Washington’s Imperial Brinksmanship

Europe in Crisis
June 17, 2012
Palestinian Footballer Near Death
June 18, 2012

Washington’s Imperial Brinksmanship
by Stephen Lendman
Syrian violence rages. Washington bears direct responsibility. Regime change plans are longstanding. Military intervention is planned. Expect it. It’s coming.
Pretexts are easy to create. Large scale insurgent massacres blamed on Assad may trigger war. False flags always work. So does intense propaganda. More on that below.
On June 14, CNN said:
“The U.S. military has completed its own planning for how American troops would conduct a variety of operations against Syria, or to assist neighboring countries in the event action was ordered….”
“In recent weeks, the Pentagon has finalized its assessment of what types of units would be needed, how many troops, and even the cost of certain potential operations….”
Pentagon officials spoke on condition of anonymity. Joint Chiefs head General Martin Dempsey said the Pentagon expedited plans to intervene militarily if asked.
Expect Britain, France, other NATO states, and regional involvement.
“US special forces are training and advising Jordanian troops on a range of specific military tasks….to undertake if (Syrian) unrest….spills over into Jordan or poses a threat to that country….”
Replicating the Sebia/Kosovo/Iraq/Libya model looks likely. Senators John McCain (R. AR), Joe Lieberman (I. CT), Lindsey Graham (R. SC), and other congressional hawks urge direct intervention regardless of international and constitutional law.
Earlier this year, McCain said:
“NATO took military action to save Kosovo in 1999 without formal UN authorization.”
“There is no reason why the Arab League, or NATO, or a leading coalition within the Friends of Syria contact group, or all of them speaking in unison, could not provide a similar international mandate for military measures to save Syria today.”
NATO’s Yugoslavia, Afghan, Iraq and Libya wars violated international and constitutional law. War crime charges are called for. 
Military intervention requires Security Council authorization. 
US wars need congressional approval. Extrajudicial attacks are lawless.
International law prohibits intervening in the internal affairs of other nations, except in self-defense. Attacking nonbelligerent states is absolutely forbidden. 
Syria threatens no one. Saying so is spurious misinformation. 
Advocating lawless intervention crosses the line. So do media and other propaganda reports promoting it. More on that below.
On June 15, DEBKAfile headlined “Big powers move in on Syria: Russian troops for Tartus. US forces ready to go,” saying:
According to Pentagon officials, “Russian special forces” are heading for Tartus. They’re “coming by ship.” They include “naval marines.” Their arrival is imminent.
Defense Department sources said America’s military “completed its own planning for a variety of US operations against Syria….” 
Other regional countries are involved. They include “Turkey, Jordan and Israel.” So are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Gulf states.
Syria’s conflict “is moving into a new phase….” It includes “major power military intervention.”
Sending Russian troops “without UN Security Council approval,” sets a precedent for US intervention.
Russia denies sending any troops or warships. More below.
Either way, no precedent whatever is set. Russia has a strategically important Tartus base. It’ll do what it takes to defend it. It’s Moscow’s only Mediterranean one. Positioning forces on its own facility falls far short of intervention.
Nonetheless, expect EU and regional states to follow Washington’s lead.
Pentagon sources said finalized plans include types and numbers of forces, no-fly zone protection, limited air strikes, and safeguarding chemical and biological sites.
Timeline information wasn’t indicated. Intervention could come anytime.
Earlier reports said insurgents have Libya-supplied chemical weapons. Others falsely accused Assad of using them in Deraa, Hama and Idlib.
Spurious accusations give Washington greater pretext to intervene. Western chemical attacks could be blamed on him.
US naval forces are “maintaining a presence of three surface combatants and a submarine in the easter Mediterranean. They’re conducting “electronic surveillance and reconnaissance….”
On June 15, The New York Times headlined “Russia Sending Missile Systems to Shield Syria,” saying:
“Russia’s chief arms exporter said Friday that his company was shipping advanced defensive missile systems to Syria that could be used to shoot down airplanes or sink ships if the United States or other nations try to intervene to halt the country’s spiral of violence.”
On Friday, Rosoboronexport general director Anatoly Isaykin said:
“I would like to say these mechanisms are really a good means of defense, a reliable defense against attacks from the air or sea.”
“This is not a threat, but whoever is planning an attack should think about this.”
Moscow military analyst Aleksander Golts said weapons shipments warn Western countries against intervening. 
“Russia uses these statements as a form of deterrence in Syria. They show other countries that they are more likely to suffer losses.”
Weapons sent include:
  • Pantsyr-Si radar-guided missile and artillery systems able to hit high-altitude aircraft up to 12 miles away;
  • Buk-M2 antiaircraft missiles capable of higher altitude strikes up to 82,000 feet at longer ranges; and
  • land-based Bastion anti-ship missiles able to target vessels up to 180 miles offshore.
Whether or not Syria has S-300 missiles isn’t clear. They’re Russia’s most advanced system. In April, Itar Tass said they won’t be sent. Other reports indicate otherwise otherwise. 
On June 15, Itar Tass said Russia’s General Staff said:
“The Mediterranean Sea is a zone of the Black Sea Fleet responsibility. Hence, warships may go there in the case it is necessary to protect the Russian logistics base in Tartous, Syria.”
“Several warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, including large landing ships with marines aboard, are fully prepared to go on the voyage.”
Moscow said NBC News claiming Russia sent warships and combat troops to Tartus is false.
Scoundrel Media Reports
Daniel Byman is a former 9/11 Commission staff member. He’s currently a Brookings Saban Center for Middle East Policy research director and Georgetown University security studies professor.
On June 14, his Foreign Policy article headlined “No More Half Measures,” saying:
“A compromise solution that removes Syria’s Bashar al-Assad but replaces him with a crony is now fully off the table. It’s time for Washington to back the opposition.”
UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous says violence escalated dramatically. Unexplained was who’s responsible.
According to Bynam, Annan’s peace plan is “stillborn.” From inception, it’s been sham cover for what’s planned. Violence rages daily. Washington needs it to intervene.
Bynam spuriously claims “the Syrian regime is executing children and indiscriminately shelling civilians.”
America “and its allies (should) back the Syrian opposition more aggressively.”
“….Assad is trying to terrorize the Syrian people into submission through repeated demonstrations of brutal force.”
Russia “intends to give Assad time to quell the rebellion by butchering his own people.”
Regime change “is better than chasing a compromise solution that is likely to fail and, even if successful, would not advance U.S. interests.”
Bynam and like-minded hawks want Assad replaced with puppet leaders supporting US interests. Body counts don’t matter, just imperial goals.
Danielle Pletka is the right wing American Enterprise Institute’s foreign and defense policy studies vice president.
On June 1, her Washington Post op-ed headlined “For Obama, intervening in Syria would be good policy and good politics,” saying:
America’s failure to intervene, “plays to Bashar al-Assad’s regime as tacit permission to continue killing thousands.”
She quoted Washington’s hawkish UN envoy Susan Rice, saying:
“(W)e’re just sitting here watching this movie in slow motion, and we all know what’s going to happen.”
She spuriously accused Assad of massacring Houla civilians. Clear evidence exonerates him. Western death squads bear full responsibility.
Pletka supports more aggressive regime change policies. Benefits include isolating Iran, she says. She also claims it’s morally imperative and makes political sense.
Unstated were America’s imperial aims and rule of law issues. Intervention is prohibited. Doing so constitutes illegal aggression. Pletka supports power politics. Other issues don’t matter.
Daily reports spuriously claim Syrian forces are killing civilians. Anti-government sources are cited. Some reside outside Syria. Others aren’t named. Instead of pointing fingers the right way, Assad is falsely blamed for insurgent violence and deaths.
Spurious Human Rights Watch (HRW) Report
On June 15, HRW claimed Syrian forces use “sexual violence to torture men, women, and boys detained during the conflict.”
Unnamed “witnesses” were cited. HRW interviewed 10 former detainees. Who detained them isn’t clear. Earlier, HRW said insurgents committed targeted killings, summary executions, kidnappings for ransom, torture, hostage taking, and other violent crimes.
A March 29 Der Spiegel article headlined, “An Executioner for Syria’s Rebels Tells His Story,” saying:
Hussein was part of the “Homs burial brigade.” He and comrades “kill in the name of the Syrian revolution. They leave torture (to) the so-called interrogation brigade….”
“They do the ugly work,” he said. He believes in violence he explained. He “cut the throats of four men.” With a heavy machine gun he “killed a lot more men….”
“The rebels in Homs began carrying out regular executions in August of last year.” It continues daily, including prisoners killed in cold blood.
Amnesty International (AI) Points Fingers the Wrong Way
On June 14, AI spuriously blamed Assad for insurgent atrocities, saying:
“The shocking escalation in unlawful killings, torture, arbitrary detention and the wanton destruction of homes in Syria demonstrates just how urgent the need for decisive international action to stem the tide of increasingly widespread attacks on civilians by government forces and militias which act with utter impunity….”
“Soldiers and shabiha militias burned down homes and properties and fired indiscriminately into residential areas, killing and injuring civilian bystanders.” 
“Those who were arrested, including the sick and elderly, were routinely tortured, sometimes to death. Many have been subjected to enforced disappearance; their fate remains unknown.”
“The patterns of abuses committed in these areas are not isolated, and have been widely reported elsewhere in the country, including in the attack by Syrian forces on Houla on 25 May.”
In 2011, HRW and AI reported false anti-Gaddafi accusations. The pattern repeats now against Assad. Doing so allies both organizations with imperial crimes. It also exposes their pro-Western agenda.
Separating Facts from Fiction
On June 7, the Frankfurther Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) published an article titled “Again massacres in Syria.” It pointed fingers the right way. Anti-Assad elements were interviewed. They claimed responsibility.
On June 13, FAZ published a follow-up article titled “Eine Ausloschung (An Extinction or Extermination), saying:
“The Houla massacre was a turning point in the Syrian drama.”
“World opinion almost unanimously blamed the regular Syrian army and the Syrian regime’s Shabiha militia for the massacre.”
“In the past week and based on reports from eyewitnesses the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung put this version into question. It reported that the civilians killed were Alawites and Shiites.”
“They were deliberately killed by armed Sunnis in Taldou, a town in the plains of Houla, while fierce fighting between the regular army and Free Syrian Army was taking place at checkpoints around the village.”
Western media rejected FAZ’s report. Why are credible eye witnesses dismissed out of hand?
No one believes Syrian state media. Credible reports are dismissed.
Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya “have become key sources even as their owners, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are two states which are actively involved in the conflict.”
“The militias that operate under the banner of the Free Syrian Army control wide parts of the provinces of Homs and Idlib and extend their dominion over other parts of the country.” 
“The increasing lawlessness has led to a wave of criminal kidnappings and also facilitates the settling of old disputes.”
Houla, Qubeir, and Taldou (a large Houla region/Homs District town) victims were pro-Assad loyalists. They were also called Hezbollah sympathizers. Anti-Assad residents were spared.
“FAZ was not the first to report on a new version of the massacre of Houla. Other reports could just not compete with the big key media.” 
“The Russian journalist Marat Musin, who works for the small news agency Anna, was in Houla on May 25 and 26, in part became an eyewitness and also published the statements of other eyewitnesses.”
“Additionally the Dutch Arabist and freelance journalist Martin Janssen, who lives in Damascus, contacted the Jacob Monastery in Qara, which has taken in many victims of the conflict with the nuns doing devote humanitarian work, after the massacre.”
“Sunni rebels perpetrated ‘liquidation’ of all minorities. The nuns told him how on that May 25th more than 700 armed rebels, coming from Rastan, overran a roadside checkpoint of the army near Taldou, how these, after the massacre, piled up the corpses of the killed soldiers and civilians in front of the mosque and how they, on next day, told their version of the alleged massacre by the Syrian army in front of the cameras of rebel-friendly channels and to the UN observers.”
Major media featured their reports. Others were dismissed out of hand.
Assad is falsely accused of insurgent crimes.
Quietly on his blog site, BBC world news editor Jon Williams now admits his earlier Houla massacre reports were false. No evidence whatever implicates Assad.
BBC sticks to its original version. FAZ’s account was ignored. Big lies are featured. Media scoundrels spread them. Wars follow. Similar patterns repeat every time.
On June 11, Voltaire Network’s Thierry Meyssan headlined “NATO preparing vast disinformation campaign,” saying:
CIA-created videos will air on television. They’ll blame Assad for recent massacres. They’ll falsify anti-regime demonstrations. They’ll claim ministers and army generals are resigning, “Assad fleeing, the rebels gathering in the big city centers, and a new government installing itself in the presidential palace.”
US deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes is managing US disinformation. At issue is demoralizing Syrians and preparing for coup d’etat transition.
Plans are for “NATO, (and) discontent about the double veto of Russia and China” to remove Assad without direct intervention.
Arab League officials asked “satellite operators Arabsat and Nilesat to stop broadcasting Syrian media, either public or private (Syria TV, Al-Ekbariya, Ad-Dounia, Cham TV, etc.”
Last year, Libyan TV was blocked. Meetings were held to discuss disinformation campaigns. Attending were “PSYOP officers, embedded in the satellite TV channels of Al-Arabiya, Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Fox, France 24, Future TV and MTV.”
CNN collaborates with US Army PSYOP activities. So do other Western media.
Reports are pre-scripted. Videos are fake. Major broadcasters and cable channels pretend they’re real.  
“During the past weeks, studios in Saudi Arabia have been set up to build replicas of the two presidential palaces in Syria and the main squares of Damascus, Aleppo and Homs.” 
“Studios of this type already exist in Doha (Qatar), but they are not sufficient.”
Planning began months ago. At issue is flooding airwaves with fabricated information and images to enlist public support for intervention.
Fabricating information to facilitate war violates the letter and spirit of international law.
General Assembly Resolution 110 (November 1947) “(c)ondems all forms of propaganda, in whatsoever coutry conducted, which is either designed or likely to provoque or encourage any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression….”
GA Resolution 181 (November 1950) condemns propaganda “(i)ncitement to conflicts or acts of aggression, (and) (m)easures tending to isolate the peoples from any contact with the outside world, by preventing the Press, radio and other media of communication from reporting international events, and thus hindering mutual comprehension and understanding between peoples….”
GA Resolution 819 (December 1954) “condemn(s) all forms of propaganda, in whatsoever country conducted, which is either designed or likely to provoke or encourage any threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression.”
What’s ahead looks clear. Wars beget more of them. It’s the American way. Syria’s next in line. Bombs away could happen any time.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.