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The Three Musketeers, Poison Gas, and Dead Schoolkids

By Michael Howard | American Herald Tribune | August 23, 2018

Winking and nodding to the “freedom fighters” hunkered down in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, the world’s schoolmarm (formally known as The West) has issued a stern warning to President Bashar al-Assad: don’t use chemical weapons “again,” or else. Said warning came via a joint statement from the US, UK and France (henceforth known as The Three Musketeers), as the Syrian government prepares its offensive to retake the country’s last remaining “rebel” stronghold. The three great and benevolent powers are “gravely concerned,” they said, about the upcoming military campaign, explaining:

We also underline our concern at the potential for further—and illegal—use of chemical weapons. We remain resolved to act if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons again. As we have demonstrated, we will respond appropriately to any further use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, which has had such devastating humanitarian consequences for the Syrian population.

Read it again, and take note of the crafty way in which the statement messes around with language to manipulate its target audience (us). The use of chemical weapons is accurately, and superfluously, described, and emphasized with em dashes, as “illegal,” as though there was a soul on this earth to whom this is news. Then, alluding to their coordinated missile strikes against Syria this past April, which were unleashed to much pomp and circumstance, The Three Musketeers pledge to “respond appropriately” to any such illegal action on the part of the Syrian government.

Since they insist on begging questions, we must insist on demanding answers. For instance, how “appropriate” was the aforesaid missile attack? Assuming that, in this context, a direct link exists between appropriate and legal (and only an outlaw could reject that assumption), there was certainly nothing “appropriate” about The Three Musketeers’ unilateral decision to use military force against a sovereign country last April. Quite the reverse.

The missile strike, like the one a year before, was carried out in flagrant violation of the law. There are a total of two circumstances in which the use of military force is legally justified: when greenlit by a UN Security Council resolution, or when done in self-defense, that is to say in response to a direct military attack. Neither condition was met when The Three Musketeers rocketed Syria. On the other hand, Syria is accorded the legal right under international law to strike back at its attackers, and moreover to form a coalition for that purpose. As Chapter VII Article 51 of the UN Charter states:

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.

Mildly ironic, then—is it not?—that, in “appropriately” bombing the Syrian government, we granted it the legal right to bomb us back? It’s a crying shame: if only Assad and his allies were sufficiently nihilistic … we could’ve had another exhilarating World War on our hands—the third and last. To borrow a quote from of Trump’s favorite general: “Compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance. God help me, I do love it so.” On that note, I think it’s high time we substitute “War” for “God” in our Republic’s official motto. Who besides Rand Paul would vote against the proposal?

All of which is to say nothing of the fact that the alleged chemical attack in Douma, which served as the pretext for The Three Musketeers’ “appropriate” bombing raid, almost certainly didn’t happen. The first chink in the armor came in the form of Robert Fisk’s report, from the actual site of the alleged attack, that quotes a local doctor as saying:

There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night—but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived. People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a “White Helmet”, shouted “Gas!” and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia—not gas poisoning.

By his own count, Fisk interviewed more than twenty Douma residents; he was unable to find a single person “who showed the slightest interest in Douma’s role in bringing about the Western air attacks. Two actually told me they didn’t know about the connection.” Moreover, many of those he spoke with told him they “never believed in” the chemical weapons narratives promulgated by Western media.

Despite the fact that it squared with the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights’ (the West’s go-to authority on the Syrian conflict) assessment of the event, Fisk’s journalism was easy enough for Western ideologues to ignore or deride. He’s only one person, they countered, and he only spoke to a handful of residents and a single doctor, all of whom probably have a pro-Assad agenda. Therefore, his report is worthless and so is he.

This position grew a little less tenable when, a week after Fisk’s story was published, Russia presented to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was holding a conference in the Hague, seventeen eyewitnesses, a mix of residents and doctors, all of whom testified that there had been no chemical attack in Douma. As Jonathan Cook explained (yes, one had to visit his personal blog or some equally marginal source to read about this), “the US, UK and France boycotted the meeting, denouncing Russia for producing the witnesses and calling the event an ‘obscene masquerade’ and ‘theatre’”—not a very surprising reaction from a self-righteous party whose fabricated narrative is coming apart at the seams.

Then came the coup de grâce. On July 6, the OPCW published the conclusion of its fact-finding mission in Douma. Before quoting from it, I’ll jog your memory a bit. According to the Western version of events, Assad used both sarin and chlorine (or perhaps a physical mixture of the two, a nonsensical theory), in his attack on Douma—which, incidentally, had already effectively “fallen,” raising questions as to why Assad would feel compelled to use chemical weapons at all, apart from the sheer sadistic fun of it. Regardless, sarin and chlorine, said the West. Not so, said the OPCW:

OPCW designated labs conducted analysis of prioritized samples. The results show that no organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties [my emphasis]. Along with explosive residues, various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from two sites, for which there is full chain of custody. Work by the team to establish the significance of these results is on-going. The FFM team will continue its work to draw final conclusions.

Not a trace of sarin, in other words. Attempting to ascertain why “various chlorinated organic chemicals” were found at the site is a pointless exercise for someone, like myself, who knows nothing of chlorinated organic compounds. The most perfunctory research indicates that such chemicals are used for a variety of non-murderous applications, for example as solvents, and that they stick around for a long time after they’ve been introduced to an environment. The basic point, which hordes of media fixers promptly got to work obscuring, is that the Western narrative was false. The US government, in concert with its unctuous allies, lied. Go figure.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a supposed chemical attack in Syria has been called into question. Those curious about whether Assad used sarin to murder hundreds of civilians in the suburb of Ghouta in 2013, as was, and is, claimed by The West, would do well to read two essays by Seymour Hersh—“The Red Line and the Rat Line” and “Whose Sarin”—both published in the London Review of Books, both available online. Hersh also examined the chemical incident that took place in Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017—also used as a pretext for illegal US military action. This time, however, his reporting was too heretical even for the London Review of Books (not to mention the New Yorker), and so had to be published in Die Welt, which no one in the US has ever heard of, let alone read. That Hersh, the preeminent investigative journalist of his time, has been pushed into no man’s land speaks to how narrow the spectrum of permissible discourse has become in this, our great Republic. The schoolmarm is cracking her whip. At this rate Hersh will soon be relegated to the personal blog.

For other dissident views re: chemical weapons in Syria, do yourself a favor and consult the work of former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter and MIT professor and munitions expert Theodore Postol, as well as the late journalist Robert Parry of Consortium News, all of whom have written extensively, and cogently, on the subject. Or you can keep reading the Washington Post. You’re free to decide.

But what exactly did The Three Musketeers have in mind when they broadcast their latest threat? It’s a fair question to ask. On its face, the statement appears to reflect a genuine aversion to poison gas, and a genuine hope that the Syrian government will refrain from using any in Idlib. Fair enough. Having said that, how averse could they really be, given that gas attacks provide for them the only remotely plausible excuse to lob more cruise missiles out of the Mediterranean—an activity from which they, and their media sidekicks, derive the utmost pleasure? They are, after all, incorrigible hawks. It must cut them to the bone to have to stand by and watch from the sidelines as a perfectly good war winds down, handcuffed, helpless to effect the desired outcome. How pitiable the plight of the poor impotent imperialist! Flaming warmongers need love too.

Anyway, call me schizophrenic, but when I read the words of The Three Musketeers, I couldn’t help but pick up the faint sound of a dog whistle—aimed straight at the “moderate rebels” holding down the fort in Idlib. Read between the lines, the statement is an assurance to one party dressed up as a warning to another. If there’s a “chemical incident,” we will attack: you have our word. That’s the message sent to, and received by, al-Qaeda (I don’t know what they’re calling themselves these days, and I care less) and its various affiliates. Make no mistake: The Three Musketeers have just invited, oh-so-subtly, bin-Laden’s foot soldiers to stage a chemical atrocity in Idlib (God knows how many “various chlorinated organic chemicals” they’ve got on hand there), the resulting pictures of which will duly splash across every television screen in America so as to whip up … well, you’ve heard this song before.

So here’s a new one: a bunch of kids walk onto a school bus in Yemen. As the bus steers through a crowded marketplace, Saudi Arabia drops a bomb on it, killing forty small children and injuring scores more. The bomb is later identified as a “laser-guided” precision missile (precision being the operative word), manufactured by our very own Lockheed Martin, while the mangled school bus is described by Col. Turki al-Maliki, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, as a “legitimate target.” Meanwhile, back in illustrious Washington, Pentagon bureaucrat Rebecca Rebarich is asked to comment on the “legitimate” massacre of forty schoolkids.

“The US has worked with the Saudi-led coalition to help them improve procedures and oversight mechanisms to reduce civilian casualties,” she says. “While we do not independently verify claims of civilian casualties in which we are not directly involved, we call on all sides to reduce such casualties, including those caused via ballistic missile attacks on civilian population centers in Saudi Arabia.”

Translated from vapid officialese: “I don’t really give a shit.”

On the bright side, we’re “gravely concerned” about the coming battle for Idlib, where the babies are beautiful and, most importantly, the bombs that kill them are un-American.

August 23, 2018 - Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. “the world’s schoolmarm (formally known as The West) has issued a stern warning to President Bashar al-Assad: don’t use chemical weapons “again,” or else”.

    Y’mean, like the U.S. used Agent Orange, Napalm, 500lb bombs, etc, to kill millions of peasants in Vietnam about 45 years ago? Y’mean like the USA has used Depleted Uranium in Iraq, Libya and probably Syria, and God only knows where else?
    Being lectured by the M.I.C. about ‘rules’ in warfare, is like being lectured about Ethics in Hell.

    Comment by Brian Harry, Australia | August 23, 2018 | Reply


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