If there was any doubt that Washington has learned absolutely nothing since George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, then President Obama’s address to the United Nations has confirmed the world’s worst fears. It was an oration that combined the most egregious lies with the wooly-minded “idealism” that has been such a destructive force in world affairs since the days of Woodrow Wilson. First, the lies:
“The evidence is overwhelming that the Assad regime used such weapons on August 21st. U.N. inspectors gave a clear accounting that advanced rockets fired large quantities of sarin gas at civilians. These rockets were fired from a regime-controlled neighborhood and landed in opposition neighborhoods. It’s an insult to human reason and to the legitimacy of this institution to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.”
The evidence is far from “overwhelming,” and the only insult to human reason is the dogmatic repetition of this American talking point. As Seymour Hersh pointed out in the London Review of Books:
“Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.”
And this isn’t the only time this President hasn’t told the whole story when it comes to the findings of US intelligence agencies: that’s why fifty intelligence analysts are in open revolt at his cherry-picking of intelligence in order to show we’re making progress in the fight against the Islamic State. And now we have former CIA chief David Petraeus, who was forced to resign, openly coming out with a proposal that we ally with the al-Nusra Front in order to overthrow Assad and edge out the Islamic State. Shouldn’t that arouse suspicion that Washington has been covertly cooperating with al-Nusra – the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda – all along, and that Petraeus merely wants to formalize his deal with the Islamist Devil?
Here’s another lie:
“[I]n Libya, when the Security Council provided a mandate to protect civilians, America joined a coalition that took action. Because of what we did there, countless lives were saved and a tyrant could not kill his way back to power.
“I know that some now criticize the action in Libya as an object lesson, that point to the problem that the country now confronts, a democratically elected government struggling to provide security, armed groups in some places, extremists ruling parts of the fractured land. And so these critics argue that any intervention to protect civilians is doomed to fail. Look at Libya.
“And no one’s more mindful of these problems than I am, for they resulted in the death of four outstanding U.S. citizens who were committed to the Libyan people, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, a man whose courageous efforts helped save the city of Benghazi.
“But does anyone truly believe that the situation in Libya would be better, if Gadhafi had been allowed to kill, imprison or brutalize his people into submission? It’s far more likely that without international action, Libya would now be engulfed in civil war and bloodshed.”
It is beyond embarrassing that the President of the United States is going before the world assembly of nations proclaiming that he and his allies prevented Libya from being “engulfed in civil war and bloodshed.” What does he think is happening there at this very moment?
The reality is that the intelligence did not show a “genocide” was in the making. Officials at the Defense Intelligence Agency – the same agency now being accused by its analysts of “cooking” intelligence to suit the administration’s political agenda – could provide no empirical evidence for the assertions made by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Col. Moammar Gaddafi was planning on slaughtering civilians en masse.
The claims made by the Obama administration that intervention was the only alternative to “genocide” were contested, at the time, by Alan J. Kuperman, writing in the Boston Globe:
“The best evidence that Khadafy did not plan genocide in Benghazi is that he did not perpetrate it in the other cities he had recaptured either fully or partially – including Zawiya, Misurata, and Ajdabiya, which together have a population greater than Benghazi.”
“It is hard to know,” Kuperman continues, “whether the White House was duped by the rebels or conspired with them to pursue regime-change on bogus humanitarian grounds.” With the truth-challenged Hillary Clinton at the helm of this misbegotten misadventure, it isn’t at all hard to draw the conclusion that the “genocide” claim was an outright lie perpetrated by the administration and its Libyan Islamist allies.
That these brazen falsehoods are coupled with phrases oozing with liberal “idealism,” calls for “international cooperation,” and proclamations that all Washington desires is “peace” throughout the Middle East and the world makes for a toxic and particularly nauseating cocktail. Bashar al-Assad is a “tyrant,” but the regime of Gen. Abdel al-Sisi, which overthrew the democratically elected government, is merely guilty of making “decisions inconsistent with inclusive democracy.”
Speaking of Assad, Obama’s focus wasn’t on the spread of the Islamic State but on the Syrian strongman, who is barely holding on to power by his fingernails. He cited Washington’s support for the so-called “moderate” rebels, but complained that – for some unspecified reason – “extremist groups have still taken root to exploit the crisis.” What he didn’t mention – although Putin did – is that these alleged “moderates” have gone over to the extremists in droves, raising the question: were these US-funded Good Guys always Bad Guys in an ill-fitting disguise?
[Editorial note: This is the first part of a two-part column contrasting President Obama’s UN speech to the address delivered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The second part, dealing with Putin’s remarks, will be published on Friday.]