I’ve written before about Tulsi Gabbard’s moral integrity and independence of thought, and how those qualities make it necessary for the goons running the show in Washington—along with their typists in the mainstream media—to lie about her views and denigrate her character.
In February, she was skewered for having the audacity to visit Syria and speak with its people and—wait for it—briefly converse with President Bashar al-Assad (who apparently isn’t Hitler after all?). I don’t seem to recall H.R. Clinton being taken to task for describing former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak and his wife as “friends of my family.” Nor was there very much outrage when she and husband Bill posed for a cheery photo with current Egyptian despot Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, whose death squads murdered over 1,000 political demonstrators in the summer of 2013. But never mind.
Gabbard has recently come in for another storm of bipartisan criticism following her “bizarre” (according to The Washington Post) response to the chemical attack in Syria and Trump’s subsequent cruise missile dog-wag. Here’s the full statement she issued in the wake of the illegal Tomahawk blitz on a Syrian airfield:
It angers and saddens me that President Trump has taken the advice of war hawks and escalated our illegal regime change war to overthrow the Syrian government. This escalation is short-sighted and will lead to more dead civilians, more refugees, the strengthening of al-Qaeda and other terrorists, and a possible nuclear war between the United States and Russia.
This administration has acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning. If President Assad is indeed guilty of this horrible chemical attack on innocent civilians, I will be the first to call for his prosecution and execution by the International Criminal Court. However, because of our attack on Syria, this investigation may now not even be possible. And without such evidence, a successful prosecution will be much harder.
Then there’s this tweet from April 10: “Those who’ve declared Trump a habitual liar now vilify those refusing to blindly follow him into another regime change war. Hypocrisy.”
Pretty bizarre, huh? Where does she get off speaking out against the unilateral use of military force? And you’d have to be some kind of deviant to ask for evidence before condemning someone for a crime he or she is alleged to have committed. Moreover, who the hell could care about a potential nuclear exchange with Russia? The woman is clearly a nuisance with ulterior motives.
Before continuing, let’s get a few things straight.
Trump’s attack on Syria was a flagrant violation of Syrian sovereignty and thus of the UN Charter, which exists to prevent the outbreak of war between member states. There are two circumstances in which the use of military force is justifiable: when authorized by a Security Council resolution, or when done in self-defense (i.e. in response to an armed attack). Neither condition was met here. In fact, Syria now has the right under international law to strike back at the United States in self-defense. A coalition of states may also be formed to assist Syria in its retaliation against US aggression. But I suppose international law, like the presumption of innocence, is rather old hat. How else could the US get away with waging a covert proxy war on the legitimate, internationally-recognized government of Syria for the past six years?
Of course, the plot to remove Assad from power goes back more than a decade. Diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks show that, in 2006, a full five years before the war began, the US government was brainstorming ways to destabilize the Syrian government. To this end, it channeled money to Assad’s political opponents and deliberately aggravated dormant sectarian tensions (now ripping the country, and indeed the region, to shreds) by playing into Sunni fears that Iran had outsize influence over Syrian politics. When the crisis erupted in 2011, the US began illegally funding, training and arming the so-called “moderate opposition” while tens of thousands of Wahhabi fanatics poured into Syria from all corners of the world, aided by our regional allies, namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Turkey. Western media, acting as always on behalf of their state masters, launched an aggressive and sustained propaganda campaign to demonize the Syrian government and gin up support for regime change, long-term consequences be damned.
And all of this in spite of the fact that Syria fought with us against Saddam in the Gulf War and posed no threat whatsoever to American interests in the region. Moreover, Assad had cooperated with us on our War on (of) Terror, sharing important intelligence about al-Qaeda plots and even letting us send suspected terrorists to Syria to be tortured as part of the CIA’s notorious rendition program. Scaling the peaks of hypocrisy, we now claim to be outraged by his government’s use of torture.
If you want to understand Washington’s seemingly incoherent policy toward Syria, look to the usual suspect: Israel. Our beloved “ally” has illegally occupied Syrian territory—the Golan Heights—since 1967 and refuses to give it back. This explains Syria’s support for Hezbollah and Hamas, Israel’s sworn, and well-deserved, enemies. For years the Syrian government had offered to terminate its alliance with both organizations, and even pull away from Iran, in exchange for the Golan Heights. Israel, being what Norman Finkelstein called a “lunatic state,” refused to entertain the idea. Instead, it persisted in characterizing Syria as a threat to its national security and Assad as an unpredictable madman. Both claims were nothing short of absurd but, thanks to the Israel Lobby, the US played along. Following the invasion of Iraq, neocon psychopaths like Paul Wolfowitz and Frank Gaffney—whose first (and perhaps only) loyalty is to Israel—started openly pushing for war with Syria. It took a few years, but they got their wish.
Needless to say, the repellent “Bibi” Netanyahu was among the loudest cheerleaders for Trump’s vaunted cruise missile strike. He and his fellow Likud thugs have been loving every minute of this bloodbath. The longer it drags on, the more people it kills, the better. With Syria smashed to pieces, Israel will never be forced to give up the Golan Heights.
There’s the background. So what about that chemical attack? Well, as Gabbard correctly states, no one has furnished a particle of evidence demonstrating the Syrian government’s guilt. The declassified report published by the White House on April 11, in which it is asserted that sarin gas “was delivered by regime Su-22 fixed-wing aircraft that took off from the regime-controlled Shayrat Airfield” is hardly dispositive. In fact, the report was savagely debunked within hours by Theodore Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology and National Security Policy at MIT, who described it as “obviously false, misleading and amateurish.” Postol’s analysis is a must-read; almost every word is worth quoting in italics. I’ll just cite some of his most striking conclusions.
First of all, he makes clear at the outset that the photographic “evidence” presented by the Trump administration is probably tampered with and thus hardly warrants an in-depth review. “My own assessment,” he writes, “is that the source was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited by the White House.”
Nevertheless, we’re talking about the attempted justification of an act of military aggression—”the supreme international crime,” according to the Military Tribunal at Nuremberg—so Postol proceeds with his analysis under the assumption that the photos produced by the White House are legitimate.
Even if we grant that, Postol writes, the report “contains absolutely no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft. In fact, the report contains absolutely no evidence that would indicate who was the perpetrator of this atrocity.” Indeed, “there is absolutely no evidence that the crater [shown in the report] was created by a munition designed to disperse sarin after it is dropped from an aircraft.”
Furthermore, based on the image of the crater, which contains a ruptured pipe that was supposedly filled with sarin, Postol concludes that “the sarin tube was placed on the ground by individuals on the ground and not dropped from an airplane.”
Get it? If the photographic evidence is valid—and that would appear to be a big if—the White House has just unwittingly demonstrated that the chemical attack was staged by people on the ground in Idlib (i.e. the rebels). The US government, in other words, is telling us it was a false flag operation. In any case, whether the evidence presented is real or fake, we’re being lied to—again. Here’s Postol summing it all up:
I stand ready to provide the country with any analysis and help that is within my power to supply. What I can say for sure herein is that what the country is now being told by the White House cannot be true and the fact that this information has been provided in this format raises the most serious questions about the handling of our national security. (His emphasis)
How many mainstream media outlets do you think will reach out to Postol for comment? On the other hand, how many will credulously accept the “obviously false, misleading and amateurish” White House report and promote it to their readers? These questions answer themselves.
Now keep the forgoing in mind, and consider what former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean had to say about Tulsi Gabbard’s “bizarre” suggestion that perhaps it’s not very wise to uncritically swallow the US government’s line on Syria and this latest chemical attack.
“I think it’s outrageous,” Dean said during an MSNBC interview. “There’s a long well-known history, both in our intelligence community, Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders. Every single one of these agencies has said that Assad is using chemical weapons. He’s a barbarian, he’s murdered half a million of his own people.”
QED? Not quite. Anyway, he sputtered on:
“I can’t imagine how you could make a statement like that, especially being on the Foreign Relations Committee. I can’t imagine what could possibly be going through her head.”
Takeaway: rational thought is not permitted on the Foreign Relations Committee. Fall in line, Tulsi!
Asked by host Alex Witt if he wasn’t being slightly unreasonable—”All she’s asking for is proof though”—Dean blew a gasket.
“If you’re on the Foreign Relations Committee and you haven’t seen the proof in the last five and a half years that Assad is a butcher, there’s something the matter with you,” he brayed. “I am tired of people making excuses. This is no different than Trump making excuses for Putin. We’ve had enough of this.”
Ah, yes, never miss an opportunity to shoe-horn Putin into the discussion. A new Democratic doctrine.
Still huffing and puffing: “Let’s talk about facts and the fact is, Assad is a butcher, a murderer, and he has repeatedly over the past few years used chemical weapons on his own people. What more do you want?”
Oh, I don’t know … evidence that Assad was responsible for the atrocity that Trump used as a pretext to lob cruise missiles at Syria and risk direct military confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia? Too much to ask, I suppose. Anyway, Dean has evidently been brushing up on his Orwell. This is textbook doublespeak. Big Brother Trump salutes him.
The woman sitting next to him, “Republican Strategist” Susan Del Percio, proceeded to call Gabbard “insane,” upping the ante from “bizarre.” But she made an instructive point—no doubt unwittingly—when she speculated that Gabbard’s “insane” behavior “will prove to be very detrimental to her career.” There you have it. That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? Blackmailing and hectoring people into conforming to the official Washington groupthink? Whipping them when they step out of line?
This is a bipartisan project, and it’s remarkably effective. Consider how long it took the forces of political orthodoxy to turn Trump into a neoconservative poodle. Less than three months. He has neither dignity nor scruples, true, but I don’t think anyone thought he would cave so quickly. He now works for Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Israel, which means war with Russia is now more likely than rapprochement with Russia. Or, as Peter Hitchens put it all too plausibly, “we have definitely moved from being a post-war world to being a pre-war world.”
Of course, Tulsi Gabbard, unlike our president, has fortitude; her critiques of the US war machine are honest and principled rather than shallow and opportunistic. She served in Iraq, meaning unlike the neoconservative tapeworms who relish sending other people’s children overseas to kill and die, she knows what war is like and thus views it as something to be averted rather than embraced. Hence her opposition to Trump’s reckless militarism, which is an existential threat to the entire world. Gabbard is not liable to back down on that point. But she’s facing a perpetual headwind now, because Washington, or rather the weapons manufacturers and Israel-firsters helping to manage Washington, won’t brook this sort of dissent. It has to be stamped out, crushed. Gabbard is on their hit list. From what I’ve seen she’s more than up to the fight. Here’s hoping, then, that the American Empire doesn’t ignite a thermonuclear war with Russia before she has a chance to run for president.