Senator John McCain is said to have cancer. Because of his illness, this aging war hero is unlikely to be held responsible for his steadfast support of anti-Assad “moderate rebels” – now universally recognized as Jihadis by another name. All the more reason why some might want pin the entire sordid affair on McCain. Sadly such an effort may have already begun:
. . . this crime against humanity – there is no other word for it . . . can be properly described as “McCain’s War”
— David Stockman
David Stockman’s anti-McCain rant is perhaps the first attempt to channel scorn in McCain’s direction. But civil society should resist any attempt to use McCain to ‘turn the page’ on the Syrian fiasco. McCain could not and did not create this clusterf*ck on his own. Many powerful people were involved and many others knowingly lined their pockets or stayed silent because they hoped to do so.
Stockman is rejoices at a tweet from President Trump that likely confused most Americans:
The Amazon Washington Post fabricated the facts on my ending massive, dangerous, and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad…..
In trying to explain this tweet, Stockman makes some grievous mistakes:
- Stockman’s praise for Trump is overblown: it is unknown at this time if the program has been completely ended or if Trump merely cut funding. Trump himself doesn’t say he ENDED the program, only that he is “ending … payments”. Trump doesn’t even say that he ended ALL payments.
- Stockman is also wrong when he says:
No stouter blow to the neocon/Deep State “regime change” folly has ever been issued by an elected public official.
In October 2014, at Harvard University, Vice President Biden publicly revealed (apparently inadvertently) the efforts of US allies to support Jihadis, saying:
They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.
This “blow” was so great that Biden was forced to apologize for his remarks, though a compliant press made little of his embarrassing about face. This was arguably a bigger “blow” than Trump’s cryptic tweet because Biden essentially confirmed what Seymour Hersh had written in “The Redline and the Ratline” (April 2014):
The rat line [of arms shipments], authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida.
. . .
.A highly classified annex to the report [of Senate Intelligence Committee], not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. . . . The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director . . .
The operation had not been disclosed at the time it was set up to the congressional intelligence committees and the congressional leadership, as required by law since the 1970s. The involvement of MI6 enabled the CIA to evade the law by classifying the mission as a liaison operation. . . .
. . . ‘The [Benghazi] consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’
- Stockman goes along with the pretense that ISIS was an independent movement when there is much evidence to dispute that. ISIS made gains that were astonishing (capturing Mosul), they prospered via an oil trade that US and allies must have know of (prior to Russia’s revealing it), and they mysteriously got arms and support that only nation-states could provide (hundreds of sophisticated anti-tank weapons and an aerial attack at Deir Ezzor).
Furthermore, dozens of Military Intelligence analysts complained to Congress that their reports where distorted in an apparent effort to play-down the threat posed by ISIS. Obama himself had participated in this deception when he described ISIS as al Queda’s “JV team”. To my knowledge Obama has never clarified or disowned this remark, or sought to punish those who distorted intelligence – so we must assume that Obama was an accomplice, not a victim of this deception.
“After months of investigation…” Congressional investigators found that:
…this much is very clear: from the middle of 2014 to the middle of 2015, the United States Central Command’s most senior intelligence leaders manipulated the command’s intelligence products to downplay the threat from ISIS in Iraq . . .
. . . The Joint Task Force can find no justifiable reason why operational reporting was repeatedly used as a rationale to change the analytic product, particularly when the changes only appeared to be made in a more optimistic direction.
- Stockman fails to mention the other regime-change disasters that neocons have been responsible for such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Ukraine. Its difficult to see how any of these have been worth the cost and suffering. Each was a predictable disaster. Yet neocon warmongers have consistently found support for such destabilization from the highest levels of Western governments.
No doubt there are many who would like to escape responsibility by pining this disaster on a single person (McCain). There are many political leaders, lesser officials, and others that had a duty to their constituents and/or the world community to stand against the adventurism that resulted in Syria’s destruction and ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks. Their participation, whether passive (keeping quiet) or active, made the disaster possible. People like: Obama, Hillary, Petraeus, Brennan, Bush(?), Israel’s Netanyahu, Turkey’s Erdogan, France’s Sarkozy, UK’s Cameron, corporate media execs, think tank analysts, etc.
To many observers, Syria and other regime-change ops are symptomatic of the elite privilege and adventurism that has undermined democracy in the West. The exceptional collective hubris and immorality that produced this disaster is as great as, if not greater, than what led to the disastrous Iraq War.
And so, it is a grave mistake to tout a cryptic tweet instead of demanding a full mea culpa. To set such a low standard defeats accountability and allows neocons to continue business-as-usual: plotting the next foreign policy disaster.
1. Seymour Hersh had first written of collusion to use extremists as a weapon in “The Redirection”(2007):
The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda. . . The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process . . .
2. While we pursue accountability, lets also remember the activists, journalists, and bloggers that pursued truths that powerful interests wanted to cover up.