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29 April 2017

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LeaNder

WMD Mirage

Has been on my mind too, Richard.

doug

As a civilian completely on the outside, it became reasonably clear to me that during the run up to the war, the whole WMD issue was secondary at best. The rationale was much more complex. It was

The ME was a festering swamp that represented an ambiguous future threat. Iraq was seen as an opportunity to remake the Middle East in the style of liberal Western democracies. This would, over time, reduce the threat of unexpected terrorist attacks from state or stateless actors. Iraq was seen as a relatively, for the ME, secular state with a population that would most easily adopt our Western vision. Saddam's regime would be relatively easy to remove. Iraq would be, with our benevolent help, a future shining light of Western values. From there, with easier access to Syria and Iran, we could spread those values. They would spread like kudzo spreads. Bush, and his administration would be eventually acclaimed as heroes.

This, I believe, was the real rationale. I believe this was understood by the Borg, or elites, if one prefers. The DC establishment, media elites, think tanks, etc. were all on board. But the broader public needed to be brought along. And this understanding doesn't make a good sales pitch with the hoi polloi. Imminent threat of WMDs do. So it was magnified to the necessary proportion.

That WMDs were the public rationale, not the insider one, became obvious shortly after the post war clean up was going on and Rumsfeld would casually dismiss, day after day, questions from the press about whether the military had located the WMDs. The nattering nabobs of WMD negativism clearly annoyed him.

The notions that what is widely sold to the public was an accurate assessment of the IC must have been galling to them but it is always so. The failure wasn't with the IC info but with the grandiose, wishful thinking, of how the Middle East would evolve as a result of our considerable, if unappreciated, efforts. Presumably this was also a product of the IC. Understanding and accounting for that was the larger failure.

Jack

doug

With the advantage of hindsight I believe you are correct. Col. Lang's "Drinking the Kool Aid" is a seminal paper in this regard.

The economic determinists and all the anti-American conspiracy theorists will always believe that it was due to a financial motive. Consequently they will never get to the root of contemporary US policy in the ME.

Valissa

Great comment!

Reminds me of a post by CP 3 years ago...

------------
I think what underlies American enthusiasm for regime change is a profound and pronounced unwillinness to engage with the world as it is. At the core of this inability is the still popular notion of American exceptionalism. America's great power suggests to US actors an ability to shape the world according to America's ideas of how it should be. In this there is not that much of a practical difference between the Obamaite R2Pers and the Bushmen. They're essentially two kinds of the same utopian breed. Ron Suskind's famous White House aide put it that way in the Bush years: The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2014/02/obamaite-r2pers-and-the-bushmen-by-confused-ponderer.html
------------------

Geopolitical power games based on magical thinking... what could go wrong? (/snark)

jjc

Some may have believed a nation-building program was the ultimate objective, but is it not clear that post-war planning for Iraqi civil society was almost non-existent? The British certainly later admitted there was little or no planning for a post-invasion environment. The facts on the ground show that concern for the people of the region was an extremely low priority. Establishing a permanent military presence through multiple new bases and the grandiose US Embassy in Baghdad seemed the focus of most attention.

Gene O.

The mirage is still out there seducing the chickenhearted. A sometime neighbor is convinced that the WMD were spirited out of Iraq through a secret Baghdad-to-Damascus tunnel. He claims it is two lanes wide and tall enough to accept truck traffic. I have no idea who spoonfeeds him these dopey notions.

Bill Herschel

I disagree with this completely. To the extent that what you are saying is congruent with the idea that people leading the US thought they could make political hay in the US by showing how superior their economic and social ideas were in Iraq, I do agree. And if what you are saying is that the war on Iraq was a vanilla colonial war akin to Britain in India intended to bring the US the bounty of a ME colony rich in oil (perhaps to slightly weaken the tight grip Saudi Arabia has on the US) I might agree.

But the "festering swamp" representing "an ambiguous future threat" is utter nonsense. That is the same nonsense that has led to a misunderstanding of the longest war in American history: Afghanistan.

The United States electorate is living in a propaganda dream world akin to Oz. And we have now seen the wizard himself, Donald Trump, the modern Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs. Aided by a Constitution designed to protect minority rule by a slave-holding aristocracy, the country is ruled by an angry minority for whom the American dream constantly recedes like Fitzgerald's boats against the tide.

Our actions create festering swamps.

Tigermoth

I had read the book "Plague Wars: A True Story of Biological Warfare" prior to 9/11 and was astounded by the claims of Colin Powell at the UN that Iraq had WMD. The authors covered the Iraqi WMD complex in the book, had investigated it and came to the conclusion that at that time Iraq had none and had no operational facilities to produce them.

I was still naive enough back then to think that "CP and company" honestly believed Iraq had them and I just wanted to get them this book to read so they could get their facts right. But, I've since been educated in the nuances of "smoke and mirrors".

Plague Wars: A True Story of Biological Warfare, 1999
by JEFF GOLDBERG' 'TOM MANGOLD (Author)

YT

http://www.unz.com/jpetras/global-turmoil-flatulence-or-substance/

Is it happenstance that the norks upon seeing what happened to saddam and Ghaddafi, are also stricken with fear of the "great satan"?

Hence their own wmd pet project...

English Outsider


The Syrian "chemical attack" first came up on this site on 3rd April. The Colonel accepted an off-topic comment from me that linked to a BBC report of the incident. The official version was immediately debunked by several commenters and has been debunked on this site since, often in great detail.

Increasingly, attention here has focused on the forensic evidence.

I admire and see value in the examination the forensic evidence has been given on this site. I admire it because of the expertise and care of those looking at that evidence. I see value in it because exposing the discrepancies in the official accounts of the forensic evidence, as has been done several times on the Colonel's site, at least shows us that the official accounts are unreliable.

But apart from that I believe there is little point in looking at the forensic evidence at all. Where do the samples come from? Under what conditions were they taken? How were they transported? What steps were taken to ensure a proper chain of custody? OK, neither the authorities nor anyone on this site seems to doubt the work of the labs involved in this and other similar episodes - it seems to be common ground that once a sample gets into the lab we can take the findings of the lab as gospel - so we must accept, I suppose, that the lab results are clean, but it's surely not enough to to throw a sample at a scientist and say "Here you are. Test this." Forensic evidence, in the courts, only works because the court is satisfied with the integrity of the sampling process from the very start of that process. Here there is no such certainty. Forensic evidence where the integrity of the evidence can only be assured once the sample is inside the lab isn't evidence at all. No court would accept it. Why should we?

And I think, too, that we are too fixated on that forensic evidence. Not only does it lead nowhere, it leads us to ignore other types of evidence. I am reminded of the investigation into the MH17 tragedy. All that fuss over bits of metal and even now no one really believes the findings. If the Russians and the Americans really intended to get to the bottom of it they could do so easily enough. For a start they could insist that the members of the BUK teams involved or alleged to be involved came forward for questioning. Both the Russians and the Americans have sufficient control over the respective sides to insist on that. Not all the members of those BUK teams can be dead. They were specialists working in armies that are notorious for running things by paperwork. Nothing easier than to produce them for questioning. But neither the Americans nor the Russians took any steps to secure that evidence, nor any other easily available evidence it seems, and the result was therefore merely a farce. It's as if a policeman were to base his case in court merely on a few fragments of disputed forensic evidence and were to studiously avoid presenting to the court the witnesses or other evidence that could make his case solid. No court would put up with such nonsense. It certainly couldn't arrive at a safe verdict in such circumstances.

So it is here. We're encouraged to go chasing after forensic evidence of uncertain quality that is dribbled out here and there merely in accordance with the PR needs of those releasing it to us. As I have said above, I do respect the efforts of those who are pulling that meagre allowance of forensic evidence to pieces, and I see the value of that. But what about the rest of the evidence?

I don't even know what time the alleged attack took place. Accounts differ. Surely that could be ascertained for certain. Were any Jihadis killed? That would be expected from the first Russian account but I've seen no names. Are any civilian victims named? I've not seen a list of names. The press and the TV seem to view them merely as victim fodder, undifferentiated "natives" whose identity is irrelevant. But they were real people. They came from somewhere. Where? They had relatives and parents. Who? Where are those relatives and parents now? What was their faith? Who has access to them? If, as seems now to be possible, the SAA retake the area will those relatives and parents still be around to tell their story? Will there then be a proper investigation? Or will the Americans and the Russians sweep the whole thing under the carpet again and leave us for ever unsure of what happened?

That seems likely. We know for certain that American, French, British and other Western advisors are all over the place in Syria. If there were any near Khan Sheikhoun at the time that is going to be information that will not be released, nor any information that might indicate that. The Russians, for their part, are very sparing of specific information about the location and work of the Western advisors, though they must have a pretty good idea of who's where and when. This could well be another MH17, where both sides dole out such sparse information as suits their PR needs and neither have an interest in going further than that. The dead and those who mourn them, if those who mourn are left alive, might have had some inkling what the full story is. We may never know, not for certain.

We are left therefore, as usual, with several scenarios:-

1. The SAA did it. The facts as given to date don't suggest that but neither can it be ruled out. It seems unlikely since there's no motive for it but plenty of reason for the Syrians not to do it. The Ghouta attack nearly led to the destruction of the Syrian state and is still used for propaganda purposes by Western politicians. Why give those politicians another propaganda victory, and that for no military purpose? Nevertheless the SAA has its hawks like any other army - Air Force Intelligence is sometimes mentioned in that context - and I don't therefore see why that scenario should be dismissed without further enquiry.

2. My original belief when I first saw the BBC report on Khan Sheikhoun. That it was staged by the Jihadis after some sort of conventional attack and was uncritically seized upon by the Western media to put pressure on the Trump administration to change policy in the ME. The victims looked real enough, tragically real, but those tending to them seemed to be playing a part. That, and the fact that it came at such a time, seemed to indicate that whatever happened at Khan Sheikhoun ended up as staged atrocity theatre.

3. That the Trump administration had already decided to change policy. Whatever happened at Khan Sheikhoun was used to justify that.

Supporting that scenario is the fact that everything happened very quickly afterwards. There was no waiting for confirmatory evidence and I find that odd given that in the ME staged atrocities do occur quite often. Nor did there seem to be any attempt to clarify what had happened with the Syrians.

4. The Swedish Doctors' scenario. " pmr9" in an earlier thread examines a similar:- " ... a massacre of captives at about the time of the alleged attack in the early morning, probably in gas chambers at the White Helmets cave complex just outside the town. This was followed by redistribution of the bodies to hospitals and other sites, in some cases with faked efforts at resuscitation. "

I hope scenario 3 isn't true. I thought Trump was genuine and (3) doesn't fit in with that. The macabre scenario 4 is one that we must all hope isn't true. (1), that the SAA did it, has nothing to support it yet, and I confess I'm going to be very suspicious of any evidence now produced for it; I don't trust it when the narrative gets reworked. That leaves us with (2), which in my view makes Trump a fool but at least not a rogue.

In the absence of any indisputable evidence then we shall, I have no doubt, choose whatever scenario suits our prejudices or convictions. As I have just done, of course. But it could be we'll never really know. That will suit the politicians just fine. I could wish, however, that the insiders playing these geo-political games, and those who assist them, and on whatever side, could stop thinking solely in terms of the PR manipulation of those of us on the outside. I could wish that they would turn human for a change and give some thought to the consequences of these geopolitical games; those lifeless bodies we saw in those videos, and that we have seen in so many others.

(Note - on the Ghouta attack I have relied on a recent revisiting of a Michael Lueders interview. His Wikipaedia entry runs as follows:-

"Michael Lüders studierte zwei Semester arabische Literatur an der Universität Damaskus sowie Publizistik, Islam- und Politikwissenschaft an der Freien Universität Berlin. Ebendort wurde er mit einer Arbeit über das ägyptische Kino zum Dr. phil. promoviert.
Anschließend arbeitete Lüders zunächst als Dokumentarfilmer und Hörspielautor für den SWR und WDR und war von 1993 bis 2002 Nahost-Redakteur bei der ZEIT. Von 2002 bis 2003 war er als Berater für die SPD-nahe Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) tätig.[1]
Seit Januar 2004 ist Lüders als Mitinhaber der Middle East Consulting Group in Berlin freiberuflicher Politik- und Wirtschaftsberater sowie Publizist und Autor. Er hält nach eigenen Angaben Vorträge über „das Spannungsverhältnis zwischen dem Westen und der arabisch-islamischen Welt“ und „Investitionsmöglichkeiten in der arabischen Welt“ und veröffentlicht „Expertisen zur Ursachenforschung islamistischer Gewalt“.[2] Er berät unter anderem das Auswärtige Amt (AA) und erstellt Fachgutachten für die Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) und das Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ). Darüber hinaus unterrichtet er im Lehrauftrag am Centrum für Nah- und Mittelost-Studien der Philipps-Universität Marburg und ist zur Zeit (2015/16) Gastdozent am Middle East Center der Sakarya Üniversitesi in der Türkei.
Michael Lüders lebt in Berlin.
Funktionen[Bearbeiten | Quelltext bearbeiten]
Seit 2015 ist Lüders Präsident der Deutsch-Arabischen Gesellschaft[3]. Außerdem ist er Beiratsmitglied des Nah- und Mittelost-Vereins (NuMOV)[4] und stellvertretender Vorsitzender der Deutschen Orient-Stiftung."

Lueder's interview is at the start of a ZDF programme broadcast earlier this month.
https://www.zdf.de/gesellschaft/markus-lanz/markus-lanz-vom-5-april-2017-100.html

It seems to me the best recent summary - though necessarily compressed - of the Ghouta gas attack and Michael Lueders relates it to the recent incident at Khan Sheikhoun.)

turcopolier

English Outsider

"Were any Jihadis killed? That would be expected from the first Russian account but I've seen no names. Are any civilian victims named? I've not seen a list of names. The press and the TV seem to view them merely as victim fodder, undifferentiated "natives" whose identity is irrelevant. But they were real people. They came from somewhere. Where? They had relatives and parents. Who? Where are those relatives and parents now? What was their faith?" It has been suggested to me by one of your countrymen that the people in the film "Massacre at Khan Shaykun" were deliberately kille as "props" for the film. Would "White Helmets Films, Limited" do something like that. I think it is quite possible. pl

Babak Makkinejad

I agree; to think that nominal Christians living in their bubbles thousands of miles away, could, even in principle, destroy the Koranic basis of the Muslim societies of the Middle East and reconstitute them in such a way as to make them safe for transgenders etc. is not even folly; it was madness.

Babak Makkinejad

That certainly was the case in World War II with USSR, the country that had prosecuted the largest numbers of war criminals.

There were units of the Red Army with the sole purpose of getting names and biographies of both the victims and the alleged perpetrators as the Red Army marched West and liberated Soviet territory from the Wehrmacht.

doug

Bill,

I didn't say the actual, as opposed to the purported, WMD, reasons were coherent or properly informed. They were visceral, much as UBL intended. It's also quite clear we had little idea what the consequences of that war of choice would be. It was the siren song of expected Westernization changes in Iraq that drove policy makers to war. Perhaps if State hadn't removed most of the Arabists, the wishful thinking wouldn't have been so prevalent.

At the time, Iraq was perhaps closer to the West in culture than any other large, middle east country. After all, they taunted our soldiers in SA drinking beer on the other side of the border in Kuwait. It looked like low hanging fruit. Fools.

turcopolier

Doug

Let us not forget that it was the Clintonians who started the large scale expulsion of ME expertis (i.e. Arabists. pl

Fred

Bill,

You sure have drunk the cultural Marxist kool-aid. Nothing and no one forced anyone to immigrate to the US after the immigration act of `65. The victims of the US Constitution can feel free to go back to the glorious diverse paradises they and their forefathers came from.

doug

Colonel,

Yes, good point. G. w. Bush didn't have a deep bench and wasn't very inclined to wade into the Middle East until 9/11 but he was then surrounded with folks that were working overtime passing around the Kool-Aid. They were active earlier ("Securing the Realm") but that was the golden opportunity as suddenly Israeli interests and American interests came into alignment. Of so they led themselves to believe. The alignment was imperfect.

Did the loss of expertise follow from the fall of the USSR? I did notice how quickly Chas Freeman was vomited out when the Obama administration floated him for the NSC. And, of course, you have recounted your experience with the policy maker's disinterest of experts.

Dean 1000

The hoi polloi bought into the WMD lie only because people like Scott Ritter and certain intelligence dude(s) were not given equal time in the press with the screwballs that were duped by curveball. Ritter and a few others deserve a Medal of Freedom. Fat chance.
Does anyone know the shelf life of Saddam's nerve gas?

English Outsider


Colonel,

That Scenario 4 - that Khan Sheikhoun was an atrocity staged throughout by the Jihadis - is one that I can find few authoritative direct links to. In addition I can no longer find a link to a claim that I saw on some pro-Syrian site that the Jihadis took 200 villagers hostage just before April 4th 2017.

Most of the people I meet take for granted that Khan Sheikhoun was an SAA poison gas attack. Whatever the facts of the matter the neocon narrative is firmly established.

If it doesn't clutter up your site too much I link to a few relevant sites below:-

Tulsi Gabbard & Thomas Massie - reservations about attack at Khan Sheikhoun.

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/04/07/politics/tulsi-gabbard-assad-chemical-weapons-blitzer-cnntv/

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/04/05/politics/thomas-massie-syria-attack-not-assad/

Wikipaedia Summary of Khan Sheikhoun attack.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khan_Shaykhun_chemical_attack


Wikipaedia profile of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_Doctors_for_Human_Rights

Previous incidents as examined by SWEDHR:-

http://theindicter.com/white-helmets-movie-updated-evidence-from-swedish-doctors-confirm-fake-lifesaving-and-malpractices-on-children/

http://theindicter.com/swedish-doctors-for-human-rights-white-helmets-video-macabre-manipulation-of-dead-children-and-staged-chemical-weapons-attack-to-justify-a-no-fly-zone-in-syria/

Russian response - M Zhakarovka:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAxg9_T-W7Y

- Reference in Tass:-

http://tass.com/politics/943615

Swedish Doctors for Human Rights, Home Page:-

http://swedhr.org/

I still believe that the Khan Shaykun atrocity was somehow staged. The questions about the subsequent Tomahawk attack are also still unanswered. Why were soldiers killed by the attack if two hours notice was given? Have they been named? Why no protective clothing for those filmed examining the rubble later?

In contrast, the facts about the recent Jihadi attacks on Syrian evacuees are undisputed. It is difficult to understand why those atrocities, also involving many children, were not met with similar outrage.

English Outsider

Apologies. Maria Zakharova's name wrongly spelled above.

Marko

A couple of things about the early reporting by the "insiders" at Khan Sheikhoun struck me as likely being part of the set-up skit for the full performance that was to follow. Both were in the form of "it should be carefully noted"-type reporting :

1)That the network of the local "civil-patrol" was such that they often had advance warning of air strikes and such , because of area-wide reporting of aircraft sightings and because they all had short-waves and walkie-talkies that allowed them to both intercept military communications as well as spread the word instantaneously. The first time I saw something about this was from the guy who provided the audio commentary to the airstrike video. I immediately thought it odd ,even beyond the "it should be noted" phrasing ,that he'd want to broadcast the fact that they were successfully intercepting SAA military coms. That seems like a good way to put an end to such success. Their foreknowledge of approaching Syrian aircraft sure helps explain why they were able to video the airstrike so well , and from such a perfect vantage point. It fails to explain why they couldn't manage to catch the sight or sound of a single aircraft , however.

2) That many of the residents of Khan Sheikhoun were actually recent refugees from war-torn areas nearby. That provides a convenient setting when many of the deaths can't be associated with a permanent address , or with any local friends or relatives , etc. Having one local man who loses 20 members of his family , including his wife and infant twins, does, however, provide a hefty counterweight to any questions that might arise about the refugee/locals death ratios. I don't have any idea what the story is with "twins man" , but I'm pretty sure there's one in there somewhere.

Thomas

"For a start they could insist that the members of the BUK teams involved or alleged to be involved came forward for questioning. Both the Russians and the Americans have sufficient control over the respective sides to insist on that. Not all the members of those BUK teams can be dead."

It depends if the team that shot down the plane was part of a militia for a Private Banker. He is cruel enough to do in his own, as he had protesters and police shot from his building.

If the Novo Russians did it they would have come forward to beg forgiveness and ask that their rights be respected to end the civil war.

The Russians have the evidence through their air defence system. The rumour was they shared it with Malaysia and other allies and even some State Dept officials who promptly told them to eff off.

Now if the US/NATO has the proof why will they not share it? Especially for the previous administration were nothing was sacred if it gains political advantage (see the diplomatic betrayal of Pakistan after giving up Usama bin Laden).

The answer really is simple, they create reality and sell it with mass messaging and a only few souls willingly see through the foul lies.

William R. Cumming

The COMMITTEE ON THE PRESENT DANGER WAS A COLD WAR ERA CREATION! It was recreated in the 70's to indicate the rising threat of nuclear weapon proliferation and capability. Having some knowledge of that group because U.S. Civil Defense was housed in FEMA after President Carter's Reorganization Plan No. 3 became effective in 1979 when I retired in October 1999 I had quite a collection of the Committee's discussion of nuclear weapons and note officials have publically stated that over 700 tactical nukes were in fact withdrawn from S. Korea after being deployed in the 60's.

Curious if others know this history and can add to it? Note that official U.S. policy has been to neither confirm or deny extra-territorial deployment of nuclear weapons including ballistic missile subs.

All my background papers on the 2nd rising of the Committee were sent to Robert Galucci, then Dean of Georgetown's School of Foreign Service for analysis and safekeeping.

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