On Sunday, German newspaper Die Welt published an investigation by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh into Donald Trump’s decision to strike the Syrian government in April of this year following allegations that Bashar al-Assad’s military had committed a chemical weapons attack. Hersh’s inside sources revealed there was no intelligence linking Assad to the attack but that Trump ignored these findings because he wanted to deliver a strike regardless.
Barely a day later, in an apparent attempt to drive Hersh’s story into obscurity, the White House released a fresh warning that Assad was planning another chemical attack and that he would pay a “heavy price” for doing so. The warning appeared to confuse a number of U.S. officials who had not been consulted before the warning was released.
Apparently, resorting to name-calling and labeling Hersh – one of the most important journalists of our time – a “conspiracy theorist” hasn’t worked very well in the past, so instead, the White House resorted to an all-out distraction in order to discard his findings.
Meanwhile, Assad took his first trip to Hama, Syria, since the start of the conflict in 2011, marking his growing confidence in his emerging victory in the Syrian war.
The White House is essentially telling us that Assad was planning to celebrate this pending victory by gassing civilians with the same weapons we have learned time and time again he hasn’t actually used.
And yet, despite all of this, the White House is now claiming their recent warning has averted the possible chemical weapons attack from taking place.
There is very little confirmed evidence of Assad’s responsibility for chemical weapons attacks — only speculation. The U.N. confirmed that Assad had removed or destroyed his entire stockpile after the events in 2013. Earlier that same year, U.N. investigator Carla Del Ponte said she believed the evidence pointed to chemical attacks carried out by the Syrian rebels — not the Syrian government. Hersh also debunked the second major chemical attack in 2013, using his extensive inside sources to reveal that al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria had access to nerve agents, but despite this reality, was not even treated as a suspect.
In essence, the available evidence suggests Assad was not responsible for the major chemical weapons attacks in 2013 or the alleged attack earlier this year, and this sentiment has been echoed by several high profile academics and former officials. For example, MIT professor emeritus Theodore Postol, who previously worked as a former scientific advisor to the U.S. military’s Chief of Naval Operations (you can access all of his reports here), says that it was carried out by individuals on the ground, not an aircraft, as the Trump administration claimed. Former weapons inspector Scott Ritter and former U.K. ambassador to Syria Peter Ford have also raised similar concerns regarding Washington’s handling of the allegations.
The audacity of this whole debacle is mind-numbing. The U.S. is taking credit for diverting an attack that was, in all likelihood, never going to happen in the first place.
At this point, one realizes America’s foreign policy strategy is no brighter or convincing than the mindset of Homer Simpson, a known cartoon buffoon.