As performance art, SoS John Kerry did a remarkable job yesterday laying out the government's "case against Syria." Just so, and in much the same way, David Cameron and the rest of the British government laid out their "case against Syria" before Parliament earlier.
Of course we're told that "stunningly" Parliament "rejected" going to war -- or indeed, taking any action -- against Syria (though if I understand the arcana of the Parliamentary game correctly, they weren't actually voting for or against a "Syria Campaign, " they were voting on whether to proceed toward such a vote... but never mind.) The "stunning rejection" was fairly easy to predict once the debate got underway. It was clear that the Honorable and Right Honorable Members were not inclined to take the word of the Government on this matter. "Trust us" wouldn't do. They wanted to see the evidence, and they wanted time to evaluate it. They had been burned by previous demands based on purported evidence, and they were in no mood to comply this time. The level of fraud the British Government had perpetrated on the Parliament and People of Britain over the Iraq Invasion (and much else besides) still rankles, though the perpetrators will not have to face Justice. The Honorable and Right Honorable Members have decided, though, that they won't get fooled soon again. Not soon again.
Meanwhile, we are told that the President is pressing ahead with his determination to "send Syria a message" that the Assad regime cannot "gas its own people" without serious consequences.
Leave aside for the moment that there is no conclusive evidence regarding who was responsible for the attack on the 21st in the suburbs of Damascus. The Assad regime denies culpability. The UN has not made a report. And witness testimony is all over the map with claims and counterclaims flying. Who did what to whom in a civil war is frequently impossible to sort out until long after hostilities have concluded, and they may still be disputed into eternity. Cf. Srebrenica among so many examples in the civil wars concomitant on the break up of Yugoslavia.
John Kerry gave one of his better performances yesterday as he laid out the US Government's "case against Syria" for the public. He has tended to be mealy-mouthed and confused when publicly speaking for the last many years, but yesterday he was firm and coherent and stentorian. This is important for credibility, dontchaknow.
But the red flag for me was his precise figure of "at least 1,429" dead in the attack on the 21st, a number that had never previously been heard or reported. He also listed a precise number of children killed, a number never previously heard before as well.
These figures are far, far higher than any independent source had reported up to that time, which made Kerry's repeated statement that "we know" this or that more than a little problematical. If "we know" something that no one else on earth does, and those who are there "know" something quite different, then somehow someone isn't telling the truth or there is something else is going on that we, the Rabble, are simply not privy to.
Where did Kerry's numbers come from, and how have they been so precisely determined in the midst of the chaos of the attack and its aftermath? How is it that the US Government can so precisely determine what those on the ground cannot?
Yes, it's a big red flag.
Further, apparently the other "evidence" is an intercepted phone call in which "Syrian government officials" are overheard discussing an or the CW attack. This is purported to be iron clad proof of the perfidy and responsibility of Sadda-- er, Assad -- in the attack on the 21st.
But my understanding is that this information came from Israeli "intelligence" -- not known for its truth-telling; and shockingly -- truly shockingly -- it almost exactly parallels the phonied up "phone call evidence" delivered so convincingly by Colin Powell to the UN prior to the Iraq Invasion.
Something is quite wrong with this picture.
Nevertheless, it may well be impossible to avoid the delivery of this "message" to Sadda-- erm, Assad -- in the near term. After all, "something must be done," must it not, and the president of the former colonial power over Damascus, France, has declared his support for some kind of military action by... someone.
In that regard, the president of the former territorial power over Damascus and the whole of the Middle East, Turkey, has made clear repeatedly that Sadda... erm, Assad -- must go. The Saudi monarchy and the Gulf satrapies all agree. Israel is keeping its own counsel, supposedly, but if Israel is providing the "intelligence" necessary to justify military action, then it is by no means a neutral in the struggle.
Even the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was prepared to march on Damascus come what may -- before its own bloody overthrow in Cairo.
This isn't just another tangled web. It could well be the Prelude to the Apocalypse long predicted.