Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Marcuse » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:34 pm

And yet in those first two elections the turnout for voters was above 90%


Dictatorships often fabricate or coerce their populations to turn out and vote for them. It's what they do to give a veneer of respectability to their seizure of power.

Now considering the turnout was above 90% and the majority of voters said yes that is democratic, might not be Western democracy but it's democracy nonetheless.


It's not democracy because there's only one name on the ballot. The entire point of democracy is to allow people to have a choice of leader because rule is supposed to be by the people for the people (notionally at least). It's credulous in the extreme to believe that an election where there's one name you can choose is in any way democratic.

Finally with those standards of not allowing "opposition" I contend that Donald Trump wasn't democratically elected either, as his opponent was the epitome of someone you shouldn't vote for.


Regardless of Hillary's likability or otherwise in my opinion, I have no doubt that she was entirely qualified and capable of fulfilling the office of president, stating otherwise is using your own political opinions to justify drawing a false equivalence between the Syrian and American elections. Which is weird because if you want to criticise the US system the electoral college is a way better way to do that.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby DoglovingJim » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:49 pm

Marcuse wrote:
And yet in those first two elections the turnout for voters was above 90%


Dictatorships often fabricate or coerce their populations to turn out and vote for them. It's what they do to give a veneer of respectability to their seizure of power.

Now considering the turnout was above 90% and the majority of voters said yes that is democratic, might not be Western democracy but it's democracy nonetheless.


It's not democracy because there's only one name on the ballot. The entire point of democracy is to allow people to have a choice of leader because rule is supposed to be by the people for the people (notionally at least). It's credulous in the extreme to believe that an election where there's one name you can choose is in any way democratic.

Finally with those standards of not allowing "opposition" I contend that Donald Trump wasn't democratically elected either, as his opponent was the epitome of someone you shouldn't vote for.


Regardless of Hillary's likability or otherwise in my opinion, I have no doubt that she was entirely qualified and capable of fulfilling the office of president, stating otherwise is using your own political opinions to justify drawing a false equivalence between the Syrian and American elections. Which is weird because if you want to criticise the US system the electoral college is a way better way to do that.

Democracy refers to the rule of the people, the Syrian people in those prior two elections (not including the one during the civil war but that one had multiple candidates) were presented a candidate and they chose whether or not to accept him as their leader. That is a form of democracy, perhaps not the one you are familiar with but democracy nonetheless. They could have chose to reject him and be presented with another candidate yet over the sheer majority (and not simply above 50%, more like above 90%) of voters that turned up accepted him.

And if we are just going to dismiss turnout of the population by saying "ohhh, must be fabricated" then there is really no point in discussing it much further, because then it isn't looking at statistics and simply making speculations. Drawing equivalencies to Syria and North Korea are also invalid in my opinion considering the differences in how both countries function, also due to the fact that North Korea is isolated and who knows what's going on there.

As for the comparison to America that was mainly a joke (I was responding to a Hungarian, who actually had quite an interesting election recently too), Hillary Clinton isn't the daughter of Satan and obviously I'm sure many of our American members voted for her (I don't like her much at all though). But regardless in those elections only what? 50%ish of people voted at all and both candidates were fairly disliked all around. For me that is not representative of the people, I come from a place where everyone has to vote by law so this whole optional voting thing makes me scratch my head.

I understand many wouldn't agree with what I'm saying, but I'm going to make sure I say it regardless just in case so that it's on record. So that if someone does feel similar things (unlikely) they would not feel alone and hopefully not be afraid to voice them.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Anglerphobe » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:30 pm

I'm starting to worry that you might be a Russian troll.

Seriously, though, you know the community here. We aren't going to seriously entertain this kind of proposition without seeing some substantial basis for it. There will be no discussion if there is nothing to be discussed. Step up and show your work if you really want to have it out.

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Over here, I can't help but feel that the west has been cornered into a facile action. They can't very well stand aside dick in hand in response to such a wmd attack on civilians, and nor can they commit to deeper involvement and attempt to shift the conflict in favourable direction. That is largely because none of the possible directions really is favourable. Hence, they launch some rockets and drop some bombs. This is little more than diplomatic bombast, in the end. Sending the message: "If you gas civilians we'll blow up some of your shit" is the intent, over any decisive strategic effect.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby DoglovingJim » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:47 pm

Anglerphobe wrote:I'm starting to worry that you might be a Russian troll.

Seriously, though, you know the community here. We aren't going to seriously entertain this kind of proposition without seeing some substantial basis for it. There will be no discussion if there is nothing to be discussed. Step up and show your work if you really want to have it out.


The fact that opposing views can now be dismissed as being a "Russian troll" is what worries me, like how many years I've been here? 2-3 years (plus several more in Cracked) some KGB agent called me all the way from Australia and said "comrade you are now activated, commence operation support Assad on TCS"? Is that what you are worried about? Of course not.

I am an individual and I have my own thoughts and opinions. The fact that now you are trying to give me the burden of proof shows how crazy this is becoming. Prove that the elections were not rigged? Prove that the Syrian Government is not gassing their own people enabling foreign nations to now attack them even though they were nearing victory?

If someone says that the elections were fabricated, the burden of proof is on them. That is how a debate works. If someone says the Syrian Government would gas their own people despite victory being at hand, the burden of proof is on them. I do not believe in either, I do not accept claims by the American Government. If you want me to discuss the potential benefits that the American Government has by getting rid of the Assad government then I'd be glad to but don't tell me to prove a negative.

I understand what our community is like, I feel we have had several cases in which our forum risked becoming a bubble of ideologies and that's partly why I am urged to present my own skepticism regarding the civil war here. To dismiss me as a Russian troll because I remain skeptical in this matter is avoiding the fact that the burden of proof lies not with me.

If I would be dismissed as a Russian Troll for being skeptical of notions of fabricated elections then I might as well say that I'm an atheist stuck in a room with Islamic fundamentalists who are telling me that I need to prove Allah doesn't exist.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Anglerphobe » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:03 pm

Burdening you with the proof of your own assertions is not at all unreasonable. You called it a false flag without providing any basis for that claim. I would rather not fall into further deflective arguments about the definition of democracy or the legitimacy of Syria's elections, either. We are actually free to ignore the legitimacy or illegitimacy of Assad's regime entirely, as it is only used as an emotive accusation against the west and is utterly irrelevant to the claim you're making. If you're sure of your own reasoning, you should be confident that it can withstand a challenge.


To be clear, the Russian troll line was facetious, but I have seen precisely this view espoused by anonymous throwaway accounts who use only weirdly phrased English elsewhere on the internet while this has been going on. I don't think you are one, but you and the Russian trolls happen to be making the same argument.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby blehblah » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:15 pm

If I'm not mistaken, the whole civil war thing in Syria began because there was a popular uprising against Assad.

Here is the timeline, according to NBC:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ar ... ct-n865961

Dec. 18, 2010: Revolution in Tunisia sparks an "Arab Spring" of popular revolt against governments across the Middle East and North Africa. Syria's protests begin in March of the next year, when demonstrators, angry over the arrest of schoolchildren who had painted anti-government graffiti, take to the streets. They are ultimately quelled by the army of President Bashar al-Assad.


Assad took-over from his father, who ruled Syria from 1971-2000. The father-son duo has ruled Syria for a long, long, time. I don't know that Syria was anywhere near as terrible as a place like North Korea before the Arab Spring, but it's clear the Assad's have used many methods to maintain control. When the Arab Spring protests began to look like a real threat to his power, Assad reacted as dictators tend to do.

It has, and still is, a confusing situation. There are many groups, certainly some of them quite extreme (like ISIS) involved. Russia has used that to paint their actions of propping-up Assad as a fight against radical terrorism, rather than a play to develop influence (and put Assad in their pocket).

Had Assad been forcefully removed, it's unknowable what would have happened. It was leaning that way before Russia really stepped-in. It certainly could have ended-up a lot like Libya. The better outcome would have been for Assad to negotiate a transition, but he would have likely ended-up exiled, or worse, so I don't think that was ever a real option. It could have all still gone to shit after, but would have stood a better chance.

There isn't a lot the West can do. Economic sanctions against Russia need to continue. Diplomatic intervention also needs to continue, but unfortunately, the US State Department is a mess. Military options are limited since Russia forms a backstop.

Russia obviously has no problem with Assad using any means at his disposal to stay in power. This is all after Russia managed to keep the US from escalating intervention by pinky-swearing they'd like totally make sure Assad didn't have chemical and biological weapons. After Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the US had little appetite to expand intervention, and so the deal was struck.

While Russia wants to support Assad, they don't have money and military to wipe-out Assad's opponents, so they support Assad in doing whatever it takes. They also don't have a pesky press gallery criticizing their support of someone with Assad's methods. Indeed, their take on the chemical attacks is either they didn't happen, or someone else did it. Russia isn't shy about outright denial of what is plainly true (like a Russian who spied for the West being attacked with chemical weapons in the UK). As the saying goes, don't believe anything until the Kremlin denies it.

Here is an article about the investigations into chemical attacks in Syria:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/ ... ttack-site

It's an interesting read.

While I don't believe everything that comes out of the US government (especially from the mouth of the guy in charge), my default position on the Russian government is if they are talking about something, they are probably lying. Whether it's a chemical attack in Syria or the UK (twice; good-old Polonium-210), or passenger jets falling from the sky above Ukraine, Putin's Russia has a habit of being less than truthful.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Aquila89 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:24 pm

DoglovingJim wrote: If someone says the Syrian Government would gas their own people despite victory being at hand, the burden of proof is on them.


They wouldn't use gas because victory is at hand? You know, that's what some opponents of intervention said after the chemical attack a year ago. And that's what they said after the 2013 chemical attack. Victory had been at hand for quite some time now.

Again, I'm not supporting removing Assad, but I'm not so convinced by this argument anymore. I'm against Western intervention not because I think Assad wouldn't use chemical weapons. I'm against it because I think that chemical weapons aren't really all that worse than conventional ones, and that Assad's removal would make the situation in Syria worse.
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Last edited by Aquila89 on Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby DoglovingJim » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:25 pm

Anglerphobe wrote:Burdening you with the proof of your own assertions is not at all unreasonable. You called it a false flag without providing any basis for that claim. I would rather not fall into further deflective arguments about the definition of democracy or the legitimacy of Syria's elections, either. We are actually free to ignore the legitimacy or illegitimacy of Assad's regime entirely, as it is only used as an emotive accusation against the west and is utterly irrelevant to the claim you're making. If you're sure of your own reasoning, you should be confident that it can withstand a challenge.


To be clear, the Russian troll line was facetious, but I have seen precisely this view espoused by anonymous throwaway accounts who use only weirdly phrased English elsewhere on the internet while this has been going on. I don't think you are one, but you and the Russian trolls happen to be making the same argument.


I claim it is a false flag as I am not convinced that the Syrian Government gassed their own people, as I am not convinced (because nobody [Both America and Russia vetoed any attempts at investigating] has provided any proof on the matter) then the subsequent missile strikes by America and friends were based on deception and therefore false flag attacks.

And my original claims that America used this as an excuse to interfere with another democratic country in the Middle East makes the elections and whether or not they were fabricated quite important. As America then would literally be striking and calling for the removal of an democratically elected president which is something that bothers me the most. I do not like foreign nations removing democratically elected presidents, and my notions of democracy make me view Assad as elected democratically (just not in the same form as the West).

Now the main basis one could disagree with me on this regard is on how they define democracy (believing it requires multiple candidates) to which I counter by stating that there are many forms of democracy. Or if the elections were fabricated (in which case the burden of proof is on them). Or heck, with how one defines a false flag attack (if it can apply if I'm simply not convinced with statements made [since no evidence was provided] and therefore view their missile strikes as motivated by deception [I don't think America gives a damn about Syrians]. Or if you are trying to tell me that because I believe it's a false flag you are thinking "well find the real culprit then" as I sit in my armchair in a cold room halfway across the world).

What are you trying to make me argue?
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Anglerphobe » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:10 pm

I thought I was pretty clear about not wanting deflective arguments about the definitions of words (which, for the record, are defined in terms of international law) pertaining to irrelevant parts of the original claim.

Now. As far as I can tell, we've established that your actual assertion is that the Syrian government is not responsible for the chemical attack in Douma (on grounds of insufficient evidence for this) and that the attack is therefore part of a false flag intended to justify western intervention against Assad. I am assuming from this that you believe the west intends to remove Assad from power.
There is a macropodine leap of logic in that argument. You are dismissing Assad's involvement on a lack of compelling evidence, and assuming the west's involvement on entirely speculative evidence. Correct me if I have that wrong, by the way. It's actually not entirely clear from your post.

As for what I'm trying to get you to argue; I want your reasoning. Without it, I can only assume what points make up the basis of your argument. Why does the evidence suggest to you that Syria is not responsible for the attack and/or that the west is?
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Marcuse » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:14 pm

That is a form of democracy, perhaps not the one you are familiar with but democracy nonetheless. They could have chose to reject him and be presented with another candidate yet over the sheer majority (and not simply above 50%, more like above 90%) of voters that turned up accepted him.


As someone who studied this as undergraduate level and received a degree in the subject, no it is not democracy. I'm really confused as to what you think would have happened had Assad not received enough of the vote, never mind the fact that being the only candidate means any vote would mean he won. In fact, as Bleh pointed out, we saw what would happen: he unleashes his military on his own people and annihilates his own cities in order to retain his power. If that's your idea of a democratic leader then I think your interpretation of democracy is fatally incorrect.

And my original claims that America used this as an excuse to interfere with another democratic country in the Middle East makes the elections and whether or not they were fabricated quite important.


Except that the US and other countries (don't forget that Britain and France have joined this strike, and Canada and NATO have expressed official support) have had a couple of opportunities to do something like this already. There would really be no need to even fabricate a reason; Syria is riddled with Islamists, led by a maniac who regardless of your opinion on chemical weapons has undisputably besieged and killed hundreds of his own citizens and is backed by Russia and Iran who're looking to develop a sphere of Shia influence from Tehran to Damascus. If you think they fabricated the reason, why would they do it now instead of in about 2015 when this became an issue.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby DoglovingJim » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:27 pm

Anglerphobe wrote:I thought I was pretty clear about not wanting deflective arguments about the definitions of words (which, for the record, are defined in terms of international law) pertaining to irrelevant parts of the original claim.

Now. As far as I can tell, we've established that your actual assertion is that the Syrian government is not responsible for the chemical attack in Douma (on grounds of insufficient evidence for this) and that the attack is therefore part of a false flag intended to justify western intervention against Assad. I am assuming from this that you believe the west intends to remove Assad from power.
There is a macropodine leap of logic in that argument. You are dismissing Assad's involvement on a lack of compelling evidence, and assuming the west's involvement on entirely speculative evidence. Correct me if I have that wrong, by the way. It's actually not entirely clear from your post.

As for what I'm trying to get you to argue; I want your reasoning. Without it, I can only assume what points make up the basis of your argument. Why does the evidence suggest to you that Syria is not responsible for the attack and/or that the west is?

The lack of evidence suggests to me that the Syrian Government is no more likely to be responsible for the attack than you or I are. Until evidence is provided at best they are merely a suspect, a suspect that America decided to attack.

Like I was reading an article just before and I saw this.
The U.S., Britain and France said they launched Saturday's strike to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for a suspected chemical attack against civilians in the town of Douma outside Damascus.

For a suspected chemical attack... For a 'suspected attack' they decided to strike. Doesn't anyone see what's wrong with this? Now anyone with a degree of knowledge in law knows the phrase "innocent until proven guilty" and that is something I try to live by, attacking a suspect would never fly in local policing so why should it here?

And yes, I do believe the West wants to remove Assad from power and throughout this civil war those in positions of power have been pretty damn vocal on that point. A country would not support rebels, providing fund and training if they didn't want there to be a transition in government. I didn't think I'd need to provide examples of those in the West stressing that Assad should be removed but if you want just say the words and I'll get you some.


Wait hold on a second, are you implying that I'm saying the West is directly involved in the alleged chemical attack? Just want it to be known that I said no such thing, unless it is proven otherwise. No I'm stating that the subsequent missile strikes are a false flag on the basis that the West is using it as an excuse to intervene in Syria based on inconclusive evidence.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________


As for Marcuse, funding militia's and little strikes which the West can attempt to justify is one thing but open ended war between America and the Syrian Government would bring a lot of other parties into the fold.

I'm really confused as to what you think would have happened had Assad not received enough of the vote, never mind the fact that being the only candidate means any vote would mean he won.

It doesn't seem to work like that in regards to the Syrian constitution, he needs over 51% of the vote for the referendum to be successful. Did you study specifically the Syrian elective process for your undergraduate or are you just throwing that in there to back up your personal opinion that if everyone voted no then he would have blown up his own city?
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Anglerphobe » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:51 pm

A false flag is a covert act intended to deceive by misstating the identity of the actor. The classic example is a pirate or privateer flying a friendly or neutral flag to get a cheap shot at a target, and sow distrust between enemy ships. Thank you for clarifying, but you were using the term inappropriately.

As for the claim, personally disagree that evidence is insufficient to blame Assad's forces. The attack is well within the regime's typical behaviour towards its domestic enemies, was targeted at enemies of the government in an area the government is actively attacking, and used a weapon the Syrian government is known to possess. The OPCW and UN have jointly concluded that Syria's government has orchestrated chemical attacks throughout the civil war, including use of the agents and delivery system apparently used in the Douma attack according to witnesses at the site and the video that has emerged.
The OPCW is due to investigate the site of the attack soon, and I do not expect they are likely to challenge the conclusion of western countries as to where responsibility for the attack lies. Syria's own rebuttal of the claims has been pretty unconvincing in itself, too. Variously, they have denied any chemical attack happened, or pointed to entities like rebel groups not known to have the capacity to carry out such an attack as the responsible parties.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Crimson847 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:55 pm

A friend of mine made the false flag argument a few days ago, contending that this attack was engineered to be the warmongers' excuse for us to occupy Syria like we did Iraq and Afghanistan. After all, ISIS is more or less defeated, Trump was rumored to be about to withdraw US forces from Syria, and after last year Assad knows that he can't get away with chemical attacks anymore without a military response. So where's his incentive to do this now, when he's about to win and he knows America will come crashing down on him if he gasses his own civilians again?

That was then, but I don't see how the idea holds up after last night. If someone else engineered the attack and the blame was pinned on Assad, what was the motive? The US and its allies didn't invade, so it wasn't to provide a pretext for a new war as my friend thought.

You say you're not arguing that West is or might be responsible for the attack, Jim, but you also decline to attribute responsibility to Assad. Who else, then, had the motive and opportunity to commit a chemical attack against civilians in Syria? It's plausible a terrorist group could have gotten ahold of sarin gas (the Aum Shinrikyo cult managed), but why would they not claim responsibility for such a stunning coup if that were so?
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby SandTea » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:01 pm

I'm more inclined to trust the conclusions of the us, uk, un, probably other "u" names (uganda?), and the rest of the alliance than assad and putin. Definitely not going to say that... well, if I don't think something is even that therefore I think it's odd.

From the "suspected" article-
Assad's government has denied responsibility, but the U.S., France and Britain say they have proof.


It's not completely unreasonable, although perhaps misguided, for a person who does not know of the evidence to take a neutral "I don't know who" stance but that 'who' has to include everybody, not just the two nations who repeatedly do poison their dissenting citizens. Oops, my bias was showing :oops:

If Angler is correct about the misuse of "false flag" than I'm arguing a ghost position so, sorry if that is the case. I just wanted to point out that a serial human rights abuser being accused of abusing human rights makes a bit more sense for lowly, lazy me than another country looking for an excuse to bomb syria some more. We already have reason enough and the political backing to send some icbms their way. We didn't need to chlorinate the air to do so. If the tail is wagging the dog, I'd like something more than russias word on the matter.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Anglerphobe » Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:02 am

I can't get over the fact that Britain's COBRA defence committee is deploying stormshadow missiles in Syria.

Technically, COBRA is a nickname but we can happily ignore that.

And to clarify on false flags, what I thought DLJ was suggesting (ie, that Britain/whoever fabricated a chemical attack as a false flag deception to create apparent pretext to "retribution" against Assad and Russia) really is a position I've seen advocated by people I suspect to be Russian trolls elsewhere on the internet. As DLJ has explicitly denied this, it's now moot as far as this discussion is concerned.
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"Tusser, they tell me, when thou wert alive,
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