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Has Obama’s Syria Defeat Rendered Attack on Iran Impossible?

The American people have wisely defeated Pres. Obama’s ill-fated plan to attack Syria.  They’ve prevented him from being his own worst enemy and sinking into a quagmire of his own making.  Polls released today showed anywhere from 60-70% of Americans opposed intervention.  It appears most improbable that the U.S. will attack.  However, if Assad and his butchers make another similar mistake, all bets are off: Obama will attack and not bother to ask for Congress’ support.

iran in the crosshairsBut leaving all that aside, let’s consider perhaps an even more important question: where does this leave Iran?  Jodi Rudoren quoted Abe Foxman today confessing that the main reason to bomb Syria was to send a warning to Iran:

Israel’s interest is with the United States taking military action because it’s a message to Iran.

So what does Obama’s defeat say about the possibility we might join Israel in attacking Iran?

Before answering, I should admit that Americans dislike Iran even more than Syria.  There’ve been buckets and buckets of bad blood between us.  Past polls have shown a willingness to attack Iran that was never evident regarding Syria.  But what about now?

Personally, I think a U.S. attack on Iran was unlikely, now I think it’s almost impossible.  A NY Times poll which explored U.S. attitudes toward military intervention in general (not just Syria) found Americans are even less favorably inclined now than they were in the past (and they were never very enthusiastic about the notion).  Obama, with all his faults, is not a stupid politician.  I think he recognizes the systemic limitations he faces.  I simply don’t believe the lesson he’ll learn from this failure will be that he needs to gin up a new intervention.

Further, Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani holds out the best chance for rapprochement in a decade.  Obama, again not a stupid man, has to see that he now has an interlocutor he never had in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  If he wanted one, Obama can make a deal with this man.  The problem will be, of course, that once we’ve invested so much energy in demonizing Iran, it will be politically difficult to convince the American people and a harsh, unforgiving GOP majority in the House that we should make any deals with the ‘devil’ (Iran, that is).

Where does that leave Israel?  Bibi Netanyahu wants a war with Iran (or at least a big, bad bloody nose for the ayatollahs).  He’s been doing his damndest to drag the U.S. into one.  Obama has rightly resisted the siren call.  So, as a Christian evangelist might ask: what would Bibi do?  I think it’s even more likely that Israel will attack Iran than previously.  I don’t know when.  But I would say there’s a better than 50% chance of this happening.

Bibi is a deeply stubborn man who holds a grudge.  Regardless of the possible truth (which is questionable) of any Israeli claims about Iran’s nuclear ambition, now Bibi will be out to show Obama the error of his ways.  One of his sacral memes is the betrayal of Israel by other nations.  With Obama’s defeat, the Israeli PM has further proof that no goy can be trusted when the fate of the Jewish people hangs in the balance.  Bibi will want to attack Iran l’hach’is (“out of spite”).  If he does, it will be an utter disaster for Iran, Israel and the region.

On a related matter: one of our delightful hasbarist Israeli friends brought up in a comment thread here, an article from the Daily Mail (the UK version of the National Enquirer).  It claimed that an Iranian ex-official threatened that Iran would rape Pres. Obama’s daughter.  The article didn’t even pass the smell test before I knew it’s real origin.  But just now I discovered that the origin of this smelly piece of dreck was none other than the Daily Caller, which had the misfortune of being duped (yet again) by serial Iranian fraudster, Reza Khalilli.  It actually published the article.

For the uninitiated, the Daily Caller is the demon seed of Tucker Carlson and a former Cheney operative.  It’s a cross between Politico and the National Enquirer.  Need I say more?

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{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Aleksandr September 10, 2013, 2:24 AM

    “if Assad and his butchers make another similar mistake”.

    Show us the evidence ( even the Obama administration admits they don’t have proof, but only “common sense” to act upon), and if you fail to do that, you should stop declaring someone guilty until proven innocent.

    • Richard Silverstein September 10, 2013, 2:29 AM

      @Aleksandr:

      even the Obama administration admits they don’t have proof

      So I suppose recorded phone calls from the commander in the field discussing the chemical weapons attack is not “proof?” I simply don’t have patience for True Believers like you.

      • Aleksandr September 10, 2013, 2:45 AM

        You mean Mossad FRAUD? Irrefutable Intel info? Like the 2003 WMD Iraq Intel?
        IDF and Mossad are known for fraud and fabricated evidence.

        Have you heard the phone calls? And if you have, have you examined the veracity? Have it gone through the scrutiny test by experts?

        No, we can’t even see the data and the Obama Administration refused AP any look at it when asked.

        It is perfectly clear you are willing to declare someone guilty before having even seen the so called incriminating evidence, only heard about it from a very shady Mossad 8200 UNIT ( Israeli NSA but on steroids ) with a very dubious agenda ( which you touched upon in this article yourself ).

        Bearing that in mind, we know that the rebels possess Sarin, they were caught in Turkey with it. The Russian’s presented a 100-page report showing that the rebels were behind the CW attack in Khan Al Assal. There are other very strong evidence that the rebels indeed have the seed stock and the capacity to deliver C-attacks. Some rebels even threatened to unleash chemical attacks on Israel as of yesterday.

        The rebels have the motives, Assad certainly does not (knowing that any use of them would unleash the most formidable war apparatus in the world upon him).

        In other words, Assad has everything to lose, but nothing to win, the opposite is true for the rebels.

        • Oui September 10, 2013, 4:32 AM

          Must agree with Alexandre
          ○ Syrian rebels ‘used sarin gas’, says UN’s del Ponte – May 6, 2013
          ○ IMO not the rebels threatened to strike, the Iranians have warned US officials about a rebel gas attack for about a year.
          ○ I’ve written a diary – “It Stinks a Mile In the Wind” about the intelligence from open sources.

          Dutch military intelligence (MIVD) in a top secret meeting with a commission of Dutch MP’s, in fact declared the convincing evidence isn’t there. The false “common sense” argument from the White House just doesn’t cut it. Most NATO partners remain sitting on the fence for a reason. Inside the CIA intelligence community, criticism of Clapper and Brennan can be heard. The rebels don’t have the goods so it must be the Assad’s forces is complete bs. From the outset, legitimate outcry of the heinous crime in Ghouta has been overstemmed by a chorus of propaganda from Saudi supported PR machinery and the White House. After careful thought, Israel and the AIPAC forces hijacked the theme and added their (vocal) support to bomb the Syrian military with high risks for the future of a war-torn Syria. Erdogan in Turkey is continuing a military build-up along the border with Syria and doesn’t meet the peace agreements with the Kurds. The peace-talks between Nethanyahu and Abbas are at a standstill.

          There is no trust in Obama and Kerry’s arguments at this time. There is even less confidence in the US Congress, perhaps public opinion has learned the lessons from the past. I for one will judge every event on its merits. If the case of a military strike on Iran is made, I will not hesitate to voice my support. It’s a long road to Teheran, a lot can happen before that decisive moment. Netanyhu may be able to strike Syria with impunity under cover of the US, that’s not the same for a untimely strike on Iran. A match between Obama and Netanyahu was expected after the elrctions, we’re witnessing a chapter of that battle. Inside the Oval Office, there are two opinions put forward: diplomacy with Kerry/Hagel and so-called “humanitarian hawks” (a decoy for NeoCon) for militancy by Rice/Power.

          If in the end all the Syrian chemical agents are located and destroyed, a lot has been gained in the Middle-East. For the I-P peace talks, this development can be positive. Netanyahu thrives on unrest by its neighbouring states.

          • Free September 10, 2013, 8:17 AM

            Your putting words into Del Ponte’s mouth that she never spoke.

            She never said “Syrian rebels used sarin gas”, if you disagree feel free to post a link from a reputable news source which has a full quote.

            If you are properly informed you would know that she wasn’t even discussing the Ghouta attack. She made a comment about a different incident entirely that occurred months before the Ghouta attack. I will just quote her directly rather than make things up like yourself.

            “Carla Del Ponte told Swiss TV that there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof”.

            Ms Del Ponte did not rule out the possibility that government forces might also have used chemical weapons.

            Later, the commission stressed that it had “not reached conclusive findings” as to their use by any parties.

            “As a result, the commission is not in a position to further comment on the allegations at this time,” a statement added.

          • Richard Silverstein September 10, 2013, 10:28 PM

            @ Free: Thanks for giving us a reality check. What I especially hate is propagandists of either side (Oui in this case) who make emphatic statements without offering any proof (like the Del Ponte claim), which later turn out to be bogus. This is why I demand that people not paraphrase claims of others in their own words. If you make a claim offer proof: a link or a direct quotation that is verifiable. I don’t appreciate hocus pocus. If you engage in it you will be called out. If you don’t mind looking like a fool, then be my guest. But you won’t get away with false claims.

          • Oui September 10, 2013, 11:46 PM

            @Free: Anyone keeping a close watch on the Syria crisis knows Del Ponte’s remarks came after a suspected gas attack in Aleppo. I added the date May 6, 2013 to avoid confusion for the reader. (BBC Video) This incident is one of three locations the UN Inspection team was to investigate with approval of the UN Security Council, the inspectors will return to continue their work.

            The Obama administration (plus UK’s Cameron and France’s Hollande) claim a “moral highground”, conscience (Kerry) and the “common sense” argument “it couldn’t have been the rebels” so it must be Assad who is responsible for the gas attack in Ghouta. All indications are there is no irrefutable evidence if sarin gas in military form was used and who was responsible . I’m sitting on the fence with an open mind.

          • Richard Silverstein September 11, 2013, 1:36 AM

            @ Oui: So to be clear, you’re conceding you were wrong in claiming DelPonte said the gas attacks were rebel-initiated? If not, I’d like to see your proof she said those things. I remind you I deal in facts & evidence. If you have the proof, bring it. If you don’t, anyone calling you a hack or propagandist might be justified in doing so.

          • Daniel F. September 10, 2013, 9:39 AM

            @Oui
            “Dutch military intelligence (MIVD) in a top secret meeting with a commission of Dutch MP’s, in fact declared the convincing evidence isn’t there..”
            The very best that thou doth know thou darest to the minstrel show…………the best that Israeli Intelligence knows
            or knows how to do is unlikely to be revealed to Dutch military intelligence.

          • Oui September 11, 2013, 12:27 AM

            @Free: My rebuttal to your propaganda with little substance can be found here. I hate propagandists who make emphatic statements w/o proof or sources. [ :-) ]

        • Richard Silverstein September 10, 2013, 10:21 PM

          @ Aleksandr: Given the Snowden revelations, how can you doubt that the U.S. knows everything about Assad’s plans, what he had for breakfast, which mistress he slept with last night, and where his toadies unleashed chemical weapons. Media reports make clear that U.S. claims of Assad culpability are independent of any Mossad information. Regardless of what I think about the Mossad, I have little doubt that it too has recordings of conversations that prove the regime’s responsibility.

          You may choose to live in Cloud Cuckoo Land. But don’t expect the rest of us to join you there.

          I find it laughable that you, who distrust Israeli & U.S. intelligence, are willing to trust Russian intelligence. Why? Because they’re more honest? More sincere? More trustworthy? C’mon.

      • Adriana September 10, 2013, 5:36 AM

        Human rights watch just realeased that
        Syria: Government Likely Culprit in Chemical Attack
        https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/09/10/syria-government-likely-culprit-chemical-attack
        HRW could be trusted?

        • lifelong September 10, 2013, 6:05 AM

          Not really, since it’s still conjecture: “the rebels had no access to these types of weapons, so it can’t be them.”

          • Adriana September 10, 2013, 7:06 AM

            Well,
            They also show that this kind of arms 330 mm, only the syrian army are in possession, the photos seen are not speculation, since was taken by neutral and independent people.
            Furthermore, the lauching zone corresponds to syrian army zone by satellite is easy to see it.

          • Oui September 10, 2013, 2:35 PM

            This report offers more information than what was handed out by US, UK and France government. You can’t do due diligence through Skype discussing a nerve agent attack with 3 doctors and 10 witnesses. It will be interesting to analyse this information and compare with the report from experts on the ground: the UN Inspectors. The scientific evidence of the chemical composition of the neurotoxin is essential as is the manner of delivery and dispersal.

            In an BBC report of the earliest moments after the gas attack, there were witnesses who said the wailing of children and women woke them up. Did not mention a barrage of rockets. The HRW report also mentions the use of artillery shells Soviet era BM-14 launchers for 140mm rockets. These have been around a very long time and used extensively in the Algerian civil war, Egypt and Sudan (etc.). IMO these 140mm rockets could be launched from homemade artillery. There are videos of rebel forces launching this diameter rocket, see here and here.

  • jadez September 10, 2013, 5:19 AM

    there is NO evidence proving Syria used chemical weapons.
    NONE.

    You can say there is as many times as you choose but that doesnt make it so.

    but there is plenty of evidence to prove it was the so called “rebels” that used it including their ADMISSION so perhaps it is YOU who is the true believer.

    and yes there will be no attack against Iran and there should not be.

    of course this could all change if israel or the usa creates false flags to use as a cover to attack and start ww3.
    THAT is the real danger that every peace loving person should be watching out for.

    • Free September 10, 2013, 8:02 AM

      As a Syrian it seems rather academic to me to argue if the Assad regime gassed it’s own people or not. He has been busy slaughtering the Syrian people since April 2011 with guns and knifes in the most inhuman ways imaginable. He most likely was responsible for the Ghuota gas attack, but even if you think he wasn’t responsible the numerous atrocities he has committed are as bad in my mind. So to me, Richard’s description of him as a “butcher” is entirely accurate.

      People’s idea of what a “peace loving person” constitutes is seriously off. It doesn’t mean appeasement of dictators engaged in the slaughter of his people or supporting/opposing bombs being dropped.. It means supporting the Syrian people in their fundamental rights not to be murdered for wanting a free democratic Syrian nation and the rule of law.

    • Richard Silverstein September 10, 2013, 10:23 PM

      There is no evidence that will make you believe the earth is round or that it revolves around the sun, when you choose to believe it’s flat and that the sun revolves around it. Welcome to your Bizarro World. I’ll stay over here in the real world, thank you.

  • H. Mor September 10, 2013, 9:25 AM

    @ Richard

    Being the hasbartist you referred to, please allow me to ask you one question ?
    You remember William Buckley CIA station chief in Beirut who was executed by Hezbollah in 1985 ?
    Remember the Irnain kids who clerked the Iraqi mind fields armed with a key to heaven ?
    is it that illogical to think they will threaten USA president in such way ? i don’t think so.

    • Yonatan September 10, 2013, 2:21 PM

      Remember the Lavon Affair?
      Remember the USS Liberty?
      Remember the Mossad agents dancing with joy in New York after the planes hit the WTC?
      Remember the American Jewish newspaper publisher who said Israel should execute Obama if he didn’t attack Iran?

      • H. Mor September 10, 2013, 3:26 PM

        @ Yonatan
        má inyán sh’mitá étzel hár sináy

        • Davey September 10, 2013, 9:07 PM

          Credibility. Yours.

          • H. Mor September 10, 2013, 9:14 PM

            @ Davey
            Wow what a substantial contribution to a debate.
            If the site owner wasn’t biased he would have warned you, don’t expect that to happen.
            why don’t you go and find another rock to crawl under ?

          • Davey September 10, 2013, 10:14 PM

            “rock to crawl under”?? What’s this, a defense?

          • Davey September 10, 2013, 10:16 PM

            I assumed that is the point Yonatan is making. But maybe not.

      • Richard Silverstein September 10, 2013, 10:10 PM

        @ Yonatan: Puh-leeze, enough with the 9/11 conspiracy crap. I’ve had it up to my ears.

    • Richard Silverstein September 10, 2013, 10:44 PM

      @ H. Mor: Yes, certainly if the U.S. attacks Iran there will be such attacks against U.S. targets. Of that I have no doubt. But unlike you, I don’t believe this is an ideological war to the death. This is a political struggle in which each side has interests. Given a decent amount of trust & good will (in short supply, I admit) both sides can achieve a compromise. By “both sides,” I exclude Israel’s government, which doesn’t want a compromise. For Bibi, this IS an ideological struggle to the death. This is why Bibi is so dangerous.

  • Daniel F. September 10, 2013, 10:11 AM

    Richard,
    This is an argument in which everybody is right….
    1) Yes, a US attack could not achieve much,might necessitate more action and is not what the American public wants.
    2) Obama’s inaction has caused him and the U.S. to be objects of ridicule,which usually leads to bigger problems in the M.E.

    As for Bibi you may rest assured that his bark is worse than his bite, he is very unlikely to attack Iran.

    So let’s see what the future brings and Good Morning Iran,their progress toward being a nuclear power appears to assured for now….sometimes I miss Saddam.

  • bluto September 10, 2013, 4:43 PM

    Modern AIPAC is dead – as Bret Stephens frets about today in the Wall Street Journal:

    ‘In the meantime, Republicans should ponder what their own political posturing on Syria might mean for the future. When a Republican president, faced with a Democratic House, feels compelled to take action against some other rogue regime, will they rue their past insistence on congressional approval?’

    Boo hoo – with Israel and her Neocons no longer capable of bum rushing the US into war with Iran – because it would be overwhelmingly refused by the American people and US House (like this strike on Syria) – AIPAC’s raison d’etre for the last 10 yrs has been destroyed

    Is too much to say that the American Constitution has come to the rescue of the Republic, in the most clearest sense possible, that Israel and AIPAC will no longer be able to dictate our wars because they will have to go thru the American people and US House, first?

    Obama has done a GREAT SERVICE to the US by taking the US military OUT OF THE HANDS OF ISRAEL AND AIPAC

    • Richard Silverstein September 10, 2013, 10:51 PM

      @ bluto: I think the rumors of Aipac’s demise are exaggerated. Like cats and Count Dracula, it has many lives left. Though I think that it will gradually lose some or all of its power. My hope anyway.

      • bluto September 11, 2013, 9:40 AM

        Richard – check this out – Great Israeli cartoon on the New York skyline on this Anniversary of 911

        Shows a new tower – the ‘Fed Up with War Building’ ‘ – as HIGHER than the ‘Freedom Tower’

        Perfect – the Tower could also be called the A’nti-AIPAC’ or ‘Anti-NeoconTower’

        http://cartoonkronicles.com/2013/09/11/875/

  • bluto September 12, 2013, 5:38 AM

    Speaking about the ‘Daily Caller’ – does anybody know why Ken Tillerman printed the expose of the supposed Israeli Unit 8200 phone intercept of a ‘panicked Syrian commander’ article? Seriously – I’m open to ideas/explanations…

    In other words – why would an obvious Neocon front expose the Israeli false flag of the phony Israeli intercept, being used to bum rush the US into attacking Syria?

    I don’t yet understand the dynamics of this – the story of the intercept was already out in the news from ‘The Cable’ but this article seems to really go after Israel. Could it possibly be some sort of misinformation plant to distort the actual story, or the beginning of a counterstory? I sure don’t know and it kind of bugs me I can’t figure it out

    ===
    (Ken Tillerman is president of ‘Foundation for Democracy in Iran’, which is a NEOCON front outfit obviously involved with overthrowning Iran, with Frank Gaffney and James Woosley on the board.)

    Why is very well known neocon Ken Timmerman, with his Daily Caller article, exposing the presumed Israeli False Flag angle of the Ghouta Sarin attack?

    The members are all members of AEI and stuff as expected Here’s their home linK – it’s obvious these guys are the cutting edge Neocons: http://www.iran.org/

    How is it possible that Frank Gaffney and James Woosley and NEOCONS are involved in outing Israel in this?

    I realize that it was ‘The Cable’/Foreign Affairs that first broke part of this but it is Tillerman’s article that actually prints the transcripts for the first time that I’m aware.

    Is someone trying to cover the Israeli operation by exposing parts of it somehow, after it had become compromised? – it doesn’t make sense to me and there’s something very rotten in Denmark about this whole thing

    Why would Timmerman be exposing the Israeli Unit 8200 phone intercept if they are a False Flag if he and his organization are a Neocon front?

    It doesn’t make SENSE unless the cat was already out of the bag with the report in ‘the Cable’ and Timmeran’s article is some kind of damage control – but I cannot imagine what that would be or how that would work

    ‘Don’t Look a Tillerman Gifthorse in the Mouth’ and all that but I usually UNDERSTAND everything and this simply doesn’t add up.

    Ken’s article:
    http://dailycaller.com/2013/08/29/verify-chemical

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