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.

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North Dakota Town Braces for Neo-Nazi Takeover

Ed Pilkington

The tiny town of Leith in North Dakota is bracing itself for a potentially turbulent weekend. Its 24-strong population is set to be overrun by opposing busloads of neo-Nazis attempting to create a white supremacist community there and their anti-racist detractors.

Jeff Schoep, commander of the American National Socialist Movement (NSM), is preparing to travel from Detroit to Leith to hold a town-hall meeting and press conference on Sunday afternoon. On the NSM website, he describes the trip as a “gesture of goodwill”, but goes on to say ominously that the aim is to “plant the seeds of National Socialism in North Dakota”.

Anti-racist activists are also expected to descend on Leith from other parts of North Dakota and neighbouring Minnesota. “We cannot accept this racist hatred they are bringing here – Leith is in crisis and is crying out for help,” one of the organisers, Jeremy Kelly, told the Bismarck Tribune.

For the residents of Leith, the prospect of a weekend filled with white supremacist grandstanding is highly unwelcome. The town mayor, Ryan Schock, told the Guardian “people are very concerned. They do not want people to come to this town who have hate in them.”

Leith’s conundrum began when a newcomer called Paul Craig Cobb began buying up deserted plots of land two years ago, accumulating 12 plots in total. Last month it was revealed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors right-wing extremism, that Cobb, 61, is in fact a white supremacist wanted in Canada for promoting hatred in a blog.

It was also disclosed that he had moved to Leith in the hope of quietly constructing a neo-Nazi community along with allies in the National Socialist Movement and White Aryan Resistance (WAR). He is in the process of transferring some of the properties to Schoep, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard called Tom Metzger, and to April Gaede, founder of the neo-Nazi group National Vanguard.

Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center said Cobb’s attempt to form an extremist community was in line with previous efforts to set up such collectives in Idaho and Montana. “Cobb has probably gone further than anyone before him in pursuing this white supremacist dream,” she said.

The publicity surrounding Cobb’s plans in Leith is likely to put a stop to his acquisition of any further land in the area, as local property owners are now wary of dealing with him. But there is little that can be done, Beirich said, to force him to give up the plots he already owns.

Leith residents are trying a variety of different moves to encourage him to leave town and have created a defence fund to pay for legal fees. One potential tactic is to have his house condemned under local amenity laws – Cobb’s property is not linked up to water or sewer services.

A more extreme move that is being discussed would be to abandon Leith’s status as a town before neo-Nazi supporters get close to outnumbering the other residents and thus controlling the town hall.

In a statement, Schoep accused “far left extremists” of trying to drive Cobb from his home. “Craig Cobb is not alone,” he said, “and will not be driven out, or forced to leave. Legal paperwork is being drafted to insure the civil rights of Mr Cobb, and other new residents of Leith will not be violated.”

USA Maneuvering for UN-Sanctioned Attack vs. Syria

Richard Becker

Having been forced to back off from a threatened military attack on Syria by intense international and domestic opposition, the Obama administration is now seeking to lay the basis for a UN Security Council-sanctioned assault.

On Sept. 13, an agreement was reached between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on a plan to dismantle Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons. The government of Syria expressed support for the agreement, while the Syrian armed opposition has condemned it.

Having been delayed in carrying out a direct military attack, the United States, Britain and France are seeking to use any UN Security Council resolution as the basis for a renewed push toward a Pentagon bombing campaign. Russia and China, which hold the two other seats in the Security Council, are attempting to word any Syria resolution in a way that prevents it from being used or interpreted as a rationale for such an intervention.

France was the colonial power over Lebanon and Syria. Britain was the other major colonial power in the Middle East until the end of World War II. The United States took their place as the major imperial power in the region in the post-World II era.

The ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), which organized protests around the country in the weeks prior to Obama’s announcement that he was pulling back from an imminent military attack on Syria, stated: “We believe that the issue of chemical weapons is being used as a pretext for greater intervention by the United States, Britain and France to carry out a larger but unstated agenda in the Middle East, which is to destroy every single independent, nationalist government in this oil-rich region.”

The United States has more than 5,000 nuclear weapons and is providing more than $3 billion each year to Israel, which has a large stockpile of chemical and biological weapons and, even more importantly, a large number of nuclear weapons. When the United States demanded last week that Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile be destroyed, they made sure to avoid language calling for a regional ban on such weapons since it would have highlighted the fact that the U.S. government’s principal ally, Israel, possesses these weapons.

Maneuvers at the United Nations

The plan agreed to by Syria calls for the Syrian government to turn over a list of its chemical weapons and where they are stored by Sept. 21. UN weapons inspectors are to arrive in Syria by mid-November and the weapons are supposed to be destroyed by the middle of 2014.

The agreement is being turned into a UN Security Council resolution. Kerry is demanding that the resolution include authorization for military strikes on Syria if it is deemed to not having sufficiently complied with the resolution. But the Russian government opposes this provision, and Russia is one of the five states that have veto power in the Security Council.

Both Obama and Kerry have repeatedly threatened that the United States could still carry out a unilateral attack on Syria, regardless of the wording of a UNSC resolution.

Chemical weapons report—More questions

The rationale for the U.S. threats of military action was a chemical weapons attack in Ghouta and the surrounding area east of Syria’s capital Damascus on Aug. 21. Obama and Kerry have blamed the Syrian government for the attack from the start. More than a year ago, the President Obama declared that use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would cross a “red line,” triggering a U.S. military response.

A team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had arrived in Syria on Aug. 18 to investigate an earlier alleged use of chemical weapons in the city of Aleppo.

That the Syrian government would launch a large-scale chemical weapons attack immediately after the arrival of the OPCW team in the country seems illogical, even more so given that the government forces have been making major gains in the war over the past several months.

The OPCW team conducted an investigation of the Aug. 21 attack and issued its report to the UN on Sept. 16 confirming that a chemical weapons attack had taken place, but not assigning responsibility. While the United States, Britain, France and Turkey have all blamed the Syrian government, the Syrian government has adamantly denied using chemical weapons and accused the opposition of staging a provocation to justify a U.S./NATO assault.

On Sept. 18, the Agence France Presse reported that the Syrian government had forwarded “new evidence showing it was opposition forces were behind the sarin attack” to the UN.

Besides responsibility for the Aug. 21 attack, the OPCW report leaves other unanswered questions. The Ghouta area is in Syrian opposition hands and the report states, regarding evidence the OPCW was collecting: “During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.”

The OPCW report does not include the estimated death toll. While the United States claims that at least 1,429 were killed, Britain and France have reported far lower figures, 350 and 281 respectively.

The report states that a deadly nerve gas, sarin, was delivered by M14 artillery rockets. But the question of whether the armed opposition possesses such munitions and sarin gas itself is not addressed.

There have been numerous reports of rebel forces possessing and seeking to produce sarin. On Sept. 13, the Los Angeles Times reported that a Turkish prosecutor had indicted six members of the Syrian opposition for attempting to procure precursor materials for creating sarin. The government of Turkey, it should be noted, has been strongly supporting the opposition.

The opposition Syrian National Coalition and “Free Syrian Army” have expressed bitter disappointment that the U.S./NATO air strikes they were hoping for did not materialize. They were counting on foreign intervention to tip the military balance in their favor, as it has become clear that they cannot win without it.

While it is worthwhile to skeptically examine the claims of those who are set on attacking Syria, the people’s opposition to a new imperial war against Syria should not be premised on whether or not chemical weapons were used either by pro-government forces or by the armed Syrian opposition. Rather it is necessary to expose the imperial motives of the United States, Britain and France, who are seeking any pretext to carry out their semi-colonial designs on the peoples of the region. These same imperialist forces have used nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Imperialist powers do not go to war because of “moral outrage” about the use of any particular weapon.

While the Obama administration was forced to pull back from military strikes, it has not given up on the objective it shares with the 11 other presidencies dating back to World War II: domination of the oil-rich and strategic Middle East. That means the anti-war movement must stay on alert.

Syria: Empire’s Last Gasp

IMPERIAL CRUSADE AGAINST SYRIA

Oscar Sánchez Serra

WHY is the United States attacking Syria?

Brazil, Russia – reborn as a superpower and an uncomfortable one – India and China – are emerging economies that are already acting as leaders on the world geopolitical stage. It is said that India and China, also the most populated nations of the world, will mark the rate of development during the 21st century. In other words, one has to be prepared for a global transfer of power. The current empire will not be the most powerful.

For Viktor Burbaki of the U.S. Strategic Culture Foundation, mathematical models of the global geopolitical dynamic have led to the conclusion that a grand-scale victory in a war utilizing conventional means is the only option for the United States being able to reverse the rapid collapse of its geopolitical status. Burbaki affirms that if the current geopolitical dynamic persists, a change in global leadership could be expected by 2025, and the only way in which the United States can derail this process is by unleashing a war on a grand scale.

Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 have already endured imperial attacks, utilizing the same argument based on a pack of lies. The tactic of the world gendarme has never been to challenge states that could dispute its global supremacy, for which reason Burbaki considers that Iran, Syria and Shi’ite groups, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, face the greatest danger of suffering strikes in the name of a new world redistribution of power. The specialist did not state this the other day, but more than 12 months ago, in February of 2012.

In other words, to get rid of Syria and Iran, obstacles on the route to U.S. global domination, would be Washington’s next natural step.

Paul Farrell, U.S. columnist and financial analyst, stated last April that the United States needed a new war, in order for capital to thrive. He ironically commented then, in a brief note which appeared in Russia Today, “Didn’t WWII get us out of the Great Depression?” He capped this statement off with data which informs his thesis that wars benefit capitalists above all. The Forbes list of world billionaires skyrocketed from 322 in 2000 to 1,426 recently, 31% of them being American.

Marcelo Colussi, Argentine psychologist, professor, writer, journalist and full-time activist for social justice and global dignity, has one of the most convincing answers to the question as to why the United States would attack Syria. When, at the beginning of the 20th century, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge said that his country’s business consisted of doing business, this has today been transformed into doing business with war. Let others do the fighting and here we are to sell them weapons.

In this context, the Argentine intellectual passes his verdict that today, U.S. power is based on wars, always those in other nations, never on its own territory. In any event, war is its axis; its domestic economy is nourished to a large extent by the arms industry and its planetary hegemony (appropriation of raw materials and imposition of the rules of the economic and political game on a global scale, with primacy of the dollar. Today, Washington needs wars. Without wars, the power would not be a power.

What we are seeing now with a besieged Syria, what is leading the Middle East into a war of unforeseeable consequences, with the real target, Iran, following behind and with Israel, which is waiting, pressuring and coercing the master to the North to fulfill its promise of punishing that Persian country, is not a chance operation.

The first victim of war is the truth. While in Iraq the most obscene fallacies were its possession of weapons of mass destruction and its close links with Al Qaeda, and in Iran, the manufacture of powerful nuclear armaments, in Syria the lie is chemical weapons utilized by President Al-Assad against his own people, although nobody with the most elemental common sense believes it, because Syria would be the least to benefit by creating a pretext such as this.

But lies are part of the plan, and this one did not come into existence overnight, nor was it improvised in a bar over a few beers, but in the White House, in 1997, when a group of fevered minds of the alienated ultra-right created a project for the New American Century, with the objective of sustaining the United States as the hegemonic superpower of the planet, at any and all costs.

The objectives of the project are the opening up, stability, control and globalization of markets, as well as security and freedom of trade; unrestricted access to energy sources and raw materials needed to dynamize the U.S. economy and those of its allies; the monitoring and control in real time of people and all significant political and social movements opposed to its interests; the expansion and domination of the financial and industrial capital of its companies and transnational corporations; and the assuring of control over the means of communication and world information.

To that end it has not even stinted on mercenaries, who abound in Syria – well paid and armed – nor in the deployment of U.S. military might, as well as creating situations within nations, such as the manufacture and unveiling of the so-called Arab Spring in North Africa, which ended with the assassination, recorded live, of Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Who thought up and armed this insanity based on the industry of death, the real sustenance of the U.S. economy? Illustrious neo-cons with senior positions in the administrations of Reagan, George Bush (father and son); in other words: Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Dan Quayle, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Elliott Abrams, John Bolton and Richard Perle, among others. Who sheltered them politically? The Republican Party, the Democratic Party, AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), or the pro-Israeli lobby in the nation of the stars and stripes; and many powerful organizations on Wall Street, in the media and in the powerful military-industrial complex. It would seem that it is not important who the President happens to be.

The Twin Towers were brought down, but this provided the basis for the rising up of the Project, sowing the divine fundamentalist idea that the United States is the only nation capable of combating the terrible evils of Islamist terrorism, drug trafficking, or organized crime, even though it is within its own territory that most terrorists are harbored, where the highest quantity of drugs are consumed, and where criminals enjoy impunity. An implacable media crusade was launched which fixed fear and danger in the mentality of citizens of the world.

It has reached the extent that, even the UN, in its investigation into the existence of chemical weapons in Syria – the key pretext for the aggression – has stated that its research is only to confirm whether they were used or not, and not who utilized them.

A variant of the of the Arab Spring was already tested out in Syria, but failed in destabilizing the country, hence the recourse of destroying the nation and leaving it without a government, and without order, because social anarchy there would justify a U.S. presence, plus that of its allies with all their troops and even a coalition. This would provide a gateway to Iran, additionally keeping a close watch on the dangerous Hezbollah in Lebanon, and a commitment to Israel which, since its defeat by this force in 2006, has not been able to heal its wounds.

Who can be left in any doubt that all of this is an orchestrated plot, and that the United States and its allies are not bothered as to whether or not chemical weapons enter the equation?

What does interest it is the geo-strategic situation of Damascus and imperial power, even if this involves a bloodbath in this nation of heroic people, and world peace is once again trampled by the nation and government which sets itself up as the paradigm of human rights. But it should be careful. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.

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.

Syria: War Profiteers, Slavery, and the Hypocrisy of Imperialism

Nathan Goodman

Across the world, people are protesting against US intervention in Syria. Polls show widespread skepticism of the impending war. Rather than making Americans safer, intervention is likely to support forces connected to al Qaeda. Yet it still seems inevitable that the US government will launch cruise missiles at Syria, escalating the country’s bloody civil war. Why?

Because politicians don’t work for the people. As Thomas Knapp of the Center for a Stateless Society puts it, “politicians and soldiers work for (and constitute part of) the political class. Their job is to transfer as much wealth as possible from your pockets to that class’s bank accounts.”

In that case, they’re doing their job quite well. The war profiteers at Raytheon have seen their stock prices soar in anticipation of the Syrian war. As the Boston Herald reported on August 31st, “The Waltham-based manufacturer of the Tomahawk cruise missiles, expected to be used in any strike on Syria, saw its stock hit a 52-week high last week at $77.93 per share, and has stayed near that high, closing yesterday at $75.41.”

Officials like John Kerry argue that this war is somehow a humanitarian response to atrocities by the Assad regime. But the corporations that stand to profit are no humanitarians. To the contrary, they have been involved in some of the most grotesque human rights violations of our time.

For example, war profiteers profit off slave labor. Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing, and BAE Systems all use prison labor to manufacture military equipment. Prisoners are often forced to labor under sweatshop style conditions, and when they are paid they often receive meager wages like 23 cents an hour. As William Hartung puts it, “There’s no greater restriction on a worker’s rights than being stuck in prison.” Profiting off prison labor creates an incentive to keep prisons full, which may be part of why America has the largest prison population on Earth. Most of America’s prisoners are non-violent offenders, and the majority are people of color. The racism and injustice of slavery remains, and war profiteers benefit from it.

War profiteers also benefit from human rights violations at America’s borders. Their products are used to violate privacy through pervasive surveillance at the border. They are wielded by Border Patrol agents who murder migrant workers and break indigenous communities like the  Tohono O’oodham Nation apart. This aggressive border security helps bosses exploit and abuse undocumented workers. With the threat of deportation and a militarized border hanging over their head, they are deterred from reporting wage theft, sexual violence, and other abuses by their employers. So once again war profiteers enable exploitation, violence and abuse.

Then there’s the warfare they profit from worldwide. General Atomics profits by making Predator drones that kill innocents in Pakistan and Yemen. A litany of corporations profited from the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Like the impending war in Syria, this invasion was justified largely under humanitarian pretenses. Yet rather than “liberate” Iraqis, this invasion brutalized them. The US government murdered innocents, tortured prisoners, and illegally used white phosphorus, a chemical weapon, to kill Iraqis. American war profiteers made a killing from a war in which the US government crossed the very same “red line” they accuse Assad of crossing.

As Emma Goldman wrote decades ago, “no one, be it individual or government, engaged in enslaving and exploiting at home, could have the integrity or the desire to free people in other lands.”  By this standard, we must not trust the US government or the war profiteers to “free” anyone in Syria.

Nathan Goodman is a Senior Fellow and Lysander Spooner Research Scholar in Abolitionist Studies at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org).

12 Big Lies Justifying Syria Attack

Mazda Majidi

1.     Myth: There is evidence that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons.

Fact: Despite vague claims of having proof, not only does the U.S. government have no evidence, it has worked hard to suppress any real investigation into what actually happened in suburban Damascus on Aug. 21. Washington pressured Damascus through the UN to grant permission for an inspection of the area, assuming that Syria would refuse. As soon as the Syrian government granted the permission within 24 hours, the U.S. tried to get the investigation canceled, claiming that it was too late.

2.     Myth: The use of chemical weapons by Bashar Assad’s government is not surprising and Syria will use them again if is not “punished.”

Fact: The Syrian government had no incentive to use chemical weapons and every reason not to. It is widely recognized that the government had made significant gains in the civil war and that the rebels were losing ground. Why would the Syrian government use chemical weapons when it knew that it would likely trigger a U.S. military attack? The opposition rebels, on the other hand, had strong motivation to use chemical weapons and blame it on the government because it is their only chance to reverse their fortunes in the civil war by inviting Western military intervention.

3.     Myth: Only the Syrian government could have used chemical weapons because the rebels would have lacked the capacity to do so.

Fact: The “evidence” provided equates proof of the use of chemical weapons (by someone) with proof that it was the Syrian government that used them. In fact, several states, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and the U.S. have long been directly involved in the Syrian conflict, supporting the Syrian rebels with funding, arms, equipment and training. Any of these parties could easily have facilitated the launch of chemical weapons within Syria in areas long under the control of the rebels. Unlike nuclear weapons, launching chemical weapons does not require a great amount of technological capacity. In May 2013, Carla del Ponte, member of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, stated that there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof” that the rebels had used the nerve agent Sarin. Del Ponte said that her panel had not seen any evidence of the Syrian government forces using chemical weapons.

4.     Myth: If the United States and its imperialist allies prove that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, a U.S. bombing will be legal.

Fact: The UN Charter, to which the U.S. is a signatory, makes it illegal for any member nation to attack another, except in the case of self-defense. “Punishing” another member state, even if that were the real motive, would not legally justify a U.S. attack on Syria. The Obama administration, despite its pretense to legality and morality, is proposing to bomb Syria without the approval of the United Nations Security Council, which it knows it cannot obtain.

5.     Myth: U.S. Congressional approval would make a U.S. bombing of Syria legitimate.

Fact: The U.S. Congress has no more jurisdiction over Syria than the Syrian parliament has over the United States. If another country’s parliament voted to bomb the U.S., would President Obama and the U.S. Congress consider the bombing legitimate? Obama’s consultation with Congress is intended to give a veneer of legality to a gross violation of international law.

6.     Myth: U.S. intervention in Syria is intended to protect civilians.

Fact: A U.S. attack on Syria will claim countless victims, including civilians. The history of the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan proves that its military interventions kill thousands of civilians. Washington politicians and the generals consider civilian victims to be “collateral damage” and callously state: “We don’t do body counts.” The majority of the victims of ongoing U.S. drone bombings in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia have been civilians.

7.     Myth: The Syrian people are united against the Syrian government.

Fact: While the rebels have some popular support, a significant part of the Syrian people, including many Sunnis, Alawites and Christians, support the state. In fact, support for the rebels has eroded in rebel-controlled areas due to their atrocities and criminal activities. Without popular support, it would not have been possible for the Syrian state to still stand and, in fact, gain the upper hand in the civil war.

8.     Myth: The Syrian people support a U.S. bombing.

Fact: Opposition groups such as the Syrian National Council, whose leaders are handpicked by Washington, are enthusiastically calling for a U.S. bombing campaign. But these groups do not even represent the Syrian rebels, much less the Syrian population at large. It is hard to imagine any people supporting the bombing of their country. This is particularly true of the Syrian people who have witnessed the catastrophic effects of U.S. bombings in their neighboring country, Iraq.

9.     Myth: The U.S. government is opposed to weapons of mass destruction.

Fact: The U.S. government is opposed to its adversaries owning weapons of mass destruction, or any weapons for that matter. The U.S. owns over 10,000 nuclear warheads. It is the only country to have ever used nuclear bombs, twice. It has used ammunitions tipped with enriched uranium in Yugoslavia and Iraq. It has provided its garrison state, Israel, with white phosphorus, a weapon Israel used in its 2008-2009 massacre of civilians in Gaza.

10.  Myth: The U.S. government is only now considering intervening in Syria.

Fact: The U.S. has long pursued the goal of regime-change in Syria. On April 10, 2003, the day after the fall of Baghdad, John Bolton, then undersecretary of state for arms control, stated:  “Iran, Syria and North Korea should heed the lesson of Iraq.” The Syrian government, despite its inconsistent and contradictory record, has not been a Washington client. For that reason, Washington has sought to overthrow the Syrian state for decades. Throughout the civil war, the U.S. has funneled arms and funds to the Syrian rebels through its client states neighboring Syria, Turkey and Jordan, with much of the finances coming from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, ultra-conservative, repressive absolutist monarchies.

11.  Myth: The goal of U.S. intervention is not regime change.

Fact: Despite President Obama’s oft-repeated claim, the ultimate goal of bombing Syria would be nothing but regime change. The U.S. hopes that an intense bombing of Syria will change the balance of forces in favor of the rebels, resulting in the overthrow of Bashar Assad’s government. If Washington achieves this goal, it will then be in a stronger position to pursue regime change in Iran. Ultimately, the U.S. government wants nothing but compliant client states in all of the Middle East, a region with immense resources of oil and gas.

12.  Myth: U.S. intervention in Syria is unrelated to the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fact: Obama’s intervention in Syria is nothing but a continuation of the same goals that drove the Bush administration to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq. The false pretext for U.S. intervention in Iraq was weapons of mass destruction while the false pretext for U.S. intervention in Syria is chemical weapons. The real motive behind both interventions is to expand the domination of the U.S. Empire to maximize the profits of oil giants and corporations.