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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How Seymour Hersh confuses Syria with Libya

In his most recent essay, The Red-line and the rat line, Seymour Hersh argues that the 21 August sarin attack in Syria was a "false flag" carried out by the opposition in the hopes that it would bring the US into the war. He says Obama had information pointing to this and Hersh uses the yard stick of NATO Libyan intervention to argue that Obama's failure to intervene similarly in Syria indicates that he knew he had no legitimate case for intervention. Hersh writes:
Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.
He makes the same argument a different way in a recent CNN interview:
HERSH: And then the question then is if it's such a wonderful case he has and they're so sure, why so quick to walk away? Why say after a little heat, why say that we're going to go all of a sudden, he's a constitutionalist? The guy who invaded Tripoli without one worry about the War Powers act, all of a sudden he's a constitutionalist and wants to go to Congress?
Because Sy Hersh thinks Obama is as supportive of regime change in Syria as he was in Libya, he concludes Obama's failure to take military action against Bashar al-Assad after the chemical attack can be taken as de-facto proof that the President knew that the Assad regime really wasn't responsible for the sarin attack.

His logic simply makes no sense and shows how far he is willing to stray from rational thought in his effort to prove Obama "knows" Assad didn't do it.

Since Obama intervened in Libya near the very beginning of that conflict and the use of chemical weapons never became an issue, the answer to why he hasn't treated Syria in the same manner cannot possibly be explained by events almost three years after the killing began and after probably twenty times the number of deaths that sparked the Libyan intervention. Since Sy Hersh brings up the yard stick of Libya to measure Obama's Syria response by, he must first explain this almost three year delay in intervention before he can use events around Obama's red-line bluff and the August sarin attack to explain why these might be reasons for further delay. Remember, the kick-off date for the Libya Revolution, was 17 February 2011, and less than 5 weeks later and within a week of the start of the uprising in Syria, French warplanes were stopping Qaddafi's armor from doing to Benghazi what Assad has been able to do to Homs, Idlib and Aleppo. US warplanes were only a few days behind them. So Hersh can't possibly explain why Obama or NATO failed to protect the people of Syria with a similar resolve in 2011, 2012 or two-thirds of 2013 by spinning a tale about administration conflict over the red-line in September 2013. It simply isn't logical.

First you have to understand why Obama failed to intervene militarily even after a hundred thousands deaths, before the August sarin attacks added another thousand or so to the death count. Then you can go into why that attack failed to make him change his tune, in spite of his red-line bluff. Hersh operates under false assumption that Obama has not only been in support of regime change, but actively promoting it. Sy Hersh may believe that because that is the way Obama has always talked about Assad, but actions speak louder than words. When it comes to the Syrian opposition, Obama plays "good cop" to Putin's "bad cop," that's why he talks a different way, but he started working with Bashar al-Assad the same week Obama became President-elect in November 2008 and he would really like to see that regime survive. So would Israel. That is why he has failed to take any military action against Assad, or provide anything more than token support for the opposition, not just after the 21 August 2013 sarin attack, but also for the two and a half years before it.

Obama never planned to carry out a military attack against Assad the way he did against Qaddafi. Obama never expected his bluff to be called. When Obama made his famous "red-line" statement, I said it was a green light to keep killing big time without chemicals. That was the role it played until Assad called Obama's bluff by finally using "a whole bunch of chemical weapons." Then for Obama it became a matter of finding a way to weasel out of his promise. Going to Congress gave him that out. It simply makes no sense to take Obama's failure to change his policy as proof that this continued unwillingness to act against the Syrian regime shows Assad is innocent.

Barack Obama has been in Bashar al-Assad's corner all along:

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

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