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Robert Parry

Madness of Blockading Syria’s Regime

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Does the US government want the Islamic State and/or its fellow-travelers in Al Qaeda to take over Syria? As far as the State Department is concerned, that seems to be a risk worth taking as it moves to cut off Russia’s supply pipeline to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad — even as Sunni terrorist groups expand their grip on Syrian territory.

It appears that hardliners within the Obama administration have placed the neocon goal of “regime change” in Syria ahead of the extraordinary dangers that could come from the black flag of Sunni terrorism raised over the capital of Damascus. That would likely be accompanied by the Islamic State chopping off the heads of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other “heretics” and/or Al Qaeda having a major Mideast capital from which to plot more attacks on the West.

And, as destabilizing as the current flow of Middle East refugees is to Europe, a victory by the Islamic State or Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front would open the flood gates, sending millions of desperate people pouring out of Syria and creating a political as well as humanitarian crisis. At that point, there also would be enormous pressure on President Barack Obama or his successor to mount a full-scale invasion of Syria and attempt a bloody occupation.
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Cold War II to McCarthyism II

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Perhaps it’s no surprise that the US government’s plunge into Cold War II would bring back the one-sided propaganda themes that dominated Cold War I, but it’s still unsettling to see how quickly the major US news media has returned to the old ways, especially the New York Times, which has emerged as Official Washington’s propaganda vehicle of choice.

What has been most striking in the behavior of the Times and most other US mainstream media outlets is their utter lack of self-awareness, for instance, accusing Russia of engaging in propaganda and alliance-building that are a pale shadow of what the US government routinely does. Yet, the Times and the rest of the MSM act as if these actions are unique to Moscow.

A case in point is Monday’s front-page story in the Times entitled “Russia Wields Aid and Ideology Against West to Fight Sanctions,” which warns: “Moscow has brought to bear different kinds of weapons, according to American and European officials: money, ideology and disinformation.”
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Washington Post Blames Obama for Syrian Mess

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For the past two decades, American neocons and Israeli hard-liners have targeted Syria for “regime change,” a dream that may be finally coming true, albeit with the nightmarish ending of Al-Qaeda or maybe the Islamic State emerging as the likely winners.


Such an outcome would be disastrous for the millions of Syrian Shiites, Alawites, secular Sunnis and Christians, including descendants of survivors of Turkey’s Armenian genocide a century ago. They would all face harsh repression or, possibly, mass decapitations. An Al-Qaeda/Islamic State victory also would be a major problem for the United States and the West, which would have to choose between a terror central in the center of the Middle East or a military invasion.

So, what we’re now seeing in Official Washington is the beginning of a neocon finger-pointing narrative that promotes the theme that if President Barack Obama had only armed and trained “moderate” rebels and bombed the Syrian military (to create “safe zones” or to punish the government for its alleged use of sarin gas), everything would have worked out just fine.
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A Family Business of Perpetual War

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Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia – and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats.

This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks.

Not only does the broader community of neoconservatives stand to benefit but so do other members of the Kagan clan, including Robert’s brother Frederick at the American Enterprise Institute and his wife Kimberly, who runs her own shop called the Institute for the Study of War.

Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution (which doesn’t disclose details on its funders), used his prized perch on the Washington Post’s op-ed page on Friday to bait Republicans into abandoning the sequester caps limiting the Pentagon’s budget, which he calculated at about $523 billion (apparently not counting extra war spending). Kagan called on the GOP legislators to add at least $38 billion and preferably more like $54 billion to $117 billion...
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US Intel Stands Pat on MH-17 Shoot-down

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Despite the high stakes involved in the confrontation between nuclear-armed Russia and the United States over Ukraine, the US intelligence community has not updated its assessment on a critical turning point of the crisis – the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 – since five days after the crash last July 17, according to the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

On Thursday, when I inquired about arranging a possible briefing on where that US intelligence assessment stands, DNI spokesperson Kathleen Butler sent me the same report that was distributed by the DNI on July 22, 2014, which relied heavily on claims being made about the incident on social media.

So, I sent a follow-up e-mail to Butler saying: “are you telling me that US intelligence has not refined its assessment of what happened to MH-17 since July 22, 2014?”

Her response: “Yes. The assessment is the same.”

I then wrote back: “I don’t mean to be difficult but that’s just not credible. US intelligence has surely refined its assessment of this important event since July 22.”

When she didn’t respond, I sent her some more detailed questions describing leaks that I had received about what some US intelligence analysts have since concluded, as well as what the German intelligence agency, the BND, reported to a parliamentary committee last October, according to Der Spiegel.
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The Danger of an MH-17 ‘Cold Case’

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Now more than six months after the shoot-down of a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine, the refusal of the Obama administration to make public what intelligence evidence it has about who was responsible has created fertile ground for conspiracy theories to take root while reducing hopes for holding the guilty parties accountable.

Given the US government’s surveillance capabilities – from satellite and aerial photographs to telephonic and electronic intercepts to human sources – American intelligence surely has a good idea what happened on July 17, 2014, when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed in eastern Ukraine killing all 298 people onboard.

I’m told that President Barack Obama has received briefings on what this evidence shows and what US intelligence analysts have concluded about the likely guilty parties — and that Obama may have shared some of those confidential findings with the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak when they met on Dec. 24 in Hawaii.
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