UN’s Syria Inspection Led By NATO Shill

Yoichi Shimatsu

Instead of a non-politicized investigation and lab analysis, the UN investigation of alleged nerve-gas attacks inside Syria was led by Professor Ake Sellstrom, a man of mystery who keeps a veil of secrecy around his research and political-military relationships.

Sellstrom’s report on Syria for the UN and his prior inspections record in Iraq are dubious, to say the least. In the eyes of laymen, his seeming objectivity and non-partisanship is based on the myth of Sweden’s neutrality. The public assumes – wrongly- that Sweden never takes sides in wars or geopolitical conflicts.

Fraud of Neutrality

This cosmetic veneer of Swedish neutrality has been deftly exploited by Israel and NATO to perpetrate falsehoods throughout Sellstrom’s work for the UN, including denial of the chemical-and-biological causes for “Gulf War Syndrome” and the shipments of U.S. chemical weapons to the Saddam Hussein regime.

The Hans Blix-Ake Sellstrom inspection teams in Iraq did not investigate the special-weapons bunkers that were bombed by American warplanes in the U.S. invasion.

Sellstrom also never made any attempt to probe the U.S.-produced 20-foot-long cannisters of VX nerve gas discovered at Balad Air Base by American National Guardsmen. His mission was not to prove Iraqi guilt but to get Washington off the hook for supplying tons of nerve gas to Baghdad. Saving U.S. officials like Donald Rumsfeld from disgrace and treason charges is far more important to imperial power that disclosing any facts in a theater of war.

The salient critique of the UN inspections in Iraq was made by American inspector Scott Ritter who accused the team of spying for Washington and NATO. The same question hangs over Sellstrom’s report on Syria. Is Sellstrom acting on behalf of Washington and Tel Aviv?

NATO Front Man

What is publicly known about Sellstrom is that the biochemist heads the European CBRNE Center [Center for advanced Studies of Societal Security and Vulnerability, in particular major incidents with (C)hemical, (B)iological, (R)adiological, (N)uclear and (E)xplosive substances], at Umea University in northern Sweden, which is sponsored by the Swedish Defense Ministry (FOI). Though not a NATO member, the Swedish military and police have a leading role in European security affairs as drafters of the repressive 2009 EU action plan based on the Stockholm Counterterrorism Programme.

Major funding for the CBRNE multidisciplinary research projects at Umea comes from the EU budget for the war on terrorism. These projects include: defense strategy for large-scale terrorist attacks (notice the term “relatively large scale” in his just-released Syria report); recommendations for EU medical emergency responses; and specialized training at Umea for experts, including military officers attached to NATO.

Sweden’s military-industrial complex, which includes Saab and Bofors, is anything but peace-loving and neutral. The kingdom’s cloak of neutrality is most useful for Israeli interests, which have exploited Scandinavia’s clean image to skew international policy against the Palestinians and Arab states, as demonstrated in the half-baked Oslo Accords.

Israeli Infiltration of Scandinavia

Umea University is deeply involved in joint research with Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), the Haifa-based university that provides state-of-art technology to the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and its intelligence agencies. Several departments, which are involved in joint Israeli research, participate in multidisciplinary studies at Sellstrom’s CBRNE center. These include: the computer department, which has cooperated with Technion on control systems since 2004; the medical faculty; and chemistry, his own field of studies.

The Israeli-Swedish research cooperation is fostered by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which provides scholarships and awards to bind together the industries and universities of the two countries. This year the State of Israeli is sponsoring the Start Tel Aviv program for expanded cultural ties, in its relentless campaign to subvert Scandinavia. The political agenda and military links behind the bilateral cooperation has prompted an anti-Israel boycott by conscientious Swedish academics.

No Credibility on Syria

The term “relatively large scale” chemical-weapons attack used in the introduction to the UN report on Syria is hyperbole, since any major attack with sarin would have resulted in tens of thousands of fatalities, especially if dispersed by military rockets. The first videos from Ghouta showed residents pouring out of their homes onto the street, gasping for fresh air. If indeed highly efficient rockets had been used, every one of them would have been killed instantaneous. The gassing, therefore, must have been an accidental release indoors, probably from a hidden rebel arsenal.

Chemical residues from the alleged rockets would have been oxidized by the heat of impact and certainly no intact organophosphate traces would be detectable, since sarin is designed to decompose after 20 minutes. Rockets are designed to use a binary system by which two chemical precursors are mixed during mid-air dispersal. Thus, there is no need for stabilizers or dispersants, meaning an absence of any identifying chemicals. The UN inspectors arrived long after the expiration period for sample testing. There is a possiblity also that the site and rocket parts may have been tampered with falsified evidence by the rebels and their foreign military advisers.

The casualty figures are unverifiable, and certainly not any of the videos showed more than a dozen corpses at a time. The scenes of swaddled infants is typical of war propaganda, certainly not believable when only a few faces were visible. The sum effect of these images is closer to theater than credible reporting.

Sellstrom’s strategy is to point fingers of guilt at the Syrian regime, while avoiding all possibility of alternative and more probable scenarios.

Hidden Agenda

American ambassador to the UN Samantha Power made emphatically clear that the “nerve gas used in Syria was more concentrated than the nerve gas in Iraqi.” Her statement should be rephrased as: “Saddam may have trans-shipped U.S.-supplied nerve gas into Syria, but it wasn’t our nerve gas used against Syrian civilians.”

That is the essential point of the Sellstrom report: To take Washington off the hook for being the major supplier of nerve gas precursors, formulations, delivery technology and storage systems to the Middle East, incluing Israel, Egypt, Libya, Iraq and very possibly Syria (during the Clinton era of good will).

The UN report of chemical weapons on Syria lacks basic credibility due to the duplicitous record of its chief inspector, Ake Sellstrom, who is politically and financially compromised at every level. An impartial fact-finding mission of credible international experts is required, but it would have no chance of conducting a fair investigation so long as Washington provides weapons and political support to the insurgency, including its Al Qaeda faction.

The geopolitical objective underlying the White House orchestrated hystrionics over Syria is to strip Damascus of its limited deterrence capability against Israel’s nuclear forces. Nerve gas may not be much of a counter-strike response compared with atomic warheads, but it seems Israel’s goal is absolute strategic supremacy against the Arab states and Iran. With the new UN report on Syria, Tel Aviv is a giant step closer to the dream of rendering all its neighbors defenseless and divided.

Yoichi Shimatsu, a science journalist based in Hong Kong, led a team of investigative reporters for the Japan Times Weekly and served as consultant to Takarajima 30 magazine during the Tokyo subway gassing in 1995.

Understanding the New Stage of the Syria Crisis

Brian Becker

Has the United States stepped back from the edge of the precipice?  Has the catastrophe been averted?

The U.S. war threat against Syria has not ended. But the particular path to war has required a shift because of resounding domestic and global opposition.

The U.S. Congress will now be asked to pass a different resolution than the one originally supported by the White House. The new resolution will be constructed to authorize Obama to carry out military strikes if the U.S. government decides that Syria is not in full compliance with a new UN resolution calling for its chemical weapons stockpiles to be totally destroyed.

This was precisely the scenario used by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney when they launched the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Even though the Iraqi government complied with UN weapons inspections demands and was actively disarming its own military forces, Bush simply declared that Saddam Hussein was not complying with UN resolutions and launched the U.S. war that toppled the government.

In Syria, like with Iraq, Libya and Iran for the past decades, the U.S. government goal of toppling independent, nationalist governments uses an assortment of tactics, including economic and financial sanctions, funding and arming internal domestic opposition, providing international legitimacy and recognition to the internal opposition, cyber attacks, and in some cases direct bombings and invasion.

Progressive and anti-colonial people should reject and oppose not simply one tactic like direct bombing but rather expose all forms of imperial domination against targeted countries.

In the case of Syria today, any push back or delay of the U.S. bombing of Syria is of extreme importance for the people of Syria. But it is certainly not the end of the struggle.

Russia’s proposal in context

The Russian government has offered a face-saving proposal to President Obama that is seen as a “way out” of the wildly unpopular U.S. bombing campaign against Syria.

It seemed likely that President Obama’s war resolution was going to fail in the House of Representatives and even possibly in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The people of the United States, in vast numbers, oppose the planned war against Syria even as the president and Secretary of State have tried to win them over by assuring them that only Syrians will bleed, which is the actual political meaning of the oft-repeated phrase “no boots on the ground.”

Although no details are yet available, the Russian proposal was immediately agreed to by Syria. The gist of the proposal is to put Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile under the control of the United Nations for their eventual elimination. Syria said it agreed to the Russian proposal as a way “to uproot U.S. aggression.” Syria has denied that it used chemical weapons on August 21 and suggested that the attack was a staged provocation by those who are seeking to draw in U.S. intervention to topple the regime.

UN as a double-edged sword

There will undoubtedly be another UN proposal put forward that also includes language asserting that the Assad government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack and those responsible for the attack must “be held accountable.” This would lead to the possible indictment and arrest of Assad for war crimes. This is a tack that the imperialists have used in several countries where the government is targeted for regime change by U.S. policy makers.

Such a poison-pill resolution would be unlikely to be accepted by Syria. Hopefully, Russia and China would also openly reject such a resolution, which is designed to lay the basis for open imperialist aggression.

The origins of Obama’s political crisis

Despite global and domestic opposition to the planned bombing campaign, Obama had continued his transition during the past weeks into the camp of John McCain, Lindsey Graham and his neo-con Secretary of State. This was the camp that had argued for direct military intervention because Assad could not be toppled through the civil war.

For the last two years, Obama supported the regime change plan through the agency of a foreign-funded civil war. His CIA, working in Jordan, coordinated the massive shipments of weapons to armed groups that were fighting the Syrian government. They used proxies and partners like Saudi Arabia as the source of the weapons, but it was the Obama administration’s strategy. The weapons go to the Free Syrian Army and other armed groups.

The commanders of the Free Syrian Army are on the CIA payroll, as was reported by Wall Street Journal reporter Adam Entous on Democracy Now. (Sept. 6, 2013)

The announcement of the alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians on August 21 was the pretext used by the interventionists to start the direct military war against Syria.

But from the beginning, the adventure ran into huge hurdles. Substantial sectors of the ruling class and Pentagon brass were unconvinced that another war would not be a disaster for U.S. interests in this oil-rich region. They were afraid that global opposition to the U.S. Empire could reignite and spread, as it had under George W. Bush.

Broadly speaking, public opinion in the United States was opposed to another war.

The whole case was riddled with obvious inconsistencies. They could offer no proof of their claim that Assad ordered the attack. They could cite no law that allowed the U.S. to wage a new aggression. They couldn’t openly identify what the real goal of the military operation was. But Obama , feeling politically trapped, pushed ahead toward the precipice.

Even on September 8,  Obama sent his representatives out to the Sunday morning talk shows arguing for war even as they admitted that they had “no irrefutable” proof that Assad had ordered a chemical weapons attack and that their justification was only based on what they called a “common sense test.” That means they have no proof at all.

Obama was ready to blaze away with cruise missiles and bombs against another small country in the Middle East. His feckless, super rich, blue blood Secretary of State was telling the American people not to worry about the coming catastrophe because the Saudi monarchy was standing solidly behind his efforts. When your Secretary of State loudly and proudly proclaims that he has secured the support of the arch-reactionary autocrats in Saudi Arabia, that has to be understood as sign that your war policy is sinking.

Obama, faced with the current circumstances, has been forced to step back, but there will undoubtedly be a Plan B developed using other mechanisms to intensify the war

Any step back from an imminent bombing of Syria and the certain wider war that would follow should be understood as a result of the global opposition to the planned bombing campaign and the deep division about its possible catastrophic impact on U.S. interests in the Middle East from within the summits of the economic and political establishment.

Syria and Iran have made it clear that if the U.S. undertakes this aggression there will be counter-measures taken. Once such a war is started, it is impossible to know how it ends.

Rather than relying on the United Nations to do the right thing, the most important aspect of the next stage of the struggle against the U.S. imperialist regime change efforts in Syria is for the people of the world to continue to organize all forms of public pressure in favor of a genuine peace that allows the Syrian people the right to determine their own destiny free from threats, sanctions, subversion and war.

White House Syria Lies Backfire on Administration

Clifford A. Kiracofe

Although US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that diplomatic options suggested by Russia to solve the Syrian chemical weapon crisis would be pursued, the damage done by the US beating the drums of war has already been done.

The use of propaganda in wartime is nothing new. From experience with Washington’s lies during former president George W. Bush’s Iraq War, the international community knows the US cannot be trusted.

The Bush administration knowingly and systematically circulated false stories about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) allegedly possessed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Washington’s outrageous claims such as supposed uranium “yellowcake” from Niger being transferred to Iraq proved false. Claims about “aluminum tubes” for rocket production proved false. Claims about chemical warfare and WMDs raised by then secretary of state Colin Powell at the UN proved false.

The broader pattern of Western deception for the Iraq War included falsified “intelligence” reports from the UK ordered by then prime minister Tony Blair.Parliament in its subsequent investigations of the “dodgy dossier” intelligence manipulation revealed Blair’s lies.

Investigations of the British claims revealed that Israeli institutions, including the Herzliya research complex, played an important role in creating these false British and US reports.

Today in the case of Syria, the world is experiencing the same spectacle of US, British,and Israeli propaganda and deception. The players remain the same and the pattern of lies and deception is the same.

In the present case, the White House bases its case of the Syrian use of WMDs primarily on a single “intercept” of an unencrypted Syrian military voice communication.Washington alleges that this intercept proves the Syrian military used WMDs against civilians.

But what are the facts? Official Washington carefully avoids identifying the source of the intercept and hides it under the rubric of classified information because, critics say, the source of this intelligence report is Israel.

Experienced retired US intelligence officers believe that Israel is once again playing false with information so as to influence the West to go to war in the Middle East. Reports say that the alleged electronic intercept of a conversation between Syrian military personnel was fielded by Unit 8200 of Israeli military intelligence, which specializes in signals intelligence.

Some US experts believe that this alleged intercept, if it even exists, was doctored by the Israeli government so as to “prove” Syrian government complicity in WMD attacks.

Former British ambassador Craig Murray raises additional questions about the Israeli report.

He claims that the powerful British electronic intelligence center for the region, located on Mount Troodos in Cyprus, has no such intercept from its own monitoring.

He says that this center has such powerful capabilities that no electronic communications in the Middle East can escape it.

In addition to the Israeli allegation, the White House says it has obtained materials from the scene of the recent attack in Syria which “prove” the nerve agent Sarin was used.

From whom did the US obtain such contaminated materials? The Obama administration refuses to identify the source and chain of custody of the materials.

Given Washington’s transparent propaganda campaign, it is not surprising that some leaders around the world express grave doubts about US allegations. Russian President Vladimir Putin forthrightly calls such propaganda “lies.” Many Americans, including senators and congresspersons, would agree with him.

It is significant that the US Intelligence Community (IC) so far is not on public record supporting the Israeli allegations. The US IC apparently cannot assess with high confidence this Israeli reporting.

This is why the Obama administration had to issue its own politicized report on alleged Syrian WMD use from the White House.

The White House made a major political mistake engaging in such blatant deception of the American people and the international community.

The recent turnabout may mean no strikes, but the harm to US credibility has already been done.

The author is an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Syria & Cruise Missile “Socialists”

The ISO and the war on Syria: Silly and shameful

 

In recent weeks there has been a real upsurge of activity on the part of the anti-war movement in the U.S. Protests have been held in scores of cities – more that 50 on Sept. 7 alone – including substantial demonstrations in cities like New York and Chicago. An article published in the Socialist Worker on Sept. 10, entitled “Standing against both war and dictatorship,” goes a long way toward explaining why the International Socialist Organization (ISO) has been by and large irrelevant, or worse yet, an obstacle to this growing movement against another U.S. war.

Penned by ISO member Eric Ruder, the article takes to task three socialist organizations: Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), Workers World Party (WWP) and the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) for supporting Syria in its fight to defeat a vicious onslaught from U.S. and Western imperialism, reactionary Arab states and the Israelis.

We in FRSO have constantly stated our views on this matter and we will always be on the side of those who resist imperialism.

Sectarianism directed at Syrian Americans

The anti-war movement is a united front, which brings together diverse viewpoints and forces. The level of political understanding about what’s happening in Syria is uneven and we need to unite people who have a wide range of perspectives. To oppose a U.S. attack on Syria, it is important that we have broad slogans that unite all who can be united, such as “Hands off Syria,” or “No U.S. war on Syria.” That’s a given.

It should also be a given that we build unity with Syrian Americans who are concerned about their loved ones at home and support their country in its battle with imperialism. Sadly this is not the case for the ISO.

In many cities, Syrian Americans have one of the most constant, dynamic, and in some cases, the largest force in the current anti-war movement. Most people would say that is a good thing, but not the ISO. Instead they complain about the flags, signs, and portraits that Syrian Americans bring to protests.

For example in Chicago, Syrian Americans have been extremely active in anti-war demonstrations. How does the ISO evaluate this? Ruder’s article says, “The ugly consequences of ‘antiwar’ support for the Syrian regime were easy to see in Chicago, where organizers of ‘Hands off Syria’ protests repeatedly turned over the platform to representatives of the Syrian American Forum…” Imagine that. Syrian Americans help organize demonstrations, turn out in large numbers and often speak from the platform.

The ISO, which has never been big on opposing U.S. intervention in Syria, was apparently “caught off guard” when they finally did make their way to the anti-war protests and found Syrian Americans expressing their views. It seemed “ugly” to them. Perhaps it is more a case of ISO playing the Ugly American.

ISO and the demonization of Syria

At the very moment when Washington and those who echo the master’s voice are trying to demonize the government of Syria, ISO is trying to do the same thing among left and progressive forces. So they criticize the Syrian government for being “inconsistent” opponents of imperialism and praise the “rebels.”

Let’s take a look at this. The government of Syria has done more to oppose imperialism than ISO will ever do. They help the Palestinians in a big way. Same goes for the patriotic and national democratic forces of Lebanon. Syria, Iran and the movements for national liberation in Lebanon and Palestine are central to the camp of resistance to imperialism and Zionism in the Middle East.

So what does the ISO article have to say about this? According to them not only is Syria an “inconsistent” opponent of imperialism, the article says “the West considers the Syrian regime a precious asset that can assist in maintaining the current hegemonic structure of power in the region, though their preference may be for it to be weakened and thus more subservient.”

The Bush administration used to say that Syria could be considered a part of his ‘Axis of Evil.’ Over the last couple of years Washington has spent over $1 billion to destroy the Syrian government and right now the U.S. is threatening a military attack. Yet in the world that ISO sees, Syria is a “precious asset” of the West. It is hard for serious people to take this kind of analysis seriously.

The point here is not to say that Syria is perfect or socialist or always does the right thing. What is being said is that we should not be joining our rulers in demonizing the Syrian government.

As for the ‘rebels,’ history’s verdict is in. One can debate the nature of the demonstrations against the Syrian government several years ago and what led up to them, but today, right now, the opposition is bought, paid for, and acting on behalf of the U.S. and the most reactionary of Arab regimes.

Anti-imperialism is a good thing

The U.S. has built an empire and that extends into Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and some other places too. It exists to rip off the land, labor and natural resources of others while enriching the elite who run this country. This empire is a grim place, held together by U.S. military power, death squads and puppet governments.

It is positive that there are national liberation movements in places like Colombia and Palestine that are leading powerful movements to break free of imperialism. It is a step forward for the peoples subjugated by U.S. imperialism and they land blows on our common oppressor.

It is also a good thing that there are countries in this world that have left the orbit of imperialism. This includes Syria. It is good for the people of Syria, good for the struggle in the Middle East, and for all of us who want a world without imperialism.

ISO considers it strange that a socialist would take this view. In fact it is ISO that is the odd one out.

We recently reprinted a statement from the Syrian Communist Party, which reads in part, “The defense of Syria’s national regime, which faces, head held high, all methods of aggression, refusing humiliation and submission, means defending the country and its sovereignty and independence.” Frankly this is what the vast majority of revolutionaries around the world think. Check out what Cuba says about Syria or the government of Venezuela. One could go on and on like this but the point is clear enough.

Revolutionaries and socialists need to make a concrete analysis of concrete conditions; this is what Marxism is all about: understanding reality in order to change it. Everything in this world is the product of actual historical processes that we can know about, if we bother to study them. This includes Syria.

The ISO uses the opposite approach, which claims the world is what they would like it to be and what they say it is. In their world, the brutal foreign-backed Syrian opposition becomes the Arab revolution. They find progressive forces where they are not, and when forces resisting imperialism have shortcomings – they say that those resisting are the same as the imperialists.

The world never has and never will conform to a bunch of preconceived notions. The anti-war movement deserves something better than the ISO’s armchair critiques.

The people of Syria, the peoples of the world and the people of the U.S. face a vicious enemy that will go to any length to maintain its power and privilege. Building an anti-war movement under slogans like “Hands off Syria” and “No war with Syria” is the best way that people in this country can help to defeat U.S. imperialism’s attempt to dominate the Middle East. Washington is isolated right now. People don’t want another U.S. war. Together we can win.

Drop Charges Against Greek Anti-Fascists!

Spartacist League

The Trotskyist Group of Greece (TGG), sympathizing section of the International Communist League (ICL-FI), demands that all charges against Savvas Michael Matsas, Secretary General of the Workers Revolutionary Party (EEK), and Konstantinos Moutzouris, former rector of the National Technical University of Athens, be dropped. Michael is being targeted because he is a leftist and because he is Jewish, and is falsely accused of “defamation” against Golden Dawn because the May 2009 issue of the party’s journal New Perspective characterized them as a Nazi organization that incites racist attacks against immigrants. He is also charged with “disturbance of the civil peace” and “incitement of violent assaults and conflict.” Konstantinos Moutzouris is accused of allowing the independent news portal Indymedia to use university servers.

Following several anti-fascist demonstrations in early 2009 in defense of immigrants, the fascist Golden Dawn filed a lawsuit against numerous parties and individuals, such as the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the left coalition of ANTARSYA, SYRIZA, as well as immigrant organizations. In total, they listed 80 people. After three years the police conducted interrogations and Konstantinos Moutzouris and Savvas Michael were singled out for prosecution. Their trial is scheduled for 3 September 2013.

Savvas Michael and Konstantinos Moutzouris had done nothing criminal. This prosecution by the state is nothing other than an attempt to intimidate anti-fascists into silence and passivity. The actions of these two men were in defence of the working class, the left, immigrants and minorities. The trade unions, minority organizations and the left – all intended targets of the fascists – must rally behind those accused and demand all charges be dropped immediately!

This case has also fueled a climate in which a vile online anti-Semitic campaign has been whipped up against Savvas Michael with calls to “hit the Jewish vermin” and describing him as “an instrument of the World Jewish Conspiracy to foment civil war among Greeks to impose a Judeo-Bolshevik regime in Greece” (“Resolution of Solidarity” at http://www.change.org/petitions). The savage attacks by the Greek capitalists and by the imperialist EU against Greek working people over the past 5 years have led to many protests and struggles by the working class and the left. At the same time attacks on the left are increasing while nationalism, anti-immigrant racism and hostility to anything not considered “pure Greek” are on the rise. It is in this context that Savvas Michael and Konstantinos Moutzouris are facing charges.

It is in the interest of the working class and all the oppressed to defend Savvas Michael and Konstantinos Moutzouris against capitalist repression and chauvinist poison.

We demand that the charges against Savvas Michael and Konstantinos Moutzouris be dropped now! 

Hands Off Syria! Take Action Against U.S. Intervention!

This Call to Action was originally posted by the ANSWER Coalition.

Washington is on the march toward yet another war of aggression in the Middle East, this time targeting Syria. In the event of U.S. military strikes against Syria, the ANSWER Coalition is calling on organizations and individuals to take to the streets in opposition to what would be a destructive and criminal war by the U.S. government.

Make plans now to hold a demonstration in your city on the day of or the day after U.S. military action begins. Fill out our Event Listing form so we can help spread the word!

Despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of the American people are clearly opposed to U.S. intervention, the signs all point to war. In a recent Reuters poll, only 9 percent favored direct U.S. military intervention, and 89 percent opposed arming the Syrian opposition. But the tiny elite clique who really run the country are completely discounting the will of the people, making a mockery of their so-called “democracy.”

The U.S. 6th Fleet has deployed war ships to the eastern Mediterranean and is threatening to launch missile and air strikes against Syria. Not only are the White House and Pentagon openly threatening direct intervention, they are also moving to further arm the Syrian opposition. A U.S./NATO attack on Syria could well lead to a wider, regional war with grave and unpredictable consequences.

A staged provocation: a pretext for war

The pretext for attacking Syria is the allegation that the Syrian government used chemical weapons last week in the suburbs of the capital, Damascus, just after a UN team had arrived in the country to investigate an earlier alleged use of chemical weapons. President Obama declared over a year ago that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would cross a “red line,” triggering U.S. military action.

The idea that the Syrian government would launch a chemical weapons attack exactly at the moment when the UN team was in the country investigating chemical weapons defies all logic.

In a sign of their total disregard for the truth, the United States government has declared, in advance of any actual investigation, that the Syrian government is guilty of using chemical weapons. U.S. officials have stated that the United Nations weapons inspection team, which is today at the site near Damascus where hundreds of people died last week, is “too late.” In other words, the United States, along with Britain and France – the former colonizers of the region – have decided to use chemical weapons as an excuse to go to war.

We must remember the Iraq War in 2003, where “overwhelming evidence of weapons of mass destruction” was used as the pretext for a war that killed hundreds of thousands and tore Iraq apart. No such weapons were ever found.

If in fact chemical weapons were used in Syria last week, the far greater likelihood is that it was a staged provocation by the opposition to invite U.S./NATO intervention in order to save their weakening military position in the conflict. We have no reason to trust the U.S. government’s version of what happened. This is the same government that has routinely lied and deceived the American people on many issues, as was recently revealed by Edward Snowden’s leaks related to NSA spying.

U.S. foreign policy is not one of benign humanitarian concern, but one of Empire. Washington’s goal is control of the entire oil-rich and strategic Middle East region. To achieve this aim, U.S. leaders – Democrats and Republicans alike – have worked to destroy independent governments and popular movements in the region for more than six decades.

For the people of the United States, fighting against a U.S. intervention in Syria is of paramount importance to prevent the spread of war and destruction. The ANSWER Coalition is calling on all those opposed to this brutal war drive to take action against any U.S. attack on Syria! A broad coalition of organizations worked together in June and July 2013 for days of action opposing the U.S. role in Syria. We expect that the actions in the coming days and weeks will be of a similar unified character.

Plan a demonstration in your city on the day of or the day after U.S. military action begins. Fill out our Event Listing form so we can help spread the word!

Lying About Syria: John Kerry’s “Colin Powell Moment”

Alex Lantier

Yesterday, US Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on national television to deliver a lying statement aimed at preparing public opinion for an impending US-NATO attack on Syria. It was his very own “Colin Powell moment.”

On February 5, 2003, Powell, then the secretary of state in the Bush administration, made an infamous presentation before the United Nations. For two hours, armed with photos, graphs and audio tapes, the chief diplomatic officer of the United States made the case for war against Iraq. He claimed that the evidence he presented showed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which it was about to unleash on the world.

The media and politicians of both parties hailed Powell’s performance, declaring that the former general had made an overwhelming case that Iraq had enormous WMD programs. Six weeks later, bombs fell on Iraq as the US invasion began.

Powell’s speech was a pack of lies. Not one of his claims about yellowcake uranium from Niger, aluminum tubes, or mobile weapons labs was true. At the time, the WSWS wrote that the brief for war was “a diplomatic charade laced with cynicism and deceit… predicated on a colossal lie: that the coming invasion is about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Baghdad’s supposed threat to US security and world peace.” And so it proved to be.

The speech ten years later by Kerry was no less dishonest, no less cynical. Indeed, by comparison, Powell’s presentation was a masterpiece of detail.

Kerry’s entire case against the Syrian regime consisted of a general moral denunciation of chemical weapons. Describing “gut-wrenching images” of casualties from the alleged chemical weapons attack on Ghouta, he said: “The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity.”

The United States government and its allies in Britain, France and Germany are in no position to lecture the world on the “moral obscenity” of chemical warfare or anything else. A complete documentation of the war crimes and atrocities carried out by American and European imperialism would fill many volumes.

Washington has poisoned entire Iraqi cities with depleted uranium and white phosphorus. Earlier, it dropped 75 million liters of Agent Orange—a chemical weapon—on Vietnam, affecting millions of people. The US is the one country in the world that has used nuclear weapons on defenseless cities—not once, but twice, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It and the European imperialist powers—who pioneered the use of poison gas—are collectively responsible for the deaths of millions of people.

While invoking the “moral obscenity” of indiscriminate killings with chemical weapons, the Obama administration continues to fund the Egyptian military junta, which over the last month has slaughtered thousands of unarmed protesters in the streets.

Kerry could not present a single fact, beyond his own lurid allegations, to justify the claim that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces carried out a chemical attack in Ghouta.

Instead, he said: “Our understanding of what has already happened in Syria is grounded in facts, informed by conscience, and guided by common sense … Chemical weapons were used in Syria. Moreover, we know that the Syrian regime maintains custody of these weapons. We know that the Syrian regime has the capacity to do this with rockets.”

Such arguments prove nothing. Though Kerry preferred not to mention it, it is well known that US-backed opposition militias have access to chemical weapons and have used them. Opposition groups have posted YouTube videos bragging of their ability to manufacture poison gas, and UN officials have repeatedly stated that investigations inside Syria showed that opposition forces, not the Assad regime, were responsible for previous chemical attacks.

The CIA, which has been transformed into a heavily-armed global paramilitary organization, has access to such weapons and could easily make them available to the opposition.

Kerry’s claim that his accusations against Syria are grounded in “common sense” is false: common sense, applied to the situation in Syria, leads one precisely to the opposite conclusion.

The opposition is on the run, losing the war; their only hope is massive military intervention by their backers in the US, Europe and the Middle East. The chemical weapons attack—previously described as a “red line” by the Obama administration—provides the desired pretext for this intervention.

In another remarkable statement, Kerry gave a back-handed acknowledgment that Washington does not intend to offer proof of its allegations against Assad. He stated, “as Ban Ki-moon said last week, the UN investigation will not determine who used the chemical weapons, only whether such weapons were used, a judgment that is already clear to the world.” That is to say that, regardless of what the investigation shows about the identity of the attackers, Washington will seize upon it as a pretext to attack the Syrian government.

After demanding that Syria allow “unrestricted” access to investigate the alleged attack, Kerry responded to the government’s acquiescence to this demand by declaring that it doesn’t matter anyway, since it was “too late to be credible.” All the demands are simply intended to pave the way for war. Short of opening up the country to foreign occupation, there is nothing the government could do to satisfy the ultimatums of US imperialism.

Only months after his 2003 speech on Iraq, it was clear that Powell had lied through his teeth. In the months ahead, Kerry, the one-time anti-Vietnam war protester, will also be caught up by the web of lies underlying the US war drive against Syria.