Syria war: Is Trump slipping into Syria quagmire?

By PJ Crowley

President Donald Trump drew his sharpest distinction from his predecessor, Barack Obama, by swiftly ordering a military response to the apparent use of chemical weapons by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier this week.

Unlike President Obama, who hesitated in 2013 when confronted with a clear violation of his red line, Trump did not seek allies, ask Congress for permission, or evidently worry about long-term implications.

President Trump, in brief remarks at Mar-a-Lago following a dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping, indicated that the strikes targeted the Syrian military forces that carried out the Idlib chemical weapon attack, an action he suggested “crossed a lot of lines”.

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70 COMMENTS

  1. @OP – Trump did not seek allies, ask Congress for permission, or evidently worry about long-term implications.

    News reports now suggest that the US warned various foreign governments in advance – which might explain the ready press releases and rapid cheerleading from some of them!

    However having messed up the agreement with Russia over co-operation in giving information on air-strikes on ISIS, and Russia now talking about up-grading Syrian air defences, any American pilots bombing ISIS are going to have to wonder if Syrian anti-aircraft system operators will now regard THEM as a threat which needs to neutralised!

    It is also going to be politically embarrassing, if it turns out that it was the bombed US backed rebels, who had the chemical weapons! – although in that case denial and propagandist lying is to be expected!

  2. Alan

    I watched Trump on Airforce One before the strike and (I understand it might be just a projection) and saw something in his eyes that said he has been brought up to date on world affairs. He didn’t seem to be doing his usual bluff it and see.

  3. It might be as simple as that Laurie. Always wondered what that moment is like when the incoming president has his first look into the deep state top top secret stuff.

  4. If Trump has been “brought up to date on world affairs” that’s even worse. The more he knows the worse it’ll be for the world. Better to keep him in the dark. A no-win situation. The man has no vision, no sophistication, no honor, no real principles, no core. Don’t we all know that by now?

  5. http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=18841

    Former Chief of Staff to Powell, Wilkerson, said that the Syrian Government may not be responsible for the
    chemical attack and that Trump’s response was a violation of international law, and driven by politics, optics. He also mentions towards the end that Trump’s national security team are all staunch “exponents of our imperial power” and is comprised of military men who see “the military instrument as a primary component of that power”. He expresses concern about another war, and our survival.

  6. While it’s difficult to comment without first hand knowledge, there is a significant amount of evidence indicating that the Syrian government was responsible for this chemical attack.

    If anyone suggests it was the work of rebels, or that it was a rebel chemical weapons cache that was hit, let them also present evidence. So far, there is none.

  7. Carl Kruse #8
    Apr 8, 2017 at 4:28 am

    While it’s difficult to comment without first hand knowledge,

    Without evidence and knowledge, the appropriate comment and action is “investigate and look for evidence”!

    there is a significant amount of evidence indicating that the Syrian government was responsible for this chemical attack.

    Really? A heap of media assertions from people in foreign countries with their own agendas, is not “evidence”!

    If anyone suggests it was the work of rebels, or that it was a rebel chemical weapons cache that was hit, let them also present evidence. So far, there is none.

    Actually there is evidence of rebels previously using chemical weapons, and with lawlessness and numerous warring factions, it is difficult to tell what may have been stashed or home produced, or by whom.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10039672/UN-accuses-Syrian-rebels-of-chemical-weapons-use.html
    By Damien McElroy and agencies – 9:04AM BST 06 May 2013
    UN accuses Syrian rebels of chemical weapons use
    Syrian rebels have made use of the deadly nerve agent sarin in their war-torn country’s conflict, UN human rights investigator Carla del Ponte has said.

    Western nations have raised concerns about the use of chemical weapons in the escalating conflict between the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and rebels fighting to oust him.

    Top UN rights investigator Carla del Ponte said Sunday that according to testimony, rebels have been using sarin gas.

  8. Strange how military attacks seeking regime change, attempts to install puppet governments, arming rebel groups and despotic states, and waging economic warfare, don’t encourage countries to disarm and look for “peace” and servitude! 🙂

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-39541391

    North Korea says a US missile strike on Syria “proves a million times over” that it was right to strengthen its nuclear programme, state media report.

    North Korean fired four missiles earlier this month, the latest in a series of tests

    “The US missile attack against Syria is a clear and intolerable act of aggression against a sovereign state and we strongly condemn it,” a government official in North Korea said, as quoted by the KCNA news agency.

    “The reality of today shows that we must stand against power with power and it proves a million times over that our decision to strengthen our nuclear deterrence has been the right choice.

    “Only military power of our own will protect us from imperialistic aggression.

    “We will keep bolstering our self-defensive military might in various ways in order to cope with the ever-intensifying US acts of aggression.”

    Also in response to Trump’s various conflicting statements on one or two China policies, I see Taiwan is busy building their own submarine fleet!

    Perhaps we should remind a few media hyped hypocrites, who are flashing images of a few dead children, to look at the THOUSANDS of dead children killed by foreign air-strikes, by weapons sold or supplied to rebels and terrorists, and they should also look at those children starving in refugee camps after escaping the terrors caused by those wielding those weapons!

  9. @OP- President Donald Trump drew his sharpest distinction from his predecessor, Barack Obama, by swiftly ordering a military response to the apparent use of chemical weapons by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier this week.

    I see he has been applauded by Theresa may and Boris Johnson, as the made-up-on-the-hoof policies of all three political buffoons, flip-flop all over the place!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38747979 26 January 2017

    Theresa May: UK and US cannot return to ‘failed’ interventions
    In her speech, Mrs May said: “It is in our interests – those of Britain and America together – to stand strong together to defend our values, our interests and the very ideas in which we believe.

    “This cannot mean a return to the failed policies of the past. The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over.

    “But nor can we afford to stand idly by when the threat is real and when it is in our own interests to intervene. We must be strong, smart and hard-headed. And we must demonstrate the resolve necessary to stand up for our interests.

    “And whether it is the security of Israel in the Middle East or Estonia in the Baltic states, we must always stand up for our friends and allies in democratic countries that find themselves in tough neighbourhoods too,” she said, to applause from her audience.

    Significant speech

    BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said Mrs May was signalling there would be no more wars like those in Iraq and perhaps Afghanistan, and it was significant that she had chosen her US speech to signal such a shift.

    BBC diplomatic correspondent James Robbins said it was a hugely significant speech, arguably the biggest by a UK PM in the US since Tony Blair’s 1999 speech in Chicago advocating armed interventionism against dictators – something repudiated by Mrs May.

    It followed comments by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to a House of Lords committee earlier that Bashar Assad should be allowed to run for election to remain in power in Syria – a complete reversal of UK foreign policy.

  10. I can’t say absolutely that the conclusions reached by this author are definitive; but I wouldn’t be surprised. Read, if you care to, and decide for yourselves.

    Donald Trump’s decision to launch cruise missile strikes on a Syrian Air Force Base was based on a lie. In the coming days the American people will learn that the Intelligence Community knew that Syria did not drop a military chemical weapon on innocent civilians in Idlib. Here is what happened:

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/04/donald-trump-is-an-international-law-breaker.html

  11. Dan #13
    Apr 8, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    @your link – Donald Trump’s decision to launch cruise missile strikes on a Syrian Air Force Base was based on a lie.

    If the Syrians were storing chemical weapons at their air base as alleged, we should expect leakage from the exploding missiles to have spread into the surrounding area – (as appears to have happened at the bombed rebel site)! I see no reports of such an event!

    Still!
    I expect that Trump’s diversion of taxpayers’ money from environmental management to increased military spending, will help employment on the profitable production of replacement cruise missiles!

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-how-much-it-will-cost-to-replace-the-tomahawks-used-in-syria-2017-04-07

    It could cost about $60 million to replace the cruise missiles that the US military rained on Syrian targets Thursday night.

    Each Tomahawk missile made by Raytheon Co. likely cost $1 million, according to experts.

  12. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39000389

    Mr Flynn had misled US Vice-President Mike Pence over his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the US.
    >

    There are four people being considered as his replacement including the new acting national security adviser, General Keith Kellogg, the president said on Friday.

    The latest setback concerning Mr Harward emerged hours after Mr Trump robustly denied media reports of White House disarray, insisting in a news conference that his administration was running like a “fine-tuned machine”.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39546360
    President Donald Trump’s deputy national security adviser, KT McFarland, [an ex-Fox News analyst] has been asked to step down after just three months, US media say.

    It comes days after Mr Trump removed his senior strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council (NSC).

    It sounds like a “Trump designed well oiled machine” running on its innovative pseudo-scientific square wheels!

  13. Alan4discussion #14

    Apr 9, 2017 at 5:20 am

    “If the Syrians were storing chemical weapons at their air base as alleged, we should expect leakage from the exploding missiles to have spread into the surrounding area.”

    Okay. Point well taken. But definitely a “diversion”, as you say, among other things.

    “Trump has thrown the bloodhounds off his trail, at least temporarily”. —Dr Gerald Horne

  14. What’s all this about “evidence”? You’ll be lucky! We all know what’s the first casualty of war. No one knows what’s going on, particularly not Trumpty Dumpty. Oh, how I long for him to fall off his stupid wall.

  15. The Trump presidency is a disaster of epic proportions. I already knew in November that many of his voters would come to regret it pretty soon. They voted for him like feral savages at the time, believing everything the liar said about Hillary. The little uneducated shits (and I am not even alluding to the alt-right or to the racists among them) with their lost jobs and their distrust of politicians, need to explain why she was so horrible; and now that it’s too late, they can’t. Everything she said would happen has already come true. Everything that hypocrite unfairly accused her of (such as corruption and being beholden to big business and special interests, lobbyists) he is guilty of himself, on a very large scale. And it’s only been a few months. None of the people that voted for him ever showed respect for Hillary, never investigated, never questioned, and couldn’t see the writing on the wall (the “birther” issue, his treatment of employees, his comments about global warming, his taxes, his vile surrogates, the comment on the bus, etc., etc.); so they can’t expect me to console them when they realize they made a terrible mistake by voting against her. Flakes who voted for Johnson or Stein out of symbolic protest are undeserving of respect; I abhor them more than non voters.

  16. An exchange with a friend who is knowledgeable about military matters.

    Friend: Those rockets just booked up another 40 years of fat contracts for the M.I.C. […] I fear the weapon switch safety covers are all lifted like never before, they are one level above standby and closer to fully armed mode, this is when an isolated confrontation can escalate very quickly. We can only hope that both sides put the safety covers back down. Very scary.

    Me: What is weapon switch safety cover?

    Friend: On launch control consoles of missile weapons systems, to guard against accidental deployment, there is a usually a hard cover on a hinge directly over all final launch buttons. When the command is given to lift those guards up and they remain in the lifted up position, the point of no return is dangerously close.
    […]It’s very serious military protocol, any weapons tech caught with safeties in the up position without authorisation would face disciplinary action for derelict incompetence maybe court martial. I hope things can cool down. I hope they haven’t lifted too many safeties up on ICBMs. Real scary.

  17. Good old Himmler plan. Never outdated and always fresh, and new for so many people. Too many. An excerpt from wikipedia for you, but you all know it: Operation Himmler (less often known as Operation Konserve or Operation Canned Goods) was a 1939 false flag project planned by Nazi Germany to create the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany, which was subsequently used by Nazi propaganda to justify the invasion of Poland. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Himmler ).

    So often repeated since than (by America especially) and still so little recognized by people on a massive scale. Pitty.

    Trump did not seek allies, ask Congress for permission, or evidently
    worry about long-term implications.

    Of course not. Why should he…everything is going according to plan. News about chemical weapon in Syria was spined by Americans, and look now America has a good justification to torture some further that people. And of course finally rob them (oil).

    …chemical weapon attack, an action he suggested “crossed a lot of
    lines”.

    Oh really Donald? Some pipelines? Well Syria is a vast country with lots of wasteland and delivering and putting some chemical weapon in right places is not so hard.

  18. I see the US is “fighting terrorism” and settling disputes in the usual Republican way – back home in the US of A, as well as abroad!

    http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/father-son-shoot-each-other-argument-who-would-walk-dog-418761494.html

    Father Kills Son in Shootout Over Who Would Walk Dog: Police

    A man shot and killed his 22-year-old son after an argument over who would walk the dog escalated into a shootout Sunday morning on Chicago’s Far South Side, police said.

    Officers responded to a call of a person shot at a home in the 9100 block of S. Woodlawn Ave. at about 8:20 a.m. in the city’s Burnside neighborhood.

    There they found two men, ages 43 and 22, who had shot each other after a “verbal altercation,” authorities said.

    Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted that the fight between the father and son was over “who was going to walk the dog” and that both men shot at each other.

    Both men sustained multiple gunshot wounds and were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where the 22-year-old man was pronounced dead. The older man was listed in critical condition, authorities said.

  19. Well, surprise, surprise, the Republicans and Trump loves war as much as the democrats. The only, and I repeat, ONLY, hope the US had was that Trump wouldn’t be another Clinton/Bush/Obama and would not get involved in stupid wars. Just like Pres. Wilson, who was elected to keep us out of the first world war, Trump was elected to keep us out of a third one.

    Good luck with that. Maybe in a hundred years we might finally give up our love of the State and elect someone who would keep their promises. I thought Ron Paul might have been that person, but it’s clear the US warmongers love war and hated Paul’s message of non-intervention. And why not, it’s very profitable for them and they never have to put their arse on the line.

    Oh well, in 4 years we can go through this self deception once again, as Trump likely just became a one term pres.

  20. Good honest comment, Rocket.

    Trump was elected to keep us out of a third one [war].

    Trump must be a great disappointment to a lot of people in this regard.

    But as I said above, no crocodile tears from me. The morons – and they are not all morons – that voted for him did so with eyes and minds closed. Didn’t they hear him say: “if anyone provokes our battleships on my watch I’ll blow them out of the water”? He’s proving to be ten times worse than the steady and basically good Hillary (even when it comes to war), and I am waiting for an admission of this and an apology, which I will never receive. Hillary may or not be a “hawk”; but she had a policy and, at least, a consistent world view, has worked on shaping policy towards Syria for years with a team of experts. She herself was on the armed services committee, is a military intellectual. Trump? Novice, karaoke style incompetence. Amateur night at the White House. No policy. Oh yes; “that’s a good thing; we don’t want experienced politicians! We don’t even want sane people in office. We just need somep’n different, somep’n to shake things up,” says the hillbilly.

    Look at the decisions he’s made about regulations!! He is at best simply incompetent, and he is clearly impoverished – intellectually and emotionally.

    Btw, Paul is a savage. Non-interventionism does not define him. He said in a debate that if someone passes out on the street and goes into a coma and has no health insurance and dies, it’s a testament to our liberty. He later tried to back-peddle, but that is Paul. A free-market fundamentalist, a social Darwinist, a savage with a relatively high I.Q. He probably supports everything Trump has tried to do (and will try to do with tax reform) except the strikes against Syria.

    Peace.

  21. Amusing article from The Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
    Butterflies and Bees by Ralph Benko:

    “Bees (like ants) live in a centralized hierarchical culture. (The use of “culture” here is not a use of pathetic fallacy. It’s a Thing. Study of such cultures in the animal kingdom is called ethology.) Bees have a Queen, fertilized by drones, who lays all the eggs from which more bees are hatched. The worker bees, all female, do the work of building the hive and foraging for nectar among the flowers, bringing it home to be refined into honey. Armed with stingers, consider them a militant species and, indeed, the hierarchical structure of the human military has many similarities with that of bees.
    Butterflies live in a decentralized, non-hierarchical, culture. They engage in courtship, mate, the female laying eggs which turn into larva and then caterpillars, which, in time, turn into pupa and emerge as butterflies. Butterflies, too, feed on nectar. But they don’t bring it to a central location, nor are they regimented. Consider the butterflies as somewhat akin to Hippies (of which I, although a credentialed right winger, am an aging specimen) of human society.
    America’s political structure originally was, and was designed to be, structured much like that of the butterflies. This was called a “republican form of government.” Enter democracy! It took a long time – the inflection point arguably occurred under President Woodrow Wilson, a progressive champion, with his enactment of the federal income tax, the Federal Reserve System, and, of course, his sending America into World War I, 100 years ago on April 2, 1917, that the world “be made safe for democracy.” (hahaaha…me laughing)
    The American political system has been deeply restructured, over time, along bee hive lines. Advantage: Bees! If the Trump administration succeeds – not foreordained – in capably restoring it to butterfly cultural lines: Advantage Butterflies!
    There is nothing inherently “wrong” with either the culture of the bees or the culture of the butterflies. Both provide sustenance for their respective species. The question is: which is better adapted, right now, to the purposes for which the American government was constituted: to secure “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.””

  22. Modesti #25
    Apr 11, 2017 at 3:39 am

    The American political system has been deeply restructured, over time, along bee hive lines. Advantage: Bees! If the Trump administration succeeds – not foreordained – in capably restoring it to butterfly cultural lines: Advantage Butterflies!

    I think that in your Republican beehive analogy, Trump more closely resembles the Hawk Moth!

    http://www.arnia.co.uk/deaths-head-hawkmoth-honey-bees-biggest-predator/

    When stealing honey, the moth gets past guard bees using its thick cuticle and resistance to bee venom.
    Once inside the hive the moth can move around unmolested by mimicking the scent of the bees [1].
    It has also been rumoured that the moth can generate a sound that ‘paralyses’ the bees. It is certainly true that all three species have the ability to emit a loud squeak if irritated (the sound is produced by expelling air from the pharynx).
    A more credible theory suggests that this sounds like the queen piping which can make the bees ‘freeze’.

  23. Syria has been supporting Hezbollah and the two state solution to the Palestinian problem.
    It should be obvious that there is a Western long standing plan for intervention on some pretext, and for a manipulated regime change.
    (As there was in Libya and Iraq.)

    Trump’s, his son-in-law’s and Israel’s position of opposition on the equitable “two state solution”, is well known! The rest is asserted propagandist noise using the NATO echo chamber!!

    As with brexit, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, seem to have no problem with doing an about face, when there are a senior sales directorships in it for them – marketing a new policy – even if they know, and previously stated, that the product is rubbish!

  24. Alan4discussion #26

    Not my analogy, but it is amusing. Trump is definitely a Hawk Moth! Haha… He is no butterfly that is for sure! 😉 So it seems American political system was first designed as “butterfly” system but then democracy invaded and fucked it up haha… and they prefered “bees” system… and ultimately hawk moth! 😉

  25. It should be obvious that there is a Western long standing plan for intervention on some pretext, and for a manipulated regime change.
    (As there was in Libya and Iraq.)

    I didn’t understand that. First part – yes, but about manipulative regime no. Perhaps you mented to put word manipulative regime into quotation? I say this because, to me “manipulative regimes” are propaganda from attackers, infact to spread the word, or to define countries as manipulative regimes ( and therefor worth of attack) is propaganda from real manipulative regimes as America.

  26. I see that the other G7 nations are not buying the demand from the UK’s two Trumpy poodles for sanctions against Russia, despite G7’s readiness in previous years to support sanctions over Ukraine!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39565700

    G7 nations have rejected a call by Britain for sanctions against Russia in the wake of a deadly chemical attack they say was carried out by Moscow’s ally, Syria.

    Italy’s foreign minister said the group did not want to back Russia into a corner and preferred dialogue.

    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is now heading from the G7 meeting in Italy to talks in Moscow.

    He insisted Syria’s president could not play a part in the country’s future.

    Mr Tillerson will meet Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow but it is unclear whether he will hold talks with President Vladimir Putin.

    On Tuesday, Mr Putin called for the UN to hold an independent investigation into the chemical attack on the rebel-held Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun that left 89 people dead.

    He also said he had heard that “fake chemical attacks” were being prepared that could be used to put blame on the Syrian government.

    Syria denied carrying out the chemical attack but the US then carried out a retaliatory strike, firing 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase.

    UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had proposed sanctions against Syrian and Russian military figures over the chemical attack.

    Russia reacted angrily to last week’s US missile strike on Syria, condemning it as an “act of aggression”. Yet Moscow is happy to host the US secretary of state. He’ll meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and a meeting with President Putin cannot be ruled out.

    But experience shows that Moscow does not take well to threats or ultimatums.

    If Mr Tillerson thinks he can weaken Moscow’s support for President Assad, he may need to re-think. The Syrian president is Russia’s key military ally in the Middle East. Russia has invested heavily – militarily, politically and financially – to keep him in power.

    Of course the real reason for paranoia over chemical weapons is that they can be very effective against bullying states with high-tec weapons!

    Mr Tillerson said the US retaliatory strike “was necessary as a matter of US national security interest”.

    “We do not want the regime’s uncontrolled stockpile of chemical weapons to fall into the hands of Isis [so-called Islamic State] or other terrorist groups who could and want to attack the United States or our allies.”

    Given that chemical weapons – as with improvised explosives, have been manufactured by rebel groups in the past, using readily available industrial, and agricultural chemicals, this is rather a lame claim!

    Destroying aircraft which have been bombing Islamic State as a means of defending the US from Islamic State, sounds very like irrational Trumpery!

    He also added that the US saw “no further role for the Assad regime longer term, given that they have effectively given up their legitimacy with these kinds of attacks”.

    The views of purveyors and collectors of fake news, are unlikely to be taken seriously by informed observers.

    Spicer was really struggling for words in an attempt to appear coherent while trying to justify this missile attack in his TV appearance I saw last night!

  27. The US does not want gun-toting attackers getting across its borders and terrorising its citizens!!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39560646

    A man walked into a US primary school and fatally shot his wife in her class, also killing a child in the crossfire, before turning the gun on himself.

    Armed with a .357 Magnum revolver, Cedric Anderson, 53, entered the school in San Bernardino, California, as a visitor before Monday’s attack.

    He killed estranged wife, Karen Elaine Smith, 53, a teacher, and fatally wounded Jonathan Martinez, eight.

    Police described the incident as a “murder-suicide”.

    The shooting happened at 10:30 local time (17:30 GMT) at North Park Elementary School, 60 miles (96km) east of Los Angeles.

    Mr Anderson killed his estranged wife Ms Smith and an eight-year-old boy

    Another student who was caught in the crossfire, a nine-year-old, was in hospital in a stable condition, the Los Angeles Times reported.

    Unlike Syria, somehow I don’t think the propagandists will be showing pictures of dead children in a campaign against the NRA or Trump’s relaxation of the restrictions on gun sales to the mentally unstable!

  28. Meanwhile as with the current attempt at regime change attacking Assad, I see Africans fleeing other civil wars, are “benefiting” from the Western military “democratic liberation” of Libya from the Gaddafi regime!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-39567632

    Africans trying to reach Europe are being sold by their captors in “slave markets” in Libya, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says.

    Victims told IOM that after being detained by people smugglers or militia groups, they were taken to town squares or car parks to be sold.

    Migrants with skills like painting or tiling would fetch higher prices, the head of the IOM in Libya told the BBC.

    Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 Nato-backed ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

    Hundreds of young sub-Saharan African men have been caught up in the so-called slave markets, according to the IOM report.

    A Senegalese migrant, who was not named to protect his identity, said that he had been sold at one such market in the southern Libyan city of Sabha, before being taken to a makeshift prison where more than 100 migrants were being held hostage.

    Women, too, were bought by private Libyan clients and brought to homes where they were forced to be sex slaves, the witness said.

    The IOM’s chief of mission for Libya, Othman Belbeisi, told the BBC that those sold into slavery found themselves priced according to their abilities.

    “Apparently they don’t have money and their families cannot pay the ransom, so they are being sold to get at least a minimum benefit from that,” he said.

    “The price is definitely different depending on your qualifications, for example if you can do painting or tiles or some specialised work then the price gets higher.”

    An IOM staff member in Niger said they confirmed the reports of auctions in Libya with several other migrants who had escaped:

    “They all confirmed the risks of been sold as slaves in squares or garages in Sabha, either by their drivers or by locals who recruit the migrants for daily jobs in town, often in construction.

    “Later, instead of paying them, [they] sell their victims to new buyers.”

    While gullibles in distant countries lap up fake news about “wonderful liberations”, I wonder why those on the spot, don’t rush to thank NATO for their “helpful interventions”! ?

  29. This morning on MSNBC it was reported that Trump was influenced by his daughter Ivanka to take action against the Syrians responsible for the chemical attacks. Apparently, she was shocked by the pictures of the young victims there. I’d be very happy if Ivanka would spend more time being emotionally affected by pictures of young victims of starvation, gun violence, lack of basic health care, abuse, no education, etc. It’s very nice of her to hold high profile meetings of women who are already high on the corporate ladder but she will really prove herself to be a decent person when she uses her substantial resources and political influence to achieve a maximum beneficial outcome to the most people on this earth that is possible.

    As long as she supports other wealthy 1 percenters like herself and turns a blind eye to suffering of those who she could easily help, I withhold my respect. In fact, If she doesn’t help when she has every opportunity to do so then she is in violation of the ethical obligations that I hold everyone to.

    There are millions of people in the Middle East who desperately need help of all kinds. They are children, adult men and women, and elderly. Ivanka would help the Syrian children by encouraging retaliation through her father’s military command but she condemns the Palestinian children to a life of hell in refugee camps and the open air prison that is Gaza.

    An attempt at consistency and organization of effort would be appreciated.

  30. LaurieB #32
    Apr 11, 2017 at 11:25 am

    This morning on MSNBC it was reported that Trump was influenced by his daughter Ivanka to take action against the Syrians responsible for the chemical attacks.
    Apparently, she was shocked by the pictures of the young victims there.

    However, it seems young victims don’t count for much, when it is arms-trade business as usual with corrupt oily regimes! – As is shown on this linked comment!

    https://richarddawkins.net/2017/03/qa-why-the-presidents-executive-order-will-not-help-the-climate-or-economy/#li-comment-220655

  31. Mr Tillerson said the US retaliatory strike “was necessary as a matter of US national security interest”.

    If he is going to Moscow to meet the Russians, THEY are going to actually know from their military people on site, what was happening at that air base, and what was not happening!

    Then there is also this Russian related issue which has not gone away even if trump wishes it would go away!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-39553250

    Spanish police have arrested a Russian programmer following US allegations of large-scale hacking.

    Pyotr Levashov was held in Barcelona on Friday and is remanded in custody.

  32. Spicer is explaining now in his news briefing that Russia had no advance warning of the attack. Since I fully expect lying and evasion from this White House, I now suspect that the two administrations could possibly be in cahoots over this attack and it could be a diversion of attention away from their political criminal actions. They will probably play golf and discuss future big oil deals.

  33. Laurie

    What! I heard a few days ago, on the frigging news, that Russia was given a head’s up. That was on either CNN or MSNBC.

    As for Ivanka, I wouldn’t pin my hopes on her. I read an article about her. She stated outright that “we [the Trumps] play to win.” That says it all right there. She invites Gore (Remember that?) to meet with her father because she knows he’s an environmentalist, and a lot of her friends are environmentalists probably – and then Pruitt is hired! Obviously there’s no place for Gore or anyone like him in Trump’s pro-corporate-at-all-costs cabinet. A lot of conviction there, right? (What was that nonsense?) Now she says she’s interested in education and look who she’s hanging out around with? (DeVos). (What happened to Carson?!) Fuck em all: Trump (Mr. deregulation and low taxes for the top 2 percent), Price (with his multiple conflicts of interest), Pruitt (with his climate change denial), Bannon (with his obsession with the Judeo-Christion West), DeVos, Gorsuch… Ugh. You said it well months ago: we’re really up against it. (Paraphrasing.)

    Alan,

    You seem to know quite a s bit about this sort of thing. Could you perhaps take a look at this short article that was sent to me and tell me if the arguments are rationally based? I simply don’t have enough knowledge to make my own determination.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/11/assad-had-the-upper-hand-so-why-would-he-gas-his-own-people/

  34. Speaking of Spicer…

    I don’t often accuse people of antisemitism, but when he said yesterday (I think) that Hitler did not use chemical weapons against “his own people” that is, in my view, an ignorant comment, and one that borders on antisemitism. I’ve heard remarks like that before.

  35. Dan #37
    Apr 12, 2017 at 12:25 am

    From your link – Money to the White Helmets is just part of the $339 million that the USAID has allotted for “supporting activities that pursue a peaceful transition to a democratic and stable Syria.”

    All the hyped junk about an “Arab Spring” in the western media, was just part of a long running policy of economic warfare and systematic destabilisation of regimes hostile to the corporate exploiters and propagandist deceptions.

    Subversive organisations and rebel groups have been supported, funded and armed. Many of the corrupt dictatorships of South and Central America owe their power to clandestine and not-so clandestine, attacks on workers organisations and left wing groups.
    Sometimes these regime-change civil wars, backfire on the foreign manipulators. (Iran-Contra scandal)

    The link I put @#34 Shows similar numbers of women and children killed by air strikes, with no hesitation by Trump in selling arms to the perpetrators. Nigerians have oil – along with a long record of political corruption!

    I think the real issue is the lame claim about “the peaceful transition to a democratic Syria”, – which is actually about a temporary agreement with Assad and the Russians to defeat Islamic State, followed by a resumption of the attacks (directly, and via armed rebel groups) on the Assad regime, with the aim of installing pro-western puppet government(s), as is being attempted in Iraq, in Libya, and which have already been achieved elsewhere in the world.
    Those who take property, land and other countries, by force of arms, “usually want peace” and protection from the dispossessed while they hold on to the ill-gotten gains! Of course they don’t really want “peace”. They want “(their) law and order repressing of those who are retaliating in response to their attacks”.
    That is why ISIS is able to readily gather recruits from those trying to put an end to the chaos, while western governments actively destabilise the de-facto governments which are using force to try to restore order to their lands.

    Most of the locals don’t buy into, “You have to suffer a civil war, because foreigners don’t like your government, and want access to exploit your assets” ! But:- As with all populations some corrupt or ideological individuals, can be bought with money and promises of power and wealth!

  36. Dan #38
    Apr 12, 2017 at 12:38 am

    Speaking of Spicer… – I don’t often accuse people of antisemitism, but when he said yesterday (I think) that Hitler did not use chemical weapons against “his own people” that is, in my view, an ignorant comment, and one that borders on antisemitism.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39573063

    Spicer: ‘Hitler didn’t even sink to chemical weapons’ – 11 April 2017

    White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has been criticised after declaring that Adolf Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons during World War II.

    “We had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” said Mr Spicer while talking about Syria.

    But critics pointed out the Nazis used gas to kill Jews and others in the Holocaust.

    Spicer is just another of Trump’s ignoramus “Make-it-up-as-you- go-along”, false-news pundits! I would suggest this is just the usual Trumpist “anti-realism” rather than anti-Semitism.

    Anybody with a knowledge of history, knows that Hitler fought in the first world war, where gas was used in the trenches, and that in WW2 the Nazis had gas chambers in concentration camps, where Jews, gypsies, and Russian and Polish prisoners, were abused and killed!

    The whole Russian population are well informed on the ravages of WW2, as their country took a great deal of the brunt of it, so they will readily recognise Spicer as a propagandist idiot, characteristic of Trump’s collection of incompetent buffoons, and give Putin full backing!

    Mr Spicer later clarified Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons “in the same way” as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    So as usual, he tried to explain away his “foot-in-mouth” quotes of “alternative facts” and crass ignorant deceptions!

  37. What bothered me was the phrase “his own people.” I hate that stupid phrase. (You hear that a lot about Stalin. “He did it to his own people!”) The German Jews were not Germans? It’s somehow worse to murder Germans who are not Jewish? That’s more than ignorance; it’s a way of thinking – and I don’t like it.

    By the way, we used, if you may recall, tons of napalm, a chemical weapon, during Vietnam. We didn’t use it against our own people, however. Just Vietnamese babies. Just civilians. (“Gooks.”) General Mattis seems to have had a memory lapse.

  38. Dan #41
    Apr 12, 2017 at 6:18 am

    What bothered me was the phrase “his own people.”
    I hate that stupid phrase.
    The German Jews were not Germans?
    It’s somehow worse to murder Germans who are not Jewish?
    That’s more than ignorance; it’s a way of thinking – and I don’t like it.

    It is indeed a further illustration of Spicer’s ignorance, because not only were German Jews German citizens, but Hitler was Austrian – and despite racist NAZI adoration, – little, dark, and very unlike the ideal Arian tall blond image NAZIs promoted!

    Adolf Hitler was born on 20 April 1889 in Braunau am Inn, a town in Austria-Hungary (in present-day Austria), close to the border with the German Empire. He was one of six children born to Alois Hitler and Klara Pölzl (1860–1907). … When Hitler was three, the family moved to Passau, Germany. –
    Adolf Hitler – Wikipedia

    It also illustrates that Trump’s bunch of self deluding buffoons, have near zero capability at simple fact checking!

  39. Spicer has apparently just been offered a job as public relations spokesman for United Airlines. “85 proud years of service to our passengers and still not a single instance of using chemical weapons against them. Just fists!”

    “United, where you’re unlikely to survive a plane crash and not even guaranteed to survive the boarding procedure.”

  40. Alan4discussion #32 : While gullibles in distant countries lap up fake
    news about “wonderful liberations”, I wonder why those on the spot,
    don’t rush to thank NATO for their “helpful interventions”! ?

    Yes. It is terrible how easily people believe or trust whatever media deliver them. So horrible.

    And about something similar … I think that is important to finally inform, or remind every day, masses of people that there is parallel economy going on in the world today. Well, for at least two decades for some countries. But for some even longer. 😉 And people need to know to what extent they are complicit in it, because we are not actually aware of that I think. But I would like to know if my “inocent” choices of every day in shops are supporting this parallel economy. As far as I am aware IRA in the eighties was financed partly every time someone paid cab! (some taxi companies had a contract with the IRA). There are also other “legitimate” bussnises today that have contracts with terrorist organisations I am sure of that.

  41. I agree with Dan on the antisemitism.

    Yes, Sean Spicer is an ignoramus and a big-mouth and an anti-realist. The perfect representative of the Trump administration, in fact.

    But it’s possible to be all those things and still be antisemitic (indeed, they’re pretty much prerequisites for any form of racism). His initial statement was thoughtless and pig-ignorant – but I suspect it really was a genuine mistake on his part, albeit an inexcusable one. It’s not unusual to distinguish between murder (even mass murder) and actual warfare – even if the distinction becomes more and more blurred, the longer you think about it – and I think he was just thinking of bombs dropped by aircraft (warfare). In this context a stupid, insensitive, historically unaware howler.

    His follow-up “excuse” was even worse, though. The only significant difference between Hitler’s use of Zyklon B in the concentration camps and the use of chemical weapons in Idlib was the method of delivery – not the ethics of their use. Yet Spicer tried to claim an ethical difference between the two: that Assad was even worse than Hitler, because at least Hitler wasn’t using chemical weapons against “his own people”. In making that claim, he’s inescapably associating himself with the assumption that German Jews were not true Germans. Whereas his first statement betrayed ignorance and thoughtlessness, this second one also betrayed an attitude, a mindset: that Jews are always a race apart, and that attacking them is less heinous than attacking our “own people”. That Syrians in Idlib were Syrian, but German Jews were not German, and that this alters the ethics of the case. That’s pure antisemitism – even if on a subconscious, lazy, unthought-through level (I don’t think I’d ever accuse Sean Spicer of having thought anything through).

  42. Talking about chemical weapons there was a program on VX nerve agent on British tv a week or two ago. It’s so toxic that 10 mg on the skin will kill an adult male. 1 litre would kill 100,000 people. 70 tons of it could kill everyone on the planet. So how much of the stuff do you think anyone could possibly need?

    It was banned in the late 1960s in the USA which started destroying it but even by 1997 when the Chemical Weapons Convention was signed by most countries there were still declared stockpiles of over 20,000 tons worldwide. Enough to kill everyone on earth 300 times over. No way of knowing how much was not declared of course.

    It’s rather like nuclear weapons. Two very small ones (by today’s standards) were enough to defeat Japan and effectively end WWII. The USA and Russia both still have about 7,000 much larger ones now. You could never use even a fraction of them because by the time even a few had been deployed there would be no point, and maybe not enough personel left, to fire the rest. God forbid the various global military industrial complexes run out of stuff to make and money to burn through though.

  43. Alan4discussion #40 and Dan #41 :

    To me, not only that this phrase ““his own people” reveals horrible ignorance of that imbecile, but this also: “We had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons“. We had? To me this reveals his mental structure that says ‘world is my courtyard’, … ‘and I have the right to get into everyone’s house in this planet and beat them if I don’t like them for some reason’. Doesn’t he know that there are borders! , countries have their own identity and autonomy… they are not his or some sort of object that belong to him, or he has any right over them. We had?… who?, world? He is putting himself above the ‘rest of the world’? I am interested who are “we” in his sentence, and where are “the rest” or to say “who are others”, and where are the demos in all of that.

  44. Marco #45
    Apr 12, 2017 at 7:23 am

    But it’s possible to be all those things and still be antisemitic (indeed, they’re pretty much prerequisites for any form of racism).

    True – irrational bigotry does cover a multitude of “isms”, but given Trump’s son-in-law’s position, and Trump’s strong pro-Zionist stance, it is hard to reconcile Spencer’s incoherent ramblings with “anti-Semitism”.
    It looks more like a pathetic back-fired attempt to get applause from US Jews at Passover!

    I note that neither Spencer nor anyone else in the administration has either produced evidence of Syrian air-force responsibility or the need for a proper investigation.
    He has apologised for the holocaust denial, but has done nothing but persistently repeat the unsupported assertion of Assad’s responsibility or apologise for the ludicrously disproportional comparison of extensive proven war crimes and unsubstantiated assertions!!

    He is also hypocritically silent on Trump’s resumed arms sales to Nigeria after Obama halted these because of the PROVEN reckless bombing and killing of civilians! (linked @#34)

  45. Dan

    Remember how in the past, especially as soon as Obama came into office, the Republican rhetoric became infused with “Obama is Hitler” phrases on a regular basis? There were pictures of him drawn with the Hitler mustache, etc. Hitler became embedded in their speech and normalized! There was some pushback on this – corrections to the comparison of Hitler to everyday annoying people, but now, I think that with the far right bunch, they have become so used to tossing the Hitler imagery around that they don’t think twice about the meaning of it!

    I think Spicer was using a common far right rhetorical device but this time he used it in front of the whole country and world by mistake and got caught! People on the left find the Hitler/Obama comparison to be disgusting and blatantly ignorant. You know how these FOX newsers live in a bubble. Then they come out into mixed company, repeat their racist/sexist/Jew Hater/Muslim hater, etc. phrases and get shocked when decent centrists and leftists disagree with them assertively.

    For anyone who hasn’t been exposed to the FOX toxicity, here’s a clip of Hank Williams being interviewed on Fox and Friends show. Watch how he uses the Hitler-Obama comparison and no one even blinks an eye at it. This is what we’re up against.

  46. What I’m taking out of the Syria situation is how its escalation all boils back to the utterly incompetent, mendacious and constantly contradictory stance of Trump and every one of his surrogates on both the Syria situation and the Russian one. Trump lambasted Obama for getting involved in Syria at all, both during the campaign and for the previous couple of years saying that it was not America’s problem. Then he aligns himself with Putin in the clearest possible terms giving Assad what might be thought to be a green light to do what he wants in Syria.

    However as soon as the chemical attack was launched Trump blamed it on Obama for not doing more against Assad. Tillerson says that America will act against anyone who hurts “innocents” anywhere in the world which is immediately followed by Spicer contradicting him saying that America is not going to be the world’s policeman.

    It is simply not possible for anyone on the planet, other world leaders etc, to have the slightest clue WTF is going on here, what America’s actual agenda is or what Trump might do in any given situation. It’s a recipe for chaos.

    It occurs to me that it might actually be Putin directly behind this chemical attack just to find out what Trump was actually going to do given some of the slightly more anti Russian sentiment coming out of the White House recently as their panic builds over what the House and Senate and FBI enquiries might find. It’s certainly not believable that Putin didn’t at least know all about the chemical weapons given the Russians have people on that air base.

    As for the cruise missile “retaliation” it’s hard to see what purpose that served other than as a gesture. A sop to the Trump base perhaps without doing too much damage to Assad and therefore Putin. AFAIK all of Assad’s combat aircraft are Russian so Putin can pony a few more of those up to replace the losses without much trouble and the concrete is cheap to fix.

    If anyone is to blame for those “beautiful babies” as Trump called them getting killed (and no I don’t think he even has those emotions being a raging sociopath) then it’s the Trump campaign colluding with Russia in the first place, creating a situation where the entire administration is now embroiled in, and embattled by, investigations against it that may lead to people going to jail, and where the administration have to expend a lot of their time and resources trying to divert attention away from this rather than in getting on with business and putting out clear messages about their political positions. Not that I think any of them are competent to “get on with business” even if all this other stuff wasn’t going on.

    Trump has appointed a collection of the worst possible people you could bring together to run a country. Most of them either with no experience of their purported job or even worse being actively opposed to its aims and nearly all of them squabbling because none of them agree about anything and Trump has no positions of his own or any leadership.

    I’ve come to the extraordinary realisation that I’d actually have a bit more respect for the Trump administration if they could even lie consistently not randomly and handle the cover up and attention diverting a bit better. We now find that Nunes had no information at all that could lead anyone to think Trump had been wiretapped, it was just a ridiculously incompetent ruse. Spicer now rarely opens his mouth except to change feet, about Hitler and chemical weapons the other day and then saying that Trump was actually “trying to destabilise Syria” when he finally apologised for the Hitler remarks.

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/sean-spicer-says-donald-trump-10208958

    Tillerson was completely silent for weeks and then when he does start talking he just contradicts everyone else.

    If Trump and his administration could fairly be described as a laughing stock that would actually be a compliment because they aren’t even at that level.

  47. First rate, Arkrid. You are a very good writer and commentator. If you had your own column, I’d read it regularly.

    Not a laughing stock; these are people to be feared! I’ve learned a bit more about Gorsuch, by the way; he is a dangerous man, thinks women who choose to have abortions are “wrongdoers” and that one mustn’t be complicit. Senator Kaine delivered a good talk on the Senate floor before the tragic confirmation of this right wing religious fanatic and “activist” judge. (Available on YouTube.)

    No, these are people to be feared. No laughing stock.

  48. While the trigger happy have been launching destructive military hardware, and Tillerson is trying to blame problems on Obama, I see that the Syrian government has been negotiating with rebels to find ways to improve the lives of some of those caught up in the civil war!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-39576061

    Syrian government forces and rebels have begun implementing a deal to evacuate four besieged towns by carrying out a prisoner exchange.

    State media said rebels had handed over 12 women and children and seven bodies. At the same time 19 rebels were freed.

    It is the first stage of an agreement that should lead to thousands of people leaving rebel-held Madaya and Zabadani and pro-government Foah and Kefraya.

    Residents of the first two towns said buses began arriving on Wednesday.

    But a government co-ordinator for the deal told AFP news agency that rebels were “delaying” buses trying to reach Foah and Kefraya, and stressed the evacuations would have to be simultaneous.

    The UN has described the situation in the four towns as “catastrophic”, with more than 60,000 civilians “trapped in a cycle of daily violence and deprivation”.

    Many people are reported to have died as a result of shortages of food or medicine.

    Foah and Kefraya, most of whose residents are Shia Muslims, have been encircled by rebels and al-Qaeda-linked Sunni jihadists since March 2015.

    Madaya and Zabadani, which are predominantly Sunni, have been besieged since June 2015 by the Syrian army and fighters from Lebanon’s Shia Islamist Hezbollah movement.

    This illustrates the religious and political divides along with the different foreign sponsors and backers in this civil war!

  49. Russia has just vetoed a UN resolution to condemn the Syria chemical attack and make Syria cooperate with an investigation into it. Too much of their own involvement they want to keep hidden no doubt. The veto powers of the permanent member countries of the UN make a mockery of the process and mean the UN is effectively toothless in most situations.

  50. Finally, something Trump promised on the campaign trail that he has kept his word on. He promised to work 24/7 for the American people if they elected him and an independent review of his first two full months in office shows he’s achieved that. In fact the conclusion of the report is that on average it’s actually slightly more than 24 minutes every 7 days.

  51. Arkrid Sandwich #54
    Apr 12, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Russia has just vetoed a UN resolution to condemn the Syria chemical attack and make Syria cooperate with an investigation into it.

    If this is as you you describe it, it should be unsurprising!
    Any resolution of condemnation prejudging the investigation, can only be asserted propaganda!

    I saw the Russian minister at the Moscow news conference today on TV with Tillerson. He called for a proper independent international expert investigation into the incident in the city and at the airbase!

    He also stated that while the Syrian government was, and had been, co-operating in the destruction of chemical weapons, some caches of them were in rebel held territory outside the present control of the Syrian government!

    The link @#53 show the various conflicting rebel groups and the map of the territories they hold.

  52. I agree the resolution needed to keep the condemnation and investigation separate. I was a little surprised at that too. However the condemnation didn’t mean assuming it had to be Syria that was responsible. Whoever did it was to be deplored.

  53. Arkrid Sandwich #57
    Apr 12, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    I agree the resolution needed to keep the condemnation and investigation separate. I was a little surprised at that too. However the condemnation didn’t mean assuming it had to be Syria that was responsible.

    and make Syria cooperate with an investigation into it.

    Looking at this from the Syrian government point of view, this resolution was from USA, UK, and France, whose chaos in Iraq has spread into their country.
    Interfering foreign powers are arming rebel groups and running a propaganda war to try to force the Syrian government to hand over the country to a puppet government sympathetic to them.

    The Saudis the Israelis and the Turks are involved in addition to the underlying Kurdish issues. Each group has a different puppet government in mind.

    The Russians have stated (and records show), that the Syrian government is cooperating in removing chemical weapons (and are concerned about those weapons in rebel hands), and are asking for an independent investigation.
    Therefore a resolution which presupposes that they are responsible, and are opposed to an investigation, and must be MADE to co-operate by foreign powers, is just an attempt to justify the missile attack on their military, which was defending their country from ISIS and other disruptive rebel forces.

    The rise of ISIS is of course largely attributable to the earlier incompetent military interference in the region, by the countries proposing the resolution!

    The Syrian government is not interested in co-operating with the people who are supporting and funding the proxy war on them, which is ruining their country and bringing appalling abuse and death to its people!

    They are prepared to co-operate in removing the threat of ISIS, but the foreign powers which are effectively supporting other forms of terrorist rebellion, plan to continue attacks on the Assad regime, – which for many years was one of the more secular and moderate Middle Eastern States.
    It has however been supportive of Palestinian rights – so that is an issue here!

  54. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39585029

    US President Donald Trump has said Nato is “no longer obsolete”, reversing a stance that had alarmed allies.

    Hosting Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House, Mr Trump said the threat of terrorism had underlined the alliance’s importance.

    He called on Nato to do more to help Iraqi and Afghan “partners”.

    Mr Trump has repeatedly questioned Nato’s purpose, while complaining that the US pays an unfair share of membership.

    The Nato U-turn wasn’t Mr Trump’s only change of heart on Wednesday.

    In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said he would not label China a currency manipulator, despite having repeatedly pledged to do so on his first day in office.

    However – informed expert world opinion, is becoming more certain that Trump’s mental processes are just as obsolete, unstable, erratic, and confused, as usual!

  55. There is now an official statement from the Syrian government!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-39588876

    Syria’s President Bashar-al Assad says reports of a chemical attack by his forces were “100% fabrication”.

    In an exclusive video interview with Agence France-Presse, he said his government had handed over all its chemical weapons stockpiles in 2013.

    However, the US, the World Health Organization (WHO) and chemical weapons inspectors have all cast doubt on the government’s claims.

    The alleged chemical attack on 4 April killed more than 80 people.

    Russia, a key ally of Syria, angered the West on Wednesday by vetoing a UN draft resolution over the attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, in the eastern province of Idlib.

    The resolution would have required Mr Assad’s government to co-operate with an investigation into the attack.

    “There was no order to make any attack,” Mr Assad told the AFP. “We gave up our arsenal a few years ago. Even if we have them, we wouldn’t use them.”

    He also said he would only allow what he called an “impartial” investigation into the attack, to ensure it would not be used for “politicised purposes”.

  56. A couple of months ago I posted this:

    https://richarddawkins.net/2016/12/5-reasons-a-trump-administration-should-scare-the-sht-out-of-anyone-who-cares-about-the-environment/#li-comment-217301

    I begin to feel the start of a tipping point coming. Nothing concrete but my spidey sense is tingling mildly. Trump has just launched an attack on Congressman John Lewis, the last surviving speaker from the 1963 march on Washington led by Martin Luther King. Lewis is a hero of the civil rights movement. This is a man who was beaten by police for daring to be an uppity nigger and shed blood for his convictions. After Lewis stated that Trump is not a bona fide president, Trump tweeted that Lewis is all talk talk talk but no action and congressman for a “horrible” district.

    You don’t tell a man who marched to Washington to try and get blacks equal rights, and shed blood in the process, that he’s just talk and no action.

    Trump insulted the “Blue Star” Khan family who lost a son in Iraq. He parodied and ridiculed a disabled reporter. He called the greatest actress of our modern generation “overrated”. To ridicule Lewis though, a goddamn genyouwhine hero to millions, is something he’s going to come to regret though. This I feel is his step too far. The tide will now start to turn. There are still a few sane Republicans in congress and they will be starting to realise this man has no limits and get a sense of just how much damage he is capable of.

    My spidey sense is tingling again now. I think that the enormity of the job, the spotlight constantly on it and the ever mounting pressure of reality bearing down on Trump’s lies and his fake news are starting to break him. I think the diamond shell of his Narcissistic Personality Disorder telling him he’s the greatest human who’s ever lived is starting to crack. His world has been collapsing ever since he won the election but for a man who never admits to mistakes it was always going to take a while for that to sink in.

    Now the collapse is in freefall. Nearly everything he’s done is in chaos. I said in that same thread that if people started saying “President Bannon” often enough then Trump’s ego would force him to move Bannon out and it’s been Bannon at the root of much of the danger that a Trump administration could ever cause. Soon after that we started hearing those very words from high ranking Dems and in press reports.

    Now Bannon is on the decline. He’s off the Security Council which he apparently tricked Trump into letting him sit at and is at loggerheads with Kushner. I think he’ll soon be gone or put somewhere quiet. Spicer is a dead man walking, Flynn had to be sacked, Sessions had to recuse himself, Nunes has had to recuse himself, Priebus is looking shaky, the health care bill crashed and burned as did two attempted muslim bans. Republicans support him in public but hate him in private. Everything leaks like a sieve.

    Even those things are not completely key to how we tell what’s happening inside Trump’s head though. What is more telling is now he’s just reversing himself on things even his own ego can’t easily let him believe he was once right on. Nato was apparently redundant but now it’s apparently fine again and fighting terrorism. He’s had to stop calling China a currency manipulator and just ten minutes with President Xi has educated him somewhat about North Korea he admits. He said healthcare would be easy but it was very hard. Then he said tax reform would be next and has just found out that he still needs to do healthcare first but knows he can’t. He tried to get in bed with Putin and got third degree burns from it. It is possible that this both won him the presidency but then subsequently also lost him it. Time will tell but if he had plans to send Tillerson to Russia to make a fortune from oil for himself it’s on shaky ground now.

    I sense he’s finally starting to become humbled by his own inadequacies. He’s clutched at his safety blankie for 3 months now, going to Mar a Lago every weekend, playing golf, rallies in front of the faithful but sucking your thumb too much can give you buck teeth.

    His crazy tweets have just got him into more and more trouble. House and also Senate enquiries about wiretapping will likely bring his sins with Putin to light.

    The presidency is now headed inexorably in one direction. Jared and Ivanka Kushner will run the country for the next 4 years and Trump will sign what they want him to. I don’t even have a problem with this. They both have the advantage of being sane by most metrics which Trump himself is clearly not. He won’t stop tweeting but it will diminish hugely. Every now and then he’ll feel the need to bluster but as he grows older, fatter and tireder he’ll lose the urge to do much more than suck his thumb at Mar a Lago and play golf.

    The Russians have a saying. When you strike it it’s the empty barrel that makes the most noise. Trump has been an empty barrel all his life.
    “…a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

  57. I see the US has accidentally bombed some US backed Syrian rebels who are trying to overthrow the Assad government in Syria!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-39595989

    The news came hours after the Pentagon admitted an air strike in Syria mistakenly killed 18 rebels.

    It said a partnered force had mistakenly identified the target location as an IS position, but the strike on 11 April had killed rebels from the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is backed by Washington.

    Make no mistake about it! The US is deeply involved in promoting this civil war and propaganda campaign, in an attempt at regime change!

  58. Why in “God’s” name did we drop that huge bomb on Afghanistan? And now they’re talking about a preemptive strike against North Korea? Nothing short of a nuclear bomb would be able to take out their nuclear arsenal, according to what I heard. (Malcolm Nance)

    I posted this quote (below) from journalist Chris Hedges (who pulls no punches, may even go overboard at times) in December, and it seems to be applicable to everything that has happened since then. I am no expert in military matters and would be interested in hearing any opposing viewpoint; but it seems to me that the bombing of Afghanistan is a mere symbolic act of power with no practical benefits, and essentially a senseless act of barbarism. Thirty-something terrorists killed. So what?—There are thousands of them, and now they will fight even harder, and will recruit more people. I am sick and tired of everyone (like on Morning Joe, with the almost unbelievably stupid – or maybe just frightened – Micah, and other lame TV news shows) saying how level-headed and great the military people are among Trump’s staff. What’s so great about them? Who cares about their service, necessarily? Service to what? They’re serving the interests of the Military Industrial Complex and American imperial interests; and, by the way, if JFK had listened to his military advisers during the Cuban missile crisis, there would be no Cuba on the planet today – or worse. McMaster wrote a book Dereliction of Duty in 97. So what? Vietnam’s not controversial anymore. I read his bio. The man is a capable guy, obviously, but he is clearly in love with war. I suppose we need people like that; but can they be trusted to make final decisions? “I gave them the authority,” said Trump. (To do whatever they want, he means.) That’s the Commander-in-Chief’s job, ultimately. And ours is mentally ill, is MIA. No one home. (By the way, I knew Abe Lincoln – and Mr Trump, you’re no Abe Lincoln…. A little joke…. Very little.)

    “The Trump regime is populated with blind fanatics. They believe in one truth, which is whatever they proclaim at the moment (any such declaration may contradict what they said a few hours before). They are possessed with one idea—conflict. They venerate a demented hypermasculinity that includes a sacralization of violence, misogyny, a disdain for empathy, and the self-appointed right to engage in bouts of frenzied rage. These characteristics, they believe, are a sign of masculinity. The highest aesthetic is militarism, violence and war. Without conflict, without enemies real or imagined, their ideological structures and racism collapse into a heap of contradictions and absurdities.”

    Arkrid,

    You wrote this:

    “Now Bannon is on the decline. He’s off the Security Council which he apparently tricked Trump into letting him sit at and is at loggerheads with Kushner. I think he’ll soon be gone or put somewhere quiet. Spicer is a dead man walking, Flynn had to be sacked, Sessions had to recuse himself, Nunes has had to recuse himself, Priebus is looking shaky, the health care bill crashed and burned as did two attempted muslim bans. Republicans support him in public but hate him in private. Everything leaks like a sieve.”

    Marvelous. (Especially “dead man walking”.) Bravo.

  59. Dan #63
    Apr 14, 2017 at 6:20 am

    Why in “God’s” name did we drop that huge bomb on Afghanistan? And now they’re talking about a preemptive strike against North Korea?

    If you look at my quote and link @#62, you will see the Syrian issue which Trump needs to hide by this mega-bomb distraction!

  60. Dan #65
    Apr 14, 2017 at 7:20 am

    Maybe he should blow up the world. The ultimate deflection.

    You know how the Hill-Billy and Red-Neck code works!

    Those inheriting wealth, but with small brains and big egos, need throw money into BIG guns, BIG cars/trucks/limousines, BIG executive jets, BIG lawyers, and towering buildings, to prop up their weak claims to superiority, and intimidate their critics!

  61. It looks like Trump has forgotten his “America first” isolationism, and is now widening his military adventures!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-39600419

    The US says it is sending dozens of troops to Somalia to train forces fighting Islamist group al-Shabab.
    This is the first time regular US troops have been deployed in Somalia since 1994, although some counter-terrorism advisers are already there.

    President Donald Trump last month approved a directive allowing tougher action against al-Shabab.

    In 1993, 18 US special forces personnel were killed in the incident dramatised in the Hollywood film Black Hawk Down.

  62. Carl Kruse said:

    “While it’s difficult to comment without first hand knowledge, there is a significant amount of evidence indicating that the Syrian government was responsible for this chemical attack.

    “If anyone suggests it was the work of rebels, or that it was a rebel chemical weapons cache that was hit, let them also present evidence. So far, there is none.”

    This is vile propaganda, Carl. The only “evidence” presented that the Syrian government carried out what would have been a completely pointless and self-defeating attack is that Trump said so. While the Syrian government would have no strategic or logical reason to gas civilians just as it was gaining the upper hand against their enemies, and thereby hand the US a reason to get further involved, it makes perfect sense for the “rebels” (terrorists and jihadis) to paint this incident as an instance of “Assad attacking his own people”, a narrative that finds easy traction among American audiences. The “rebels” know that such horror stories are eagerly lapped up by “We have to do something!” liberals and conservatives in the United States, and that these stories, once they get out and are mindlessly repeated by the mainstream media until they become received “truth”, precipitate moralistic calls for more war and intervention form these quarters. It is therefore always in the interests of the foreign-backed terrorists to hype, exaggerate or outright fabricate incidents, and always to paint them as the work of “the regime”.

  63. Of course one of the other massive stumbling blocks in the middle-East is Israel’s attitude to Palestinians and its Muslim neighbours! – Apparently even discussions of these issues are not accepted by Israeli ministers!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-39703128

    Israel’s prime minister has cancelled talks with Germany’s foreign minister after he refused to call off a meeting with Israeli human rights activists.

    Sigmar Gabriel had been due to meet Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

    Mr Netanyahu had warned he would not see Mr Gabriel if he met the groups Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem.

    Mr Netanyahu has accused the groups of trying to undermine the state, and the government has taken steps to try to stem their foreign sources of funding.

    The incident threatens to stoke diplomatic tensions between Israel and Germany, which are strong allies.

    Mr Gabriel had said it would be a “remarkable event, to put it mildly” if Mr Netanyahu went through with his threat.

    “Imagine if the Israeli prime minister… came to Germany and wanted to meet people critical of the government and we said that is not possible… That would be unthinkable,” he told Germany’s ZDF television.

  64. The Western interventions in Iraq and Syria have destroyed law and order to the point where any military group or state feels free to make armed attacks on the citizens of those countries!

    But for US and NATO backing, the Turks would not feel they can get away with these military acts of war against a neighbouring country!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-39708909

    Turkey air strikes on Kurds in Syria and Iraq spark US concern

    The US has expressed “deep concern” at Turkish air strikes that killed about two dozen Kurdish fighters in Syria and Iraq.

    The US-backed Popular Protection Units (YPG), fighting against IS, said their positions were hit multiple times.

    Turkey regards the YPG as linked to outlawed Kurdish separatists.
    Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga, friendly to Turkey, also reportedly suffered fatalities.

    The Iraqi government condemned the strikes carried out on its territory.

    US state department spokesman Mark Toner said: “We are very concerned, deeply concerned that Turkey conducted air strikes earlier today in northern Syria as well as northern Iraq without proper co-ordination either with the United States or the broader global coalition to defeat IS.”

    He added: “We have expressed those concerns to the government of Turkey directly.”

    Iraqi government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said: “The Iraqi government condemns and rejects the strikes carried out by Turkish aircraft on Iraqi territory.”

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