“Russia Says American Evidence on Syria ‘Does Not Convince Us at All'” – abcnews

"Russia is rejecting American evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria as "inconclusive" and urging the United States to declassify all of its intelligence.
"What we were shown before and recently by our American partners, as well as by the British and French, does not convince us at all," Sergei Lavrov said, according to Interfax, in Russia's most direct rebuke yet to the American claims.
"There are no facts, there is simply talk about what we definitely know. But when you ask for more detailed evidence, they say that it is all classified, therefore it cannot be shown to us. This means there are no such facts to encourage international cooperation," the minister told a group of students this morning. "  abcnews


""There are no facts, there is simply talk about what we definitely know. But when you ask for more detailed evidence, they say that it is all classified, therefore it cannot be shown to us." 

This Russian statement is a justified condemnation of hucksterism at its worst.  We have become pitchmen for selling snake oil.   pl  


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100 Responses to “Russia Says American Evidence on Syria ‘Does Not Convince Us at All'” – abcnews

  1. MRW says:

    In the NY Times, this paragraph, the last paragraph:
    “If someone tries to make gross violations of international law a norm, then we will create chaos,” Mr. Lavrov warned. “We will create a situation where the U.N. Charter and the principles under which all the nations of the world have signed up, including the principle of unanimous agreement of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the so-called right of veto, which the United States insisted on — then all of these principles will simply collapse.”
    Compare with Times of Israel:
    “Obama unleashes horror in Jerusalem”
    “The Israeli political and security leadership is privately horrified by President Barack Obama’s 11th-hour turnaround on striking Syria — a decision he took alone, after he had sent his Secretary of State John Kerry to speak out passionately and urgently in favor of military action. It is now fearful that, in the end, domestic politics or global diplomacy will ultimately lead the US to hold its fire altogether.”
    “And it is profoundly concerned that the president has set a precedent, in seeking an authorization from Congress that he had no legal requirement to seek — and that Congress was not loudly demanding — that may complicate, delay or even rule out credible action to thwart a challenge that dwarfs Assad’s chemical weapons capability: Iran’s drive to nuclear weapons.”

  2. r whitman says:

    I have been around scientists and engineers most of my life and have a fair background in chemistry but I have never seen the term “signatures” of Sarin used in a scientific context. Does this mean Sarin metabolites or is it just some stray peak that shows up consistently in a GC-MS analysis. I would appreciate some comment from a modern, up to date chemist.

  3. MRW says:

    “Grumpy cat begs to differ on Obama’s Syria declarations” [Image]

  4. Anon1 says:

    Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT) is the term for such analysis. They collect samples of blood from victims and swipes of clothing or other materials to obtain ‘hits’ of Sarin from instruments programmed to recognize the characteristic of the chemical or its byproducts.

  5. zanzibar says:

    To the cynic in me BHO has proceeded not on the basis of any evidence but just enough plausibility to run a sufficiently robust deception campaign. That’s relatively easy these days with the media fully co-opted in such endeavors just like the telecom companies and internet companies have been in the blanket surveillance of all Americans.
    BHO must believe that he has enough votes in Congress as he put’s together the warmongers in both parties into an “Imperial Presidency” coalition. It seems that the bill to authorize force is wide enough to drive several armies through. And vague enough to allow participation in every kind of hostility that the Imperator chooses.
    The question is when does this escalate to include Hizballah first and then Iran? The other question is what is in it personally for BHO? He is vain enough to want a glowing tribute in the history books as the first “black” President. Wouldn’t another ME quagmire detract from that?

  6. ISL says:

    Zanzibar: I think BHO realizes his own brilliant intelligence boxed himself into the stupid corner, and that the Republicans would love to impeach him just because.
    So he is going to Congress and asking for the sky, while proclaiming that if congress doesn’t give him the ability to attack any associated country or non-state actors on his say so (how about Britain? their parliament clearly shows it is associated, so a shot across the British bow should achieve Obama’s political objective) he reserves the right to ignore congressional votes(!).
    If congress gives him everything, he has a global carte blanche sans impeachment worries. If not, he can back out and blame congress, or ignore congress and be in exactly the position he is in today – ready to bomb and demonstrate that Al Qaeda is his indispensable frenemy.
    At least if he brazenly ignores congress, we will learn if there is any hope of restoring constitutional democracy.

  7. WP says:

    “[W]hat is in it personally for BHO?” It appears he thinks punishing Iraq really is a good idea and that it will enhance his legacy and dispel his fears that he will be viewed as weak.
    While #43 spoke constantly of reading and studying and at least appearing to be trying to understand events around him, I have never even heard a rumor that Obama is a student of the Middle Eastern culture he has impacted so significantly. The words of his advisors do not impress me as to their knowledge of the Muslim world as they stumble repeatedly trying to impose the alien “democracy” upon a culture based upon entirely undemocratic beliefs and tribal principles. Thus, perhaps, being unread and culturally uninformed, Obama he is also profoundly unrӔd that he truly believes in his own heart that intervening in Syria will benefit US.
    Circumstances like the present are exactly the reason the framers of the Constitution reserved the war-making power for Congress. History shows us that Kings have often made disastrous, ill advised, unrӔd decisions to attack the wrong foe that ultimately ruined their dominion. See, i.e, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%86thelred_the_Unready.
    History will not be kind to Obama whatever decision he makes.

  8. Augustin L says:

    Col Lang what do you make of this ? Is the brass already testing Syria’s air defense systems for the upcoming operation. F-22 raptor jet shot down, apparently, yes.

  9. Augustin L says:

    Here’s the links with regard to the F-22 jets. http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=7f4_1377959586

  10. Tunde says:

    Just watched the flatulence being emitted by Messrs. Graham and McCain. They assert but cannot prove. Graham then mentioned that the US’s enemies, er, adversaries were neck deep in Syria. When asked about how high a hurdle it would be to convince the American people to back military action, they concurred but harped on about the consequences to US prestige vis-a-vis Iran. McCain had the audacity to speak of the humanitarian angle (thousands have died, children etc) whilst advocating more lethality in an already barbarous civil war. He questioned the sagacity of the JCS.
    Also, Hizb’ullah were in Syria. No talk about Iraq and her consequences; No talk about end states etc.

  11. Cosmoskitten says:

    @r whitman: There is a good discussion about this subject in Chapter 22 of “Medical aspects of Chemical Warfare” (ISBN 978-0-16-081532-4)
    Available online at http://www.cs.amedd.army.mil/borden/Portlet.aspx?id=d3d11f5a-f2ef-4b4e-b75b-6ba4b64e4fb2

  12. mbrenner says:

    The original French account offers a detailed reconstruction of the attack but does not cite independent French intelligence sources.
    Obama did invite Thomas Friedman to spend a seminar weekend with him at Camp David some time last year. Expertise is in the eye of the beholder.

  13. JohnH says:

    What’s in it for BO?
    1) Change the subject from the NSA, where further revelations might force him to do something, which he obviously doesn’t want to do.
    2) Create the impression of strength, which was completely shredded by the fiasco of the coup in Egypt. In that case, his impotence was as self-inflicted wound, since he had Kerry, Hagel, and others promoting the (phony) narrative that there was nothing the US could do about the coup.

  14. lally says:

    Now the German BND is chiming in:
    “Schindler also presented a previously unknown Proof: For the BND heard an interview of a senior representative of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, the Iranian embassy from. Here is the official Hezbollah, which is traditionally on the side of Assad and militarily supported him, have given to the use of poison gas. The official had said Assad had gone through the nerves to the command for the use of poison gas he had made a big mistake.
    The new BND findings could win in the coming days to explosiveness. The U.S. has reported only in abstract, intelligence agencies had intercepted communications after the attack within the regime, which confirmed the use of poison gas, and from which speak concern about a possible review by the UN inspectors then present. The intercepted phone call from the BND could accumulate this evidence puzzle of western critical services.
    Bundeswehr is prepared
    On the significance of intercepted phone call, Schindler did not comment specifically on the deputies. The BND chief said only that one exchanges only with France directly over intelligence. But that this ultimately end up in the U.S., is obvious.”
    Which Iranian embassy?
    The BND only exchanges intel directly with France? Tell that to the Mossad.

  15. CK says:

    80 years ago France was important in Syria, and Lebanon. Their mandate ran from 1923 to 1943.
    In real terms that is one generation. Their assets are a bit long in the tooth n’est pas?

  16. Fred says:

    This legal interpretation of the US Constitution by Mr. Horovitz, a foreign citizen, is incorrect.

  17. Fred says:

    Americans can find out every tidbit about foam fingers, who made them and just what Ms. Cyrus was doing with them in a matter of minutes; but apparently Obama has had the NSA so busy spying on Americans that it can not identify the Syrian Army unit that allegedly used the CW, the name of the official who allegedly gave the order to use CW or the name of the officer in charge of the unit that did the alleged firing. Or maybe Obama simply does not trust the citizens of the United States, or, more likely, he thinks he is our ‘commander in chief’ and it is our duty to ‘obey’ like good little subjects.

  18. Karim says:

    A German magazine has the following title:
    “BND (German intelligence) intercepts proof that Assad regime ordered gas attack”
    The subtitle reads: “The BND is certain that Assad’s regime is responsible for the gas attack in Syria. There is no definite proof so far, but there are many indications. A phone call intercepted by the BND could be decisive”
    The text then says that the BND intercepted a phone call between a high-ranking Hezbollah member and the Iranian embassy (presumably in Lebanon), in which the Hezbollah man “admits to the gas attack. He apparently said that Assad lost his nerve, and ordering the gas attack was a big mistake”.
    However, I strongly suspect that the conversation was nowhere near as clear as what is reported. Otherwise, it would not appear only in paragraph six of the article! In fact the first paragraph repeats what everybody else has been saying: The head of the BND told MPs that “definite proof is still lacking, but after a thorough plausability analysis his deparment assumes that the regime is responsible”.
    It seems the Germans are back to the usual pattern of public opposition and secret cooperation with US wars.
    “Schindler präsentierte auch einen bisher unbekannten Beweis: So hörte der BND ein Gespräch eines hochrangigen Vertreters der libanesischen Miliz Hisbollah mit der iranischen Botschaft ab. Dabei soll der Funktionär der Hisbollah, die traditionell an der Seite Assads steht und ihn militärisch unterstützt, den Giftgaseinsatz eingeräumt haben. Der Funktionär habe gesagt, Assad seien die Nerven durchgegangen, mit dem Befehl für den Giftgaseinsatz habe er einen großen Fehler gemacht.”

  19. WP says:

    Even assuming for the sake of argument that Assad himself dispensed the gas, what real effect should that have on our action?
    How is it in the national interest of the US for the FSA, fully dominated by salafist jihadis, to be in control of Syria? Furthermore, the FSA has already demonstrated the consequences of its heart felt desire to eliminate the Shia, Druze, Kurdish, and Christian minorities from their dominion. How is such ethnic cleansing humane or helpful to US? If, as John McCain so fervently hopes the FSA actually wins, Syria will still not be friendly to US.
    The debate focusing on the “Moral” outrage over the use of chemical weapons is failing to address the real issue of what happens when our frenemie, Al Quaeda, gets full control of Syria. Should our Air Force should change its tail marking from USAF to AQM-AF for whom it will be flying and bombing. The real beneficiary of our actions attacking the Syrian regime will be the enemy upon whom we have squandered our personal liberties and bankrupted the country to detect and defeat.
    Do not we have any reporter who will ask a few questions such as:
    How much money is KSA spending to support AQM?
    Is AQM the dominant player in the FSA?
    How can we defeat Assad and not help AQM triumph?
    I would like McCain, Graham, and Obama be forced to answer these questions. From what I see, the answers are question 1-loads of money. 2. Yes and 3. We cannot?
    I simply do not “buy” the argument made by McCain that a failure to “stop” and to “punish” the use of chemical weapons will create a disastrous precedent. It will not.
    What we are doing just seems stupid. I would like the committee to correct me if I am wrong.

  20. b says:

    On Kerry’s “signature” issue:
    The U.S. Army book Medical Aspects of Chemical Warfare explicitly says that concluding on a chemical agent exposure from “signatures” in bio-samples is false (Chapter 22 (pdf)):
    Assay of Parent Compounds
    analyzing for parent nerve agents from biomedical matrices, such as blood or urine, is not a viable diagnostic technique for retrospective detection of exposure.

  21. Jose says:

    I am told, chemicals can be traced to original manufacturers by people who know what they are doing (who got the evidence for us?), like forensic evidence in the Court system, this article might help:
    BTW, evidence points to Britain..lol

  22. mac says:

    I have attached a link to an audio purportedly of Rafsanjani discussing, among other things, the Syrian event of 08-21-2013. There appears to be some shift in the audio moments before the voice says, and I’m paraphrasing, that the Syrian people were attacked by their own government or hookomat with CW….
    When this broke it was quickly retracted, but it is interesting nonetheless….

  23. toto says:

    After releasing the intelligence note linked to above, the French government is now claiming to possess “imagery showing that the starting points of the rockets were held by the regime, and that the target points were held by the rebels”.

  24. MRW says:

    Another POV with an explanation by “Dan Kaszeta, a former Chemical Officer in the United States Army, one of the foremost experts in chemical and biological weapons.”

  25. eakens says:

    Drudge Report has a poll on its homepage. The results are rather telling. Regardless of what the “evidence” says, where the US public stands is pretty clear.

  26. Walrus says:

    Zero hedge is now reporting that hacked emails from a U.S. “col. McDonald” to a “Eugene furst” acknowledge that the whole Sarin attack was staged.
    There are allegedly traces of hasty attempts to cover Internet tracks in the same manner as the Britam hacks.

  27. Wolf says:

    No he does not tell us which embassy, but “the insider” escaped your attention, apart from the fact that Schindler claims only Assad’s army could use it. Is that true? Quite a bit of the article is about this more general argument.
    “Schindler also presented so far unknown evidence: The BND intercepted a conversation between a high ranking member of the Hisbollah militia (as they are called over here) with the Iranian embassy. Supposedly the offical of Hisbollah, who traditionally supports Assad also militarily, conceded the use of chemical weapons. Assad had lost his cool when he ordered the use of chemical weapons and made a huge mistake.”
    Further down is this, which seems to have escaped your attention:
    “At the same time an insider said, that “Oker” (surveillance ship cruising down there) had captured hardly anything significant from the Demascus area after the alleged attack, since the range of the sensors is weakened by the mountains in front of Damascus.”
    Consider this: elections soon and US pressure:
    As an aside. Merkel would have been among the willing had she been chancellor in 2003. I hope some remember. On the other hand, I also vividly remember the odd horseshoe tale swallowed by the Social Democrats and the Green Party hood, line and sinker. (result: Operation Allied Force/Noble Anvil/Operation Horseshoe) In any case there is careful maneuvering. …

  28. mac says:

    Here is a better link to the Rafsanjani tape
    The voice certainly sounds like Hashemi.

  29. b says:

    According to Zbig a war over Syria could mean the end of Israel:

  30. robt willmann says:

    Another part of the propaganda operation to get an overt war going between the U.S. and Syria — leaving aside the covert war via “findings” by president Obama for the CIA and others, and coordination with other countries for their actions within Syria, and help with “communications” — gets into gear this afternoon, 3 September, with a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, beginning at 2:30 p.m. eastern time, with Sec. State John Kerry, Sec. Defense Chuck Hagel, and CJCS Gen. Martin Dempsey as witnesses.
    It is to be aired on the C-Span television network as well as through an Internet webcast of the committee–
    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is chaired by Democrat Robert Menendez, he of the titillating Caribbean vacations. Notice that there are no witnesses scheduled who would vigorously speak against a Syrian adventure. Gen. Dempsey will have to walk a tightrope during his testimony with the skill of Phillipe Petit.
    Today’s Senate hearing is really for the unwashed masses. Tomorrow a hearing is scheduled at 9:00 a.m. before the same committee that should be public but will not be. Just like the alleged evidence, it will be Top Secret and Closed. The witnesses? The agenda says “The Honorable John F. Kerry” and “The Honorable James R. Clapper”–

  31. Fred says:

    According to the BBC MG (ret) Keane spoke with Republican Senators breifed by Obama and the administrations plans are to effectively intervene on behalf of the rebels. That is not, of course, what Obama is telling the American people.

  32. turcopolier says:

    sadly, Keane is a full general who was vice chief of staff of the army. He admittied that the purpose is disguised help to the rebels on the Newshour last night. His goal and that of all the other neocons is to damage the Syrian armed forces enought to bring on a rebel succession to power. In one breathtaking moment last night Keane dismissed Russia as having little real military capability. pl

  33. turcopolier says:

    I have no idea what “khubbaz baghdad” is up to. (The baker of Baghdad) pl

  34. zanzibar says:

    Who would have thunk that the US military would fight on the same side as the Al Qaeda “liver eaters”??
    We truly live in bizzaro world!

  35. Fred says:

    Yes, the Christians in Syria back Assad. I wonder what punishment Obama thinks they deserve for that? Just what agreements has the administration made and with just which FSA leaders? (Obviously not the one assasinated by the AQ ‘branch’ of the FSA.)

  36. Fred says:

    I missed the Newshour last night. I assume that’s why I slept well. Is Keane that out of touch to think the Russian Federation has no real military capability? Don’t they still have 8,000 nuclear weapons, amongst other forces? They certainly aren’t $16 trillion in debt like us.

  37. Eliot says:

    “In one breathtaking moment last night Keane dismissed Russia as having little real military capability.”
    How much are the Russians willing to stake on Syria? What can they actually do to deter the intervention? Could they deliver the S-300 before Obama orders a strike?

  38. Cosmoskitten says:

    @b: Let me suggest that you access the chapter “MEDICAL DIAGNOSTICS” from http://www.cs.amedd.army.mil/borden/Portlet.aspx?id=d3d11f5a-f2ef-4b4e-b75b-6ba4b64e4fb2
    The formatting is better at this location. It is also the actual home for the Borden Institute.

  39. Eric Dönges says:

    Frau Merkel is in an awkward position – on the one hand, there are federal elections coming up shortly, and the German public is not enthusiastic about military intervention in general or Syria in particular. On the other hand, our three most important allied governments all seem to be chomping at the bit for action, and Merkel doesn’t want to be seen as a party pooper.
    As to the BND – I’m not sure if they are working for the U.S. or the German government, and I don’t think they are sure either.

  40. WP says:

    We should all write to our Senators and Representatives and ask them to demand public, honest answers to these four key questions:
    1. How much money is KSA spending to support Al Quaeda in the Magreb?
    2. Is AQM the dominant player in the FSA?
    3. How can we defeat Assad and not help AQM triumph?
    4. How can we justify the US helping AQM win?

  41. WP says:

    Why would Keane want Al Queada in power?

  42. WP says:

    I seek forgiveness for my prior posts where I mis-named Al-Qaeda as “in the Magreb.” Not only did I misspell Magreb, I blamed the wrong group of scoundrels. What is the proper way to refer to the part of the FSA that is Al-Qaeda?
    Please consider my prior erroes corrected.

  43. GulfCoastPirate says:

    How much firepower (non nuclear) do the Russians have that they would be willing to use in support of Sryia and/or Iran against the US/Israel? Do the intelligence people think they would want to get that deeply involved?

  44. b, Fred, zanzibar,
    Recently, I have been surprised to find myself often agreeing with Brzezinski. The interview with Jacob Heilbrunn to which ‘b’ linked seems to me one of the most incisive analyses I have seen of the Syrian situation.
    However, I have some reservations about Brzezinski’s response to the final question from Heilbrunn. The exchange is worth quoting in full:
    ‘Heilbrunn: I guess my final question, if you think you can get into this subject, is . . . you’re sort of on the opposition bank right now. The dominant voice among intellectuals and in the media seems to be a liberal hawk/neoconservative groundswell, a moralistic call for action in Syria based on emotion. Why do you think, even after the debacle of the Iraq War, that the foreign-policy debate remains quite skewed in America?
    ‘Brzezinski: (laughs) I think you know the answer to that better than I, but if I may offer a perspective: this is a highly motivated, good country. It is driven by good motives. But it is also a country with an extremely simplistic understanding of world affairs, and with still a high confidence in America’s capacity to prevail, by force if necessary.’
    Ever since our Civil Wars, a certain kind of Englishman – or Welshman, or Scot – has thought that it was precisely those who were most convinced of their own righteousness who were prone to end up as the most unmitigated rascals. It is precisely Americans who do not believe they invariably represent the forces of good fighting the forces of evil who we are hoping may stop the Syrian crisis degenerating into total catastrophe.

  45. turcopolier says:

    GCP et al
    The question that should concern us is how much WE are willing to risk that some Russian might miscalculate on the same basis that you ask the question about them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sea_Fleet pl

  46. turcopolier says:

    Yes. 8,000 weapons/warheads and they have been modernising their forces. Keane is simply willing to gamble. pl

  47. turcopolier says:

    Among the Wahhabi styled jihad groups ar ethe al-Nusra Front and something I wrote on a while back called The Islamic State of Syria and the Levant. pl

  48. turcopolier says:

    Keane appears to have hypnotised himself into believing that more or less secular rebels would succeed to power. I don’t believe that. p l

  49. Fred says:

    He is certainly correct about “… extremely simplistic understanding of world affairs,”. Sadly I think he’s correct about the impending bloodbath too.

  50. kao_hsien-chih says:

    In some sense, Keane is right: Russians will not be able to really contest US mano a mano with conventional arms for, at least, another generation. If the Russians had “serious enough” military capability now, we would not be so gung ho in our adventurism. Nuclear arms are a different matter…but everyone seems convinced that nuclear arms will never be a factor between great powers. Such blase conviction bothers me, but let’s not get into that for the time being.
    The trouble is, even if Russia may not be quite so militarily capable, can they be ignored with impunity? Even if they can’t match US on completely even terms, can they make trouble, and if they do make trouble, can we afford to be so blase about “punishing” them for stepping out of line, confident that they will not be able to escalate to match us? This seems to be precisely the trap we might be headed into: we are willing to be reckless b/c Russians are weak. But precisely because we know Russians to be weak, we are liable to step over their “red line” recklessly, and if we do, really bad things might take place.

  51. VietnamVet says:

    Yes, Russia is the elephant in the room.
    The Sunni Jihadist rebellion is in retreat. Only an outside intervention will escalate the war. Removal of Assad can only occur if Hezbollah and Iran are taken down. A conventional air campaign will change nothing on the ground. This requires soldiers. August 1964 is being played out, all over again.
    In the end, the USA cannot invade Iran. A drive on Tehran will cause WWIII with Russia (the same scenario that played out with North Vietnam) not to mention the five divisions of Abrams tanks needed. The US can only defeat Hezbollah and Syrian Shiites with a million boots on the ground and with help from the IDF. Even before a Syrian invasion American soldiers are protesting on social media against fighting alongside Sunni Jihadists who eat enemy livers. Will they mutiny again? Will Congress start the Draft? Where in Syria will American troops get bogged down in a quagmire of a Sunni Shiite Holy War? How long can Israel survive if forced to reoccupy Lebanon and seizes more of Syria?
    This is all so crazy that it makes the Iraq invasion seem half way sane.

  52. Fred says:

    Keane (and the war hawks, to which I now include Obama) are being awful generous with other men’s lives.

  53. r whitman says:

    Can I assume that the point detectors outlined in Chapter 17 were used to develop the “signatures”?

  54. turcopolier says:

    IMO it is irrelevant that the US could win an air/sea action against Russia. what would happen after that? pl

  55. mbrenner says:

    We have been grappling with 2 questions.
    1. What exactly happened as to the use of chemical arms, who is responsible?
    2. What if anything should be done about it militarily?
    As I have understood sound policy analysis, preferences as to actions (and outcomes) should not color the appraisal of intelligence.
    It would ne nice to see someone who favors some sort of military action to acknowledge that the fixing of responsibility with certainty has not occurred.
    It also would ne nice to see someone who opposes military action to affirm that there is a good probability that Assad’s forces did use chemical arms.

  56. zanzibar says:

    The interview with Brzezinski is very good. A point that Pat has been making for some time – the “messianism” of our foreign policy “elites”.
    The question he raises in his first answer is rather interesting – why did BHO decide in 2011 that Assad had to go? What role did Petraeus play in influencing policy while assisting the Qataris & Saudis?
    “I can’t engage either in psychoanalysis or any kind of historical revisionism. He obviously has a difficult problem on his hands, and there is a mysterious aspect to all of this. Just consider the timing. In late 2011 there are outbreaks in Syria produced by a drought and abetted by two well-known autocracies in the Middle East: Qatar and Saudi Arabia. He all of a sudden announces that Assad has to go—without, apparently, any real preparation for making that happen.”
    Note his choice of words “..there is a mysterious aspect to all of this.”
    Brzezinski believes this will escalate into a much larger regional war. How long before Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq get caught up in the hostilities? How long before US ground troops are introduced into the civil war?
    What choices do Assad & Hizballah have when the first cruise missiles are launched? It would seem that if Assad is deposed it would be an existential threat for Hizballah.

  57. turcopolier says:

    I will acknowledge that there is a possibility that the Syrian Army did this, but IMO the case is not yet proven and I doubt thst it has been proven in more than a political sense to Congressional leadsership. pl

  58. Babak Makkinejad says:

    From the House of Commons:

  59. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Yes, that is an interesting question. Could it be our analysts are more afraid of what the Israelis may do if we don’t bomb than what the Russians may do if we do bomb?

  60. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Congress restart the draft? How would we pay for it were they to decide to do so? The tea partiers would have to be involved and that would make all their talk of concern for deficits to be nothng more than anti-Obama rubbish.

  61. turcopolier says:

    If you mean intelligence analysts, they don’t offer opinions like that. They answer questions. pl

  62. Anon1 says:

    Keane is being coy about Russian capabilities to hurt us (and our European friends). They can directly hurt us by cutting off our overland supply route to Afghanistan, though that’s becoming less relevant as we’re nearing total withdrawl in 2014. But it will be a major PITA as well as a critical vulnerability if we have to fly things into Bagram, and ship things through Karachi. Second thing they can do is to curtail natural gas delivery to Western Europe. Sure, it hurts the Russian plutocracy’s pocketbook, but if it’s in their national interest, they will do it. And finally, they can make good their delivery of the S-300s to Iran that we’ve been badgering them about for years.

  63. robt willmann says:

    Sec. Def. Hagel just said it, around 3:30 p.m. CDT, that the removal of Bashar al-Assad is still the policy of the administration.

  64. mbrenner says:

    I have just heard one “respondent” to the issue I posed: Dominique de Villepin on the BBC. He believes that there is a high probability that the Assad government did use chemical arms. He opposes air strikes, however. They, in his opinion, would further inflame sectarian passions inside Syria; they would aggravate shi’ite/sunni hostility across the region: they would close off the possibility of reaching a modus vivendi with Iran, and they would militate against an approach to Russia to participate in a collective diplomatic effort aimed at a) a short-tem cease-fire in place; and b) a longer term settlement entailing all parties acceptance of some sort of internal quasi-partition.
    He added that intervention on the side of rebels might have made sense a year and a half ago but not since given the rising influence of the salafists.
    I’m not certain that I have it all since I was in a state of shock to see a 30 minute interview of an articulate, informed public figure by an intelligent, informed interviewer uninterrupted by a Carnival Line commercial or a promo advertising the appearance of Miley Cyrus on some celebrity talk show.

  65. kao_hsien-chih says:

    Yes,that’s exactly what I meant by “really bad things.” It may be that, if Russians attempt a limited (conventional) intervention, it can be readily beaten back. But it is for this precise reason, as I understand it, that Russians have been ratcheting up the modernization of their nuclear forces. Surely, no one thinks our silly “missile shield” would be able to counter Russian “response” if they decide to get “serious.”

  66. Eliot says:

    “He added that intervention on the side of rebels might have made sense a year and a half ago but not since given the rising influence of the salafists.”
    That’s the problem, whatever you believe about the alleged attack, a strike undermines our interests in the region.

  67. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Interesting. Thanks.

  68. eakens says:

    And Kerry just said that they don’t have the technical means to perform a proper investigation, whereas we do based on what we’ve presented, plus what we have in “classified form”.
    So a web browser is beyond their means.
    He also said that this isn’t war and we’re not sending any military in, and not on senator jumped on him about that. In fact, if anything Kerry was showing a lot of disdain for even the most mild of questions.

  69. Tyler says:

    I remember how all the “experts” thought Georgia was going to wipe the floor with Russia, and we saw how that turned out.
    When was the last time the US fought a modern military? Do we still have our artillery and armor units performing infantry roles? How’s our pivot to a 4G style of warfare going to affect us?
    The US’s military power seems based on two factors: drones and commando raids. Talking to friends in the PBI makes it seem like training budgets have been slashed and the days of as much ammo as you can shoot are at an end.
    I think its easy for Keane to be blase about other people’s lives, but that’s the general corps for you nowadays.
    Are we going to war to defend Saudia Arabia again if Russia bombs them? So many questions, so much jingoism.

  70. robt willmann says:

    Icing on the cake ….
    Senator John McCain, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee having a hearing on whether to pass a law authorizing the U.S. military to launch an attack on Syria, is caught playing poker on his phone during the hearing–

  71. The beaver says:

    Mr Brenner
    FWIW: de Villepin used to be (or may be still is) a very good friend of Mme O, Nahed Ojjeh whose husband was a Saudi arms dealer and she sister of Manaf Tlass, the Syrian General who defected last year via Turkey (IIRC) and daughter of the former Defense Minister of Hafez Al-Assad

  72. Babak Makkinejad says:

    We have passed the point of no return for Geneva II; the war will continue.
    There are real problems of stability in Turkey with 10 to 20 million people being Alawites/Alevis.

  73. Fred says:

    All Nero had was a fiddle. But at least history shows he actually tried to help his people. A very sad commentary of the standard of leadership of a United States Senator.

  74. bth says:

    There are only two ground routes we can use into and more importantly out of Afghanistan. Pakistan controls one. Russia the other. That is power that Keane has forgotten.

  75. Fred says:

    They would pay for it by ending ‘entitlement’ programs.

  76. MRW says:

    They already have delivered the S-300 and are apparently thinking of rolling in a S-400. Can remember where I read that Syria has 72 Onyxes.

  77. MRW says:

    “Russians will not be able to really contest US mano a mano with conventional arms for, at least, another generation. If the Russians had “serious enough” military capability now, we would not be so gung ho in our adventurism.”
    What are you smoking? They have missiles we have no antidote for.
    I can’t get into Jane’s Defense Weekly to get the article I want that discusses how these weapons give our guys diarrhea. As the Colonel implied, Keane is a fool.

  78. MRW says:

    I blame the Israelis. Period.

  79. MRW says:

    “Syria ‘receives’ Russian S-300 air defense system,” May 30, 2013

  80. Tony Papert says:

    I strongly recommend Gareth Porter’s excellent long article of this morning, “How Intelligence was Twisted to Support an Attack on Syria”

  81. CTuttle says:

    My, my, quite the pickle, eh…?
    King Playstation fired four top Military Advisors…
    The four officers leaked information about a situation room, which was established by the Saudi Arabian defense minister, the CIA, and the Israeli intelligence agency the Mossad on Jordanian soil, the report said quoting a British diplomatic source.
    The officers are also accused of providing the Syrian army with certain information about the routes, which Saudi militants used while entering Syria to fight against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
    The senior military officers were advisers to the chairman of Jordan’s chiefs of staff and had strongly objected to Amman’s participation in a foreign-sponsored insurgency in Syria.

  82. joe brand says:

    Watching John McCain declare the rebels fighting the Assad regime to all be moderates — guaranteed! — and John Kerry insist that bombing Syria wouldn’t be an act of war, I feel deep despair at the quality of the American political class. This one goes so much deeper than the immediate problem.
    America: what went wrong?

  83. robt willmann says:

    Now version 2.0. The proposed “Syria Joint Resolution for Markup” that should get a failing grade from a mail order law school. However, since it has been generated by the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Senate ….
    Please have at hand your anti-nausea medication, or a pint of good whiskey, in order to be able to read it.
    For the soldiers (and other U.S. persons) who may end up risking their lives inside the borders of Syria, check this out–
    “Section 3. Limitation. The authority granted in section 2 does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Syria for the purpose of combat operations.”
    There are 7 separate parts to that sentence that does not limit as much as the sales talk would have you believe. Can you separate out the 7 parts? Do you know what each part means, and covers or does not cover?
    Never forget that written governmental law is mostly just vocabulary and definitions, and its creators and operators think they are being clever and cute when they play the game ….
    … but the game has real effects on real people.

  84. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Not a chance. The country would explode.

  85. confusedponderer says:

    I would be disinclined to gamble with the lives of a hundred million Americans only to stick it to Iran and Russia, but then, I probably don’t have Keane’s ego.
    The idea is apparently to start a staring contest, in the hope that Russia backs down before things get nasty.
    Lunacy. This is not Kindergarten or high school where the worst it will get you are a few bruises. Potentially this would be about thermonuclear war.

  86. confusedponderer says:

    Also, I am not sure whether they themselves intercepted this.
    However, iirc the German Navy had one SIGINT Vessel of the Oker class listening in in the eastern mediterranean.
    One of those probably is on station atm, I’d like to know what they intercepted, as they are probably closest.
    I have not heard of anything in this regard coming from the Verteidigungsministerium. Of course, BND staff may be operating from the vessel.

  87. Eliot says:

    The Israelis hit a depot storing the Yakhonts. Presumably they weren’t storing them all in one central location though. Presumably.
    To the best of my knowledge the Russians haven’t delivered the S-300 yet. According to RIA Novosti
    “The delivery, originally scheduled for spring 2013, has been pushed back to June 2014, Vedomosti business daily said, citing an annual report by the Moscow-based company Avangard, which manufactures rockets for S-300 systems.”

  88. Babak Makkinejad says:

    They never will; this is just their way of extracting something out of US; or so they hope.

  89. Babak Makkinejad says:

    This is not about Assad the man.
    It is about who would rule on whom within the zero-sum, winner-take-all politics of the Arab world.
    Let us say that Assad is removed today; do you think the war for and in Syria will end?
    Syrians killed Junbalat in Lebeanon, the war continued there anyway.
    Israelis have killed numerous Palestinian leaders and the war for Palestine has continued.

  90. The beaver says:

    This is a snippet of what Mr Brenner is saying:
    I will try to watch it this afternoon or else tomorrow

  91. Fred says:

    Sure it would. How’s the explosion in Detroit where benefits got cut 10-20% already? Obama’s top fund raiser is the EFM, he’s railroading pension holders into a nice fat cut in benefits. I doubt you’ll see any explosion from that either.

  92. Karim says:

    Luckily the Verfassungsschutz doesn’t have that problem. They know they are working for the NPD 🙂
    But you’re right about Merkel. She was delighted by the British parliament vote, it let her off the hook. It might have been difficult for her to repeat the Libya exercise: officially abstaining and secretly supplying intelligence, and some logistics if I recall.

  93. CK says:

    That whole 2008 Olympics, aggression by Georgia comes to mind doesn’t it. I believe McCain and Graham wanted the USA to go to war against evil Russia then.

  94. MRW says:

    I thought it was launchers they hit, begins with a B.

  95. Karim says:

    The Spiegel article mentioned the Oker, but “insiders” told the Spiegel that it can’t hear much from Damascus because of the mountains. It will, however, remain in place to provide assistance in a possible US attack.

  96. kao_hsien-chih says:

    Oh, I don’t doubt Russians have some very capable assets, but I do doubt they’ll be able to deploy enough of them to “win” in a “limited” engagement–which I figure is where people like Keane are coming from. If not a “limited” engagement, it’d be a full blown conventional war…which I imagine nobody “important” expects Russians will escalate to, but, if we are willing to risk a big mess over Syria which means nothing to us, why shouldn’t we expect Russians, who actually do have some (albeit not that much) skin in the game, to escalate in response? And if things get to that point, what’s to keep anyone from going nuclear if they feel necessary? That’s what I’m getting at.

  97. Walrus says:

    Zanzibar, the simplest explanation is that the Saudis have offered to make Obama personally rich beyond any dreams of avarice, same with UK politicians who have proved to not be averse to taking money.

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