MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported this week that the Pentagon is likely to replace or augment current CIA support teams on the ground in Syria. The goal is to have a more direct US military involvement in aiding the contingent of rebels who are pro-Western in a two-pronged battle against the Syrian army as well as the Islamic Fundamentalist rebels:
The Obama administration is considering putting the Pentagon in charge of arming and training moderate rebel forces in Syria, a move that could help expand the effort significantly beyond the limited scope of the current Central Intelligence Agency program, U.S. officials said.
These internal discussions come as Congress begins a debate over a resolution to authorize limited strikes against Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons last month.
The move would substantially revamp one of the administration's most secretive and controversial undertakings in the 2½-year-old civil war. President Barack Obama authorized the CIA program in June after Hezbollah's large-scale entry into the conflict on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's side and a U.S. determination that Syrian forces had used chemical arms in small amounts in earlier clashes.
As the US and world is being assured by President Obama that he is only seeking to prevent Syria from using chemical weapons, efforts appear to be underway to expand US involvement in the conflict in a more direct military fashion, according to the WSJ and other sources. In short, as BuzzFlash at Truthout has been predicting, the chemical weapons incident is being used as a Casus belli (cause of war).
The WSJ provides some details about the plan for the US hunkering down as military trainers, special-op support, strategists and supplier of equipment and weapons:
U.S. officials said Tuesday that special-operations forces would be able to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels faster than the CIA and that they have a history of training both commando units and conventional military forces.
Military officials, frustrated with the pace of the CIA process for vetting and training of rebel fighters, have said for months they are ready to either aid the effort or take it over. Officials said the distribution of weapons has yet to begin.
Administration officials were questioned about the process at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Tuesday. The CIA program's covert nature has limited public discussion of the effort until now. "It was June of this year the president made a decision to support lethal assistance to the opposition," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, publicly confirming the existence of the operation.
But Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged delays. He noted the opposition was "about to receive" additional support, adding, "There are things that haven't gotten there yet."
In more and more ways, the still mysterious chemical weapons massacre (who is responsible is still not clear unless one believes the phrase "trust us" from the White House is sufficent evidence regarding starting wars) is looking like the Gulf of Tonkin incident in relation to the Vietnam War.
The Syrian military is not going to let bombers fly over Damascus and not try and shoot one down, and as soon as one US service man or woman is killed, the cry for war will be as loud as a Dick Cheney shotgun blast.
The US public, reportedly, is massively opposed to US intervention of any sort in Syria. To be against another decade of war in the Middle East does not mean that one supports the tyranny of Assad, nor does it mean one doesn't care if an Al-Qaeda offshoot wins out in the battle among the rebels to take over the Syrian government.
What it means is that there may be other solutions to the "Great Game" that is played out in the region that is the world's largest source of oil. This conflict is about more than Syria: it is about the back story of who has control over client states in the Middle East, of the rising hegemony and nuclear development of the Persian state of Iran (that now appears to be undergoing some relative moderation politically), of Iranian client terrorist groups such as Hezbollah potentially gaining more power and threatening both Israel and the flow of oil to the West, of growing Russian and Chinese influence in the region.
That is how the Obama administration sees it, not far different than how the Neo-cons saw it. When Obama speaks of national security, it is not as much terrorism that is his backstory concern: it is oil and doing what is necessary to ensure that anti-Western forces don't control any major nation such as Syria, even if it is not a major player as far as oil reserves. It is about the possibility of the US or Israel being able to bomb Iran nuclear facilities when the war escalates and, from the perspective of the US and Israel, Iran is directly drawn into the conflict giving a justification for bombing its nuke research and development sites. And it is about so many other things, all of which are not openly discussed to any degree.
This is about the regional balance of power, this is about the "Great Game" of geo-political issues that the American public never hears a full debate about.
The Bush and the Obama administrations share a few things in common (as well as have a large number of differences). One of them is that the ruling political elite think that we are too dumbed down to engage in a national policy debate about the backstory.
Instead, the powers that be use emotional incidents to move us toward their real objectives achieving the ultimate in "manufactured consent."
Except, for the moment, the American public isn't taking the bait.