Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Showdown at the UN Corral

If there was any doubt that Washington has learned absolutely nothing since George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, then President Obama’s address to the United Nations has confirmed the world’s worst fears. It was an oration that combined the most egregious lies with the wooly-minded “idealism” that has been such a destructive force in world affairs since the days of Woodrow Wilson. First, the lies:

“The evidence is overwhelming that the Assad regime used such weapons on August 21st. U.N. inspectors gave a clear accounting that advanced rockets fired large quantities of sarin gas at civilians. These rockets were fired from a regime-controlled neighborhood and landed in opposition neighborhoods. It’s an insult to human reason and to the legitimacy of this institution to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.”

The evidence is far from “overwhelming,” and the only insult to human reason is the dogmatic repetition of this American talking point. As Seymour Hersh pointed out in the London Review of Books:

“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. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.”

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