Reprinted from Consortium News
Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Secretary of State John Kerry before meetings at the Kremlin on Dec. 15, 2015.
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The Washington Post's editorial board is livid that President Barack Obama appears to have accepted the Russian position that the Syrian people should decide for themselves who their future leaders should be -- when the Post seems to prefer that the choice be made by neoconservative think tanks in Washington or other outsiders.
So, in a furious editorial on Friday, the Post castigated Secretary of State John Kerry for saying -- after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow -- that the Obama administration and Russia see the political solution to Syria "in fundamentally the same way," meaning that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could stand for election in the future.
The Russian position, which Obama finally seems to be accepting, is that the Syrian people should be allowed to choose their own leaders through fair, internationally organized elections, rather than have outside powers dictate who can and who can't compete in a democratic process. Obama's previous stance was that Assad must be prevented from running in an election.
But that meant the Syrian bloodshed and resulting chaos -- now spreading across Europe and into the U.S. political process -- would continue indefinitely as the United States took the curious position of opposing democracy in favor of an insistence that "Assad must go," a demand favored by U.S. neocons and liberal interventionists, Israel and regional Sunni "allies," such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.
To the chagrin of the Post's editors, Obama finally ceded to the more democratically defensible position that the Syrian people should pick their own leaders. After all, if Obama is right about how much the Syrian people hate Assad, elections would empower them to implement their own "regime change" through the ballot box. But that uncertain outcome is not what the Post's editors want. They want a predetermined result -- Assad's ouster -- regardless of the Syrian people's wishes.
And regarding the editorial, you also should note the reference to Assad killing "his own people with chemical weapons," an apparent allusion to the now-discredited -- but still widely accepted (inside Official Washington at least) -- claim that Assad was behind a lethal sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013.
To this day, the U.S. government (or, for that matter, the Washington Post) has not presented any verifiable evidence to support the Assad-did-it allegation, but it nevertheless has become an Everyone-Knows-It-To-Be-True "group think" based on endless repetition, much as Official Washington concluded that Iraq's Saddam Hussein had WMD stockpiles, based on the fact that it was stated as flat fact by lots of Important People, including the Post's editorial writers.
Official Washington's epistemology seems to be that if enough Important People say something is true, then it becomes true -- regardless of where the actual evidence leads. [See Consortiumnews.com's "The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case."]
Other parts of the Post's attacks are equally dubious in that the Post's editors -- who were all-in for the "shock and awe" bombing of Iraq and wouldn't think of sharing blame for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed as a result of President George W. Bush's Washington Post-endorsed invasion -- are now outraged over Syria's homemade "barrel bombs" and blame Assad for all the deaths, even though many of the dead were Syrian soldiers killed by Islamic jihadists, armed and financed by U.S. "allies," Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and others.
And, by the way, some torture blamed on Syria was carried out in coordination with the Bush administration's "extraordinary rendition" program as part of the "global war on terror." For instance, Canadian citizen Maher Arar, who was seized by the U.S. government at New York's Kennedy International Airport in September 2002 while on his way home to Canada, was shipped to Syria as a suspected Al Qaeda member. Arar was tortured in Syria before being cleared of suspicions by both Syria and Canada, according to a later Canadian investigation.
But, hey, you don't expect The Washington Post's neocon editors to give you any honest context, do you?
The more immediate issue is the Post's fury over the prospect that the Syrian people would be allowed to vote on Assad's future rather than have it dictated by neocon think tanks, Islamic jihadist rebels and their Turkish-Saudi-Qatari-Israeli-CIA backers.
The Post's editors wrote, "On Tuesday in Moscow, Mr. Kerry took another big step backward: 'The United States and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change,' he said. He added that a demand by a broad opposition front that Mr. Assad step down immediately was a 'non-starting position' -- because the United States already agreed that Mr. Assad could stay at least for the first few months of a 'transition process.'"
Kerry "now agrees with Mr. Putin that the country's future leadership must be left to Syrians to work out," the Post's outraged editors wrote. Yes, you read that correctly.