Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Google Plus Connect on Flickr

Tag: Assad

The Terrible Cost of Obama’s Failure in Syria

Tuesday, 10 April, 2018 0 Comments

That’s the title of Kathy Gilsinan’s excoriating article in The Atlantic, which was, and is, an Obama-friendly publication. But there comes a time when the most loyal subjects and supporters have to face the truth, even when it is painful, and this is very, very painful, indeed. Snippet:

Four years ago, it almost looked as if chemical attacks on Syrian civilians would stop. “We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out,” declared then-Secretary of State John Kerry on Meet the Press in 2014. Kerry was referring to Bashar al-Assad’s declared stockpiles of chemical weapons which, under a 2013 deal struck by the Obama administration following a sarin nerve gas attack that brought the U.S. to the brink of striking Syrian government forces, were dismantled and shipped out of the country.

But there were two important and deadly loopholes. The first was that Assad did not declare everything—a reality that Kerry acknowledged in a farewell memo to staff, in which he wrote that “unfortunately other undeclared chemical weapons continue to be used ruthlessly against the Syrian people.” The second was that chlorine gas, which has legitimate civilian uses, was not part of the deal. The Syrian American Medical Society and the White Helmets civil-defense group have documented 200 chemical attacks in Syria since 2012, many involving chlorine.

At the time, those familiar with the ways of the Syrian tyrant knew that this was a rotten deal. Yes, Damascus gave up some material to make it look like it was complying and the Washington spin-doctors were able to sell the story that Obama and Kerry had done something heroic, but Assad was left with an intact chemical arsenal. Terrible.


Mr Tillerson goes to Moscow

Tuesday, 11 April, 2017 0 Comments

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits Moscow today and will there meet his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. What makes the trip particularly noteworthy is that it comes after the US strike on Moscow’s Middle East proxy and armaments purchaser, Syria. President Trump has sent an unmistakable message that he is holding President Putin accountable for Bashar al-Assad and red lines mean red lines from now on for the new administration in Washington.

The oleaginous Lavrov learned his trade by in the days of Hafiz al-Assad, father of the current tyrant, and one wonders if Tillerson has prepped for his meeting by reading Assad: The Struggle for the Middle East by the late Patrick Seale. First published in 1988, it has lost little of its relevance despite the passing of time. Indeed, given what’s now going on in Syria, its 552 pages remain ultra- relevant. Despite, or perhaps because of his anti-Israel prejudice, Patrick Seale was an influential commentator on events in the Arab world and he possessed a deep understanding of the Arab mind and how it works. On page 412 of Assad: The Struggle for the Middle East, Seale displays his skills as an observer and writer when describing the cunning of Hafiz al-Assad. Snippet:

Assad “Over the years, Assad had developed a negotiating technique which he frequently used with foreign guests, and [Robert] McFarlane [national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan from 1983 to 1985] was no exception. He would begin by exchanging a few pleasantries. Then he might ask, ‘How is the weather in your country?’ A Western guest would usually reply to the effect that at home it was colder than in Syria , giving Assad his opportunity. ‘Indeed’, he would say, ‘it’s warm here because the United Sates is stoking the fire!’ There were two sorts of climate in the world, he would explain, one given by God, the other by the United States, and step by step he would make his point that the tension, crises and wars in the area must all be laid at Washington’s door. An American visitor would feel compelled to defend himself, starting the meeting at a disadvantage.

Assad’s next stratagem was to be extraordinarily digressive and argumentative. If the name of God were mentioned, this might set him off on a long discourse about Islam, Judaism and Christianity before he could be brought back to the matter in hand. Negotiating sessions would last for hours. More than one envoy who suffered this treatment came to the conclusion that Asad raised all sorts of irrelevant subjects simply to tire his visitors the better to control them. At the end of a wearisome session the temptation was to accept what he had to say simply to escape.”

Like father, like son when it comes to cruelty and cynicism, but Bashar al-Assad remains unable to read the writing on the wall, despite his training in London as an ophthalmologist. Maybe Rex Tillerson can help his patrons see things more clearly.


Corbyn and the #JezWeCan crazies

Wednesday, 19 August, 2015 0 Comments

Corbyn “Jez we can! Corbyn draws thunderous support on rainy day”. So reports the Guardian about what actually was a very rainy day in rainy Middlesbrough. Here, at the HQ of the real Rainy Day, there’s no such support.

“Forget, if you like, Corbyn’s regular appearances on the TV channel RT, a state tool of Putinist propaganda; gloss over talk of his ‘friends’ in Hamas and Hezbollah, whom he defended on the grounds that he merely wanted all parties to be involved in negotiations with Israel. Put aside, even, his membership of the famously pro-Assad ‘Stop the War Coalition.'” That’s David Patrikarakos in POLITICO and “God’s gift to the Tories” is how he describes the Labour-leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, the Corbynites and their Obama-inspired #JezWeCan hashtag campaign.

“It is absurd, and it is disastrous: both for the party and for the country,” adds Patrikarakos, noting: “It’s all deeply disturbing of course. But it’s hardly surprising. The left has been indulging dictators and theocrats for almost as long as there has been a left. I don’t like it, but I understand it.”

Hope and change? The loony lefty is winning.

Private Eye


What the Time ‘POY’ award tells us about Time

Thursday, 12 December, 2013 0 Comments

Time magazine began its tradition of selecting a “Man of the Year” in 1927, when the honour was conferred on Charles Lindbergh. In 1999, the title was changed to “Person of the Year” and the winner was Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Today, lots of publications copycat the Time idea and just as dog-owners are often said to resemble their pets, the awardees usually mirror the prejudices of those doing the awarding. No wonder, then, that Edward Snowden was voted Guardian person of the year 2013 and no surprise, either, that its German ideological replica, Der Spiegel, followed suit.

Mercifully, Time bypassed the data thief currently residing in Russia, and, instead, it picked Pope Francis. But the award is not quite the occasion for joy that it might appear to be as Freddy Gray points out in The Spectator in a post titled “Why Time’s Person of the Year should be Pope… Benedict”:

“It was telling that, in their blurb about the nominees, Time announced that ‘the first Jesuit Pontiff won hearts and minds with his common touch and rejection of church dogma’. Of course Pope Francis has not rejected Church dogma at all. Time were quick to correct themselves, yet their mistake revealed again the liberal bias against Catholicism: Catholics are only praised if they are seen to rebel against their Church. This attitude makes Catholics distinctly uneasy. It can only be a matter of time before the journalists who now laud Francis turn on him. They will say he has disappointed them when he does not embrace all gay rights, condoms, and women popes.”

We should be grateful that the Time award did not go to Assad, Putin or Snowden, but we should be wary of its dogma. After all, it resembles its owners and they’re no friends of the legacy Francis represents.

Time Person of the Year


Obama and that Chamberlain feeling

Thursday, 12 September, 2013 1 Comment

Sir Henry “Chips” Channon was an American-born British Conservative politician, author and chronicler. Here’s his diary entry from 12 September 1938:

Chamberlain “Towards the end of the Banquet came the news, the great world-stirring news, that Neville [Chamberlain], on his own initiative, seeing war coming closer and closer, had telegrapher to Hitler that he wanted to see him, and asked him to name an immediate rendezvous. The German Government, surprised and flattered, had instantly accepted and so Neville, at the age of 69, for the first time in his life, gets into an aeroplane tomorrow morning and flies to Berchtesgaden! It is one of the finest, most inspiring acts of all history. The company rose to their feet electrified, as all the world must be, and drank his health. History must be ransacked to find a parallel.

Of course a way out will now be found. Neville by his imagination and practical good sense, has saved the world. I am staggered.”

A year later, the situation was very different. No way out had been found, the world had not been saved and the name of Neville Chamberlain became eternally synonymous with that dreadful term, appeasement.

“I believe it is peace for our time,” said the hapless Chamberlain upon his return from the despot’s Alpine eyrie, and one could not but feel a shiver of déjà vu while listening to the awful speech delivered by President Obama on Tuesday night. Here was a leader who casually drew a red line in the sand, and then found he had to do something about it. Faced with a humiliating defeat in Congress, he has now decided to let the Russians, steadfast allies of Assad, set the agenda on the international stage. And he admitted all this with an air of boredom. “It is hard to believe such a chill man has such warm feelings about the sad end of strangers far away,” wrote Peggy Noonan. “I think this has been one of his big unspoken problems in the selling of his Syria policy.” With her “sad end of strangers far away,” Noonan was deliberately echoing Chamberlain, who said: “How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing.”

Knowing that the US president will grasp at any straw to avoid taking military action against Damascus, Vladimir Putin, now writing op-eds for the New York Times, is thrashing Obama in this global PR game. Having presented Obama with the meaningless option of weapons inspection, Russia has saved Syria from immediate attack and ensured that Assad can continue merrily upon his murderous way. It’s all very Chamberlain like.


Obama must strike now

Friday, 30 August, 2013 6 Comments

The spineless stance of the 285 British MPs who hid behind the tainted skirts of the UN last night does not change reality. To let the Syrian tyrant go unpunished now would assure him, and like-minded barbarians, that the proliferation and use of chemical weapons will be tolerated. And that cannot be. If the UK is unwilling to uphold this prohibition, it is even more important that the US does. In the words of The Economist:

The Economist “Because doing nothing carries risks that are even bigger. If the West tolerates such a blatant war crime, Mr Assad will feel even freer to use chemical weapons. He had after all stepped across Mr Obama’s ‘red line’ several times by using these weapons on a smaller scale — and found that Mr Obama and his allies blinked. An American threat, especially over WMD, must count for something: it is hard to see how Mr Obama can eat his words without the superpower losing credibility with the likes of Iran and North Korea.”

Obama must now proceed with a “punishment of such severity that Mr Assad is deterred from ever using WMD again. Hitting the chemical stockpiles themselves runs the risk both of poisoning more civilians and of the chemicals falling into the wrong hands. Far better for a week of missiles to rain down on the dictator’s ‘command-and-control’ centres, including his palaces. By doing this, Mr Obama would certainly help the rebels, though probably not enough to overturn the regime. With luck, well-calibrated strikes might scare Mr Assad towards the negotiating table.”

It’s time to hit Assad. Hard. Otherwise we can abandon civilization to the wolves. In his third year of wavering, two years after stating Assad had to go, one year after drawing — then redrawing — that red line, Barack Obama must act. Alone, if necessary.


Obama and the “Syrian affair”

Wednesday, 5 June, 2013 1 Comment

While reading this Al Jazeera article, “Hezbollah: The Syrian connection“, the following jumped out: “Lebanon’s former Prime Minster, Fouad Siniora, has made it clear that he is calling on Hezbollah members to put an end to their involvement in the Syrian affair.” The use of “affair” there is surely one of the great trivializations of our time because what’s happening in Syria is a civil war of almost unimaginable savagery in which both sides are committing crimes against humanity. Consider these two items:

These acts of barbarism place US President Barack Obama in a quandary. He once called on Assad resign and he warned gravely of red lines, and then he abandoned the Syrians to their abattoir. Now, amidst the carnage, he looks increasingly duplicitous. Michael Totten, writing in City Journal, says that Syrians are confused by the American hesitation to remove Assad, and “In The Friend of My Enemy Is My Enemy“, he notes:

“Extreme caution is called for in Syria, but that hardly changes the fact that it is in America’s national interest to see Assad removed. This man has more American blood on his hands than anyone in the Arab world who hasn’t been killed yet. He is a totalitarian state sponsor of international terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida. His government has exported chaos and violence, not just to Israel, but also to every one of its neighbors. His regime is part of the Iranian-Hezbollah axis, which may well go nuclear. Calling for his ouster doesn’t require undaunted courage. It won’t yield results by itself, but the White House, and the United States as a whole, without even realizing it, are paying a price for refusing to do even this much.”

Yes, America will be pilloried for whatever it does in Syria, but the arguments against intervention are starting to sound as hollow as those making them.