Washington Is Pursuing Risky Regime Change in Syria
By Ted Galen Carpenter, CATO 6-9-2013
In the days before President Obama retreated from his arrogant, unconstitutional stance that he could order missile strikes on Syria without congressional passage of even a vague resolution of approval, much less the required declaration of war, administration officials insisted that the goal of such strikes was merely to punish Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad for the use of chemical weapons, not carry out regime change. That rationale was, and remains, profoundly illogical—and less than candid.
The reality is that Washington has sought the overthrow of the Assad regime almost from the moment that fighting erupted in 2011. Assad’s departure has been the stated goal of U.S. policy for the past year, and the Obama administration has provided aid to insurgent forces. Although the aid began as humanitarian and supposedly nonlethal items, it now includes military assistance and training.
The administration needs to be honest with Congress and the American people and admit that the proposed U.S. attacks on Assad’s forces would be designed to advance the goal of regime change.
Representatives and Senators should also ask hard questions about just how Assad’s overthrow would be in the best interests of the American people.
The most likely outcome of Assad’s overthrow is a fragmented Syria, similar to what has occurred in Libya, the target of the most recent U.S.-led campaign of missile strikes. The second most likely scenario is a Syria dominated by Sunni Islamist elements.
A secular, pro-Western successor regime based on the reconciliation of feuding ethno-religious factions is—by far—the least likely outcome.
Members of Congress need to press Obama administration officials to explain how either of the first two scenarios would benefit America’s security in any conceivable way.
Above all, Congress should not let the administration continue the fiction that missile strikes would have only a limited objective and result in minimal U.S. involvement in the Syrian maelstrom.
The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization — a think tank – dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace.
Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues. Founded in 1977, Cato owes its name to Cato’s Letters, a series of essays published in 18th-century England that presented a vision of society free from excessive government power.
Even Proponents of War with Syria
Should Question the Intelligence Sources
By Ted Galen Carpenter, CATO 6-9-2013
Those who want to ‘punish Syria’ should at least ask hard questions about the source and reliability of the intelligence information.
Specifically, they should insist on knowing how much of the information was gathered directly by U.S. intelligence agencies and how much was obligingly provided by third parties who have their own policy agendas and ulterior motives.
That is an extremely important consideration. Countries such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia are the principal sponsors of the insurgents seeking to oust Bashar al-Assad’s government. Although Israel is more ambivalent about the Syrian rebels, Israeli loathing of the Assad family goes back more than four decades and Israeli leaders want to see Washington take an even more active military role in the Middle East.
Information that such sources provide is hardly unbiased and should be assessed with caution.
That is doubly true of any intelligence that the Syrian rebels provide. Not only does that faction have an obvious, massive incentive to have Washington intervene militarily against Assad’s forces, but the insurgents have already been caught peddling bogus atrocity stories. The most notorious example was the attempt to use nearly decade-old photos of slaughtered civilians in the Iraq war as “evidence” of Syrian army abuses. Given that track record, alleged intelligence from rebel sources should have virtually no credibility.
Obama administration officials are insistent that information about the Assad regime being responsible for chemical attacks is indisputable, and that this case is nothing like the fiasco of the faulty intelligence that led to the Iraq war. But of course, we were told that the Iraq intelligence was rock-solid at the time, so that assurance is less than compelling. Moreover, it is important to remember that most of the phony evidence of Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction was supplied by Iraqi exiles, specifically the notorious (and aptly named) source “Curveball” that the Iraqi National Congress produced. We must be doubly careful not to be manipulated in that fashion again.
Flashback 2003: Molly Ivins & The New World Order
“Fourth World War” – “A Crook, a Zionist and an Old Spy”
Oh good. It looks as though we’re going to have as big a fight over postwar plans for Iraq as we did over the war itself. Just what we need, more of everybody being at everybody else’s throat.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who seems prepared to run the world, favors one Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress, an exile-emigre group, as postwar leader (read figurehead-puppet). Chalabi is bitterly opposed by both the State Department and the CIA.
Chalabi has been in exile for four decades and, in 1992, he was convicted on multiple counts of embezzlement of hundreds of millions of dollars in Jordan after the failure of his bank there. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison. He escaped from Jordan, reportedly in the trunk of a car, and wound up in London.
Dick Cheney is also a Chalabi fan. The Iraqi National Congress has received millions in American aid money, but the accounting has been very poor (a familiar story) and quite a bit of the money is unaccounted for. Chalabi favors Savile Row suits.
The Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz choice for “viceroy designate” of Iraq is Gen. Jay Garner, head of the Pentagon’s Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. Garner is a retired military man with links to both the international arms industry and a Jewish lobby group. After retiring from the Army, Garner became president of SY Coleman, a defense contractor specializing in military defense technology. He is currently on leave of absence from the company.
The third member of the triumvirate that Rumsfeld & Co. want to run Iraq is former CIA chief James Woolsey, who said last week that Iraq is the opening of the “Fourth World War” (counting the Cold War as III) and that America’s enemies include the religious rulers in Iran, states like Syria and Islamic terrorist groups.
So, we’ve got a crook, a Zionist and an old spy who thinks this is the beginning of WWIV set to run Iraq.
How lucky can the Iraqis get? Is this what we thought we were fighting for? (Molly Ivins, dailycamera.com 2003)