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‘Obama backed off from bombing Syria over political concerns’

US President Barack Obama told the Atlantic magazine that he is “proud” that he stood up to intense pressure in 2013 and refused to order airstrikes against Syria on allegations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons near Damascus.

US President Barack Obama’s reasons for backpedaling from his 2013 threat to bomb Syria were based on pragmatic and political concerns rather than principle, an international lawyer and political analyst says.

Barry Grossman, who is based on the Indonesian island of Bali, told Press TV on Friday that Obama’s tactic of distinguishing military interventions which fall short of an invasion or openly declared war and therefore, in his strange view, do not need to meet the international requirements for legal warfare, from full scale wars which he seems to concede may require some underlying legitimate mandate and legality.

In my view, it is this contrived distinction which makes up the real Obama Doctrine, said Grossman, who was commenting on Obama’s lengthy interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, published by The Atlantic on Thursday.

Obama told Goldberg that he is “proud” that he stood up to intense pressure in 2013 and refused to order airstrikes against Syria on allegations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons near Damascus.

The pro-war rhetoric against Syria intensified after foreign-backed militants accused the President Bashar al-Assad government of launching a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21, 2013.

Damascus had denied the accusations, saying the attack was carried out by the militants themselves as a false-flag operation.

Goldberg’s cynical attempt

Grossman said Goldberg’s 49-page article, like all his others, is just a cynical attempt to mold Obama’s legacy and express it terms which advance a liberal Zionist agenda.

He said the article “is a long winded, boastful retrospective that repackages his previous efforts to both demystify and publicly stage-manage the Obama phenomena.  Drawing on his previous incantations about President Obama,   it might just as well have been named – ‘How America’s First Jewish President Saved the World.’”

“Since both Goldberg and Obama love to speak about reality, it is essential to remember that this piece, which has been hailed as the Rosetta Stone of Obama’s foreign policy, is as much about Goldberg as it is about President Obama.  Being littered with ideologically motivated falsehoods, it is about almost anything except reality; but it does mark a convergence of interest they have in molding a favorable Obama legacy, expressed in terms which advance Goldberg’s mainstream, liberal Zionist agenda,” he said.  

“Obama’s twelfth hour decision not to unleash fire and brimstone on Syria in August 2013, Goldberg enlightens us, cast Obama in the role of being either a feckless opponent of America’s righteous ambitions or a sagacious savior who pulled the world back from the abyss.  This juxtaposition contrived for dramatic effect entirely ignores the fact that even the feckless can sometimes make correct decisions, though not necessarily for all the right reasons,” he stated.

“Okay,  giving credit where credit is due,  many of us were deeply relieved that Obama  backpedaled  from his threat to rain bombs down on Damascus;  but his self professed pride in that decision seems entirely misplaced given that, in Goldberg’s view of events, he made it primarily to spare America the ignominy of becoming bogged down in yet another of its indecisive wars and, at the time,  probably still expected that the same fate which pulled [former Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak from his throne would befall Assad, as if the events leading to Mubarak’s  unceremonious fall from grace had nothing to do with the USA,”  he noted.

Obama allowed CIA to ruin Syria

“In any case, Goldberg makes it quite clear that Obama’s forbearance in Syria certainly was not in any way motivated by respect for the preference expressed by a majority of the Syrian people.  Moreover we should never forget that, as a trade off in the rough and tumble of politics, despite Obama’s last minute reversal, he nevertheless gave the CIA and State Department hawks pretty much a free hand to bomb Syria into the stone age and engage in any amount of subterfuge they see fit, as long as their efforts do not involve too many boots on the ground and are not perceived as a war by the wider public,” Grossman said.

“Goldberg makes a point of trotting out concerns he claims Obama had about the legality and legitimacy of full scale military intervention in Syria by presidential directive. He even goes so far as to disingenuously hint  at Obama’s rejection of  the notion championed by Samantha Power that sovereignty should not be considered inviolate when a country is deemed to be  abusing its own citizens,” he added.

“But how can anyone overlook the subsequent events which have ensued and Goldberg’s commentary which together make it quite clear that Obama has no such concerns whenever the dominant narrative makes a case, however, contrived an ideologically loaded it may be, that Americans or American interests are tangibly at risk from threats which can be eradicated with fire power or whenever any military intervention falls short of being what he considers to be a war,” the analyst noted.

The real Obama Doctrine

“Apparently Obama is of the view that the chronic military intervention  and state sanctioned killing which has been the hallmark of his administration , falling short of full scale military invasion as it  has,  does not require concessions to any nation’s sovereignty or a foundation of international legality.  Unpacking and deconstructing these odd distinctions makes it quite clear that Obama’s concerns are with politics and public perception rather than legality or ethics,” Grossman said.

“Ironically,  Obama ‘s approach is ultimately  far more dangerous than the position taken  by  his  hawkish critics,  in that it implicitly purports to redefine  war from  being what it has always been -  that is, a belligerent, military incursion on another  sovereign nation  -  to instead  being something which magically does not even exist,  absent both a clear declaration of war and  a full scale military invasion.  Nice sleight of hand if you can get away it,” he stated.

“This long term tactic comes  straight from the Zionist playbook and  by asserting that, unlike conventional full scale wars,  chronic military assaults  on foreign  nations do not require legal justification,  Obama’s  view that military interventions are not always necessarily wars  –  a position which I would  say embodies the real Obama Doctrine - both justifies Israel’s long running genocidal war on Palestine and sets the stage  for a world in which not so surgical US military corrections become a fact of daily life in all nations which resist the corporatist ideology that has by stealth become the New World Order’s state religion,” the commentator observed.  

Goldberg’s illumination of Obama presidency

“Goldberg’s deeply self-serving  illumination of Obama’s presidency  is interesting as far it goes but his product exposes a deep rooted ideological bias boiling away beneath the surface of his fictions,” Grossman said.

“In a masterstroke of understatement, he acknowledges that even the obsequious James Clapper advised President Obama that the case against Assad for using chemical weapons was not a ‘slam dunk’ but Goldberg’s  journalistic efforts – like Obama’s political rhetoric -  have  nevertheless typically been peppered with long winded diatribes presenting those allegations as an established fact,” he added.

“Goldberg’s work is full of bald faced claims, made with Obama’s acquiescence, which portray Iran as being intrinsically anti-Semitic, sectarian and a sponsor of regional terrorism,” he continued. “In stooping to such tactics, both Goldberg and Obama appeal to ethics while never themselves being ethical.”

“Goldberg even goes so far as to turn history on its head by claiming that Bashar Assad somehow midwifed the birth of ISIL. Their rhetoric is the vilest form of sophistry and more hypocritical than the even most obtuse conservatives who, if nothing else, are at least open about their hostile ambitions.  Perhaps more importantly, these partisan outbursts raise serious questions about whether President Obama and his advisers have the slightest idea about what Iran’s foreign policy position actually is,” he observed.

Goldberg, ​Obama’s Rasputin?

“One really only has to read the scripts of other Goldberg-Obama co-productions in which their  friendly banter about mentors  and shared influences  could  make a person think of Goldberg as Obama’s Rasputin if his  marginal status as a 3rd rate Zionist hack was not so clear,” Grossman said.

“As for Goldberg’s latest long winded effort to ‘polish a turd’, about the most interesting revelations to come out of it are Obama almost unqualified complaints about the foreign policy establishment and its all but compulsory ‘Washington Playbook’ which, according to Goldberg’s half truths and spin, is controlled by the US security apparatus and what Goldberg declares to be Arab dominated Think Tank establishment.

According to Obama:

“There’s a playbook in Washington that presidents are supposed to follow. It’s a playbook that comes out of the foreign-policy establishment. And the playbook prescribes responses to different events, and these responses tend to be militarized responses. Where America is directly threatened, the playbook works. But the playbook can also be a trap that can lead to bad decisions.”

“This is of course undoubtedly true but not surprisingly neither Obama nor Goldberg elected to explore the President’s views on this issue which is perhaps the most important of all,” the analyst underlined.

Goldberg’s half truths and spin

Grossman said “The other interesting revelation to come out of Goldberg’s article, is the claim that during the St. Petersburg G-20 meeting which was widely portrayed by the media as being marked by openly hostile relations between Presidents Obama and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin:

‘Obama pulled Putin aside and told the Russian president ‘that if he forced Assad to get rid of the chemical weapons, that would eliminate the need for us taking a military strike.’

“In other words, according to Goldberg, it is Obama who deserves credit for relieving Syria of its chemical weapons arsenal, since it was supposedly Obama who inspired Putin to get Assad to give up his nation’s chemical weapons.”

“There are things I would like to admire about President Obama; there really are. But the facts and what he has himself so often said make it very difficult.  In any case, the real tragedy of the Obama administration is that - insidious and blood drenched as it has been - it will nevertheless undoubtedly come to represent the high-water mark of America’s capacity to oppose the overwhelming pressure from within to use unrestrained military force against any nation which resists US hegemony or its ideology of unregulated corporatism,” the analyst stated.

“Needless to say, in the protracted ethical drought which has prevailed since at least WW2, the high watermark set by President Obama lies well below that which would exist if the natural flow of all things that would otherwise determine it, were not damned up in reservoirs built to serve US interests through 70 years of American adventurism played out on a foundation of human bones laid by centuries of Atlantic World colonialism,” Grossman concluded.

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