Idlib gas attack? Is “Not Proven” currently the least worst verdict?

 

Scottish juries have the choice of three verdicts – Guilty, Not Guilty and Not Proven. This multiple choice is much more real to life than the “English” binary or oppositional choice of guilty or not guilty.

In non-judicial or “everyday terms” the Scottish three-way choice when facing a decision is “yes”; “no”; “I don’t know.” The Scottish choice seems to be closer to real life and so is worth using when considering and possibly taking action on matters of and relating to armed conflict which deals in death, mutilation, madness, theft and profit as well as, if not always, bravery and altruism.

Here are some questions and comments which appear to indicate that a Not Proven verdict is currently the most accurate fit before, it is hoped, an accurate analysis of responsibilities for the gas attacks is made.

How do we know what we are told and shown is reasonably genuine?

At best, we only get derivative information. Experience tells us that neither our government nor our main stream media is consistently accurate. The BBC reported the collapse of the “Third Tower” (Saloman Brothers) after the 9/11 attack before the building actually collapsed. The information presented by our government on “weapons of mass destruction”, prior to the Iraq war was also significantly inaccurate.

How could reporter Feras Karam announce the gas attack before it occurred?

Why did Mail online publish a report, “U.S. Backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria and blame it on Assad regime?” (2013). (Ed : This post was deleted 3 days later.)

Why did CNN reporter Elise Labott state, “The U.S. and some European allies are using defence contractors to train Syrian rebels to secure chemical stockpiles in Syria?” (09/12/12)

If the chemical warfare agent was Sarin, why are the photographed first responders not wearing protective clothing as unprotected contact with Sarin victims kills the helper. Indeed they appear not to be even wearing gloves and do appear to be wearing sandals.

Has the chemical warfare agent been scientifically analysed?

Why is a Sarin bomb referred to when it appears that, for reasons of chemical shelf life, the best distance delivery tool is a shell?

Who are the first reporters of this attack? What is their record of accuracy and reliability in any previous reports? Might they have any vested interests in this matter?

Where is there evidence of thorough, clear and objective verification of these prime sources by our main stream media and/or government? Why is the US being so quick to launch an attack when, whatever else it might do, it assists Al Qaida and/or its derivatives?

Have “Western” reactions been based on objective information? If so, is it possible for the general public to know about it?

Might we be “believing” and/or “emotionalising” ourselves into another Iraq war?

A Not Proven verdict appears to fit best what we currently know and do not know. Not Proven verdicts encourage the continuing search for truth. The truth about this wickedness is of the greatest possible importance for everyone, especially the relatives and friends of the so sad victims.

P.S. In which ways have Western interventions helped Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya?

* Steve Trevathan is chairperson of Lyme Regis and Marshwood Vale Liberal Democrats.

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78 Comments

  • Denis Mollison 10th Apr '17 - 1:02pm

    Good questions

  • Eddie Sammon 10th Apr '17 - 1:26pm

    I’m surprised by the amount of people questioning whether Assad was responsible. I haven’t heard a single independent media organisation do the same – only Syrian and Russian news.

    People should read credible news organisations. Our news organisations aren’t making this stuff up – many of our journalists would rather go to prison than be told to tell lies by the Government.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 10th Apr '17 - 1:33pm

    Mark Wright
    The party and you, would benefit from more of you politically and professionally !

    Your scientific knowledge and insight, plus your passionate responses too, are an asset.

  • Sue Sutherland 10th Apr '17 - 2:17pm

    According to the “White Helmets” they didn’t realise at first that it was a chemical attack, so the first rescuers didn’t wear any protective clothing and were themselves poisoned.

  • Jayne Mansfield 10th Apr '17 - 2:17pm

    @ Eddie Sammon,
    Without wishing to enter into an who did what argument, (I suspect that like many, I am not in possession of all the facts), journalists get kidnapped and killed in Syria, and that is where the problem lies in terms of responsible, reliable, on the spot reportage.

  • Steve Trevethan 10th Apr '17 - 2:59pm

    My thanks to L.D. Voice for publishing a piece which will and has been criticized.
    My thanks to all who have contributed to a discussion on the matters in hand which appear to me to be:
    *Free Speech
    *Our personal responsibilities to obtain the most accurate information on matters which will involve action by a government which we, as a set of citizens, like it or not, have elected.
    *Our duty to obtain some proven justice for the victims of this so wicked crime, and their relatives and friends, and to bring the proven perpetrators to visibility if not justice.
    *Our duty to reduce or eliminate optional/non-existential armed conflicts.
    “The person who PROVES me wrong is my friend.”

  • @ Councillor Mark Wright ” it’s a bit disappointing that LDV is now helping to propagate conspiracy stories”.

    Since when did ‘not proven’ become a conspiracy story, Councillor Wright ?

  • Chris Bertram 10th Apr '17 - 3:49pm

    “Why is a Sarin bomb referred to when it appears that, for reasons of chemical shelf life, the best distance delivery tool is a shell?”

    The press have *never, ever* been capable of telling the difference between a bomb and a shell. Nor can it ever be properly explained to them so that they will get it right next time. A bomb will be called a shell, and a shell a bomb without anybody taking the trouble to check what it really is.

    And on that bombshell …

  • Steve Trevethan 10th Apr '17 - 5:26pm

    Are all self seeking cruelties such as chemical weapon attacks conspiracies? If so all theories used to “explain” them or explain them away can be classified as conspiracy theories. Perhaps it might help the clarity of conversation if terms such as “orthodox and unorthodox theories” and/or “official and unofficial theories” were used.
    Here is a website which lists many historical incidents about which the official explanation/theory was wrong and could reasonably be described as an “official conspiracy theory”.
    Perhaps we are likely to be better informed when we take the personal responsibility to check out what we are told and not just accept it irrespective of its source.
    The Reichstag Fire is one example. More can be found on the web site below.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_flag

  • Cllr Mark Wright ….On “promoting conspiracy theories”… Quite the opposite…

    No-one writing against Trump’s action is pretending to know the “truth”; it is a case of ‘wait and see’ before taking action…You, on the other hand (even admitting the history of lies from all sides) , ‘know’ that Assad is guilty……
    In 1990 we had an’eyewitness’ account from 15 yo ‘Nayirah’ and the world ‘knew’ that Saddam’s troops murdered hundreds of babies…
    In 2001, as Mr. Shaw writes, the world ‘knew’ that Saddam had WMDs…

    Why is it so difficult to wait and demand an enquiry under UN supervision…After all, in 2013 Obama waited and 4 years have passed without further such incidents…So why now?

    For me, the ‘why’ is the most unexplainable part; after all, things were going so well for Assad… Trump had just declared that Syria was not the USA’s problem, with Russian aid he was winning on all fronts and only days beforehand the US had declared his most effective opponents in the Idlib theatre (Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham) a terrorist organisation which would weaken them further…

    Why use the one weapon that would bring universal outrage?

  • Mark’s comments are some of the best I’ve yet seen in response to these sorts of questions. Even so they do not constitute proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Remember that the burden of proof is upon the person making the claim. I think this is, or should be, especially true if that claim could lead to a global war.

    If one accepts the the 2016 OPCW report and UN Statements one also accepts that both sides in the conflict have access to and have used chemical weapons. So both sides have the means and the willingness to use them.
    So we come to motives. I don’t know much about this small farming village but the question that hasn’t been answered for me yet is why. Why would the SAA use a relatively ineffective battlefield weapon (because it largely is, being dependent on wind direction for one) against what I understand is a strategically unimportant target, given that a) they are winning, b) such an action might create a situation where they have plenty more opposition and c) in Russia they have plenty of conventional munitions that could do the job more effectively and cleanly? This is still a valid question to my mind. I haven’t seen an answer beyond – ‘because he’s a crazy psycho’. Not good enough.

  • I’m guessing you’re a chemist/scientist with a deeper understanding of the technical issues than I. I just have a grad and post grad degree in the political and social sciences so I can’t speak to that. I’d like to go over the two points you made with a critical eye.

    1. Ukraine flight. Available evidence points to Russia, or Russian backed Ukranians, but again there is no proof. Not proven. The fact the weapon was Russian made and there was a photo of one being driven in proves nothing. Both sides have that weapon. You are drawing conclusions. I think this is tantamount to a false cause argument. If somebody was run down by a red Ford Fiesta in Norfolk on a Saturday and I was photographed driving in to Norfolk in a red Ford Fiesta on Friday does that mean I am proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt?

    2. Responsibility for the 2013 Ghouta was never proven beyond doubt. As far as I know the UN did not assign blame, neither did the OPCW. If I am wrong please direct me to the official investigative document with the exact words the SAA/Assad regime is definitely the culprit, and the proof to assert the claim. The report written by Richard Lloyd (former UN weapons inspector) and Theodore Postal (MIT Professor) suggested that the evidence upon which the US/Obama made the claims was shaky to say the least. Seymour Hersh is a seasoned investigative journalist who reported on the Mai Lai massacre and brought that to light. He is less than convinced by the claims the evidence exists to prove beyond all doubt Ghouta was perpetrated by the SAA.

  • Sorry but these two incidents, even if your version were certain, do not mean in this instance we can categorically assign guilt. I think that’s almost a slippery slope argument.
    An appeal to emotion or an appeal to authority is not a good enough argument either. To reiterate I am not saying the SAA are not the guilty party. I’m not saying they are either. Others are. The burden of proof lies with the one making the claim. There is nothing in what you say that establishes guilt beyond reasonable doubt. All I think we want is for a proper process to establish the facts rather than starting another foreign adventure based on claims. See we’ve been here before – 45 minutes, Kuwaiti babies being thrown from incubators by Iraqi soldiers and left to die… All proven now to be falsehoods. Blind faith and trust isn’t an option. Especially when we aren’t talking about a tinpot dictator with a ragtag army, we are talking about a potential conflict with a nuclear capable state with some of the most advanced and powerful military hardware in the world. If you think that there is no doubt and it’s worth risking a Satan 2 dropping on your backyard based on your conviction, than more power to you. Personally, I am not. If that makes me a terrible, Assad apologist, Russian flag waving idiot in your eyes I can live with it.

  • Simon McGrath 10th Apr '17 - 6:06pm

    Seriously – LDV is now running stories from 9/11 conspiracy theorists?

  • Andrew McCaig 10th Apr '17 - 6:19pm

    As I said on the other thread, there is plenty of doubt over motive and I note that Cllr Wright merely repeats his speculation from there without any actual evidence.

    And really people! “All the media say so, it must be true!” We are talking about such credible witnesses as Donald Trump and Boris “£350 million” Johnson here!

    Action required proof, and we have so far seen no proof that would stand up in a court of law, while the political beneficiaries of the events are Donald Trump and above all the hard pressed and now largely extremist rebels… I do not like Assad at all, he has been murdering his own citizens for years. But I don’t understand why he would suddenly become really stupid!

  • Steve Trevethan 10th Apr '17 - 7:03pm

    That the BBC reported the collapse of the collapse of the Third Tower/ Tower 7/ The Salomon Brothers Tower nearly half an hour before it did, is a demonstrable fact. The BBC itself says it is so.
    It may or may not be part of a “conspiracy theory”.
    That is irrelevant to my article which points out that, “neither our government nor our media is consistently accurate.”
    This example of premature reporting makes the second part of that case. The lack of accurate information on WMDs we received from HMG and the main stream media makes the whole case.

  • A Social Liberal 10th Apr '17 - 7:40pm

    With ISTAR intelligence is usually made at least ‘secret’ and as such, unless the US government decides otherwise, is not released for decades. Given this, you will not necessarily see detailed evidence. However, for the US to commit so quickly to military action despite Trump being so pro Putin the evidence they have must be compelling.

    However, as I said before the fact that only six aircraft were destroyed on a crowded airfield and that Russio-Syrian operations were back to normal within 24 hours shows that Trumps warning to Putin paid dividends for the Russians.

  • @ Martin The whole point about ‘not proven’ is that there is uncertainty – hence asking for ‘facts’ is a clear non sequitur.

    If it comes down to a matter of faith or belief, then I believe Trump to be a pretty dodgy fellow with the potential for a calamitous strategy deriving from a narcissistic psychotic personality.

    You’re free to disagree if you admire him.

  • The Daily Mail story that got removed was zapped because it was libellous – the Daily Mail was taken to court over it and had to pay out big damages (https://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/jun/26/daily-mail-syrian-chemical-weapons-libel).

    The answer as to why they published it is quite straightforward: they were taken it by fake documents and as a result then deleted the story.

  • As for sarin, it has been delivered via bombs in the past, including the horrific bombing of Halabja – which, ironically, is given as an example of bombs being used to deliver sarin on the very page you link to Steve to cast doubt on why sarin would be delivered via a bomb.

  • It may gall some people but in matters such as this proof may never be found. Knowing and proving being two totally different states. Taking Saddam Hussain, most of the world, even those against the War in 2003 thought he still had WMD. He contributed to his own demise because he failed to let the UN inspectors prove he did not.

    Assad will never allow the UN (or any other agency) to prove this attack, therefore a decision had to be made on the information available. Whether Trum was right or wrong to attack is a different issue, but in a conflict sometimes leaders Ned to make decisions based upon the best available evidence.

  • As for the lack of PPE on the rescuers, both the reasons given as perfectly valid. Agents like Sarin were planned to be used in theatre to debilitate and demoralise an enemy, cause significant casualties and to force them to wear PPE (degrading their fighting efficiency. With planning, favourable wind and weather and a non-persistent variety of agent, the attackers can have the benefit of fighting i an environment they knew to be clear whilst the attacked are still trying to verify the fact. They then have the benefit of fighting without cumbersome PPE against a demoralised enemy still trying to deal with contaminated casualties.

  • Steve Way 10th Apr ’17 – 10:44pm…….Assad will never allow the UN (or any other agency) to prove this attack, therefore a decision had to be made on the information available…..

    The incident took place in rebel held territory..It is upto the rebels who enters and leaves; one thing is certain; if the UN are on the ground any attack by Assad/Russia will not happen…

    So, instead of demanding an investigation from Assad, ask the rebel groups..

  • The big problem with conspiracy theories is they start from a presumption and go all of the shop. On the flip side governments sometimes do lie or form convenient conclusions that back up things they were going to do anyway. This does not just the apply to the bad guys.
    So is there evidence that Russia and Syria lie. Sure, there is plenty. But is there evidence that our governments also lie and spin things. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of that as well. And that is the crux of the problem and why you end up with distrust.
    So to me the real questions to ask are. Has what we’ve done in the ME worked out well? Not really. Is there evidence that it will suddenly come good here? Not really. Is there any point in continuing more of the same? Not really.
    Forgive, but I am not going to jump up and down applauding the latest action just because I’m supposed to feel that killing civilians with a sarin is more immoral than blowing them up with conventional weapons or that barrel bombs are more barbaric than other kinds of bombs. Well, killing people is just ugly and it doesn’t get less ugly because you spin the public fairy tales about smart bombs or because you wrap it up in well meaning sentiment.

  • …………………………Migrants from west Africa being ‘sold in Libyan slave markets’…UN migration agency says selling of people is rife in African nation that has slid into violent chaos since overthrow of Gaddafi…

    An example of, as Glen wrote, “Has what we’ve done in the ME worked out well?” After all the promises, and TWO visits from our coalition partner, didn’t we do well here?

    Having seen what our ‘bringing democracy’ to Iraq and Libya has done, who can blame Assad for not believing our promises to his nation…

  • George
    IS were formed in Iraq not in Syria. Bin Laden was Saudi. When they found him he was in Pakistan living pretty much in the open. The invitation of Iraq was not just based on falsehoods about WMDs, it was based on falsehoods about who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and where they were based. This happened because Iraq was a convenient target. The same thing is happening in Syria. We have basically been encouraged to use our military to destabilise countries according to spheres of influence forged in the cold war and it’s equally obvious that the so-called moderate rebels are just more religious fundamentalists. Britain can’t influence what the US or Russia does, but it can refuse endorse this nonsense and vow not to get dragged into more of the same. In other words we can keep our noses out and find better things to do.

  • invasion not invitation

  • Jayne Mansfield 11th Apr '17 - 8:00am

    @ Glen,
    Like you I can think of no western meddling in the Middle East that has not led to more suffering, more chaos. I firmly believe that intervention in Syria is nothing more than a triumph of hope over experience.

    We in the west, some for the best of intentions, try to bring about change in societies, whilst having no understanding of that society. As you say, the tragedy of Syria and other countries that we and Western counties have meddled in, didn’t ‘just happen. A train of events is set in place and others have to live with the consequences.

    As someone with family members in the military, I think that an article in last week’s Guardian. ‘Taliban advance into Sangin threatens British Military gains in Helmand’, should give pause for thought.

    President Trump’s ‘ rapid decisive action’ has not not given the public time to think through the issues , and what the consequences of it are likely to be, so there is likely to be initial support for action, but people like myself have been here before, the Vietnam war, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya…. It is amazing how so many who supported these interventions and now having seen the consequences , have false memory syndrome and claim that they were always opposed to them.

    Does anyone really think that Trump, Putin, Assad or the ‘rebel’ groups put the interests of innocents, including children first?, that this is their foremost consideration? If so, could they give me a balance sheet that demonstrates that our interventions have led to fewer rather than more suffering and death? (One haunting image that will always live with me is that of a child who looks identical to one of my grandchildren). But at least, that child’s suffering has been brought to our attention and acknowledged, unlike that of so many children in these conflicts that are glossed over, if mentioned or acknowledged at all, because they are a too inconvenient, embarrassing fact. They are not a welcome part of the ‘narrative’.

    On the matter of conspiracy theories. When documents are de-classified and un- redacted, it is not surprising that there is such a level of distrust of the ‘good guys’ in these conflicts.

  • One of the classic theories of history is that when a ruler has trouble at home, they distract attention by starting or inciting a foreign war. Trump- with his Russian connection under investigation – comes from a long line of such rulers.

    “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”

  • Genesis 1…Trump saw all that he had made, and it was very good…..

    From zero to hero…Trump is now ‘the decisive leader of the free world’…..The Trump administration on Monday signalled much broader grounds for future military intervention in Syria, suggesting it might retaliate against the Assad regime for barrel bomb attacks and, even more, the US will now “come to the defence of innocent civilians anywhere in the world”.
    Now we have a US Navy strike force heading to do some ‘sabre rattling’ off North Korea because, in the words of the White House, ” “action has to be taken, regarding North Korea.”

    One looney poking two other loonies with a pointed stick; what could possibly go wrong?

    The world has just gotten a lot less safe…

  • Steve Trevethan 11th Apr '17 - 8:37am

    Again, thanks to all contributors to this conversation.
    Particular thanks to Mark Pack for providing a checkable reference to the “Mail” chemical weapons item.
    Would Cllr. Mark Wright please provide checkable references for the downing of the airliner he refers to?
    @ Martin The benefits of a three choice system is its greater real life accuracy- facts, fictions and “don’t [yet] knows”
    Thanks to Dan Falchikov for drawing our attention to the Scottish verdict system. The site given below is most interesting and informative, especially about cases involving allegations of rape.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_proven
    Thanks to Glen and Jayne Mansfield for addressing the last of my questions.

    Why do the countries we think we have a responsibility to protect get wrecked and stay wrecked?
    Who benefits?

  • It is also a classic theory of history that ‘the first casualty of war is truth’. This became apparent yet again listening to the ‘Today’ programme on Radio 4 this morning.

    The phrase (probably from an American Senator in 1918) was used in a book, ‘Falsehood in Wartime : Propaganda Lies of the First World War title’ in 1928 by Arthur Ponsonby a former Liberal M.P. who, with others such as Trevelyan and Morel, opposed the First World War. For their pains, they were ostracised by a divided Liberal Party. Ponsonby ultimately resigned from the Party and became a minister in the post- war Labour Government.

    The book is still in print and available on line. It is an enlightening read.

  • Jayne Mansfield 11th Apr '17 - 9:43am

    @ Steve,
    No problem.

    Personally, I would like to see people addressing the question that you raise in your post script rather than pointing out the known fact that there are some conspiracy theorists around….. nourished no doubt by an entirely understandable distrust of some politicians.

    The fact that President Trump and his administration have sent out, and continue to send out mixed messages steeped in double standards, does not endear some of us to those who have hastily heaped praise on his actions without considering what consequences will be unleashed by the actions of this erratic man. Not least the effect his new found popularity as super-hero amongst ‘liberals’ will have on whatever day to day, hour to hour, internal restraints he may or may not have.

  • Jayne Mansfield 11th Apr '17 - 10:56am

    @ Mark,
    May I point out that I put ‘liberals’ in quotation marks.

    I read the Independent and Guardian on line. Just as one example may I refer you to the Independent Editorial, ‘Trumps decisive attack arrived too late for G7 to change the course for beleaguered Syria’.

    Indeed the whole argument between us, on this thread or another dealing with President Trump’s unilateral action, relates to evidence, whether one should apportion blame and act before gaining it. Whether one should support his actions prior to gaining that evidence or not.

    Some say tomato others say Tom Ato. Some say ‘decisive’ some say ‘reckless’.

    @ Steve Way,
    I don’t dispute that finding evidence may be difficult, and I thank you for your comments on a subject that most of us find difficult, but is finding such evidence in this particular case, impossible?

  • Jayne Mansfield 11th Apr '17 - 2:45pm

    @ Mark,
    You are correct on that , but I stand by what I say. I just can’t be bothered and I don’t have the time or inclination to trawl back through articles to deconstruct them to prove a point.

    Nevertheless, I remain of the view, that the response of world and political leaders who have chosen to support Mr Trump’s action, including that poster boy of liberalism Justin Trudeau, to President Trump’s unilateral action ( whatever the caveat’s) will have boosted his ego and self belief and done nothing to persuade him against similar unilateral, impulsive gestures, quite the reverse.

    Quite frankly, I don’t know why so much focus is put on the evidence base, or lack of, of conspiracy theorists who at best are fringe groups who don’t have the power to wreak the devastation that Mr Trump is capable of. There are more important issues to be addressed. For example, was there a reason why Mr Trump had to act with such speed and without seeking a multi- national approach to events? Did HE have some evidence that we are not party to that made such a rapid response necessary.

    That is the sort of evidence that interests me because the idea that the ‘leader of the Western world’ unilaterally embarks upon an action as serious as that embarked upon by President Trump, seemingly without any evidence for his actions or discussion with others from different parts of the globe who are part of existing structures that might offer a different perspective or argument to his own and that of those he surrounds himself with, is more scary to me than any conspiracy theory.

    May I also point out, that my response has been to a question raised by the author of this piece in his postscript. That for me the the most fundamentally important question.

  • The US is no policeman, struggling bravely to maintain law and order. Rather US foreign policy has long been dedicated to overthrowing the Syrian government aided and abetted by chief poodle, the UK, and the lesser Euro-poodles. Here is just one account recording how this goes back to 1983.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-10/1983-cia-document-reveals-plan-destroy-syria-foreshadows-current-crisis

    Many parallel and well-documented accounts exist, some dating regime change attempts as far back as 1949. What comes across loud and clear is the astonishing level of duplicity and the vast range of covert operations involved.

    Of course, this would run into difficulties if the MSM wasn’t reduced to a mouthpiece for Neocon interests as this report by FAIR implies.

    http://fair.org/home/five-top-papers-run-18-opinion-pieces-praising-syria-strikes-zero-are-critical/

    Online media, however, have already reported serious doubts about the official narrative and much anger in the intelligence community about the distortion of intelligence to justify retaliation.

    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/07/trumps-wag-the-dog-moment/

    In Iraq and Syria the US has spent billions supporting Al Qaeda and ISIS linked jihadists (in a sane world that would amount to treason) to advance this strategy even when it had already demonstrably failed.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/12/how-the-west-created-the-islamic-state/

    It has also cost perhaps two million lives across Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and devastated many, many millions more. It now risks metastasising into a World War3.

    So, forgive me if I doubt the basic integrity or veracity of the US coalition when it comes to their crocodile tears about a very clouded incident that cost around 75 lives – but, handily from a US/jihadi POV, positively invites the jihadis to stage more such incidents every time they want to call in an air strike.

    Finally, for a Russian perspective, the following by a one-time military analysist is longish but a must-read.

    http://thesaker.is/a-multi-level-analysis-of-the-us-cruise-missile-attack-on-syria-and-its-consequences/

  • The US is no policeman, struggling bravely to maintain law and order. Rather US foreign policy has long been dedicated to overthrowing the Syrian government aided and abetted by chief poodle, the UK, and the lesser Euro-poodles. Here is just one account recording how this goes back to 1983.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-10/1983-cia-document-reveals-plan-destroy-syria-foreshadows-current-crisis

    Many parallel and well-documented accounts exist, some dating regime change attempts as far back as 1949. What comes across loud and clear is the astonishing level of duplicity and the vast range of covert operations involved.

    Of course, this would run into difficulties if the MSM wasn’t reduced to a mouthpiece for Neocon interests as this report by FAIR implies.

    http://fair.org/home/five-top-papers-run-18-opinion-pieces-praising-syria-strikes-zero-are-critical/

    Online media, however, have already reported serious doubts about the official narrative and much anger in the intelligence community about the distortion of intelligence to justify retaliation.

    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/07/trumps-wag-the-dog-moment/

  • In Iraq and Syria the US has spent billions supporting Al Qaeda and ISIS linked jihadists (in a sane world that would be treason) to advance this strategy even when it had already demonstrably failed.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/12/how-the-west-created-the-islamic-state/

    It has also cost perhaps two million lives across Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and devastated many, many millions more. It now risks metastasising into a World War3.

    So, forgive me if I doubt the basic integrity or veracity of the US coalition when it comes to their crocodile tears about a very clouded incident that cost around 75 lives – but handily from a US/jihadi POV positively invites them to stage more such incidents every time they want to call in an air strike and/or further demonise the Russians in the MSM.

    Finally, for a Russian perspective, the following by a one-time military analysist is longish but a must-read.

    http://thesaker.is/a-multi-level-analysis-of-the-us-cruise-missile-attack-on-syria-and-its-consequences/

  • In Iraq and Syria the US has spent billions supporting Al Qaeda and ISIS linked jihadists (in a sane world that would be treason) to advance this strategy even when it had already demonstrably failed.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/12/how-the-west-created-the-islamic-state/

    It has also cost perhaps two million lives across Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and devastated many, many millions more. It now risks metastasising into a World War3.

    So, forgive me if I doubt the basic integrity or veracity of the US coalition when it comes to their crocodile tears about a very clouded incident that cost around 75 lives – but handily from a US/jihadi POV positively invites them to stage more such incidents every time they want to call in an air strike or further demonise the Russians in the MSM.

    Finally, for a Russian perspective, the following by a one-time military analysist is longish but a must-read.

    http://thesaker.is/a-multi-level-analysis-of-the-us-cruise-missile-attack-on-syria-and-its-consequences/

  • Steve Trevethan 11th Apr '17 - 5:23pm

    Many thanks to Mark Wright for listing his sources relating to the downing of the Malaysian airliner over the Ukraine.
    Alas I can find no definite statement attributing proven blame to any nation.,
    Perhaps Mr Wright or some helpful person could tell me where to find a clear, final verdict of guilt.

    Thanks also to Mr Wright for his comment about the importance of evidence and sources.
    If we were to become and be known as the party dealing in and presenting the most accurate information and clear considered thinking, which was not distorted by the dangerous distortions of “showbiz” politics and attention grabbing,, our Nation and we would be much better off.
    Thanks again to Jayne Mansfield for continuing to follow through on the postscript to my article.
    How does inflicting death, mutilation, madness and refugee status on thousands of thousands of people protect them?

  • For some weird reason LDV is blanking comments. I’ll try again because I want to provide a link to a perspective by a former Russian military analyst now living, AFAIK, in the West.

    http://thesaker.is/a-multi-level-analysis-of-the-us-cruise-missile-attack-on-syria-and-its-consequences/

  • ………………..Putin said Russia would ask the UN to carry out an investigation into the attack, and accused unnamed western countries of supporting the US strikes in a bid to curry favour with Donald Trump………….

    And, as the US has said it has irrefutable proof that the attack was carried out by Assad, their presentation of these facts should ensure that the ‘investigation’ should be over very quickly and the world will know that “Assad did it”….

  • Councillor Wright : “Steve, I find it very hard to take you seriously as a result of this – It seems pretty clear to me that you simply don’t want to accept the evidence. The issue here isn’t really lack of evidence, is it? It’s a desire to maintain a certain view no matter what the evidence…”

    That’s extremely harsh to someone who throughout posted a courteous response to you and whose original main post merely questioned the Trump version of events with a ‘not proven’ comment.

    End of.

  • @ Councillor Wright You didn’t produce any evidence on what happened last week, you gave an opinion – admittedly based on past behaviour being a predictor of present or future behaviour.

    Part of the problem with the internet is exactly that too many people take too many other people seriously when they are simply not worthy of being taken seriously. You said it, Mark.

  • Reading the above, this has been an excellent discussion so far. This debate is important because of the conclusions it leads to. Over the weekend, I listened to a high-ranking member of the party call for Britain to join the US in further action if called upon on the basis that they were “completely sure” that Assad was behind the attack. Like Glenn, I was left wondering why civilian fatalities from conventional weapons were any less horrific, but more importantly, I was struck by the degree of confidence with which this person was willing to condemn members of our armed forces to a fate of possible death, injury or amputation in pursuit of further military action. This has become a heated debate, so I ought to make it extremely clear that casting doubt over the ‘Assad did it’ narrative neither equates to support for him, nor does it necessarily mean that mean we should take no action over Syria.

    The very suggestion that someone other than Assad was responsible for Khan Shaykhun horrifies some, but Syria is a dirty and messy proxy war. There are at least five non-Western foreign powers covertly involved who have the means to facilitate such an event. Their sociopathic Al Qaeda affiliate proxies in the fray, like al-Nusra Front, are suitably amoral, and their incentive to engage in such action is far greater than that for Assad. It is perfectly possible to discharge chemical weapons from the ground – the Ghouta sarin attack in 2013 was delivered using surface-to-surface rockets –and there is no shortage of regime airstrikes if one can be bothered to synchronise such a deployment with aircraft movements. In any case, we will most likely never know because the site of the attack was deep inside the country, too far from any NATO short-range counter-battery radar units that could detect an offending artillery shell. Syria is full of guns, ammo and amphetamines. Is it really so contentious to suggest that amid the melange of cruelty, some sarin or its precursors could not have changed hands? Either way, this is a no-holds barred conflict. It is hard to mourn the loss of a regime airbase, but it should not be taboo to ask questions. The implications of not doing so are severe, and we should think very carefully as a nation before escalating our own involvement. As Jayne Mansfield said, the lack of journalists – the many jihadists amongst the rebels would probably kidnap or behead them – means that the truth is often obscured.

  • The shooting down of the Malaysian flight has no more bearing on the sarin attack than does the Iran Air Flight 655 shot down by the USS Vincennes…..Except to muddy the water..

    Strange how, for some, possible Russian lies trump (no pun intended) proven western lies….
    As I’ve said before, Russia has called for a full UN investigation and, as the US has ‘irrefutable evidence’ of Assad’s guilt, the outcome will be swift and we doubters will be proved wrong…. I’m only surprised that the US has not already shown the world this proof; what is the problem?

  • Martin.
    Why are you so rude to people on so many threads, sometimes hinting at dark motives behind comments you disagree with? It’s not a terribly helpful trait.
    Sure arguments can get a little side tracked, but that happens with any debate.

  • Steve Trevethan 12th Apr '17 - 11:22am

    Thanks to Cllr Mark for responding to my request for the location of a definitive statement attributing definitive responsibility for the airliner over the Ukraine.
    That none has been found [yet] is significant.
    The odds on our main stream media and government not being critical of Russia if that country had been demonstrably responsible for the downing of that aircraft are low to non-existent. That makes a prima facie/worth checking out case for considering that they did not. It also makes a reasonable case for not making life or death decisions upon information that needs further questioning or about which we may feel strongly but about which we do not securely know.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Apr '17 - 1:27pm

    Very powerful comments, and really poignant also, from Martin.

    I do not understand the lack of tolerance or fear of supporting a limited action after a humanitarian horror.

    Bombs were dropped hourly by our forces in the second world war.

    If what Blair, Bush, now Trump, before him, Obama, did, qualifies them as war criminals in the minds of those who foam and hiss, at such things, what were the likes of Churchill, in Dresden, or worse, the lefts sainted Attlee, in Hiroshima ?!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Apr ’17 – 1:27pm…….I do not understand the lack of tolerance or fear of supporting a limited action after a humanitarian horror…….
    Bombs were dropped hourly by our forces in the second world war……I Churchill, in Dresden, or worse, the lefts sainted Attlee, in Hiroshima ?

    The only lack of tolerance in in the timing and manner of the US missile strike…Again, I ask, why was the UN not consulted and why has the USA’s ‘irrefutable evidence’ against Assad not been made available?

    Why bring WW2 into the argument????? As for “the left’s sainted Atlee’ being worse than Churchill; your anti left bias is all too familiar…
    Atlee was only informed of details of the ‘Manhattan Project’ on taking office on 26th July 1945….The dates and targets had already been agreed by Churchill before Atlee took office and the Hiroshima bomb was dropped within days of Atlee’s election..The rush was such that Atlee’s Potsdam speech had been written by Churchill…In addition, “The balance of power, both in the ‘Manhattan Project and it’s use in the Pacific, lay too heavily with the United States for the British to be able to oppose this particular decision.”….

  • Martin.
    Fair point, though I think you are also a bit rude on other subjects,

    Lerenzo
    Atlee didn’t drop bombs on Hiroshima. In fact he didn’t have much knowledge of the Manhattan project. He did support nuclear deterrents after WWII on the grounds that modern warfare was a game changer.
    IMO Dresden was a War Crime as were the nuclear attacks on Japanese civilians, the use of carpet bombing, search & destroy campaigns against villages. napalm and agent orange in Vietnam. I also think the idea that white phosphorous and depleted uranium ammunition are more acceptable than chemical weapons is a ludicrous proposition. Generally speaking I think military intervention and the doctrine of regime change have become too acceptable in some circles of power. The result being dismal after dismal failure.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Apr '17 - 4:35pm

    Expats

    My bias is not against the left, so less of the sarcasm, would be appreciated ! I was once upon a time a member of the Labour party , and have many years in this party too, and thus , it is the left I am more aware of ,their foibles and failings, the right are not in my orbit, alas I was not involved in the coalition government !

    It is because of the background and views that are my own, and not the preserve of others , other than with regard to their right to say what they like regardless of the accuracy, that I , who like and admire Atlee, and accept what you say, am aware too of the double standards on the farther shores of the left .

    Corbyn loathes wars the west is in any way involved in, he seems happy with revolutions in Cuba or worse in the tendencies he has supported from Northern Ireland to Palestine!

  • Jonathan Brown 12th Apr '17 - 11:54pm

    I share some of the despair at the conspiracy theorising going on in this article.

    Worth having a look at the open source evidence collated by Bellingcat:

    “Aside from the geographical limitations of transporting chemical weapons across Syria through ISIS and government held territory it is also notable that the time of this supposed attack on a chemical weapons warehouse was hours after the first reports of the attack and images from the attack were published online. It’s also worthwhile to note the Russian Ministry of Defence has been caught lying repeatedly and faking evidence, so should be considered extremely unreliable, even when they present evidence to support their claims.”
    https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2017/04/05/khan-sheikhoun-chemical-attack-evidence-far/

    “All available evidence, including witness accounts from the scene and airfields, strongly suggests the chemical attack occurred hours before the attack claimed by Russia and Syria. It is difficult to reconcile the Russian and Syrian claims with the open source evidence available, including a three-hour time gap between the narratives, the previous damage to the silos and warehouse near the attacked site, and the available images showing location of the airstrike.”
    https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2017/04/10/khan-sheikhoun-chemical-attack-bombed/

    The Guardian also had a reporter in Khan Sheikhoun relatively quickly, who was also able to add to the debunking of the Russian/Syrian regime narrative.
    http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2016/s4650414.htm

  • Well, the ‘sarin’ attack has moved through WW2, Atlee and finally Corbyn…I had a feeling we’d eventually get to him

  • Expats.
    But not the unimpeachable account of “NHS doctor” Shajul islam, I note.

  • Steve Trevethan 13th Apr '17 - 2:39pm

    Armed conflicts result in real deaths/death sentences, and possibly worse, for real people. Consequently it is appropriate that guilt/responsibility for actions which extend
    and/or intensify armed conflicts are investigated and communicated to the highest possible forensic standards.
    This does not appear to be happening and neither does there appear to be any active consideration of a verdict/perception of innocence/not guilty.
    “Not proven” currently appears to be an appropriate label to help us think about these matters and, perhaps, get nearer to secure knowledge.

    Thanks to all who have contributed to this conversation.
    You might find the film “Wag the Dog” worth a watch. It is relevant to our conversation and has lots of laughs plus some serious points.

    Especial thanks to those who go the effort, and sometimes discomfort, personally and socially, to check out the mainstream communications for themselves and to speak up when it appears to be time to do so.

  • Jonathan Brown 14th Apr '17 - 12:27am

    Quite a comprehensive debunking of the conspiracy theories by Channel 4 FactCheck:
    https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/factcheck-assads-implausible-claims-about-chemical-weapons

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