Tony Greenstein | 28 August 2013 | Post Views:

There is a simple test as to whether or not military action is justified.  Does that old war criminal Tony Blair support it?  Only last week Blair was supporting the military rulers in Egypt who have massacred up to 2,000 people and for whom torture is the normal method of investigation.  Clearly the death of a few hundred civilians in Damascus isn’t going to cause him to lose sleep.

Cameron, who is said to style himself on Blair, is intending to renew the £100 billion Trident programme.  The incineration of a few hundred thousand people and the slow and painful death of thousands more from radiation burns and sickness doesn’t cause these people to lose any sleep.  It beggars belief that the use of chemical weapons could be the real cause of any proposed military action.
What is excellent is that popular pressure and public opinion has, unlike the BBC, which was cowed into submission after the Hutton Report, even though Andrew Gilligan told the truth about the ‘sexed-up dodgy dossier, made MPs think twice.  Coupled with the fact that bombing Damascus isn’t going to resolve what is essentially a civil war, has led British MPs to reconsider the gung ho attitudes of their political leaders. Public opinion has turned decisively against another war.
The US and British governments have been straining for months in order to find an excuse to attack Syria.  Whilst those ‘democratic’ friends of the West, Saudi Arabia and Quatar, have been busy supplying Al Quada and the Jihadists with advanced weaponry, the US and Britain have been pontificating about human rights.  How strange it is that a war against terror, an abstract noun, has been abandoned.  Al Quada is now our friend!  It seems that Obama, Cameron (and f course Clegg) have lost all coherence.  It would be more honest if they were to say that their objective was to secure the Middle East for the continued supply of cheap oil and dependable sources and human rights must always be secondary to the West’s interests.

Good friends – Donald Rumsfield, US special envoy to the Middle East and later War Secretary – shake hands over an arms deal

Hypocrisy and Human Rights

It is strange that the ‘war for democracy’ in the Middle East stopped at its most barbaric state.  The Saudi state chops the hand off a poor person who steals a loaf of bread, whilst members of the ruling royal family squander millions of pounds in the casinos and brothels of Monte Carlo and London whilst enforcing the most austere Wahabbist version of Islam against its people.  In the words of an old English saying 
They hang the man and flog the woman,
Who steals the goose from off the common,
Yet let the greater villain loose,
That steals the common from the goose.
— Seventeenth-century English protest rhyme
But what makes the threatened western military attacks against Syria even more nauseating is its utter hypocrisy.  No one imagines for a moment that if this wasn’t the Middle East, and oil centre that the West would be at all bothered.  When the holocaust of Tsutsis occurred in Rwanda in 1994, the United States under Bill Clinton stood by with arms folded.  There was no humanitarian intervention because the US had no interests worth speaking of in the region.  Indeed the former colonial power France actually armed and colluded with the Hutu gangs that butchered up to a million people.
The Hypocrisy of the West knows no bounds
If you are gullible enough to believe that Obama and his Administration, to say nothing of his British poodle Cameron, are actually horrified by the chemical attack in Syria, and it was a horrific attack, then one would have expected the United States to have apologised to and compensated the Vietnames for the use of Agent Orange and Napalm (which burns to the skin).  We would have bombed Israel and the Zionist warmongers who used white phosphorous to bomb a UN school in Gaza and other civilian areas.
What makes this doubly appalling is that the United States (including Britain) have in the past condoned and colluded in the use of chemical weapons, not least by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.  Remember the arms to Iraq trial in 1992 in the wake of the Gulf War?  Before Saddam Hussein made the fatal mistake of invading the artificially created British Emirate of Kuwait, Britain supported Iraq’s Ba’athist regime in its war against Iran.  Indeed we encouraged them to invade.  
You might even remember the Arms to Iraq scandal which resulted in the prosecution of the directors of Matrix Churchill for selling arms to Iraq despite a (formal) government embargo.  The trial collapsed when Minister of State at the War (Defence) Ministry, Alan Clarke, testified that it had been government policy all along to support Iraq, although they couldn’t say so openly.  Clarke famously described in his evidence that when answering questions in the Commons as to Britain’s real arms policy vs Iraq, he had been ‘economical with the actualite’.   The fiasco led to the setting up of the Scott Report into the affair (most of which remains secret – judges are reliable fellows when it comes to ‘national security’).
Indeed in 1968 the CIA had supported the Ba’athist coup against former President al-Bakr and it sponsored Saddam Hussein’s rise to power in 1969.  When the US’s favourite dictator, the Shah of Iran, was ousted in 1979 in Iran and following the seizure of the American Embassy, the US encouraged Iraq to wage war on Iran.  They supported every dirty tactic including the use of chemical weapons.

Exclusive: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran

FP Magazine 26.8.13
The U.S. knew Hussein was launching some of the worst chemical attacks in history — and still gave him a hand. 

The CIA supplied Saddam Hussein with Intelligence despite knowing of its use of chemical weapons

It’s only wrong to use chemical weapons when our enemies do so

In Foreign Policy magazine we learn that according to recently released CIA files (above), the US condoned and indeed supported the use of chemical weapons by Iraq.  According to FP, ‘America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen’.  
In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent. 
The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq’s favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration’s long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn’t disclose. 
U.S. officials have long denied acquiescing to Iraqi chemical attacks, insisting that Hussein’s government never announced he was going to use the weapons. But retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, who was a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, paints a different picture. 
The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew,” he told Foreign Policy.

According to recently declassified CIA documents and interviews with former intelligence officials like Francona, the U.S. had firm evidence of Iraqi chemical attacks beginning in 1983. At the time, Iran was publicly alleging that illegal chemical attacks were carried out on its forces, and was building a case to present to the United Nations. But it lacked the evidence implicating Iraq, much of which was contained in top secret reports and memoranda sent to the most senior intelligence officials in the U.S. government. The CIA declined to comment for this story. 

In contrast to today’s wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein’s widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted. 

In the documents, the CIA said that Iran might not discover persuasive evidence of the weapons’ use — even though the agency possessed it. Also, the agency noted that the Soviet Union had previously used chemical agents in Afghanistan and suffered few repercussions. 

It has been previously reported that the United States provided tactical intelligence to Iraq at the same time that officials suspected Hussein would use chemical weapons. But the CIA documents, which sat almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park, Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the depth of the United States’ knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents. They show that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.

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Tony Greenstein

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