U.S. Attack on Syria Illegal, Immoral

“Make no mistake,” says Phil Giraldi, “there are certain things that every American should know about the Syrian conflict.” First of all, it’s illegal and a war crime.

By Philip Giraldi

Here we go again. The lesson not learned from Afghanistan, or from Iraq, or from Libya will now be also not learned from Syria. This is the second time that President Donald Trump has used volleys of cruise missiles against a country that in no way threatens the United States or its interests. It also comes on top of Secretary of State designate Mike Pompeo positively boasting over the U.S. military having killed hundreds of Russians in Syria in what was clearly a trap designed to do just that.

Make no mistake; there are certain things that every American should know about the Syrian conflict. First of all, the United States and its allies, who are occupying nearly one-quarter of the country, though in a region that is generally sparsely populated, are in Syria illegally. Under international law, attacking and occupying a country that is not directly threatening you without any justifying United Nations Security Council resolution is illegal. It is also a war crime as defined by the Nuremberg trials that followed after the Second World War, which ruled that a war of aggression is the “ultimate war crime,” as it inevitably leads to many other crimes. So the United States is undeniably a war criminal.

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That the United States has not been brought to justice for its crimes is largely due to its political and military power, which few nations choose to challenge, but also because it is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and is able to veto resolutions criticizing it. There have been numerous motions condemning American behavior, but none of them have made it out of the Security Council. This is not a confirmation of U.S. innocence but rather a result of the politics that operate at the United Nations.

The United States is also in violation of international law because it remains in Syria without the permission of the recognized and legitimate Syrian government. Iranian forces and those of Russia are present on the invitation of Damascus. The United States is not. The United States has also been working to overthrow the legitimate Syrian government acting in collusion with groups of so-called rebels, some of whom are drawn from internationally recognized terrorist groups.

Concerning the assertion being made by the Trump administration that there is responsibility to intervene militarily in Syria to prevent attacks on civilians, there is no such obligation. No country has any right to intervene in the internal workings of any other country without a UN Security Council resolution. If there were such an obligation, the United Nations and the United States would have already intervened in Israel/Palestine, as Israel has been the subject of more resolutions than any other country, nearly all of which have been blocked by the use of the U.S. veto.

If there were actually what the Barack Obama administration used to refer to as a “responsibility to protect” or “R2P,” it would certainly apply to Israel’s current systematic murdering of unarmed demonstrators protesting its occupation of Palestine. Israeli snipers have shot more than 2,000 Gazans who were demonstrating on their own side of the border between Gaza and Israel, targeting in particular individuals who appeared to be leading the protests and also journalists. What Israel is doing to Gaza currently, as well as what it did in 2014, is orders of magnitude worse than what Syria is allegedly doing to rebels on its own territory.

The claim being made by the White House that Syria is a serial user of chemical weapons does not bear scrutiny in any event. Most of the evidence comes from hostile sources, meaning from the rebels themselves, who are not shy about staging atrocities and blaming them on the government in Damascus. Last year’s cruise missile assault on Shayrat Airbase was triggered by assertions that Syria had carried out a chemical weapons attack at Khan Sheikhoun, claims that were dubious at the time and have been challenged repeatedly. Recently, Secretary of Defense James Mattis admitted that there was no actual evidence that the Syrian government had carried out the attack. In the current case, in the Damascus suburb of Douma, the “evidence” for a gassing comes from rebel sources, who controlled the area at the time of the attack, and also from media sources sympathetic to their cause.

A team of investigators from the relatively impartial Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrived in Damascus on the day of the U.S. attack and were to be given access to the site of the alleged gassing by the Syrian government, which now controls the area, but they had not even begun their work. The U.S., Britain, and France attacked without even allowing the process to play out to determine who had done what, a presumption of guilt based on dubious or no evidence, which is in itself suspicious. It was as if they knew that they must act quickly while nearly everyone was accepting the questionable narrative that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad had done it.

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And then there is motive. The Syrian government had no good reason to use chemical weapons on a pocket of rebels that was rapidly being reduced and was ready to fall. To use such weapons would guarantee international outrage and even military reprisals, such as occurred on Friday. The rebels, on the contrary, who are losing to the Syrian army, had every reason to fake an incident precisely to invite foreign intervention.

And finally, there are the practical and constitutional arguments, which start with an appreciation that previous U.S. interventions in Asia and Africa have all failed to make the United States and the American people any safer; quite the contrary. They have cost trillions of dollars better spent at home as well as thousands of American and millions of foreign lives. And the Syrian cruise missile attack staged last week is also unconstitutional. There was no imminent threat and, lacking that, the president has no authority to use lethal force to compel anyone to do anything. Per Article 1, Section 8, the Constitution requires a congressional authorization to go to war.

Bombing Syria is illegal, immoral, ineffective, and dishonest. It is time for the United States to pull out its troops and leave the Syrians alone. Americans killing Syrians just to stop Syrians from killing each other is a recipe for disaster.

Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review.




Macron: The Last Multilateralist

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“Together,” President Macron instructed President Trump, “we can resist the rise of aggressive nationalisms that deny our history and divide the world.”

Before Congress he denounced “extreme nationalism,” invoked the UN, NATO, WTO, and Paris climate accord, and implored Trump’s America to come home to the New World Order.

“The United States is the one who invented this multilateralism,” Macron went on. “You are the one now who has to help preserve and reinvent it.”

His visit was hailed and his views cheered, but, on reflection, the ideas of Emmanuel Macron seem to be less about tomorrow than yesterday.

For the world he celebrates is receding into history.

The America of 2018 is coming to see NATO as having evolved into an endless U.S. commitment to go to war with Russia on behalf of a rich Europe that resolutely refuses to provide for its own defense.

Since the WTO was created in the mid-’90s, the U.S. has run $12 trillion in trade deficits; and among the biggest beneficiaries — the EU.

Under the Paris climate accord, environmental restrictions are put upon the United States from which China is exempt.

As for the UN, is that sinkhole of anti-Americanism, the General Assembly, really worth the scores of billions we have plunged into it?

“Aggressive nationalism” is a term that might well fit Napoleon Bonaparte whose Arc de Triomphe sits on the Champs-Elysees. But does it really fit the Hungarians, Poles, Brits, Scots, Catalans, and other indigenous peoples of Europe who are now using democratic methods and means to preserve a national home for the unique peoples to whom they belong?

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And the United States would seem an odd place to go about venting on “aggressive nationalisms that deny our history.”

Did Macron not learn at the Lycee Henri IV in Paris or the Ecole Nationale d’Administration how the Americans acquired all that land?

General Washington, at whose Mount Vernon home Macron dined, was a nationalist who fought for six years to sever America’s ties to the nation under which he was born.

How does Macron think Andrew Jackson acquired Florida from Spain, Sam Houston acquired Texas from Mexico, and Winfield Scott and Zachary Taylor acquired the Southwest? By bartering?

Aggressive nationalism is a good synonym for the Manifest Destiny of a republic that went about relieving Spain of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.

How does Macron think the “New World” was conquered and colonized if not by aggressive British, French and Spanish nationalists determined to impose their rule upon weaker indigenous tribes?

Was it not nationalism that broke up the USSR into 15 nations?

Was not the Zionist movement that resurrected Israel in 1948, and, in 1967, captured the West Bank, and then annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, a manifestation of aggressive nationalism?

 

Macron is an echo of that George H.W. Bush who, in Kiev in 1991, warned Ukrainians against the “suicidal nationalism” of declaring independence from the Russian Federation.

“Aggressive nationalisms . . . divide the world,” warns Macron.

Well, yes, they do, which is why we have now 194 members of the UN, rather than the original 50. Is this a problem?

“Together,” said Macron, “we will build a new, strong multilateralism that defends pluralism and democracy in the face of ill winds.”

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Macron belongs to a political class that sees open borders and free trade thickening and tightening the ties of dependency, and eventually creating a One Europe, whose destiny his crowd will forever control.

But if his idea of pluralism is multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural nations, with a multilateral EU overlord, he is describing a future that tens millions of Europeans believe means the death of the nations that give meaning to their lives.

And they will not go gentle into that good night.

In America, too, millions have come to recognize that there is a method to the seeming madness of open borders. Name of the game: dispossessing the deplorables of the country they love.

With open borders and mass migration of over a million people a year into the USA, almost all of them peoples of color from Third World countries who vote 70-90% Democratic, the left is foreclosing the future. The left is converting the greatest country of the West into what Teddy Roosevelt called a “polyglot boarding house for the world.” And in that boarding house the left will have a lock on the presidency.

With the collaboration of co-conspirators in the media, progressives throw a cloak of altruism over the cynical seizure of permanent power.

For, as the millions of immigrants, here legally and illegally, register, and the vote is extended to prison inmates, ex-cons and 16-year-olds, the political complexion of America will come to resemble San Francisco.

End goal: Ensure that what happened in 2016, when the nation rose up and threw out a despised establishment, never happens again.

Pat Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate. He is the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Foreverand previous titles including The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Both are available from the AFP Online Store.

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Was Prominent Journalist a Target?

In a new book, journalist Mark Feldstein claims Nixon and his men desperately wanted to get rid of renowned columnist Jack Anderson, who Nixon blamed in part for his loss to JFK in 1960. They considered an assortment of ways to silence Anderson’s criticisms of Nixon and his administration, from criminal prosecution to defamation of character to outright murder.

By S. T. Patrick

The common factors that drove columnist Jack Anderson and President Richard Nixon to the apex of their respective fields are the same that tore them apart and made them adversaries for more than 25 years. The escalating tension between two of the most powerful men in Washington, D.C. climaxed in the year before Watergate, as Nixon’s men wanted Jack Anderson dead.

Anderson and Nixon were both from small, western towns. Their middle-class upbringings often made them uncomfortably conscious of the class warfare inherent within elite society. Anderson was a devout Mormon, while many of Nixon’s social leanings reflected his Quaker upbringing. Both men wrote, walked, talked, and lived like they perpetually had something to prove.

While money was not the driving factor behind the two men personally, they both placed a high value in the same Washingtonian commodity—information. They would gain it in ways that were morally and ethically repugnant to later observers and biographers. They would use it to stay one step ahead of their competition, as well as to belittle opponents who invariably attempted to agitate their most paranoid insecurities. The Beltway was a game, and they were both sore losers.

Nixon believed Anderson was partially responsible for his 1960 presidential loss to John F. Kennedy. Anderson, in his Washington Merry-Go-Round column, had printed a revelation that the Nixon campaign had secretly funneled a private donation from billionaire Howard Hughes. Anderson was in large part responsible for Nixon’s distrust of the establishment media. When the Nixon administration entered the White House in 1969, Anderson’s criticism intensified. He wrote about yet another contribution from Hughes, a favorable tilt toward Pakistan that almost caused a nuclear confrontation with Russia, a covert attempt to oust Chilean president Salvador Allende, and many other brewing scandals.

Mark Feldstein, the chair of broadcast journalism at the University of Maryland, has written Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson, and the Rise of Washington’s Scandal Culture, which is simultaneously a biography of Anderson and a well-written account of his conflict with Nixon.

Feldstein details how Nixon’s “Plumbers”—G. Gordon Liddy, E. Howard Hunt, and company—were created to plug the leaks Anderson used to such success. At one point, Anderson’s column was syndicated in over a thousand newspapers, including The Washington Post. He was the subject of a Timemagazine cover story under the headline “Supersnoop,” he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1972, and he was featured on “60 Minutes.”

“Jack Anderson was like Ahab chasing after Richard Nixon, this great white whale, and he plagued Nixon from the very beginning of his career,” wrote Feldstein.

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Nixon explored many options of what could be done with Anderson. On Jan. 3, 1972, he discussed with Attorney General John Mitchell the possibility of criminally prosecuting Anderson for publishing classified documents.

“I would just like to get a hold of this Anderson and hang him,” said Mitchell.

Nixon replied, “So listen, the day after the election, win or lose, we’ve got to do something with [Anderson].”

Liddy and Hunt met with other Nixon aides to discuss what could be done to thwart the muckraking journalist. A spy was placed in Anderson’s office where Colson attempted to plant a false White House document. They considered labeling Anderson as gay, which he was not, and charging that his legman Brit Hume was his gay lover. The administration then tried leaking information on Anderson to The Washington Post, which instead printed a story about how Nixon was trying to smear Anderson.

Exasperated, the Plumbers turned to the one method of silencing Anderson that would work permanently—murder. Hunt and Liddy, under orders from Colson, met and plotted potential ways to kill Anderson. They interviewed a CIA poison expert to determine whether they could poison him without detection. They put Anderson under surveillance to see if there was a location on his regular route to potentially stage a fatal auto accident. They staked out his home to case the vulnerable points of entry that could be penetrated to swap prescription medications for poison. The most bizarre consideration was the idea of lacing Anderson’s steering wheel with LSD, thus causing an accident.

Finally, they decided that the best means would be to stage a mugging that would end in Anderson’s death. Liddy later claimed that he had volunteered for the latter and was satisfied with breaking Anderson’s neck. Before his death, Hunt also corroborated the scheme to kill Anderson.

Colson called off the plan to kill Anderson, as the funds had been earmarked elsewhere. Six weeks later, the burglars were arrested at the Watergate complex.

When the second Watergate break-in occurred in June 1974, Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman tried planting a story that blamed Anderson. Dating back to the 1950s, Anderson had been involved in buggings and break-ins in an effort to acquire damaging information on politicians. Making Haldeman’s plan even more potentially credible, Anderson was also friendly with Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis, who had been his house guest in Washington, D.C. In a strange turn of coincidence, Anderson ran into Sturgis at the airport on the night of the Watergate break-in. Sturgis and the burglars were flying in from Miami. When Anderson first heard about Watergate, he instantly knew who was involved.

Anderson’s later career was plagued with factual errors, dwindling readership, and an affinity for the Reagan administration that took the bulldog out of the aging reporter. Nixon would resign from office and live out his life writing about global issues. Nixon would die in 1994, and Anderson would succumb to the effects of Parkinson’s disease in 2005. He had retired his column a year before at the age of 81.

S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent ten years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is STPatrickAFP@gmail.com.