by Stephen Lendman
He exceeds the worst of George Bush. He's currently waging multiple direct and proxy wars. He's insatiable.
He's a war criminal multiple times over. He's got lots more killing and destruction in mind. His agenda prioritizes war on humanity. He lusts for conquest.
He wants unchallenged US dominance. Millions of lost lives don't matter. They're a small price to pay. He's got lots to answer for.
Survival's up for grabs on his watch. Dismissive Americans don't understand. Perhaps they don't care. They're letting him get away with mass murder.
Since conflict began in early 2011, Washington's been arming, funding, training and directing Western-backed death squad invaders. Heavier weapons are planned.
On July 22, the Washington Post headlined "Congressional panels approve arms aid to Syrian opposition," saying:
House and Senate intelligence committees "approved CIA weapons shipments to opposition fighters in Syria, allowing the Obama administration to move ahead on the stalled program, senior congressional and administration officials said Monday."
Consensus was reached. Approval makes covert aid overt. Everything's ready to go. Increased arms flows will follow.
Some lawmakers want more. They want no-fly zone implementation. Doing so's an act of war. It's illegal without Security Council authorization.
So is attacking a nonbelligerent country. Syria threatens no one. It attacked no one. It's been invaded. Assad's doing his job.
He's fighting to save his country. Responsible leaders can do no less. He's wrongly vilified for doing the right thing.
If hawkish congressional members prevail, he'll have lots more to deal with. They want air attacks. They want direct US intervention. Perhaps it's coming. More on that below.
In recent weeks, Vice President Biden, CIA Director John Brennan and Secretary of State John Kerry have been heavily involved.
They're promoting full-scale war. They're selling it to skeptical congressional members. Plans are ready. Initiating them could happen any time. It's Obama's call.
On July 22, London's Guardian headlined "US military intervention in Syria would create 'unintended consequences.' "
On Monday, US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey warned senators. He expressed concerns about greater escalation. Direct US involvement's risky, he said.
Once getting more heavily involved, it's hard to pull back, he stressed.
"We have learned from the past 10 years, however, that it is not enough to simply alter the balance of military power without careful consideration of what is necessary in order to preserve a functioning state," he explained.
"We must anticipate and be prepared for the unintended consequences of our action."
Each option considered entails costly uncertainties, he stressed. Arming and training opposition fighters is least risky. He estimates about "$500 million per year initially."
Doing so requires "several hundred to several thousand troops."
Limited air strikes entail "hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines, and other enablers."
Costs will run "in the billions." At best, efforts will achieve little more than "significant degradation of regime capabilities and an increase in regime desertions." Assad can withstand the strikes, he said.
No-fly zone implementation requires "hundreds of ground and sea-based aircraft, intelligence and electronic warfare support, and enablers for refueling and communications."
He estimates over $1 billion a month in cost. Implementation "may also fail to reduce the violence or shift the momentum because (Assad) relies overwhelmingly on surface fires - mortars, artillery, and missiles."
Even limited no-fly zone protection costs over $1 billion a month. It entails having "thousands of US ground forces" to maintain it.
Controlling Syria's chemical weapons requires "thousands of special operations forces and other ground forces would be needed to assault and secure critical sites."
To implement all of the above, some Pentagon sources believe about 70,000 US troops are needed. It's a substantial costly commitment. There's no assurance of success.
The entire effort may backfire. Syria's already a cauldron of violence and instability. It spilling cross-borders. It may affect the entire region and beyond.
According to Heritage Foundation vice president/foreign policy expert James Carafano, Pentagon commanders aren't eager for more regional war.
"Whatever they do, someone has to pay for it. Congress isn't in the mood to do a supplemental to fund a war. The Pentagon knows this, and the chiefs are scared to death about it."
Budget cutbacks are planned. Military priorities aren't included. Congress will authorize what's ordered. Carafano's wrong. Warrior nations crave war. They crave power.
Conflict distracts attention from domestic issues. America's economy is weak. Waging war focuses attention on other priorities.
Cato Institute vice president for defense and foreign policy studies Chris Preble said Dempsey showed proper caution. His job is to provide good military advice.
"Military leaders are put in this position frequently, and for the most part they should be hesitant to offer their opinions about taking various actions," he said.
"We've had many moments in our history where military leaders were asked to give advice to congress as a way of putting pressure on the president."
Further escalation's likely. Expect it. On July 23, Voice of Russia headlined "Military Buildup Around Syria Points to Another Invasion."
VOR's John Robles interviewed Rick Rozoff. He's an activist, anti-war supporter, and Stop NATO editor.
He "document(s) and oppose(s) global militarist trends." He follows them worldwide. They're expanding. Rozoff believes Syria's targeted.
He thinks Washington "intend(s) direct military action." Saber rattling precedes conflicts. Enemies are demonized. Big Lies prepare people for what's coming.
They're manipulated to believe liberating another country is planned. They're mindless of imperial priorities. They're dismissive about what's going on.
After years of post-9/11 conflict, they largely sit on their hands and do nothing. Doing so lets America get away with murder.
What's "most disturbing," said Rozoff, is how Senators McCain and Graham "dressed down" Joint Chiefs Chairman Dempsey and his second in command Admiral James Winnefeld.
They "essentially accused (them) of being cowardly and indecisive and irresolute because" they're reluctant to attack Syria. Hawkish senators and others in Washington want full-scale intervention.
They want Libya 2.0. America's regional presence is considerable. It includes hundreds of troops along the Jordanian/Syrian border. Patriot Interceptor missiles are installed in Turkey.
"(L)arge-scale multinational exercises between NATO members and their Arab allies" were held. They involved "NATO AWACS surveillance aircraft and 50 fighter jets."
"So, you see the potential for military buildup. Some of these are annual exercises."
Holding them in countries bordering Syria suggests trouble. It's worrisome. It's happening when Assad's made impressive gains. Insurgents are no match for his military superiority.
"It suggests that again they're preparing for war," said Rozoff. Libya 2.0 may follow. It's likely planned. It can be initiated quickly. Everything's ready to go.
Stars and Stripes said so days ago. Its "actual quote was 'US amphibious assault navy vessels are parked off the cost of Syria,' or words to that effect."
Washington has enough military strength near Syria to wage war on very short notice, said Rozoff.
On July 21, US and Israeli forces began two weeks of bilateral aerial exercises. They're called Juniper Stallion 13. It's an annual training exercise. Its timing perhaps suggests another purpose.
On July 23, Press TV headlined "Israel threatens to attack Syria if 'provocations' continue."
None whatever exist. Claims otherwise are provocative. They're worrisome. According to Israeli UN envoy Ron Prosor:
"If provocations by the Syrian government continue, Israel will have no choice but to respond accordingly."
"I have said it before and I'll say it again, Assad has chemical weapons."
"The situation is made all the more dangerous by the fact that Assad has received advanced weapons systems that Israel simply cannot allow."
Israel has the region's most formidable military. It's belligerent. It's aggressive. It's nuclear armed and dangerous.
It has chemical and biological weapons stockpiles. It's used them in Gaza and Lebanon. It uses depleted and enriched uranium weapons.
Since January, Israeli warplanes attacked Syria four times. Perhaps a fifth is planned. Maybe Washington and Tel Aviv plan joint action.
Maybe a provocative false flag's planned. It wouldn't be the first time. Full-scale intervention may follow. It won't surprise. It's been likely for months. Only its timing is uncertain.
Daniel Byman is senior fellow and research director for Brookings' pro-Israeli Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Formerly he was Rand Corporation Center for Middle East Public Policy research director.
On July 22, he headlined "Go Big or Go Home," saying:
America's light regional footprint doesn't cut it. If Washington wants "to secure its interests, ranging from oil security to nuclear nonproliferation - (it) must once again play a leading role in the region."
"As US influence fades, Iran's clout" grows. Washington "so far refused to devote (greater) resources" against Syria. It "failed to articulate an overall strategy."
"The end result isâ€¦the worst of all worldsâ€¦If the United States wants to protect its interests in the Middle East, it cannot rely on allies to do its bidding - or otherwise do so on the cheap."
"The United States must pay to playâ€¦The problems of the region are getting worse, and if the United States doesn't shore up its influence now, it will be even less relevant when it most needs to act."
Bynam suggests direct US intervention. So does Center for Strategic and International Studies analyst Anthony Cordesman.
On July 22, he headlined "Syria's ripple effect," saying:
"â€¦Syria continues to spiral out of control, affecting the security of Lebanon, Turkey, Iran and Iraq and giving Iran new opportunities."
America's losing. Assad's winning. If he "succeeds in crushing the opposition or otherwise maintains control over most of Syria, Iran will have a massive new degree of influence over Iraq, Syria and Lebanon in a polarized Middle East divided between Sunni and Shiite."
"Minorities will be steadily driven into exile. This would present serious risks for Israel, weaken Jordan and Turkey and, most important, give Iran far more influence in the Persian Gulf, an area home to 48 percent of the world's proven oil reserves."
"US officials could make clear that either 'rebels' will succeed" in ousting Assad "or the United States will join with allies in creating a no-fly zone."
Cordesman and others in Washington want direct US intervention. It's likely. Expect it. Libya 2.0 looms.
Syria's being ravaged and destroyed. Hawks want stepped up intervention. They want Iran isolated. They want regional war. They've got global ambitions. They risk WW III.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.