Obama’s Middle East ‘Oh! Mama!’ Moment

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Report: Syria won’t change position ‘even if there is World War III’

Syria will not change its position “even if there is World War III,” its deputy foreign minister reportedly said Wednesday – even as activists claimed that another prominent member of the Assad regime had defected.

Faisal Muqdad insisted Syria’s government would counter any military action aimed at punishing the regime for the suspected use of chemical weapons, according to an interview with AFP cited by regional news outlet Al-Arabiya.

“The Syrian government will not change position even if there is World War III. No Syrian can sacrifice the independence of his country,” he reportedly told AFP.

“Syria has taken every measure to retaliate against…an aggression,” he added.

His comments came as Reuters reported that former Syrian defense minister General Ali Habib, a prominent member of President Bashar Assad’s Alawite sect, had defected and was now in neighboring Turkey.

However, Syrian state television denied the report and said Habib was still at his home in the country.

“Ali Habib has managed to escape from the grip of the regime and he is now in Turkey,” Kamal al-Labwani, a senior member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition told Reuters from Paris.

“I was told this by a Western diplomatic official,” Reuters quoted Labwani as saying.

If Habib’s defection is confirmed, it would be the highest ranking figure from the Alawite minority to break with Assad since the uprising against him began in 2011.

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they do not care who they slaughter nor by what means – that applies to BOTH sides. People are considered ‘throw-aways’ , even if not involved in any uprising or siding with the regime or just plain neutral . There is no regard for human life – it is their morality, their culture. We don’t even have a clue as to the ramifications of ant aggression and what the fallout will be. They are stuck in the middle ages.

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Reply#52 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:06 PM EDT

This seems like a job for Dennis Rodman and Bradley Manning… send them both.

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Reply#53 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:07 PM EDT

Americans need to get out of all foreign countries. Period. Our national security is only threated when the US is actually attacked as in 9/11. Our soldiers belong here, lined up at our borders to prevent agression and illegal immigration. The middle east in particular needs to self destruct. Once they do, we can split the oil reserves with the rest of the civilized world. If any country actually attacks the US, it needs to be completely destroyed and all inhabitants killed. All problems solved.

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Reply#54 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:07 PM EDT

There will be no world war III over Syria…LOL

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Reply#55 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:07 PM EDT

Considering what is at stake, sound like a very good reason to walk away and let them deal with their self made agony.

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Reply#56 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:08 PM EDT

Lol, WWIII ok if you want to believe that.. I have a bridge to sell you. I’ll say this, Russia is the only one interested in keeping the current status quo in Syria. China has no dog in this race other than they want to sell stuff to Syria. Syria offers them nothing, but money. Once peace had taken place China can get back to making the billions off of them via trade. Russia has more interest in this than any other country, with routes to water (trade) and military bases. They will continue talking roughly to the US because they can’t lead the way to bombing an “ally” and most likely would have to put efforts into rebuilding the country afterwards regardless of who does the bombing.

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Reply#57 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:08 PM EDT

Id also like to point out that I am not for bombing this country by ourselves or in any limited manner. The spin from them will be the the “US” killed Syrian people. I am with the other people who said this needs to be an issue for us to bring up in NATO, but not ours alone to react to. Leave it to the other Middle Eastern nations to help their neighbors. It always seems we go in with the best of intentions and come out with a black eye.

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#57.1 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:13 PM EDT

Reply

I relation to my remarks, I would like to say since I value freedom, the right of free speech and religion, the right to work and the right to associate with whom I wish, etc., It must not be construed that I support any of the abberations which a nation and its leadership endorses that would deny those freedoms. Having stated that, I would like to say the entire Shyrian problem is and has been brought on by terroristic organizations outside of Syria, along with various support from nations such as the U.S.A. and Muslim anti-Assad Muslims. It is NEVER RIGHT TO ATTACK A SOVEREIGN NATION WHICH HAS NOT ATTACKED ANOTHER NATION OR ONE OF ITS ALLIES! I stand against any and all who endorse physical harm to Syria and/or Assad. I usually never side with Communist leaders either but in this case I would join with China, Russia, England also even though not Communist, and others who reject bombing and going to war against Syria. I fully believe the Terrorists have been the responsible parties regarding the gas situation and until such very strong proof exists that Syria did this I will always hold to that position because they have everything to gain by doing this and pointing the finger at Assad. Assad would not be wise to do such and he knows better!!!
The U.S. is really turning into a belligerant Government along with its leaders Obama, McCain, Graham and Boehner et.al.!! This is sad. Our nation never was this type of a nation and now it is corrupt from the top down!! I am ashamed of those who hold office now in our Governmental branches. We need a total house cleaning by removing all at the voting booths and then firing those who are employees that follow the current line of reasoning!! May it happen soon, or we will have the entire world against us!!

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Reply#58 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:08 PM EDT

I say give both sides, whoever they are over there, enough gas to kill each other off completely. I have about as much love for Mideastern Muslims as I do being bitten by a cobra.

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Reply#59 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:09 PM EDT

what idiot is looking forward to WWIII? Send this jerk to war and let him experience the fun

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Reply#60 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:10 PM EDT

Someone should be asking: are a couple hundred people worth World War III? I don’t think so. What’s done is done.

This is exactly what I am thinking. This is a Syrian battle that American lives/resources should not be sacrificed to “slap the wrist” of another country. Sometimes war is a necessary evil, not in this case. Unless Syria aimes the WMDs at America, we should not act. America is NOT the world police in anyway, shape, or form. But if anything does happen where WWIII ends up happening, I WILL DEFEND MY COUNTRY.

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Reply#61 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:10 PM EDT

This is hilarious, Obama don’t know what to do, so he is punting and turning it over to Congress, and meanwhile, Syria is getting ready to take care and hide anything that we were going to hit… Waste of time to do anything now, we lost the element of surprise thanks to the idiot, incompetent, negro in the White House.

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Reply#62 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:11 PM EDT

From The Rarely Read Book Of Fables.

Isaiah 17 – Destruction of Damascus – Freeby

1. The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city and it shall be a ruinous heap.

Ezekiel 38-39 – (War III) Israel, Arabs & Russia (with teaser verses about fate of America)

Revelation 18 – Destruction of America (in one hour)

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Reply#63 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:11 PM EDT

Why don’t we help all the good Syrian people leave their country and go in & INIALATE the corrupt regime!

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Reply#64 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:12 PM EDT

Its time to consider the muslims we have in this country too….. Throw all illegals, all muslims, and include black muslim converts, out of this country. America is for Americans, and its time to cut off the flow, and turn these degenerates away.

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Reply#65 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:14 PM EDT

I have a comment. Little out of major point here. It is in the form of a book review by well-known author, Thomas E Ricks, #1 New York Times bestseller (Fiasco).

Book Review: U.S. role in Iran has a sneaky side
By Thomas E. Ricks

Published: Sunday, Jun. 10, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3E

‘Confront and Conceal’

By David E. Sanger; Crown Publishers, $28, 476 pages

Is the United States at war with Iran? If David Sanger’s account in his new book, “Confront and Conceal,” on President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, is to be believed – and I find it very believable – we certainly are.

The stunning revelations by Sanger, the New York Times’ chief Washington correspondent, about the U.S. role in using computer warfare to attack Iran’s nuclear program already have made headlines, and rightly so. He persuasively shows that under Obama, the U.S. government has been engaged in what one presidential adviser calls “a state of low-grade, daily conflict.”

The heart of this book is the chapter titled “Olympic Games,” which Sanger writes is the code name for a joint program of Israel and the United States to insert malicious software into the machinery of the Iranian military- industrial complex and so set back Iran’s ability to manufacture weapons-grade uranium.

Specifically, in 2008 and 2009 the software threw off the balance of centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear enrichment center. It did so in a variety of unpredictable ways, making it at first seem like the problems were random or the result of Iranian incompetence. The key to getting inside the computers – which were not connected to the Internet – was to load the virus into thumb drives that Iranian nuclear technicians, perhaps unknowingly, would bring to work and plug into the computer systems there.

In one of the most impressive steps in the cybercampaign, the inserted software recorded the operation of the centrifuges. Then, as the computer worm took control of the machines and began destroying them, the software played back signals of the normal operation of the centrifuges.

“The plant operators were clueless,” Sanger writes. “There were no warning lights, no alarm bells, no dials gyrating wildly. But anyone down in the plant would have felt, and heard, that the centrifuges were suddenly going haywire. First came a rumble, then an explosion.”

This is an account that will long be consulted by anyone trying to understand warfare in the 21st century. It alone is worth the price of the book. And that is a good thing, because the rest of the book – overviews of Obama’s handling of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Arab Spring, and China and North Korea – offers a solid but rather dutiful summary of this administration’s foreign policy.

I wondered if the author – in the course of working on a book to be titled “The Education of a President” – had come across the extraordinary material on the cyberwar against Iran.

Those other spinach-laden sections are not bad, but they are not as compelling as Sanger’s guided tour of the anti-Iranian operations. He offers a healthy meditation on Obama’s heavy use of drone strikes in Pakistan, asking how such strikes differ from a program of targeted assassination, if at all. And throughout, Sanger clearly has enjoyed great access to senior White House officials, most notably to Thomas Donilon, the national security adviser.

Donilon, in effect, is the hero of the book, as well as the commenter of record on events. He leads the team that goes to Israel and spends “five hours wading through the intelligence in the basement of the prime minister’s residence.” He is shown studying the nettlesome problems of foreign relations, working closely with the president and fending off the villains of this story – which tend to be the government of Pakistan and, surprisingly, the generals of the U.S. military.

“We fought the Pentagon every step of the way on this,” a “senior American diplomat” tells Sanger. At another point, a “senior White House official” reports that, “There was incredible resistance inside the Pentagon.” And so on.

The virtue of this book – its foundation of White House sources who give the author insiders’ material – is also its weakness. That is, Sanger shows us the world through the eyes of Obama, Donilon and those around him. But he also tends to depict Washington and the world as they see it. The perceptions of White House officials, especially in the first year of the Obama presidency, which saw a steep learning curve for the president and those around him, are not always dispositive.

Sanger’s sure touch in discussing foreign policy falters when he discusses the Pentagon. He seems unaware that a large number of military officers agreed with Obama that Iraq was a “war of choice,” and a huge mistake.

Nor by the time Obama took office was “much of the military … running on autopilot.” Rather, after five years of sweating and bleeding in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military was engaged in a good deal of soul-searching about those wars. The “surge” in Iraq was largely the product of military dissidents who believed that invading Iraq had been a mistake.

These are minor blemishes in an important book. I raise them mainly because of the warning signal they send about civil-military relations under Obama. White House mistrust and suspicion of generals is not a recipe for an effective use of military force because it impedes the candid sort of discussion that consciously brings to the surface differences, examines assumptions and hammers out sustainable strategies.

Rather, it suggests that Obama and those around him are repeating some of the dysfunctionality that characterized the dealings of Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson with the Pentagon during the descent into the Vietnam War. With Syria hanging fire, a nuclear-armed Pakistan on the brink and the Afghan war dragging on, that is not a reassuring state of affairs.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Thomas E. Ricks is the author of several books about the U.S. military.

…and I am Sid Harth

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Reply#66 – Wed Sep 4, 2013 3:14 PM EDT

Need to fix anything? You can edit this comment for the next 1:23.
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