By Stephen Gowans
In the end, the US intelligence community assessment released by Washington yesterday to justify an attack on Syria amounts to this: There is no confirming evidence that a chemical weapons attack occurred on August 21 in Syria, or if one occurred, that it was carried out by the Syrian military.
Newspapers have been warning that Washington would be unable to point to a smoking gun and had no hard evidence to back up its charges against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Nothing in the official assessment disconfirms this.
The assessment is a judgment, based on an opinion that a chemical weapons attack occurred and that the Syrian military is the only agent in Syria capable of carrying one out.
Others have a different view. The UN special commission of inquiry into Syria announced in May that it had strong suspicions that opposition forces had used chemical weapons. Speculating about the possible outcome of a US-French war on Syria, Washington Post reporter Anne Gearan wrote today that “the rebels might be tempted…to stage further attacks and blame” the Syrian government.
Even more damaging to Washington’s case is this August 29 report from Associated Press reporters Kimberly Dozier and Matt Apuzzo:
U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders. Some have even talked about the possibility that rebels could have carried out the attack in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war. That suspicion was not included in the official intelligence report, according to the official who described the report.
US secretary of state John Kerry, Washington’s war-monger in chief on the Syrian file, said: “The question is: What are we—we collectively—what are we in the world going to do about this?”
• The United States is hardly an impartial party, and has been trying to topple the Arab nationalist government in Syria for decades. It has an interest in contriving pretexts to intervene militarily.
• An attack on Syria would be illegal.
• Even if there was confirming evidence that the Syrian military launched a chemical attack, it is not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Neither are US allies Egypt and Israel. And while Syria did in 1968 sign onto the Geneva Protocol banning the use in war of gasses, the protocol is concerned with war between, not within, states.
• Along with Russia, the United States has the world’s largest stockpiles of chemical weapons.
• Washington’s revulsion at the use of chemical weapons is disingenuous. The United States aided Saddam Hussein to gas Iranians in the late 1980s.
The more fitting question is: What are we—we collectively—what are we in the world going to do about the United States arrogantly arrogating onto itself, in contempt of international law, in defiance of the greater part of humanity, the right to wage war on Syria, and worse, on a pretext?