Ghouta is Arabic for “Reichstag Fire” by Publius Tacitus


The dominant propaganda meme of the day, as already noted by Colonel Lang, is that Bashar al Assad unleashed chemical weapons on "innocent women and children" in rebel held territory and that Russia and Iran, along with Syria, are responsible. We MUST take action (or so we are told emphatically by morons pretending to be news anchors on the various cable outlets). Few media outlets are willing to report that this information is not only uncorroborated but originates with established liars and rebel partisans–i.e., the White Helmets. Oh, and did you know that the White Helmets are funded largely by the Governments of the UK and the United States?

It is critical to keep the source of funds in mind if you are to understand the true nature of these Islamic scam artists. Ironically, Max Blumenthal, son of the infamous Sid, has been a leader in exposing these fraudsters. Blumenthal wrote, more than three years ago, that:

The White Helmets’ leadership is driven by a pro-interventionist agenda conceived by the Western governments and public relations groups that back them. Anyone who visits the group’s website—which is operated by an opposition-funded PR company known as the Syria Campaign—will be immediately directed to a request to sign a petition for a no-fly zone to “stop the bombs” in Syria. These sorts of communiques highlight the dual role the White Helmets play as a civil defense organization saving lives while lobbying for a U.S. military campaign that will almost inevitably result in the collapse of Syria’s government. . . .

The White Helmets were founded in collaboration with USAID’s Office of Transitional Initiatives—the wing that has promoted regime change around the world—and have been provided with $23 million in funding from the department. USAID supplies the White Helmets through Chemonics, a for-profit contractor based in Washington DC that has become notorious for wasteful aid imbroglios from Haiti to Afghanistan. While members of the White Helmets have been implicated in atrocities carried out by jihadist rebel groups, the names of many of the firms that supposedly monitor and evaluate their work have been kept secret by USAID on unspecified security grounds.

In March 2013, a former British infantry officer named James Le Mesurier turned up on the Turkish border of Syria. . . .Le Mesurier’s job was to organize a unique band of people who rush into freshly bombed buildings to extract survivors—while filming themselves—in rebel-held areas facing routine bombing by Syrian army aircraft. In 2014, he established Mayday Rescue, a non-profit based in Turkey that grew out of the Dubai-based "research, conflict transformation, and consultancy" firm known as Analysis, Research, and Knowledge, or ARK. . . Though they were known as Syrian Civil Defense, graduates of Le Mesurier’s course became popularly identified by the signature headgear they wore in the field: White Helmets.

Since being founded under the watch of Mayday Rescue, the White Helmets have received grants worth millions of dollars from the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Japan and USAID. To date, USAID has donated $23 million to the White Helmets, a substantial sum for a civil defense project in a war zone.

While the White Helmets masquerade as an organization providing humanitarian assistance, their true purpose is to spread propaganda and try to create the impetus to compel the United States to take a more active military role against Bashar al Assad. Their first major effort in this regard came in August 2013, when they pushed the false claim that the Syrian Government had used sarin on rebels and their families. Whatever happened on the ground was not carried out by anyone acting on behalf of or under the authority of the Syrian Government. Sy Hersh ably told the story in his London Review of Books piece, The Red Line and the Rat Line:

Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.​ Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia.

The rebels made another failed attempt one year ago and Trump took the bait. Fortunately, his military retaliation was nothing more than a PR gesture–he ordered the launch of cruise missiles that struck desert and scrub in Syria. In fact, we gave the Russians a heads up a few hours beforehand in order to ensure we did not hit any of Putin's people. Faithful readers of Sic Semper will recall that I wrote extensively on this issue and highlighted the research/findings of Professor Ted Postol, who pointed out that the claims of sarin were not based on any actual forensic evidence.

And then there are the supposed new chemical attacks of today (Sunday) in the area known as Ghouta. At least this time the White Helmets are not accusing Syria of using sarin. Nope. Their new "go to" agent is chlorine. But what is different this time is that Donald Trump, who gets his intel from watching TV, is appalled and horrified. With smart phone in hand and stubby fingers flying over his mini-key board, Trump lashed out via Twitter at Russia, Iran and Barack Obama, along with "the animal Assad."

Trump, in my view, is very likely to order an escalation in our military response compared to last year. And this time we run a real risk of hitting Russian and Iranian forces. That is a recipe for war.

We are spiraling towards war with Russia and it is a war of our making and choosing. It is all predicated on a lie. A big lie that, incredibly, a large number of supposedly intelligent Republicans and Democrats passionately embrace and spread.

The lie boils down to this–Vladimir Putin is the Stalin of the 21st Century and in the process of trying to resurrect the USSR for new global domination. The following paragraphs penned four years ago in the Spectator by Owen Matthews is a prime example of this lie.

But Putin’s new mission goes deeper than political opportunism. Like the old Communist International, or Comintern, in its day, Moscow is again building an international ideological alliance. . .Putin is pitching for moral leadership of all conservatives who dislike liberal values. And again, like the Comintern, Putin appears convinced that he is embarking on a world-historical mission. . . .

Russia’s hard power is growing in parallel with its soft power. For the first time in a generation Moscow called the shots on a major international diplomatic issue last year, when Sergei Lavrov’s plan to supervise Syria’s chemical weapons disarmament derailed US plans for military strikes on Damascus. Over recent years Moscow unsuccessfully backed local despots in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, and Libya — and they lost their heads, just like old Soviet clients from Afghanistan to Yugoslavia. But with Syria that run of failure is finally changing. Moscow’s diplomatic protection in the UN, backed by Russian weapons, intelligence and military expertise, finally means something again. If Harry Truman wanted to make the US the arsenal of democracy, then Putin seems to have a similar plan for Russia to be the arsenal of reaction.

More strident bipartisan versions of this are heard more often these days in the United States. When Vladimir Putin boasted in a recent state of Russia speech that Russia possesses nuclear weapons capable of bypassing US missile defense systems. Democrat and Republican Senators were quick to argue that ours is bigger and better than theirs.

“Everything [Putin] does has been a resurgence of Cold War rhetoric and the Novo-Russia that he wants to see,” said New Jersey senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee.

South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham described the remarks as “bluster by Putin for domestic purposes.”

“It is a weak guy who is inherently weak, trying to be strong,” Graham said. “We have nuclear capability. Mutually assured destruction is alive and well.”. . .

Top Democrat on the Senate intelligence Committee Mark Warner, whose panel is investigating 2016 Russian election interference, warned of what an emboldened Russia means for the 2018 midterm elections.

“This is a Russia that feels it has reemerged on the world stage, and what we’ve seen is not only a build-up of conventional weapons, but they have been masters of using cyber warfare, misinformation, disinformation,” said Warner.

There are no adults on the public foreign policy stage in Washington, DC. Like starving hounds, all are howling that Trump must do something to respond to this outrage. This is the same juvenile bullshit that many of you experienced in middle school–you are being called a coward if you don't start fighting in response to an imagined slight. Only this is not about school boy frays. This risks a widening war.

If you view these events from the standpoint of the Kremlin, what you see is an unrelenting information operation offensive designed to smear Russia and portray it as a lawless, violent authoritarian state that will do anything, including using nerve agent on a useless former KGB spy and his daughter, to achieve global domination. They know it is a lie but are not possessed of infinite patience. Russians, including Putin, know all to well how a staged public event like the Reichstag fire of 1933 can be used to justify war.

I have no hope that cooler heads will prevail. John Bolton is now the National Security Advisor whispering into Trump's ear like Grima Wormtongue (a Lord of the Rings reference). He is anything but cool and reasonable. If Trump goes down this road it will not only be the beginning of the end of his Presidency. It could be the end of the United States as a viable political entity.


This entry was posted in As The Borg Turns, Borg Wars, Middle East, Russia, Syria. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Ghouta is Arabic for “Reichstag Fire” by Publius Tacitus

  1. Swamp Yankee says:

    Thank you for this, Publius Tacitus — and to you, Colonel Lang, re-opening the comments section here at SST.
    I think it’s notable that Owen Matthews’ article at The Spectator betrays the kind of factual sloppiness that is typical of the pundit-political-business classes in the West today. For of course, “Arsenal of Democracy” is a phrase associated not with Truman but with Franklin Roosevelt.
    I was the working-class scholarship kid at one of the elite educational institutions that forms a feeder-conduit to these echelons of media, political, and economic power, and one thing I have remarked is the utter mediocrity and laziness of so many members of our ruling class. As Corey Robin found out when he had an exchange with Chelsea Clinton over Hannah Arendt, and I discovered as an undergrad and in grad school, many of them simply never did the reading. They relied then, and still do today, on group-think and sheep-like intellectual conformity, which, of course, is then magnificently (and munificently!) rewarded. I also discovered that even when they did read something, it made no impression on them, not in any real way, they failed to keep the lessons taught thereby in their head once it was no longer needed for an exam or a paper.
    To be led by fools such as these into a world war — and why? — is lunacy. That’s why I’m grateful for places like this Committee to keep the home-fires of sanity burning. Thanks again, and let’s hope that peace prevails, against the devoutly-hoped wishes of the Borg.

  2. Imagine says:

    “Murder in the Sun Morgue” by Dr. Denis O’Brien (neuropharmacology expert):
    “The primary conclusion of this study, based on a pharmacological analysis of the video and photographic evidence, is that the Ghouta Massacre near Damascus on Aug 21.2013 was not a sarin rocket attack carried out by Assad or his supporters. It was a false-flag stunt carried out by the insurgents using carbon monoxide or cyanide to murder children and use their corpses as bait to lure the Americans into attacking Assad.”
    288 pp. analysis. Also, some had slit throats:

  3. blowback says:

    The SOHR has some pretty solid reporting on what is going on in Douma. They make no mention of any use of chemical weapons in Douma, but instead attribute the deaths to suffocation resulting from the destruction of cellars containing civilians:

    And with the death of more citizens, it has increased to 96 at least including 27 children and 16 woman, the number of persons who have been killed since Friday, and the death toll is expected to rise because there are some people in critical situation, where reliable sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory that some of the casualties and wounded suffocated as a result of the demolition of home basements due to the heavy and intense shelling on Douma city, and the trusted sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory of Rights that the number of injuries today has exceeds 500, including tens of children and tens of women, where more than 70 of them have suffered suffocation as a result of the demolition of home basements over them due to the heavy and intense shelling on the last area beyond the regime forces’ control in the Eastern Ghouta, which is the stronghold of Jaysh al-Islam, and the Syrian Observatory published hours ago that 11 people at least including 5 children had suffocated, after bombardment by a warplane on an area near the old cemetery at the northern outskirts of Douma city in the Eastern Ghouta, also the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights published that violent clashes taking place between the regime forces and their allied militiamen of Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities against Jaish Al-Islam in areas in the vicinity of Douma area, where the regime forces continue their attempts to achieve more advancement in the area after they managed today morning to advance in the farms of Douma from the direction of Al-Raihan area. The regime forces managed to advance in 50 farms in the area following series of ongoing ground and aerial shelling of the regime forces and their warplanes and helicopters, which target the city and its vicinity.
    Recent articles from SOHR can be found here:
    and here:
    Jaish al-Islam asked for quarter as the SAA appears to have broken Jaish al-Islam’s defensive lines making their position in Douma untenable.

  4. jjc says:

    The constant repetitive referral to “Obama’s red line” has been effective in shaping a preferred response to these alleged attacks. Contrary to today’s conventional wisdom, Obama did not “fail” to enforce his own line – the administration through its own State Department was quite prepared to rain bombs down on Damascus, but faced political opposition from Congress (as did Cameron’s UK government fail to achieve support for the bombing in its Parliament). Congressional opposition was sparked by robust opposition from citizens/ constituents in the form of communications directed to their Congressional offices. This was all reported by the mainstream media at the time, yet a false recounting is predominant today. The “unrelenting information operation” is not possible without the witting collaboration of the supposed “free” media. The ownership and editorial staff of such are as fully responsible for this frightening state of affairs as anyone else.

  5. Anna says:

    “…Owen Matthews’ article at The Spectator betrays the kind of factual sloppiness that is typical of the pundit-political-business classes in the West today.”
    — In this case it is more than sloppiness: Owen Matthews is an opportunist loaded with the tribal grievances against Russia:
    “… in his book “Stalin’s Children” Matthews clearly takes sides with, endorses and, possibly, even covers up for his Trotskyist Commissar grandfather and that makes him a fair target for criticism”

  6. Not In Istanbul says:

    Cruise missile strikes are currently underway…

  7. Anna says:

    “His master’s voice (or how an obedient dog goes to war)”:
    “Israeli officials: the “U.S. must strike in Syria” because “Assad is the angel of death, and the world would be better without him.” …
    Ziomedia is willing to report the Skripal nonsense with a straight face … After all, if the Russians could use “Novichok and buckwheat” in the UK, why would they not use chemical weapons in Syria? And, no, the fact that neither the Russians nor the Syrians actually have any chemical weapons (both were fully disarmed and certified as such) makes absolutely no difference! …”
    And what country does not want to declare her chemical weapon? –
    “The head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Tuesday called on Israel to renounce chemical weapons and join the convention banning them… just like Syria did.”

  8. The Beaver says:

    T4 -East Homs being hit . Looks like the ISRAELIS are sending missiles

  9. Peter in Toronto says:

    Salvos underway.
    If the Russians don’t respond in some discrete but substantive way, their presence, efforts and international prestige will have vanished by tomorrow morning.

  10. Anna says:

    “If the Russians don’t respond… their international prestige will have vanished…”
    — What are you implying — that only deception, perfidy, and bullying deserve “prestige?” Would not it be great if the decent people have finally explained the “prestigious” Nikki Haley that she is an ignoramus and warmonger? And how about sending Gavin Williamson to his familiar proper place where he could resume selling the fine pottery and ceramic countertops instead of being a mockery to his current post of Sec of Defence? What is so prestigious about the opportunistic Theresa May and Boris Johnson, whose incompetent actions have been highly damaging to the UK reputation? And guess that the criminal (but very pious) Tony Blair fits the definition of “prestige.”
    There are people whose response is indeed important from the perspective of decency and competence and patriotism – these people are the US brass in the highest echelons of the US military. Do they serve the interests of the US or the interests of Israel? The question is very simple. The answer is yes or no.
    Saker asks for patience:
    Comment section: “The Lord Has Risen, and the forces of evil are rabid for more Death and Destruction.”

  11. I trust the Pentagon warned Israel not to launch cruise missiles from their submarines close to US surface fleet units.

  12. MGS says:

    Well Syria’s T-4 airbase was attacked this evening. My suspicion is it was the French, this time. Encouraged/backed by the US. The main purpose for the French doing this is to leave Trump with some good grace with the Russians and not further antagonize Putin himself. It also allows the French a certain amount of prestige/legitimacy, since they view Syria as an area of influence. With their presence increasing in Manjib area they need some credibility.

  13. blue peacock says:

    This is getting more and more ridiculous. From the ludicrous novichok caper that May and Boris have made into a Monty Python skit to the yet another theatrical chemical attack performance starring the perennial Syrian villain, Animal Assad and the increasingly heated rhetoric emanating from DC, London, Beijing and Moscow. Of course with all the bugles and trumpets blowing from the hysterical media with the Borg agenda trying to cajole a highly skeptical public.
    What do you make of all this? Is the Borg getting really desperate that their gig may be up? That their deceit and duplicity will be uncovered.
    We have Brennan, Holder, Yates busy tweeting along with Trump. There is McCabe and his GoFundMe. We have Comey’s book tour and even Loretta Lynch is to hit the airwaves. All to spin tales that less people believe unless of course you are a card carrying partisan. Then there is Sessions making announcements of US Attorneys investigating and possibly convening grand juries and supervising document production to Congress around the conspiracy at the highest levels of law enforcement & intelligence in the Obama administration. Is this Reality TV at it’s best putting Jerry Springer to shame??
    What does your spidy sense tell you?

  14. Kathy says:

    Slightly OT, but in poking around the SCL/Cambridge Analytica web of intrigue, I found this tantalizing Wikipedia account of Vincent Tchenguiz, the largest shareholder in CA.
    Some people are truly not fit to walk on this earth.

  15. Karl Kolchak says:

    “…a large number of supposedly intelligent Republicans and Democrats…”
    There’s no such thing any more. Both parties chased their intelligent leaders out a long time ago. Indeed, this is a repeat of the Cuban Missile Crisis with a bunch of emotional ten-year-olds in charge.

  16. Hood Canal Gardner says:

    PT .. thanks for the “outing” of Chemonics .. add Pakistan/HCG got a brick through his Islamabad bedroom window in the early1990s..tucked tail.
    “Chemonics, a for-profit contractor based in Washington DC that has become notorious for wasteful aid imbroglios from Haiti to Afghanistan.”

  17. Anna says:

    The theater of absurd: Israelis “are shooting with live ammunition at people without guns:”
    — The same Israelis that are sanctimoniously bloviate about Assad an “angel of death.”
    The Skripal affair and the false flag chemical attack in Syria make an idiotically-designed preparation for a war against Syria, Iran, and Russia. Israel’s refusal to ratify Chemical Arms Treaty makes Israel the major suspect in the false flag attacks in Syria. Israel has a motif:
    “The Russian Foreign Ministry noted that Moscow had already warned about a false-flag chemical attack being prepared in recent months. … similar allegations [against Syria] emerge every time the Syrian Army makes advances in its fight against terrorists.”
    “All 8 missiles from the subs were shot down. In total 11 were shot down with some hits and casualties at the air base. This is in addition to Israeli’ F16 that fired missiles from Tanif on the Jordanian borer… Also trying to fool Syria into thinking that the US forces were firing missiles and artillery.”
    — Yes, Israelis really want the US to “engage” with Russia – till the last human on this planet.
    Unless the Jewish Communities in the US and UK come to their senses, their ugly protégé – the moral midget known as a state of Israel – will continue sowing death and destruction in the Middle East and beyond.

  18. robt willmann says:

    The Russian Defense Ministry is now saying that 8 missiles were fired at the Syrian T4 airfield and airbase from Israeli airplanes flying inside Lebanon. The report says that 5 of the missiles were knocked down by antiaircraft / missile defense systems and that 3 of them hit the area of the airfield–;-14-reported-dead

  19. Anna says:

    Nikki Haley: “Russia will “never be America’s friend.” Moscow can try to behave “like a regular country,” but the US will “slap them when we need to,” Haley said.” … “Everybody likes to listen to the words. I’m going to tell you – look at the actions,” Haley urged. “We expelled 60 Russian diplomats/spies, we have armed Ukraine so that they can defend themselves…”
    The UK has the pottery-boy Gavin Williamson as a Sec. of Defence and the US has a waste-management Nikki Haley as an US envoy to the United Nations. They both are ignoramuses and the eager ziocon tools.
    Again, Israel’s special relationships with anti-Assad forces and Israel’s refusal to ratify the Chemical Arms Treaty make Israel the major suspect in the chemical attacks in Syria:

  20. SmoothieX12 says:

    If the Russians don’t respond in some discrete but substantive way, their presence, efforts and international prestige will have vanished by tomorrow morning.
    Your “grasp” of air-defense issues, including suggestion of shooting down aircraft in Lebanon’s (international) airspace, among many other things clearly shows an armchair “strategist” (no offense, I am one myself) who played, unlike me–I don’t play video games, too much video-games and thinks that he knows better than say Russian General Staff. Indeed, what do they know, really–what a bunch of amateurs who do not follow your highly professional suggestion.

  21. Terry says:

    Thank you for reopening comments. I missed my tribe of non-conformists thinkers and all the various viewpoints. 🙂
    The insanity and distortion of reality and facts is getting extreme. Unfortunately tribalism with it’s baggage of historical grievances, partisan loyalties, and mob mentalities are growing as our society returns to default human social behaviour while loyalty to the binding myths and ideas of the constitution and the founding of our republic fade. Truth is a casualty. Facts don’t matter. Conformity to whatever tribal identity selected is the norm. Science show that there is a real decline in the higher brain functions when mobs form.
    A good article on our decline into tribalism –

  22. rocky says:

    there was an incident in India when a British general mowed down unarmed people in a Park , around a hundred years ago, there was revulsion in Britain dont see any shame in Israel, complete loss of moral compass,

  23. Tom says:

    Thanks for allowing comments again. I realize that it must be great work to moderate them. But the result of your efforts is superb. I don´t know any other site with such a knowledgable commentariat

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