Can you imagine the editors of The New York Times publishing this if George Bush were still President?

From Robert Stacey Stacy McCain’s blog sidekick Smitty:

NYT Cranks The Judas Priest

Posted on | August 29, 2013 | 1 Comment

by Smitty

Could be the most unintentionally funny headline of the year: “Bomb Syria, Even if It Is Illegal

There are moral reasons for disregarding the law, and I believe the Obama administration should intervene in Syria. But it should not pretend that there is a legal justification in existing law. Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to do just that on Monday, when he said of the use of chemical weapons, “This international norm cannot be violated without consequences.” His use of the word “norm,” instead of “law,” is telling.

Syria is a party to neither the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 nor the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, and even if it were, the treaties rely on the United Nations Security Council to enforce them — a major flaw. Syria is a party to the Geneva Protocol, a 1925 treaty that bans the use of toxic gases in wars. But this treaty was designed after World War I with international war in mind, not internal conflicts.

‘Rodeo clown’ is the new cowboy, no? After around 6 years of anti-Bush Adventurism arguments (and the bulk of a year spent in Afghanistan helping carry out one of Obama’s rare promises kept) the skepticism has kind of settled in. Also, one cannot possibly fathom what strategic interest the U.S. even has in the Levant. Maybe standing by our ally, Israel. It is a cheery thing to see the occasional greeting on YouTube from Bibi Netanyahu. But is the refreshment of hearing from an actual leader of the non-rodeo-clown variety of sufficient value to justify throwing blood and treasure at Damascus?

More at the link.

The writer, Ian Hurd, continues to state that ethics and not just the law ought to guide policy. That’s a reasonable argument, and it is one I not only accept but support, but it immediately makes a mockery of any of the claims of our friends on the left that President Bush’s policies regarding Iraq and Afghanistan were wrong: it was the ethics of the situation — that Saddam Hussein was a dangerous man who needed to be deposed — which justified President Bush’s actions, and if you happen to disagree with his ethical judgement, well, he was the man elected as our President, so he was the one whose ethics mattered.

Smitty wrote, in part, “one cannot possibly fathom what strategic interest the U.S. even has in the Levant,” excepting perhaps siding with Israel. In that, I disagree: our economy is so large and our corporations so worldwide, our commitments so broad, and our need for the free flow of oil at reasonable prices so great that there is virtually nowhere in the world that is not of strategic interest to the United States. We are so big that anything that happens, anywhere in the world, could touch on our economic or defense interests. The problems in Syria aren’t a problem of identifying whether the region counts as part of our strategic interest, but in determining what outcomes are the best, or at least the least bad, for the United States.

And that’s the problem when it comes to the Syrian civil war; there are no good guys involved, and none of the various factions fighting — including the government — should we want to see emerge victorious. Determining which faction would be the least bad is like trying to decide between peas, lima beans and asparagus; they’re all nasty.

And that is a sad fact which is being obscured here. Bashar al-Assad and his regime are bad, bad, bad. But the fact that they were evil enough to use poison gas1 does not somehow make the rebels a better choice. If we don’t have anybody we want to see win, if we don’t have a long-range policy and plan for Syria after the civil war that we can influence, we shouldn’t get involved by shooting cruise missiles into the place.
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  1. I accept, for the sake of argument, that it almost certainly was the government which used poison gas.

17 Comments

  1. Our Editor wrote: I accept, for the sake of argument, that it almost certainly was the government which used poison gas.

    What evidence do you have for that conclusion?

    Certainly it can’t be the word of the same Administration that told us the attack on Benghazi was the result of an obscure video tape. Nor can it be based on Obama’s claim that spending Billions in borrowed money would keep unemployment under 7.5%. And, it can’t depend on Obama’s outrageous lies about how much money we’d all save if his health care law was enacted. I could go on and on about the IRS, NSA, Solyndra, Fast-n-Furious, etc. etc. But, you get the point.

    So, why do you say it almost certainly was the government which used poison gas?

  2. But, I guess it depends on identifying exactly which government(s) was behind the chemical weapons attack. Is it politically incorrect to raise that issue?

    Barack Obama and John Kerry loudly proclaim they have evidence it was Bashar al-Assad’s forces who used chemical weapons *on their own people, and many observers accept the Administration’s talking points without questioning the validity of the underlying assumptions. Some even going so far as to insist that calling for an open and forthright examination of the evidence is somehow out-of-bounds.

    Kerry’s pedantic speech defending an immediate but limited attack on Syria overflowed with a contrived and unseemly urgency, and his scripted attempt to project certainty rang as false and as hollow as his prep school rhetoric. It was so inadequate, so unpersuasive, so obviously insincere that a shocked and chagrined Obama quickly pulled the rug from under Kerry’s feet dramatically reversing bellicose plans for an immediate unilateral attack on Syria and announcing he would wait for Congress to consider the issue.

    Then, in order to avoid answering inconvenient questions, Obama quickly departed the White House for the greener pastures of the golf course. Now, it seems, we’ll get an opportunity to watch our elected representatives examine the evidence for and against the assumption Assad’s forces used chemical weapons against *their own people.

    Moreover, Kerry’s embarrassing, lame ass, two-faced, sophomoric, blustering excuse-making on Chris Wallace’s FOX NEWS SUNDAY show confirmed we have a fool for a Secretary of State. As he droned on and on ducking and dodging, wiping egg of his elongated equine face and trying to pretend he hadn’t been abandoned (like our Ambassador in Benghazi) and left to his own devices, twisting in the wind. While a national TV audience watched, stunned, torn between conclusions of incompetence and malevolence.

    Now, as we wait for Congress to return (Monday, September 9th) the calls to support Obama’s attack on Syria, least The American President lose face, become louder and centered on nationalistic interests: Our President right or wrong. Well, first, let’s see the evidence Assad used chemical weapons, no evidence, no support for Obama, no exceptions.

    *Which is a rather curious phrase, an underhanded one designed to condemn and mislead rather than to clarify.

  3. Notice the near universal black-out on pressing the Administration for evidence that Bashar al-Assad’s forces were behind the chemical weapons attack. Chemical weapons were used, that isn’t in dispute, but we have a curious, even blind, rush to judgment that Assad’s Syrian Army did it to his own people no less, without much mention of the more likely probability the insurgents did it and blamed in on Assad to draw the US into the conflict they were steadily losing since Obama’s supply line from Benghazi was choked-off last 9/11.

    Barack Obama conveniently cracked the door open when he drew his inadvertent Red Line in the sand, and all the insurgents had to do was use chemical weapons to force that door wide open. Now Obama stands naked and exposed for all the world to see standing in the doorway armed with Tomahawk missiles chomping at the bit to come inside and join his beloved Sunni insurgents against Assad’s forces.

    MSM and US politicians from both parties hardly even trouble themselves to acknowledge the absence of persuasive evidence, or go much beyond citing the Administration’s intellectually shallow but emotionally over confident assurances Assad was responsible. This sort of glaring one-sided omission doesn’t happen by accident, and certainly not in such a widespread way. I smell a big fat rat. We’re being played, big time.

    I’m reminded of the wisdom of an old poker player’s adage: If you’re sittin’ at the table and you haven’t figured out who the sucker is, the others have, it’s you.

  4. Supposedly, that evidence will be shown to the members of Congress. I thought I had heard that about 100 members returned to Washington early for this, but can’t remember where.

  5. POSTED ON THE RED LINE THREAD
    —————————————-

    Yorkshire says:
    Sunday, 1 September 2013 at 20:22

    The Thick Plottens
    ——————————————-

    Rebels Admit Responsibility for Chemical Weapons Attack

    Militants tell AP reporter they mishandled Saudi-supplied chemical weapons, causing accident

    Paul Joseph Watson
    Infowars.com
    August 30, 2013

    Syrian rebels in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta have admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, revealing that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.

    “From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families….many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the (deadly) gas attack,” writes Gavlak. (back up version here).

    Rebels told Gavlak that they were not properly trained on how to handle the chemical weapons or even told what they were. It appears as though the weapons were initially supposed to be given to the Al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra.

    More here:
    http://www.infowars.com/rebels-admit-responsibility-for-chemical-weapons-attack/

  6. Rebels told Gavlak that they were not properly trained on how to handle the chemical weapons or even told what they were. It appears as though the weapons were initially supposed to be given to the Al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra.

    I’m sorry, York, but this whole thing sounds like a fish story to me. For one, as far as I know, Saudi Arabia doesn’t even have chemical weapons. What do they need them for? With Saddam Hussein gone, there is no longer a serious military threat to them in the region.

    2nd, even if they did, they would be very unlikely to hand them to a 3rd party, and especially not a bunch of rebels who might do God only knows what with them. It would be a bit like us giving nukes to the Contras in the 1980′s.

    Finally, why would they give them chemical weapons and not show them how they worked?? To use the above mentioned example, it would be like us giving nuclear bombs to the Contras without telling them how they worked or even what they were.

  7. William Jacobson of Le*gal In*sur*sec*tion wrote, in part:

    Congress is not asked to approve a “plan” or a “strategy” or how many missiles get fired, if at all, at what time of day and on what targets. I don’t understand — militarily or politically — why some people want to take on that burden.

    Congress is asked to authorize the use of force by the President of the United States if, as, and when the President deems it necessary to address the use and transfer of chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in, to or from Syria.

    If the facts are that the Assad government used chemical weapons to kill over one thousand civilians, then the President should have that authority as it is in our national interest to forestall the large-scale use and spread of weapons of mass destruction. That we cannot or should not do it in every case does not mean the President should not have authority in this case.

    Professor Jacobson is no wild-eyed liberal or dutiful Obamabot. He’s very conservative, and thinks that our President is pretty much of aforeign policy failure.

    Were I a complete cynic, I’d say that the Congress should give the President just the authority he has asked . . . and then it will be all Mr Obama’s failure when he either doesn’t strike anyway, or he does strike, and his policies still fail. But I am not a complete cynic.

    The Congress should not even consider any authorization based on how limited the President’s actions are. What the Congress should demand is an explanation from the President as to what his policy is and how he intends to achieve those goals.

  8. The text of President Obama’s draft resolution to Congress:

    Whereas, on August 21, 2013, the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus, Syria, killing more than 1,000 innocent Syrians;

    Whereas these flagrant actions were in violation of international norms and the laws of war;

    Whereas the United States and 188 other countries comprising 98 percent of the world’s population are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons;

    Whereas, in the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, Congress found that Syria’s acquisition of weapons of mass destruction threatens the security of the Middle East and the national security interests of the United States;

    Whereas the United Nations Security Council, in Resolution 1540 (2004), affirmed that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons constitutes a threat to international peace and security;

    Whereas, the objective of the United States’ use of military force in connection with this authorization should be to deter, disrupt, prevent, and degrade the potential for, future uses of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction;

    Whereas, the conflict in Syria will only be resolved through a negotiated political settlement, and Congress calls on all parties to the conflict in Syria to participate urgently and constructively in the Geneva process; and

    Whereas, unified action by the legislative and executive branches will send a clear signal of American resolve.

    SEC. ___ AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES
    (a) Authorization. — The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria in order to –

    (1) prevent or deter the use or proliferation (including the transfer to terrorist groups or other state or non-state actors), within, to or from Syria, of any weapons of mass destruction, including chemical or biological weapons or components of or materials used in such weapons; or

    (2) protect the United States and its allies and partners against the threat posed by such weapons.

    (b) War Powers Resolution Requirements. –

    (1) Specific Statutory Authorization. — Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

    (2) Applicability of other requirements. — Nothing in this joint resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

  9. Am I the only one who wonders why we haven’t heard a peep from our previous Secretary of State, the one who once claimed she was the person we wanted answering that 3 AM phone call, concerning Syria?

  10. Am I the only one who wonders why we haven’t heard a peep from our previous Secretary of State, the one who once claimed she was the person we wanted answering that 3 AM phone call, concerning Syria?

    The previous Secretary of State obviously wants to run for president some day. Why take a stand that, whichever side you come down on, is likely to end up being wrong if not outright foolish?

  11. Eric says:
    Monday, 2 September 2013 at 14:24

    Rebels told Gavlak that they were not properly trained on how to handle the chemical weapons or even told what they were. It appears as though the weapons were initially supposed to be given to the Al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra.

    I’m sorry, York, but this whole thing sounds like a fish story to me. For one, as far as I know, Saudi Arabia doesn’t even have chemical weapons. What do they need them for? With Saddam Hussein gone, there is no longer a serious military threat to them in the region.

    Who in the Muddled East can you trust on September 2, 2013? Do you feel like you ARE getting the “truth” or 10% of the truth from anyone. And remember Pilate’s words to Christ, “What is Truth?” Hell, BO and traitor Kerry aren’t on the same script. Pick someone trustworthy from this cabal: BO, Kerry, McCain, Graham, the UN, Assad of Syria, the Saudi’s, the Egyptians who felt the wrath of BO’s support of the MuzBros., the MuzBros., AlQaeda, every variation of Al-Q, the Raiders of Benghazi, MSNBC, SeeBS, NBC, CNN, ABC, the State Dept., the NSA, the Russians, the Iranians, the CIA, FOX, or pick anyone you can trust on 9/2/13 without having your ass shot out from under you?

    What is out there, besides your intuition, your eyes and ears are you going to hang your hat on 150%? No Effin’ Body for me. I just see a stupid person in BO ready to set off the trip wire that starts the unintended consequences. Now think of all the military strategic training, or rounds of Golf the C-i-C has had.

  12. RED FLAG NEWS – The Hits Just Keep Coming

    SH*T ABOUT TO HIT FAN: Egyptian Liberal Newspaper Claims Obama Is A Muslim Brotherhood Member, Says MB Leader Threatens To Release “Papers” Proving His Membership…

  13. Who in the Muddled East can you trust on September 2, 2013? Do you feel like you ARE getting the “truth” or 10% of the truth from anyone. And remember Pilate’s words to Christ, “What is Truth?” Hell, BO and traitor Kerry aren’t on the same script. Pick someone trustworthy from this cabal: BO, Kerry, McCain, Graham, the UN, Assad of Syria, the Saudi’s, the Egyptians who felt the wrath of BO’s support of the MuzBros., the MuzBros., AlQaeda, every variation of Al-Q, the Raiders of Benghazi, MSNBC, SeeBS, NBC, CNN, ABC, the State Dept., the NSA, the Russians, the Iranians, the CIA, FOX, or pick anyone you can trust on 9/2/13 without having your ass shot out from under you?

    The question for me is not so much “Who do you trust?” so much as “What is realistic?” And the Saudis giving (most likely nonexistent) chemical weapons to anybody is highly unrealistic. I’ve studied the Saudis to some extent, and one thing they value very highly is stability, both at home and abroad. Giving chemical weapons (which they probably don’t have) to some terrorist/rebel group is highly destabilizing. All it does is encourage someone like Assad to use chemical weapons against them.

  14. I would also add that, just because we dislike Obama, we should be careful about jumping into the weeds in terms of news sources just because they discredit him. The Internet is full of kookery and “Stories” that are sometimes made up out of thin air.

    As proof of such, just think back on all the fights we had with Blu and her Twoofer nonsense. She wouldn’t give up in large part because, by Golly!, it said so on the Internet, and so therefore it HAD to be true!

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