Sunday, August 25, 2013

About those Chemical Weapons..

While it seems certain that chemical weapons were used in Syria, the 'whodunit' is still up for grabs.  Many are asking why Assad would launch an attack just days after a UN inspection team arrived.  It's a good question.  It's also apparently a question the administration doesn't want answered:
"If the Syrian government had nothing to hide and wanted to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons in this incident, it would have ceased its attacks on the area and granted immediate access to the U.N. five days ago," a senior Obama administration official said.
"At this juncture, the belated decision by the regime to grant access to the U.N. team is too late to be credible, including because the evidence available has been significantly corrupted as a result of the regime's persistent shelling and other intentional actions over the last five days," the official added.
Sounds like an Iraq flashback--take our word for it! So, if one believes the chinless dictator wouldn't go that far that would mean the 'rebels' launched the attack as a way to pull the west into the battle and stop their losses. But believing the SMC/FSA fighters would have access seems rather absurd since western intelligence is embedded in their ranks.  So where would the WMDs have come from?

One wild guess is of course Iraq.  The Russians and Iranians have been pressing this angle, using our old friend Izzat al-Douri as a facilitator to help the various Sunni Iraq insurgent groups either obtain Saddam-era munitions or supervising new production to be smuggled across the Turkish border into the battle zones.  However, Russia and Iran seem to be the only ones pushing this idea and both stand to gain from it in the propaganda department if true, so it must be taken with a grain-silo sized pillar of salt.

Others are reminding folks about the other Arab tinpot who dabbled in WMD--Moahmar Gaddafi.  Yep, the 'rebels' indeed found a stash of chemical weapons in 2011 after the tyrant was sent to Allah:
Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had an undeclared stockpile of chemical weapons, international inspectors have confirmed. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said inspectors visited Libya this week and said inspectors found sulphur mustard and artillery shells 'which they determined are chemical munitions.'
This means the shells were not filled with chemicals, but were designed specifically to be loaded with chemical weapons. 'They are not ready to use, because they are not loaded with agents," OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan said. Among the chemical munitions they found were stocks of sulphur mustard agent, which can cause severe blistering. All the newly declared materials are being stored at the Ruwagha depot, in the south-east of the country.
This, coupled with the very strange official reactions to the Benghazi terror attack might explain some things, assuming anything is ever fully explained.  First off they might start with why Samantha Power, our newly minted Ambassador to the UN, remained on vacation and skipped an emergency UN meeting about the chem-attack in Syria. Power is a vocal advocate of "Responsibility to Protect" and was a voice in the ear of the administration advocating involvement in Libya. Having Libyan WMD liberated into AQ hands and then used in Syria might be a bit problematic (or as Jesse Jackson might say, frowned upon).

Then again, all of the above is predicated on the rebels surreptitiously using WMD to frame Assad.  If it was ever discovered the rebels used WMD, especially AQ-back factions, it would change Obama's 'calculus' (maybe a derivative instead of an integral) and leave the west with no horses to back (they long ago lost the ability to fall back into the Assad camp should things go wrong).  Maybe that's why the administration doesn't want the UN to discover anything.  Alas, these 40 pound brains are still trying to plan a peace conference with Russia and the rebels.  The same Russians blaming the attacks on the rebels.  Not very flexible.

Overall most people would agree that getting involved in Syria is a loser and Obama knows it, both in his brain and through the polls.  His 'red line' claptrap was mere bluffing ahead of an election but now it has backed us into a corner that only a few cruise missiles will solve.  Let's hope they know what they are doing--many lives hang in the balance.

MORE  8/25/13

Scott Shane of the Times puts Syria and the UN in perspective:
While administration officials emphasized that Mr. Obama had not decided to take action, they said he was determined not to be drawn into a protracted debate over gaining access for the United Nation investigators, given their doubts, at this point, that it would produce credible findings.
Funny, why were the UN inspectors even in Damascus in the first place? The recent attack occurred AFTER they had arrived; the earlier attacks they were there to investigate happened weeks and months ago. So what's with the suddenly short time range of investigation?  Very strange, as if they don't want them to find anything right now.  

And how similar to the criticism on Iraq. The president doesn't want to get into a negotiation with the dictator over UN access looking for WMDs as he prepares for attacks without a UN mandate. But it won't be spun that way.

Politics aside, if indeed the chem-rocket was launched by Hizballah via Iran, which seems to be taking control at the moment, does the US not want such a determination made public via a UN team?   Sure sounds like some justification somebody could eventually use for taking out Iran's nuke program.   

SHOCKED  8/26/13

John Kerry and Jay Carney expressed the president's shocked outrage over the horrible deaths caused by the chemical attack today. Also shockingly, nobody in the White House press room suggested that Obama's foot-dragging after his red line was crossed (the first couple of times) could have contributed to such a horrid scene.  Carney was prepared for the question--indeed he tried to parse between 'small scale' and 'wide scale' attacks, making a distinction insofar as their response or potential response.  In a nutshell, what he seemed to be saying is the small scale attacks were only worth 'ramping up' support to include small arms while a large scale attack warrants something more, which he refused to characterize.  This despite reports that the small arms supposedly sent after the first red line crossing still haven't arrived. 

Just a wag, but by leaking to the press various tidbits about what might happen, ie, cruise missile attack, the administration is testing the waters to see how much response they need. Otherwise they would have remained entirely mum, not wanting to give away any tactical or strategic advantage.   If the waters show support from the public for some bombing, and if the intelligence community determines that retaliatory responses from the various Syrian or Iranian proxy factions can be controlled or won't materialize, they'll go for it sooner than later.  If the waters are a little too choppy they'll go for some kind of delayed UN, we are the world reply or even try to run attack permission through Congress (hoping for failure).


Right Truth said...

This seems very strange. Kerry says one thing, Obama says something else.

Obama initiating an attack on a country without Congressional debate and support? Where have we heard outrage about that before?


Right Truth

A.C. McCloud said...

They are using the term "international norms" instead of international law. Must be a reason.

Personally I think Assad needs to have his arse kicked by a shock and awe coalition of the civilized world IF they can prove the attacks came from him. Something about this seems to contrived for me, though.