Over the past 36 hours, heavily-laden warships and tankers have been carrying a variety of tanks, jeeps and assorted arms bound for the Russian naval facility near Syria’s Mediterranean seaport, Tartus. The central “rationale” for Western airstrikes against the Assad régime remains an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian leader last week. But the Western allies need to get their stories and alibis a little more aligned; because even the most superficial interrogation of them leads to yet more doubts.
The odd history of chemical weaponry in Syria – and its apparent removal just four years ago – is the latest in a series of half-truths, conflicting statements and misleading conclusions that have dogged the British-led Russophobia and Assad bashing in recent weeks.
It all puts me in mind of the late (and sorely missed) US standup George Carlin, who famously remarked in 2008, “I have one golden rule when it comes to the Government: I don’t believe a f**king word it says….not one f**king word”.
For the way things are developing, either Kerry and Obama lied then, or McMasters, Bolton and Trump are lying now. They can’t have it both ways.
This is Secretary of State John Kerry four years ago, claiming total success in removing all ‘dangerous’ stockpiles of Syrian chemical weapons under OPCW supervision:
And this is a brief compilation of various Obama officials (including the President himself) claiming success in the removal of chemweapons in a deal brokered with his Russian opoosite number Sergey Lavov.
Hardline American hawks insisted for some time after the deal that the success of the weapons removal “has been exaggerated”. But it wasn’t just the White house saying it:
So which is it: was Obama lying then, or is Bolton lying now? Or have they both been telling the truth, and in fact the wicked Russkies gave Assad more weapons under the table, and then on the eve of total victory, Assad used those very weapons brazenly to make a pointless attack which he knew would bring the world down on his head?
This is obviously Kerry’s view, because we now know his position on the latest Trump strike against Syria:
Hmm. Once again, I’m confused. Kerry thought all the weapons were destroyed, but now he believes the chemical attack stories of Trump, Johnson, the White Helmets and Macron. So….his 2014 deal was a dud, right? Looks that way to me: the Obama White House lied for political gain.
Because there is Basshar again, five years on, dumping sarin gas in a Damascus suburb (Douma)….just like he did in another Damascus suburb (Ghouta) in 2013. Twice in the same town? When he’s winning anyway?
But wait a minute. In 2014, the OPCW categorically assured us that every last drop of sarin had been loaded onto a UN tanker and destroyed. And this is the same OPCW that assured us last week their analysis of the Salisbury nerve agent produced the same result as that performed by Porton Down. Even though it didn’t. (And according to a Swiss lab, still doesn’t).
So were they lying then, or now, or both times on the orders of John ‘Babe Ruth’ Bolton?
Could be they’re lying now. Check out press reports as time has gone on: early reports of the Douma “attack” specified sarin. Then a cocktail of sarin and chlorine. And now, it’s just chlorine.
Trust me, chlorine is not a nerve agent: chemically, it’s a gnats kneecap away from salt.
Let me put something to people on both sides of this Whodunit farce. Last week, a YouGov poll in the UK showed 20% for the allied airstrike, 35% against, and 45% unsure. On a High Court jury of 12 people, that roughly equates to 3 for, 4 against and 5 unsure.
So let’s say this complex trial has two accused in the dock: Vladimir Putin and Basshar Assad. Based on the conflicting statements on all sides, the contradictory forensic evidence, the unsafe testimony of the chemical experts, the lack of motive for either of the accused, and previous testimony suggesting a lack of means, what chance do you think a US Attorney General or the UK Crown Prosecution Service would have of getting a Guilty verdict against either of them?
You decide: my own view is it would never come to trial in the first place. Which explains why the May Government has bulldozed the action through.
Keep Britain unaligned