Wednesday, 18 April 2018
Dr. Assim Rahaibani, a Syrian doctor, has told journalist Robert Fisk, writing for the British publication, The Independent,
that last week’s alleged chemical gas attack by the Assad government on
civilians in Douma did not happen. The alleged chemical attack was the
pretext for a combined bombing raid by the United States, France, and
the United Kingdom.
was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred meters from
here on the night but all the doctors know what happened,” Rahaibani
told Fisk. “There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and
aircraft were always over Douma at night — but on this night, there was
wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars
where people lived.”
to Rahaibani, “People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia,
oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a ‘White Helmet,’ shouted
‘Gas!,' and a panic began. People started throwing water over each
was a video that was shown around the world, but Rahaibani explained
what really happened. “Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine,
but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia — not gas poisoning.”
“White Helmets” described by Rahaibani are what most Americans would
call medical “first responders.” Russia has charged that the Douma
incident was “staged” by this volunteer rescue organization. Fisk noted
that the White Helmets are funded by the British Foreign Office.
have become increasingly skeptical of U.S. government assurances that
Assad actually used chemical weapons “against his own people.” First of
all, it is quite illogical that Assad would resort to gas warfare on
civilians, when almost all observers believe that he is on the verge of
victory in the multi-year Syrian civil war. Assad would have to know
that the one thing that he could keep him from winning the war, at this
point, is intervention by the British, the French, and especially
America. And the only thing that would cause the U.S. public to support
yet another military adventure in the Middle East would be gruesome
pictures of the aftermath of just such a chemical attack.
2003, Americans were fed a steady diet of “information” from their
government that Iraq’s dictator, Sadaam Hussein, was in possession or
was developing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), such as chemical
weapons, biological weapons, and even nuclear weapons, and that he was
likely to use those weapons on American forces in the region, or he was
going to give them to some Islamic terrorist group that would use them.
Additionally, Americans were told that Hussein was a particularly
brutal man, keeping “rape rooms,” and the like.
Hussein was no doubt a brutal dictator, it is hard to argue that his
removal from power has improved the civil liberties situation either in
Iraq, or in the region. It certainly has contributed to the increased
significance of the Iranians in the region.
Donald Trump won the Republican nomination in 2016, at least in part,
because he condemned the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, based
on the WMD claim, which U.S. forces were unable to find after the war
was over. Now, Trump has been persuaded to bomb targets in Syria to
punish Assad for his use of chemical weapons.
did Assad really use chemical weapons? Very little evidence has been
presented to prove that contention. In fact, it has been nine days
since the alleged gas attack in Douma, Syria, and the Organization for
the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has still not been given
access to the site.
officials have visited the site, leading Kenneth Ward, U.S. ambassador
to the OPWC, to question whether the Russians may have “tampered” with
the site. “It is our understanding the Russian Federation may have
visited the attack site. We are concerned they may have tampered with
it with the intent of thwarting the efforts of the OPCW fact-finding
mission [FFM] to conduct an effective investigation. This raises
serious questions about the ability of the FFM to do its job.”
Wilson, the British ambassador to the OPCW, echoed Ward’s suspicions.
“Since 2016, Russia has sought to undermine every OPCW investigation
into allegations of regime chemical weapons use. Yet again, Russia is
spreading conspiracy theories and misinformation designed to undermine
the integrity of the OPCW’s fact finding mission.”
their part, the Russians strongly reject such accusations. Deputy
Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that his government is not doing
anything to hamper the OPCW. Instead, Ryabkov said the delays in the
OPCW reaching Douma is because of “the illegal, unlawful military
action” — the airstrikes conducted by the U.S., France and Britain last
local Arabs told Fisk that the Islamists had forcibly taken over Syrian
homes to avoid bombing by the Syrian government and the Russians. The
local population hates these radicals — the forces that would likely
take over the country were Assad fall from power.
For more than a century, dating back to the sinking of the USS Maine
in 1898, which led to a U.S. declaration of war against Spain in 1898,
Americans have been persuaded to support military action by incidents
in which the whole truth of the matter is disputed, e.g., Germans
allegedly eating babies in Belgium before American entry into the First
World War; the supposed attacks upon American ships in the Gulf of
Tonkin; WMDs in Iraq; and other debatable incidents. Now, Americans are
being told that a civil war in Syria is of vital interest to our
the time has come to demand proof. As President Ronald Reagan said of
taking the Soviets at their word — we should “trust, but verify.”
Sadly, we need apply the same skepticism to our own government’s
assertions before we launch bombing attacks inside another country.
Monday, 16 April 2018
the weekend, President Trump celebrated firing more than 100 missiles
into Syria by Tweeting, “Mission Accomplished!” They say if you cannot
learn from history you are condemned to repeat it. So I guess we are
all remember that “Mission Accomplished” was the banner behind
then-President Bush as he gloated aboard a US navy ship that the war in
Iraq had been won. After his “victory,” however, some 4,000 US military
personnel were killed, perhaps a million Iraqis were killed, and the
country’s infrastructure and social fabric were so badly destroyed that
they probably can never be repaired.
Actually, there is much about the US attack on Syria that reminds us of Iraq.
Iraq, the US moved in to start bombing before international inspectors
had completed their mission to verify whether or not Saddam Hussein had
weapons of mass destruction. Had they been allowed to complete their
mission and verify that he did not, imagine the suffering, death, and
destruction that could have been avoided. In Syria, the US decided to
start bombing before the international inspectors were even allowed to
start checking claims that Assad gassed his own people in Douma. Why?
What was the rush? Was Washington afraid they might not find Assad
really benefits from US attacks on the Syrian government? There were
reports that ISIS began making moves immediately after the air strikes.
Do we really want to be al-Qaeda and ISIS’s airforce? Is that going to
keep us safer? I remember when al-Qaeda was actually considered our
enemy, not an ally in overthrowing the last secular government in the
Syria’s Christians be better off after the recent US attack? Just over
a week ago Christians celebrated Easter in Aleppo for the first time in
years. What changed? The Syrian army kicked out al-Qaeda, which had
been occupying the eastern part of the city. So no, Christians will be
much worse off if our “moderate terrorists” take control of Syria.
Syria really had sarin and other chemical weapons factories, does it
make sense for the US to bomb the buildings and risk killing thousands
by widely disbursing the poisons? Does it make sense to risk killing
Syrian civilians with chemical weapons in retaliation for allegations
that the Syrian government killed civilians with chemical weapons? No,
it seems more like the phony “mobile WMD labs” we were told that Saddam
Hussein had constructed.
the US knew Syria was manufacturing chemical weapons in the buildings
they bombed, why not notify the Organization for the Prevention of
Chemical Weapons (OPCW)? The OPCW had certified the very building the
US bombed as chemical weapons free not that long ago. Why not just call
them up and ask them to check it out? After all, they were just
arriving in the country as the US started bombing.
are many more questions about President Trump’s terrible decision to
again make war on Syria. For example, where is Congress? It was
disgraceful to see Speaker Paul Ryan telling the President he needs no
Congressional authorization to attack Syria. All Members of Congress
take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and the Constitution
says that only Congress can declare war. Does that oath mean nothing
Trump will come to regret the day he let the neocons take over his
foreign policy. Their track record is abysmal. His attack on Syria was
clearly illegal and should his party lose the House in November he may
find his new fair-weather friends in the Democratic Party quickly
Ron Paul is a former U.S. congressman from Texas. This article originally appeared at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and is reprinted here with permission.