All posts by E Pearl

Daily Digest: Bernie Pearl: Two Concerts Coming Up!

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“I am very impressed with this album …this is a GREAT body of work!” Chuck Purcell WDPS FM 89.5 Dayton.Ohio ———————————————————— …an exceptional fascinating blues man! ” “Bernie Pearl’s new solo album “Take Your Time” is a soulful and virtuos mix of Delta fingerpicking and slide guitar, that will touch your heart lyrically and emotionally. Singer and guitarist Bernie Pearl is not a confined traditionalist or retro musician, but his personality and his melodious interpretations makes of him an exceptional fascinating blues man! ” Eric Schuurmans, Rootstime Magazine, Belgium 2/27/14 Translated from Flemish by the writer. See the complete article: www.rootstime.be ———————————————————— Dear Friends: Great comments and reviews of “Take Your Time” keep coming in. Saturday, March 15, we will be celebrating its release in our annual concert at Boulevard Music in Culver City. What’s special about this one is that it will feature material from our new release, “Take Your Time”, and will be joined for several tunes by drummer Albert Trepagnier, Jr. who played such a key role on these recordings. In addition, each patron will receive a mountable fine art poster by artist EK Waller, honoring “Take Your Time”. Complementary, of course. Bassist Mike Barry and I produced the tracks and he will be on hand to play them with me, plus many other blues favorites. Boulevard Music is an ideal venue for fans to enjoy great music in an intimate setting without distractions. Admission is $20. Doors open at 7:30, show at 8:00. 4316 Sepulveda Blvd., at Culver.

(310) 398-2583 www.boulevardmusic.com Friday, March 21 we will return to San Pedro’s Alva’s Music to celebrate the new CD. Mike, Al, saxophonist Bobby Spencer, and myself will be on hand to play the blues for you. Each patron will be offered an EK Waller poster on the house. In Alva’s beautiful small amphitheater, we perform on a sunken dance floor, with great sound and lightning. People are invited to bring in their own picnic and beverages of choice. Alva’s is a San Pedro treasure that locals patronize in great numbers. Our concert in the 100-seater last year sold out in advance. Buy in advance and get there early for best seating. $20 admission. Doors open at 7:30, show at 8:00. 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro 90732 Info: (310) 833-3281 Tickets: 1-800-403-3447 http://www.alvasshowroom.com (http://www.alvasshowroom.com/) www.facebook.com/events/1400076793590944 “Bernie Pearl is one of Blues Moon Radio’s treasured discoveries. Thank you for gracing us with a copy of “Take Your Time”… your selections are wonderful, you treat the music with such respect and your artistry is at once delicate and powerful. You infuse the recording with your personal touch – all while remaining true to the art form. Clair DeLune, Host, Blues Moon Radio (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blues-Moon-Radio/122167914529584) WUSC 90.5 fm Columbia, So Carolina

Reminder! Celebrate the Art of Resistance with the Center for Political Graphics, Sunday October 20!

** The Center for the Study of Political Graphics is excited to invite you to Celebrate the Art of Resistance at our 2013 Party Auction

– Please join us as we recognize these outstanding honorees: Activists/artists Cheri Gaulke and Sue Maberry will receive the Art is a Hammer Award.

Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it. -Vladimir Mayakovsky

Acclaimed teen poetry troupe Get Lit Players and their founder Diane Luby Lane will receive the Historian of the Lions Award.

Until the lions have their historians, tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter. -African Proverb

Activist Attorneys Sonia Mercado and Sam Paz will receive the Culture of Liberation Award.

Culture contains the seed of opposition becoming the flower of liberation. -Amílcar Cabral

Sunday, October 20, 3PM 3pm: Reception and Silent Auction

4:30pm: Awards Program and performance by the Get Lit Players
Professional Musicians Union Local 47 817 Vine Street Hollywood, LA 90038

There will be an elegant reception, a dynamic poster presentation, and a unique auction of vintage posters and original artworks. The formal program will begin at 4:30 pm and will include award presentations and a performance by the Get Lit Players.

Cheri Gaulke and Sue Maberry met at the Woman’s Building, a feminist art center, in 1976. Their work combines art, activism and education. In 1981, they co-founded the anti-nuclear performance group Sisters Of Survival. Cheri is Head of Visual Arts at Harvard-Westlake School and Sue is Director of the Library at Otis College of Art and Design.

Get Lit Players, founded by Diane Luby Lane, is an award-winning classic and spoken word teen poetry troupe comprised of teenagers from throughout Los Angeles County. The Get Lit Players perform for over 10,000 of their peers each year, inspiring them to read, write and participate in the arts and be leaders in their communities.

Diane’s literacy and poetry system is being taught at over 40 schools throughout Southern California and expanding.

Sonia Mercado and Sam Paz are activist civil rights attorneys with a long and successful history challenging police misconduct and supporting the constitutional rights of prisoners. Their work supporting the rights of the incarcerated to medical care, to be free from violence and brutality and to end illegal police spying against community and political organizations have led to important reforms.

http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=3d5430bc7e&e=4f9ed2a7d1 The Daily Digest Celebrate the Art of Resistance with the Center for Political Graphics, Sunday October 20! Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser (http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=ba30f99b1c&e=5617d3d307) . http://edpearl-ashgrove.us7.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=f319abc595&e=5617d3d307

The Ash Grove was … The Ash Grove IS!

The Ash Grove was … The Ash Grove IS! ** Save the Date! October 12, 2013, luncheon honoring The Ash Grove and Ed Pearl with a “Best of the West” award by the FAR-West Folk Music Association!

We hope to see many of you when we get together at the 10th Anniversary FAR-West Festival and Conference Hyatt Regency Hotel, Irvine, CA, October 10 – 13, 2013.

Visit http://www.far-west.org/conference2013.html, for more information on the event at a luncheon on Saturday, October 12. Now … A little more about the Ash Grove past and present, read on below for excerpts from a variety of public sources.

The Ash Grove and Ed Pearl with a “Best of the West” award by the FAR-West Folk Music Association!
We hope to see many of you when we get together at the 10th Anniversary FAR-West Festival and Conference Hyatt Regency Hotel, Irvine, CA, October 10 – 13, 2013. Visit http://www.far-west.org/conference2013.html, for more information on the event. at a luncheon on Saturday, October 12.

Now … A little more about the Ash Grove past and present, read on below for excerpts from a variety of public sources …

Ash Grove (music club)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Ash Grove was a folk music club located at 8162 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, founded in 1958 by Ed Pearl and named after the Welsh folk song, “The Ash Grove.”

In its short fifteen years, the Ash Grove forever altered the music scene in Los Angeles and helped many artists find a West Coast audience. Bob Dylan recalled that, “I’d seen posters of folk shows at the Ash Grove and used to dream about playing there….” He did.

The club was a locus of interaction between older folk and blues legends, such as Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Earl Hooker and Muddy Waters, and young artists that produced the ‘Sixties music revolution. Among those Pearl brought to the Ash Grove were Doc Watson, Pete Seeger, June Carter, Johnny Cash, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, Johnny Otis, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Ian and Sylvia, Kathy and Carol, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, New Lost City Ramblers, The Weavers, The Greenbriar Boys, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Luke “Long Gone” Miles, Barbara Dane, Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie, Mance Lipscomb, Guy and Candie Carawan, John Jacob Niles, Bukka White, Howlin’ Wolf, Johnny Shines, John Fahey, Willie Dixon, Lonnie Mack and Kris Kristofferson.

About Ed … ED PEARL had his first taste of producing folk music concerts as a student at UCLA in 1954 when he helped produce a Pete Seeger concert on campus. An avid guitar player, he studied with Bess Lomax Hawes — the daughter of John and sister of Alan Lomax, America’s greatest music collectors. Bess was the female member of the “Almanac Singers”, with Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Butch Hawes, et al. After various career jaunts, as a guitar teacher, bus driver, messenger, a gun shill at the LA County Fair, a playground director and a mathematics analyst at Edwards Air Force Base, in 1957, he and Kate Hughes began the process that led to the Ash Grove. Together, they produced their first, real concert – a sold-out flamenco extravaganza and then in the next months, two more sold-out concerts, visited four coffeehouses and then they were asked to book two nightclubs. Envisioning a different atmosphere, with financing from fellow music-lover and Standard Brands Paints VP Sid Greenberg, Ed embarked on a search for a locale for a club of his own. With friends and relatives contributing funds and cheap labor, the lease was signed and the site was converted into the Ash Grove.

The Ash Grove opened on Friday, July 11th, 1958 and for the next 15 years hundreds of notable artists, reflecting a variety of folk styles, blues, bluegrass, gospel and traditional work songs, appeared on the its stage. … Ed produced shows at the Ash Grove until November 1973, when the disaster of the third arson fire in four years closed the club. Next Ed raised funds for LA’s People’s College of Law, on whose behalf, he organized a series of very successful concerts along the West Coast, from Seattle to San Diego, with Phil Ochs, Holly Near and Mimi Farina, among others.

For five years, on behalf of LAGLAS (the Los Angeles Group for Latin America Society) Ed produced concerts of Chilean groups Quilapayun, Inti-Ilimani, Los Parra and others, in addition to Mercedez Sosa of Mexico, Daniel Viglietti of Uruguay, Roy Brown of Puerto Rico and several other superb, progressive musicians.

Other notable productions include; 1976 a People’s Bi-Centennial, The Venice/SPARC show of 1980, The 1985 KPFK Winter-fest, Art Against Apartheid Show of 1987-8, The 1984 LA Olympics Reception, the PCL shows-Gil Scott-Heron, et al, The Ash Grove Wiltern 30th Anniversary show of 1988, with David Crosby and the Byrds, Willie Dixon, et al; the final Mime Troupe show; and The Ash Grove on the Santa Monica Pier. In 2008, “The Ash Grove 50th Anniversary” was celebrated at UCLA!

Ash Grove alumni who shared their appreciation for the anniversary celebration included Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal, along with the likes of John Hammond, Barbara Dane, Bernie Pearl, The Freedom Singers, Michelle Shocked and numerous others. But the real star was the memory of a place in which so much music, so many ideas, and so many attitudes had the opportunity to come to full fruition. …

In a way, the Ash Grove was a victim of its own success, helping develop Los Angeles audiences for younger musicians who then needed larger venues for their concerts. But none of the city’s new clubs consistently emphasized the roots music that Pearl put at the heart of the Ash Grove’s line up.

After the Ash Grove closed in 1973, LA Times music critic Robert Hilburn wrote its obituary, which included an anecdote about the club’s influence on the Rolling Stones: “On his way out of the Ash Grove one night, Mick Jagger, a frequent visitor to the club, shook Pearl’s hand in gratitude. He simply wanted to thank Pearl for all the entertainment – and no doubt musical education – the club had given him.” And, Hilburn concluded, “The Ash Grove’s contribution to this city’s musical heritage was invaluable.”[5]

Legacy
Some 3,000 hours of recorded live performances at the Ash Grove have survived. In 2007 Aiyana Elliott, who made an award-winning 2000 documentary about the life of her father, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, began work on a film exploring the history of the Ash Grove. A three-day concert and workshop series commemorating the Ash Grove’s fiftieth anniversary was held April 18–20, 2008, at UCLA.[4] Many recordings from the Ash Grove are currently available from Wolfgang’s Vault (www.wolfgangsvault.com).

Continuing the Legacy …
Getting organized for the 2008 Fiftieth Anniversary, a group of Ash Grove and Ed Pearl “fans” rekindled the spirit of the Ash Grove. The Ash Grove Foundation has been active since then – putting on small festivals and concerts, often for causes, and always inviting the diverse Los Angeles community to enjoy the music and poetry of our communities.

The Ash Grove Foundation – Mission Statement
The Ash Grove Foundation is a community-based cultural arts organization that produces and promotes traditional, contemporary, and ground-breaking folk music from diverse cultures to spark social understanding and activism.
We work closely with local communities, artists and activists to share traditional art forms and foster opportunities for harmony, understanding and co-operation, in order to promote healthy communities, creative expression, communication and compassion.
The Ash Grove is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation based in Southern California and operating globally – on the ground, on-air and via the Internet. For more information, see:www.ashgrovemusic.com

Daily Digest: William Boardman: Jumping the Shark Over Syria

———————————————————— http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=9109cdfaf9&e=4f9ed2a7d1 Ed’s Daily Digest William Boardman: Jumping the Shark Over Syria http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/289-134/19142-jumping-the-shark-over-syria ** Jumping the Shark Over Syria ———————————————————— By William Boardman, Reader Supported News 29 August 13 President Obama is apparently wobbling on the edge of committing an impeachable offense, specifically a military attack on Syria without the authorization of Congress, without the approval of the United Nations Security Council, and without any imminent threat to the United States. The president finds himself pressured on one side by his own rookie mistake on August 20, 2012, when he said at a press conference, in answer to a question about the civil war in Syria, “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.” To judge from the wording of his answer, the president seems to have been trying to not box himself in. He not only failed then, he has failed since to roll back political and media baiting over his supposed “red line,” giving it more symbolic authority each time. Now he’s caught in his own trap. After several real or apparent earlier uses of some chemical weapons by somebody in Syria, the most recent alleged chemical weapons attack has some Washington officials reacting hysterically on the basis of limited uncertain information that, they argue, is sufficient basis for the United States to launch a limited but certain military attack on somebody. Gas Over Syria Mostly Smoke Blown by Politicians With Hidden Agendas With his secretary of state ranting in high-pitched tones about this “moral obscenity” and that “cowardly crime” committed by the Assad regime, the president seems weak and vacillating. The lawyer who is president might remind the lawyer who is secretary of state that evidence usually precedes judgment, not only in court but also in the process of mature statecraft. Carrying on as if he thought he was the real president, Secretary of State John Kerry blathers with a fatuous pomposity worthy of a caricature head of state, as he jingoes up a war with demagoguery about the would-be enemy: “Our sense of basic humanity is offended, not only by this cowardly crime but also by the cynical attempt to cover it up. What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons, is a moral obscenity. By any standards, it is inexcusable, and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable.” The irony is overwhelming: Kerry has accurately described the American use of depleted Uranium weapons that continue to kill men, women, and children every day in Iraq. Depleted Uranium is a chemical, a deadly toxic heavy metal with the added benefit of also being radioactive for billions of years. The chemical weapon apparently used in Syria kills quickly, and using it is a widely-recognized war crime. Not so widely recognized, but just as much a war crime, using DU WMDs not only kills some victims quickly, but goes on killing others slowly, for generations. Why Is Washington So Hot for War Before the Facts Are Known? Kerry was once perceived as a moral man, protesting another immoral American war, in Vietnam. But that was a long time ago. Although he opposed the 1991 Gulf War, he raised no outcry against the criminal use of DU WMDs that mercilessly slaughtered Iraqis and infected the country with toxic air, water, and dust. By 2003, Kerry swallowed whole the lies that supported the Bush administration’s lust for war in Iraq. Kerry’s rhetoric then was like his rhetoric now: “Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator; leading an oppressive regime he presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real.” He was fatally wrong then. Just as wrong in 2003 was Senator John McCain, another enthusiastic booster of the Bush administration’s lying the country into war. Now the Arizona Republican is not only eager for America to take unilateral military action, he’s busy blaming the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, for not being an equally avid warmonger. The Senator Takes Offense at a General’s Prudence McCain is mad at Gen. Dempsey for his answer to an inquiry from New York congressman Eliot Engel, a Democrat, who wondered what might be the best course to pursue in Syria. The general’s rational and careful response on August 19 said, in part: We can destroy the Syrian Air Force. The loss of Assad’s Air Force would negate his ability to attack opposition forces from the air, but it would also escalate and potentially further commit the United States to the conflict. Stated another way, it would not be militarily decisive, but it would commit us decisively to the conflict. In a variety of ways, the use of US military force can change the military balance, but it cannot resolve the underlying and historic ethnic, religious, and tribal issues that are fueling this conflict. Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides. It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favor. Today, they are not…. I believe we can assist in the humanitarian crisis on a far more significant scale. We could, if asked to do so, significantly increase our effort to develop a moderate opposition. Doing so, in combination with expanded capacity-building efforts with regional partners and a significant investment in the development of a moderate Syrian opposition, represents the best framework for an effective U.S. strategy toward Syria going forward. Outraged by this almost non-military posture, McCain claimed that it was Gen. Dempsey’s fault that Syria used chemical weapons. According to McCain, “General Dempsey has to be embarrassed,” because his letter opened the door to chemical weapons: Dempsey made an incredible illogical statement and then a few days later we saw a massive use of chemical weapons. I’m sure that Bashar al-Assad paid attention to the top military man in America’s words that we were not going to get involved…. I would expect Assad to continue to use these weapons. And other Assads around the world will now not hesitate to use these weapons and sooner or later they may be used against Americans. Senator McCain Embraces the Fallacy of post hoc ergo propeter hoc So McCain is also blaming the general for future war crimes committed by others, using his own illogical argument. McCain argues that the letter that preceded the use of chemical weapons therefore caused the use of chemical weapons – an elementary logical fallacy. But it’s also obviously nonsense, since chemical weapons were used in Syria before the letter as well. And McCain has yet to object to his country’s 20 years of using depleted Uranium weapons on mostly defenseless targets. Not to be left off the public hysteria bandwagon, Vice President Joe Biden, who offered no more evidentiary support for his claims than any of the other manly blitherers, told a Texas audience: There is no doubt who was responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria – the Syrian regime – for we know that the Syrian regime are the only ones who have the weapons, have used chemical weapons multiple times in the past, have the means of delivering those weapons, have been determined to wipe out exactly the places that were attacked by chemical weapons. Little of the Biden riff is demonstrably true, but then he added an outright lie about the Syrian government, accusing it of not cooperating with UN inspectors: “… the government has repeatedly shelled the sites of the attack and blocked the investigation for five days.” The truth is that the UN delivered its inspection request on Saturday, August 24. The Syrian government approved the request on Sunday. The inspection team went to work on Monday. “Those who use chemical weapons against defenseless men, women and children should and must be held accountable,” Biden told his Houston audience, without mentioning American use of DU WMDs. At the United Nations, Calmer, More Rational Heads Prevail At the United Nations, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon maintained a more diplomatic composure. In a statement about the UN investigation headed by Under-Secretary General Angela Kane, he said: The Secretary-General now calls for the mission, presently in Damascus, to be granted permission and access to swiftly investigate the incident which occurred on the morning of 21 August. A formal request is being sent by the United Nations to the Government of Syria in this regard. He expects to receive a positive response without delay. In a second statement, regarding the use of chemical weapons as a violation of international humanitarian law, the secretary general concluded: “The Secretary-General reiterates that any use of chemical weapons by any side under any circumstances would violate international humanitarian law.” ———————————————————— William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. ============================================================ Copyright © 2013 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. Ed’s Daily Digest News We have recreated the list in a program called MailChimp that promises to stop unsubscribing you. Please let us know if you experience problems with this new format by writing to deb@edpearl-ashgrove.org. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, Ca 94606 Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp http://www.mailchimp.com/monkey-rewards/?utm_source=freemium_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=monkey_rewards&aid=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&afl=1 ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend (http://us7.forward-to-friend.com/forward?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=9109cdfaf9&e=4f9ed2a7d1) ** unsubscribe from this list (http://edpearl-ashgrove.us7.list-manage1.com/unsubscribe?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=1afea39a67&e=4f9ed2a7d1&c=9109cdfaf9) ** update subscription preferences (http://edpearl-ashgrove.us7.list-manage.com/profile?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=1afea39a67&e=4f9ed2a7d1)

Daily Digest: Avnery: POOR OBAMA. I pity him

———————————————————— http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=36b76c84f1&e=4f9ed2a7d1 Ed’s Daily Digest Avnery: POOR OBAMA. I pity him http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1377860226/ POOR OBAMA. I pity him. Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom: 31/08/13 Right at the start of his meeting with history, he made The Speech in Cairo. A great speech. An uplifting speech. An edifying speech. He talked to the educated youth of the Egyptian capital. He spoke about the virtues of democracy, the bright future awaiting a liberal, moderate Muslim world. Hosni Mubarak was not invited. The hint was that he was an obstacle to the bright new world. Perhaps the hint was taken. Perhaps the speech sowed the seed of the Arab spring. Probably Obama was not aware of the possibility that democracy, virtuous democracy, would lead to Islamist rule. He tried to reach out tentatively, tenderly, to the Muslim Brothers after they won the election. But probably at the same time, the CIA was already plotting the military takeover. So now we are exactly where we were the day before The Speech: ruthless military dictatorship. Poor Obama. NOW WE have a similar problem in Syria. The Arab Spring begat a civil war. More than a hundred thousand people have been killed already, and the number grows with every passing day. The world stood by, looking on passively. For Jews, it was a reminder of the holocaust, when, according to the lesson every boy and girl learns at school here, “the world looked on and kept silent.” Until a few days ago. Something has happened. A red line has been crossed. Poison gas has been used. Civilized mankind demands action. From whom? From the President of the United States, of course. Poor Obama. SOME TIME ago Obama made a speech, another one of Those Speeches, in which he drew a red line: no arms of mass destruction, no poison gas. Now it seems that this red line has been crossed. Poison gas has been employed. Who would do such a terrible thing? That bloody tyrant, of course. Bashar al-Assad. Who else? American public opinion, indeed public opinion throughout the West, demandeds action. Obama has spoken, so Obama must act. Otherwise he would confirm the image he has in many places. The image of a wimp, a weakling, a coward, a talker who is not a doer. This would hurt his ability to achieve anything even in matters far removed from Damascus – the economy, health care, the climate. The man has indeed talked himself into a corner. The need to act has become paramount. A politician’s nightmare. Poor Obama. HOWEVER, SEVERAL questions raise their heads. First of all, who says that Assad released the gas? Pure logic seems to advise against this conclusion. When it happened, a group of UN experts, no nincompoops they, were about to investigate the suspicions of chemical warfare on the ground. Why would a dictator in his right mind provide them with proof of his malfeasance? Even if he thought that the evidence could be eradicated in time, he could not be sure. Sophisticated equipment could tell. Secondly, what could chemical weapons achieve that ordinary weapons could not? What strategic or even tactical advantage do they offer, that could not be provided by other means? The argument to disprove this logic is that Assad is not logical, not normal, just a crazy despot living in a world of his own. But is he? Until now, his behavior has shown him to be tyrannical, cruel, devoid of scuples. But not mad. Rather calculating, cold. And he is surrounded by a group of politicians and generals who have everything to lose, and who seem a singularly cold-blooded lot. Also, lately the regime seems to winning. Why take a risk? Yet Obama must decide to attack them on what seems to be very inconclusive evidence. The same Obama who saw through the mendacious evidence produced by George Bush jr. to justify the attack on Iraq, an attack which Obama, to his great credit, objected to right from the beginning. Now he is on the other side. Poor Obama. AND WHY poison gas? What’s so special, so red-lining about it? If I am going to be killed, I don’t really care whether it is by bombs, shells, machine guns or gas. True, there is something sinister about gas. The human mind recoils from something that poisons the air we breathe. Breathing is the most elementary human necessity. But poison gas is no weapon of mass destruction. It kills like any other weapon. One cannot equate it to the atomic bombs used by America ion Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Also, it is not a decisive weapon. It did not change the course of World War I, when it was extensively used. Even the Nazis did not see any use for it in World War II – and not only because Adolf Hitler was gassed (and temporarily blinded) by poison gas in World War I. But, having drawn the line in the Syrian sand for poison gas, Obama could not ignore it. Poor Obama. BUT THE main reason for Obama’s long hesitation is of quite a different order: he is compelled to act against the real interests of the United States. Assad may be a terrible son-of-a-bitch, but he serves the US, nevertheless. For many years the Assad family has supported the status quo in the region. Israel’s Syrian border is the quietest border Israel has ever had, in spite of the fact that Israel has annexed territory that indisputably belongs to Syria. True, Assad used Hizbullah to provoke Israel from time to time, but that was not a real threat. Unlike Mubarak, Assad belongs to a minority sect. Unlike Mubarak, he has behind him a strong and well-organized political party, with an authentic ideology. The nationalist pan-Arabist Ba’ath (“resurrection”) party was founded by the Christian Michel Aflaq and his colleagues mainly as a bulwark against the Islamist ideology. Like the fall of Mubarak, the fall of Assad would most likely lead to an Islamist regime, more radical than the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The Syrian sister-party of the brothers was always more radical and more violent than the Egyptian mother-movement, (perhaps because the Syrian people are by nature of a far more aggressive disposition.) Moreover, it is in the nature of a civil war that the most extreme elements take over, because their fighters are more determined and more self-sacrificing. No amount of foreign aid will prop up the moderate, secular section of the Syrian rebels strongly enough to enable them to take over after Assad. If the Syrian state remains intact, it will be a radical Islamist state. Especially if there are free, democratic elections, as there were in Egypt. As seen from Washington DC, this would be a disaster. So we have here the curious picture of Obama driven by his own rhetoric to attack Assad, while all his own intelligence agencies work overtime to prevent a victory of the rebels. As somebody recently wrote: it is in the American interest that the civil war go on forever, without any side winning. To which practically all Israeli political and military leaders would say: Amen. So, from the US strategic viewpoint, any attack on Assad must be minimal, a mere pinprick that would not endanger the Syrian regime. As has been noted, love and politics create strange bedfellows. At the moment, a very strange assortment of powers are interested in the survival of the Assad regime: the US, Russia, Iran, Hizbullah and Israel. Yet Obama is being pushed to attack him. Poor Obama. TRYING TO understand the mindset of the CIA, I would say that from their point of view, the Egyptian solution is also the best for Syria: topple the dictator and put another dictator in his place. Military dictatorship for everybody in the Arab region. Not the solution Barack Obama would have liked to be identified with in the history books. Poor, poor Obama. ============================================================ Copyright © 2013 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. Ed’s Daily Digest News We have recreated the list in a program called MailChimp that promises to stop unsubscribing you. Please let us know if you experience problems with this new format by writing to deb@edpearl-ashgrove.org. 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Daily Digest: Ralph Nader: Labor Day is a Time to Organize

———————————————————— http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=17d3d9a117&e=4f9ed2a7d1 Ed’s Daily Digest Ralph Nader: Labor Day is a Time to Organize Ralph Nader. (photo: unknown) Ralph Nader. (photo: unknown) ** Labor Day Is a Time to Mobilize ———————————————————— By Ralph Nader, Reader Supported News 01 September 13 or far too many Americans, Labor Day is simply another day off, another store sale and another small parade. The meaning of the holiday has been dulled by both rampant commercialism and public apathy. Where is the passion for elevating the wellbeing of American workers? Shouldn’t Labor Day be a time to gather, contemplate and celebrate more just treatment of all those who toil without proper recognition or compensation? Labor Day is the ideal time to highlight the hard-fought, historic victories already enjoyed by American workers, and push for long-overdue health and safety measures and increased economic benefits for those left behind by casino capitalism. After all, it was the labor movement in the early 20th century that brought us such advances as the minimum wage, overtime pay, the five-day work week, the banning of child labor and more. The reality is that big corporations have abandoned American workers by taking jobs and industries to communist and fascist regimes abroad — regimes that oppress their workers and enforce serf-level salaries and hideous working conditions. America’s working men and women have also largely been abandoned by the corporate dominated Republican and Democrat two-party duopoly, whatever their rhetorical differences may be. The federal minimum wage has been allowed to languish far behind inflation as corporate bosses’ pay skyrockets. The gap between worker salaries and CEO pay widens, even as worker productivity rises. Corporate CEO’s in America make approximately 340 times more than that of the average worker. In 1980, by comparison, CEO pay was 42 times greater. Look to the fast food strikers around the country for inspiration. Backed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), workers in cities across America are demanding fair pay at $15 an hour and the right to unionize. Beginning in New York City and spreading to other major cities, workers are beginning to rally and speak out against their poverty wages from hugely profitable fast food chains. Willietta Dukes, in a piece for The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/29/fast-food-worker-protest-minimum-wage) , writes: Burger King says they can’t pay employees, like me, higher wages because it would force them out of business. Yet last year it made $117m[illion] in profits and its CEO took home $6.47m[illion]. It would take me 634 years to earn that much. I’ve worked in fast food for 15 years, and I can’t even afford my own rent payments. We just want fairness and to be able to provide for our families. No one who works every day should be forced to be homeless. Where are the other advocates for American workers? Now is the time to speak out and push for long-overdue action. Where is President Obama? Candidate Obama promised that he would press for a $9.50 federal minimum wage by 2011. Now, in 2013, he has settled for $9 by 2015. This is far less than what workers made in 1968, adjusted for inflation. If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would be $10.70 today. If it kept up with worker productivity in the corporate sector, it would be $22. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act into law in 1938 — which established the federal minimum wage amongst other things — it was in the face of considerable opposition and criticism from Big Business, not to mention in the midst of The Great Depression. This is the type of courageous leadership we need from the White House today. A recent piece in the Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324809004578638393310868974.html) cited an analysis by Mark M. Gray, a researcher at Georgetown University, who found that President Obama “mentions the poor in his speeches less than any other president in decades” — even Ronald Reagan mentioned the poor in his speeches and public statements about twice as frequently. What of the AFL-CIO, which represents 13 million American workers? I recently wrote a letter to its president, Richard Trumka, asking for his leadership in pushing for more attention about the plight of workers on this Labor Day. No response. The AFL-CIO has an opportunity for a major showing with rallies before the White House and Congress. Some reporters in the mainstream press have indicated they do not think the push for a higher minimum wage is serious without Mr. Trumka, President Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid exerting serious efforts. What of former President Bill Clinton? In his speech (http://stream.wsj.com/story/latest-headlines/SS-2-63399/SS-2-311323/) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, President Clinton made passing rhetorical reference to “building a modern economy of good jobs and rising incomes.” But the time for simply talking about these issues is long past. What about publicly supporting Rep. Alan Grayson’s bill in Congress (H.R. 1346) which provides for a $10.50 minimum wage to catch up with 1968, and allow $30 million workers to afford more of life’s necessities for themselves and their children? The support of Mr. Clinton might help galvanize the media and those in Congress to make this into the front burner issue it deserves to be. And, what about the leading Democratic Presidential candidates for 2016 — Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden? Why aren’t they seriously championing this important cause that is both good for the economy and for workers and their children? In an ideal world, the Sunday political shows the day before Labor Day would feature various prominent labor leaders and discuss key issues like the minimum wage, income equality, trade and more. Labor Day should be a moment for the nation to shine a light upon the rights and plights of the nation’s workers and recognize the need to reform restrictive labor laws, such as the notorious Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. After all, workers are the backbone of the economy. (See here (http://timeforaraise.org/) for facts and information on our efforts to raise the minimum wage to catch up with 1968, inflation adjusted, and find out how to get involved.) ———————————————————— Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. ============================================================ Copyright © 2013 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. Ed’s Daily Digest News We have recreated the list in a program called MailChimp that promises to stop unsubscribing you. Please let us know if you experience problems with this new format by writing to deb@edpearl-ashgrove.org. Our mailing address is: Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove 882 Cleveland St. #21 Oakland, Ca 94606 Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp http://www.mailchimp.com/monkey-rewards/?utm_source=freemium_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=monkey_rewards&aid=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&afl=1 ** follow on Twitter (Twitter Account not yet Authorized ) ** friend on Facebook (# ) ** forward to a friend (http://us7.forward-to-friend.com/forward?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=17d3d9a117&e=4f9ed2a7d1) ** unsubscribe from this list (http://edpearl-ashgrove.us7.list-manage.com/unsubscribe?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=1afea39a67&e=4f9ed2a7d1&c=17d3d9a117) ** update subscription preferences (http://edpearl-ashgrove.us7.list-manage.com/profile?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=1afea39a67&e=4f9ed2a7d1)

Daily Digest: Phyllis Bennis: As Strikes on Syria Loom, Is U.S. Ignoring a Diplomatic Track?

———————————————————— http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=2f69846f9c&e=4f9ed2a7d1 Ed’s Daily Digest Phyllis Bennis: As Strikes on Syria Loom, Is U.S. Ignoring a Diplomatic Track? http://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/28/as_strikes_on_syria_loom_is ** As Strikes on Syria Loom, Is U.S. Ignoring a Diplomatic Track That Could Prevent More Violence? ———————————————————— 00:00 30:45 No related videos found Share this video Embed code Video link Post to Facebook Post to Twitter Donate (http://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/28/as_strikes_on_syria_loom_is) Javascript is required to watch video inline on this page. You can choose another option on the listen/watch page if you prefer. download: Video (http://dncdn.dvlabs.com/ipod/dn2013-0828.mp4) Audio (http://traffic.libsyn.com/democracynow/dn2013-0828-1.mp3) Get CD/DVD (http://www.democracynow.org/gifts/dvds-cds/shows/2013/8/28#navigation) More Formats (http://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/28/stream) “We need formal diplomatic talks. We don’t just need the release of a statement saying that the United Nations will request. That’s fine to tell the public that. That’s a good thing. But that’s not the same as the formal request being handed by Angela Kane, the U.N. disarmament chief, to her counterpart in Damascus and say, “Here is the request of the United Nations.” She did that on Saturday, the request was answered positively on Sunday, and the inspectors went in on Monday. That’s hardly an extensive delay, as Secretary Kerry claimed. So, it’s really the collapse of one of the key components of Secretary Kerry’s claim of why it’s so obvious that the regime is responsible for these attacks.” Guest: Phyllis Bennis Democracy Now: August 28, 2013 NERMEEN SHAIKH: Britain is set to introduce a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing military action in Syria as the U.S. and allies gear up for expected strikes on the Assad regime. The resolution condemns the Syrian government for allegedly using chemical weapons, and authorizes, quote, “necessary measures for protecting civilians.” The resolution is being introduced as the Obama administration considers launching air strikes against Syria. The United States already has four Navy warships in the Mediterranean Sea with capacity to hit Syria with cruise missiles. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said forces are “ready” to launch strikes. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL: President Obama has asked the Defense Department to prepare options for all contingencies. We have done that. And, again, we are prepared to exercise whatever option, if he decides to employ one of those options. AMY GOODMAN: Speaking to a veterans’ group in Houston, Vice President Joe Biden said there could be no doubt as to who was responsible for deploying chemical weapons. VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: There is no doubt who was responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria—the Syrian regime—for we know that the Syrian regime are the only ones who have the weapons, have used chemical weapons multiple times in the past, have the means of delivering those weapons, have been determined to wipe out exactly the places that were attacked by chemical weapons. AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. and British push for military action against Syria is facing opposition. Russia and China are expected to veto the U.N. Security Council resolution. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, quote, “attempts at a military solution will lead only to the further destabilization,” unquote, in Syria and the region. The Arab League has also declined to back a retaliatory military strike against Syria. Earlier today, the U.N. special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said any U.S. military action would need to be approved by the U.N. Security Council. Brahimi said, quote, “International law says that military action must be taken after a decision by the Security Council.” NERMEEN SHAIKH: Meanwhile, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said a U.N. team investigating the alleged chemical attack must be given time to establish the facts about what happened last week when hundreds of civilians were killed on the outskirts of Damascus. Ban said, quote, “Give peace a chance. Give diplomacy a chance. Stop acting and start talking.” On Tuesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem categorically denied the regime used chemical weapons. FOREIGN MINISTER WALID MUALLEM: [translated] They said that the Syrian army used this weapon, although I have denied this to Kerry. I say there is no country in the world that will use weapons of mass destruction against its people. I dare those who accuse our army to show the evidence that we used this weapon. AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about Syria, we’re joined now by Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. She has written a number of books, including Challenging Empire: How People, Governments, and the UN Defy US Power. Her new piece (http://www.thenation.com/blog/175928/moral-obscenities-syria) in The Nation magazine blog is entitled “Moral Obscenities in Syria.” Phyllis, welcome back to Democracy Now! What evidence has the U.S. or Britain presented showing that the Syrian government definitively used chemical weapons in the attack in Ghouta? PHYLLIS BENNIS: So far, no evidence has been presented as to who carried out this attack. The reports that are coming—that will come from the U.N. inspectors will not include an investigation of who carried out the attack. Their mandate is quite narrow: just to find out what was used; was it indeed a chemical weapon, as is assumed but not certainly proven yet? But they will not be bringing in evidence of who carried it out. There was a report yesterday in Yedioth Ahronoth, the Israeli mass daily, claiming that it was Israeli officials who provided the Obama administration with what is considered by Obama’s people, apparently, to be definitive proof that it was the regime in Syria. We have yet to see any of that information. So far, it is simply the assertion by Vice President Biden, by—implied by Secretary Kerry and others, that there is evidence. It has not been seen. NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Phyllis Bennis, what kind of legal justification then do you think that the Obama administration might use for this? And what kinds of options are available to him? PHYLLIS BENNIS: Well, you know, the decision to go to the Security Council, that the British are doing today, is, as you mentioned earlier, guaranteed to get a veto, certainly by Russia, likely by China, as well, although it’s conceivable China could abstain, but they’re likely to veto. They may not even get nine sufficient votes. But what’s dangerous here is that the United Nations Charter, which is the fundamental component of international law governing issues of war and peace, is very, very clear on what constitutes the legal use of military force. There is no question that having used chemical weapons—whoever used it—is a huge war crime. It’s a specific violation of the chemical weapons treaty. It’s also a war crime or potentially even a crime against humanity. The problem is, we don’t know yet who is responsible. The U.S. is hinting that it may use the Kosovo precedent of 1999 as a way to get around the prohibition—the absolute prohibition—on using military force unless it is immediate self-defense, which no one in Washington is claiming that the use of these horrible weapons in Syria somehow threatens the United States—so that’s off the table—or that the Security Council agrees, which we know is not going to happen. The Kosovo precedent basically said in 1999, “We know we can’t get support from the Security Council, Russia will veto; therefore, we won’t ask the Security Council, we’ll ask the NATO high command.” So they went to NATO, and, what a surprise, the NATO high command said, “Yes, we approve the use of military force in Kosovo.” Now, the problem is twofold. One, NATO is a military structure. It’s like a hammer and a nail. If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you’re NATO, everything looks like it requires a military response. The other problem is legal. There is simply no legal justification that says that the NATO high command or any other organization has the right to determine the legality of the use of force other than the U.N. Security Council. So if that is the justification, it will stand in complete violation of international law. AMY GOODMAN: Speaking Tuesday, White House spokesperson Jay Carney ruled out regime change as one of the goals of possible military intervention. PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: The options that we are considering are not about regime change. They are about responding to a clear violation of an international standard that prohibits the use of chemical weapons. AMY GOODMAN: That is White House spokesperson Jay Carney, Phyllis Bennis. So what is the goal of this attack? I mean, it is clear from what they’re saying that they wouldn’t be attacking the chemical weapons stockpiles, but the Syrian military, but they’re saying they’re not trying to take out the military, and they’ve said that within the rebels are al-Qaeda forces, as well. So what is the goal here? PHYLLIS BENNIS: Well, it seems that the goal is a political goal. It’s to make a statement: “Oh, my god, I used a red line. I said there was a red line, I have to do something.” And the only, quote, “something” that seems to be available is a military action. So, they say it’s not the goal of regime change, but if we recall, they said the same thing about Libya. The goal wasn’t regime change; the goal was to degrade the capacity to attack civilians. Well, it may, but most military analysts that we’re hearing from these days say it will not prevent future attacks. Crucially, this kind of a military strike, which military analysts today in The New York Times admitted, from the Pentagon, that it may well hit civilians, because they don’t have very good control over cruise missiles about where they hit. It may well hit civilians. They’re saying that even now, days before they use those missiles. The goal is one thing; the accomplishment is something else. And I think that the danger here is that there will be enormous numbers, potentially, maybe small numbers if people are lucky, but there will be civilian casualties. This is a political reality that can spin completely out of control and lead to massive escalations. We have to look at the what-ifs. What if there is some kind of military retaliation by the Syrian government, by the Syrian military, against U.S. targets in Afghanistan, U.S. targets elsewhere in the region, in Kuwait, in Saudi Arabia? What if there’s a retaliation against Israel? Do we really think that at that point the U.S. would say, “No, we’re not going any further, because we said this was not about regime change”? These military actions have a habit of spiraling out of control. It’s already an extraordinarily chaotic region, where there is a great deal of instability in a number of countries. Borders have become very porous. The attacks—the U.S.-NATO attacks on Libya led to the spreading of weapons throughout the region. The growing violence in Iraq is clearly linked to the attacks in Syria. So, the notion that we are going to somehow escalate these attacks in Syria, rather than saying this is a moment when we desperately need diplomacy—we heard today that the U.S. just announced that the scheduled meeting between the U.S. and Russia, scheduled for today, the U.S. now said, “We want to delay that. We don’t want to have it. We don’t think this is a good time.” This is exactly the time. We need to be talking to Russia, to Iran, to all of the U.S. allies that are supporting the other side, to force the various parties to peace talks. There is no military solution. This is what Congresswoman Barbara Lee said yesterday, and it’s absolutely true. There is no military solution. Extra assaults from the United States is going to make the situation worse, is going to put Syrian civilians at greater risk, not provide protection. NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday the Syrian government took too long to grant U.N. inspectors access to areas allegedly subjected to chemical weapons attacks last Wednesday. The Syrian foreign minister claims access was requested only on Saturday. I want to play a clip from Tuesday’s U.N. press briefing, where reporter Matthew Lee questions the secretary-general’s spokesperson, Farhan Haq, on the precise timing of the U.N.’s request to the Syrian government. MATTHEW LEE: Can you say when, formally, legally, the request to go to al-Ghouta was made? FARHAN HAQ: Well, I just read you that request, which is— MATTHEW LEE: Right, which is the request. FARHAN HAQ: —which is a clear request that was issued on Thursday. Angela Kane was immediately dispatched, and then she arrived in Damascus on Saturday. MATTHEW LEE: Right. FARHAN HAQ: So she was also stepping forward with that request. But, as you see, we made that request on the 22nd of August. MATTHEW LEE: But is that the request? Press statement is the request? FARHAN HAQ: It’s not just a press statement, when we make these things. As the statement makes very clear, “a formal request is being sent by the United Nations to the Government of Syria in this regard.” MATTHEW LEE: And it arrived on Saturday in the form of Angela Kane? I just wanted you to respond to that. FARHAN HAQ: It’s a—that’s basically a question of semantics. You heard exactly what the formal request is. It went out far and wide on Thursday. Angela Kane was conveying this, and she did arrive on Saturday NERMEEN SHAIKH: Phyllis Bennis, that was Matthew Lee questioning the secretary-general’s spokesperson, Farhan Haq. Could you explain why the timing of the request to the Syrian government by the U.N. is significant? PHYLLIS BENNIS: It’s important, Nermeen, because Secretary Kerry made a very strong point that one of the big reasons for believing and for claiming that it’s indisputable that the Syrian regime is responsible for these horrific attacks is that they waited so long, they waited so that the evidence would be degraded, they waited so they could attack again. His focus was they waited, they waited, they waited—they waited too long. And, indeed, the U.S. claimed the U.N. inspector should actually be withdrawn, because they had waited too long and it was no longer a viable inspection operation. What we now know is that the formal request—and remember, we’re talking about diplomacy here. When a nation is at war, the idea that it’s somehow going to respond to a public call that is essentially a press release is nonsense. Secretary Kerry knows as well as anyone else, Farhan Haq knows as well as anyone else, that governments respond to formal requests, formal letters, formal phone calls. It’s not about semantics. It’s about diplomatic formality. We need formal diplomatic talks. We don’t just need the release of a statement saying that the United Nations will request. That’s fine to tell the public that. That’s a good thing. But that’s not the same as the formal request being handed by Angela Kane, the U.N. disarmament chief, to her counterpart in Damascus and say, “Here is the request of the United Nations.” She did that on Saturday, the request was answered positively on Sunday, and the inspectors went in on Monday. That’s hardly an extensive delay, as Secretary Kerry claimed. So, it’s really the collapse of one of the key components of Secretary Kerry’s claim of why it’s so obvious that the regime is responsible for these attacks. AMY GOODMAN: Phyllis Bennis, what is the peaceful alternative to respond? And is it possible that rebels used, had access to chemical weapons? PHYLLIS BENNIS: It’s certainly possible. Anything is possible. It’s certainly possible the regime used these weapons. It’s also possible that part of the rebels did. We know that some of the rebel armed forces came from defectors. We have no idea whether those defectors included some defectors that might have been involved in Syria’s long-standing chemical weapons program. We also know that some of the rebels are close to al-Qaeda organizations. The Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Nusra Front, has claimed its alliance with al-Qaeda. And the idea that al-Qaeda forces may have access to these weapons is certainly a frightening but very realistic possibility. The problem is, we don’t know. And that’s why the U.N. inspection initially is so important to determine what the weapons were, how they were used, where they were used. The next step then is to determine who used them. That remains a mystery right now. Whoever used them should be brought up on charges in the International Criminal Court and face the harshest punishments available to the international community. The question of what is the alternative to military strikes starts with diplomacy. It starts with talking. The talks that were scheduled between the U.S. and Russia, designed to try again to create the so-called Geneva II peace conference, is more important now than ever. There have been 100,000 Syrians killed, between military and civilians. Millions have been forced from their homes. And the supporters of the two sides—because this is now clearly a civil war, a devastating civil war, that has become part of really five wars in Syria. There’s a sectarian war. There’s a regional war for power. There’s a war between the U.S. and Russia. There’s a war between the U.S. and Israel and Iran. All of these wars are being fought to the last Syrian. So what’s needed is a set of peace talks. Call it Geneva II. Call it whatever you want. Call it broccoli. Just get those talks started so that you have not only the parties, but their backers. You have the U.S. and Russia, and you have Iran and Saudi Arabia, and you have Iraq and Kuwait. You have all the forces on the two sides coming together to talk about this, rather than fighting to the last Syrian child, to resolve these wars. NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, earlier this month, prior to the alleged chemical weapons attack, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, indicated the Obama administration opposed even limited U.S. military intervention in Syria because it believes rebels fighting the Assad regime wouldn’t support U.S. interests. In a letter to Congressman Eliot Engel dated August 19th, Dempsey wrote, quote, “Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides. It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favor. Today, they are not.” Phyllis Bennis, can you talk about why military intervention is being considered so seriously now? And who possibly stands to benefit? PHYLLIS BENNIS: I think that, realistically, General Dempsey’s letter still stands. I think it’s very clear that there are multiple forces within the Syrian opposition. And even from the very pragmatic, nationalist—in my view, very unpleasant, if you will—position of the United States that we would only support those forces who represent our interests, rather than saying, “We want to stop the violence. We want to stop the killing of Syrian civilians,” even from that narrow nationalist vantage point, there is no good option in supporting the rebels in Syria that have a military capacity. Those that have the military capacity are those closest to al-Qaeda. The others have much less of a military capacity. I think the reason that General Dempsey references when he says that the administration is opposed to using military force to support the rebels, on a certain level, still stands. I don’t think they’ve changed that. What has changed has been the external and domestic political pressure. And while we know there have been divisions within the Obama administration, there are people in the administration who are known for their widespread support for so-called humanitarian intervention or the responsibility to protect as a basis for responding to any human rights violations that occur, that there are also people in the administration who have been dead set against the use of force in Syria. The difference now, it seems, is that President Obama’s own position seems to have shifted. He was most clear on opposing, resisting, being reluctant to consider military force; now he apparently seems much more open to it. And it seems that the pressure came with the escalation in the use of these horrific, what appear to be chemical weapons—we don’t even know that for sure. But the problem is that the use of chemical weapons, which is, as I said, a huge violation in its own right, doesn’t mean that the use of military force is going to help, is going to make that impossible. So, the problem we now face is there’s new pressures. Certainly there’s pressures coming from Congress, from people like Eliot Engel, from the Republican side, led by John McCain, Lindsey Graham—are all calling for an escalation of military force against Syria. You have new pressures now coming from Israel. Israel had been opposed, or at least was standing quiet, on the idea of using military force against the government in Syria, because the government in Syria has, frankly, been very helpful to Israel. It’s kept the occupied Golan Heights quiet, kept the border stable, kept the level of violence very much down, despite all the rhetoric. That government, we should note, has also been very supportive of the United States in the so-called global war on terror, being willing to accept detainees such as the Canadian, Maher Arar, to be interrogated and tortured in Syrian prisons at the request of the Bush administration. So, there’s been reluctance from Israel to call for the overthrow of that regime because of their very realistic fears of what might come next, what might replace it. Now it seems that they are more concerned about the impact on Iran of the political reality that the so-called red line that Obama established last year does not get a military answer. And in the Israeli view, if Iran doesn’t see an attack on Syria, they will believe that they have the right to disobey U.S. red lines, as well, and that’s unacceptable. So, all of this comes back to the question of Iran for the Israelis. For some in the United States— AMY GOODMAN: Twenty seconds. PHYLLIS BENNIS: For some in the United States, that’s the same position: It comes back to Iran. At the end of the day, there is no military solution. There have got to be negotiations. Striking Syria now will only make the situation worse for Syrians on the ground. It’s a very dangerous move. AMY GOODMAN: Phyllis Bennis, we want to thank you for being with us, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. Among her books, Challenging Empire: How People, Governments, and the UN Defy US Power. Her latest piece (http://www.thenation.com/blog/175928/moral-obscenities-syria) , we’ll link to, at The Nation magazine blog, “Moral Obscenities in Syria.” Stay with us. ============================================================ Copyright © 2013 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. Ed’s Daily Digest News We have recreated the list in a program called MailChimp that promises to stop unsubscribing you. Please let us know if you experience problems with this new format by writing to deb@edpearl-ashgrove.org. 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Daily Digest: Syria Debate: Tariq Ali and Steven Clemons: US Justification for Military Action

———————————————————— http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=6e49d094cce3022a65cbe3028&id=94a9e4a4f2&e=4f9ed2a7d1 Ed’s Daily Digest Syria Debate: Tariq Ali and Steven Clemons: US Justification for Military Action http://www.democracynow.org/2013/8/29/syria_debate_does_us_have_the Syria Debate: Does U.S. Have the Evidence and Authority to Hit Assad for Alleged Chemical Attack? Guests: Tariq Ali and Steven Clemons Democracy Now: August 29, 2013 JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to Syria. On Wednesday, President Obama declared unequivocally that the United States has concluded that the Syrian government carried out a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians last week. President Obama spoke on PBS NewsHour. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We have looked at all the evidence, and we do not believe the opposition possessed nuclear weapons of that—or, chemical weapons of that sort. We do not believe that given the delivery systems, using rockets, that the opposition could have carried out these attacks. We have concluded that the Syrian government, in fact, carried these out. And if that’s so, then there need to be international consequences. So, we are consulting with our allies. We’re consulting with the international community. And, you know, I have no interest in any kind of open-ended conflict in Syria, but we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: During his interview on PBS NewsHour, Obama did not present any direct evidence to back up his assertion that the Syrian government was behind the attack. Privately, U.S. intelligence officials say there are still many questions about who carried out and who ordered last week’s deadly chemical attack. In interviews with the Associated Press, multiple U.S. officials said this is, quote, “not a slam dunk” — a reference to then-CIA Director George Tenet’s insistence in 2002 that U.S. intelligence showing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was a, quote, “slam dunk.” Unnamed U.S. officials told The New York Times there is, quote, “no smoking gun” that directly links President Bashar al-Assad to the attack AMY GOODMAN: On Wednesday, an informal meeting of the United Nations Security Council failed to reach an agreement after Russia and China opposed any authorization of force in response to last week’s alleged chemical attack in Ghouta. The U.S. is also facing resistance from its closest ally, Britain. After domestic pressure, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced he’ll seek parliamentary authorization for using force against Syria, and only after U.N. inspectors complete their current mission. For more, we’re joined by two guests. In London, Tariq Ali is with us, editor of the New Left Review. He recently wrote a piece (http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2013/08/28/tariq-ali/on-intervening-in-syria/) for the London Review of Books blog called “On Intervening in Syria.” He spoke yesterday in London at a rally opposing the bombing of Syria. And in Washington, D.C., we’re joined by Steve Clemons, Washington editor-at-large for The Atlantic and senior fellow at the New America Foundation. Steven Clemons, let’s begin with you. What is your assessment of the evidence that the United States has and what the U.S. should do in Syria? STEVEN CLEMONS: My current assessment is that we have signals intelligence, and we’ve had it from the very beginning, both our own and others’ supplied by allies, that shows that there was command staff authorization and instruction to launch the attacks that were had. And we didn’t have that evidence in the earlier designation of chemical weapons usage, in which the Obama administration declared that the regime had used that. There was confusion about whether the opposition had potentially used chemical weapons or the government. But in this particular case, it’s not all public, which is, I think, quite regrettable, but there’s significant signals intelligence that tells us who was responsible within the Syrian command staff for what happened in this deadly, horrible attack. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, assuming that that information is accurate, why then still would the Obama administration not wait until the weapons inspectors, who are already in Syria, conduct their own investigation? STEVEN CLEMONS: What I’m told—and this is a fair point for people to debate, but what I’m told is—and perhaps Tariq Ali and others know what’s significant about this, but that the Syrian regime actually went to the areas in Ghouta that were attacked and began pummeling them, then engaged in a second conventional attack on the area. When the U.N. weapons inspectors went in the first time, of course, the delay was because the convoy was fired upon. And it became a concern of the White House that this was all delaying tactics, and the Russian enthusiasm for weapons inspections in this particular case was that it would be inconclusive and that you would get into a process that would end up, you know, in—according to one source of mine in the White House, muddying up the waters and preventing international action. And I think the president, for a variety of reasons—and I think this issue of weapons of mass destruction use or potential proliferation is a defining concern for the Obama administration. In April 2010, Joe Biden and Barack Obama convened leaders from around the world here in Washington about these kinds of concerns, so this kind of issue is one that is not only important for the international community, I think the Obama administration sees it defining for itself. AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to Tariq Ali in London. You spoke at a rally against an attack on Syria. Your response to what Steven Clemons is saying? TARIQ ALI: Well, I think the main evidence which has been supplied is from an ally, certainly, but the name of the ally is Israel. Israeli intelligence has supplied the signals intelligence to the United States. It should be made public so we can judge it for ourselves. But virtually no one who knows the region believes that these attacks were carried out by the Syrian government, or on its orders. It’s crazy, if you think about it. They let the inspectors in, and then in a location barely 10 miles from where the inspectors are staying, there’s a chemical attack. And what good does it do the Syrian government to actually open fire on these inspectors? They want them there. So, I think it’s slightly incredible. And given that citizens in the United States and Europe were lied to in the run-up to the Iraq War—simple, straightforward lies—it’s very difficult to take the West seriously when it cries wolf again. So, ’til the evidence is there, it’s impossible to take this at face value. Secondly, the country that has of course used chemical weapons is the United States, which used white phosphorus in Fallujah. No red lines were drawn them, except the red lines of Iraqi blood. Thirdly, why is the United States wanting to do this? And I think the reasons are to do with the situation on the battlefield in this awful, ugly, depressing civil war, which is that the opposition to the regime had been losing out, and, effectively, the West wants to improve the relationship of forces on the field. They’ve sent in more arms to the opposition—whoever it may be, and it’s dubious in many cases. And now they want to punish the regime, once again, to push it back. Meanwhile, the civil war continues. You know, no one is really pushing for talks. In Geneva, the opposition refused to come and participate in these talks. And what is required is a political solution; otherwise, you have endless war. And this policy of Obama, we’re not going in for regime change, I think he’s right about that. He’s not misleading us. But we are basically wanting to weaken the regime so the civil war continues. What other option is there? JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Tariq, I’d like to ask you what the potential impact is of yet another U.S. military attack on another Arab country, especially in view of the fact that Syria has a mutual defense pact with Iran. And what would be the possible repercussions of such an attack? TARIQ ALI: Well, I think the Iranian regime has made a very strong statement—whether it’s pure bluff, we don’t know—saying that if Syria is attacked, they will retaliate as they see fit. And this is a regime which has been recently elected, the new government, which people said was going to be very different from Ahmadinejad, and yet is saying exactly the same things as the prior government was saying to this- that an attack on Syria will be taken as an attack on Iran because of their defense pact. And they have the possibility, of course, of escalating in Iraq, of escalating in Lebanon and escalating in Afghanistan—three battlefield areas where the United States are involved, which I think is one reason that there has been a lot more caution in the Pentagon and from British military officers, who’ve been on television screens—recently retired, you know, who were involved in Iraq—saying that there is no justification for this war. People are extremely worried about the consequences. I mean, in Britain, we have 70 Conservative members of Parliament, the ruling party, from the coalition, saying they will not vote for a war. Eighty percent of the population is opposed to it. So, of course, the United States can push it through, and probably the British government, which, you know, is a sort of vassal state-type outfit, will go along with it, but against the will of a huge majority of its people. AMY GOODMAN: Steven Clemons, your response? STEVEN CLEMONS: Well, Tariq Ali is an outstanding intellectual, and I’m a fan of much of his work. I disagree with him on the question. I mean, I was one of the first to raise the issues of the opposition somehow getting access to chemical weapons when we saw the lower yield use. I’d respectfully disagree with him in this particular case. And the Syrian government has an opportunity. There was an attack, and there was a missile-launched version of these chemical weapons. If a rogue general or a rogue command staff element of the Syrian regime was responsible in trying to help the opposition screen-pass the red line, that’s an option the Syrian government can reveal to the world, but that doesn’t appear to be what happened. The only thing I would say, where I substantially disagree, is that in the run-up to the Iraq War, which I, as, Amy, you and I discussed this many times—which I also opposed on a variety of grounds, you had an administration at that time, under Bush and Cheney, that didn’t care about evidence whatsoever, because they just wanted to go to war. They just wanted to settle old scores with Saddam Hussein, and, to a certain degree, they opened up much of the nightmare that we’ve seen in the Middle East. This is an administration, under Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Barack Obama, his chief of staff Denis McDonough, who have been working hard not to get more deeply engaged, to try to not have the third major military intervention there. And that is what I find unusual and, frankly, more compelling about this, and I find many of my friends on the progressive side that are worried about another intervention, and I see the neoconservatives applauding an intervention because they hope that there is a slippery slope into a much fuller engagement that’s about regime change, about boots on the ground, and about a deeper engagement of the United States in this mess, which I oppose. So, I believe—and it could be a complete mess—that it is important for the international community in matters of weapons of mass destruction to respond, to try and secure those weapons, or hold those who use them accountable, and to use—and to make that effort one that’s distinct from other political skirmishes and realities. I believe—and it may be to fine a needle to thread—that there’s a way to get from the attack, that I think is impending and that I think will happen, towards some form of peace process that is inclusive of all parties. I think Tariq Ali is absolutely right that the opposition didn’t want to go and participate last time, but perhaps the effort now to strengthen the U.S. position but not overthrow Bashar al-Assad gives everybody an opportunity to pause and come back. Perhaps that’s a naive view, but this is an administration that, frankly, I find does not want to go to war, and that’s why I think that the evidence that they are trying to bring to bear and the actions they’re considering are quite different than what happened in Iraq. And I suppose I’m admitting that I’m supportive of this action. And it is awkward to support it, because I know that it could have profound unintended and unexpected consequences, but I do believe that the president is on the right track in this particular case. AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break for a minute, and then we’re going to come back. Stay with us. [break] AMY GOODMAN: Speaking on PBS on Wednesday, President Obama suggested Syria’s chemical weapons may pose a threat against the United States. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: When you start talking about chemical weapons, in a country that has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world, where, over time, their control over chemical weapons may erode, where they’re allied to known terrorist organizations that in the past have targeted the United States, then there is a prospect, a possibility, in which chemical weapons, that can have devastating effects, could be directed at us. And we want to make sure that that does not happen. AMY GOODMAN: That is President Obama speaking yesterday on PBS. Our guests are Tariq Ali, editor of the New Left Review, and Steven Clemons, editor-at-large for The Atlantic. Tariq Ali, your response to President Obama? And also comment on the switch in Britain with your prime minister, Cameron, as a result of public pressure. TARIQ ALI: Well, first, on what Obama said, he sounds more and more like Bush. In fact, Amy, this has been my view since the day he took power, that he does things and gets away with things which Bush couldn’t. Were Bush carrying out these measures and preparing to attack another country, there’d be mayhem in the United States. Because it’s Obama, people accept it. The notion that a country or a group of terrorists could use chemical weapons or nuclear weapons against the United States, given the degree of high surveillance which the NSA has over everything, is mind-boggling, really. I mean, this is frightening people at home. We are going to war because we might be under threat. This can’t be taken too seriously. If we are going to have a campaign to stop chemical weapons, it should apply to all countries, and then we should see how it’s going to be implemented, and we should stop companies from producing them and manufacturing them. Where are these companies? Quite a few of them are in the West, within the ranks of the so-called international community. So, that is the way of operating if you’re going to take this seriously. And, secondly, on this question, the only people who might even consider a maniacal act like using chemical weapons against civilians in the United States or elsewhere, some of them are the very people, at the moment, who are actually fighting against the regime in Syria. So, here, the United States, which has been backing the opposition, and its surrogates in the Middle East have been arming it, have a huge responsibility themselves. So it doesn’t quite make sense. As far as Britain is concerned, I have very little doubt that once the United States goes to war, the British will back it. I mean, it is completely tied into the United States on many levels, especially the strategic and defense levels, though there’s a great deal of unease within the British military and intelligence circles, as there is in the United States, about politicians taking us into yet another war with unforeseeable consequences. I think if the U.S. decides to go, Britain will back it. I think Cameron would probably get a majority in Parliament, though there will be a sizable opposition. The Labour leader, who formerly said he was giving a reluctant backing, I think will give supposedly reluctant backing to this war, even though the United Nations has not had time to carry through a full investigation, which was the fig leaf with which they were covering themselves. But there is no doubt in my mind that you will have a large opposition in the country, which will this time be reflected more in Parliament than it’s ever been before, but largely because of these dissident Conservatives who are not convinced by it at all. And hardly a day goes by on British television where you get military experts and others, all of them coming out and saying they’re not in favor of this war. So there is a strong antiwar mood, which covers both left and right of the spectrum, which doesn’t favor this. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Tariq, I’d like to ask Steve about the comments of Robert Fisk, the well-known foreign correspondent from The Independent, who has been based for decades in the Middle East. He wrote (http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/does-obama-know-hes-fighting-on-alqaidas-side-8786680.html) recently, “If Barack Obama decides to attack the Syrian regime, he has ensured—for the very first time in history—that the United States will be on the same side as al-Qa’ida. … “The men who destroyed so many thousands on 9/11 will then be fighting alongside the very nation whose innocents they so cruelly murdered almost exactly 12 years ago. Quite an achievement for Obama, Cameron, Hollande and the rest of the miniature warlords. “This, of course, will not be trumpeted by the Pentagon or the White House—nor, I suppose, by al-Qa’ida—though they are both trying to destroy Bashar. So are the Nusra front, one of al-Qa’ida’s affiliates.” Steve Clemons, your response to this irony in this situation, if this attack goes forward? STEVEN CLEMONS: Well, one should always take Robert Fisk seriously and read what he has to say. I see it differently, because I also hear from this administration a commitment I didn’t hear from the first time they talked about chemical weapons use in Syria. This time they’re very, very clearly saying this is not about regime change. Tariq Ali just said that that was appropriate, this was not about targeting Bashar al-Assad. And in my book, that is a signal to the Russians to keep open a Geneva process down the road, because I believe it was a huge mistake at one point for President Obama to say that Assad had to go. Whether he has to go or not, that simply limited dramatically the opportunities for a negotiated outcome with this. The United States, to some degree, kind of spoiled the water for that to happen. I think the broad issue, though, is one where you see the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, and others recently writing to Congress and saying the Syrian opposition is undependable, inchoate and too dominated at the moment by the al-Nusra Front and by a radical Islamist faction, that we’ve just learned has been responsible for kidnapping several Western journalists and torturing them. One of these journalists just escaped, while others remain in captivity and held by a component of the Syrian opposition that we and other allies have been supporting at some level. So it is a horrible knot, where, as I’ve written in the past, in this particular case, the enemy of our enemy is still our enemy, not our friend. And I think that, to some degree, this mess inside is more complex than Robert Fisk shares. I don’t believe that we will—and if we try to punish the system for the use and deployment of chemical weapons—and people just need to go back and remind themselves and look at the preponderance of material that was pushed out on social media of women, children, men dying in the streets in horrible, agonizing death, and to look at images that, of course, happened previously in the Iraq-Iran War and happened elsewhere, but that used to be the norm in World War I. And the world made a very big investment in trying to never go that direction again. Tariq Ali just said that we should be moving to shut down chemical weapons production around the world. I couldn’t agree with him more, that that should be something connected with any action. It shouldn’t just be an ad hoc military attack. If Obama and Biden feel as strongly to attack, they should—Tariq Ali is absolutely right that there ought to be other component pieces of this allergy that I think does matter in the world. AMY GOODMAN: Steven Clemons, you said that you became convinced by the signal information, in speaking to intelligence officials in the United States. What exactly is that? STEVEN CLEMONS: Signals intelligence—you know, one of the unfortunate realities is we do have in the United States today a many—much infrastructure that’s part of a security-obsessed national security state. And we’re listening— AMY GOODMAN: Well, as we’ve learned in all the NSA scandal stuff. But what— STEVEN CLEMONS: Yeah, we’re listening to—well, every—no, but everything that— AMY GOODMAN: I mean, what exactly is the information? STEVEN CLEMONS: I’m sorry, how did I get the information? AMY GOODMAN: No, what exactly is that information that has convinced you? STEVEN CLEMONS: What is—so, from the moment this began to unroll—one of the areas I report on and work on is in the intelligence sector. And when there were attacks, low-level attacks, reported previously, and they were popping up here and there in Syria, it seemed to me natural, given the many months we talked about red lines, that the opposition would be the biggest winner if those were crossed. And so, I went at the time to people that I knew had access to and that were close to what’s called signals intelligence, electronic and digital eavesdropping, if you will, of which there are enormous, not just Israeli interceptors, but lots of other states that are essentially picking up communications inside Syria and filtering that. The NSA’s raison d’être is this. And at that time, there was no evidence whatsoever that there was command staff authority or Assad. There was speculation, but it just didn’t exist. And I got a very clear read from intelligence sources that we just had no evidence at all at that time of this lower chemical weapons usage that it was there. This time I went in, and said, “Steve, it is—it is definitive, and it’s definitive that members of the command staff of the Syrian army are responsible.” There may be factions, and subsequent—you know, reported in the press by Foreign Policy magazine, have reported that there was dismay and shock in some part of the command staff and a panic call to other elements of that. That’s the tip of the iceberg of the communications material we have. But it seems that a portion of the Syrian army, this time, communicated strongly enough that these attacks were held. And so, that intelligence is held there. I agree it should be made public. I think it should be put out into the public. AMY GOODMAN: So you haven’t seen it, but they told you that this is what it said. STEVEN CLEMONS: Yes. And because I had a benchmark of the previous inquiries I made, because I suspected that the opposition was benefiting too much, that there had been too much discussion of red lines, the folks that I spoke to who said there was no evidence of command staff authorization the last time around had a very different story this time. And so I was one of the first to go out [inaudible] anyway— AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to President Obama on PBS NewsHour. STEVEN CLEMONS: Yeah, sure. AMY GOODMAN: This is host Judy Woodruff. JUDY WOODRUFF: Mr. President, with all due respect, what does it accomplish? I mean, you’re—the signals the American people are getting is that this would be a limited strike over a limited duration. If it’s not going to do that much harm to the Assad regime, what have you accomplished? How—what—what’s changed? PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Well, again, I have not made a decision, but I think it’s important that if in fact we make a choice to have repercussions for the use of chemical weapons, then the Assad regime, which is involved in a civil war, trying to protect itself, will have received a pretty strong signal that, in fact, it better not do it again. And that doesn’t solve all the problems inside of Syria, and, you know, it doesn’t, obviously, end the death of innocent civilians inside of Syria. And we hope that, in fact, ultimately, a political transition can take place inside of Syria, and we’re prepared to work with anybody—the Russians and others—to try to bring the parties together to resolve the conflict. But we want the Assad regime to understand that by using chemical weapons on a large scale against your own people—against women, against infants, against children—that you are not only breaking international norms and standards of decency, but you’re also creating a situation where U.S. national interests are affected, and that needs to stop. AMY GOODMAN: So, President Obama says he’s not interested in regime change, but he wants to send a message. Tariq Ali of the New Left Review, your response? TARIQ ALI: Well, in other words, this is punishment that is going to be inflicted on a country, with targets being bombed and presumably lots of what we used to call collateral damage, i.e. casualties on the ground. For what? To save Obama’s face? That’s all it’s become, because he said and Biden has talked about red lines. That’s the only reason. Takes one back to—I am totally unconvinced that a regime, backed by the Russians, in close touch with Iran, is so out of touch that they would actually use these weapons. I mean, who benefits from the red line being crossed? It’s not the government. It could be rogue elements within it. Whose orders they’re acting on might also be quite interesting. The fact is, we don’t know. And before the United Nations team can discover anything, they have now been asked to leave, as they were asked to leave Iraq, because a bombing has been planned. And whatever Obama says now, he cannot foresee the effects of missile attacks on Syria in the region as a whole, because, effectively, Amy, what the Iraq War has produced in the Middle East is a huge divide. This has been America’s big success. Arab unity has been effectively destroyed by creating the Sunni-Shia divide, which was created in Iraq after the Americans occupied it and handed over power to Shia clerical parties. This, in effect, made Tehran a major player in the region and brought the Saudis and other Sunni governments into line behind the United States to try and blockade and keep Iran at length. And I think that in one sense this conflict in Syria is playing along similar lines. I mean, the Israeli aim is very clear. The people they loathe the most in the Middle East are Hezbollah in Lebanon, were the only organization which have fought the Israelis to a standstill and were responsible for driving them out of Lebanon. They want this organization crushed. They feel that if the Syrian regime is defeated, there will be no conduit for Iranian arms to Hezbollah. So, it’s a huge, complex picture that we’re facing. And Obama talking as if nuke—as if chemical weapons were threatening the United States is really childish and creating an atmosphere of fear in the country, to try and convince a reluctant citizenry to back yet another American strike on an Arab country. It’s totally unconvincing. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’d like to bring Steven Clemons back in. Steve, an unlikely figure recently criticized the Obama administration’s failure to provide what he believes is an explanation of what the national interest is here. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, speaking on the Fox Business Network on Wednesday evening, said, quote, “There really hasn’t been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation.” This, of course, brings in the whole debate of humanitarian intervention versus national interest. Your response? STEVEN CLEMONS: Well, I think Barack Obama is, in a way, making a distinction between humanitarian intervention, which many people have been calling for in Syria for a long time after 100,000 deaths—even the number of deaths that died out of this chemical weapons attack, less than 1 percent of the total, would say, “Where were we before?” What the president is saying is that there’s something unique and different and distinct about the use of a weapon of mass destruction. And if that regime is accountable and responsible for the deployment of that, then there should be a different kind of punishment. I think what Don Rumsfeld is referring to is great debate between realists, neoconservatives, liberal interventionists—have debates about when do you marshal and deploy forces and sacrifice blood and treasure beyond your shores. And it’s—when I worked with Chalmers Johnson, we were convinced at the time that America was engaged in many of these wars of empire, many of these manipulations of the international system, for parochial reasons. And the question is: Does that meet that test? I think this debate and discussion is a vital one for the nation to have, no matter what my views are. I certainly respect those that have a great skepticism about American engagement in these kinds of things. Don Rumsfeld, who basically led the charge, along with Paul Wolfowitz and others, into Iraq, because they were so focused on trying to unseat Saddam Hussein, and evidence to the side, is, I think, a remarkable man for saying, “OK, what’s the national interest here?” The national interest is, chemical weapons deployments fits in that list for realists of things that you don’t want to create an opportunity for expansion of. You don’t want to, by not acting, essentially promote the proliferation, the use, the further use of these weapons. And perhaps they’re wrong. I think we have to be humble in this. Perhaps they’re wrong, but that many analysts believe that the failure, the watch that we’ve been doing of seeing sarin gas pop up here and there around Syria, and the absence of a response, led someone in the Syrian command staff to think that this was a viable option. It’s kind of like—it’s hard to imagine this, but in the days of Curtis LeMay in the United States, when you had essentially a group around the president of the United States that wanted to drop a nuclear bomb on every problem we had in the world, that may be the situation that Bashar al-Assad is facing inside his regime, that he has Curtis LeMays that are—that have the authority and the ability to deploy those chemical weapons. And the question is: What does the world do about that? Does it matter beyond the borders of Syria or not? I believe, in this particular case, it does. But I have respect for those who argue that it’s not, and I want to hear them. But I would not spend a lot of time listening to Don Rumsfeld make a case one way or another on this particular question, given his history. AMY GOODMAN: And then, very quickly—we just have 30 seconds—Tariq Ali, newly disclosed CIA files show the United States provided critical intelligence to help Saddam Hussein launch chemical attacks on Iran. In the waning days of the Iran-Iraq War, the U.S. provided Saddam Hussein with satellite imagery showing Iran was poised to exploit a hole in Iraq’s military positioning, the U.S. giving Iraq the location of Iranian troops, despite knowing that Saddam would use nerve gas. TARIQ ALI: Yes. AMY GOODMAN: The attacks killed anywhere between hundreds to thousands of Iranians. According to Foreign Policy magazine, the U.S. had “firm evidence” of Iraqi chemical attacks on Iran as early as 1983. In Foreign Policy, they said the disclosures in internal CIA files that top U.S. officials were aware “are tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.” Tariq, your final comment? TARIQ ALI: Well, we know this, Amy, and we know also the chemical attacks launched on Fallujah by the United States in 2004, which is why what is going on now, in my opinion, has very little to do with the use of chemical weapons, but a great deal to do with restoring the balance in Syria and not allowing the regime to take more and more of the country back, which they were doing over the last six months to a year. AMY GOODMAN: We’ll leave it there, Tariq Ali, editor of the New Left Review, Steven Clemons, editor-at-large for The Atlantic, senior fellow at New America Foundation. When we come back, yesterday the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, major rally on the Mall. We’ll talk with Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. Stay with us. ============================================================ Copyright © 2013 Ed Pearl- The Ash Grove, All rights reserved. Ed’s Daily Digest News We have recreated the list in a program called MailChimp that promises to stop unsubscribing you. Please let us know if you experience problems with this new format by writing to deb@edpearl-ashgrove.org. 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