Commentary and news compilation by New Cold War.org, April 7, 2017 (including, below, official reaction of the Russian president)
U.S. allies fall into line like tin soldiers behind missile attack against Syria
Introduction by New Cold War.org:
In the pre-dawn hours of April 7, 2017 (3:40 am Syria time), two U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean Sea unleashed a unilateral Cruise missile attack against the Syrian air force base at al-Shairat in Homs province. The base is located some 40 km south and east of the city of Homs. Homs sits halfway between Aleppo and Damascus, app 400 km from each city, and some 75 km east of the Mediterranean coast.
The U.S. government says 59 missiles were launched. RT reports Russian military officials as saying the air base runway is still operational. At least nine civilians, including four children, living in villages near the base were killed, according to Syrian news agency SANA. It says some missiles fell as many as four kilometers away from the base. There are no reports of injuries at the base itself.
SANA is also reporting the official condemnations of the attack by the Syrian government and military. Citing the statement of the Syrian army command, SANA reports, “The attack, the statement added, makes the United States of America a ‘partner’ of ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations that have sought since day one of the unfair war on Syria to attack points of the Syrian army and the Syrian military bases.”
The pretext for the attack is the unproven claim that Syrian warplanes dropped chemical weapons on the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4. By all objective preliminary accounts, the chemical poisonings in the town occured when a weapons depot of anti-government terrorists was struck by several Syrian airstrikes, unleashing off the depot’s grim contents. The chemicals in the depot could only be located there following their purchase and transfer from somewhere outside of Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has gone to far as to accuse Russia of possible implication in the claimed ‘chemical attack’ insofar as Russia is said to not have done all in its power to implement a 2013 agreement in which Syria agreed to dispose of chemicals that could be weaponized. But three months ago, then-national security advisor to President Obama, Susan Rice, explained that the U.S. government was satisfied that Syria (and implicitly its ally Russia) had lived up to the agreement. She told NPR Radio, “We were able to find a solution that didn’t necessitate the use of force that actually removed the chemical weapons that were known from Syria, in a way that the use of force would never have accomplished. ”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a statement calling the U.S. strikes against Syria an “act of aggression against a sovereign country violating the norms of international law, and under a trumped-up pretext at that, ” explained Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov speaking to journalists on April 7. “Washington’s move substantially impairs Russian-U.S. relations, which are in a deplorable state as it is.”
All this hasn’t stopped Western media from reporting as fact a Syrian “chemical weapons” attack. What’s more, the media is highlighting Donald Trump’s theatrical expressions of concern for the victims of the chemical poisonings unleashed by the terrorists’ chemical weapons. All of a sudden, Trump has moved from pariah to hero in the eyes of the rotted and hollowed-out Western liberal media.
Russia has called for a full and impartial investigation of what happened in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, to be conducted by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Conveniently for the U.S. and its allies, such an investigation will now be more difficult to conduct, including into whoever sold and helped transport the chemicals.
Following the Cruise missile attack, Russia has pledged to assist Syria with more air defense capability, thus highlighting the potential that continued U.S. unilateral action will further escalate into a much larger international conflict and a shattering of already-tense relations between the imperialist NATO military alliance, on the one hand, and Russia and its Middle East allies, on the other.
The attack has received bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress. Some media sympathetic to Syria are reporting statements by Democrats and Republicans highlighting discomfort that the attack was not authorized by Congress. But the discomfort is a show, a political game with no meaningful consequence for the free hand that the Trump administration has exercised for military action. Trump’s free hand is aided by the crazed, anti-Russia atmosphere that has been building for many months in the U.S. and in its allied countries over the unproven and preposterous claim that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. presidential election and perhaps affected its outcome.
Thanks, in part, to the crazed atmosphere, there is broad, bipartisan support for attacking Syria; the only ‘disagreement’ in U.S. ruling circles is how to present the attacks to the U.S. public. Senator Tim Kaine, for example, Hillary Clinton’s choice of vice-presidential election running mate, has tweeted, “Assad is a brutal dictator who must be held account for atrocities. But the President’s failure to seek congressional approval is unlawful.” Republican Senator Rand Paul has tweeted, “The President needs Congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution.” Democrat congressman Ted Lieu concured with Paul, tweeting, “I agree w/ #GOP Sen @RandPaul. @POTUS can use military force in defense of US. But attacking #Assad regime requires congressional approval.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) has demanded that the House of Representatives be called back into session to debate a war authorization. But she also released a statement saying the strike “appears to be a proportional response to the [Syrian] regime’s use of chemical weapons.”
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is one of the few members of Congress to express principled opposition to the atack. She issued this statement on the evening of April 6:
It angers and saddens me that President Trump has taken the advice of war hawks and escalated our illegal regime-change war to overthrow the Syrian government. This escalation is short-sighted and will lead to more dead civilians, more refugees, the strengthening of al-Qaeda and other terrorists, and a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia—which could lead to nuclear war.
This Administration has acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning. If President Assad is indeed guilty of this horrible chemical attack on innocent civilians, I will be the first to call for his prosecution and execution by the International Criminal Court. However, because of our attack on Syria, this investigation may now not even be possible. And without such evidence, a successful prosecution will be much harder.
The kneejerk, imperialist allies of Trump’s USA in Europe, Canada and Australasia have all fallen quickly into line, notwithstanding the discomfort that some have expressed to date with the ‘loose cannon’ character of Donald Trump and the billionaires and warmongers with which he has surrounded himself in the White House.
Mainstream media is misleadingly reporting that the U.S. government’s attack against Syria is a “change of position” by Donald Trump. But that only shows how far this media has gone in treating offhand comments and tweets by the Trump character as serious news to be taken at face value. Until now, the same media has similarly constructed a crazy scenario claiming that Trump is favorably disposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Some writers in alternative media who have opposed the reckless and dangerous political attacks against Russia and related NATO military buildup have written of their expectations of a less belligerent foreign policy course for the U.S. government under a Trump presidency. Some are now acknowledging that their hopes have been dashed. Trump’s war course and the ensuing disappointments by those who believed otherwise were entirely predictable and anticipated.
Some former antiwar forces in the West will be hard pressed to respond to the U.S. attack because they turned a blind eye or bought into the imperialist governments’ anti-Russia attacks that were heightened after popular forces in Crimea and in Ukraine organized to oppose the right-wing coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected president in February 2014. The coup was accompanied and followed by extreme violence, including the sniper shootings by ‘Maidan’ rightists of dozens of police and protesters on Kyiv’s Maidan Square on February 20, the launching of a civil war in Donbass (eastern Ukraine) in April, and the May 2, 2014 arson attack in the city of Odessa that killed more than 40 anti-coup protesters.
Updated news: Experts should be sent to Syrian airbase attacked by US to carry out chemical probe, says Russian Ministry of Defense. RT.com, April 8, 2017
[All journalist standards are off as Western media chirps Trump-U.S. gov’t song that ‘chemical weapons’ are stored and used from Syrian air base at al-Shairat]
Washington has presented “no evidence whatsoever” that the Shayrat airfield in Syria’s Homs Province targeted by the U.S. after an alleged chemical attack in Idlib province had any such weapons, the Russian Defense Ministry says.
“Twenty-four hours have passed since the U.S. Navy warships launched a massive missile strike at the Shayrat airfield, and neither the Pentagon nor the State Department have provided any evidence of presence of chemical weapons at this airbase,” the ministry spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said in a statement on Saturday.
Dozens of representatives of the media, local authorities, fire departments, police, and the Syrian military have visited the airfield since then, with no alleged “storage units” or any chemical shells having been found, he said…
Trump to Congress on Syria strike: US to take additional action to further its national interests, RT.com, Saturday, April 8, 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump has sent a letter to the U.S. Congress, informing them about the US missile strike against the Syrian Air Force base, and stating that the US will take additional action to further the country’s national interests, the White House said Saturday. In a letter to the U.S. Congress on Saturday, President Donald Trump explained his decision to launch an attack on the Shayrat Airbase in Syria, claiming he was acting to avert a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
“United States intelligence indicates that Syrian military forces operating from this airfield were responsible for the chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians in southern Idlib Province, Syria, that occurred on April 4,” Trump wrote in the letter. “I directed this action in order to degrade the Syrian military’s ability to conduct further chemical weapons attacks and to dissuade the Syrian regime from using or proliferating chemical weapons, thereby promoting the stability of the region and averting a worsening of the region’s current humanitarian catastrophe.”
The letter, in which Trump claims to have acted “in the vital national security and foreign policy interests of the United States,” repeats the same justification the president gave earlier this week, when speaking from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The U.S. strike came before the United Nations or its chemical weapons watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) could investigate the incident. Washington hurried to accuse the Syrian government for the suspected chemical attack.
On April 6, Trump ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from U.S. Navy ships based in the Eastern Mediterranean against the airbase . The American attack on Shayrat Airbase in Syria killed 14 people including nine innocent civilians, the governor of Homs told RT.
U.S. missile strike in Syria: What we know so far about target, victims & reactions, RT.com, April 7, 2017
US missile strike on Syria: Timeline of reactions, Press TV, April 7, 2017
Press release by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on allegations of chemical weapons use in southern Idlib, Syria, April 4, 2017
The spoils of war: Trump lavished with media and bipartisan praise for bombing Syria, by Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, April 7, 2017
… That the Syrian government deliberately used chemical weapons to bomb civilians became absolute truth in U.S. discourse within less than 24 hours – even though [Canadian Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau urged an investigation, even though it was denied in multiple capitals around the world, and even though Susan Rice just two months ago boasted to NPR: “We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.” [Note by New Cold War.org: The Canadian government says it was briefed in advance of the U.S. attack against Syria and fully supports it.]
Whatever happened with this event, the Syrian government has killed hundreds of thousands of people over the past five years in what began as a citizen uprising in the spirit of the Arab Spring, and then morphed into a complex proxy war involving foreign fighters, multiple regional powers, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Russia.
The CIA has spent more than billion dollars a year to arm anti-Assad rebels for years, and the U.S. began bombing Syria in 2014 – the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by Obama – and never stopped…
Even if it is contained, there are endless implications from Trump’s initiation of military force against the Syrian Government. For now, here are ten critical points highlighted by all of this…
New York Times retreats on 2013 Syria-Sarin claims, by Robert Parry, Consortium News, April 6, 2017
Even as The New York Times leads the charge against the Syrian government for this week’s alleged chemical attack, it is quietly retreating on its earlier certainty about the 2013 Syria-sarin case, reports Robert Parry.
Comment from the Press Service of the President of Russia, published on the webite of the President of Russia, April 7, 2017 (full comment)
The President of Russia regards the US airstrikes on Syria as an act of aggression against a sovereign state delivered in violation of international law under a far-fetched pretext. The Syrian Army has no chemical weapons. The fact of the destruction of all Syrian chemical weapons’ stockpiles has been recorded and verified by the OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibitoiin of Chemical Weapons], a specialised UN body. Vladimir Putin believes that complete disregard for factual information about the use by terrorists of chemical weapons drastically aggravates the situation.
This move by Washington [the US airstrike on an air base in Syria] has dealt a serious blow to Russian-US relations, which are already in a poor state. Most importantly, this move will not bring us closer to the ultimate goal of combatting international terrorism but will instead create a major obstacle to the establishment of an international counterterrorist coalition and to effective struggle against this global evil, something that US President Donald Trump declared as one of his main goals during his election campaign.
Vladimir Putin regards the US strikes on Syria as an attempt to draw public attention away from the numerous civilian casualties in Iraq.
On Friday, the United States launched Tomahawk cruise missiles at an air base in Homs Province in western Syria. [End published comment.]