The Pindo attack on Syria: A prelude to wider war
Andre Damon, WSWS, Apr 8 2017
In the day that has passed since Pindostan carried out an unprovoked and illegal attack on a Syrian air field, it has become clear that this event is only the prelude to a much broader military escalation, with the potential for a direct clash with Russia. On Friday, the media and political establishment, as if with one voice, not only applauded Trump’s action, but called for its expansion. Hillary Clinton declared:
It is essential that the world does more to deter Assad from committing future murderous atrocities.
The day before the attack, Clinton called for bombing Syrian airfields and reiterated her support for setting up a no-fly zone, which top Pindo generals have said would lead to war with Russia. Nancy Pelosi praised Trump’s move, while calling on Congress to pass a new AUMF to give further action greater legitimacy. Walnuts McCain and Lindsey Graham released a statement calling on Trump to “take Assad’s air force completely out of the fight” and create “safe zones,” which would entail the deployment of substantial numbers of ground troops. The delusional and warmongering mood in the media was summed up by MSNBC commentator Brian Williams, who absurdly cited lyrics from Leonard Cohen:
I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons!
He was so transfixed by the beauty of the Tomahawk missiles that he repeated the word three times.
Farid Zakaria proclaimed that with the launching of the airstrikes, “Trump became POTUS.”
All of these statements were underpinned by a universal acceptance of the transparent lie that the strikes were in response to allegations that the Syrian government with the support of Russia, used chemical weapons on Tuesday against the village of Khan Sheikhoun. The Syrian government’s denial of responsibility was dismissed, and the fact that Pindo-backed forces have used such weapons in the past and blamed it on the government simply ignored. As for the blatant illegality of the attack on Syria, this was treated as a nonissue. At Friday’s UNSC meeting, Syria’s ambassador to the UN called the strikes a “flagrant act of aggression, in violation of the charter of the UN as well as all international norms and laws.” In response, Nikki Haley simply declared:
When the international community consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action.
In other words, Pindostan reserves to itself the right to wage aggressive war against any country it chooses, whatever the pretext. This line was echoed in the media, with NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof, the eternal propagandist of “humanitarian” war, declaring:
Pres Trump’s air strikes against Syria were of dubious legality … But most of all, they were right.
Legal experts question whether Trump’s Syria strike was constitutional
Alex Emmons, Intercept, Apr 7 2017
It has become normal over the past 15 years for the morning news to report that the President has bombed an obscure terror group in a far-flung region of the world. These attacks take place without any public debate or a vote in Congress, despite the fact the constitution gives Congress alone the power “to declare war.” Bush 43 and Obama argued, with little pushback, that they could target a wide array of terror groups, thanks to the resolutionCongress passed that allows the president to use “necessary and appropriate force” against those who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the 9/11 attacks. The 2001 resolution has since been used to justify bombing seven countries, deploying troops from Cuba to the Philippines, and conducting wars against groups with loose or non-existent ties to AQ. But almost all experts agree that it cannot be utilized as the legal basis for Trump’s Thursday-night cruise missile attack on Syria. While Assad is a butcher and brutal dictator, he has no connection to the 9/11 attacks, and in fact his forces are fighting AQ’s largest affiliate in Syria. Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor and head of the DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration, sardonically tweeted:
Goldsmith’s perspective was the same in 2013 when the Obama administration was considering bombing Syria’s government for similar reasons. The available legal justifications, Goldsmith wrote, were so extreme that they would provide “no limit at all on the president’s ability to use significant military force unilaterally.” Obama eventually sought Congressional approval, while simultaneously insisting that he didn’t really need it. Louis Fisher of the Constitution Project reactedsimilarly to Trump’s strike, saying:
Pres Trump has no constitutional authority to unilaterally commit the nation to war against Syria.
Hina Shamsi of the ACLU tweeted:
Fionnuala Ni Aolain, a professor of human rights law at the University of Minnesota Law School, wrote:
A slide into self-justificatory unilateralism by Pindostan should not be celebrated nor validated.
One dissenter among these legal voices is Harold Koh, a Yale Law School professor and former Obama administration lawyer. In 2011, after Congress voted not to authorize Obama’s intervention in Libya, Koh wrote a memo attempting to make the case that the bombing campaign was nonetheless congruent with the War Powers Resolution, a 1973 congressional attempt “to fulfill the intent of the framers” by keeping the power of introducing the armed forces “in hostilities” in the hands of the legislative branch. Koh creatively argued that the bombing didn’t rise to the level of “hostilities” because the Libyan military was unable to shoot down the bombers. In a later paper for the Houston Law Review, Koh wrote that under his own criteria, he “would guess that few humanitarian crises will rise to the level of sustained ‘hostilities,’” and hence would not need congressional approval. The White House and the Pentagon have yet even to attempt to make a formal case that the strikes were legal. At Mar-a-Lago, Trump told reporters:
It is in the vital national security interest of the Untied States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.
A Pentagon press release echoed his comments, saying:
The use of chemical weapons against innocent people will not be tolerated.
In the past, Pindostan has made self-defense a justification for its strikes. But both statements suggest the aim of the strike was to punish Assad. Moreover, the Trump administration is indicating they may launch further attacks against Assad without waiting for Congressional approval. At a UNSC meeting Wednesday, Nikki Haley said that Pindostan is “prepared to do more” in Syria. Rex Tillerson said Thursday that “steps are underway” to form a coalition of nations that would look to remove Assad from power. The administration also appears to be ignoring all issues of international law. Days before the strike, Nikki Haley touted the fact that Pindostan would not seek a UNSCR, telling the council on Wednesday:
When the UN consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action.
Pindostan threatens more strikes after cruise missiles hit Syria
Bill Van Auken, WSWS Apr 8 2017
The day after warships rained some 60 Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian government airbase, Pindo boxtops made it clear that this unilateral and criminal attack against an oppressed former colonial country is merely the first shot in what is to be an escalating and widening campaign of Pindo military aggression. The governor of Syria’s central Homs province reported Friday that the missiles killed at least 15 people, including 9 civilians. Four of the dead were children. Many more civilians were injured by two of the missiles, which struck nearby villages. Six of the dead were Syrian personnel at the al-Shairat airbase. The missile strike was the first time that Faschingstein has carried out a direct military attack against Syrian government forces since Pindostan and its regional vassals orchestrated a war for regime change utilizing AQ-linked “rebels” as its proxy ground troops. The attack on the airbase is a direct intervention in that war on the side of the AQ elements. Russian PM Medvedev warned on Friday that the immensely reckless action had brought Washington to “the verge of a military clash” with nuclear-armed Russia, which had an air unit at the base struck by missiles.
Faschingstein seized on an alleged incident Tuesday involving chemical weapons in the village of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province as the pretext for Thursday night’s attack. Syria has denied any use of such weapons, and Faschingstein and its vassals have presented no evidence to support their allegations in relation to the incident, which has all the earmarks of a provocation staged by the CIA and its proxies. The Russian government and others have pointed out the obvious fact that the elaborate attack carried out Thursday night from two destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean had to have been planned well before the alleged incident even happened. The event was staged, with AQ-linked and Pindo-funded “media activists” conveniently on hand to film it, in order to provide Faschingstein with the propaganda pretext it required for its aggression. In a heated exchange in the UNSC on Friday, Pindo Ambassador Nikki Haley brushed aside denunciations by other diplomats that the unilateral action was a gross violation of the UN Charter and international law, instead provocatively insisting that Pindo imperialism is prepared to the do the same thing again and far more, saying:
Pindostan took a very measured step last night. We are prepared to do more, but we hope that will not be necessary.
Knowing full well that the attack was imminent, Haley, who is acting as the council’s rotating president for the month of April, postponed a vote on a compromise resolution calling for an objective investigation into the alleged chemical attack that was being drafted Thursday by the 10 non-permanent members of the SC. Faschingstein has no interest in such a probe, which would almost certainly reveal that the source of any chemical weapons incident was not the government of Assad, but rather the AQ elements that control that area of Idlib Province. There is also no doubt that the strike provides the “rebels” in Syria with every motivation for staging more chemical weapons incidents to provide the pretext for a spiraling escalation of military aggression. The UNSC session was convened at the request of Bolivia, Russia and Syria. Bolivian Ambassador Sacha Llorenti began the debate with a blistering denunciation of the attack, declaring:
The Pindosis believe that they are investigators, they are attorneys, judges and they are the executioners. This is an extremely serious violation of international law and it is not the first time.
Llorenti held up a picture of then Sec State Colin Powell delivering his Feb 5 2003 speech to the UNSC (with fake vial of sarin in hand – RB), insisting that Faschingstein had irrefutable proof of nonexistent WMDs, the notorious pretext for the US invasion barely a month later. The Bolivian envoy added:
This war, based upon lies, resulted in a million deaths and a series of atrocities throughout the Middle East.
Llorenti denounced Faschingstein for its “double standard,” invoking “human rights,” “democracy” and “multilateralism” only when it serves its own strategic interests. He recalled the series of military coups orchestrated by the CIA in Latin America and the Pentagon’s training of Latin American security forces in the art of torture. Russian deputy permanent representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov similarly condemned the attack as a “flagrant violation of international law,” warning:
The consequences for regional and international stability can be extremely serious. Faschingstein has deliberately pre-empted any independent and unbiased investigation. You were afraid of it, as its results might wreck your anti-regime paradigm. Unlike Ambassador Haley (who held up the photographs of two Syrian children and asked ‘how many more children have to die before Russia cares’), I will not stage a cynical show and hold up photographs, but I wonder why there is no such concern for the children of Mosul, where a single Pindosi bombing raid killed over 300 civilians, most of them women and children, last month. Thousands more have been killed and injured in Pindosi airstrikes carried out in both Iraq and Syria.
Syrian deputy ambassador to the UN, Munzer Munzer, denounced the attack as a “barbaric, flagrant act of aggression” and a continuation of Pindo support for AQ-linked terrorists, who he noted had repeatedly stockpiled and used chemical weapons in attacks inside Syria with the support of their patrons, particularly the Turks, Toads & Thanis. All of the representatives of the Western European powers voiced support for the missile strike in terms that suggested that their governments may carry out their own military actions as part of an imperialist scramble for control of the oil-rich Middle East. Italy’s Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi was perhaps the most explicit along these lines, stressing his country’s “major and direct interests in the Mediterranean.” The prospect of the attack provoking a wider and potentially catastrophic world war was made clear on Friday, with Moscow’s announcement that it was suspending the 2015 MoU on “deconfliction,” which set up lines of communication between Pindo and Russian air forces in Syria to avoid clashes. Russia also indicated that it would increase its missile defense systems around bases that it jointly uses with the Syrian military. Meanwhile, senior Pentagon officials told reporters Friday that they were investigating possible Russian “complicity” in the alleged chemical attack, indicating that they are looking to ratchet up the confrontation with Moscow.
In Faschingstein, Trump’s sudden reversal of his previous policy eschewing conflict with the Assad government in Syria in favor of military intervention centered on combating Daesh drew vocal bipartisan support, particularly from Demagogs who had previously demonized the administration for its alleged ties with Russia. To the extent that leading Demagogs qualified their enthusiasm for the attack, it was to demand that Trump spell out a proposal for its continuation and escalation. Senate minority leader Schumer praised the attack on Syria, saying:
Making sure that Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do. It is now incumbent on the Trump administration to come up with a coherent strategy and consult with Congress.
Ben Cardin, Senate Foreign Relations Committee minority leader, urged Trump:
Give us your Syria strategy, and come to us if you’re using force, because you need to get authorization.
He added that while Thursday’s attack could be a one-off attack, “circumstances could change.” Senator Amy Klobuchar said of the missile strikes Friday:
I think it was the right thing to do. Going forward, I think we should have an AUMF, if in fact there are going to be additional actions taken.
Unstated in the Demagogs’ call for a new AUMF is the fact that both the Trump and the Obama administration had previously invoked the 2001 AUMF against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Now, Pindostan is intervening militarily in a civil war that the CIA itself orchestrated, providing military support to AQ, which claimed responsibility for 9/11. The Syrian government reported that in the immediate aftermath of the US missile strike, both Nusra and Daesh launched new attacks. The Demagogs’ rallying around Trump in support of military aggression in Syria makes clear that the party’s opposition to the new administration was based not on its reactionary attacks on democratic rights, immigrants and the social conditions of the broad mass of the Pindo sheeple, but rather the threat that it would pull back from the long-standing plans of the military and intelligence apparatus to escalate aggression and provocation, not only against Syria but also against Russia. With the military consolidating its control over the Trump administration’s foreign policy through figures like ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis and H R McMaster, an active-duty Army General who has taken over as national security adviser, the Demagogs are rallying around Trump as the titular “commander-in-chief.”