Iraq Redux? Obama says 'Trust Us' as UN Retreats from Syria

An early withdrawal of the UN investigative team that is trying to determine exactly what happened during a suspected chemical attack near Damascus last week is offering an eery reminder of events that took place before the US began its invasion of Iraq in 2003, with the fear that once international observers have gone a US/NATO attack on Syria would be greenlighted for later in the weekend or early next week.

Though speculation based on anonymous reporting from high level officials in the US and Europe indicated a US-led campaign might start as early as Thursday, indications from both the US and UK show that though the rush to attack has been slowed by political opposition, the push for war continues.

As the Guardian reports, domestic politics in the UK have slowed Prime Minister David Cameron’s hopes that approval for military action could sidestep Parliament.

Meanwhile, in a televised interview on PBS news on Wednesday night, President Obama said “no decision” has been made on attacking Syria though he spent the majority of the interview laying out his administration’s case for why the US and its NATO and Gulf state allies may soon launch such an attack.

Asked what US military action—at this point still assumed to be a volley of cruise missiles from US warships in the Mediterranean or an aerial bombing campaign—would accomplish, Obama said that it would give the government of President Bashar al-Assad “a pretty strong signal not to do it again,” meaning using chemical weapons.

Though the US has now repeatedly says it “knows” that the Assad regime was directly behind the attacks, they have offered no verifiable evidence to the public.

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And some members of Congress are also trying to put the brakes on the attack, saying that even if chemical weapons are determined to have been used by Assad, the role for a US military campaign should not be a foregone conclusion.


“Even if he (Syrian President Bashar Assad) did use chemical weapons, that doesn’t give the president the authority to attack Syria” without going to Congress, said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. “Our troops aren’t being attacked, our nation isn’t being attack. He has a responsibility to consult Congress first.”

And former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix goes a step further than that, saying that the argument for a US campaign against Syria is fundamentally flawed, with or without approval from Congress. In an op-ed in the Guardian on Thursday, he writes:

Watch Obama’s full PBS interview here:


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