Posted by: N.S. Palmer | September 1, 2013

Talk About Syria, or (N)ever (S)ay (A)nything

By N.S. Palmer

President Obama’s determination to attack Syria over implausible allegations that its government used poison gas continue to provide a lot of — pardon the expression — black comedy.

The idea that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would invite U.N. weapons inspectors into Syria and promptly use illegal weapons a few miles from their location is laughable on its face.

The idea that the U.S. government cares if Assad violates international law is laughable on its face.

Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein celebrate U.S. support of his regime.

Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein celebrate U.S. support of his regime.

The same U.S. government gave poison gas to Saddam Hussein to use against Iran, used white phosphorus and depleted uranium in its war on Iraq, refuses to sign the treaty banning cluster bombs, and constantly commits illegal acts of aggression around the world — acts of which attacking Syria would be only the latest case.

The United Nations hasn’t approved and Syria isn’t imminently going to attack the United States, which would be the only international-law justifications for an attack. The British don’t want to have anything to do with it. The Russians called “bullshit” on Obama’s claims. The American people don’t want it. The Constitution requires a declaration of war by Congress, but as Bush regime consigliere Alberto Gonzales would say, that seems so “quaint.”

Most of the rest of the world won’t touch it — or us — with a 10-foot-long depleted uranium shell. They remember the lies that preceded the aggression against Iraq. When John Kerry went on television to say “trust us,” everyone who saw it had an eerie flashback to watching Dick Cheney tell the same lies about Iraq.

But most of all, it’s not about Iraq and it’s not about Syria. It’s about what Washington insiders call “No Such Agency” — the NSA.

The reasons for a U.S. attack on Syria are so thin that even George W. Bush would have had a hard time believing them. But they have done one important thing: They changed the subject.

As long as people are talking about Syria, it doesn’t matter if they support a U.S. attack or oppose it. If they’re talking about Syria, then they’re not talking about the Obama administration’s illegal spying on Americans, its serial lying to the American people, its deception of Congress, or its apparent decision to “bug the world.”

And the illegal NSA spying does confer some benefits. When Mr. Obama goes to Congress, finally, embarrassed and under pressure, his people will have some interesting arguments to make:

“Senator X, we certainly respect your principles. But sadly, a rogue intercept discovered that you’ve been cheating on your wife. It would be a shame if that information became public.”

“Congressman Y, we understand that your constituents don’t want an attack on Iraq. They probably also wouldn’t want a Congressman who’s downloaded porn. And you do such fine work that we wouldn’t want cable news to get leaked stories about your activities.”

“News editor Z, we know you have integrity. We also know you have an 18-year-old boyfriend with a drug problem. It would be hard for you to keep your job if your boss found out.”

Plans to attack Syria are a classic case of misdirection. Their main purpose is to change the subject. And they’ve succeeded.

Copyright 2013 by N.S. Palmer. May be reproduced as long as byline, copyright notice, and URL ( are included.

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