Some Hindsight: The Lies That Dumped America Into the Syrian War

Checking out the news these days, it might seem pretty clear why the U.S. is at war in Syria: destroy ISIS. That is almost certainly the way the two main presidential candidates will see it during their upcoming first debate, in a rare point of agreement.

The funny thing is that ISIS did not become the reason for what now is a major regional war until late in the game.

If we rewind about three years, the original justification was to “rid the world of the dictator,” Syrian president Bashar Assad. The US involvement was started under the pretext that Assad was using chemical weapons against the other side in what was once confined to a civil war. American declared Assad thus had to go to avoid a genocide and humanitarian disaster.

FYI: If you read no further, remember anytime a politician uses the word “genocide” these days we’re about to be dragged into another conflict that will morph into a quagmire.

So here’s a reprise of something I wrote three years ago. Let’s revisit it and see whether or not any of the current disaster, political and humanitarian, could have been anticipated.

From Three Years Ago:

As for intervening in Syria, the United Nations does not say to do it. The United Kingdom voted against it, the first time in two decades the UK has not supported US military action [the UK later changed it’s policy and is now involved across the Middle East again]. The US Congress will not have an opportunity to vote on it, though many members have reservations. Many in our own military have doubts. Half of all American oppose it. Why does the president insist America must attack Syria?

Obama’s reasons seem vague at best, something from the 19th century about “firing a shot across Assad’s bow” as if this is a pirate movie. Or maybe protecting the US, though Syria (and others) have had chemical weapons for years without threatening the US Even Saddam did not use chemical weapons against the US during two American-led invasions of his own country. To protect the women and children of Syria? If that is the goal, the US might best send doctors and medicine to the refugee camps, and nerve gas antidotes into Syria itself.

Vagueness is a very poor basis for the US entering into another war in the Middle East, throwing itself deeper into a chaotic and volatile situation it little understands.

So let’s reprise our handy questions summary:

  • The US is intervening in Syria’s civil war because maybe it was Assad who used poison gas.
  • The poison gas killed a couple of thousand people. A horrible thing by any measure.
  • Close to 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war to date [in 2013; the death toll is now likely in the millions].
  • The US is thus going to war again in the Middle East because a tiny percentage of the deaths were caused by gas instead of artillery, aerial bombs, machine guns, tanks, rockets, grenades, car bombs, mines, bad food, or sticks and stones.

Because it seems Obama is not asking himself some important questions, here’s a list he may wish to consult:

  • Is it Iraq again? That went well.
  • Does it have oil?
  • Does it pose a direct threat to America, i.e., knife to our throat?
  • Can you define specifically what US interests are at stake (no fair just citing generic “world peace” or “evil dictator” or a magical “red line”)?
  • Does the Chemical Weapons Treaty say it is the US’ job to take punitive action against violators? [Trick question; it does not.]
  • Is Syria’s evil dictator somehow super-worse than the many other evil dictators scattered across the world where the US is not intervening?
  • Did Syria attack any US forces somewhere? Kidnap Americans? Commit 9/11?
  • Does the US have a specific, detailed follow-on plan for what happens if Assad departs or is killed?
  • Does the US have a specific plan to ensure weapons given to the rebels, some of whom are openly al Qaeda [Now ISIS], won’t migrate out of Syria as they did in Libya?
  • Does the US believe its secret deal with the “rebels” whoever the hell they are to hand over Syria’s chemical weapons after they take power is airtight?
  • With that in mind, can the US tell with accuracy the “good” rebels from the “bad” rebels?
  • Has the US considered in detail what affect a rebel (Sunni) victory in Syria will have on chaotic Iraq next door and the greater Middle East?
  • What are the possible unintended consequences of another military strike? Are they worth whatever is hoped to be gained by the strike?

Obama, if the answer was “No” to any of the above questions, you should not intervene in Syria.

NOTE: Obama did intervene, and golly, who could have thought it, look what happened!

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.

44 thoughts on “Some Hindsight: The Lies That Dumped America Into the Syrian War”

  1. ISIS/daesh and a bazillion others. For example, taking a tour through Aleppo is more like the Middle Eastern version of Gangs of New York. You’d need a database to keep track of them all.

  2. Well, if Trump doesn’t speak against the Syrian conflict, I’m going to be seriously annoyed with him.

    Trump has listened to his immigration supporters who are now cheering. Let’s have him now listen to his foreign policy supporters.

  3. The U.S. had a fallacy that Syria and Bashar Assad would fall to the Syrian Arab Spring protests like Libya and Muammar Gaddafi. And that fallacy was augmented by the Saudi Arabia’s fallacy to spend $ trillions into Syria, oust Assad, install a Sunni dictator like Egypt’s Fatah al-Sissi, and eliminate Russia’s, Iran’s, and Hezbollah’s influence in Middle East. I have more details in my blog titleed: “The Ten Unholy Commandments of the U.S.Civil War in Syria” at: a), and b) I read on the news today that hawks in Obama’s circle push for more open military involvement in Syria, as the U.S. disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan were not enough! No wonder why our economy is still stumbling since the 2009 recession. All the American wealth is thrown to the Middle East dogs!
    Nikos Retsos,retired professor, Chicago

  4. No, you’re not “sorry,” and no, you’re not “surprised.”

    Virtually every time you post at, it is to express “surprise” that would publish antiwar articles that don’t follow whatever line you’ve decided they should follow.

    Why not just honestly disagree instead of feigning “surprise” every time?

    1. Because with respect to everyone warnings are going out that Hillary will launch open war and her choice of her team supports this.
      Counterpunch have just published an article “The Anti Antiwar Left” I don’t necessarily agree with it but it warns of the dangers of division and confusion amongst antiwar campaigners when yet another open war is being prepared.
      Obama took the decision we are now told to continue the neo-Cons scheme to attack Syria in February 2009, having been informed that in elections the Arab National Congress would get 55% , but they would go ahead with overthrowing the Syrian government anyway.
      Also the gas attack was clearly a False Flag attack, it’s got iti wriitten all over it.
      So that was an attempt to go to open war then.
      It never was a “Civil War”.

      1. “It never was a ‘Civil War.'”

        Yeah, I’ve heard that claim from a number of people.

        It’s a war inside Syria, in which all sides includes Syrians. That’s a textbook civil war, regardless of whether one or more sides have foreign backers, or even were incited by foreigners.

        That said, it doesn’t matter too terribly much since an antiwar article is an antiwar article whether it agrees with you on one specific detail or not.

        And you didn’t answer the question: Why do you always pretend that you’re “surprised” or “concerned” instead of just disagreeing without lying about why?

        1. Actually, so was I surprised that Antiwar would post such an ill informed article. I’ve been following events pretty closely since this got started and it’s been nothing but a long litany of terrorist attacks on Syrian security forces eminating from border areas. This is long before the ISIS flag was unfurled – even then, Obama and his crew couldn’t bring themselves to call it ISIS, preferring the more obscure, and less incriminating ISIL.
          I’m glad Dick 100 pointed out the dificiencies and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying this.. What I am wondering, though, is way you’re being such a wedge ass about it?

          1. On any given set of facts and opinions one can either agree, disagree or be neutral/seek clarification. Being surprised is a covert way of saying that you disagree and implying that there is something wrong with the author without saying so. I also share the position that it would be preferable to simply and directly state what your disagreement is instead of using a term like surprised.

          2. JP,

            Dick shows up every few days to express his “surprise” that would run a piece he disagrees with. And that’s my only problem with him. He’s not surprised. We all know he’s not surprised. He knows we all know he’s not surprised. So why pretend surprise?

            Now, in answer as to why might print an article that you or Dick find deficient, or for that matter one that even IS actually deficient:

   prints a wide range of content from a wide range of authors. All we require of that content is that it be antiwar, not that it agree with some predetermined set of factual claims.

            If the Syria war only has two sides, it is unique in the history of warfare by having so few. Last time I noticed there were at least eight sides (the Assad regime, the Islamic State, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, at least two different strains of Kurdish nationalists, Russia and the United States), and probably several more.

          3. Dick’s turn of phrase, being sorry and surprised, should be taken at face value. Neither are an unreasonable reaction to an article that is in such variance with the known facts and their chronological order. What is out of bounds is calling somebody a “liar” because you don’t like the way they construct a post.

          4. I might take Dick’s claim of being “surprised” at face value if he made it once, twice or three times.

            He makes it EVERY time, over the SAME thing — anything he disagrees with.

            If he’s surprised that runs antiwar articles, he must also be surprised to see the sun rise in the morning, to turn on the TV and not be able to find anything except Law and Order re-runs, and that coffee is hot.

        2. “without lying about why?”
          There is plenty of information that supports Dick100’s contention that the “Civil War’ narrative is just for show/media/political rhetoric. The true underpinnings of the conflict goes back much further in time and is much darker(power politics). Google, “yinon plan” and ‘7 countries in 5 years”.

          1. The lying isn’t about his contention. It’s about his claim that he’s “surprised.”

            At least once a week, he shows up at claiming to be “surprised” by the type of content that runs and has always run. The fact is, he’s not “surprised” at all, he’s just claiming to be for dramatic effect.

            There’s really one, and only one, characteristic that all content on will share: It will be antiwar. This piece is not an exception; its flaw, in Dick’s view, is that it doesn’t agree with him on causes, motives, etc. for a war that both the author and Dick oppose.

  5. No need for Obama to ask questions, except to find out what he’s supposed to say in public. He’s not the one calling the shots.

  6. There are only 2 and not “all sides”, Washington’s Jihadists and the government.
    I go on the report of the Joint Chiefs which amongst other things said there were no “seculars” and “moderates”. A “Covert Operation”, this type of operation was originally devised in 1947, is by definition not a Civil War, since it is organised and funded by a foreign government and involves Jihadist paramilitaries recruited and trained abroad by them, and sent in by them from foreign bases.
    It is a return to the classic, textbook, Covert Operation.
    Oh , one minor point, Obama would have had to sign “Findings” for the operation to begin, as they are required. With his personal signature.

  7. It’s tragic that Pres Obama decided to continue the neoconservative agenda as per the Middle East and N Africa. And our current presidential aspirants will certainly do the same.

    The difference between the Obama and Bush administrations, when it comes to military policy, is more of style than substance: as opposed to Iraq-type invasions, we have used a bombing campaign to topple Libya, encouraged the Arab Spring in Egypt and use “moderate” rebels in Syria. These interventions, similar to in Iraq, have brought death and suffering to the indigenous peoples. The only significant difference between the two admins is the fortunate decision to not attack Iran.

    The goal of these interventions is to a) create a protective bubble around Israel and b) (and more importantly) to police the regions critical to oil production and other natural resources while protecting the USDollar for oil monopoly (included in this agenda is the maintenance of Sunni Saudi Arabia’s regional dominance).

    It is doubtful to me that the neoconservative plan will bring about a New American Century of US prosperity, as designed, nor does it justify the suffering it has caused.

  8. “Just because something appears on doesn’t necessarily make it so.”

    True — and I never said otherwise.

    Once again, my problem with Dick isn’t that Dick disagrees with something that appears at My problem with Dick is that every time Dick disagrees with something at he pretends to be “surprised” that that would happen.

    Every. Time. Without. Exception.

    That’s a debate tactic — a dishonest one, a way of begging the question. Is the column he’s objecting to wrong? Why, no need to argue that, of COURSE it’s wrong. So wrong that he’s SURPRISED by it.

    The content of the particular piece, and how well it stands up to scrutiny, isn’t at issue here. What’s at issue is a commenter who isn’t here to argue his claim but rather to try to smuggle his claim in as correct by means of expressing “surprise” that anyone might think otherwise.

    1. You know what else is a debate tactic, a sleazy one?.. Ad homonym attacks on an opponent like calling Dick a liar because he has the temerity to critique sloppy article that’s below Antiwar’s usual high standard.
      Incidentally, I looked through Dick’s previous posts and he does not use “surprise” every time he disagrees with an article – but I’m not calling you a liar.

      1. You might want to look up the meaning of “ad hominem” as a logical fallacy. It doesn’t mean what you seem to think it means.

        I called Dick a liar because Dick lies, not as an argument.

        1. Thanks for the correction. You should probably stick to being the site grammar policeman instead of self appointed Thought Policeman.

          1. I’m neither kind of policeman. I’m a site guidelines policeman.

            Since neither bad grammar nor lying about one’s motivations are violations of the guidelines, neither of those things are my concern as a moderator (a “policeman”).

            As a commenter, on the other hand, when I notice someone lying on a frequent and repetitive basis, there’s no particular reason I shouldn’t mention it.

          2. Well you’re not much of a guildlines policeman either if you address the users of this site with such incivility.

  9. No, you haven’t been “attacked,” in your absence or otherwise. Noticing that you’re lying and pointing it out isn’t “attacking” you — and if you feel that it is, you can put an instant stop to it. Absolutely as soon as you stop lying, I’ll stop noticing that you’re lying.

    My job of moderator is official. But that’s irrelevant since it has nothing whatsoever to do with me commenting on your constant pretend “surprise.”

    Nor does it have anything to do with me snorting Diet Dr. Pepper out my nose and falling over laughing when you pretend that’s opposition to the US war in Syria is “muted.” is consistently and completely antiwar at all times, in all places, and no matter the excuses. The fact that not every person whose writing may be published at agrees with you in every respect on the motivations and affiliations of every party doesn’t bear on that, no matter how “surprised” you may pretend to be over it.

    1. So are you the official “plant” then ?
      As they say in Britain “Now calm down, dear”.
      As to your claims I am lying, I remain genuinely surprised and concerned.
      I see the situation is being hotted up by an official visit of the *Coordination Committee of of Oppositional and Revolutionary Forces”.

      1. I’m not sure what you mean by “official ‘plant.'”

        I am’s comment moderator.

        I also comment quite a bit, and some people mistake that commenting for official moderator stuff (or at least concern troll on that premise).

        But the two are very different things. If I’m wearing my “moderator” hat, you’ll know.

  10. Yes, I’ve had that card played on me before. “If you express an opinion I disagree with, I won’t donate to, even though you don’t speak for when commenting.”

    It’s evil nonsense no matter who pulls it, and I won’t buckle under to it. If wants to fire me on the basis of temper tantrums by alleged donors, they’re welcome to do that.

    1. Calling somebody a liar is beyond the scope of expressing an opinion, especially when done over a matter so trivial as this.
      The only one who is having a temper tantrum is you. For the sake of Antiwar, I hope they do take notice and replace you with somebody more stable.

      1. “Calling somebody a liar is beyond the scope of expressing an opinion”

        In this case, that’s true, since it was a verifiable and indisputable fact.

        Be careful what you wish for. When I recently asked to be replaced, it was because someone else decided I should be banning more people and took action behind my back on the matter.

        That seems like a more important matter to me than whether or not someone’s feelings get hurt because they get told something other than “oh, yes, you are absolutely right this time, just like you’re absolutely right all the time, because we mustn’t ever say anything except that you’re absolutely right.”

        1. a verifiable and indisputable fact

          How so?.. How do you know somebody is or is not surprised or sorry, Mr. “I’m no Thought Policeman”?

          1. “How do you know somebody is or is not surprised”

            When someone shows up every week or so to claim to be surprised about the same thing he or she claimed to be surprised about the week before, and the week before that, and the week before that, at some point it becomes pretty obvious that unless that person has some kind of severe organic memory formation problem that would make it impossible to remember the URL as well, then no, he or she is not surprised.

          2. First you say he posts “EVERY time” the same thing “every few days”, then it’s “every week or so”..
            In fact, he said it once about a month ago – and you’re still bent out of shape about it.
            Exaggerate much?

          3. “Exaggerate much?”

            Nope, not much. Not even a little. It wasn’t once. It was many times, over many weeks. That’s a fact. You don’t have to like it. It’s a fact whether you like it or not.

          4. Your “fact” is not reflected in the Disqus record. What is revealed is Dick getting the better of you in the last two months and you’re taking it personally.

          5. In order for someone to “get the better of me” there would need to be some kind of contest going on. There isn’t. There is Dick saying things about, and me saying things about Dick.

            I don’t know if you’re incapable of interrogating the Disqus record, or if you’re just hoping nobody will check your claim. Nor do I find either of those possibilities particularly exercising.

          6. There is Dick saying things about, and me saying things about Dick.

            That about sums it up.. Kill the messenger.


  11. Texas and Colorado don’t have a really big Syrian or for that matter Middle East persons population. Which I understand, really. Mostly because the real religious terrorists are swarming here. It’s a big issue to go where there are for all practical purposes no community of the Hated Ones. That makes it safe to go anywhere in say Colorado Springs and talk real loud trash. The pamphlets, leaflets, mouth-fart-lets, there’s so much anti Muslim paper here I could stack it up, mix it with some glue and build a paper (based) palace sturdier than the equally ubiquitous McMansions that are uglying up the neighborhood.
    and I wonders, yes I does, do any of these people even, you know, Talk To Arabic People, at all? I get copies of some really vicious anti-Muslim scare talk and if somebody pulled such a hate campaign against, oh, the Catholic Church or any other christian instution he’d be hip deep in Mossad and NSA and probably MI5 agents gnawing on every square inch of unprotected flesh.

    And more than one of these folks have told me, using the exact same words each time, like they were taught it by chanting… “What group do you think of when you hear the word Terrorist”? If I answer “Irish” they accuse me of being a smartass.
    Which I am, but it’s the truth. I’ve got the damn U.N. in my family, Tongans, Lebanese Ba’hai, Natives, and for some reason a lot of Irish.Who have been slaughtering each other in the Auld Sod for centuries and sometimes here for a shorter time. When somebody says something on the line of “all sides” and another says “there’s only two sides” I get flashbacks.

    Given the climate I’m not surprised at all that for instance Syrians don’t just walk up and start a conversation about it. And I just don’t initiate conversations at all.
    But by golly I did actually get a few conversations from people who not only had Been There they were Born There. And I see and hear them as People. Nothing more nor less.

    But the real reason for “our” money and soldiers are over there has nothing to do with bigotry. That’s just for the sheeples back home. It’s all about money. And it’s been that way for thousands of years.

  12. Anyhow, I got distracted. Wandered off topic but not much. Syria, Lebanon and Israel/Palestine are a land bridge between Asia, Europe and Africa. They were and to an extend still are Where The Road Narrows… a chokepoint unless you pay the toll. It’s been literally a Hell of a stated thousands of years. If it wasn’t for that factor, nobody would voluntarily live there. Well, maybe. I lived in the deserts here, and relished the desolation. It’s not a place which would naturally sustain large groups of people. And if you wanted to market soldiers instead of spices or minerals, the same dynamic for moving product works for that.

    It’s a trap. It’s a well known trap. But it seems some smart fellow will say he has found a way to beat the curse, you know, “Oh, hundreds of would-be demigods have broken themselves there, but I Have The Better Plan and I WILL build the eternal empire… All hail my smartness!” If a cure is developed for such dementia, it would sell really well. Honest and polite discussion helps a lot more than just about any other. So here we are, actually doing the one thing that’s proven to work. Not so much to prevent or cure, just mitigate. Rejoice, friends. Some don’t even have that.

  13. Assad the eye doctor who lived in London with his educated British wife is quite literally the most peaceful, secular leader in the entire Middle East. There is no civil war in Syria.. The CIA pushed rebel terrorists by arming them and paying them to overthrow Assad because he refused to run an oil pipeline through his nation via Qatar & Saudi Arabia. False flags and media propaganda was pushed hard by America to fulfill their energy stranglehold on Russia (who supplies Europe wt energy) and complete yet another Globalist task of mass migration to destabilize the west. Russia got involved to protect it’s interest and it’s allie… They won.. and I am glad.

    Time for Trump to expose this madness to the world and hold Clinton & Obama accountable for their war crimes… Saudi Arabia is the biggest supplier of terrorism and should pay the debt with their oil.

    Shifting the world game of power is now necessary…

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