Michael Lofgren, an old friend who recently retired after a long career analyzing House and Senate national security budgets, has an excellent piece in the Huffington Post, in which he admits that after dismissing the decades of scare reports on Iran by the warmongers he is suddenly a bit more worried about a possible attack on Iran.
During this presidential campaign season, there is on the GOP side the most toxic warmongering political dynamic imaginable: one that makes Bush look like a pacifist in retrospect. President Obama for his part is trying to triangulate à la Bill Clinton between the GOP, a Democratic base that is mostly antiwar but politically ineffectual, Israel, the military-industrial complex, and his polling numbers.
Lofgren warns that with "the U.S. and Iran...reprising the Gulf of Tonkin in the Strait of Hormuz...these factors compose a a brew potentially so toxic that one would think it would give even the most belligerent chickenhawk pause before quaffing it."
But what if Syria itself is the Gulf of Tonkin rather than the cat and mouse games around the Hormuz Strait?
Let us consider a few points:
First: The atrocity stories are mostly cooked-up to make the case for Western military intervention.
Human rights groups like the "Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" are the sole sources of information for events on the ground in Syria, even though the SOHR is based in London, has no contact information, no street address, no e-mail address, no list of officers or employees. The sole responsible person listed, Rami Abdul Rahman, is in fact not a real person at all, as the organization admits, but rather is "just an alias that was being used by all SOHR members." (Readers: have a good look at their website and decide if you would base a US war on Syria on the credibility of this organization providing the "atrocity stories" about Syria.) The only other mention of a real human attached to this organization is in this photo, whose caption reads, "Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, leaves the Foreign and Commonwealth Office after meeting Britain's Foreign Secretary, William Hague, in central London November 21, 2011." (Thanks to Land Destroyer blog for first pointing out the curiousness of the Syrian opposition coordinating with the UK government).
It is this organization that has been almost the exclusive source of the horror stories coming out of Syria, such as the tale of Assad's callous murder of 18 premature babies in Homs -- dutifully reported yesterday in the UK Independent newspaper AND last August on CNN! For a full and compelling report on the pro-war propaganda campaign being cooked up by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and dutifully amplified by our complicit media, see today's excellent piece on Infowars.
I guess nothing says "let's go to war" like the old babies in incubator stories. Who can forget that poor 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, known only by her first name of Nayirah, who told us harrowing tales of Saddam's ruthlessness: ""While I was there, I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns, and go into the room where . . . babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die."
Except, as we now know, she turned out to be the Kuwaiti ambassador's daughter and the tale was cooked up in the PR offices of Hill & Knowlton with the collusion of the late war-loving US Rep. Tom Lantos...
Likewise, the Syria Observatory for Human Rights was the source of last week's stories of "hundreds murdered" in Homs, conveniently on the day before the UN Security Council was to vote on US/UK/French regime change resolution. The absurdity that Assad would be insane enough to go Rambo on his cities the day before the UN/NATO's Libya liberators decided whether or not to invade was lost on most observers, who see what they want to see in these situations once the narrative has been established. That is why just a day later when "hundreds" became "dozens" and many of those dozens turned out to be Syrian security forces killed by the famed unarmed democracy protestors, nobody noticed. The narrative was set. No matter who kills who, it is always, as Hillary Clinton says, the government murdering peaceful protestors.
Now the Syrian opposition propaganda machine warns that Assad might be "mulling" the use of chemical weapons in Homs! First the babies, then this!
Today's bomb attacks on the Military Security Directorate in Aleppo follow a familiar pattern of rebels targeting Syrian security forces and taking out scores of civilians in the process. The Syrian opposition groups, i.e. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, again makes the claim that in fact Assad is blowing up his own military and intelligence facilities. Rational people might judge for themselves whether a leader attempting to put down an armed insurrection in his country would start by blowing up his own military. Alas, rationality has been thrown out the window in the frenzied rush to regime change.
Second: Once burned, twice shy -- or, the pitfalls of falling for the propaganda.
The Russians and Chinese, whose skepticism on Libya proved to be very well placed and who as a result vetoed the recent Syria "regime change" resolution in the UN Security Council are doubly skeptical on Syria, and having been proven right on Libya should be accorded a degree of attention this time. That is why when someone like Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that those pushing the UNSC resolution on Syria were "hysterical" and "indecent" the world should listen. The Russians urged that any resolution call for an end to all violence -- on the part of the government and on the part of the rebels (based in Turkey and armed by Qatar and the West). Their urging that both sides stop shooting rather than just the government side was ignored by the US/UK/NATO/GCC regime changers.
Third: Western militaries and secret services are already in the vicinity.
We must consider reports of UK and Qatari special forces troops operating in Syria (alongside their US counterparts no doubt). One reason to believe these reports is that they have been denied by the British government.
Fourth: Has Iran really thrown Syria under the bus?
We have heard reports, most recently yesterday from RT, that Iran was sending some 15,000 special forces into Syria to help its government defend against rebel attacks.
Fifth, and finally: Why is Syria being readied as the next target?
The US is "reviewing military options" against the Syrian government. US bases literally surround Iran and Iran may have lent military assistance to its ally, Syria. The Israelis have been champing at the bit to attack Iran, but fear having to go it alone. When the US begins military action against Syria, what are the chances that a huge Iranian attack on US forces in Syria or vicinity might be manufactured? What would be the US response considering the "toxic" pro-war brew that Mike Lofgren points out is currently being quaffed in Washington? Smells a bit like Tonkin in Damascus?
One final note: News organizations and websites that have uncritically reported the atrocity stories from these "human rights" groups have helped set the stage for military action against Syria, and have been in fact part of the psychological preparation of the battlefield. As such, they should be considered as morally culpable for the disaster that will soon unfold for the Syrians and for us as the John McCains and the Hillary Clintons and the Sean Hannities and the Bill Kristols of the world.