetus to compel the United States to take a more active military role against Bashar al Assad. Their first major effort in this regard came in August 2013, when they pushed the false claim that the Syrian Government had used sarin on rebels and their families. Whatever happened on the ground was not carried out by anyone acting on behalf of or under the authority of the Syrian Government. Sy Hersh ably told the story in his London Review of Books piece, The Red Line and the Rat Line:
Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons. Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia.
The rebels made another failed attempt one year ago and Trump took the bait. Fortunately, his military retaliation was nothing more than a PR gesture--he ordered the launch of cruise missiles that struck desert and scrub in Syria. In fact, we gave the Russians a heads up a few hours beforehand in order to ensure we did not hit any of Putin's people. Faithful readers of Sic Semper will recall that I wrote extensively on this issue and highlighted the research/findings of Professor Ted Postol, who pointed out that the claims of sarin were not based on any actual forensic evidence.
And then there are the supposed new chemical attacks of today (Sunday) in the area known as Ghouta. At least this time the White Helmets are not accusing Syria of using sarin. Nope. Their new "go to" agent is chlorine. But what is different this time is that Donald Trump, who gets his intel from watching TV, is appalled and horrified. With smart phone in hand and stubby fingers flying over his mini-key board, Trump lashed out via Twitter at Russia, Iran and Barack Obama, along with "the animal Assad."
Trump, in my view, is very likely to order an escalation in our military response compared to last year. And this time we run a real risk of hitting Russian and Iranian forces. That is a recipe for war.
We are spiraling towards war with Russia and it is a war of our making and choosing. It is all predicated on a lie. A big lie that, incredibly, a large number of supposedly intelligent Republicans and Democrats passionately embrace and spread.
The lie boils down to this--Vladimir Putin is the Stalin of the 21st Century and in the process of trying to resurrect the USSR for new global domination. The following paragraphs penned four years ago in the Spectator by Owen Matthews is a prime example of this lie.
But Putin’s new mission goes deeper than political opportunism. Like the old Communist International, or Comintern, in its day, Moscow is again building an international ideological alliance. . .Putin is pitching for moral leadership of all conservatives who dislike liberal values. And again, like the Comintern, Putin appears convinced that he is embarking on a world-historical mission. . . .
Russia’s hard power is growing in parallel with its soft power. For the first time in a generation Moscow called the shots on a major international diplomatic issue last year, when Sergei Lavrov’s plan to supervise Syria’s chemical weapons disarmament derailed US plans for military strikes on Damascus. Over recent years Moscow unsuccessfully backed local despots in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, and Libya — and they lost their heads, just like old Soviet clients from Afghanistan to Yugoslavia. But with Syria that run of failure is finally changing. Moscow’s diplomatic protection in the UN, backed by Russian weapons, intelligence and military expertise, finally means something again. If Harry Truman wanted to make the US the arsenal of democracy, then Putin seems to have a similar plan for Russia to be the arsenal of reaction.
More strident bipartisan versions of this are heard more often these days in the United States. When Vladimir Putin boasted in a recent state of Russia speech that Russia possesses nuclear weapons capable of bypassing US missile defense systems. Democrat and Republican Senators were quick to argue that ours is bigger and better than theirs.
“Everything [Putin] does has been a resurgence of Cold War rhetoric and the Novo-Russia that he wants to see,” said New Jersey senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee.
South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham described the remarks as “bluster by Putin for domestic purposes.”
“It is a weak guy who is inherently weak, trying to be strong,” Graham said. “We have nuclear capability. Mutually assured destruction is alive and well.”. . .
Top Democrat on the Senate intelligence Committee Mark Warner, whose panel is investigating 2016 Russian election interference, warned of what an emboldened Russia means for the 2018 midterm elections.
“This is a Russia that feels it has reemerged on the world stage, and what we’ve seen is not only a build-up of conventional weapons, but they have been masters of using cyber warfare, misinformation, disinformation,” said Warner.
There are no adults on the public foreign policy stage in Washington, DC. Like starving hounds, all are howling that Trump must do something to respond to this outrage. This is the same juvenile bullshit that many of you experienced in middle school--you are being called a coward if you don't start fighting in response to an imagined slight. Only this is not about school boy frays. This risks a widening war.
If you view these events from the standpoint of the Kremlin, what you see is an unrelenting information operation offensive designed to smear Russia and portray it as a lawless, violent authoritarian state that will do anything, including using nerve agent on a useless former KGB spy and his daughter, to achieve global domination. They know it is a lie but are not possessed of infinite patience. Russians, including Putin, know all to well how a staged public event like the Reichstag fire of 1933 can be used to justify war.
I have no hope that cooler heads will prevail. John Bolton is now the National Security Advisor whispering into Trump's ear like Grima Wormtongue (a Lord of the Rings reference). He is anything but cool and reasonable. If Trump goes down this road it will not only be the beginning of the end of his Presidency. It could be the end of the United States as a viable political entity.