Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 7, 2017

Why Trump acted

Filed under: Syria — louisproyect @ 5:53 pm


Just over a week ago, Trump administration officials had issued statements that essentially caved in to Russian objectives in Syria. Preservation of the Assad regime was now official US policy. Reuters reported on March 30:

The view of the Trump administration is also at odds with European powers, who insist Assad must step down. The shift drew a strong rebuke from at least two Republican senators.

“You pick and choose your battles and when we’re looking at this, it’s about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told a small group of reporters.

Meanwhile, Rex Tillerson had told reporters that the status of Bashar al-Assad would be “decided by the Syrian people”, which was like saying that the fate of Augusto Pinochet would be decided by the Chilean people. Sean Spicer rounded out the Assad can stay brigade: “With respect to Assad, there is a political reality that we have to accept.”

All that changed after Tuesday, April 4th when Syrian Su-22 fighter-bombers launched a Sarin gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, the only area in Syria that was not under government control. Trump’s first response was to blame Obama’s failure to adhere to his “red line” warnings in 2013, when East Ghouta suffered an identical attack. Since Trump warned Obama against taking military action at the time, there’s an element of hypocrisy that goes with the Trump territory. Now he sounded like Nicholas Kristof: “It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line. Many, many lines.”

Ever hear the term Pecksniffian? It comes from a Charles Dicken character named Seth Pecksniff, who adopted a holier-than-thou posture. Trump’s words were pure Pecksniff. This is a guy who authorized the bombing of a mosque in Aleppo that left more than 57 people dead, the same number as in Khan Sheihoun. Trump’s excuse was the same as Assad’s—the mosque was a meeting place for al-Qaeda just like Khan Sheihoun. It’s also the same excuse Netanyahu gives when he bombs Gaza, except it is Hamas that is the “bad guys”.

What would make Trump turn on a dime? Since he clearly cares about nobody in the world except himself, his family, and the rich bastards whose interests he upholds as chief executive, there must be something else going on.

I think the “red lines” are worth considering. In September 2013, Obama found a convenient excuse for backing down on his threats after Putin offered an escape clause. In exchange for Assad surrendering his chemical weapons, the USA would not attack Syria. This was a very smart move for Assad since it effectively gave him and his Russian allies carte blanche to throw everything else he had against the rebels from barrel bombs to white phosphorus and cluster bombs.

It is clear to me that Assad saw the statements by the Trump administration as a green light to use Sarin gas once again. For Assad’s supporters on the left, this made no sense since he was winning the war anyhow. That might be true but what sort of restraint would he feel necessary with Donald Trump in the White House?

It was clear that US imperialism could not abide with such an impudent refusal to abide by the terms of the September 2013 agreement. Given the truculent stance of the Trump administration to North Korea and China, it needs to be regarded as a power not to be trifled with. So, Assad miscalculated and got a bloody nose for his efforts.

Despite the worries that the “anti-imperialist” left has over this becoming a “regime change” effort, there are signs that things will return to normal once the Syrian dictator understands that using Sarin gas is a no-no. The USA took great pains to make sure that things were kept under strict control as Salon reported today:

It turns out that President Donald Trump gave a heads up to the Russian government before launching his missile strike against Syria on Thursday night.

“Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line,” said Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis in an official statement. “U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield.”

In response to the attack, Russia has announced that it will help Syria strengthen its air defenses. It also may have prepared Syrians for the attack by tipping them off, as eyewitnesses observed personnel and equipment being moved from the Shayrat airbase in advance of the attack.

I don’t think that George W. Bush had this kind of arrangement with Saddam Hussein.


  1. The Assadists can cry all they want about this very precision bombing that made absolutely sure only a few Assad soldiers would be killed in an airbase/military installation; as opposed to dropping bombs, as the U.S. has done, on a crowded mosque and indiscriminately killing tens of civilians.

    I’m with Michael Karadjis, when he says:

    “US bombing of Syria did not begin today, it began in September 2014, 2.5 years ago. Some 8000 air strikes. Thousands of civilians have been killed, including hundreds just in recent weeks in some horrific strikes, like the Idlib mosque and the Raqqa school. No-one has ever protested. No “anti”-war movement protested. No “anti”-imperialists protested. Just this week three prominent US leaders made the policy clear that Assad should stay (already unofficial policy for years). Then Assad goes and blows it by throwing sarin in their faces! What an idiot. I guess he was testing the waters. The US had no choice but to respond in some way for the sake of its alleged … “credibility.””
    (full comment at: http://www.mail-archive.com/marxism@lists.csbs.utah.edu/msg22347.html)

    Comment by Reza — April 7, 2017 @ 6:18 pm

  2. You are a total liar and tool of US imperialism. You are a shameful scoundrel and criminal.

    Anyone with half a brain can see that this was not a gas attack by Assad.

    You are worse than a fool, you are a piece of scum.

    The US in response to plan B failing, i.e. turning Syria into Mad Max land, plan A being the crazy idea that their puppets had any support in the country, are now onto plan C, create a pretext to destroy the regime and provide air cover for Al Qaeda and ISIS.

    Of course the corrupt war mongers and chief arms traders, i,.e. the US now led by a fascist, cheered on by crazy lunatic leftists and liberals, will go onto the next r=target once this bogeyman is toppled.

    Assad is a pussycat compared to you people, you lot are fucking lunatics, using chemical weapons as a pretext for murder. This can only make chemical weapons a prized asset by any armed groups.

    If there is an hell you will go there!

    Comment by Simon Prvertier — April 7, 2017 @ 7:32 pm

  3. Anyone with half a brain can see that this was not a gas attack by Assad.

    An apt self-characterization.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 7, 2017 @ 7:33 pm

  4. Anyone with half a brain can see through your lies you piece of murdering scum

    Comment by Simon Prvertier — April 7, 2017 @ 7:38 pm

  5. I piss in your face, you neo-Nazi pile of garbage.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 7, 2017 @ 7:39 pm

  6. yes this is no time for civility, you people, you utter debased slime are using a chemical weapons attack as a pretext for murder and yet more regime change. Your slime leaves hellish trail wherever its missiles and drones go.

    The thing is you know you are lying, you know what you are saying is bullshit, you are the epitome of pure evil.

    But you must think there are people out there who will just accept your lies, which means you assume most people are total idiots or completely brainwashed. For you the backward nature of the masses is not a problem but an opportunity!!

    Comment by Simon Prvertier — April 7, 2017 @ 7:43 pm

  7. By the way I am a Marxist, as for you, you are pissing in all ours mouths. You are piss and shit personified

    Comment by Simon Prvertier — April 7, 2017 @ 7:47 pm

  8. Prvertier -Can your half brain tell us if “this was not a gas attack by Assad”, then what was it and who was responsible?

    Comment by James Maguire — April 7, 2017 @ 8:04 pm

  9. Simon, you are nothing if not an apologist for genocide.

    Here you are shitting your pants because the U.S. — after two and a half years of killing THOUSANDS of civilians, and non-Assad military forces — just killed a mere six Assad soldiers, from a force of organized killers who drop all kinds of mass-murder bombs, including chemical bombs, on ‘his own’ people, having killed HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of Syrian people, with the help of Russian imperialism and Iranian theocratically-inspired jihadi soldiers.

    Save your outrage, you phony ass hypocrite. You’re not a Marxist any more than I am a virgin mermaid.

    Comment by Reza — April 7, 2017 @ 8:08 pm

  10. Hi Louis: Your blog seems to have attracted vermin. But I wanted to write about something else. I think your take on Trump’s motivation is well-put, but may not be his main aim. Trump’s problems with the Republican Party are real, and getting deeper. Turning against Putin, even if only theatrically, like demoting Bannon, certainly seem to be tacking his sinking ship to try to keep it afloat in the waters of DC.

    Comment by Anthony Boynton — April 7, 2017 @ 8:32 pm

  11. I have been sharing all my outrages at the countless acts of US criminal murder on this site over a number of years. I also attacked Assad on this site, pointing out that Proyect was not in fact pro rebel but pro US puppets, who had no support whatsoever in Syria. I actually started out supporting the rebels. What Proyect wants is to install a US puppet government who will be more murderous and ruthless than Assad has ever been.

    US imperialism is laying waste to the region.

    What I am outraged by now is the utter lying that is going on, the incredulous claim that Assad would be insane enough to drop chemical weapons when it serves him zero purpose, strategically or tactically. The last set of lies led to the criminal invasion of Iraq, the death of a million human beings, the displacement of millions more, the laying waste to nations, the rise of groups like ISIS. Syria took in over a million Iraqi refugees. Europe and the US and its people thinks 500 Syrian refugees represents a crisis for Europe! Who are the fucking evil ones here?

    You call me an apologist for genocide, when you swallow a whole new set of lies even as the corpses from the last set of lies have not finished rotting.

    You people are scum, utter lunatics, psychopaths. You fuckers are the lowest of the low.

    You lot shit and piss on us all and no one is clean because of people like you.

    Comment by Simon Provertier — April 7, 2017 @ 8:36 pm

  12. Dear Simon,
    I really do like your sound bite, the backward nature of the masses is not a problem but an opportunity. Yes that is how our rulers certianly comprehend it.

    We can not be certian yet what is going on with this sarin gas attack by the Syrian government yet as it is still to soon. But if we consider the weak response of the USA, up until now anyways, I get the impression that it is all conected to this baloney story of Trump being a pawn of the Russians. It seems that the Russians decided to play with this scenario. The Russians got the Syrians to launch this gas attack to give Trump an opportunity to look tough and to look like he was doing something that the Russians would not approve of.
    I must admit that it is difficult to understand why the Russians would provide this opportunity for US military action. It should be clear to anyone with discernment that Trump (or any President) is a pawn of the Pentagon Generals. I can not be sure that the Russian FIS would agree with this assessment. But if they do not they clearly need better training. So assuming that they agree with me it should not matter to them whether Trump or Spence or Clinton is the official POTUS. If the Pentagon is the deep state, this malarky in the Press about the Russians interfering in the US election and getting Trump elected can not be happening with out Pentagon approval. After all the Director of the FBI played a much more crucial role in that election interference story than the Russians did. I have to wonder why the Pentagon would want to try to convince a large number of Americans that the President of the USA is a Russian Pawn rather than their own pawn. That would seem to only make sense if the Pentagon junta members were trying to have an excuse to remove its own pawn from power. Perhaps the goal is to show that the POTUS REALLY DOES RUN THE PETAGON. But since I and I alone push the idea that the Pentagon is the deep state, does the Pentagon need to try to convince large numbers of people that the POTUS makes the final decisions about US military policy rather than the Pentagon, since almost everyone believes that already anyways? So I admit I really can not figure out why the press has played up this story so much. Yet one false idea that clearly emerges from this propoganda campaign is that the Trump is or is in danger of being a Russian Doll. If the Russians understand what is behind this strategy better than I do they might think that they understand where it is suppossed to lead. They might not like what they are seeing. So they, with Syrian help, did something that would force Trump to do something that would look like he was harming Russian interests to put some distance between themselves and Trump.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — April 7, 2017 @ 9:48 pm

  13. Assad would be insane enough to drop chemical weapons when it serves him zero purpose, strategically or tactically

    Chemical weapons do serve a purpose, just like the more “conventional” cluster bombs. If the chemical weapons successfully kill their enemy fighters, then this is just a purpose.

    I don’t think Louis’ point is that Assad intentionally targeted civilians. The civilians who died from the sarin gas might not have been the deliberate. The civilians who were killed might not have been the intended target; it might have been “collateral damage”. After all, Louis previously mentioned that mistakes are inevitable in barrel bombing because the bombs are unguided and are dropped from helicopters from hundreds of feet above the air. The same may well be the case for sarin gas bombs. The bombs used to release sarin gas are dropped from helicopters hundreds of feet above the ground, so “mistakes” are inevitable. This still isn’t an excuse because Assad and the pilots are well aware of the high risk of civilian casualties for each bomb dropped. The civilians who are at risk are mostly Arab and/or Sunni, but many of the SAA fighters don’t care about Arabs or Sunnis very much (if at all) due to their anti-Arab or anti-Sunni sentiments. Either that, or the SSA fighters hate the rebels so much they are willing to sacrifice a lot of civilians just to get one rebel killed.

    Comment by 3D Face Analysis — April 8, 2017 @ 3:32 am

  14. Prvertier Still no answer from you.-If The Syrian regime wasn’t responsible for the chemical attack then who was?
    The fact that you find the “claim that Assad would be insane enough to drop chemical weapons” to be “incredulous(and that’s your reason for defending him) shows the limitations of your mindset. Was it also “incredulous” that he chose to shoot innocent protestors 6 years ago.
    Your analysis is truly half witted (“Proyect wants is to install a US puppet government” hahaha). You are INSANE- so consumed by hatred of the west that you will defend anything that opposes them, no matter how barbaric. You are still fighting the Iraq war from your keyboard. Meanwhile the world has changed and your head is so far up your ass that you can’t see it. You are a deluded idiot whose only argument is insult, post-truth conspiracy theories, and hysterical anti-west vitriol.I don’t understand why anyone on here takes you seriously.

    Comment by James Maguire — April 8, 2017 @ 9:07 am

  15. Simon Provertier, you may find it ‘incredulous’, (and you mean ‘incredible’ you dolt, Simon), but that just means you are a species of credulous idiot.

    The report from 2013 delivered by Ake Sellstrom examined evidence. And a UN HRC report declared, ‘The evidence available concerning the nature, quality and quantity of the agents used on 21 August indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary to manipulate safely large amount of chemical agents.’

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — April 8, 2017 @ 11:25 am

  16. “All that changed after Tuesday, April 4th when Syrian Su-22 fighter-bombers launched a Sarin gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun”

    You have no proof whatsoever for that statement, other than what’s being asserted by the mainstream corporate media.
    Those who uncritically accept this are rather like a flock of sheep.
    Because the shepherd has always opened the gate leading to fresh pasture, they don’t notice when he opens the gate to the abbatoir.

    What’s changed is that the CIA and Pentagon have brought the Trump administration back into line.

    Why would Assad, who has been winning the war, suddenly break an agreement that was brokered by his staunchest ally, supported by a unamimous UN resolution and risk US retaliation?
    It makes no sense.

    Neither does your argument that the attack was a “one-off” and the USA really wants to keep
    Assad in power.
    Tillerson made it clear that he thinks there will be “no role for (Assad) to govern the Syrian people”.

    Irrespective of who is in the White House, the long-term aim of US policy has to bring down Assad’s regime, just as in the case of the regimes in Iraq and Libya.
    This flows from its material interests; the need for oil and a strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia.
    The aim has been pursued by covert means because the US can’t deploy ground forces on a large scale.

    This doesn’t mean that tactical alliances with Russia and its allies were excluded.
    But there’s never been a strategic alliance with Russia.
    Russia’s intervention in Syria threw a spanner into the works.
    Now the USA and Russia are in an eye-ball to eye-ball confrontation to control the end-game to the Syrian war.

    Putin & Lavrov were clearly delusional if they thought Trump could be a reliable ally.
    His foreign policy has been devious and secretive from day-one.
    The only question was, who would he attack first?

    Information sharing between the US and Russian air-forces will now cease.
    The possibilities of a plane being shot down by either side are much greater.
    Israel and NATO forces could easily get dragged into any flare up.
    All of them want to curb the growing power of Iran in the region.

    For a Marxist based in the US (or Turkey) to focus on Assad as the “main enemy” is to repeat the opportunist mistakes made by “Marxists” who supported their own governments in August 1914.
    It just provides a pseudo-Marxist-gloss to the imperialist policies of your own government.

    Comment by prianikoff — April 8, 2017 @ 12:36 pm

  17. Prianikoff, deft evasion of the chemical and technical considerations that make the possibility of anybody but Assad responsible less than zero. A fine pirouette that would put Nureyev to shame.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 8, 2017 @ 1:11 pm

  18. Prianikoff, the “flock of sheep” are the conspiracy theory fans like you who believe any rubbish they read in the Putin funded pseudo “alternative” media. Whether you like it or not, all of MSM is not ALWAYS wrong, or following a neo-con/zionist/etc. agenda. The facts clearly point to the Syrian regime using chemical weapons again. “It makes no sense” is fair comment but NOT an argument, especially where a monster like Assad is concerned. Anyway it makes as much sense as your stupid, contrived, conspiracy theory
    So if you don’t believe msm reports, and the pictures of the murdered civilians, YOU (or Prvertier) TELL us what happened!

    Comment by James Maguire — April 8, 2017 @ 1:37 pm

  19. <>

    Such putrescence tends to attract vermin.

    Comment by Charlie Green — April 8, 2017 @ 4:43 pm

  20. Welcome to the Unrepentant Marxist, “Charlie Green”. Maybe in the future you will avail yourself of the opportunity to express yourself in detail. Of course, if you are brain damaged from being kicked in the head by a horse or an overdose of some opiate, you can continue to write 6 word jibes.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 8, 2017 @ 4:51 pm

  21. It is clear to me that Assad saw the statements by the Trump administration as a green light to use Sarin gas once again.

    This sounds right to me.

    The Russians (and therefore the Syrians) were warned in advance of the strikes, which therefore accomplished nothing strategically or tactically except as an unusually violent and expensive form of rhetoric, but may benefit Trump noticeably in the polls in the coming days. Nevertheless, Assad must realize he does not have the green light he may have thought he had.

    The wanton murder of innocents by Putin and Assad will no doubt continue in a lower key. Will Assad continue to use Sarin? One wonders how much of the stuff he could lay his hands on in any event, but i should think not.

    But so far no unacceptable losses to the combatants on either side–only to the Syrian people. Any hostilities between Trump and Putin at this stage of the game are merely an unusually realistic form of simulation.

    Of course, IMHO, the illiterate and mentally unstable Trump really could press just about any red button in a fit of pique, so going to war with Russia remains a far greater likelihood now than it ever would have been under the alleged warmonger Clinton. But in the absence of further crises, I think this is unlikely. That is, unlikely in the next week or two.

    Perhaps secretly collusion of Russia and the U.S. toward a cosmetic change of regime may begin in earnest now.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of joint U.S.-Russian operations “against ISIS” in the near future.

    But all of this is jello wrestling for domestic political consumption, albeit with human blood as the main ingredient in the Jello. So far it isn’t really costing the oligarchic powers behind Putin and Trump anything. Nevertheless, Trump’s actually blowing anything up other than a huge fart is a gigantic step in the wrong direction given his character and that of the coalition supporting him. This is bound to be more gratifying to his diseased ego than merely signing Executive Orders–even when he remembers to bring a pen and actually sign the documents.

    We should continue to condemn Assad and the Russians in the strongest possible terms, but it goes without saying that expecting anything good to come of Trump’s actions is a mug’s game. This is playing with fire in the worst sense and we should all be on alert for further dangerous adventures on his part.

    All the calculus by the self-anointed great minds behind both Putin and Trump overlooks the agency of the Syrian people. How will they respond to all of this? No Henry Kissinger book of Great Power manipulation has the answer to that. Unfortunately there would seem to be little we in the West can do concretely in support of Syria except to make statements and sign petitions.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 8, 2017 @ 6:40 pm

  22. I want to amend my previous comment. Trump is playing games for domestic poltiical consumption. Putin is playing the Great Game in traditional great power fashion and also looking to his domestic political situation. Therein perhaps lies an incalculable but very dangerous potential destabilizing factor in the present situation, especially given Trump’s disdain for the professional diplomats who usually handle these things. This is another reason why I at least am not cheering on the Tomahawk adventure even if it does have some sort of partial and temporary chilling effect on Assad. In fact, Perverti to the contrary notwithstanding, I’m not hearing any cheers for Trump in this room.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 8, 2017 @ 6:59 pm

  23. It is interesting that the “anti intervention”Assadist crowd says barely a peep about North Korea, whose government Trump is directly threatening. Perhaps this is because North Korea cannot offer them anything. Or that their position has little to do with being anti-intervention.

    Comment by Bill — April 8, 2017 @ 10:52 pm

  24. #18 As, I’m not (and have never been) a “conspiracist theory” fan, your comment confirms you are an idiot who is tilting at straw men.
    It’s doubly idiotic because the OFFICIAL explanation for 9/11 (which I’ve always agreed with) was that it was organised by Al Qaeda!
    Yes Al Qaeda, the very same group whose franchise now occupies Idlib.

    The fact that someone released poison gas is not in dispute, the question is who?
    The OPCW, the official body supervising the disposal of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, announced that it had all been sent out of Syria by August 2014.
    So it’s more likely that the source of the chemicals was in rebel (Al Qaeda) controlled Syria.

    #23 Of course the argument that anti-interventionists are “Assadists” is a scumbag’s canard, used by brain-dead people with no facts to back their case.

    Trump is sending warships to Korea, where the government in the South is in limbo.
    Tillerson has threatened to allow Japanese militarism to rearm with nuclear weapons.
    The last time the US tried to face down N.Korea under Bill Clinton, the President of South Korea refused to offer a single soldier to help him, because they knew it risked a genocidal war, like in the 1950’s.

    US troops out !.
    For the Revolutionary re-unification of the Korean peninsula, via Workers democracy, North and South

    Comment by prianikoff — April 9, 2017 @ 10:13 am

  25. Prianikoff, your saying that all chemical weapons had been sent out of regime controlled Syria by 2014 is not widely shared. For example, : ‘As recently as March 2017, the UK delegation to the OPCW stated: “The extent of the gaps in Syria’s declaration, its cancellation of a planned visit by inspectors to the SSRC (Syrian government research laboratories that are suspected to have been involved in the development of Syria’s WMD programmes) … and the ongoing use of toxic chemicals as weapons leaves substantial grounds for concern that Syria has retained elements of its stockpile and is prepared to use them again.”

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — April 9, 2017 @ 1:47 pm

  26. prianikoff #24 So you are suggesting that the Assad’s opponents in Idlib gassed themselves and their children just to give the U.S. an excuse to attack the Syrian regime? AND YOU CLAIM YOU ARE NOT A CONSPIRACY THEORY FAN??!!!

    Comment by James Maguire — April 9, 2017 @ 8:40 pm

  27. #25/26

    Yes, the OPCW did say there were “gaps” (which isn’t surprising as they are operating in a war-zone)
    But that’s not PROOF of what happened in the Khan Sheikhun incident.

    Clearly neither the OPCW, Donald Trump, the world’s media know, or you, know who was responsible.
    That didn’t stop Trump launching 59 cruise missiles and blaming Russia (even though the agreement to dispose of Syrian chemical weapons was jointly sponsored by the USA and authorised by UN resolution 218)

    There are several possible explanations, including the triggering of a shell containing chemical agents.
    These shells do use explosives to disperse them, what matters is the temperature.
    Several reports, including on Channel 4 News in the UK admitted that this was quite possible, but rapidly were removed from the news as the orchestrated campaign to blame Syria and Russia developed.

    There are also lots of actors in the region who aren’t locals, or even Syrian.
    Do you imagine the sort of people who run over civilians in London or Stockholm would give a damn about the casualties, if they could tilt the war in their favour?
    That’s totally naive.

    I repeat, it made no sense for Assad’s forces to carry out a chemical attack.

    The OPCW issued this press release on Friday April 7th


    “The OPCW is investigating the incident in southern Idlib under the on-going mandate of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), which is “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic”. The OPCW cannot and will not release information about an on-going investigation. This policy exists to preserve the integrity of the investigatory process and its results as well as to ensure the safety and security of OPCW experts and personnel involved. All parties are asked to respect the confidentiality parameters required for a rigorous and unimpeded investigation.
    • The OPCW Technical Secretariat has initiated contact with the Syrian authorities. It has also requested that all States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, in a position to do so, share any information they may have regarding the allegations of chemical weapons use in the Khan Sheikhun area of Idlib province in the Syrian Arab Republic.
    • The findings of the FFM will be submitted in a report to the OPCW Executive Council and States Parties of the Chemical Weapons Convention.”


    Comment by prianikoff — April 10, 2017 @ 5:59 am

  28. So the OPCW said it had high degree of confidence that chemical weapons had been used in the past, and the Syrian regime denies it has ever used chemical weapons, and after the 2013 attacks it was stated that the sarin likely came from regime stocks and was used by those with the scale of apparatus needed to handle such large quantities and weaponise it effectively in Damascus at that time, but you say, ‘Why, though?’ Well as has been said above, maybe hatred for Sunni Arabs, but whatever, you insist on finding it likely the regime tells nothing but pure truths, always acts sanely and modestly, and the rebels and particularly AQ have sarin but only ever see fit to use it in rebel held areas. Really the ‘truther’ ‘left’ is asinine.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — April 10, 2017 @ 11:11 am

  29. Use it, in the 2013 case , or just store it in a big warehouse as in this case, it is claimed.

    Comment by Matthew Jackson — April 10, 2017 @ 11:13 am

  30. Wow, just saw these comments. Apparently someone called Simon thinks the US began bombing Syria a few days ago. Guess he hasn’t been following the news the last few years.

    Alternatively he has been, but he understands that worshippers massacred by the US in an Idlib mosque (“al-Qaida” as the US, its Russian friend and “the left” call them), displaced people in a Raqqa school, hundreds of people in Manbij, countless hundreds around Raqqa, an entire family in Atmeh when the US bombed non-jihadist rebels there a while back, countless others, are all just necessary collateral damage for the western left’s favourite theatre of the “war on terror”, whereas bombing a military airfield that had just been used to nuke civilians with chemical weapons – well, that’s another thing altogether. Everyone, repeat after me: “Military Airfields Matter.”

    Comment by mkaradjis — April 12, 2017 @ 1:41 pm

  31. Do you imagine the sort of people who run over civilians in London or Stockholm would give a damn about the casualties….?

    It’s always the same goddamned thing. Sane people accept that when something that is possible actually happens, the fact that it happened outweighs any consideration of what should or would have happened if a certain sort of wicked individuals for whose actions in the particular case there is zero actual evidence had run true to type.

    Why do people listen to this?

    In the U.S. case, I think it has a lot to do with the ideology that requires all political thinking to be viewed in the macro-lens of self-examination, self-improvement, and self-fulfillment. We are all descendants of Mr. Christian: “What shall I do to be saved?” Nothing but the personal, construed as myopically as possible, has any substance. Beyond this: damnation and the unthinkable.

    This asinine American way of looking at things <em.always prefers the most oblique possible view of events and regards this as honest, straightforward, and a “truth self-evident.” We’ve infected the world with this disease.

    Social class in this view is unthinkable and unutterable. We would rather end the world than give up this illusion.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — April 13, 2017 @ 11:27 am

  32. I continue to be surprised at how you offer claims of Assad’s brutality with no substantiation. Why would you expect any reasonable person to believe you over any other source of opinion?

    Comment by Will Banta — April 15, 2017 @ 3:52 pm

  33. I continue to be surprised at how you offer claims of Assad’s brutality with no substantiation. Why would you expect any reasonable person to believe you over any other source of opinion?

    I guess for the same reason I believe that Hitler killed 6 million Jews. Of course, there are plenty of Assadists starting with David Duke who are on the other side of the question, including a couple of Marine Le Pen’s lieutenants who are cited in today’s NYT:

    Comment by louisproyect — April 15, 2017 @ 6:34 pm

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