Antonio Andrade: I will not be opposing Syrian air strikes…


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From ANTONIO ANDRADE
Ukiah

September 10, 2013

I will not be joining my friends by signing petitions or protesting in the streets due to President Obama’s proposed air strikes against the Assad regime’s repeated use of chemical weapons against his own people.

I have spent the last couple of weeks reading up on and intensifying my knowledge about the Syrian conflict, the pros and in particular the passionate well-articulated cons of military action, the horrific brutality of this conflict inflicted by all sides and the incredible price the Syrian people have paid, are continuing to pay, and will continue to pay as far into the future as the eye can see.  I abhor war and put my personal convictions on the line in the early 1970s, resulting in my conviction in federal court as a convicted Vietnam war draft resister.

The debate raging in this country is perhaps the most important one we have engaged in since the Vietnam war.  This has now become the defining moment in the Obama presidency, one which will determine the success or failure of his overall agenda for his remaining years in office but also largely how his presidency will be judged in history.

To take a phrase from moderate Republican New York Times columnist David Brooks, losing this initiative will leave Obama’s and the US’s worldwide credibility and domestic credibility  “in shatters”  and cripples his agenda going forward and preserving funding for his entire social agenda, including implementing Obamacare.

The only argument (among the numerous that could be made) I will make in favor of military action mirror’s what the President has already made:  To let this heinous act go without a strong response that will serious degrade his ability to employ his extremely large arsenal of these WMDs, will open the door to continued attacks.  These attacks, in my mind, could  result in the indiscriminate, unimaginable horrifying deaths of 10s of thousands in one single attack.  Based on Assad’s actions in this conflict and the devastation Assad’s father brought on his opposition in the past, let no one underestimate the extent Assad will go to  save his skin and those of his minority ruling sect.  As important, no response (and that is really what we are talking about here unless people here and abroad stand up and demand otherwise) opens Pandora’s box and emboldens other bad actors to make what up to this point has been unthinkable choices about use of WMDs.

I think Obama knew very well that by choosing to go to Congress, he felt so strongly about this course of action that he was willing to stake his Presidency and everything he has worked for up until now on this. One might ask, how is this different than what Bush and his team did post 9/11 and many others before them?  The difference for me is Obama, Kerry, and Hagel have a proven track record of being people of character who historically have demonstrated they have a moral compass and have stood up for what they believed in, often times going against the grain of the majority of their colleagues and fellow citizens.  In my book, they’ve demonstrated their credibility and their judgment calls deserve to be given the benefit of any doubts.

In this situation, Obama had the power to move forward with his convictions and ordered attacks without going to Congress.  He choose the tougher, bolder course, one with long term implications for how Presidents will need to deal with use of that power without going to Congress.

Ponder that.  That single act, in and of itself, reveals who he is at his core.  All Americans ought to stand in awe of who they have chosen as their leader and chief decision-maker.  With one simple decision, he has broken through the passive malaise of the American people and we now have the defining debate about the role and exercise of US might that a crisis of this magnitude and import has been demanding for some time.

Finally let me pose a perspective I’ve not heard argued:  Consider that Obama is a reluctant warrior who, in his heart of hearts, does not want war.

One of the only effective tools he can utilize to bring pressure on Russia to bring Assad and all other parties to the table is to threaten use of awesome military force. Wouldn’t being bellicose and demonstrating his willingness to use force be worth a calculated risk that could result in bringing sobriety to what is at stake here?  Could threatening military action galvanize world leaders to act to address this ugly, horrific proxy war. This conflict represents nothing short of an long-developing epic international struggle.  Syria is the most visible chessboard on which this insanity is being played out. Viewed from this perspective, Obama, we as a nation, and the world has a whole have everything to gain and little to lose by employing this strategy.   If he is unsuccessful at mobilizing a world response in whatever form it might take, he then has to make the decision about what the best course of action would be.

Personally, though I have differed with Obama on many issues (NSA practices, failure to pursue  progressive enough economic and environmental policies, to name a few) if that be the case, I can think of few other world leaders I would entrust that decision-making process to.

So my friends, if you are successful with your protests and petitions and Obama loses in Congress, I can only pray that your good, honorable intentions do not result in a legacy of far more death and horrors too painfully tragic to think about and that we do not end up with a broken presidency and jeopardize all the hard won progressive gains we’ve all struggled to hold on to in this country.  I would never argue that acting to preserve those gains in our country should provide the justification to attack Assad but one must be mindful that will be fallout of significant proportion if Obama losses. I would be ecstatic if my thinking turned out to be in error and that if your position prevails, it bears fruit and sets the world on a better path than we now walk.

I appreciate your willingness to hear me out.  May we all keep our hearts and minds open and be willing to see beyond our ingrained ideas about right and wrong, grasp the significance of this decision, and work our collective ways through this moment of truth.

Antonio Andrade
~

September 10, 2013  6 AM

Take Two by Antonio Andrade

1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24031203

–this piece alludes to what’s being going on in the background

2) Paraphrasing  the I Ching, every crisis simultaneously implies opportunity.

3) Looking at the evolving situation re Syria from outside the box.  Call me crazy but….

Rather than being the clumsy bunglers and careless war mongers so many political hacks across the political spectrum in the media attribute (including the well-intended)to Team Obama, threatening the use of US might has taken a horrific, retaliatory chemical attack by the Assad regime and transformed it into a historic opportunity to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal under the auspices of the UN.

This initiative is unfolding far too fast and smoothly (with key players such as the Russians and the French falling into lockstep) for it not to have been negotiated and  orchestrated behind the scenes.  It provides the Russians with the opportunity to both look good on the international stage while allowing them to dramatically increase their leverage on Assad to accept yielding his weapons.

Will there be bumps along the road.  Definitely. One was Cameron’s initiative to back the US being defeated in  the British Parliament.

Another  is the possibility of Congress not supporting the President the power to act militarily in Syria.  This is being counter-acted by Team Obama obliquely reserving the right for Obama to act irrespective of the Congressional vote.

Will this all transpire as outlined.  Definitely not.  But what is undeniable is that the perilously dangerous situation in Syria has the likelihood of this local war death spiraling into an even more uncontrollable, highly inflammable regional conflict–and beyond!

This highly volatile situation could easily devolve, with the distinct possibility that chemical weapons could be taken from Syrian control and used by these uncontrollable, unaccountable jihadists in ways that will make the deadly chemical attack by Assad last month look like a minor incident when compared to the previously unimaginable horror which could follow.

Make no mistake about it.  The unleashing of chemical weapons on the battlefield was brought ever more closely with this chemical attack last month.  There’s a lot at stake here–and now, a path is opening up where a perilously dangerous situation in Syria can be partially defused by taking chemical weapons out of the equation.
~~

13 Comments

That does it for me. I don’t hang out with war mongers. Two weeks to come to the conclusion that the US should bomb Syria. Showing contempt for humanistic values is a very effective way of showing me the door.

I have enjoyed being involved with Ukiah Blog, but apparently I can no longer do so.

Good bye.

ybera

Herb, I enjoyed reading your viewpoint on various topics, I will be sorry to see you go. I too found this article unexpected and disappointing.

Best wishes to you,
Claudia

We are indeed all that we read.. We are often only that which we read. A friend and political ally at one time or another, Antonio now seems wedded to David Brooks, whom he labels a “Moderate”. A moderate what? He’s a bloody war-monger, a defender of the imperial USA! We raves about our worldwide capability to make things right, and keep Pandora’s box firmly shut, He has apparently never bothered to read the considerable amount of evidence, photographs and reports that cast a heavy doubt of disbelief upon the White House propaganda mill concerning the source of these chemical attacks.

Wake up, Antonio, read the Internet, get off the restrictive diet of the TV channels, the NYTimes, the WSJ and the Washington Post. We have a really healthy internet out there that can provide you with many more points of view. Want to try to open yourself up a little?

    Jim
    I had to chuckle when you took a reference to a comment by David Brooks (who it sounds like you read as well) about the state of the Obama presidency should he lose this initiative and conflate it into a conclusion about whose wold view I share and how I form my points of view. I appreciate your ongoing and selfless commitment to getting to the bottom of things–especially in the area of evaluating the chemical toxics at the non-defunct Masontie plant so I think this slip is far more the exception than the rule with you.

    “Wake up and read the internet.” Ah, another unfortunate conclusion. FYI, I do financially subscribe to, closely read, and digest numerous progressive news and commentary outlets on a daily basis–and yes, even occasionally, the derided NYT and WP. So, as a friend, I would simply request that you afford me at least the respect that my opinions are founded on a fair amount of thought and research that I afford you for the work you do.

    I share a healthy skepticism of what the US government presents as evidence and have tracked the stories on both sides of the claims made (including the article I had read prior to listening to Jeff Blankfort’s “Takes on the World” that he quoted yesterday.

    The problem I have with those wanting to often vehemently and derisively assail the conclusions reached by the White House (and BTW, a growing body of evidence–which I note but don’t rest my conclusions on) ‘substantiate’ such claims with arm chair theories which fit their sometimes fosilized narratives about the US, hearsay ‘evidence’ and ‘I read it on the internet from a reputable source’ is their conclusions are no more substantiated than the governments. However, what carries the day for many, in spite of these conclusions that don’t stand up to scrutiny, is their distrust if not hatred for this government.

    Finally, there is anecdotal ‘evidence’ that the US is right in these claims and that is found in the simple fact that the Russians are at the table today trying to hammer out an agreement with the US about Syria handing over and having the UN destroy these horrendous weapons. Why would they be there if there was no merit to the claims?

    I think everyone of sane mind who has looked at the combatants and their ghastly brutal, inhumane prosecution of their war and grasp the horrific reality that this conflict is kareening out of control and destabilizing the entire region. These weapon stockpiles are vulnerable to seizure by rogue forces. and then what. Talks about unintended consequences! It’s time to stop demonizing, appreciate the risks we’ve been warned about for years, put aside these stupid allegations about whose hands dirtiest and therefore not qualified to try to solve this and get to the critical hard work defusing this conflict while that is still doable. Time is running out.
    Antonio

Albert Krauss (aitengri) September 11, 2013 at 11:50 am

A touch of humor, before “seriously” responding: That phrase, “make no mistake about it”, found its subliminal way into Antonio’s verbal repertoire from watching PBS, where David Brooks is paired with Mark Shields (source of the quoted, and very frequently used – by Shields -, subject phrase).

I’m not willing to dismiss Antonio’s observations. He does provide a human overview so often missing in the formulaic and reactive judgments of both “left ” and “right” concerning the complexity of the man/President Obama. I am sort of convinced he is not a shill, even as he seems to be marching on cue in a direct line leading from Reagan, through Bush-Clinton-Bush.

But the facts do remain, that we are all (including Obama) being manipulated by what has been termed “The Secret Government”. Houle was, probably still is, active in the 9-11 Truth Committee. Obama has steadfastly (as in unforgivably blindly) chosen to go with the institutional momentum, and never, ever consider demanding accountability.

As for Ybera, he is assuming an infantile posture here, by dismissing an entire venue – this blog – because he feels one truly sincere man with whom he disagrees, and dared to speak his mind.

And, of course, events on the ground/air/sea, and on the internet, may overtake us all.

    Albert Krauss (aitengri) September 11, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Shucks, blog owner, I could have used a pause to refresh, as in a reminder to “edit” before posting. My last sentence, above, should have been completed: As for Ybera, he is assuming an infantile posture here, by dismissing an entire venue – this blog – because he feels one truly sincere man with whom he disagrees, and dared to speak his mind, was given space to do so.

I get 95% of my news online from very selected sources, mainly left to hard left. What I post is usually what I agree with, but sometimes I post something to spark conversation. Antonio is a well respected liberal in our community, and when it comes to quarreling amongst ourselves, I appreciate having some of that done here.

So disappointed by the idiot wind. Here’s some context for the dweeb who wrote the piece.

    I listened to Clark’ remarks but do not see how a policy developed by the neocons has much to do with with Obama’s course of action while President. You can see the military as hsving it’s own agenda that carries on , irrespective of what administration is in power. However, Clark operated at the highest schelons of the military and gave no indication that these policies he referenced were in place pre Bush 2. Among other things, Obama is extracting us from two wars rather than starting new military campaigns that commit more troops . He has endeavored to be more surgical and limited in the actions he’s taken. But this observation is not saying I am a supporter of a number of the military actions taken by the US during his tenure. I could rattle off a a number of objections I have but that takes us in a different direction. You mention Lybia as the model for US action in Syria. However, there were no WMDs in Lybia and no threat that rogue elements could seize them

    In the Syrian situation, I see his threat of action as a last ditch effort to bring the Russian to the table and work to resolve issues and avoid military action. I see the the mideast as highly unstable and the threat of escalating use of chemical weapons a nightmare beyond comprehension. See my response to Jim Houle above. I am not saying Obama is bluffing, I am saying he is using the tools he has to cause pause and reflection on the part of the Russians and Syrians and give them the opportunity to recalibrate–and, as importantly, give all world leaders the impetus to come up with their own approaches and initiatives. If he is unsuccessful , then he has some very difficult decisions ahead of him.

    I have lived through many world crises and the closest this one comes to is the Cuban Missile Crisis. The stakes are high and any miscalculation on anyone’s part can has catastrophic consequences.

    Your perspective and those of many on the left (and right, by the way) see this as nothing but a continuation of the same US militarism that has been an central element of US foreign policy for the last 60 years and from your comment below, see the use of chemical weapons as a pretext to continue intervening in countries around the world.

    I could be wrong but am willing to allow for the possibility that better intentions are at hand until proven otherwise. If you are right, miscalculate the danger of WMDs falling into the wrong hands and the only alternative you have to offer is non-intervention (btw, the opponents to action have been sickenly pathetic in terms of offering any serious, viable alternatives to addressing this crisis), the legacy would be akin to the appeasement policies of Neville Chamberlain and where that left the world in the late 1930s. I wouldn’t wish that on my authentically concerned, well-intentioned fellow Americans. I wish this wasn’t such serious stuff but I continue to see is one of the key decision points in recent history.
    Antonio Andrade

      “I listened to Clark’ remarks but do not see how a policy developed by the neocons has much to do with with Obama’s course of action while President.“

      Then of course you find it extremely difficult to regard the foreign policy directions undertaken by Obama as just a continuation of Bush 2. Does Jeremy Scahill ring a bell? Get ahold of his Dirty Wars, or listen to his YouTube interviews about how he regards Obama. He’s a good man. http://dirtywars.org/jeremy-scahill
      Or Andy Worthington on the continuing use of torture during Obama’s watch.

      http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/tag/torture/

      And instead of Gitmo, google Bagram and do some research, post-2008. Holder specifically said that Bagram AFB torture complaints were not on the table. Only Gitmo, and we see how far that got us.

      You do not seem to care to wait for more information to come in as to who actually did the gas attack. It came on the one year anniversary of Obama’s redline warning to Assad that any use of gas would be cause to commit holy hell on Syria by US/NATO forces. So Assad, who is doing pretty good at the time against the rebels, while the rebels are getting a lot of bad int’l press – esp. with the guy cutting out and eating the heart of a Syrian soldier, yum yum, along with revelations of Al Qaeda mercenaries all over the place – that all of a sudden Assad — who knows what day it is – decides to carry out the worst chemical/gas attack in the Middle East in many decades, as if to thumb his nose at his own population as well as the Obama et al. Is Assad suicidal? Is that what you get from the Charlie Rose interview? We have to nail down the crime. And not listen to AIPAC or the Israeli government for guidance.

      And while Obama might be credited with getting out of a couple wars, so to speak, he has now opened up the entire African continent: Africom. Sorry guy, the Obama Happy Face came off a long time ago. All that’s left is the Koolaid. Really respect your optimism though, and I really – really – hope to be proven wrong down the road, but sometimes cynicism is reality. Perhaps my view will change when the first banker goes to jail. I am not holding my breath.

no problem Dave. I admire your willingness to post whatever you see fit. just keep the comments section open!
“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” Noam Chomsky

As with John Arteaga’s letter in defense of CalTrans and the Willits Bypass, this editorial seems to reveal more about the author’s state of mind and human psychology than anything truly new and useful concerning the Syrian quagmire. Obama (who, like Bill Clinton, seemed to come out of nowhere to assume the presidency, and has allowed at least as much damage during his administration as any Republican chief executive) can pour on the gravitas and make a great speech at the right time. To bad it all keeps rolling in the wrong direction.

As far as “Team Obama obliquely reserving the right for Obama to act irrespective of the Congressional vote”, Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution specifically reserves that right for Congress. One would think a Harvard-trained professor of Constitutional Law should be aware of that restriction, but one would also have to be rather naive to think it still makes any difference. We are, after all, too big to fail.

“Finally let me pose a perspective I’ve not heard argued: Consider that Obama is a reluctant warrior who, in his heart of hearts, does not want war. … One of the only effective tools he can utilize to bring pressure on Russia to bring Assad and all other parties to the table is to threaten use of awesome military force. Wouldn’t being bellicose and demonstrating his willingness to use force be worth a calculated risk that could result in bringing sobriety to what is at stake here? Could threatening military action galvanize world leaders to act to address this ugly, horrific proxy war. ”

I think I see what you are trying to say, eg, threaten, but in our heart of hearts not to carry out missle-violence; that the threat alone, that a bluff, is the policy. The argument might have had some traction early on in Peace Medal’s Obama’s administration, as it did during the Cold War. But then something happened that took the threat out of the air, and replaced it with Cruise Missles. It was called Libya. That is the model on the plate for Syria, at least that’s the one that Syria must believe is at stake.

You can argue I guess that the Libyan war crimes by the US actually empowers the threat (and threat only) against Syria because in his heart of hearts Obama does not want to let loose the ‘hounds.” But it is pretty cold comfort if you ask me. Especially in light of the fact that the Pentagon has had Syria on its menu for over a decade, as the General attests above. Obama might be lauded for his decision to pause on the precipice, but rational cynicism must allow that this gives more time for the masters of war to pave the pockets of potential yes votes.

Also, there are still a lot of mixed opinions about who is responsible for chemical shelling in the first place. Evidence presentations to DC officials have been fairly weak, reminiscent of the build-up to Iraq and fixing the facts to the policy. MSM has been substituting ‘certainty’ for facts for quite a long time when it comes to wars we must start. Do we risk yet another Int’l Ox Bow Incident? Can we first be absolutely sure of the facts? Reagan famously said, trust but verify. A synonym for that maxim is, the Constitution. That’s good in every case, especially when our own govt. is criminally engaged with the Al Qaeda-like heart-eaters we are supplying. In the meantime, read up on the aftermath in Libya. Dark times, dude.

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