Islamist jihadis capture Christian town in Syria


"Secretary of State John Kerry's public assertions that moderate Syrian opposition groups are growing in influence appear to be at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and nongovernmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements.
At congressional hearings this week, while making the case for President Barack Obama's plan for limited military action in Syria, Kerry asserted that the armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership, and more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution.
"And the opposition is getting stronger by the day," Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
U.S. and allied intelligence sources and private experts on the Syrian conflict suggest that assessment is optimistic.
While the radical Islamists among the rebels may not be numerically superior to more moderate fighters, they say, Islamist groups like the al Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front are better organized, armed and trained.
"  Reuters


In Kerryland, the Syrian rebels are brave, clean, loyal, tolerant.  Altogether they are in his world a lot like Boy Scouts.  Like the Boy Scouts they are homophobic and do not want women in their "ranks."  They shoot PWs in the back.  They burn churches much as their "brethren" in Egypt do.  The jihadis in Syria freely express their intention to abolish the state of Syria and create an Islamic emirate that would be a stepping stone toward their goal of creating a larger and more unified umma under Wahhabi, Sunni rule.  pl


"Christians make up roughly 10% of the population. Syria is ruled by a government dominated by Alawites, whose faith is an offshoot of Shiism. The regime is opposed by an opposition with a large Sunni presence.
Aid agencies say Syria's 2 million Christians are often targeted for suspected sympathies to President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Two top bishops have been kidnapped; a well-known priest is missing.
Antoinette Nassrallah, the Christian owner of a cafe in Maaloula, told CNN last year she had seen government TV images depicting radical Muslim attacks on Christians. She said she has heard about such violence in Aleppo.
"For now in our area here it's fine," she said last year. "But what I heard, in Aleppo, they are killing, destroying many of churches — very, very old churches."
Many of Syria's Christians have fled to Lebanon where they shelter in monasteries."  CNN


The present Syrian government is the protector of religious minorities.  If you pray, pray for the people of Maaloula.  pl

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94 Responses to Islamist jihadis capture Christian town in Syria

  1. b says:

    Kerry based his claim of little al-Qaeda relevance on an OpEd in the WSJ. That OpEd was written by an adviser to the Syrian opposition who is paid by the U.S. government.
    There is more shady stuff about the Syrian opposition lobby in Washington

  2. mo says:
    Seems the Syrian Army have taken Malloula back but the rebels continue to occupy the higher ground surrounding it

  3. Babak Makkinejad says:

    “The present Syrian government is the protector of religious minorities.”
    and by implication, so is the Islamic Republic of Iran.

  4. JohnH says:

    I wrote a letter to the editor about Maaloula last week:
    This week I read with sadness of events in Maaloula, Syria.
    When I visited Maaloula three years ago, it was one of only three places in Syria where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, was still spoken. What I found was an isolated small town nestled in a narrow valley barely one hundred yards wide. A few thousand people, Muslim and Christian, lived side by side there.
    Maaloula is home to some of the oldest Christian churches and shrines in Syria. One of the shrines is a monastery containing the body of St. Takla, a pupil of St. Paul. Legend has it that she and her band of Christians were able to escape pursuit by Roman legions, when a gap magically appeared in the cliff that forms a wall on the west side of the town.
    This week the community was again under siege, this time by Saudi supported rebels, who have conducted massacres in other towns, where residents do not share their beliefs. To my knowledge the US has not condemned these massacres.
    While I hold Maaloula in my thoughts, I hope and pray that my government will promote peace and reconciliation, not instigate military action which will only lead to more bloodshed and chaos.

  5. While I consider myself a believer in Christ I am not a religious person. But given USA history should we as a Nation be granting open asylum to Christians from the MENA?

  6. Booby says:

    Maaloula and it’s Christian citizens will need lots of prayers. Maalooula sits on a road connecting the hiways from Aleppo to Lebanon & Aleppo to Damascus. Retaking it will pose an interesting dilemma for the Syrian Army. It is probably difficult for them to mass forces in the face of pending US action. If they do attempt to retake the town any use of supporting arms will result in a propaganda victory to the el Nursa forces. It’ll be a rehash of, “We had to destroy the village to save it.”
    The CNN clip referenced was interesting. The shots of the Christian refugees in Lebanon were of women, children & old men. I saw no military aged males.
    I pray that the US does not become Al Queda’s Air Force & Navy.

  7. jonst says:

    This was an extremely smooth propaganda operation on display this Sun morning. And it will be on display in full blown intensity the next two days. Mesmerizing in its deception and cheap, dirty shirt lawyer, opening statement type rhetoric. All across the board. Only C-Span, with old school, Ambassador Djerejian, bucked the pernicious trend.
    The way they kept saying, over and over again, the Congress will get shown the video of the immediate aftermath of some type of chemical attack, and this–almost alone–would make them change their votes. And no one, not one person, said, or hinted out, ‘well, what–tragic and gruesome as it obviously is– has this got to do with who did this or what should be the US response to it. It is a cheap–albeit effective–appeal to emotion and nothing else’. Nobody said that…I have this image of Congress types subjected to repeated viewings of the images…not let out till they change their votes. And they will change their votes. I believe Obama will get it his vote. I fervently hope it will taste as bad as I suspect it will. It will be ill gotten gain to steam roll the American people one more time.
    Yes, if you believe in such things, say prayers for the town of Maaloula…but save a few for our Republic…and for the lost of critical thinking in it. We’re run by a bunch of David Axelrod and Karl Rove types, commanding armies of nerds. Who give an F about little other than who lets them play with the shiniest tech toys.

  8. The Twisted Genius says:

    This seriously imperfect Catholic did his best to add his prayers throughout the day to join Pope Francis in his vigil for peace yesterday.

  9. turcopolier says:

    jonst et al
    One of the most worrisome sights was that of Zakariyah’s panel. This included Wesley Clark, Wolfowicz, Nicholas Burns and James Steinberg. They wanted decisive action to weaken Assad and bring on a rebel victory. clark said that IHO a naval exclusion zone would have to be declared by the US and the Russians warned out of it. Madness. pl

  10. Maureen Lang says:

    I didn’t see this particular panel, but hell’s bells…Wolfowitz? Must the talking heads drag from their holes ALL the Bushites to give Obama/Kerry an “attaboy, go for it?”

  11. Tyler says:

    You’d think so wouldn’t you, at least that would take precedent over Chechen and Somali Muslims? But that would be in a country that isn’t schizophrenic.
    Remember, the US is deferring deportations for aggravated felons and rapists, but they’re damned focused on deporting a German family who is claiming asylum.

  12. oofda says:

    If Zakariya has to rely on people like Wolfowicz to make his case, then it is lost cause. I suppose he will have Tommy Franks on next to describe how to make a successful mission.

  13. Tyler says:

    This is really just par for the course since Serbia. Muslims and Christians killing each other, and who do we bomb? The Christians.
    Hussein was surprisingly tolerant of Christians and their communities, and now look at where they are? All those ancient communities, scattered to the winds.
    I don’t think I need to point out how Egypt is going, and that pretend Catholic Kerry simply does not care about what the fallout will be. As I said before, I’m sure its just a coincidence that the architechs of all this Middle East madness in the US happen to be jews or heavily influenced by the jews.

  14. jonst says:

    Col, that mock exercise with Burns Wolfowicz, Clark, and Steinberg sent me into depression. Sorry to be so concerned with my feelings…but watching that, after the earlier shows, just sunk me. What I would have given to see ONE PERSON, ONE…that signed your petition on TV this AM. But no….no one from your group…and no one like the people that signed the petition. I mean I just don’t know what to say anymore….
    Madness is right. Madness.

  15. turcopolier says:

    Nicholas Burns is a Knight of Malta. He is another “pretend Catholic” who is about to wage aggressive war. pl

  16. turcopolier says:

    The unanimity of the media in backing the war forces is impressive across the networks. they would never ask any of us. That would interfere with propagation of the narrative. Wolfowitz! My God! This is the man who admitted that the bushies lied the US int owar with Iraq. frank Sesno on his show today referred to anyone who did not accept the government’s version of events as a “conspiracy theorist.” 1984 is here. pl

  17. Tyler says:

    Matthew 6:24 I believe – “You cannot serve G-d and mammon.”
    If the Church brought back excommunication I would be pretty happy. It makes a mockery out of everything these orders and honors have stood for throughout history when they’re treated as lines on a resume and not a sacred duty.

  18. The beaver says:

    Did McDonough announce that the Congress vote is really a vote on Iran?
    I didn’t watch the talking heads this morning .

  19. kao_hsien-chih says:

    So, I guess Clark badly wants that World War III that he was denied in former Yugoslavia after all. These are madmen!

  20. kao_hsien-chih says:

    I’m probably taking the analogy to too much of extreme, but Adolf Hitler was, at least nominally, a Catholic.
    In fact, one little known episode before World War II, before Anschluss took place and when Mussolini was still thinking about resisting Hitler (that was before Britain and France sold him out over Austria, which, unfortunately for Mussolini, happened to coincide over his misguided adventure in Ethiopia, and basically left Mussolini no choice but to cast his lot with Hitler instead.), is that Mussolini urged the Pope to excommunicate Hitler to at least show moral disapproval of his actions. Doubtful if that would have changed much, but I still wonder about that sometimes.

  21. walter says:

    Did any of you hear the NPR Morning Edition report by Renee Montagne where she interviewed Elizabeth O’Baggy of the Institute for the Study of War. Ms. O’Baggy’s opinion is that the moderate rebels are the real fighting force in FSA and that USA should help them militarilty. I went down and read the comments section to get the real story, which I got…..and confirmed by a visit to the ISW website and poked around until I got to the “supporters” section of the website and here are the ISW’s supporters: General Dynamics, Northrup Grummon, Palantir, Raytheon, CACI, Dyncorp, Critical Solutions. Every one a defense contractor.
    So NPR has fallen and joined the propaganda machine. I am well on my way to dropping out of this society and becoming a farmer, out of dejection. I feel overwhelmed by the force of dishonesty and greed in this society.

  22. elev8 says:

    As much as I learn about the Mideast here I seem to see called into question what I thought I knew about the US.
    O.k., let me try to ask a question. First, I don’t think the narcissism of important actors is relevant here. Sure, one can contrast them against an Eisenhower-type personality, but a historical figure like Churchill clearly was a narcissist, too. Second, the issue of messianism. That’s certainly a pervasive element in the culture. I wonder, though, why Reuters could run a story about the divide in Congress on Syria being one between young and old lawmakers on both sides of the political fence. Messianism doesn’t require experience, but acquiescence to the warmongering crowd’s political recipes apparently does (for some rather unsavory values of “experience”, that is). There are attitudes in evidence here that are acquired and transmitted in the process of adapting to and being co-opted into a pre-existing policy-making and media establishment.
    Ultimately, that leaves the “dumbing-down of the culture” as an explanation. Which has a ring of finality to it rather than seeming like a problem for which there is a solution that could – assuming determination and thoroughness – be implemented.
    Guess I talked myself out of having a question.

  23. turcopolier says:

    What you do not understand is the unwillingness of most Americans to admit what they are. pl

  24. turcopolier says:

    I think it a bit much to claim that Hitler was a Catholic just because he had been baptised. pl

  25. All,
    Propaganda can cease to work. Conventional wisdoms collapse, and can do very suddenly. Sometimes the erosion of their foundations is a process which goes on over a very protracted period, and most people continue to assume that they are impregnable until, all of a sudden, it becomes clear that not very many people believe in them any more.
    The collapse can be triggered by events which may in part be fortuitous, and also by a message being vigorously articulated by committed leaders, which earlier had seemed off-the-wall to many, but then quite rapidly comes to seem to match the mood of the moment.
    The ideological disintegration of the Soviet system – which passed largely unnoticed or was totally misinterpreted in most Western intelligence analysis – is one case in point.
    The very rapid collapse of the power of the British trade union movement is another. A groundswell of frustration with the stranglehold the unions had on British society, even among some traditional Labour loyalists (such as myself) had been developing for a very long time – since the mid to late Sixties, in fact.
    At the end of the Seventies and beginning of the Eighties, the coming together of the near-anarchy created by the unions in the so-called ‘Winter of Discontent’, Thatcher’s populism, and her – largely accidental – victory in the Falklands War precipitated a total collapse in the political position of the union movement.
    It seems increasingly likely that the attempt by Cameron and Hague to use sentimental propaganda to inveigle us into following your country’s leaders into a third fatuous war in the Islamic world has precipitated a similar catalytic moment.
    Elements of this I find profoundly reassuring, other elements alarming. But if any British politician attempted to talk the nonsense that Kerry has been talking about the ‘moderation’ of the Syrian opposition they would encounter a monumental ‘raspberry’ from the people they have traditionally counted on to be their most loyal supporters. Likewise, it is not clear to me that even the most conformist of BBC television producers would select a discussion panel featuring Clark, Wolfowitz, Burns and Steinberg with no opposing voices. Cowardly opportunists do sometimes develop ‘antennae’ about the way that public opinion is changing.
    Is the situation really so different in your country, from how I think it is in mine?

  26. kao_hsien-chih says:

    Well, the premise was simply that it would have been “theoretically” possible for the Pope to excommunicate Hitler, had he chosen to. It is true that, if anything, Hitler was, in his beliefs and actions, deeply hostile to Catholic faith.

  27. Charles I says:

    I heard on the news your last phrase has been tweeted by military personnel, now part of the debate

  28. Charles I says:

    Dan Senor was on one of the three tv shows as I browsed back and forth advocating the same, general acknowledgement that a limited punishment strike really pointless, and specifically pointing out that this is all about credibility with Iran when it comes time to attack them, American impotence, etc.
    I can’t recall which wag in particular recommended a strike destroying all Assad’s
    CW stocks and capacity, which however fanciful at least bore on the alleged issue.

  29. VietnamVet says:

    It is incredibly depressing to have, in my lifetime, to hear the Drums of War for Vietnam, Gulf War I, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Syria. Each war was a failure. What is worse is that this time the powers to be did not even bother to try to give us a reasonable rationale for the war. In Syria we will be literally fighting on the side of evil. We will be providing air support for America’s sworn enemy, Sunni Jihadists. The Syrian war will metastasize. The collapse of the World Economy and World War III with Russia are a real possibilities as this war drives towards Tehran.
    The only explanation that I can come up with is that Corporatists have seized control of Washington DC. We no longer live in a democracy.

  30. elev8,
    About Churchill, you are quite precisely wrong. Very much can be said against him – I can see a case could be made that he was an egomaniac, and certainly he made his full share of mistakes – but by virtue not simply of his temperament but also his background, he could not be a narcissist.
    Among the things which most mattered to Churchill was his family. So on his father’s side, he was the son of the ‘Tory Democrat’ politician Lord Randolph Churchill, and a descendant of one of the greatest of British generals, John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, whose biography he wrote.
    His mother was of course Jennie Jerome, born in Brooklyn –a very remarkable and seriously bizarre lady – and there was a very great deal of the ‘Jerome’ in Winston.
    One effect of this is that Winston’s whole sense of self was bound up with a vision of British history – and also, American history. He could not be true to his vision of himself, without being true to a vision of something larger than himself. Indeed I think it is probably not inappropriate to say that one of the reasons some of the ‘appeasers’ were so afraid of Churchill was that they thought he would have been not so very unhappy to go down in a last-ditch stand against an invading German army in 10 Downing Street. The machine gun in the famous photo was not simply for ornament.
    Another effect of both of his history and his personality, which absolutely differentiates Churchill from Obama, was that he was quite happy to have as his advisers people who had capacities he lacked, or had capacities he possessed to a much greater extent than he had himself. The crucial successes of British intelligence in the twentieth century largely go back to two figures whom Churchill had working for him when he was First Lord of the Admiralty in 1914 – the Director of Naval Intelligence, Reginald ‘Blinker’ Hall, and the Director of Naval Education, the Scots engineer and physicist Alfred Ewing.
    As someone I knew quite well who was in a position to judge remarked, Churchill never felt threatened by having people who might have been accounted much abler than he was working for him – after all, he was a descendant of John Churchill, and they weren’t. By contrast, Obama appears to surround himself with people who will not threaten his sense of himself – which rules out people of the kind of ability and independence of mind displayed by ‘Blinker’ Hall and Ewing.
    And (irony alert) had Churchill been trying to work out what was the least worst option in regard to Syria, it is not entirely impossible to imagine that he might have been just slightly sceptical of the views of someone with the background of Samantha Power. Indeed, it is just possible that Churchill might not have been totally convinced that Wesley Clark, or Paul Wolfowitz, or Nicholas Burns, or James Steinberg, were reliable sources of expertise about anything.
    It is even conceivable that Churchill’s background and experience might have inclined him to pay some attention to the views of an erstwhile special forces officer, who combined a rather diverse experience of military operations with knowledge of Arabic and the the history of the Middle East. (Irony alert again.)

  31. johnf says:

    I’d draw the parallel with the Norway Debate.
    For years anti-appeasers had been tearing their hair out at the policy and its stupidity but, defended by a subservient press, a massive parliamentary majority, and an incredibly clever and brutal political fixer and press secretary, Joseph Ball, Chamberlain had seemed impregnable.
    Then very quickly, the press, the arguments seemed to loose their potency. The brilliantly and ruthlessly executed Bridgwater by-election of November 1938, fortuitously coinciding with Kristillnacht, Hitler’s full invasion of Czechoslovakia, and finally Chamberlain’s half-hearted declaration of war, all put the writing on the wall.
    But the final toppling came in the bizarrest, almost Keystone Cops events of the Norway debate in May 1940. Just as Miliband doesn’t seemed to have intended to set this whole chain of Western parliamentary events in motion, so Churchill was the man most responsible for the fiasco of the Norway campaign, but ended up after two days as Prime Minister.
    Suddenly, after years of obfuscation of the true facts and the inability to hold an honest, open debate, the whole nation turned on a penny and set off on a completely opposite, and coherent course.

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  33. kao_hsien-chih says:

    I remember the story about Alan Brooke (one of the posters here reminded me of that–was it confusedponderer or walrus?) and Churchill. Brooke, supposedly, despised about 75% of Churchill and loved 25% of him, and they disagreed all the time, supposedly so that, if they agreed, he would not be doing his job. As a general rule, I don’t think people should have as advisors those whom you agree with, ever: there’s nothing you can learn from them. Alas, that’s not the way things work nowadays, not just with top political leaders, but also with the general public (who too often opt to listen only to the talking heads whom they agree with)

  34. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    A possible item to support your hypothesis: the Guardian is quoting ‘German sources’ cannot confirm Assad was behind the attacks.
    I am not qualified to assess the accuracy of any of this information, but I don’t recall any EU government coming out in this public way in 2002.
    It may be worth noting that back during the Arab Spring, the Guardian had a toggle that enabled readers of its online pages to select English or Arabic. (I think the NYT may have done something similar.) These sorts of innovations surely change the culture of the readership.
    Also, my recollection is that Al Jazeera had a very difficult time trying to get any sort of foothold in US cable markets until 2012; along came the Arab Spring, and a number of people that I know were suddenly streaming Al Jazeera on their computers during work hours – partly because it was convenient, partly because they need a global perspective for their work, and also because they couldn’t get it on their tv’s.
    In addition, blogs have blossomed (or at least, the good ones have) since 2003, partly as a response to public fury over Iraq. Consequently, in 2013, any reasonably inquiring mind with a computer or a smartphone has access to a broader set of information than was available in 2003.
    What this means for the larger outcome, I have no idea.
    But at this point, Cameron and Kerry appear to want to evoke Churchill and Acheson. But they bring to mind that statement attributed to Marx (Karl, not Groucho): “History repeats itself; the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”
    If we have reached the ‘farce’ phase (and I fear we have), then I suspect the dynamics you describe for deep shifts in public opinion are not too far off. Here’s hoping.

  35. CK says:

    Why is Hitler relevant to any of this discussion?
    He and his have been dead since 1945 — 68 years now. His philosophy managed to destroy itself in less than 15 years; much shorter than the equally bankrupt philosophy of Marx and Lenin. His nominal religion has bupkis to do with anything. His use or nonuse of chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, biological weapons likewise.

  36. CK says:

    One could look at who owns the 6 major media outlets, who programs the talking head/opinion enforcer appearances on those outlets, who edits the tapes; one could indulge in Who whom and then ask Is it good for which nation of the dual nationals involved.
    Or one could talk about Adolph and the 40’s as if they were the only relevant thing in the whole world.

  37. joe brand says:

    Question for people who have more military experience than I do: What is the likelihood that a limited set of air and cruise missile attacks on Syria, telegraphed in advance, will destroy a collection of Quaker guns and leave the real power of the Syrian military untouched? As I understand it, the bombing campaign against the Serbs blew up a lot of plywood “tanks.” Can that happen again?

  38. kao_hsien-chih says:

    NPR has always been part of the interventionist propaganda machine, provided that the cause is “worth it,” meaning that it is backed by people whom they like.
    The lack of integrity of our political class in general (including the media talking heads) is astonishing.

  39. Ingolf says:

    Yes indeed., I’m still mystified that Obama & co are willing to bet so much on so little, and with so much downside. Americans may not yet be primed for such a “catalytic moment” but the widespread resistance to this latest adventure suggests the day when they are mightn’t be that far off.

  40. bth says:

    Col. it is approaching 10 years this next month since my son was killed in Iraq. He was 20 and next week will be his 30th birthday. I was corresponding with one of his army friends from the 173rd. He is about 30 too. It dawned on me that this buddy has spent his entire adult life at war. We cannot do this again.

  41. bth says:

    Col., I was wondering if you had seen the interview with Andrew Bacevich?

  42. Walrus says:

    Thank you for your first hand account of the town JohnH, let us hope that the people and town are under divine protection.

  43. Walrus says:

    Churchill had fought in Three wars or campaigns and reported on a fourth before he held the levers of power.
    Australian radio is repeating the WH Chief of staff sound bite at congress: ” you are asked to decide if there should be consequences for Assads use of chemical weapons”. rubbish.

  44. kao_hsien-chih says:

    Guilty as charged! But I’m easily distracted….

  45. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You are underestimating the fact that the English public was reluctant to go to war – Chamberlain was really carrying out what the English people wanted.
    Furthermore, the UK leaders were interested in the war that would pit Germany against USSR – they were not going to go fight Germany when she was supposed to be their champion against the Red Menace.
    Except that no one had informed Germany of that.
    Their machinations came back and bit them in their collective asses; it seems to me.

  46. turcopolier says:

    Sir, please accept my deepest sympathy. My generation went through something similar and I have tried since then to prevent us from doing such things to ourselves. pl

  47. Tyler says:

    Are you trying to say the jews are trying to twist the knife because of Hitler’s nominal Catholocism?

  48. Tyler says:

    NPR has always been about globalist neoliberalism, friend. A farmer is an honest occupation though. Nothing wrong with it.

  49. Tyler says:

    Always a pleasure when you display your knowledge, Mr. Habakkuk. Your anaylsis is a great boon in understanding history.

  50. Yours Truly says:

    Sir, you have my deepest sympathies…

  51. Stephanie says:

    “John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, whose biography he wrote.”
    A marvelous volume. (As with Douglas Southall Freeman’s biography of Lee, it’s important to read the unabridged version to get the true flavor of the book.)

  52. Poul says:

    Apparently the attack is part of campaign of revenge for the alleged gas attack.
    “Some have suggested that taking the town was needed in order to link to opposition resistance efforts in the nearby Qalamoon region. Jabhat al-Nusra’s official account, however, referred to the attack as part of the “Eye-for-an-Eye” revenge campaign, initially declared after the chemical weapons attacks in the Ghouta.”

  53. Medicine Man says:

    I’ll say a prayer for them, Col., for what its worth from a befuddled agnostic like me.
    Thank you for your efforts.

  54. kao_hsien-chih says:

    Sir, you have my deepest sympathies. Let us keep working for the day when our political leaders are not so careless with the lives of our young people.

  55. kao_hsien-chih says:

    Naw… I was thinking about practicality of excommunication threats as a potential diplomatic force in the modern world, when the warmongers are “nominally” Catholic. Even if the potentially excommunicated leader is not really much of a Catholic, it might have made it difficult for largely Catholic populations to deal with them as if nothing took place (during World War II, had Pope Pius XII excommunicated Hitler for his warmongering ways, could Hungarians, Slovaks, Croats, and Italians, for examples, have been so friendly with Hitler?) On the other hand, if Pope Francis were to threaten to excommunicate, say, Kerry today, would anybody even care?

  56. johnf says:

    I’d certainly agree that up until the Munich Agreement a majority of the British people were in favour of appeasement. But this was only possible because of a massive press campaign by Joseph Ball, Chamberlain’s press secretary. and the newspaper proprietors, to back Chamberlain and successfully suppress many of the true facts of Nazi Germany.
    The turning point was the Bridgwater Bye Election. Bridgwater is a remote rural constituency. Following some Machiavellian plotting by anti-appeasement activists, a bye election was provoked and, rather than what had happened traditionally, the anti-appeasement vote being split between Liberals, Labour and Communists – all three stood down their candidates and stood behind a single non-partisan Popular Front candidate. The many anti-appeasement Tories voted for him, too.
    It is probably unique in British history in being a bye election fought almost entirely on foreign policy. (George Galloway’s victory in Bradford recently is similar). The level of popular involvement in canvassing and getting out the vote is also extraordinary – all classes, all political parties being involved.
    It marked the beginning of the end of Chamberlain.,_1938

  57. Eakiens says:

    Every single member of congress has either admitted to or will not deny if asked, that their phones are ringing off the hook with constituents which are vehemently opposed to military action in Syria.
    Yet, despite this, many of them simply ignore this fact, while others such as Feinstein insist that those opposed to a military engagement would reverse their feelings, “if they only knew what she did”.
    Obama and his rat pack of warmongering profiteers insist we must act on Syria because our credibility is at stake. The tragedy is that our entire system will have suffered a catastrophic failure if they are permitted to proceed with impunity.

  58. confusedponderer says:

    Andrew Bacewich when asked by a listener at Boston university on when the use of force by the united states is justified @56 min on:
    “I think as a general rule … I would be reluctant, as a matter of policy, to specify one, two, six, nine criteria that somehow would be the gates that you have to pass through in order to to use force.”
    Point is, that us precisely what Obama did when he had his arbitrary line drawn – people like Kerry, and powers and Rice and Bandar walked through the gates. With such policy, war becomes a mere reflex. The stupidity here is that the red line indeed limits Obama freedom of manoeuvre to avoid war. War as reflex was one of the things that caused WW-I.
    Bacewich continues: My general approach would be to advocate using force only as a last resort.
    Contrast that with Madeleine ‘It’s worth it’ Albright when she reportedly said to Colin Powell: ‘What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?’
    Use of force today is for DC (and the Israelis for that matter) a tool of choice, a quick fix. Call it the ‘morning after pill’ of international politics.
    The cheerful enthusiasm for using force aside, it unmasks clearly that the illusions about the efficacy of using force are prevalent in DC at the very least since Clinton. The ever more frequent use of force indicates that a reassessment hasn’t yet started.
    This time the ‘surgical’ use of force is to fix yet another political problem in Damascus – a regime supporting the hated enemy Iran. There is nothing surgical about the blast radius of a tomahawk warhead.
    The more I read of and listen to Bacewich, the more impressed I become. Here’s a treasure.

  59. Walrus says:

    Latest spin words heard in Australia from the WH: “this is a precisely targeted, limited, consequential action”.
    What happens when Iran, Syria, Russia and China also engage in “precisely targeted, limited, consequential” actions in response? If they do, I hope they use exactly the same words in justification? Is there nobody in Washington who understands The Golden Rule?

  60. Eliot says:

    Do we know what we are though? How do you understand your own assumptions unless you’re exposed to something else, some alien way of thinking?

  61. CTuttle says:

    This Minority Report article… Syrian Children Kidnapped By Rebels Identified As Gas Victims By Obama Administration (Video)
    Certainly jibes alot with Mother Agnes’ account…

  62. turcopolier says:

    Freeman’s prose is much underapprecieated. “Lee’s Lieutenants” is a marvelous book as well. pl

  63. Pat Lang,
    I concur with your comment on “Lee’s Lieutenants”. The ultimate account of the rise, reign, decline and end of the Army of Northern Virginia.
    As I see it, Zakaria’s somewhat bizarre panel was not tasked with exploring the merits of the administration’s policy but, rather, to discuss how to carry it out, given the participants’ “been there, done something like that” CVs.
    One of the group posed the dilemma as being that of two choices, support the insurgents or do nothing. Supporting the Syrian government has never been and will never be mentioned but it would have been my choice from the start.

  64. Tyler says:

    I think it makes a mockery out of everything when Pelosi, Biden, et al support abortion with every fiber in their body and then get up to take Communion.
    It certainly would put some starch back into the faith versus Cardinal Dolan exhorting the priests to badger the layity about supporting the amnesty treason. The Catholic Church in America has been justifying taking money from the government for so long it has become an organ of that same government that is now hostile to it.
    Watching it twist itself into knots in order to justify its actions in order to keep the cash flowing is pretty sad.

  65. Charles says:

    Tariq Aziz, Hussien’s former deputy, is a Christian.

  66. Charles I says:

    and adopted by the Rusian Ambassador to Canada as well.

  67. Charles I says:

    If the word “credibility” was uttered Sunday, it was about Iran implicitly or explicitly

  68. Charles says:

    At some point in my distant youth, I read a collection of articles written by men recounting their war experiences. One that I particularly liked was Winston Churchill’s account of his participation in the last great cavalry charge.
    “Using his mother’s influence, Churchill got himself assigned to Kitchener’s army in Egypt. While fighting against the Dervishes he took part in the last great cavalry charge in English history – at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898.”
    I believe that the collection was “Men at War”, compiled by Ernest Hemingway:
    I thought that when Time Magazine choose their Man of the Century that it would surely be Winston Churchill. I was wrong.

  69. Charles I says:

    I have also read it alleged, in a cite that I
    I can’t find just now that he was involved in gassing tribal enemies of the nascent House of al-
    Saud in the 1920’s.
    “I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes.”
    Writing as president of the Air Council, 1919.

  70. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thnak you, I did not know that.

  71. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Your last sentence has a useful suggestion but is not going far enough, in my opinion.
    I think what is needed is an international Peace/Cease Fire conference covering the entire Middle East – including Palestine, Levant, Kurds, Afghanistan.

  72. confusedponderer says:

    He recommended it, but to the best of my knowledge it was never carried out because ordinary air power proved to be amply devastating against tribal irregulars.
    The only instance I know where gas was used against tribal rebels was in Spain’s war against the Riffian tribes in thetime immediately after WW-I.
    The Italians used gas in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War.

  73. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    More from Andrew Bacewich in this post from TomDispatch:
    It is to be recalled – sadly – that Mr. Bacewich, like bth, lost a son in the conflict in Iraq. War fever, conjured up yet again using all the propagandistic tricks we have seen before, has lost all credibility with Mr. Bacewich; he sees it clearly for what it is, and dares to name it. What next? Are we to be treated to Jenkins’ ear, pickled in a jar, as a pretext for war?
    I would like to be able to pay no attention to the MSM, but revolting a spectacle as it may be to see all of the old neo-con warhorses being limped out to blather their arguments in favor of the therapeutic value of war – you know, lancing some purported boil or some such image – I am constrained to view this dismaying panoply as a weather vane pointing toward the corrupted state of the Republic’s political discourse. Or rather, it’s lack of political discourse, since the cards are all stacked against a clear-eyed assessment of the true national interest, as Mr. Bacewich laments in his post linked above.
    I can only hope that Mr. Habakkukk’s sense that a moment of turning away from the old received “wisdom” is at hand comes to pass here in the US. The auspices are not favorable, I fear, as the dead hand of the Washington Consensus still grasps the tiller of the Ship of State. We may need to endure one more disaster before the moment arrives in this Republic.

  74. kao_hsien_chih says:

    My understanding is that Churchill brought possible use of gas warfare up again during World War II. He was persuaded out of it because his generals told him that Britain didn’t have practical means of delivering gas bombs to German cities effectively (and a good thing too, since Germany had developed nerve gas during 1930s, which probably would have been used in retaliation.)

  75. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Of course nobody understands the old Golden Rule in Washington. As far as Washingtonians are concerned, we are vice-gerents of God, or supreme human morality, or whatever it is that they believe gave them the power to decide what’s right. How dare these foreign moral savages talk back to us?

  76. Babak Makkinejad,
    The account of the way British public opinion changed by johnf is very much to the point.
    As to Chamberlain, it is critical to remember that like so many at the time, he was haunted by 1914.
    Ironically, he and other leading supporters of ‘appeasement’ were very well aware of the element of instability in Hitler’s personality. It was in part because of this awareness that what preoccupied them intensely was precisely the kind of scenario about which political leaders in Washington and London are now so insouciant – one of a process of escalation running out of control, as was thought to have happened in the lead-up to the First World War.
    Precisely because Hitler was nationalist, they assumed, the agenda about which he was really concerned was the bringing together of ethnic Germans in a Greater German Reich, and one could take his professions of implacable opposition to Soviet international socialism at face value.
    Accordingly, Chamberlain and those who thought like him concluded that the political problem was to manage a political leader and movement, some of whose dangerous potentialities they recognised, so as to produce a new European settlement without another war – a war they thought Stalin was attempting to engineer.
    The German occupation of the rump of Czechoslovaka in March 1939 called the first of their central premises radically into question. Encouraged by among others the Polish leader Colonel Beck, however, Chamberlain continued to believe that seeking active collaboration with the Soviet Union would be more likely to encourage Hitler to attack Poland rather than to deter him.
    It is also here however important to remember that Chamberlain was attempting to combine ‘appeasement’ with ‘deterrence’. It was possible for him to imagine that an unstable and erratic Hitler would create ‘faits accompli’ if he thought he could get away with it. It was very difficult for him, and many others in Britain at the time, to imagine that he would risk an all-out war with the British Empire.
    In the event, Hitler had an obvious counter-move, which Beck and Chamberlain ought to have foreseen – to seek an agreement with the Soviet Union.
    Moreover, Chamberlain and his advisers failed to grasp the fact that, for all kinds of reasons, Stalin was liable to conclude that coming to terms with Hitler made better sense than the available alternatives.
    What – unsurprisingly – neither Hitler nor indeed Stalin understood was that over the months since Munich, the centre of gravity of British opinion had shifted, so a belief that war could be and had to be avoided had been replaced by a resigned acceptance that it was inevitable and had to be fought.
    Both, for different reasons and in different ways, failed to understand the process which johnf describes: the decisive movement of British opinion against ‘appeasement’.
    Some points in conclusion. Contrary to what is often assumed, ‘appeasement’ was not the product of simply stupidity or naivety. Indeed, a case that can be made that, with almost any other German leader than Hitler, it would probably have worked. Certainly, in September 1939, neither Goebbels nor Goering were enthusiastic about risking war with the British Empire by attacking Poland. In a fundamental sense, the old-fashioned description of the conflict as ‘Hitler’s War’ is accurate.
    Insofar as others can be held to be responsible, however, three things can be said. One is that a non-neglible share of the blame can be laid at the door of Polish nationalists – who often suffer from a Russophobia which is eminently understandable, but sometimes a danger to themselves and others.
    Another is that a fundamental British mistake was in failing to try to see the world through Russian/Soviet eyes: the fact that doing so involved trying to get into the mind of a murderous Machiavellian mobster like Stalin should not be regarded as an excuse.
    A third is that, whatever blame may be attached that Machiavellian mobster, it does not relate to the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Given the options that the British had given the Soviets, it seems to me that making terms with the Germans was by far their least worst option.
    In conclusion, one might perhaps suggest that it is the true heirs of Neville Chamberlain who are in power in Washington, as in London. They make no attempt whatsoever to gauge how their actions are likely to be interpreted either by the Syrian regime, or the Iranian, or the Russian, or the Chinese.
    Equally, they are as incapable as Chamberlain was in 1939 of making difficult decisions about priorities. The grotesque overestimates of the threat from Iran and his allies today might be compared to the grotesque overestimates of the threat from the Soviet Union then. Likewise, the grotesque underestimate of the threat posed by Saudi-sponsored Islamists today might be compared to the ludicrously complacent view of National Socialist Germany held by figures like Chamberlain.

  77. johnf says:

    Entirely agree with you about how the neocons and liberal interventionists with their miscalculations are Chamberlain’s natural successors.
    (Ironical that repeatedly they assert that their opponents are the natural successors of appeasement and Munich).
    Also agree about the parallels between Chamberlain’s overestimate of the the Soviet threat and their own overestimate of the threat of Syria etc – when the real wolf is staring down their throat.

  78. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments and clarifications.
    Iran and her allies pose no threat to US or EU.

  79. Tunde says:

    Jeremy Bowen (BBC) covers Maaloula on BBC24. Christians bewildered by events on the ground and urging non-intervention by Obama.

  80. kao_hsien_chih says:

    I remember that AJP Taylor made one extra observation about what made Germans look like aggressors at Munich: Eduard Benes summoned “legitimate” Sudeten leaders to Prague and gave them all the concessions they wanted. After the Czechs already conceded (albeit to the Sudetens and not Hitlerite Germany), continuing to put pressure on the Czech state seemed overdoing it, and the occupation of the remaining Czech state completed the perception that the whole premise of “responsibility to protect” ethnic Germans claimed by Hitler was just a lie. (yes, I’m using this term deliberately.) I was thinking about this after I heard about Syria’s apparent acceptance of the Lavrov suggestion that they submit their CW’s to some sort of international guardianship (of the Russians?). If the chemical weapons were the real reason for the current crisis, this would be akin to Benes making concessions to the Sudetens directly, bypassing Hitler: simultaneously removing the alleged casus belli and slapping the main agitator at the same time. I’d no more expect a deescalation to follow this than it did in 1938, if only because I’m increasingly convinced that Obama is a narcissistic buffoon who cannot think beyond his own image. But, if we in the US don’t deescalate using this opportunity, we’d be in for a lot of trouble. If the advantage of a republic over a monarchy (or a dictatorship) is that we are able to sacrifice the pride of our leaders for the sake of the people, this would be where I’d like to see the proof.

  81. r whitman says:

    Our host of this blog has proposed a Concert of the Middle East many times.

  82. Dr. K says:

    We will never get Israel in the mix. And they are stirring the pot.

  83. Charles I says:

    Thanks for your work there, and kao_hsien_chih’s comment too.
    The cite I can’t recall was a book or in a book about the House of al-Saud somebody published after 9/11 in the early chapter specifically about the founding of the House and was replete with cash, gas, the Anglo-American Oil Company, bi-planes and Mr. Churchill. Since I can’t recall and am too lazy to go on a hunt just now I stand corrected.

  84. Tyler says:

    I wonder how many looked at the destruction of these Christian communities as a feature and not a bug of the invasion?

  85. CK says:

    Respectfully disagree with you on this, “he who has the gold buys the rule makers” is the only golden rule to be observed in any democracy.

  86. bth says:

    Andrew Bacevich and I are friends and have common bond that shared tragedy inspires. He articulates in words what I with shaking fist express.
    But as to war I have boiled my brooding thoughts to this – Is it worth your son’s life? It seems that this is the essence of the issue.
    It has become too easy to send someone else’s son to war.

  87. Ursa Maior says:

    Today the biggest hungarian newspaper appeared with an article titled “Wherever the US sets his feet christians die – An account of the last 10 years’ US foreign policy”. One of the most shocking assumptions of the article is that the current Wahsington elite openly supports the sunnis on the expense of the christians.
    No comment.

  88. Mark G says:

    Syrian Christian Woman takes John McCain to task for his policies at townhall:

  89. johnf says:

    The Benes/Henlein parallel is dead right. It was a brilliant diplomatic move even though it didn’t save the Czechs.
    I don’t think the US will follow Germany’s example, though. With Congress and possible impeachment breathing down his neck, I think Obama will take Putin’s proffered lifeline and tell the warmongers to go hang. The Israel Lobby is a busted flush. (Hopefully).

  90. Tyler says:

    That’s not too surprising. Who’s going to speak up for them over here?
    The ‘big’ Catholic Church is selling itself piecemeal to the government for more money to fund ‘social programs’. Right now they seem more worried about making sure an amnesty treason passes to put more hispanic asses in pews than trying to organize a relief for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
    The mainline Protestant sects are in disarray, constantly trying to triangulate in order to appeal to the latest fad and throwing any semblance of Catchecism by the wayside. Romans 1:27? What’s that’s?! No dude, Jesus was totally chillax and never judged anyone ever.
    The level of spiritual education among many Christians is distressing, and I doubt many know or understand the links with the Orthodox offshoots and believe everyone over there is just an Arab who loves democracy or an evil terrorist who wants to blow us up. Start talking about Syrian Orthodoxy (to say nothing of mentioning Yezidis, Alawites, and Sufis) and you’re going to get a lot of blank looks.
    Combine all this with the general ignorance of Judaism and its hostility to Christ as Messiah (Judeo-Christian values has to be Hannity’s favorite word ever) with an ethnic group that keeps grudges for a LONG time, and its obvious that it might have taken a few hundred years but it looks like some old scores are being settled.
    If that means the majority of mercantile contracts have to be routed through Tel Aviv? Well that’s just a happy coincidence.
    Our leaders pay lip service (if that!) to Christianity’s precepts while doing whatever the hell they want to. Putin’s defiance on this matter based on his faith as much as anything must seem strange to those drunk on Saudi oil money and Israeli polticial influence.

  91. Alba Etie says:

    Jonst , Col Lang and others
    Fareed Zakaria was one of the cheerleaders for intervening in Iraq. This is nothing but recycled swill , and even the Sheeple are calling Bullsh– t !! And Wesley Clark was the Supreme Nato Commander that told that British General to evict the Russians from Pristina airport during the Kosovo mess. At lest the British General politely refused to start perhaps WWW 111.

  92. Alba Etie says:

    “We shall fight them on the beaches
    We shall fight them in the streets
    We shall fight them in the Hills
    We shall never surrender ”

  93. Alba Etie says:

    Mr Habbkuk,
    The Congresscritters are getting deluged by calls, emails & twita to not attack Syria . This is an election year – Joe Six Pack has seen this dire propaganda machine before, he will be prepared to vote the warmongers of both parties out . This is completely different then the run up to Iraq. If BHO bombs Syria you will see national & sustained Civil Disobedience – full stop . And all of our pols know this …

  94. Ursa Maior says:

    Understood, yet if this more or less well hidden fact is openly published, it means a much faster collapse of US soft power than previously anticipated by many including me.

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