Show Details for the week of September 2nd, 2013

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On this week’s show we take a closer look at the impending military attack on Syria. Our first guest is Gareth Porter, author of a recent article In Rush to Strike Syria, U.S. Tried to Derail UN Probe. Our second guest is John Walsh from ComeHomeAmerica which claims that both “Left and Right Opposing Bombing Syria.”

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More about this week’s guests:

Gareth Porter

Gareth Porter is an investigative journalist and historian specializing in U.S. national security policy. He just wrote the piece “In Rush to Strike Syria, U.S. Tried to Derail UN Probe” for Inter Press Service, which states: “After initially insisting that Syria give United Nations investigators unimpeded access to the site of an alleged nerve gas attack, the administration of President Barack Obama reversed its position on Sunday and tried unsuccessfully to get the UN to call off its investigation.

Quote: “In his press appearance Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry, who intervened with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to call off the investigation, dismissed the UN investigation as coming too late to obtain valid evidence on the attack that Syrian opposition sources claimed killed as many 1,300 people. The sudden reversal and overt hostility toward the UN investigation, which coincides with indications that the administration is planning a major military strike against Syria in the coming days, suggests that the administration sees the UN as hindering its plans for an attack. Kerry asserted Monday that he had warned Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem last Thursday that Syria had to give the UN team immediate access to the site and stop the shelling there, which he said was ‘systematically destroying evidence.’ He called the Syria-UN deal to allow investigators unrestricted access ‘too late to be credible.’ Despite the U.S. effort to portray the Syrian government policy as one of ‘delay,’ the formal request from the United Nations for access to the site did not go to the Syrian government until Angela Kane, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, arrived in Damascus on Saturday, as Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, conceded in a briefing in New York on Tuesday. Syrian Foreign Minister Moallem said in a press conference Tuesday that Syria had not been asked by the United Nations for access to the East Ghouta area until Kane presented it on Saturday. Syria agreed to provide access and to a ceasefire the following day. Haq sharply disagreed with the argument made by Kerry and the State Department that it was too late to obtain evidence of the nature of the Aug. 21 incident. ‘Sarin can be detected for up to months after its use,’ he said. Specialists on chemical weapons also suggested in interviews with Inter Press Service that the UN investigating team, under highly regarded Swedish specialist Ake Sellstom and including several experts borrowed from the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, should be able to either confirm or disprove the charge of an attack with nerve or another chemical weapon within a matter of days.”
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John Walsh

John Walsh is a Professor of Physiology, University of MA Medical School and frequent contributor to CounterPunch.com, DissidentVoice.org and Antiwar.com He is with the group ComeHomeAmerica, which brings together people from the left and right. The group recently released a statement saying they condemn “our government’s war on Syria, prosecuted first with sanctions, then with covert support through ‘allies’ like the dictatorial petro-monarchies of the Gulf and now with overt provision of arms for the anti-government forces and perhaps even a bombing campaign. We demand an immediate cessation of this bellicose policy by our government. Sanctions and military intervention in Syria are not in the interests of the American people; nor are they in the interests of the Syrian people. We are far from alone in our opposition. Fully 70 percent of Americans are opposed to armed intervention in Syria — a number that has only increased over the months according to Pew polls. And yet the President and a majority in Congress favor intervention, revealing a crisis of our political institutions, which are far removed from the will of the people on this and many other issues. We in ComeHomeAmerica are a very diverse group. We are traditional conservatives, progressive activists, libertarians of the Ron Paul type, old-fashioned leftists, religious people appalled by war and non-religious who also harbor disgust over our numerous wars for over a century now. We are not pacifists, although there are pacifists in our ranks. But we do believe that any war must be defensive and a last resort, not a constant option to further the perceived interests of our elite. Our roots go deep in our country’s history, at least as far back as the Anti-Imperialist League, which was organized to oppose the war in the Philippines and included members as different as Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie, the wealthiest man in America. We protest our government’s actions not simply because of the specific conditions in Syria but based on general principles. The same principles would have kept us from launching the recent wars on Iraq and Libya and many others over the past century and longer. Our first principle is that war inflicts enormous damage on human beings and we are repulsed by it, a revulsion that is found in most human beings. Hence the war-makers try to keep their deeds hidden or covered in fantasies of glory. Secrecy in turn leads to suborning the press, a mainstay of our democracy. Our second principle, the easiest one, is that we do not want to pay for these wars and the belligerent imperial colossus, including the DoD, CIA, NSA and others, costing about one trillion a year, roughly the sum that is raised in personal income taxes on April 15. Some of us simply want the money back and others want it to be spent on social needs. But while we differ on that, we agree that the money must no longer go to a war complex. On that we are firmly united. …”

Note:
The New York Times reports: “By just 13 votes, British lawmakers rejected a motion urging an international response to a chemical weapons strike for which the United States has blamed the forces of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.”
The Washington Post just published a breakdown on the “Black Budget” based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
The Hill reports: “The opposition to President Obama launching unilateral military operations in Syria exploded on Thursday when dozens of liberal Democrats joined scores of conservative Republicans in warning the administration that any strikes without congressional approval would violate the Constitution.” The letters are lead by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.). and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) — see: “162 Reps., Including 64 Democrats, Call for Debate and Vote Before War with Syria.”

In 1999, a tie vote struck down congressional approval for the bombing of Yugoslavia by the Clinton administration, but the bombing continued. See IPA news release at the time: “Last Night’s House Vote Makes It Official: The Bombing of Yugoslavia is Illegal.”

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