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The ‘Strange Majority’ Against Syrian Intervention
A coalition of anti-war progressives and Republicans could stop the U.S. from going to war.
Defeating a resolution in the House is complicated by the fact that the interventionist camp could change the bill’s language in order to earn as much support as possible.
Following Saturday’s surprise announcement by President Obama that he intends to seek congressional authorization for a possible military intervention in Syria, hawkish voices in the White House, Defense Department and the State Department have been pressuring members of Congress to authorize military force.
Secretary of State John Kerry has underscored that the President does not view the congressional vote, which will likely take place shortly after Congress returns from recess next Monday, as binding. But a “no” vote could make an intervention politically difficult. Several polls have already indicated the American public remains deeply skeptical of U.S. intervention.
In spite of that public opposition, the administration has earned the support of top lawmakers in both parties. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) both support intervention in Syria.
An appeal to the conscientious citizens of the world who are against the American attack on Syria:
Egyptian citizens, activists, artists and intellectuals are launching an initiative to gather volunteers to protect the Syrian infrastructure targeted by the impending American attack.
The volunteers will surround targeted buildings, airports and other critical sites, acting as human shields, in an attempt to expose the atrocities of war, and the hypocrisy of the American administration.
Egyptian writer and activist Eyad Harfoush, who started the initiative, is naming it after the Syrian officer Gol Gamal, who volunteered to help the Egyptian army during the 1956 War, sacrificing his life defend the Egyptian borders.
Harfoush is calling conscientious citizens from all over the world to participate in the initiative, to say NO to the American attack on Syria: “Let’s not stand helpless while the American administration launches another war, and destroys another Arab country.”
Earlier this week, the American President Barak Obama said he decided that the US should take military action against Syria in response to an alleged use of chemical weapons. Using the same rhetoric behind the War on Iraq Obama said “We are the USA, we can not and must not turn a blind eye on the massacre of countless civilians in Damascus.” However, he will first seek an authorization from the Congress.
The congress will meet on September 10th, 2013 to make their decision. If they approve the attack, the volunteers will fly to Beirut and travel from there to Syria.
If you want to volunteer to protect the Syrian infra structure, in order not to repeat what happened in Iraq, if you have suggestions for people who could be interested in joining in sign up on Facebook.
Eyad Harfoush, Egyptian Writer
Mohamed Amre Mohamed Adel
Hatem Mohamed Khaled
Dalia Basiouny, Egyptian University Professor
Dina El Ghamry, Egyptian Publisher
Haitham El Banna
Israeli Lobby Urges War on Syria
by Stephen Lendman
It did so formally. It didn't surprise. It has more than Syria in mind. A previous article explained.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations wants war. AIPAC is its best known member.
Anti-Syrian Media Bias
by Stephen Lendman
Journalistic ethics are clear and unequivocal. They're consistently violated. According to the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics:
"....public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy."
Open to play
Today we have no words, except those of the Psalms that the liturgical prayer puts onto our lips in these days:
Rebuke the Beast of the Reeds, that herd of bulls, that people of calves…oh God, scatter the people who delight in war…Yahweh has leaned down from the heights of his sanctuary, has looked down from heaven to earth to listen to the sighing of the captive, and set free those condemned to death…Listen, God, to my voice as I plead, protect my life from fear of the enemy; hide me from the league of the wicked, from the gang of evil-doers. They sharpen their tongues like a sword, aim their arrow of poisonous abuse…They support each other in their evil designs, they discuss how to lay their snares. “Who will see us?” they say. He will do that, he who penetrates human nature to its depths, the depths of the heart…Break into song for my God, to the tambourine, sing in honor of the Lord, to the cymbal, let psalm and canticle mingle for him, extol his name, invoke it…For the Lord is a God who breaks battle-lines! … Lord, you are great, you are glorious, wonderfully strong, unconquerable.
We look at the people around us, our day workers who are all here as if suspended, stunned: “They’ve decided to attack us.” Today we went to Tartous…we felt the anger, the helplessness, the inability to formulate a sense to all this: the people trying their best to work and to live normally. You see the farmers watering their land, parents buying notebooks for the schools that are about to begin, unknowing children asking for a toy or an ice cream…you see the poor, so many of them, trying to scrape together a few coins. The streets are full of the “inner” refugees of Syria, who have come from all over to the only area left that is still relatively liveable…. You see the beauty of these hills, the smile on people’s faces, the good-natured gaze of a boy who is about to join the army and gives us the two or three peanuts he has in his pocket as a token of “togetherness”…. And then you remember that they have decided to bomb us tomorrow. … Just like that. Because “it’s time to do something,” as it is worded in the statements of the important men, who will be sipping their tea tomorrow as they watch TV to see how effective their humanitarian intervention will be….
Will they make us breathe the toxic gases of the depots they hit, tomorrow, so as to punish us for the gases we have already breathed in?
The people are straining their eyes and ears in front of the television: all they’re waiting for is a word from Obama!
A word from Obama? Will the Nobel Peace Prize winner drop his sentence of war onto us? Despite all justice, all common sense, all mercy, all humility, all wisdom?
The Pope has spoken up, patriarchs and bishops have spoken up, numberless witnesses have spoken up, analysts and people of experience have spoken up, even the opponents of the regime have spoken up…. Yet here we all are, waiting for just one word from the great Obama? And if it weren’t him, it would be someone else. It isn’t he who is “the great one,” it is the Evil One who these days is really acting up.
The problem is that it has become too easy to pass lies off as noble gestures, to pass ruthless self-interest off as a search for justice, to pass the need to appear [strong] and to wield power off as a “moral responsibility not to look away…”
And despite all our globalizations and sources of information, it seems nothing can be verified. It seems that there is no such thing as a minimal scrap of truth … That is, they don’t want there to be any truth; while actually a truth does exist, and anyone honest would be able to find it, if they truly sought it out together, if they weren’t prevented by those who are in the service of other interests.
There is something wrong, and it is something very serious…because the consequences will be wrought on the lives of an entire population…it is in the blood that fills our streets, our eyes, our hearts.
Yet what use are words anymore? All has been destroyed: a nation destroyed, generations of young people exterminated, children growing up wielding weapons, women winding up alone and targeted by various types of violence…families, traditions, homes, religious buildings, monuments that tell and preserve history and therefore the roots of a people…all destroyed. …
As Christians we can at least offer all this up to the mercy of God, unite it to the blood of Christ, which carries out the redemption of the world in all those who suffer.
They are trying to kill hope, but we must hold on to it with all our might.
To those who truly have a heart for Syria (for mankind, for truth…) we ask for prayer…abounding, heartfelt, courageous prayer.
The Trappist nuns from Azeir, Syria
August 29, 2013
—Emmanuel Charles McCarthy
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Busted for Playing Banjo on Independence Mall: Park Rangers Brutally Arrest Iraq War Vet at Anti-Syria Bombing Demo
By Dave Lindorff
Independence Mall, Philadelphia -- The US has yet to launched President Obama’s latest war crime of massively bombing Syria -- a country that does not threaten this nation -- and already federal police thugs, in this case National Park Service Rangers, have brutally arrested an Iraq War Veteran who was peacefully playing her banjo in the shade on Independence Mall in Philadelphia following an anti-war protest and march.
NATO Chief Urges War on Syria
by Stephen Lendman
It is a melancholy object to those who view videos of Damascus, when they see the streets, the roads, and doorways, crowded with the bodies of those reportedly killed with the wrong weapons by the wrong people.
I think it is agreed by all parties that this 1,000 or more bodies is an outrage not to be tolerated in a nation that has killed off 100,000 or more in recent years with perfectly respectable weapons and seen its neighbors in Egypt murder thousands just a few weeks ago, to the clear satisfaction of the International Community.
Conceivably, Syria will set itself aright and return to more acceptable styles of population elimination. But my intention is very far from being confined to providing only for the next 10,000 or 100,000 corpses. There are some 20 million people in Syria, some of whom may die rightly, and some wrongly, if left to chance. To make matters worse, they are fleeing the nation by the millions at an increasing pace.
This need not be. We in the United States have a responsibility. Syrians are not less worthy of proper deaths than ourselves. We need spare no financial expense due to prejudices of religion or ethnicity. It is time for us to step up as the International Community, while the rest of the world's nations fail. We can make sure Syrians meet a proper end.
Let me be clear, when we used White Phosphorus to burn holes straight through men, women, and countless children in Fallujah, the International Community approved. When we deployed new types of napalm despite the apparent lack of jungle foliage in Iraq, the International Community was satisfied. There is no more proper death than through depleted uranium, injestion of which brings a most glorious chemical demise. All of these avenues are available, and we should let a thousand flowers bloom in the Syrian streets.
But the ultimate solution is one which we have become the supreme masters of: cluster bombing. The United States stands nearly alone in the world as a proponent of the legal use of both land mines and flying land mines, also known as cluster bombs. These weapons are efficient and beautiful, creating a great variety of injuries as well as death. Most importantly, they will generate terror. Refugees will flee in all directions in such numbers that starvation and disease will wipe out huge swaths of the population.
As hunger takes over, opportunities will be found to restore a proper, if temporary, balance to the Syrian diet. I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in Virginia, that a young healthy Syrian child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled. Sources within Syria report that hearts and livers are a delicacy.
The benefits of my scheme are so numerous that one is apt to forget the central and most significant objective, which will be accomplished with complete and total success if our actions are swift and comprehensive. That is: we will stop the wrong people killing anyone with weapons deemed unacceptable by the International Community.
Enough with halfway measures, I say! Enough with telling the Democrats we won't join another endless war beyond our control on the side of Al Qaeda! Enough with assuring Republicans we'll stand shoulder to shoulder with terrorists until Iran is destroyed or Russia launches nukes! We have the technology. We have the stockpiles. Wipe every Syrian out with acceptable weaponry today! It's our humanitarian responsibility!
Jonathan Swift wrote "A Modest Proposal" that the poor eat their children as a form of SATIRE. Unless you know what satire is, please do not contact me about this article. Thanks!
Hackers do damage but government and corporations are the real problem: Internet Hackers and the Real Threat They Expose
By Alfredo Lopez
While certainly not over-shadowing the Obama Administration's military threats against Syria, the cyber attack that brought the mighty New York Times  to its knees last week is a major development and should get us all thinking.
Britain, France, Germany and Israel Lie for Obama
by Stephen Lendman
Obama rages for more war. He intends more mass killing and destruction. Attacking Syria is virtually certain. It's just a matter of when.
It's likely shortly after Congress reconvenes on September 9. So-called token strikes conceal planned shock and awe.
Believe it or not -- after John McCain played video games on his phone during a hearing on bombing Syria, and Eleanor Holmes Norton said she'd only vote to bomb Syria out of loyalty to Obama -- there are decent people in the United States government who mean well and take their responsibilities seriously. One of them, who works on actual humanitarian aid (as opposed to humanitarian bombs) spoke to me.
He said that, beyond those who will inevitably be killed by U.S. missiles in Syria, and those who will die in the escalated violence that is very likely to follow, a great many additional people may suffer for reasons we aren't paying attention to.
"So far, most of the concerns raised in connection with the use of military force in Syria have focused on the risk that the U.S. might become further embroiled in this conflict, and that initially limited strikes could soon spiral out of control, lead to retaliatory attacks by the Asad regime, spread the conflict throughout the region, and inadvertently strengthen terrorist groups linked to al Qaeda. However, there is an additional, more immediate hazard, which has been largely absent from the debate.
"We need to recall that our original rationale for concern about Syria was humanitarian in nature, based on the suffering of millions of Syrian civilians who became refugees or internally displaced within their own country. The goal of providing medical assistance, shelter, and food to these innocent people is widely shared by the majority of the American people and their elected representatives in Congress. To that end, the U.S. Government has provided over one billion dollars in humanitarian assistance for this crisis, and has been quite successful in providing aid to millions of civilians, both within Syria and to Syrian refugees in surrounding countries. In contrast to our largely unsuccessful efforts to engineer a political transition, and to strengthen a disorganized and fragmented opposition which may or may not represent our interests, our humanitarian assistance has been our most effective and successful effort.
"Before we contemplate military strikes against the Syrian regime, we would do well to carefully consider what impact such strikes would have on our ongoing humanitarian programs, both those funded by the U.S. and by other countries and international organizations. These programs currently reach hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people throughout Syria, in areas controlled both by the regime and the opposition. We know from past military interventions, such as in Yugoslavia and Iraq, that airstrikes launched for humanitarian reasons often result in the unintended deaths of many civilians. The destruction of roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, which such airstrikes may entail, would significantly hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid in Syria.
"The provision of this assistance in regime controlled areas requires the agreement, and in many cases the cooperation, of the Asad government. Were the Asad regime, in response to U.S. military operations, to suspend this cooperation, and prohibit the UN and Nongovernmental Organizations from operating in territory under its control, hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians would be denied access to food, shelter, and medical care. In such a scenario, we would be sacrificing programs of proven effectiveness in helping the people of Syria, in favor of ill considered actions that may or may not prevent the future use of chemical weapons, or otherwise contribute to U.S. objectives in any meaningful way."
In other words, the U.S. government is not just considering investing in missile strikes rather than diplomacy or actual aid, but in the process it could very well cut off what aid programs exist and have funding. Humanitarian war grows more grotesque the more closely one examines it.
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On August 31, with the nation eking out the final hours of summer, President Obama took to the podium and, shockingly, did not announce that he was going to continue in the trend of the Imperial Presidency, wherein the Executive branch, in the words of Chris Hedges, “abrogates to itself the right to declare war, which is, of course, traditionally the role of Congress.” Rather, while maintaining that he believes he has the right to act without congressional approval, Obama announced that he would allow Congress to have a voice. His speech was also a direct pitch to the American people to win support for military intervention in Syria.
The United States, which has deployed its CBW arsenal against the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Vietnam, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, Haitian boat people and Canada, plus exposure of hundreds of thousands of unwitting US citizens to an astonishing array of germ agents and toxic chemicals, killing dozens of people.
The US experimentation with bio-weapons goes back to the distribution of cholera-infect blankets to American Indian tribes in the 1860s. In 1900, US Army doctors in the Philippines infected five prisoners with a variety of plague and 29 prisoners with Beriberi. At least four of the subjects died. In 1915, a doctor working with government grants exposed 12 prisoners in Mississippi to pellagra, an incapacitating disease that attacks the central nervous system.
By Phyllis Bennis
Military strike would be illegal – UN Charter allows military force only if immediate self-defense (Art 51), not applicable, the US not attacked by Syria; or if Sec Coun agrees (Chapter VII, Art 42) – not going to happen – Russian veto, probably Chinese, maybe even Britain. Might not even get 9 positive votes. “kosovo precedent” still illegal – can’t use NATO, “coalition of willing,” etc to substitute for SecCoun permission.
Military strike would be immoral – Pentagon officials have confirmed what logic tells us all: every use of military force threatens civilian lives, specifically that cruise missiles not completely accurate. More than 100,000 Syrians have been killed in this civil war so far. U.S. cruise missile strikes won’t protect any Syrian civilians from further threat. Low-ranking conscript troops and civilians almost certain to be injured or killed by cruise missile strikes. Reports out of Syria indicate military offices and troops being moved into populated areas – not a surprise given the nature of the Syrian regime. But the knowledge makes those contemplating military force even more culpable for “collateral” damage.
Back in 2007, the Congressional Progressive Caucus helped organize 90 Congress members to commit to voting against war funding. Most of them turned around and voted for war funding. That was a high point for the CPC. Since then, its commitments -- such as to vote against corporate healthcare -- have hardly been taken seriously, and so it's hardly been news when most members have gone back on their commitments.
The CPC has shifted in recent years away from pretending to take a stand on things, and instead toward issuing statements full of non-committal rhetoric. That, too, is now a stage in the devolution of the CPC to which we can look back with nostalgia.
The CPC, on the question of a new war on Syria, is choosing to do nothing at all. In fact, one of its two co-chairs is actively promoting war. Compare this whip list with this list of CPC members. You'll notice that virtually no members of the House of Representatives have taken any position on whether or not to attack Syria. That includes most of those who claimed they wanted the president to allow a vote, as the Constitution requires. The same is true for the CPC: virtually nobody has a position.
Those firmly committed to attacking Syria, in the House, include four Republicans, five non-CPC Democrats, and CPC Co-Chair Keith Ellison. Those firmly committed against this madness include 10 Republicans, three non-CPC Democrats, and four CPC Democrats.
Ellison was first elected as an opponent of war and an advocate for impeaching George W. Bush for the crime of war, but reversed his positions immediately upon election. He just recently responded to pressure from Veterans For Peace in Minnesota and introduced into the Congressional Record acknowledgment that the Kellogg-Briand Pact bans all war. He then turned around and threw his support in behind the next war.
The other co-chair of the CPC, Raul Grijalva, is listed as "leaning nay," along with nine other Democrats (two of them in the CPC) and 15 Republicans. We've learned, however, what solid commitment means to these weasels, so you can imagine what "leaning" signifies.
The CPC has no requirements for membership. A member need not hold any progressive positions. There are no required actions. A member need not oppose even the worst atrocities our government inflicts on us or the world. The CPC doesn't fund its members' elections in this corrupt buyer-takes-all system. A CPC member is exactly as dependent as any other Congress member on the bosses of a party, for funding, for committee positions, and for pork in a district. The CPC offers no serious megaphone for progressive views, leaving members as susceptible to the manufactured militarism of the corporate media as anyone else.
Perhaps, at long last, it's time for Congress members Grayson, Nolan, McDermott, and Rangel to establish a Congressional Peace Caucus, which would differ from the Congressional Progressive/Pentagon Caucus. Congressman Grayson has pointed out that the Chemical Weapons Convention requires criminal prosecution for its violation -- not the bombing of a country, which is itself, of course, a crime. That ought to be a simple enough position for any elected official in favor of the rule of law to grasp. If drones get to have their own caucus, why doesn't the rule of law get one? This is, after all, the legislative branch of government.
Nearly a century ago, if a woman wanted to join the Women's Peace Union, she had to sign a pledge, including this:
"We affirm it is our intention never to aid in or sanction war, offensive or defensive, international or civil, in any way, whether by making or handling munitions, subscribing to war loans, using our labor for the purpose of setting others free for war service, helping by money or work any organization which supports or condones war."
A Congressional Peace Caucus, were there such a thing, might use a pledge like this:
"We affirm it is our intention never to aid in or sanction war, offensive or defensive, international or civil, in any way, but to actively oppose all war, and to seek to deny all funding for war or war preparations, and to treat the waging of war in violation of treaties to which the United States is party as an impeachable offense."
If someone joined that caucus, even if it were just one person, I would begin to see the value in elections and caucuses that others manage to discern through the mists of pretense and sycophancy that currently enshroud Capitol Hill.
Patrick Cockburn is an Irish journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979 for the Financial Times and, presently, The Independent. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006, and the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009. His articles are at http://www.independent.co.uk/biography/patrick-cockburn
You can say no to attacking Syria here: http://bit.ly/LWd85d
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“A person could perish of entertainment....” - Garrison Keillor
“Did you see that the Pope has called for people around the world to get together for a day of prayer and fasting this Saturday?” asked my neighbor Harmon, looking up from his newspaper.
Why Was Syria Attacked?
by Stephen Lendman
On April 6, 2009, Seymour Hersh headlined "Syria Calling," saying:
When Israel's December 2008/January 2009 Cast Lead war on Gaza ended, so did "promising peace talks between Israel and Syria."
Obama's War on Syria Imminent
by Stephen Lendman
He decided to attack. He'll do so whether on not Congress approves. He'll ignore international law. He believes he has a divine right to do what he wants.
He's an out-of-control rogue menace. He's a war criminal multiple times over. He's waging war on humanity. He's doing so based on lies. He wants another imperial trophy.
By John Bonifaz
While President Obama's decision to seek congressional approval for military action in Syria is significant (and a victory for democracy), it is important to know what the White House has actually proposed that Congress pass. The proposed AUMF ("Authorization to Use Military Force") states:
"The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria..."
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Public opinion and the anti-war movement stopped UK military intervention in Syria. Now we have to stop Obama. Join us at the US Embassy.
US embassy, Grosvenor Square, London W1A 2LQ
9th September - Day of Action: Next Monday we will hold a second protest at the US embassy as the US Congress debates intervention in Syria. More details soon.
- Jonathan Steele: Syria: the US public faces a grim reality TV choice
- Andrew Murray: Syria vote: a corner has been turned on the road to peace
2) Parliamentary briefing: The Case Against Intervention in Syria
Hosted by Jeremy Corbyn MP
with Diane Abbot MP
Stop the War Coalition is supporting a parliamentary briefing organised by the office of Jeremy Corbyn MP to discuss intervention in Syria. An invitation has been sent to all MPs.
The briefing is open to the public. We recommend you arrive shortly before half six as there is a short security check at the main entrance. Just tell the security staff which room you are going to and they will let you in.
Thatcher Room, Portcullis House, SW1A 2LW
Obama's War on Syria: Dissent in the Ranks
by Stephen Lendman
On September 2, London's Daily Mail headlined " 'I didn't join the Navy to fight for al Qaeda in a Syrian civil war': Picture of serviceman goes viral... but is it real?"
By Dave Lindorff
The document released on the White House web site to “prove” to the American people that the Syrian government had used poison gas -- allegedly the neurotoxin Sarin -- to kill hundreds of civilians, is so flawed and lacking in real proof that if it were being used to make a case against a terrorist group it would be too weak to justify an indictment.
UPDATE: Now let's stop "lethal aid" to Syria.