Scraping The Bottom Of The Analogical Barrel

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Neville ChamberlainArguments by analogy are used to justify a controversial claim by invoking a similar claim in a less controversial instance. While not deductively valid, a good analogy can provide a strong reason to accept the claim. In an effort to drum up support for a military strike on Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry said that Syrian President Bashar Assad “now joins the list of Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein who have used these weapons in time of war.” Other war drum beaters are warning about the “lessons of Munich” and Obama looking like Neville Chamberlain. When the analogy is tenuous, the argument becomes ludicrous.

Such is the case when Assad is compared to Hitler. It is unclear if Assad can even sustain his power in Syria, let alone militarily threaten any neighbors. Assad’s military is unable to overcome a ragtag gang of Islamists, so any comparison to Hitler is absurd.

The Hitler analogy was used by President George W. Bush to justify his war with Iraq, and President Bill Clinton to justify his decision to bomb Serbia. Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, was fond of telling reporters that “Munich is my mindset.” It’s déjà vu all over again.

Kerry’s comparison of Assad to Saddam Hussein just reminds the listener that President Ronald Reagan, with prior knowledge of Hussein’s use of chemical weapons, provided Hussein with satellite imagery to enable the targeting of Iranian forces.

During a stopover in Sweden, President Obama tried to move his “red line” comment when he said: “The world set a red line when governments representing 98% of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons was abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war.” Obama added that his credibility is not on the line, but “The international community’s credibility is on the line.” If it’s the world’s red line and the world’s credibility at stake, then the world should decide what to do.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel tried to put forward a “national security” argument:

If Assad is prepared to use chemical weapons against his own people, we have to be concerned that terrorist groups like Hezbollah, which has forces in Syria supporting the Assad regime, could acquire them. This risk of chemical weapons proliferation poses a direct threat to our friends and partners, and to U.S. personnel in the region. We cannot afford for Hezbollah or any terrorist group determined to strike the United States to have incentives to acquire or use chemical weapons.

This argument makes little sense. Why would Assad’s willingness to use chemical weapons against his own people indicate a willingness to give those weapons to Hezbollah? Assad sees those weapons as key to his survival. He’s unlikely to part with them. A US strike could increase that risk if Assad decided to give Hezbollah chemical weapons in an act of retaliation. If Assad falls, those chemical weapons could easily fall into the hands of the rebel group  Al-Nusra, who has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.

H/T: John Casey, Michael Hirsh, The Guardian, Jonathan Chait, Scott Lemieux, John Dickerson.

90 thoughts on “Scraping The Bottom Of The Analogical Barrel”

  1. Speaking of useful analogies: another perfect on from the Gary Younge piece cited above:

    “Obama appealing for the Syrian regime to be brought to heel under international law is a bit like Tony Soprano asking the courts for a restraining order against one of his mob rivals – it cannot be taken seriously because the very laws he is invoking are laws he openly flouts.”

    Nice one, that.

    Which suggests another analogy:

    “Barack Obama invoking WMD as reason to launch an aggressive war on one of Israel’s Arab neighbors is like Deputy Dubya Bush invoking WMD as reason to launch and aggressive war on one of Israel’s Arab neighbors.” In other words: “Beggar the Neighborhood” is like “Beggar the Neighborhood.” In fact, we can probably do without the unnecessary word “like.”

  2. “Governments lie.” — I. F. Stone

    Yes. We can reliably take that as our starting point. Still waiting for the first sign of evidence to the contrary.

  3. SlingTrebuchet,

    Yes, indeed. We cannot always ascertain what really has happened, but we can rest assured that the United States government will view it as an opportunity to advance an agenda about which it will tell us nothing but lies. For illustrative examples of this time-dishonored principle of herd management, see the cynical exploitation of 9/11/2001 by George Dubya Bush and Barack Hussein Obama — and let us not leave out General David “I trained me some death squads in Iraq” Petraeus. He sees an opportunity to get back in the personal PR game here, too..

    Something — like, decades of experience — tells me that someone wishes very much to exploit this latest “opportunity.” Just who and why, naturally, remains “classified.” The U.S. government, we may rest assured, will regale us with lurid tales and pictures and body-counts that they say they don’t do. They just won’t let us in on what they actually intend to do, or the reasons for it, or who stands to benefit from more cruise missiles falling explosively on Muslims somewhere.

    By the way, have I mentioned that I do not believe the first consonant of the first syllable of the first word that President Obama or any of his minions utters on the subject of war? I just want to make sure that no one mistakes the depth of my disbelief in lies. I find them, literally, incredible.

  4. Just a snippet from Gary Younge at The Guardian:

    “The problem for America in all of this is that its capacity to impact diplomatic negotiations is limited by the fact that its record of asserting its military power stands squarely at odds with its pretensions of moral authority. For all America’s condemnations of chemical weapons, the people of Falluja in Iraq are experiencing the birth defects and deformities in children and increases in early-life cancer that may be linked to the use of depleted uranium during the US bombardment of the town. It also used white phosphorus against combatants in Falluja.”

    “Its chief ally in the region, Israel, holds the record for ignoring UN resolutions, and the US is not a participant in the international criminal court – which is charged with bringing perpetrators of war crimes to justice – because it refuses to allow its own citizens to be charged. On the very day Obama lectured the world on international norms he launched a drone strike in Yemen that killed six people.”

    The U.S. really ought to shut its hypocritical mouth about the ignoring of “international norms” or the effects of dastardly weapons, as often as not, employed by the U.S. and its pariah parasite, the Aparthed Zionist Entity. Unseemly, to say the least. Disgusting, to say more.

  5. The only thing that we on the outside can do is to trust in the judgement of our Reps. and Obama.
    You have not been following (for example) the NSA story – and the lies uncovered.

    Trust us.
    Yeah Sure!

    Lots of dead children – Oooh! Shiny!!!
    If Obama’s owners cared about children they would not be killing them on an ongoing basis. Do a relatively tiny number of children have to die of sarin before the world is meant to become revolted?
    “Punish use of CW” is simply cynical emotional engineering of public opinion in order to justify actions friven by a completely different agenda.

  6. Retired Army Colonel (and now professor) Andrew Bacevich explains the issue at stake here. “It’s not Syria, ” he says, but rather decades of failed U.S. military bungling in the Middle East going back to the enunciation of the “Carter Doctrine.” The U.S. has an enormously powerful military, he notes, but deploying it doesn’t achieve anything worthwhile for the United States. And besides, he says, the U.S. military serves its owners in Washington, D.C. and not the people of the United States who have almost no connection with it any longer other than to cheer on cue: “thank you for your service.”

  7. The world does indeed have a “red line”: namely, the next “humanitarian” blood-letting that the berserk United States of America insists on initiating. Keep appeasing the U.S. lust for military adventurism, so the “Munich” analogy tells us, and the world will only get more of the same. The world should have put a stop to U.S. imperialism decades ago. By not putting a stop to U.S. imperialism, millions have died and millions more have lost their homes and any chance they might have had for a normal life. The Lunatic Leviathan needs a soothing tranquilizer that will put it back into the long sleep from which the Japanese awoke it on 12/7/1941.

  8. Here is an interesting article

    Questioning Credibility
    What the Middle East really thinks about chemical weapons and U.S. intervention in Syria.

    Extract :
    Regional attitudes toward chemical weapons (CW) use are also misunderstood. What most Arabs think needs to be done in the Syrian conflict, including by the United States, has not been shaped or changed by the use of CW. In reality, three issue areas, none of them driven by the CW question, determine Arab attitudes on Syria: humanitarian, sectarian, and strategic.

    The humanitarian concern arose at the outset of the Syrian uprisings, as Bashar al-Assad used the might of his army to brutally attack civilians. CW use was another example of brutality, but not the main force behind regional perceptions.

    The strategic side of Arab attitudes has of course many dimensions, but at the core is Saudi-Iranian competition that has drawn allies on each side. This is also independent of CW concerns. Saudi rulers have been privately lobbying the West to intervene since the beginning of the Syrian uprisings, long before the use of CW. Iran, too, sees the American role in Syria as part of a bigger strategic picture involving U.S. and Israeli interests, not CW as such.

    The sectarian dimension is also complex, but at the core is a Sunni-Shiite/Alawite divide that had intensified before the recent reports of CW. The rise of the Sunni jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra, the entry of Shiite Hezbollah into the conflict, and statements by influential Sunni religious figures like Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi framing the conflict in religious terms have fueled this divide, not CW.

  9. Just as a reminder, but the Japanese religious cult, Aum Shinri Kyo, managed to mix up some sarin gas and release it in a Tokyo subway. They didn’t need any help from governments or military stockpiles. If they could do this, then some clever or not-so-clever jihadis (the people who invented the I.E.D.), funded and supplied by Saudi Arabia, the Apartheid Zionist Entity, and the United States, et al, could possibly have put together some of the same stuff for their own use, mishandled it, and caused some casualties, about a third (<500) of those claimed by the Obama administration (<1500). We still don't even have definitive accounts of exactly how many persons died from whatever happened. Inflating the actual death toll by 200%, however, doesn't make the Obama administration's case any more credible, but the reverse. I smell lies.

    Some forty years ago in the now-defunct Republic of Vietnam, some Vietnamese at our remote ATSB got hungry (their officers had stolen their food rations) and decided to go fishing with some hand grenades. They broke into the weapons locker, stole a box of the lethal little things, and took off on the river in a boat designed to carry only a third of their number. Unfortunately, they had gotten hold of some captured Chinese pressure-release grenades (used for booby traps) instead of the standard U.S. type with a delayed-action release mechanism. When one of the Vietnamese pulled the pin on one of these grenades, it exploded in his hand before he could drop it in the water to stun the fish. The explosion cleared the deck of the little boat, causing many deaths and horrific injuries. As the base interpreter/translator, I drew the assignment of interviewing some of the dying little men — many of them in shock — so that we would know the home village where they wished to be buried. Oh, well. Better Dead Than Red, as we used to tell them.

    Moral of the story: It really doesn’t pay to mess around with deadly ordnance that one does not recognize or know how to handle. And if this sort of thing can happen with simple hand grenades, then it can happen with DIY rockets and home-brewed sarin gas. And, of course, wherever Saudi Prince Bandar Bush and/or the U.S. CIA gets involved, nefarious schemes and embarrassing f***-ups tend to proliferate. Benghazi, Libya, anyone?

    For other reasons too good and numerous to list here — other skeptics have already done that — I don’t believe a syllable uttered by lying U.S. government officials, especially if the known perjurer, James Clapper of the NDI, has any part in this tragic farce. Over a 100,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war in the past two years, the vast majority of them from weapons — the “approved” kind — other than some sort of poison gas. So the type of weapon used — or misused — that causes “only” 500 deaths seems rather beside the point. The U.S. government doesn’t give a damn about how many people die in the Syrian civil war. “We don’t do body counts” (unless we choose to) as long as the United States gets to participate in making the number of dead and maimed even larger.

    Lying sacks of shit.

  10. “unfortunately, in this case you are asking for the impossible. There is no question that a chemical attack took place. ”

    Oh, please you give me much too much credit. It was the administration that announced it had proof, apparently much like what it has already released, then claimed that the proof was classified…all of it, every bit.

    We do agree that there are those who will be opposed to intervention regardless of the facts or situation.

    And I would also like to see the UN inspectors report. But we know that report can only tell us if CW was used, not who launched the attack.

    But I welcome this national discussion. When we started, it seemed we were being asked to sacrifice because of an unscripted remark made at a news conference. I think the conversation has advanced since then.

  11. Today’s letter to my Congress members (thanks to link by BFM)

    Pictures released by the Senate Foreign Relations committee are heartbreaking. No matter how horrific they are, they do not provide evidence of who committed this heinous act.

    From the New York Times we learn: “…multiple requests to view that satellite imagery have been denied, though the administration produced copious amounts of satellite imagery earlier in the war to show the results of the Syrian regime’s military onslaught. ”

    “The Obama administration maintains it intercepted communications from a senior Syrian official on the use of chemical weapons, but requests to see that transcript have been denied. So has a request by the AP to see a transcript of communications allegedly ordering Syrian military personnel to prepare for a chemical weapons attack by readying gas masks.”
    Further a German newspaper reports: “Syrian brigade and division commanders had been asking the Presidential Palace to allow them to use chemical weapons for the last four-and-a-half months, according to radio messages intercepted by German spies, but permission had always been denied, the Bild am Sonntag paper said.” (Excerpt from the Guardian)

    We are shown videos of an attack but are unable to see evidence the administration claims to have showing who is responsible for it. One reason the administration may be unwilling to show evidence is that it is not convincing. Another is, they may know who did it and it is not Assad. Finally, they apparently saw preparations for the attack 3 days prior to it commencing and did nothing to stop it.

    Instead of war, let’s get to the truth of the matter. The ICC can do that. We can know who did this attack, who financed it, who ordered it, who justified it. I would truly like to know these things and believe strongly that each person in the chain of custody concerning chemical weapons should be indicted if there is evidence for that indictment. A fair trial with full due process should ensue. That will send a message. There is no need for war under any circumstance.

    Reference below:;

  12. Excellent Nal…. There are a lot of things in this that do not make sense…. China is setting up to defend Syria…. As well as Iran and Russia….. The red line…. Is now the worlds…. NOT…. The G20 conference has indicated that the US should stay out if it…… I wonder if Israel is really behind this?

  13. “The Brit quoted is funny since he destroys his own argument when he says why would a commander use chemical weapons for SHORT TERM GAIN? DUH! In a desperate situation the regime WILL use any and all means to survive for the short term, and worry about the future later. ”

    I think everyone I have read asserts that Assad was winning and far from desperate. He does not seem to have been desperate in the areas where the chemical weapons were used on the day of the attack.

    The reasonable question is why would Assad invite UN observers to his country then use chemical weapons on they day they arrive in the suburbs of the city where they are staying?

    It may have happened that exactly way.

    But the timing and location of the attacks seem to raise questions ‘what is going on’, ‘what is the logic of the Assad regime’, ‘is it possible that the attacks are intended to incriminate Assad’?

    I think that is what the ‘Brit’ was getting at. And he is not the only one. Many have wondered at the timing and location of the attacks with no obvious answer.

  14. I am also amused at the anti folks since they are willing to believe that simply destroying either all or part of Assad air force will lead to combat ops on the ground. This despite the fact that a LONGER and more direct and intense bombing was done in Libya, but no troops followed Yet they are also willing to believe that doing nothing to Assad for the use of banned weapons will NOT allow him to use more of those in order to survive. That is truly whistling in the dark and is a FAR more likely slippery slope than US bombing of Assads assets resulting in the use of US troops on the ground.

  15. bfm I read the whole article and all it showed was little to cast doubt on what Obama is saying. It offers no refutation of the proof. For example, when W Bush was trying to make the case for a real war in Iraq with massive numbers of troops on the ground, the “evidence” he used was REFUTED in detail by other sources. The aluminum tubes were debunked in detail by Oak Ridge. The other cases were outright shown to be lies such as that intel provided by so called Snow flake who German intel said was useless. This article by contrast can do NO such thing. All it can do is to complain about evidence being classified.

    I can understand and support that being kept secret since revealing the transcripts will tip off the Syrians as to which communications channels are compromised and WHO made those calls. So the only thing opponents can do is decry secrecy when even a cursory thought would show the valid reason for it. Then the stupid argument about no photo intel being released is not valid since the whole point of such intel is to get the highest resolution and to keep that secret. I also fail to see why photos can show a chemical attack after it happens. That is a little suspect.

    I think that the scale, scope and motivation all point directly to the Assad regime. The Brit quoted is funny since he destroys his own argument when he says why would a commander use chemical weapons for SHORT TERM GAIN? DUH! In a desperate situation the regime WILL use any and all means to survive for the short term, and worry about the future later. This article is a good one since it supports my position.

    1. ” It offers no refutation of the proof”

      It is very difficult to refute proof when there is none. As the article points out, to date no proof has been offered – only assertions that proof exits. The article points out reasons to wonder about the administrations assertions.

      “Then the stupid argument about no photo intel being released is not valid since the whole point of such intel is to get the highest resolution and to keep that secret.”

      The point was that the administration has already released similar photo intelligence, presumably made by the same satellites with the same cameras at the same resolution.

      Why would it be OK to release that type of intelligence earlier and not now.

      As to the point regarding resolution of the satellite imagery, if that were the concern, perhaps they could borrow a copy of Photoshop Elements and change the resolution. I am pretty sure they could obscure the original resolution thus protecting capabilities and still show much of what they claimed was in the images.

      And finally, in your own words: “I also fail to see why photos can show a chemical attack after it happens. That is a little suspect.”

      We agree. The administrations claim that it has after the fact photos that demonstrate not just a chemical attack, but a chemical attack by the Assad regime is a little suspect.

      For the administration to claim they have the photos, just like many they have release in the past, and then refuse to release the crucial ones is in fact a lot suspect, if not ridiculous.

      I think the claim implicit in the article was not that the administration has been refuted.

      The claim was the administration has not made its case, and it has not.

      1. bfm unfortunately, in this case you are asking for the impossible. There is no question that a chemical attack took place. The only question is who did it. The only way to get that intel is through communications and codes which by their very nature have to be kept secret. I know that the military overuses classification and that about 80% could be open. Communication and codes are the one area that is legitimately classified. Absent a video of Assad personally loading the shells himself, there is no possible “proof” that will be acceptable to those who are against any military action no matter what. Even if there were such a video, the antis will still be opposed.

        The only thing that we on the outside can do is to trust in the judgement of our Reps. and Obama. This is so much different from W Bush and Iraq, that such questions are not even close to being similar. Bush said that the UN inspectors were fools, and gave out crooked intel. That was a stretch to begin with. In this case, there is no question on the use of gas, and looking from the outside, and the words of those who do have access, it makes sense on its face that Assad is the person responsible for those attacks. That is the best that any of us can do in this situation.

        Do you think Obama is eager to use military force? I do not and his actions have shown a great reluctance to use military force in Syria since he ignored previous indications of such use of poison gas. He waited and disregarded those prior indications, until a massive attack took place with mass casualties. I will see what the UN inspectors have to say when they issue their report. If it comes out that only a few people were victims of an attack, that WILL torpedo Obama’s claim, but on the other hand, if it is a real massive gas attack, that will be quite proof enough for us looking from the outside.

  16. Speaking of mangled metaphors, asinine analogies, and flawed figures of speech, here we go again with:

    The Tunnel at the End of the Light

    See the light at the end of the tunnel
    Look at all of the progress we’ve made
    So then why, if we’ve made so much headway,
    Do our bright hopes continue to fade?

    See the light at the end of the tunnel
    See the end of the grief and the pain
    So then why, when we take one step forward,
    Do we take two steps backwards again?

    See the light at the end of the tunnel
    See the end of the shadow and doubt
    Sure was easy to find our way in here
    So then why can’t we find our way out?

    “Stay the course,” says the fool in the White House
    “See how much like a captain I look!
    Oh, that’s right, I just pose in a flight suit
    And I’ve only seen ships in a book.”

    “None the less, I will steer the ship wisely.
    See how manly and brave I appear.
    If the bad guys would only stop winning
    I could win some myself, never fear.”

    “Last night I heard voices from Heaven
    Saying `Smite them!’ so smite them I did.
    But those people with homes in Fallujah
    Spoiled my plans when they ran off and hid.”

    “I have knowledge of Good and of Evil
    And can tell them apart if I must.
    Just because I’ve not done so means nothing.
    So you’ll just have to take me on trust.”

    “Get a life and start smirking like I do.
    Why so sulky, and solemn, and sad?
    Get some money like I’ve got behind me
    And you’ll never say `Sorry, my bad!”‘

    We must stop this analogy bullshit!
    `Cause us new guys got knowledge to burn.
    Why should we look at former disasters
    And suppose we’ve got something to learn?

    Vietnam and Iraq look so different
    As any deep thinker can see
    Why, Iraq begins with the letter “I;”
    Vietnam, with the letter “V.”

    And these differences go even deeper
    As any sage pundit will say.
    Vietnam has its jungles so shiny and green
    And Iraq has it deserts of gray.

    And the ex-pats who’ve hijacked the nation
    Have such different names don’t you see?
    In Vietnam we had us a Ngo Dinh Diem
    In Iraq, it’s Ahmed Chalabi.

    And the Asians don’t look like the Arabs,
    And the Buddhists don’t look like Imams.
    Yet the loathsome invader looks strangely the same
    Flying over and dropping his bombs.

    And the generals keep winning battles
    Though the war keeps on slipping away
    Yet it seems that in spite of their training and rank
    They still can’t tell nighttime from day.

    So the soldiers they keep getting slaughtered
    In the fights that we always have won
    But like Pyrrhus once said as he tallied a win:
    “If we do this again, we’re undone!”

    If you keep doing what you’ve been doing
    You will keep getting what you have got.
    But let’s not let intelligence get in the way
    When we’re so busy talking rot.

    If we shoot our own selves in the head, so they say,
    Blood will splatter all over the floor;
    But we’d rather keep shooting ourselves in the face
    Than exit the open door.

    Like the man who consulted his doctor
    Having every remedy tried;
    Saying, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.”
    “Then, don’t do that,” the doctor replied.

    For to stop acting dumb would not wash and not wear
    And would leave our admirers bereft.
    All our friends would lose faith, so the story line goes,
    If we got smart and simply left.

    Yes, you may think it strange that our allies would feel
    Such respect for the clown of our age.
    And would much rather trust to a stupid fool
    Than a wise and prudent sage.

    The analysis sure can get complex
    With excuses so long and so lame.
    So how come when we find so much difference
    The result keeps on looking the same?

    See the light at the end of the tunnel.
    See the Brave New World under the gun.
    Vietnam taught us so many lessons.
    Let’s not learn them, though. Why spoil the fun?

    But the boy in the White House keeps thumping his chest
    Trying so hard to look fierce and wild,
    While a war-weary world goes on shaking its head
    At the spoiled and petulant child.

    For this war stuff has gotten real ugly
    When it started as so much fun!
    What began as a romp in Grenada
    Has turned into cut and run.

    You can easily make a fire bigger;
    But to make one grow smaller — not so!
    When you feel the flames lighting the hairs on your head
    Then it’s past time to pack up and go.

    But the tunnel and darkness keep calling
    Who can sail past that siren song?
    When America heads for a hole in the ground
    Why do others not just go along?

    See the light at the end of the tunnel
    Hear the end of the bitter refrain.
    Let’s just hope that the bright light approaching
    Doesn’t herald an oncoming train.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2005

  17. The U.S. ought to tread lightly with that “Munich” analogy because the U.S. looks an awful lot like The Third Reich knocking over other governments and growing more ravenous with each conquest.

  18. From the AP and NYT we see: “September 8, 2013 Lingering Doubts Over Syria Gas Attack Evidence” which you can find at

    This story plows a lot of old ground.

    I would argue that the significance of this article is less in what it tells us about weakness in the administration’s claims regarding Syria than in the fact that these doubts are being confirmed by the same organization that did so much to convince the world of WMDs in Iraq.

    I think it is also significant that supporters of the administration are reduced to non-sequesters. When Senator Feinstein is asked about proof she reasserts there is proof then tells us that access to classified information is the best in two decades and voices strong support for the international standard against chemical weapons.

    This is a technique as old as public discussion itself. When questioned regarding a weak point, make an assertion then quickly move to that which is unassailable and pretend the question has been answered. The question was about proof. No one doubts that the senator has excellent access to classified information. No one doubts that international standards against chemical weapons are good.

    Some highlights from the article:

    “The U.S. government insists it has the intelligence to prove it, but the American public has yet to see a single piece of concrete evidence — no satellite imagery, no transcripts of Syrian military communications — connecting the government of President Bashar Assad to the alleged chemical weapons attack last month”

    “one week after Secretary of State John Kerry outlined the case against Assad, Americans — at least those without access to classified reports — haven’t seen a shred of his proof. ”

    ” multiple requests to view that satellite imagery have been denied, though the administration produced copious amounts of satellite imagery earlier in the war to show the results of the Syrian regime’s military onslaught. ”

    “The Obama administration maintains it intercepted communications from a senior Syrian official on the use of chemical weapons, but requests to see that transcript have been denied. So has a request by the AP to see a transcript of communications allegedly ordering Syrian military personnel to prepare for a chemical weapons attack by readying gas masks. ”

    “”We can’t get our heads around this — why would any commander agree to rocketing a suburb of Damascus with chemical weapons for only a very short-term tactical gain for what is a long-term disaster,” said Charles Heyman, a former British military officer who edits The Armed Forces of the U.K., an authoritative bi-annual review of British forces. ”

    “Inconsistencies over the death toll and other details related to the attack also have fueled doubts among skeptics. ….The Obama administration says 1,429 people died in 12 locations mostly east of the capital …. Casualty estimates by other groups are far lower: The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it only counts victims identified by name, and that its current total stands at 502….The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders says it has not been able to update its initial Aug. 24 estimate of 355 killed because communication with those on the ground around Damascus is difficult.”

    “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel rebuffed a congressman’s bid to declassify one of the key pieces of intelligence Kerry publicly cited last week: intercepted communications telling Syrian military units to prepare for the chemical strikes. ”

    “Multiple U.S. officials have told AP that the intelligence pictures on the Aug. 21 attack was “not a slam dunk” — a reference to then-CIA Director George Tenet’s insistence…… They cite the lack of a direct link between Assad and the chemical assault — a question the administration discounts by arguing Assad’s responsibility as Syria’s commander in chief.”

    “A second issue is that U.S. intelligence has lost track of some chemical weaponry, leaving a slim possibility that rebels acquired some of the deadly substances. ”

    So where does all this leave the ordinary interested reader. I think there is only one possible conclusion. Where ever the truth may lie, what ever group actually launched the chemical weapons attacks, the administration simply does not have proof that the Assad regime is responsible.

    It is hard to imagine any reason that the administration would withhold data (such as satellite imagery) that is exactly the same type that it has already been released in great quantity regarding other attacks unless the data simply does not show what the administration claims.

    The fact that the administration already released this type of data (satellite imagery) shows that the important issue of compromising sources and methods is just not an issue for this type of data.

    I would guess the administration probably has a pretty good circumstantial case. The question is then should the US go to war on the basis of incomplete and circumstantial information? I dare say many in the US find that a troubling proposition.

    1. felix this is called bait and switch. You said it was about drones, and I see airplanes. This is useless since all it does is say that all US force is bad and Al Qeada is good and does NOT piss off people when they kill even MORE innocents.

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