Seymour M. Hersh · The Red Line and the Rat Line: Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels · LRB 17 April 2014. In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. 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. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya?
The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous. 4 April. Seymour M. Hersh · Military to Military · LRB 7 January 2016. Barack Obama’s repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office – and that there are ‘moderate’ rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him – has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. Their criticism has focused on what they see as the administration’s fixation on Assad’s primary ally, Vladimir Putin.
In their view, Obama is captive to Cold War thinking about Russia and China, and hasn’t adjusted his stance on Syria to the fact both countries share Washington’s anxiety about the spread of terrorism in and beyond Syria; like Washington, they believe that Islamic State must be stopped. Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings to the civilian leadership about the dire consequences of toppling Assad. The jihadists, he said, were in control of the opposition. Seymour M. Hersh · Whose sarin? · LRB 19 December 2013. Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August.
In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. Syria's nonviolent resistance is dying to be heard. But in Damascus, most of which remains under regime control, even many opponents of the regime also oppose U.S. intervention, according to Khaled Harbash.
Harbash, 21, joined the uprising in April 2011 by helping to organize demonstrations as head of the Hama Civil Team. He moved to Damascus last year, where he has continued to engage in political activism with Building the Syrian State Current, a non-violent opposition group whose members organize meetings and democracy-building workshops among Syrian youth in hopes of building an inclusive foundation for a post-Assad government. The Current opposes outside intervention and armed opposition and favors a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Though it operates independently of the internationally recognized opposition groups, its members inside Syria continue to be targeted by the Assad regime. Harbash is equally disdainful of all outside parties engaged in Syria's conflict. Still, Salahi is ambivalent about U.S. military strikes. The New Indian Express-Gulbarga, 12 August 2013 : readwhere. Israeli bombing of Syria and moral relativism | Glenn Greenwald.
On Sunday, Israel dropped massive bombs near Damascus, ones which the New York Times, quoting residents, originally reported (then evidently deleted) resulted in explosions "more massive than anything the residents of the city. . . have witnessed during more than two years of war. " The Jerusalem Post this morning quoted "a senior Syrian military source" as claiming that "Israel used depleted uranium shells", though that is not confirmed. The NYT cited a "high-ranking Syrian military official" who said the bombs "struck several critical military facilities in some of the country's most tightly secured and strategic areas" and killed "dozens of elite troops stationed near the presidential palace", while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that "at least 42 soldiers were killed in the strikes, and another 100 who would usually be at the targeted sites remain unaccounted for.
" Here's a similar question: The Angst in Foggy Bottom - By Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. Last week, when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, reading from a letter sent from the White House to members of Congress, announced that the U.S. intelligence community believed that the Syrian regime may have used chemical weapons against its own people, the Obama administration wasn't quite ready for the round-the-clock cable-news frenzy that followed. Back in August, and on multiple occasions since, President Obama laid out his "red line" for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad: Don't use chemical weapons.
But now, reports had been trickling out of Syria for weeks of rebel fighters claiming they had been attacked with mysterious chemical gases. Videos emerged that appeared to show victims foaming at the mouth, in agony. Officials from Britain, France, Israel, and Qatar all said they believed chemical weapons had been used. With Hagel's remarks, the Obama administration seemed to be confirming that the president's red line might indeed have been crossed. Alex Wong/Getty Images. Assad’s Chemical Romance - By Joseph Holliday. You've got to hand it to him. Bashar al-Assad may be a cruel and ruthless dictator, but he does know how to play his cards. His careful, incremental introduction of chemical weapons into the Syrian conflict has turned President Barack Obama's clear red line into an impressionist watercolor, undermining the credible threat of U.S. military intervention.
Despite Obama's statement on Friday that "we've crossed a line," Assad knows that the United States does not want to be dragged into a Middle Eastern civil war and is attempting to call Obama's bluff. The Syrian regime's subtle approach deliberately offers the Obama administration the option to remain quiet about chemical attacks and thereby avoid the obligation to make good on its threats. The advent of chemical weapons use in Syria should not come as a surprise, and neither should the manner in which Assad has introduced them. The cynical pattern continued. And chemical weapons are next. BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images.