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Syria And Chemical Weapons

Syria and chemical weapons. Where is the red line? What if it’s crossed?

In this Tuesday March 19, 2013, citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, black smoke rise from buildings due to government forces shelling, in Aleppo, Syria. (AP)

In this Tuesday March 19, 2013, citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, black smoke rise from buildings due to government forces shelling, in Aleppo, Syria. (AP)

Syria is the nightmare that won’t go away.  Not for Syrians, suffering now into their third year of rebellion and repression.  70,000 dead.  A million refugees.

Not for the neighbors, struggling with those refugees and all kinds of blowback.  Lebanon’s government has just collapsed.  Israel, firing into Syria on Sunday.  Turkey, hosting an airlift to the rebels.  Iraq, under big pressure from the US to stop Iran’s over-flight relief to Syria’s Assad.

And last week, chemical attack talk – and “red line” warnings from President Obama.

This hour, On Point:  the red lines and hard reality in Syria.

-Tom Ashbrook


Clarissa Ward, foreign correspondent for CBS News. (@clarissaward)

Jeffrey White, defense fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

From Tom’s Reading List

CNN “The Syrian government has sent U.N. investigators the results of blood and soil testing from a mysterious attack that killed 25 people and injured more than 110 others, CNN affiliate ITN reported Sunday.”

The New York Times “Showing solidarity with Israel’s growing concern about chemical weapons in neighboring Syria, President Obama stated bluntly on Wednesday that if an investigation he had ordered found proof that the Syrian military had used such weapons it would be a “game changer” in American involvement in the civil war there.”

USA Today “Whether Syria crossed a “red line” by using chemical weapons in its battle against a rebellion appeared murky Wednesday and both sides in the war blamed the other for an attack that Western nations are unsure even happened.”


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  • AC

    when will the results of the tests be available?

    • Gregg Smith

      I heard Oliver North suggesting there were no chemical agents used, I guess we’ll know soon enough.

      • AC

        i don’t understand? I googled him and he’s an author & tv person, how would he have access to the info?

        • J__o__h__n

          He also illegally sold weapons to the Iranians and illegally gave the money to the murderous Contras.   

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            You forgot how the press corpse couldn’t wash the disgrace off North fast enough. Now if anything, he’s “controversial”, in mediaspeak, and we all know what that means.

        • Gregg Smith
          • Ray in VT

            He’s also a man who has admitted to lying to Congress and who destroyed documents in order to cover up illegal activities in which he participated.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Now AC, we all know Oliver North is everything Chuck Norris wishes he was.

        • Gregg Smith

          AC, I thought Mr. North’s expertise was valuable and insightful so I passed it along. I am amazed at these comments that are completely irrelevant to anything he said. There are those who refuse to listen to logic if it comes from people they have a problem with but logic is logic. His analysis made sense to me but that’s my only claim, take it or leave it. 

          • jefe68

            How is the credibility of Oliver North not an issue if you use him as a source for information? 

          • Gregg Smith

            Mr. North IS credible in matters of warfare. Iran-contra (which I don’t intend to debate) does not change that. Did his analysis make sense to you? It does to me although, as I said, we’ll know soon enough. It seems to me many people are jumping the gun to claim WMD and Mr. North is one of the few that I’ve seen showing skepticism. Skepticism is healthy, that’s all.

      • nj_v2

        Greggg homes in on all the reliable sources.

        What does Rush think, Greggg?

        Does the former part-time Alaskan governor have anything for us?

  • William

    Not our fight. If the UN and the Arab Nations don’t care to become involved we need to stay out of this civil war. 

  • Ellen Dibble

    All sorts of disarmament talks seem to be going on, about arms trading and regulation.  Where do chemical weapons come in this?  

  • Ellen Dibble

    A tenth of Jordan’s population is refugee, I believe I heard, and a million Syrians have had to leave Syria — my best memory. 
        I’m thinking about dual citizenship — something about an Australian with dual Israeli citizenship… It got me thinking.  In a world with WMD and climate creating displacements more and more, not to mention ethnic and sectarian bloodshed, I’m thinking how many people have the choice to leave a country, and how fast?  Another datum I’m thinking of:  10 million Pakistani/Bangladeshis were displaced to India, when Pakistan split in two, around 1974, I think.  TEN MILLION — I have my doubts.  But…

  • donniethebrasco

    The Obama Doctrine:

    More weapons until they all kill each other.

    • roseel

      I think that’s what’s going one here. Tiny Israel could use more land .So we stand buy and allow a regime we ourselves labeled part of the axis of evil, a client of our nemesis Iran to murder it’s own people en mass-when they finally dare  rise up to topple it. We’re complicit in this virtual genocide-I think.

  • albert Sordi

    Hey… It’s WMDs….again.

    The western public hasn’t learned their lesson on Iraq and Lybia.  They have figured out that CNN and the BBC, even NPR,  have become shrill propagandists for the now hidden neocons, still hiding in the shadows, blood still dripping from their fangs.  General Wesley Clark exposed their plan to topple and destabilize seven M.E. nations in five years.
    Assad nor his generals are not that stupid to use chemicals.  They are already beating the CIA-backed rebels.  Listening to these grotesque clowns like Senator Mike Rogers and John Kerry.  The hypocrisy of Dianne Feinstein attempting to disarm americans over the unfortunate deaths of a few children at Sandy Hook, while her zionist foreign policy is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of middle eastern children. 

  • nj_v2

    Seems like some Congress critters—having apparently learned nothing from the many failed U.S. military interventions—can’t wait to saddle up and ride into town. 


    Obama Boosts Syria Support as Congress Pushes Military Intervention

    WASHINGTON, Mar 22 2013 (IPS) – As the Syrian uprising enters its third year, the United States and its allies are preparing to materially increase their support of the armed opposition in Syria.
    Secretary of State John Kerry pledged an additional 60 million dollars in direct aid to the rebels, marking the first time Washington will directly supply rebel forces, but the administration appears as wary as ever to get more directly involved.

    The provision of battlefield materiel has been met with some support from hawks who have pushed for greater military intervention, though many policymakers have urged the president to go even further. Exhortations for intervention have increased since rumours began of a chemical weapons attack in Aleppo. Though U.S. officials have largely dismissed the reports, many members of Congress expressed concern about the use of weapons of mass destruction in Syria.

    On Monday, Rep. Eliot Engel, the most senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced legislation that would authorise funding for “limited lethal assistance” to Syrian opposition groups, assuming that the groups would be carefully vetted in the process.

    Meanwhile, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin concluded a Senate hearing on Syria by stating that a no-fly zone would “be helpful in breaking the deadlock and bringing down the Assad regime”.

    During the hearing, Senator John McCain reiterated his long-held position that the U.S. should intervene more directly in the uprising. Levin and McCain have signed on to a letter urging President Obama to establish no-fly zones and provide more military aid to rebels.

    Both the House legislation and the Senate letter were applauded in a press release Thursday from the Foreign Policy Initiative, the think-tank successor to the neoconservative Project for a New American Century: “This week, key members of Congress stepped into the void of U.S. leadership on the Syria conflict, calling for action to end the Assad regime’s slaughter of the Syrian people and avoid an even greater regional catastrophe.”

    But the boldest military endorsement thus far came from Senator Lindsey Graham, who responded to rumours of the chemical attack by stating, “You’ve got to get on the ground. There is no substitute…I don’t care what it takes…I vote to cut this off before it becomes a problem.”


  • Ellen Dibble

    Tom and Clarissa ask, why is use of chemical weapons the red line?  The rebels ask.  

       To me, this parallels the question the Iranian government might ask:  Why is the nuclear weaponry a red line?
        I think it has to do with non-nation entities, outside the purview of the United Nations, having access to those weapons.

  • suenos88

    Why isn’t America’s “red line” the fact that our children are in a failing school system, that our health care system is broken, that our low & middle classes are suffering at the hands of corporations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Patrick-Dwyer-Jr/100002088204784 James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

    Before we get involved in another war some things need to be done first
    First, congress needs to declare war
    Second, reinstate the draft and this time NO deferments
    Third, impose a tax on the wealthy to pay for it as has always been done in the history of our country with rare exceptions.
    Unless all three conditions are met, No conflict.

  • nj_v2

    Once again, OnPoint offers up panel “experts” as neutral  arbiters without disclosing the biases or history or the organizations they represent.

    Note “guest” Mr. White’s organization, WINEP:


    The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a spin-off the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is an influential beltway think tank whose members have advocated a host of hawkish, “pro-Israel” policies over the years. It is considered a core member of the “Israel lobby,” a constellation of policy shops and advocacy groups devoted to pushing an Israel-centric U.S. agenda in the Middle East. Many of WINEP’s current and former scholars have been closely associated with neoconservatism, and the organization has generally been supportive of the “war on terror” policies pushed by representatives of groups like the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

    Iran and Syria

    Iran and Syria have long been at the center of WINEP’s work, with the group’s scholars promoting a host of aggressive U.S. policies towards these countries, which often dovetail with the goals of other hawkish “pro-Israel” campaigns.…



    Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) is a Washington-DC-based think tank and part of the so-called pro-Israel Lobby; WINEP was founded in 1985. WINEP was founded by AIPAC, and initially WINEP staff and offices overlapped; WINEP’s founding director was Martin Indyk, AIPAC’s former research director. While AIPAC sought to influence the US Congress directly, WINEP is seen as a means to influence US foreign policy, discussion of foreign policy in the media, to serve as a conduit to place its own personnel in key policy-making position, and to recruit important policymakers to its cause. WINEP’s means used to influence US foreign policy include the following:

    Write policy papers[1]
    Host seminars/discussions – WINEP hosts or appears in most foreign policy discussions in Washington DC.[2]
    To recruit academics, out-of-office/revolving door policymakers, and wannabe policymakers as fellows to the institute
    Influence US military staff by hosting military as “visiting Military Fellows”[3]
    Place WINEP members in policymaking positions[4][5]
    Issuing endless streams of press releases
    Provide pundits or commentators for the US or Western media.[6]
    Provide forums where it engages in discussions on policy in the Middle East with similar-minded academics, journalists, and policymakers in the Middle East[7]
    Create new foundations or forums to affect specific policy issues or aspects of regional politics WINEP/AIPAC seek to influence[8]


  • MarkVII88

    I don’t think Americans (as a whole) will support any active military engagement in Syria.  Put it to the people and I guarantee it’ll get voted down handily.  I, for one, simply think that our own house is too much of a mess for us to spend the time, money, and human capital to intervene in Syria.  Let someone else do it for a change.  We can’t be the only ones “outraged” at the conduct of the regime in Syria.  If we are so outraged, then we should have been similarly unilaterally intervening in African conflicts for decades. 

  • albert Sordi

    Hey… just why is it again that Assad is the bad guy??

    Its amazing how the US media, including NPR, has pre-programmed their audiences to unchallenged premises.  This onpoint conversations just assumes Assad is the enemy.  
    I always thought Syria was a friend of the USA..   Oh wait… of course… SYRIA is a foe of ISRAEL,  so all US and British citizens must also follow in suit without discussion or insight.  And anglo-americans swallow it freely along with their double cheezeburgers and favorite beverages.

    Americans and brits are the most manipulated and ignorant consumers of news.  Other countries of US scorn, actually have far more analysis and perspective in their news.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Good question. I have no idea, and I have no idea who the opposition are. AFAIK, civil wars have 2 sides. Governments aren’t automatically the bad guys when they fight for survival.

      This is a good example of the lack of real journalism in the USA. The media swallowed the iraq WMD stories, they’re swallowing the iran/syria WMD stories, and they can’t even give a serious analysis of who the two sides in the civil war are. All we get is endless repetition of the beltway echo chamber and endless appearances by their designated talking heads. Yuck. 

    • jefe68

      Syria has been an ally of Russia. 
      What’s amazing is how your anti-Israeli sentiments cloud your judgment of a despot. Pretty amazing.

      Human Rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have detailed how Bashar’s government and secret police routinely tortured, imprisoned, and killed political opponents, and those who speak out against the government. Since 2006 it expanded the use of travel bans against dissidents. In that regard, Syria is the worst offender among Arab states.

      • alsordi

        Lots of hypocrisy with these NGOs, who turn a blind eye on despotic regimes like Israel – killing children with phosphorus bombs, killing aid workers, genocide and land theft, imprisonment of thousands, not declaring their nuclear weapons, assassinating people around the world with their mossad,  blackmailing and manipulating democracies.  Get real Jef.

        • jefe68

          Get real? You want to equate Israel with Syria? Talk about a need to get real.

          That you have strong ideological driven hatred for Israel is clear. This is a show about Syria, not Israel.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002360588492 Dev Devta

             why not!  I think Israel’s behavior vis-a-vis Palestinians is far worse than Syria; after all Syria is fighting a civil war! even USA resorted to massive firepower during its civil war…remember the burning of Atlanta!

  • TomK_in_Boston

    I turned on the sunday tv talk shows yesterday and flipped from gun nut la pierre to a GoP congressman talking about chemical weapons in syria. The myth of the liberal media is truly shocking. Our corporate media lean far right.

    Can we really be hearing the WMD chants again? Do we “know where they are”? Are we concerned that “the smoking gun be a mushroom cloud”? Please, let’s not fall into line like good lemmings this time. 

    Hey Tom/OnPoint. Real journalism would be having someone on who questions the whole big bad threat scenario, not different variants of the beltway echo chamber. Y’know, not repeating the cheerleading for the iraq debacle. In another context, ditto for the big bad deficit threat.

    • nj_v2

      Wow, that borders on self-abuse; watching the Sunday morning bloviation fests.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        Yeah, sick.

    • Gregg Smith

      It’s a rosy world, WMD don’t exist, there is no threat, nothing to see here.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        You bet, Gregg, every time the pols scream “WMD” we better line up like good lemmings and start another war. Iraq and afghanistan are slowing down, we need another place to spend our blood and treasure.
        “We know where they  are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat….”How about those north vietnamese motorboats in the gulf of tonkin, huh?

        • Gregg Smith

          Maybe we should wait until Asaad gasses thousands of his people with WMD that he doesn’t have the way Hussein did with the Kurds.

          • jimino

            You mean like Reagan did NOT do when his Assad’s father wiped out (literally) the city of Hama and all of its occupants in 1982?  What has changed that would require us to take a different approach now?

          • Gregg Smith



          • TomK_in_Boston

            Dam right, time for another war. Don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

            BTW, since you regurgitate yet another talking point: Yes, saddam ONCE HAD chemical weapons because we gave them to him when reagan used him as a pawn against iran. Under our very effective sanctions he lost that capability. You guys like to pretend that nothing had changed by 2003. Sorry.

          • Gregg Smith

            What do you mean “you guys”. Don’t sell the gals short:


            Or Senator Obama:

            “Now let me be clear — I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein.  He is a brutal man.  A ruthless man.  A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power.  He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.  He’s a bad guy.  The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.” 

          • TomK_in_Boston

            There you go again….

            He developed chem weapons with reagan’s blessing, attacked iran with them with reagan’s blessing and intel, and was working on nukes….and in 2003 he couldn’t keep the lights on.

            It’s best to base policy on the present, not the past.

          • Gregg Smith

            Why was Hillary so adamant in Oct. of 2002? That’s when the debate was and decisions were made. UN res.1441 passed the security council unanimously on Nov.8, 2002.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            Why would I care?

            I KNOW the pols and the media ate up the hype.   The inability of the weapons inspectors to find anything,and the absurdityof a state that couldn’t keep the lights on being a threat, couldn’t penetrate their closed minds.

          • Gregg Smith

            The inspector were kicked out in 1998.

      • jefe68

        In the case of Iraq they did not exist on the level that the Bush administration presented to the American people and the UN. 

        • TomK_in_Boston

          as in, a level of zero.

          I was surprised they didn’t have more of the reagan-era chem weapons, but shelf life will get unstable chemicals every time.

      • jimino

        If we don’t want either “side” (and I understand  there are numerous factions on each side) to be empowered, why not let them both/all kill each other rather than support one then have to fight the winner?   Didn’t we learn anything by taking out Saddam Hussein, thereby unleashing the sectarian fight there and strengthening his enemy, Iran, which is now claimed to be OUR major problem in the area?

        I empathize with the suffering involved with letting them go at each other, but the undeniable evidence is that our intrusion will not reduce it, just shift it around.  And our blood, sweat, tears and money get added to the miserable equation.

        Isn’t that the truly real conservative position?

        • Gregg Smith

          I think that is more of a Libertarian position but I have a different view. BTW, I’m not smart enough to advocate one way or the other and think every case has its own set of dynamics. Syria isn’t Iraq who isn’t Iran who isn’t North Korea who isn’t Egypt and so on.

          There is merit to the argument but I think we are not safe if brutal radical regimes have a major foothold. 

    • notafeminista

      Worried your Democrats will fall for it again? 

      • TomK_in_Boston

        Dam right. Few pols of either party can resist a war parade.

        Did you hear that spanish terrorists blew up a US battleship in havana harbor?

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          …and that you’re “for us or agin’ us”?

          Perhaps I’m just not “watching what I do, watching what I say” enough.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.m.cogswell John M Cogswell Jr

    I think there is only one real reason why the US has not intervened in Syria “a la Libya”, and that is because Syria has (or had) a much more robust air defense network which make us pay dearly even for enforcing a no fly zone.  Take that away, and Assad falls like Qaddafi.

    • brettearle

      I think that Libya’s possesion of Oil and its proximity to more Oil-rich countries had something to do with US intervention in Libya, by contrast to its hesitation in Syria.

      Oil is not as much of a geopolitical strategic factor with Syria.

      What’s more, Russia’s ties to Syria are firmer and stronger.

      We continue to alienate Russia and we run the risk of receiving less cooperation, from them, with regard to Iran.

      As a less major factor, but still an issue, is the possibility of a Syrian strike against Israel, as a retaliatory measure, should the US intervene in Syria.

  • MarkVII88

    Let’s ride to Syria’s rescue!  But first, we have to overturn the sequester???  Is this hawkishness a plan to get our military out from under the sequester in the name of “National Security” or “Human Rights”?

  • gardenergal

    Didn’t the rebels shoot the first shots.  Texas was talking about breaking away from the U.S. What if they were shooting at police and the police had to protect themselves by shooting at their own citizens. Then it excellated to the U.S. government getting involoved.  That’s possibly what we are talking about here.  I think initially this is how this whole thing got started.  Could someone comment on air about this please!  I feel this whole thing has been very unclear who was in the wrong at the start of all of this.  The people or government at the begining.  We should be very carefull jumping on BANDWAGONS without all the evidence.

    • jefe68

      How is it possible for someone to be so misinformed about the Assad regime? Who was in the wrong?

      The police departments, sherif and Texas Rangers are citizens of the state of Texas. They are not Federal police. You seem a bit confused.

      Why should anyone on On Point even bother responding when it’s seems that you have not done any reading on this. If you had, well something is amiss.

      • http://twitter.com/richaka02 Richard Akashambatwa

        where can you protest in the US with an AK47 in your hands?? The police or sherif will arrest you immediately. 

        • jefe68

          Actually there was some protests with Tea Party members who were brandishing AR 15′s at some political rally a few years ago.

          Nothing happened to them. Now if they started shooting them off, well that would not be such a good idea.

          In any state that allows you to cary a weapon you can do this. From Vermont to Texas.

      • northeaster17

        Is a protest without an AK an protest at all?

        • Gregg Smith

          Sure it is, look at the occupy protest. There was vandalism, theft, rape and death. No AK’s.

          • jimino

             “vandalism, theft, rape and death. No AK’s.”

            Maybe you’re getting it confused with current active duty military existence. 

  • Expanded_Consciousness

    Annoying, hyper, panicky fund-raising really gutted this show. Less is more. 1 minute spots versus 15 minutes, would be a lot better and would raise you more money.

    • nj_v2

      Listen online to another station that broadcasts the program at the same time.

      Ironically, the show gutted the fund raising, at least in my case. Biased panels, less than full disclosure of the organizations represented. 

      • notafeminista

        Good that you live in a country that affords you the choice.

        • harverdphd

           Don’t look for a rebuttal.  Pinky’s time in the computer room is limited.

  • nj_v2

    This is what some would have the U.S. step into…


    Syria profile
    A chronology of key events:

    • harverdphd

       Thanks for warning us about your dog poop.

  • Trond33

    Sure, Syria has some nasty chemical weapons, but they also have some nasty responses from their neighbors and global powers to consider if chemical weapons are used.  

    The real lesson here, and the scary lesson, is that this is a country not only in civil war, but with a government and military that is starting implode.  Syria, even after the use of chemical weapons, is “manageable.”  The big lesson and consideration should be given toward a similar government and military implosion in North Korea.  Most experts agree that sooner or later, North Korea will implode and collapse in on itself.  Chemical weapons are bad, nuclear weapons are a much great danger.   

    • brettearle

      Are you suggesting that NK will launch a nuclear missile out of final desperation?

      • Ray in VT

        Maybe he (?) is.  Maybe he isn’t.  I didn’t think along those lines, although it would seem to make about as much sense as the rest of that place.  I was thinking more along the lines of technologies or materials going missing and getting moved by some entrepreneurial army general or something.

        • brettearle

          Yeah, I can see that.

          Seems like that sort of Forward Thinking, by a thread participant, could be even shrewder than the speculation that might have occurred before the break-up of the Soviet Union.

          • Ray in VT

            I would hope that it is easier today for people to see the potential for such situations, given the history of the demise of the Soviet Union and some of the things that transpired.  I don’t know how much thought was put into such eventualities 20+ years ago, because it seems to have been something of an anomalous situation, given that the fall of the Wall and the rapid deterioration of the Eastern Bloc was something that took so many of those tasked with knowing about such situations by surprise.  For instance, it seemed like a decent idea to some to support of bunch of religious fighters in central Asia 30 years ago, and we know how that turned out.  Second time around one would hope that we’d be a bit more cautious about arming such groups.

          • brettearle

            You are likely familiar with the link between OBL and the CIA?

            No conspiracy theory, coming from me, necessarily.

            But you can connect the Mujahideen with the CIA, via “Operation Cyclone”–during Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan…..which is what you may have been alluding to, above. 

            Do you know of Graham Allison’s work on loose nukes?

            He’s from the Belfer Center at Harvard.

            His research covers Nuclear Proliferation after the Soviet satellite split-up.

            The book is NUCLEAR TERRORISM.

            Thanks for following up, with your comment, above….

          • Ray in VT

            I’m only rather vaguely familiar with the general details of our support of mujahideen during the Soviet invasion/occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s (as a child my first such exposure was via the film Spies Like Us, which I still love), and that is indeed to what I was referring, although one could look at other attempts that we have made at supporting foreign regimes, such as in Vietnam, and wonder how we have managed to blunder into some of these situations more than once.

            The name Graham Allison rings a bell, but I can’t directly place it.  I’ve probably just heard him referenced in the news or on the radio.

            The problem with nuclear is that the genie is out of the bottle.  We had this arrogance at the end of WWII concerning how we had the bomb, and then we were surprised as hell when the Soviets blew up their first device only a couple of years later.  There was A.Q. Khan, and presently possibly some connections between the North Koreans and Iranian scientists.

            States, though, I think, as less likely to use a weapon than stateless groups, because I think that the doctrine of mutually assured destruction, if one wants to call such a contest between North Korea and the U.S., were it to come to nukes, does hold some water.  It’s the stateless actors that are the greater unknown, and I don’t think that we fully appreciated their potential at the end of the Cold War.  We had won it, after all.  The Soviets fell.  Capitalism and the U.S. stood triumphant, and we had little appreciation for just how loud a mouse could roar.

          • brettearle

            The Arrogance, indeed, led to 9/11.

            You don’t have to wait until the first World Trade Center bombing, in 1993.

            But that is the most conspicuous place to start…..

            The stateless actors are what Allison looks at.

            This nuclear portability matter–where smaller and more compact technology will continue to be perfected in the Future–means that a detonation may be a question of `when’, not `if.’


      • Trond33

        I am in fact suggesting that a collapsing regime, such as is found in North Korea, is more dangerous than a non-state actor.  With nothing to lose, a faction within North Korea could easily strike out with one or more bombs.  In desperate times, people do irrational things.  

        Now, nuclear technology has been in the open for a long time.  In the mid 1970s a PhD student at Princeton showed all he needed was fissionable material and single handily he could build a bomb.  

        As far as terrorists using some sort of nuclear weapon, even the CIA’s own estimates in the late 1990s predicted the high probability of the loss of a major city within ten years.  That has not happened.  In part I think because of a type of mutual assured destruction.  Say Al Qaeda or a similar group used such a device, there is a high probability that one of the three Muslim holiest sites (Mecca, Medina or Jerusalem) would quickly be destroyed in retaliation.  If Tel Aviv was hit, I don’t doubt for a minute that Israel would retaliate within 24 hours.  If London or Washington, DC, there is a good chance the politicians would decide a line has been crossed and destroy one of the three holiest sites. 

        • brettearle

          You may not be taking into account that without direct fingerprints–wherein we can’t prove who hit one of our cities–that if we simply lashed out, indiscriminately, Russia and China could `lose it’, so to speak.

          In another words MAD may no longer obtain, at that point.

          What’s more, I wouldn’t be surprised if the US hasn’t been pre-warned, about these unthinkable scenarios.

          Also, Israel being the loose cannon that it would be, if struck with devastation, I then think WWIII would be even a greater possibility, than with the ‘Dirty Bomb’ scenario, where a US city could be a target.

  • http://twitter.com/richaka02 Richard Akashambatwa

    what gives us the mandate to engage in Syria on the side of the opposition?? Y’all are advocating for war here which has Russia and China supporting the other side. 

    • TomK_in_Boston

      OnPoint apparently feels the need to rebroadcast the DC insider “consensus”.

      Tom, real journalism is QUESTIONING what’s accepted for true inside the beltway.

      • Tyranipocrit

         but they cannot–he cannont–because they are pawns of the fascist corporate-aristocracy–manufacturing consent and reality–this is the way it has always been since 1776 and before.  Americans are dumb.

    • harverdphd

       Chill, dude…Y’all need to consider that Russia and China need the good ol’ US of A or they go to the underside of the outhouse two-holer

  • harverdphd

    Hilareeeeeeee….for God’s sake help us!

  • Bouchra Idlibi

    Tom, would your guests please comment on the long term strategic liabilities to the US and the rest of the world if we continue to watch the massacre taking place in Syria.

  • Bern1313

    The American people have invested heavily in blood and money in Iraq.  Now to hear Assad is being reinforced via the Iraq border,  Tells me it was all for naught.. 

  • TomK_in_Boston

    Funny how Iraq’s chem weapons weren’t a “red line” when reagan was using them to attack iran via proxy.


    • Gregg Smith

      Roosevelt and Stalin were partners, it was a good thing. Geo-politics is a bitch. I’m more concerned about a President who launched his campaign in the home of an unrepentant terrorist, Bill Ayers. You know, the here and now.

      So, clear it up for me, are you suggesting there is no red line with Syria? How much human suffering are you willing to condone?

      • Ray in VT

        Oh come on now, the Iranians couldn’t have been that bad, I mean, after all, the administration of conservatism’s patron saint was slipping them weapons on the DL, so how bad could they have been?  I’m far more concerned with the motives and end goals of a movement that gets major financial backing from industrialists who’s subsidiaries are under investigation for making deals with regimes known to support international terrorism.  You know, the here and now.

        • Gregg Smith

          Oh come on Ray, I know you agree with me. You’ve made the same point in the past. One size does not fit all. A President has to play the hand they’re dealt in the context of the time. Are you just trying to pick a fight? Good night.

          • Ray in VT

            No, I’m not trying to pick a fight.  Well, maybe a little, due to that tired “palling around with terrorists” stuff.  There has been plenty of opportunity to bring Ayers to justice over the past 40 years if there was seemingly a provable case or the will.  Perhaps we should also ask questions of a certain former vice presidential candidate and her family’s ties to a separatist group or if she did any palling around with someone who ran guns to terrorists while they both worked for the same company.

            I know that sometimes necessity compels one to side with some unsavory individuals in certain situations.  We sided with a tyrant in Stalin in order to defeat the greater tyranny of Nazism.  In the case of supporting Saddam though, I question whether that move was in our interest and whether we were supporting the greater tyrant in Saddam than we were opposing in the Ayatollah, just as I question the wisdom of supporting some of the figures that we did in Latin America.  And if the Iranians were so terrible that we could justify supporting a regime that may have killed up to 100,000 Iranians using chemical agents during the Iran-Iraq War, then why were we selling them arms?  The sad fact is that our meddling in Iran helped to create the conditions that brought about the Islamic Revolution, and the actions of the U.S. and the West then aided the Iraqis develop terrible weapons that they used against their own people and the Iranians prior to the first gulf war.

          • Gregg Smith

            Obama was stewed in radicalism and the unrepentant Ayers is but one example. It’s just true. We are seeing the results.

          • Ray in VT

            I know.  His biological father instilled him with deep anti-colonialist feelings, and that’s probably what also compelled him to drop criminal charges against the New Black Panthers in January 2009.

          • Gregg Smith

            Good points although I think the black panthers thing was just plain ol’ getevenwithumism. It certainly was not based on the rule of law. Did you read the book by Dinesh D’Souza?

          • Ray in VT

            Who was gotten even with, and just why was it that the Bush administration did not pursue criminal charges then, or, apparently, against a “patriot” group that was accused of something similar out west in 2006?  Also, why did political appointees intervene in order to see that charges were not dismissed outright?  The IG report said that that case was decided “”based on a good faith assessment of the law and facts of the case,” not on anti-white racism or corruption.”  Like with many supposed controversies that the right has tried to stir up, there isn’t really any fire behind their smoke.

            I have not read D’Souza’s book.  It’s on my night stand, right under the one that contemplates why so many Indian Americans seem to tend conservative based upon the prejudices ingrained in the Subcontinent’s caste system.

          • Gregg Smith

            It was a done deal until Holder stepped in.Whitey got theirs for all that oppression.

        • Gregg Smith

          Ray, I’m sure my last comment will elicit a response that sends us straight to the weeds but I believe it. I can’t prove it. There is evidence that race was the factor. Blacks are treated differently under Holder/Obama. The defendants didn’t even show up for trial, they lost by default until Holder reversed it. We can argue all week. 

          Back to the larger issue which I’m sure you dismiss as whacked and I’m cool with that. Obama was stewed in radicalism. If I didn’t believe it I would be smelling the roses instead of speaking out. I am truly terrified that he is in charge. I really am. I don’t expect you to agree. I don’t have any friends who planted bombs ever and still say they didn’t go far enough. Rev. Wright is not what I call pro American. Even Oprah got out of that church. Frank Marshall Davis is another very troubling influence. I don’t dismiss D’Souza’s colonialism claims. I do think his father was a radical. There is tons of anecdotal evidence from Barack’s college mates of his early and stubborn radicalism. He tactics do match the Alinski model with astonishing accuracy. I do think he is fundamentally transforming America to a European style socialism as Europe implodes. I do think he is dividing America as never before. 

          We will never agree and the one thing I want most in all the world is to be wrong.

          • Bill_GKD

            “In the highly controversial NBPP matter, we found that the
            decisions that were reached by both administrations were ultimately supportable
            on non-racial and non-partisan ground

            “We believe that, in making the decision on May 15 to dismiss Jackson, King and Rosenbaum inevitably were affected by their loss of
            confidence in the accuracy of the information that had been provided by the
            Section to Division management about the case.”

            “we found that there was insufficient evidence to conclude
            that the decision to dismiss Jackson from the suit was based on hostility to
            enforcing the civil rights laws against a Black defendant, or that it was made
            for improper political reasons.”

            “Attorney General Holder was briefed on and generally
            indicated his approval of the decision by King and Rosenbaum to overrule the
            case team’s recommendation and dismiss some of the defendants.  However, we do not infer an improper motive,
            without more, from these acts. Senior officials in the Department obviously are
            not required to recuse themselves from cases with potential political
            implications merely because they are political appointees. Based on our review
            of documents and the testimony, we did not find evidence to conclude that the political
            appointees approved the decision for improper partisan or racial considerations.”That’s all from the IG report, so feel free to choose to believe that this was all just some payback to whitey, but facts are certainly not on your side.  It is interesting to see one who often decries how people see the influence of race in everything throwing the race card here.How did those white Minutemen harassing latinos out in Arizona plead?  Oh yeah, this same division, which Adams was a part of, did not charge them at all.  So one charge against the NBPP and none against the Minutemen.  Who got treated more harshly there?I would be terrified if just about anyone from the last slate of GOP candidates were in charge now.  Huntsman seems to have been about the only one of the bunch who wasn’t off kilter, although Mitt was probably #2.Was there any direct evidence that Ayers “planted bombs”, and if so, then why no charges?Here’s what he had to say about “not doing enough”:
            “When I say, ‘We didn’t do enough,’ a lot of people rush to think,
            ‘That must mean, “We didn’t bomb enough s—.”’ But that’s not the point
            at all. It’s not a tactical statement, it’s an obvious political and
            ethical statement. In this context, ‘we’ means ‘everyone.’

            “The war in Vietnam was not only illegal, it was profoundly immoral,
            millions of people were needlessly killed. Even though I worked hard to
            end the war, I feel to this day that I didn’t do enough because the war
            dragged on for years after the majority of the American people came to
            oppose it. I don’t think violent resistance is necessarily the answer,
            but I do think opposition and refusal is imperative.”

            I would much rather be like Europe, at least northern Europe or Canada, then the banana republic style of system that the better part of 3 decades of Reaganomics and trickle down has led us towards.  If the President can lead us more along the path the much of the rest of the industrial world has gone, instead of giving a bunch of failed libertarian fantasies another go-round, then I would be happy to give him my full support and perhaps only regret in my old age that I did not do more.

          • Ray in VT

            Well, I was crafting a reply, but that hit much of what I was going after, so I’ll leave it at that I guess.

          • Gregg Smith

            As I said, we won’t agree.

          • Gregg Smith
          • Gregg Smith

            A link would have been nice but I recognize the IG report from a couple of weeks ago. So feel free to call me a conspiracy nut but I don’t believe it for a minute. IG’s who don’t tow the party line are not treated well, see Gerald Walprin. A report years out by a radical administration means little to me. Even so, the best they could conjure was “insufficient evidence”. That’s not “no evidence”. All I said was there was evidence. The report does not dispute that. Why would they call it “highly controversial”?

            You don’t dispute Obama is fundamentally transforming America into a European style socialism you just imply it ain’t that bad. I disagree.

  • Tyranipocrit

    your pseudo-environment is laughable.  how Many times can you use this tired line about chemical weapons before Americans realize you are all bunch of jokers in the corporate/media/government industry.  I wish you people would all take a long walk off a short pier.  There are no chemical weapons that America did not lend or use.  Syria is not a threat.  America is.  Stop playing cowboys and indians and pay your GD taxes. 

    Its time for the 99% to rise up and shake the earth–incarcerate all these buffoons in government and the fascist corporate. banker, wall street pseudo-environment.

  • Tyranipocrit

    Chances are a chemical plant was detonated by raging fires, or ballistic missiles, either from Israel or the US (or anyone).  Chances are it was accidental.  Chemical plants blow up all the time everywhere and industrialists are never held accountable–even tho hundreds and thousands die.

    Yet our fraudulent journalists never ask obvious questions. 

    I am more inclined to think that America or its partner in crime–Israel–used chemical weapons against the Syrian people and are using this as a false flag opportunity to manufacture consent and the never-ending illusion.  American journalists are nothing more than sorcerers conjuring lies lies lies. You people are a joke.  How many times can you use this tired rhetoric?  Probably forever–Americans are so dumb.

    What if it were chemical?  Yeah, BP oil spills, Chevron oil spills, Shell oil spills, Exxon oil spills, chemical plants blowing up all the time and never discussed in the media, industrial waste and pollution currently spraying millions–What if it were chemical?

    Why do you applaud industrialists as leaders among us when really they are just chemical tyrants waging war against us all–and in control of this program talking nonsense–lie lies lies.  NPR does nothing but squablle squablle –not real journalism.

    • buddhaclown

       Yawn . . .

      Another conspiracy whack job using the internet to write their manifesto . . . how novel . . .

      • Tyranipocrit

        yeah ok whatever whacko–good argument, good comeback, good deflection. im a whacko because i explore all possibilities–practical possibilities–and you call it a conspiracy theory. But you dont see how its s conspiracy theory to deny all possiblities exept one–your point ov view, the state point of view–the unrealistic point of view–always they are the evil ones and we are the heroes–how DC comics of you. How juvenile. How thick. how tarded. how whacko. You eally are a nut job. Why dont you take your spangled flag and sit on it. You are a wast eof life. You are a terrorist. You are a conspiracy nut job whacko troll masturbating pimpled flag waving prebuecent tea bag libertarian schill. lets see–bombs going off in a middle of a war–and you cant see how its plausible that a chemical plant is detonated. Are you so f-ing myopic, so tarded. Do u love fox conspiracies tha tmuch. What the f kind of name is buddhaclown–you are a joke. You should have been the sperm oozing between your mothers legs. Tak that back to your fing troll club looser. Just go kill yourself–you’re wasting my air. Dumb shit.

  • TomK_in_Boston
  • UofIx3

    Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has this article, “The thin red line,” available at http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/op-eds/the-thin-red-line

Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

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Sex, power and Beyoncé’s feminism. The message to young women.

Aug 28, 2014
Some of the hundreds of earthquake damaged wine barrels cover and toppled a pair of forklifts at the Kieu Hoang Winery, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Napa, Calif. A powerful earthquake that struck the heart of California's wine country caught many people sound asleep, sending dressers, mirrors and pictures crashing down around them and toppling wine bottles in vineyards around the region. (AP)

Drought in California, earthquake in Napa. We look at broken bottles and the health of the American wine industry.

Aug 28, 2014
Photos surround the casket of Michael Brown before the start of his funeral at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014.  (AP)

The message that will last out of Ferguson with New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb.

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