Why Doesn’t the U.S. Wait for U.N. Test Results in Syria Before Striking?

As the apparent fervor to blow stuff up in the U.S. government can no longer be stymied, I can’t help but wonder: why the rush?

Obviously, the argument “because people are dying” is ridiculous in the case of Syria since 100k people have died and no military action has been taken yet.  And we also know the previous chemical attacks have very possibly and likely come from the rebel forces themselves and not the Assad regime.

It seems waiting a few more days until the results of the U.N. inspectors can be confirmed would be rather wise in this situation.  We are hearing from the likes of John Kerry and Chuck Hagel the U.S. has intelligence confirming it was the Assad regime that used chemical weapons last week but none is being produced at the moment.  And since they haven’t claimed it to be a “slam-dunk” yet, we should probably make sure we aren’t fooled again.

Even VP Biden has stated the Syrian government is the only force in the war capable of using chemical weapons, which is a rather bizarre statement considering we know the U.S. government has been paying contractors to train rebels to handle chemical weapons for quite a while.  And the rebels have captured a chemical plant, as reported by Der Spiegel:

Assad supporters also pointed out that the extremist Al-Nusra Front, which his aligned with al-Qaida, had gained control of the region east of Damascus and captured a chlorine gas plant there.

But experts doubt the rebels could have weaponized the chemicals found there. As poison gas specialist Stephen Johnson points out, enormous amounts of chemical agents are needed to kill hundreds of people, a feat impossible for the insurgents to pull off.

“Impossible” assuming they are untrained, which we know isn’t entirely true.

Then, there is the possibility some chemical weapons have made their way from Libya to Syria and, depending how much of a conspiracy theorist you may be, this may have been a residual factor in the whole Benghazi situation.  We know chemical weapons, including sarin gas, survived the fall of Qaddafi and we’re pretty sure the CIA was selling weapons to Syrian rebels in Libya.  Speculate for yourself.

Waiting a few more days for the results seems like the better option since they will seemingly be rather definitive, as reported in Foreign Policy:

While Sellstrom cannot explicitly say whether the Assad regime or the rebels conducted the attack, he can release information that would strongly implicate one party or the other — allowing U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to make the actual accusation.

The Syrian regime has been developing chemical weapons for decades; it has been Damascus’s strategy for offsetting the threat posed by the Israeli nuclear program. As a result, Duelfer said, the regime has acquired some extremely sophisticated systems for maintaining its stockpiles — adding chemical stabilizers to its toxic agents, for example, and creating binary munitions that mix the precursors to create a toxic agent after the rocket or mortar has been fired. “[I]f they find little bits of rockets or artillery shells with that degree of sophistication, it will point toward the Syrian military,” Duelfer said.

Meanwhile, if the toxic agent used in Damascus is found not to have included chemical stabilizers and the delivery method is more rudimentary, that may tilt the argument toward the side of Russia and the Assad regime.

Rushing to fire on Syria without knowing for sure who used chemical weapons last week creates a very important question that we should an answer for before launching the first missile: what will the Syrian population (and surrounding Middle-Eastern populations) think of the U.S. if it is discovered the sarin originated from a rebel group?  Are we prepared to deal with that possibility?

This isn’t to say the international community should ignore the situation and nothing should be done.  But we should certainly question whether we are making the right decision considering all the muddiness of the past and if this is the best decision in the long term.

More Evidence Benghazi Attack Was Revenge Killing

One of the most surprising (or least depending on your level of cynicism, admittedly me) aspects of the Benghazi attack is the notion it took place because of a need for revenge by the attackers.  We might now have more evidence that notion is true.

CNN is reporting the number of CIA agents around at the time was in the dozens and the possible reasons they were around support the idea of a revenge attack when coupled with some other info.  From the article:

Speculation on Capitol Hill has included the possibility the U.S. agencies operating in Benghazi were secretly helping to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.

What’s the real story?

So, there was a likely relationship between the CIA and the groups in Libya.  Some more info from a Democracy Now! interview with former elite members of the U.S. military:

JACK MURPHY: Sure. There’s a number of different contributing factors that led to these attacks. When we start to talk about the blowback effect, we do also have to understand that this was a group of people, the Ansar al-Sharia militia, that wasn’t particularly fond of Americans to begin with. There was a large number of foreign fighters, these international jihadists, who were amongst that group the night of the attack. But what hasn’t been talked about very much in the media is that there were covert operations being run inside Libya, targeted killings against militia members, al-Qaeda-affiliated personnel, also involving securing weapons that had fallen into the militia hands, that we didn’t want them to have in the post-war Libya that was destabilizing the Libyan transitional government. But there were a series of operations over the course of the summer and even that week of September in the run-up to the attack.

AMY GOODMAN: U.S. government allies were also assassinated, were killed…

JACK MURPHY: Well, allegedly, there was even a CIA asset that was targeted and killed in that first week of September prior to the attack.

AMY GOODMAN: By who? Killed by?

JACK MURPHY: By the United States military, by special operations personnel.

AMY GOODMAN: A CIA asset killed by U.S. personnel.

JACK MURPHY: Allegedly. And this phenomena has happened previously in Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to prove for certain that this individual was an asset, but you can only imagine what’s going through the heads of the militia members as they feel that they’re working hand in hand with the Americans and then all of a sudden the Americans kill one of their people. And this was—this was definitely one of the events that led to the special operations forces actually kicking up the hornets’ nest in Libya, and it was a contributing factor that led to the attack in Benghazi. (Emphasis mine)

Add all that to the reality that members of Ansar al-Sharia are fighting in Syria and the picture becomes potentially quite nefarious.

It is still a rather loose connection but it seems possible the CIA was dealing weapons to these militias for use in Syria, for reasons unknown killed one of the people they were dealing with, and the militia reacted very violently when they were betrayed.

We may never know if this is true since the government would have to acknowledge a very explosive action it was involved in to confirm this possibility.  But the evidence emerging is beginning to suggest this could be reality.