Analysis of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on the subject of the alleged chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs, suggests the senator has his facts wrong again and is fully engaged in war-mongering propagandistic rhetoric. He may be using a form of psychological projection to protect himself from ongoing feelings of guilt at his role in the massive use of chemical weapons by US forces in Vietnam but in any case the posited military action in Syria represents yet another case of an ill-thought out policy with dire humanitarian consequences being sold to the public on grounds of high morality.
It is difficult to make a rational, intellectual argument for launching military action against Syria. Even from the point of view of ruthless self-interest it is not a sensible thing for the United States to do. So Kerry instead makes a moral argument and appeals to the heart. His conscious purpose is to set out the moral basis for war, as is made clear in his opening remarks:
Well, for the last several days, President Obama and his entire national security team have been reviewing the situation in Syria. And today, I want to provide an update on our efforts as we consider our response to the use of chemical weapons.
What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear: The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable and – despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured – it is undeniable.
At this point, it is worth remembering that, many years ago, Kerry was a small cog in the US war machine as it killed hundreds of thousands of peasants in South East Asia. The killings and the use of chemical weapons by US forces in Vietnam was known to Kerry – as he recently told Newsweek magazine, “We know they used defoliants, at least I knew they used defoliants, because it was all around us… That was just the nature of life on a boat down there. It was a reality.”
Kerry claimed that “I’ve never really thought about it… I don’t think about it in a personal sense.”
The defoliants used in Vietnam included Agent Orange – a chemical which Vietnam estimates killed or maimed 400,000 people, and which has led to 500,000 children being born with birth defects. With the Red Cross of Vietnam estimating that up to 1 million people are disabled or have health problems due to Agent Orange, there is little doubt that its use represents, to use Kerry’s words “a moral obscenity” and it is one which may have left its mark in the mind of Kerry in the form of guilt, which is now expressing itself in a form of Freudian projection:
The meaning of this attack goes beyond the conflict in Syria itself, and that conflict has already brought so much terrible suffering. This is about the large-scale, indiscriminate use of weapons that the civilized world long ago decided must never be used at all, a conviction shared even by countries that agree on little else.
There is a clear reason that the world has banned entirely the use of chemical weapons. There is a reason the international community has set a clear standard and why many countries have taken major steps to eradicate these weapons. There is a reason why President Obama has made it such a priority to stop the proliferation of these weapons and lock them down where they do exist. There is a reason why President Obama has made clear to the Assad regime that this international norm cannot be violated without consequences.
And there is a reason why, no matter what you believe about Syria, all peoples and all nations who believe in the cause of our common humanity must stand up to assure that there is accountability for the use of chemical weapons so that it never happens again.
During the recent occupation of Iraq, it should be remembered, the city of Fallujah saw the widespread use of weapons with toxic effects, such that since 2006 for every 1000 live births in Fallujah General Hospital, 144 babies are now reportedly born with a deformity.
Kerry continues with an emotional appeal based on the content of videos uploaded to YouTube by rebel supporters in the early hours of 21st August:
Last night, after speaking with foreign ministers from around the world about the gravity of this situation, I went back and I watched the videos, the videos that anybody can watch in the social media, and I watched them one more gut-wrenching time. It is really hard to express in words the human suffering that they lay out before us.
As a father, I can’t get the image out of my head of a man who held up his dead child, wailing, while chaos swirled around him, the images of entire families dead in their beds without a drop of blood or even a visible wound, bodies contorting in spasms, human suffering that we can never ignore or forget.
One of the aspects of these videos, which really doesn’t come across to an English-speaking audience, is the extremely sectarian language of those who are commentating, but Kerry moves on to make a direct appeal to accept the rebel YouTube videos at face value and attacks anyone who may question the evidence:
Anyone who could claim that an attack of this staggering scale could be contrived or fabricated needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass. What is before us today is real, and it is compelling.
Kerry must be fully aware that the information war, known as psyops, is essential to every war. It should be obvious to anyone who has studied the Syrian conflict that both Al Qaeda, which dominates the jihadi insurgency, as well as the numerous security services active in the region, have the motive, the means and sufficient ruthlessness to launch a false flag operation of this nature and scale. Indeed, given Obama’s so-called “red line” and the recent arrival of UN inspectors in the area, it is inconceivable that rebel elements would not be planning false flag or fabricated chemical weapons attacks.
To be frank, Kerry’s appeal not to question the evidence is redolent of the propaganda techniques of a movement popular in Germany in the 1930s, indeed a 1937 essay aimed at propagandists called “Heart or Reason? What We don’t Want from Our Speakers”, explicitly argued that speakers should aim for the heart. One of the pillars of antisemitism was that Jews were accused of having a destructive “critical spirit.”
Kerry goes on to make a half-hearted attempt to suggest that his premature conclusions about the alleged attack are based on facts, science and investigation:
So I also want to underscore that while investigators are gathering additional evidence on the ground, our understanding of what has already happened in Syria is grounded in facts, informed by conscience and guided by common sense. The reported number of victims, the reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, the first hand accounts from humanitarian organizations on the ground, like Doctors Without Borders and the Syria Human Rights Commission, these all strongly indicate that everything these images are already screaming at us is real, that chemical weapons were used in Syria.
We know that Kerry, who famously praised US diplomats for their work in securing “democratic institutions” in the non-existent country of “Kyrzakhstan,” is a man who can’t necessarily be trusted to get his facts right. But in a speech of this nature, with likely deadly consequences for many people, one might expect him and his speech-writers to make an effort. But no – Kerry’s “first hand accounts from humanitarian organisations on the ground” suffer a couple of problems.
Firstly, “Doctors Without Borders” (MSF) do not have any staff on the ground in Syria so are not able to produce a first-hand account from hospitals they supply. This is clearly stated on their website which says: “Due to significant security risks, MSF staff members have not been able to access the facilities.”
In regard to the alleged attacks MSF states: “MSF can neither scientifically confirm the cause of these symptoms nor establish who is responsible for the attack.”
As far as the so-called “Syria Human Rights Commission” is concerned, staff at the US State Department have so far proved unable to identify this organisation, which makes it difficult to verify any statements it might have issued, if the organisation exists at all.
Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic has confirmed to HRI that he has no connection with this organisation. He is on record as saying there is an obligation on the international community to demand a diplomatic solution to bring a “just and lasting peace.”
Kerry continues to outline a less than convincing case against the Syrian regime:
Moreover, we know that the Syrian regime maintains custody of these chemical weapons. We know that the Syrian regime has the capacity to do this with rockets. We know that the regime has been determined to clear the opposition from those very places where the attacks took place. And with our own eyes, we have all of us become witnesses.
Kerry is not even able to identify which chemical weapons were allegedly used. For those who are not aware, the Syrian rebels have captured and been provided with munitions which include rockets, although it is by no means certain that rockets were the method for deployment of chemical weapons in this case or even if chemical weapon were used at all.
Chemical weapons experts and investigators who have examined footage of the victims have very many questions about this whole incident.
As an aside, I think it is worth drawing the reader’s attention to a recent theory that casualties may have been caused through the effects of vacuum bombs, some of which failed to explode properly showering the people below with fuel in the form of highly toxic ethylene oxide and propylene oxide. The irony of this would be that fuel-air bombs are used by NATO and would be considered conventional weapons.
Kerry continues, “We have additional information about this attack, and that information is being compiled and reviewed together with our partners, and we will provide that information in the days ahead. Our sense of basic humanity is offended, not only by this cowardly crime, but also by the cynical attempt to cover it up.”
Kerry then claims that the Syrian government has failed to cooperate with the UN investigations, the results of which Kerry is himself trying to second-guess:
At every turn, the Syrian regime has failed to cooperate with the U.N. investigation, using it only to stall and to stymie the important effort to bring to light what happened in Damascus in the dead of night. And as Ban Ki-moon said last week, the U.N. investigation will not determine who used these chemical weapons, only whether such weapons were used, a judgment that is already clear to the world.
The judgement, in this case, is only clear to those who are not interested in finding the truth through investigation, analysis and rationality.
I spoke on Thursday with Syrian Foreign Minister Muallem, and I made it very clear to him that if the regime, as he argued, had nothing to hide, then their response should be immediate, immediate transparency, immediate access, not shelling. Their response needed to be unrestricted and immediate access. Failure to permit that, I told him, would tell its own story.
Instead, for five days, the Syrian regime refused to allow the U.N. investigators access to the site of the attack that would allegedly exonerate them. Instead, it attacked the area further, shelling it and systemically destroying evidence. That is not the behaviour of a government that has nothing to hide. That is not the action of a regime eager to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons.
As a matter of fact, Angela Kane the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, arrived in Damascus on Saturday 24th, met the Syrian Foreign Minister and permission to access the sites, which are of course in rebel-held territory, was given on Sunday with the inspectors going in on Monday. Given the months it has taken for investigators to reach other sites, due to fundamental disagreements over mandate of inspectors, this is a stunningly quick turnaround. But according to Kerry:
In fact, the regime’s belated decision to allow access is too late, and it’s too late to be credible. Today’s reports of an attack on the U.N. investigators – together with the continued shelling of these very neighbourhoods – only further weakens the regime’s credibility.
According to Farhan Haq, spokesman of the Secretary-General of the UN, however, speaking on the 27th August and asked whether there could still be useful evidence five days following the attack, it is rare that an internal investigation would be able to commence within such a short time, as the investigation into the 21 August incident has. With hundreds of human fatalities, the passage of such few days does not affect the opportunities to collect valuable samples and to perform witness interviews.
At President Obama’s direction, I’ve spent many hours over the last few days on the phone with foreign ministers and other leaders. The administration is actively consulting with members of Congress, and we will continue to have these conversations in the days ahead. President Obama has also been in close touch with leaders of our key allies and the president will be making an informed decision about how to respond to this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons.
But make no mistake: President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people. Nothing today is more serious, and nothing is receiving more serious scrutiny.
The question of accountability is of course an important one and those responsible for the use of chemical weapons against civilians should be held to account, A good place to start would be with US-based multi-nationals Dow Chemicals and Monsanto who manufactured the Agent Orange which was used on the people of South East Asia. That, however, is unthinkable for Kerry who is delighted to share platforms with the Chief Executive of Dow and strongly supports Monsanto’s GMO agenda.
Returning to the question of Syria, the major problem which Kerry has completely failed to address in his speech is one pointed out by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro – it is impossible to choose unequivocally good guys among the groups of Syrian rebels and send weapons to them. Whilst the US claims that weapons sent to Syria will not get into the hands of groups associated with al-Qaeda, Pinheiro says that it is impossible to guarantee this.
Pinheiro has disagreed with the opinion that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is a red line after crossing which the international community has to use radical measures, such as providing one side of the conflict with weapons.
Human Rights Investigations has long pointed to the dangers of the rebels in Syria getting their hands on chemical weapons. In December last year we wrote “…we are now left with a situation where the US has recognised as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people a council which has, at least, great sympathy for Al Qaeda and whose armed fighters declare that they are Al Qaeda.
Al Nusrah and Obama are on the same page in undermining the peaceful opposition in Syria
The last time the Americans allied with Al Qaeda it ended badly. In this conflict Al Qaeda is reportedly keen to get its hands on chemical weapons factories and bombs, which a collapse of Syrian government authority would make highly probable, leaving western foreign policy in utter disarray.
How much better it would have been for western leaders to have pursued a foreign policy in accordance with international law, in opposition to the illegal support of armed terrorist gangs and in genuine support of a peaceful resolution in the interests of all the Syrian people.”
On August 6th of this year, the CIA second in command Michael Morell, speaking to the Wall Street Journal as he prepared to leave his post, recognised the greatest risk to the USA being the Syrian government collapsing and the country becoming al Qaeda’s new haven.
As MPs gather in Westminster for a debate on possible military action against Syria, it should be borne in mind that military action on the basis of unproven accusations is immoral in itself, but the humanitarian consequences of enabling an Al Qaeda take-over of yet more of Syria would be appalling not just for Syrians, but for the whole region. All the British government’s efforts should be going into bringing about a diplomatic settlement to the Syrian conflict, becoming a party to that conflict should not be an option.
At this crucial time, we hope United Nations officials will make their voices heard to try to ensure international law is obeyed and we advise our readers to contact their representatives and demand no military intervention in Syria.
(updated 28 August with quote from Farhan Haq)