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Rogue Mission: Did the Pentagon Bomb Syrian Army to Kill Ceasefire Deal?

By       Message Mike Whitney       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   14 comments

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Reprinted from Counterpunch

U.S. Led Attack on Syria
U.S. Led Attack on Syria
(Image by shannonwatch.org)
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"Everything suggests that the attack... was deliberately committed by forces inside the US government hostile to the ceasefire...Claims that US fighters were unaware of who they were bombing are simply not credible, and are flatly contradicted by other accounts in the media..." -- Alex Lantier, World Socialist Web Site

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A rift between the Pentagon and the White House turned into open rebellion on Saturday when two US F-16s and two A-10 warplanes bombed Syrian Arab Army (SAA) positions at Deir al-Zor killing at least 62 Syrian regulars and wounding 100 others. The US has officially taken responsibility for the incident which it called a "mistake," but the timing of the massacre has increased speculation that the attack was a desperate, eleventh-hour attempt to derail the fragile ceasefire and avoid parts of the implementation agreement that Pentagon leaders publicly opposed.

Many analysts now wonder whether the attacks are an indication that the neocon-strewn DOD is actively engaged in sabotaging President Obama's Syria policy, a claim that implies that the Pentagon is led by anti-democratic rebels who reject the Constitutional authority of the civilian leadership. Saturday's bloodletting strongly suggests that a mutiny is brewing at the War Department.

The chasm that's emerged between the Pentagon warhawks and the more conciliatory members of the Obama administration has drawn criticism from leading media outlets in the US (The New York Times) to high-ranking members in the Russian cabinet. On Saturday, at an emergency press conference at the United Nations, Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin referred to the apparent power struggle that is taking place in Washington with these blunt comments:

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"The big question that has to be asked is 'Who is in charge in Washington? Is it the White House or the Pentagon?' "Because we have heard comments from the Pentagon which fly in the face of comments we have heard from Obama and Kerry..."

Watch here. (See -- 10:15 second)

Churkin is not the only one who has noticed the gap between Obama and his generals. A recent article in the New York Times also highlighted the divisions which appear to be widening as the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. Here's an excerpt from the New York Times:

"(SECDEF Ash) 'Carter was among the administration officials who pushed against the (ceasefire) agreement ... Although President Obama ultimately approved the effort. On Tuesday at the Pentagon, officials would not even agree that if a cessation of violence in Syria held for seven days -- the initial part of the deal -- the Defense Department would put in place its part of the agreement on the eighth day...

"'I'm not saying yes or no,' Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, commander of the United States Air Forces Central Command, told reporters on a video conference call. 'It would be premature to say that we're going to jump right into it.'" ("Details of Syria Pact Widen Rift Between John Kerry and Pentagon," New York Times)

Think about that for a minute: Lt. General Harrigian appears to be saying that he may not follow an order from the Commander in Chief if it's not to his liking. When exactly did military leaders start to believe that orders are optional or that the DOD had a role to play in policymaking? Here's more from the NYT:

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"The divide between Mr. Kerry and Mr. Carter reflects the inherent conflict in Mr. Obama's Syria policy. The president has come under increased fire politically for his refusal to intervene more forcefully in the five-year civil war, which the United Nations says has killed more than 400,000 people, displaced more than six million and led to a refugee crisis in Europe. But keeping large numbers of American ground forces out of Syria has also created space for Russia to assume a greater role there, both on the battlefield and at the negotiating table...

"The result is that at a time when the United States and Russia are at their most combative posture since the end of the Cold War, the American military is suddenly being told that it may, in a week, have to start sharing intelligence with one of its biggest adversaries to jointly target Islamic State and Nusra Front forces in Syria.

"'I remain skeptical about anything to do with the Russians,' Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, who recently stepped down as NATO's supreme allied commander, said Monday in an interview. 'There are a lot of concerns about putting out there where our folks are.'" (New York Times)

So warhawk Supremo, Ash Carter, and his Russophobe colleagues want to intensify the conflict, expand America's military footprint in Syria, and confront Russia directly. They don't approve of the President's policy, so they're doing everything they can to torpedo the ceasefire deal. But why now, after all, the ceasefire began five days ago? If Carter and Co. saw the cessation of hostilities as such a threat , why didn't they act before?

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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.

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