Polk on Gas Weapons in the ME

"… because the Government has not come forward authoritatively with whatever it had found out and the UN investigation was ordered to avoid fixing the source of the attack. But the story we have been given, that the Syrian government was responsible, raises a number of questions. Among them are: • Timing of the event – just after a UN inspection team had arrived almost on the spot. Why would the Syrian government have picked a time of maximum danger to itself? • Target – the place attacked was not a “game changer” in the civil war but was almost certain to provoke a reaction. Moreover, even a small change in the atmosphere might have blown gas into Damascus with catastrophic effects on the population and on the regime. It is difficult to believe that any regime would have taken such a risk. If it decided to use chemical weapons, a more logical target would have been far from its major remaining territory and its capital such as the rebel held area in Syria’s northeast near or in the town of Dair az-Zur. • Delivery system – According to a study by Theodore Postol, “a professor of technology and national security at MIT,” of photos of a rocket that allegedly delivered the sarin nerve agent, the rocket was “something you could produce in a modestly capable machine shop.”

Moreover, it did not “match the specifications of a similar but smaller rockets known to be in the Syrian [Government] arsenal…[and] the range of the improvised rockets was ‘unlikely’ to be more than two kilometers.” If Mr. Postol is right, the rockets could not have reached the target, as alleged by the government and reported in the media (see note 13 below for a New York Times account), from the indicated Government positions which are two or three times that distant. • Source of the gas – we know, of course, that the Syrian government had poison gas and the means to deliver it. The rebels are known to have overrun several Government poison gas storage areas; so presumably they too had access to chemical weapons. They are also documented to have been seeking to acquire chemical weapons by purchase in Turkey and possibly elsewhere. They certainly received arms and probably received rockets from Libyan jihadis..” And, as American intelligence knew, they understood how to make sarin. • Motives – I cannot identify any compelling motive for the Syrian Government to make a poison gas attack, particularly one so blatant and so close both to its own capital and to an international observation team which was already in place nearby, and one with so likely disastrous consequences for its own survival. There is, however, a conceivable motive for the rebels. If such a horrible crime could be attributed to the Government, the rebel leadership might reasonably have calculated that the US or other foreign powers would come to their rescue. And we know that the most extreme of the rebels, notably Jabhat an-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), were prepared to inflict or suffer any losses in their cause. Some outside states, notably Qatar and Saudi Arabia, were spending billions of dollars, supplying at least convention arms and engaging in political campaigns to bring down the Asad regime. They had publicly announced and covertly sought to fulfill their motivation. What if any was their role? These and other questions require fuller answers than we now have. Finally, it is disturbing that the US government, if it really had the information leaked to the Journal, did not itself produce a full and documented report immediately or at least before threatening to attack Syria. To use the hedge that it was “protecting sources” is not convincing when it was prepared to start a war. As it turned out, we were lucky to have been able to avoid   war."  William R. Polk


The WH did everything it could to prevent the publication of Sy Hersh's article "Whose Sarin?"  They pressured the editors of the Washington Post with all the usual tools.  It should be obvious that the degree of help that Hersh received from knowledgeable sources indicates how much resistance there has been in DoD and CIA to the attampts at narrative control attempted by the Obama White House in this matter.  Why is the administration so hard over in its policy of regime change in Syria?  Simple,  the Saudis and Israelis want regime change.  There is a "refutation" of Hersh's article on line today in Foreign Policy.    The origin of this article is rather clear.  pl       

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21 Responses to Polk on Gas Weapons in the ME

  1. b says:

    The guy who wrote the Foreign Policy piece is the blogger “Brown Moses”.
    Earlier this year he had facebook conversations with one Matthew VanDyck who as a “journalist” was in Syria (and before in Libya) fighting with the insurgents. VanDyck told “Brown Moses” that the insurgents had some chemical weapons.
    The facebook talks and VanDycks emails were stolen by the Syrian Electronic Army (government supporters) and is published here: http://leaks.sea.sy/vandyke-leaks/#KnewRebels.
    The talks also reveal that both VanDyck as well as “Brown Moses” have a “diamond sponsor” named “Nathan” from Virginia.
    “Brown Moses” never revealed that he was told of insurgent chemical capabilities but did everything he could to involve the Syrian government. He is now beating a strawman refuting stuff Hersh never claimed.
    Dan Kaszeta, a former U.S. chemical warfare officer, does the same. Here he refutes what he says is Hersh’s claim that Jabhat al-Nusra made Sarin. https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/commentaryanalysis/524969-524969-why-seymour-hersh-has-it-wrong-this-time
    Think is Hersh never claimed that. Hersh said al-Nusra “acquired” Sarin but doesn’t say who made it.

  2. Charles I says:

    Does seem to follow that if there was nothing to it there’d be no motivation for such a reaction.

  3. Tyler says:

    Brown Moses is responsible for this? Ahahaha. The little twerp.
    BM posts on a website called Something Awful which was kind of a big deal back in the internet days of yore (2000 or so), but is now pretty pathetic. That was where he was cataloging all his “finds”.
    Meanwhile his other posts apparently consist of whining about video games and how cheaply he feeds his kids. THIS is the counterpunch to a journalist like Hersh? TPTB really are desperate.

  4. different clue says:

    I think I remember reading here in the past that the military and intelligence analysts/thinkers in Israel disapprove of regime-change for Syria. If I remember correctly, then is it fair to guess that the military and intelligence analysts have near-zero influence on Israel’s Likud-and-further-rightist government thinking?
    Perhaps those British Members of Parliament who voted against attacking Syria or joining such an attack should get the Nobel Peace Prize.

  5. The beaver says:

    He has only one kid, married to a Turkish woman and unemployed. Thus him wasting his hours on video games until the Syria debacle where all of a sudden, he is an expert on arms trafficking, missiles and NBC. Could be a good candidate for HGCQ ( wait a minute, could be an analyst under cover)- i am being sarcastic
    Makes one wonder whether he is not a tool being paid by some rich ME govt.

  6. JohnH says:

    Hersh said on Democracy Now yesterday that the administration backed down on Syria because of opposition from the military. Public opinion didn’t matter. Foreign opinion didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered to Obama was that his red line had been crossed. And his mindset couldn’t entertain the possibility that the rebels had done it.
    Hersh had some gems about the low quality of political leadership.
    Hersh also suggested that it’s quite difficult to get articles like his published in the US these days.

  7. Tony says:

    I think Hersh mentioned an ex-Iraqi military by the name Ziyaad Tariq Ahmed who is implicated in making sarin.
    Recently, I read an article (http://theenergycollective.com/rodadams/309016/implications-nuclear-agreement-iran) which states one of the main reasons for Israel, SA and Qatar opposition to Syria is economic. It makes more sense to me.

  8. turcopolier says:

    you fellows usually fall back on the economic determinist nonsense. you will never understand anything about the ME. Syria is in no way an economic competitor of any of those groups. You are in the chains of poly sci idiocy and obviously lie it that way. pl

  9. Tyler says:

    The undertone of the article is “this Pulitzer journalist is nothing against my unemployed ass”.

  10. Fred says:

    Isn’t that the same kind of story behind the tailor running the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights? One guy, lots of hot air?

  11. different clue says:

    I tried clicking your link and ” the page could not be delivered”. Since “Iran” was in the title, I will guess the unfindable post somehow claims that if Iran comes out from under sanctions via a long-range nuclear etc. agreement, that Iran will be so attractive for investing as to recieve some capital otherwise reaching Israel and/or Saudi Arabia? Did the article also claim that keeping Iran under sanctions keeps it from selling oil which keeps the oil price higher where KSA likes it?
    If I guessed correctly, did the article go on to explain how regime-changing Syria would keep Iran under sanctions longer?

  12. Tony says:

    Col. Lang,
    The article I referred to mentioned that Syria’s friendship with Iran makes it more possible for Iran to export its natural gas through the proposed pipeline, and thus creates a competition to both Qatar and Israel (since Israel is on the verge of exporting natural gas to Europe).
    For Saudis, isolated Iran means less Iranian oil into the world market and more revenue for SA. Is that still nonsense?

  13. confusedponderer says:

    Israel is a perfect example for how economic ideas play barely a role at all.
    Though the Israelis have an interest in the Golan, they aren’t moved so much by economic interests. They would prosper just fine without the Golan. Sure, they like keeping tabs on the water there, and the military likes the high ground, and they probably have grown used to skiing there and like the wine grown there, but what is IMO driving Israeli policy is Bibi’s vision of a Greater Israel.
    There is a reason why subsequent Israeli governments have not made peace with Syria even though they were within a reach of such a deal a few times.
    One may think that the Izzies would be deterred by the economic cost of the occupation and the security posture their bellicosity and expansionism requires.
    One would be wrong, because for one, they are subsidised heavily by the US, and because the alternative would be for Israel to give up land, precious Eretz Israel, and as I see it, as of now, any cost is apparently preferable to that.
    To Bibi, as long as Syria is divided and weak, the matter of the Golan doesn’t come up and that is a good thing to him, just as he likes not having clearly defined borders with Palestine. In the meanwhile he can create ‘facts on the ground’.
    More, as they must see it, with Syria weak Hezbollah is weaker, too, so Israel may eventually have their revenge for having been defeated twice by Hezbollah. That more petty line of reasoning usually runs under the label of ‘restoring deterrence’. It’s hogwash IMO.
    Before Israeli products can enter an Arab market, they have to be laundered first, like Israel’s oranges. I don’t see that changing by Assad’s downfall. The folks down there will not suddenly start to love Israel and Israeli products because Assad goes. And Syria isn’t going to be an awesome export market any time soon, too.
    So – in sum, there is little economic interest, but plenty of ideological motives.
    Man is a creature with a mind after all, the world is not flat, and the great actor of history (or the markets for that matter) is human agency.
    I include the market that because I think the model oriented economists are just as dumb as pol sci types.
    Bruce R. Scott is right – capitalism is not just the pricing mechanism of the market but a system of governance (with laws, courts, law enforcement and politics), in which the referees can take out and sanction offenders. But try to model that mathematically – one may have to do some actual deep thinking to tackle that one.
    Claiming that it is only about the market, is what has led to the monstrosity that has created the US economic crisis. This is indeed wrong headed stuff coming right out of the universities.

  14. Eliot says:

    Brown Moses has been banging that war drum for quite a while now. I assumed he was someones low rent information operation.

  15. Tyler says:

    brown moses has also said repeatedly that he doesn’t work because he’d lose his benefits.
    You should stick with this one, FP: A blogger who made his name because journalists don’t know how to read a Jane’s military manual.

  16. nick b says:

    Try this link: http://atomicinsights.com/implications-nuclear-agreement-iran/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AtomicInsights+%28Atomic+Insights%29
    I found no mention of Syria or Qatar in the article. To me, it looked like the kind of information that you would want to consider if you were an investor or analyst in the energy sector.

  17. Fred says:

    Tony I may not be a colonel but yes this pipeline idea is non-sense. Israel is expropriating Palestinian land along the Mediterranean coast and all the offshore gas right along with it. SA has been pushing the Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam for decades, that is more important to them than some gas pipeline that exists as nothing more than a bunch of power-point presentations. Mr. Adams, the author, doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  18. The beaver says:

    Tyler & Fred
    Both Brown Moses and Rami Abdulrahman, the tailor remind me of those “experts” at Stratfor 🙂

  19. The beaver says:

    He has been supported partly through this campaign:
    And guess who are his benefactors – he labeled them Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze

  20. Tyler says:

    Amusingly, his account was closed by Paypal and he can’t access his sponsors money now.

  21. Charles I says:

    esp. where corporations are people but markets are not, nor seen as such. Way things are going, algorithms will soon be legal people, way ahead of other “stakeholders” like, er, people.

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