Drawing Red Lines on Shifting Sands 134

In general I refrain from commenting on Syria, because the politics of that country are hugely complex and I simply do not know enough about it. If in the media in general people refrained from commenting on things they know they do not clearly understand, life would be easier for readers – except, of course, that most columnists don’t understand that they don’t understand.

The West is already heavily involved in Syria, giving large amounts of cash, and channelling weapons through the vicious despotisms of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, to opposition forces, some of which are Islamic jihadist, some representing different tribal or religious power factions.

This makes life very confusing – the kidnappers and killers of UN Peacekeepers on the Golan Heights are some of William Hague’s “Good guys”, which is why those stories are so quickly glossed over. The truth is, of course, that the whole fallacy of the Blair interventionist model is that there are “good guys” in these situations who ought to be put in power by our military force, our money and the blood of our soldiers. As I explain at length in The Catholic Orangemen of Togo, this “good guy” fallacy led to the British Army installing the most corrupt government on earth in Sierra Leone, and we have gone on to do precisely the same thing, installing incredibly corrupt and bad governments, in Kabul and Baghdad. Having, of course, bombed the infrastructure of Iraq back to the Middle Ages first, A great deal of fog still shrouds Libya, but I expect we will soon see clearly exactly the same thing there.

Doubtless if western intervention becomes more direct in Syria, we will there again achieve regime change and the brilliant achievement of installing a government even more corrupt than the Assad regime. Of course the political proponents of the policy don’t really care about good governance or corruption, or death in war or devastation of infrastructure. They want governments which are allied with them. The wars themselves serve the interests of the politicians’ paymasters in the arms industry, mercenary companies and logistics providers like Halliburton. The subsequent corrupt governments are supposed to be friendly to western commercial and financial interests.

The motives and mechanics of the interventionists are clear. We have seen it all before. But their own militaries have had enough of being embroiled in endless conflicts, and there are no quick win solutions in ultra complex Syria. The Israelis have been signalling very, very hard to the US that the Assad family are OK by them and the last thing that Israel wants is a genuine democracy in Syria, which might want the Golan Heights back.

Obama, Cameron et al have thus been reduced to financial and vicarious weapon supply to the anti-Assad forces, and limited numbers of special forces assisting with sabotage operations to no great purpose. Meantime, hundreds of thousands have been killed in the ongoing civil war.

There is a clue there; civil war. Nobody is attacking us, and here is a hard lesson for politicians. There are wars we should not join in. We should have a role, indeed, in urging peace and trying to deploy all the means of conflict resolution. But it is not for us to fund or arm any side in a civil war. It is not our business and we have no legal right to do so. Work for peace, yes. Fuel war, no.

Within all this, Obama’s foolish decision to make the Assad regime’s deployment of chemical weapons a red line makes matters worse. Of course chemical weapons should not be deployed. But I am not sure whether I would prefer to die with my guts spilling out after red hot metal ripped through my abdomen, or coughing my lungs out after inhaling chemicals. That hundreds of thousands can die one way, but hundreds dying the other way would be a cause of joining in the war, is not inherently logical to me.

I remain, I should say, very sceptical of evidence produced so far that chemical weapons have been deployed. Even if they had been used, given the consequences that might follow, one has to ask by whom. The cui bono would not point to Assad, quite the opposite.

I shall return to avoiding blogging about Syria. If I can’t blog about it because it is too complex and I don’t fully understand it, think how unwise you must be to imagine that bombing it or providing still more weapons will help.

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134 thoughts on “Drawing Red Lines on Shifting Sands

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  • Jay

    @ Doug.

    The right left thing is a failed theory.

    I am trying to get you you Cammel Laird waterline strike stuff.

    Habba is most obviously a very intelligent human being; if that make them right wing I am not so sure. With intelligence applied properly our crumbling society could soom be re,built.

    Application of theory destroyed by rhetoric.

    Divide and rule.

  • doug scorgie


    28 Apr, 2013 – 9:52 am

    “! am trying to get you your Cammel Laird waterline strike stuff.”

    After all this time you haven’t been able to back-up your statement?

    Shows that I was right in calling it a lie and you a liar.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Ccorgie (23h57 yesterday) :

    “United Nations organizations said yesterday that it will investigate complaints that Israel used depleted uranium projectiles in the course of the fighting in Gaza, causing health and environmental damage.”


    Thank you for that link.

    You fail to mention, however, that the Haaretz article in the link dates from January 2009.

    So the UN will have had ample time to finalise the investigation you referred to by now ( 2013).

    Results/conclusion of said investigation please?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Scorgie :


    28 Apr, 2013 – 9:52 am

    “! am trying to get you your Cammel Laird waterline strike stuff.”

    After all this time you haven’t been able to back-up your statement?

    Shows that I was right in calling it a lie and you a liar.”


    No, it doesn’t. It shows that Jay hasn’t yet found the source. Must you always insult people?

    It could of course be that Jay is being dilatory. Perhaps he remembers your insistent calls on me to produce sources to back up something I’d said and then when I did so you told me you “couldn’t be arsed” to read/check them?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    Herbie, at 00h04, posts as follows :

    “Habbakuk asks:

    “If you’re also claiming that Israel has used chemical weapons against Palestinians for years, please give sources for that claim.”

    It doesn’t much matter how you kill them, starve them, eradicate their culture.

    The Israeli treatment of the Palestinians ought to invoke outrage.

    There simply is no defense to the crimes of the Israelis against the Palestinian people.



    That “answer” is an interesting and, alas, typical example of how the Eminences deal with questions and challenges.

    1/. One Eminence asserts that Israel has been using chemical weapons (presumably of the same type as Assad is alleged to have used in Syria, not tear gas and the like)against the Palestinians “for years”.

    2/. Somewhat surprised, I ask the poster for his sources.

    3/. Herbie doesn’t give those sources and nimbly sidesteps with the remark that “it doesn’t matter how you kill them, starve them..etc”.

    All of which may be very true, but the assertion of the use of chemical weapons for years remains unsourced.

    Emperor, naked.

  • bert

    Ghassan Hitto was elected to head up the Syrian provisional rebel government at the Arab League summit in Doha, Qatar in March 2013.

    Ghassan Hitto, born in Damascus, left Syria to the U.S. in 1980, became a naturalized American citizen, lived in Texas from 2001 to 2012 & worked as an information technology executive with Inovar Inc., Texas, a company who supply stuff to the US miltary….

    Oh & the March 2013 Arab League summit also sanctioned ‘weapons shipments to the rebels’…..

  • DoNNyDarKo

    Habbakuk, Knew that would rattle your keyboard !
    The chemical weapons I referred to were of course DU, White phosphorous, the dreadful chemo stinking slime which they spray over the population of the occupied west bank, the vast array of differing gas grenades they use to disperse crowds that object to being made homeless, having their olive trees ripped up, having walls built around their villages etc etc etc.
    There were also the chemo weapons used that caused injuries never before seen by doctors.
    So no idea what that was.Might’ve been Sarin, who knows ?
    So there is a bit of a list ! They’ve used banned weapons already and are still using them, and we know they possess real nasty Chemicals, so there is a big chance they’ll use them too.
    Assad’s not the big danger ! The loony brigade in charge of Israel are. No telling what they might do next.

  • nevermind

    One can see that it has no military training whatsoever, no idea of the symptoms of Sarin gas, nor any inkling of what exploding white phosphorous bombs on our TV news looks like.

    Just make sure Sophie is around when you view this, so she can add to her lifelong education as you say.

    some further footage should satisfy your need for evidence.

    So what have we got to look forward to from you today?

    Your past performance here is derisory and poor, you could do so much better if you only tried.

    How about some proper leaking habby, something that we can get our teeth into?

    what do you say? no access to any filthy stinking secrets? what a shame…..

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    The word ‘alleged’ is a 14th century mixed up adjective derived from alleggen- to submit in evidence or as justification from Latin to adduce in support of a plea.

    Frequently used to assert without proof but also indicating doubt depending on context.

    Thus allege is an ideal word for lies and propaganda, main stream media deceit, habitual trolling or spineless ‘two bobs’ worth statements.

    Here is an example:


    or here:

    “presumably of the same type as Assad is alleged to have used in Syria…

  • nevermind

    Slightly off topic, but Craig and myself have a mutual ling to Blackburn and Lancashire.

    Nothing much has changed there, although after Craig’s attempt to stop ‘treating’ by presenting Blackburn and Lancashire police with an Affidavit and never heard of it again, I don’t think that this ‘action’ will result in any of the local corruption and nepotism will amount to anything at all.


  • Sophie Habercake


    We’ve been looking for you for hours and now we find you’ve been posting away as though nothing happened. And it’s as stupid as ever and Mrs Forthby doesn’t care who was after you, she’s just really cross about you breaking her fence and squashing her favourite Camelia.

    When Mr Kemp had finished smashing up your Dell he told mum you were a “f**king embarassment and you can’t hide forever” and That Man just said “Yus he can’t hide for
    for for very long.”

    And mum says you must have crept back while we were searching and taken a few things because all your camping stuff which you never used is gone and Adrian thinks you’ve taken that old laptop that Uncle Bernard gave him cos he can’t find it anywhere and he knows it was in the box with all his Transformers and Ben Ten stuff.

    Dad, why don’t you just come home and get some help?

  • doug scorgie

    “Even after Boston, there is more anti-Jewish than anti-Muslim sentiment in U.S., says ADL’s Foxman”

    “As the Anti-Defamation League is marking its 100th anniversary, its leader says anti-Semitism in the U.S. is widespread, especially among Hispanic immigrants and African-Americans.”

    The Zionists never give up their hyperbolic narrative of victimhood but the informed amongst us know it’s bullshit.


  • doug scorgie

    “Syria nerve gas claims undermined by eyewitness accounts”

    “New questions have emerged over the source of the soil and other samples from Syria which, it is claimed, have tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, amid apparent inconsistencies between eyewitness accounts describing one of the attacks and textbook descriptions of the weapon.”

    “According the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, “sarin is a nerve agent that is one of the most toxic of the known chemical warfare agents. It is a clear colourless liquid … generally odourless and tasteless.”

    “But eyewitness accounts of that attack, in which six rebels died and which were reported at the time by the Associated Press described “white smoke” pouring from shells that “smell[ed] … like hydrochloric acid”.

    “According to the US and UK governments, “miniscule” samples recovered by OPPOSITION SOURCES and passed on to western intelligence agencies have shown traces of sarin.”


  • Alec

    In 1996, Israeli dual citizens Douglas Feith and Richard Perle were both advisors to Israel’s Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu. During that time, the duo co-authored a policy paper, entitled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.

    In it, they said that Saddam would have to be destroyed, and that Syria, Lebanon, and Iran would all have to be overthrown or destabilized in order for Israel to be truly safe.

    If one then considers that Netanyahu comes from a family that believe in ‘Greater Israel’ from the Nile to the Euphrates, and from a political party that is extreme enough to believe that this could be achieved, it becomes all the more likely that the principal reason for the civil war in Syria is to damage the infrastructure to such a degree that when the Israelis have achieved their final objective which is to ‘persuade’ the US to destroy the Iranian military, Israel can launch it’s false flag ‘war’ to expand territory without any of it’s neighbours being in a position to stop them.

    p.s. Where is Mary ?

  • Villager

    O/T but still in the neighbourhood:

    Bush n Blair’s leading-light middle-eastern democracy, Iraq has withdrawn broadcasting licences of Al Jazeera and 9 other broadcasters.

    170 people have been killed in the last week in sectarian violence.

  • guano

    Hi. ‘these countries’ populations are Muslim, and they aspire to run their affairs as per their religious imperatives’
    That’s why:
    Ghassan Hitto, born in Damascus, left Syria to the U.S. in 1980, became a naturalized American citizen, lived in Texas from 2001 to 2012 & worked as an information technology executive with Inovar Inc., Texas, a company who supply stuff to the US miltary…

    USUKIS would not require anything less than an IT engineer for choice of Muslim replacement leader, capable of setting up a comprehensive spying system for controlling the mind-crimes of the Muslims, like wanting freedom…

  • karel (a conspiracy a day keeps idiocy away


    You are quite right that a death from gas might be preferable and more humane than a high velocity bullet passing through your stomach. Every reasonable man would scream – give me gas any time. Why should a tory like Hague get excited over alleged gas attacks in Syria is thus a mystery. It shows a certain degree of degeneracy of the once “great” party and some disrespect to Winston ChurchilL who was rather fond of using gas in warfare cf. http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHU407A.html. Gas was very much en vogue throughout nineteentwenties as even the relatively decent chap, TE Lawrence advocated its use in Iraq in his letter to the Times cf. http://www.publicintegrity.org/2002/08/09/3174/letter-london-history-lesson-iraq. So why to sneer at traditional conservative values now? What seemed proper then cannot be all that bad now.

    Unfortunately, the suckers of today are too confused by various red lines here and there like the one drawn by the former furniture salesman Netanyahu through an infantile drawing of what was supposed to be an atomic bomb. Watch this clown at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkKKyMPg5xU. Most probably, he learned the art of drawing lines through various real or imaginary objects in his former “proffession” as he tried to explain his customers what piece of furniture may or may not fit into the space available to them.

  • doug scorgie

    Racist Israel, racist America.

    “The Israeli routine is well known to American government officials. The State Department’s Israel travel advisory includes this caution: “U.S. citizens whom Israeli authorities suspect of being of Arab, Middle Eastern or Muslim origin” may be denied “entry or exit without explanation.”

    “So why then have [Senator] Boxer and her 18 senatorial co-sponsors proposed a U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act that would, among other things, include Israel in a visa waiver program that would make it easier for Israelis to visit the United States?”

    “Currently, citizens of 37 participating countries can enter the U.S. without a visa. American citizens can enter each of those countries on identical terms. Israel would be No. 38 — at least in terms of easy entry to the United States. Israel reportedly will not agree to the reciprocity requirement because it wants to continue racially profiling Muslim and Arab Americans.”

    “Why such blatant racial profiling of American citizens from a country our political leaders regularly call our best friend and ally?”

    “No Arab American has ever committed crimes in Israel to warrant harassment of us all — unless criticism of Israeli policies is such a crime. For while we all experience lengthy detention and interrogation, those of us who bear public witness to Israel’s oppression of Palestinians are the most likely to be denied entry.”


  • sophie

    Guano I have for a long time valued your comments here.

    The mystical level of sufism holds that the only jihad to be fought is in the heart.

    Similarly, the Christian mystics know that once we slay the enemy within, the enemy without disappears.
    I would love to have more time to write; but your comment above inspired me.
    So while I am at it, thank you Craig and other wise and funny, sad and thoughtful and insightful contributors. You know who you are 🙂

  • Kempe

    “You are quite right that a death from gas might be preferable and more humane than a high velocity bullet passing through your stomach. ”

    From Wiki:-

    “Initial symptoms following exposure to sarin are a runny nose, tightness in the chest and constriction of the pupils. Soon after, the victim has difficulty breathing and experiences nausea and drooling. As the victim continues to lose control of bodily functions, the victim vomits, defecates and urinates. This phase is followed by twitching and jerking. Ultimately, the victim becomes comatose and suffocates in a series of convulsive spasms.”

    Victims receiving less than a lethal dose may suffer permanent neurological damage. Gas is also totally indiscriminate. If there happen to be civilians nearby they are going to get killed or otherwise affected too.

    I wonder if people here would be quite so pragmatic if it was Israel that was being accused of using nerve gas.

  • April Showers

    Israel did use ‘nerve gas’ in 2001.


    Israel knows no law(s).

    International agreements

    Israel signed but has not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. Israel recognises the Fourth Geneva Convention, but not its applicability to the Occupied Palestinian Territory of the West Bank (and formerly Gaza). Article 147 of the Geneva Convention stipulates that to “willingly cause [civilians] great suffering or serious injury to body or health” is a “grave breach”, which, according to Article 146, requires all High Contracting Parties to “search for persons alleged to have committed or to have ordered to commit such grave breaches” and must “bring such person regardless of their nationality before their own courts”.

  • April Showers

    The chap in the flat (SOHR) in the Midlands adds to this BBC Breaking News report.

    29 April 2013 Last updated at 08:49
    Syria crisis: PM Halaqi ‘survives Damascus car bombing’Scene of Mazzeh bombing according to Damascus News Network (29/04/13) The bomb is reported to have caused casualties

    Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi has survived a car bomb attack in the capital, Damascus, reports say.

    The blast in Mazzeh district targeted Mr Halaqi’s convoy, state television said. There are reported to be a number of casualties.

    UK-based activist group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Mr Halaqi’s bodyguard had been killed, AFP news agency reported.

    Syrian news agency Sana said the explosion hit near Ibn Rushed Park.

  • nevermind

    More blurring of lines, here the Guardian is making out that Malian Islamist’s, that awful term, were implicated in Libya, justifying the war in Mali.
    More eye washing galore, NATO has create chaos, it has done zilch to disarm the population awash with arms and sectarianism and old scores being settled has kept the country in turmoil.

    Meanwhile the only interests of the west, the sweet Libyan crude exporting terminals are heavily guarded by US and NATO forces. Unless the oil stops flowing they are not interested.
    Ambassador Stephens death will hopefully be on Ms. Clinton’s mind until she enters the gates of hell to meet tax evader Margaret and her dubious friends.


  • Bandolero


    Thank you for clarification. So this issue is clear to me now. Today I found a reliable source for what Israel’s position regarding the conflict in Syria really is. Associated Press reports:

    “Although Assad is a bitter enemy, Israel has been careful not to take sides in Syria’s civil war, partly because the Assad family has kept the border with Israel quiet for the past 40 years and because of fears of what would happen if he is overthrown. Israeli military officials believe some Syrian opposition groups, especially those affiliated with the al-Qaida terror group, will turn their focus toward Israel once Assad is ousted.”

    Source: Associated Press via Washington Post, 29 Apr 2013, “Israeli lawmaker urges intervention in Syria, claims chemical weapons ‘trickling’ to Hezbollah”


    In these times where people follow some fringe comedy shows and diplomats to get the news instead of reliable maintream news agencies, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish skits from news. 🙂

  • karel (a conspiracy a day keeps idiocy away)

    it is no secret to most contributors to this blog that you are a manipulative and habitual liar. May I point out to you that running nose would hardly be a great worry to a combatant. The same could be said about shitting and pissing into own trousers, something often experienced by soldiers without being even hit or gassed. There are humourous accounts from the First world war how infanterists managed to fill their pants with shit three time in a row. For the first time when given the order to leave the trenches, then on contact with the enemy and finally during the retreat to trenches they left short time before.

    Sarin will kill you within a minute, rather good when considering other options. Although organophosphates like sarin or tabun are irreversible inhibitors of acetylcholinesterase, if you survive and can be treated new enzyme will be soon synthetised leading to a recovery (cf. J Neurochem. 1981 Oct;37(4):909-16.). People actually recover from sarin poisoning very well if treated properly as documented by the relatively recent mass poisoning in Tokyo (http://www.impact-kenniscentrum.nl/doc/kennisbank/1000010491-1.pdf).

    That Israel is a country run by war criminals is a fact, whether they use sarin or not. In my opinion this blog would benefit if it could be swept clean of semi-educated clowns like you whose only source of wisdom seems to be wikipedia.

  • Kempe

    “Sarin will kill you within a minute, ”

    It might if the dose is high enough, as your link confirms four of the victims took several days to die, 28 in one case. As of 2010 around 90 people have filed claims for PTSD and paralysis as a result of the Tokyo attack and thousands had to be treated for minor effects.


    A runny nose might interfere with a soldiers aim, obviously other of the symptoms listed above would be more debilitating.


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