and:"I don’t know why we persist on living in the Cold War, but we do. Russia actually did a very good job. They not only did the bombing that was more effective than what we do, I think that’s fair to say. Russia also did stuff that was sort of more subtle and more interesting: they renewed the Syrian army. They took many major units of the Syrian army offline, gave them R&R and re-equipped them. Got new arms, got a couple weeks off, then they came back, got more training and became a much better army.I think in the beginning, there’s just no question, we wanted to get rid of Bashar. I think they misread the whole resistance. Wikileaks is very good on this…there’s enough State Department documents that show that from 2003 on, we really had a policy—not very subtle, not violent, but millions of dollars given to opposition people. We certainly were not a nonpartisan foreign government inside Syria.Our policy has always been against him [Assad]. Period.One of the things that comes across just in the current stories about all the travails we’re having about ISIS allegedly running all these terror teams in Brussels and in the suburbs of Paris… it’s very clear, ironically, that one of the things France and Belgium (and a lot of other countries) did was after the Syrian civil war began, if you wanted to go there and fight there in 2011-2013, ‘Go, go, go… overthrow Bashar!’So they actually pushed a lot of people to go. I don’t think they were paying for them but they certainly gave visas. And they would spend four or five months, come back and do organized crime and get in jail and next thing you know they’re killing people. There’s a real pattern there.I do remember when the war began in 2003, our war against Baghdad, I was in Damascus working for The New Yorker then and I saw Bashar and one of the things he told me, he said, ‘Look, we’ve got a bunch of radical kids and if they want to go fight, if they want to leave the mosque here in Damascus and go fight in Baghdad, we said fine! We even gave them buses!’So there’s always been a tremendous, Why does America do what it does? Why do we not say to the Russians, Let’s work together?"
"The Killing of Osama bin Laden" Hersh's piece from a year ago, the one he couldn't get published in the United States."Let me talk to you about the sarin story [the sarin gas attack in Ghouta, a suburb near Damascus, which the U.S. government attributed to the Assad regime] because it really is in my craw. In this article that was this long series of interviews [of Obama] by Jeff Goldberg…he says, without citing the source (you have to presume it was the president because he’s talking to him all the time) that the head of National Intelligence, General [James] Clapper, said to him very early after the [sarin] incident took place, “Hey, it’s not a slam dunk.”You have to understand in the intelligence community—Tenet [Bush-era CIA director who infamously said Iraqi WMD was a “slam dunk”] is the one who said that about the war in Baghdad—that’s a serious comment. That means you’ve got a problem with the intelligence. As you know I wrote a story that said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs told the president that information the same day. I now know more about it.The president’s explanation for [not bombing Syria] was that the Syrians agreed that night, rather than be bombed, they’d give up their chemical weapons arsenal, which in this article in the Atlantic, Goldberg said they [the Syrians] had never disclosed before. This is ludicrous. Lavrov [Russia’s Foreign Minister] and Kerry had talked about it for a year—getting rid of the arsenal—because it was under threat from the rebels.The issue was not that they [the Syrians] suddenly caved in. [Before the Ghouta attack] there was a G-20 summit and Putin and Bashar met for an hour. There was an official briefing from Ben Rhodes and he said they talked about the chemical weapons issue and what to do. The issue was that Bashar couldn’t pay for it—it cost more than a billion bucks. The Russians said, ‘Hey, we can’t pay it all. Oil prices are going down and we’re hurt for money.’ And so, all that happened was we agreed to handle it. We took care of a lot of the costs of it.Guess what? We had a ship, it was called the Cape Maid, it was parked out in the Med. The Syrians would let us destroy this stuff [the chemical weapons]… there was 1,308 tons that was shipped to the port…and we had, guess what, a forensic unit out there. Wouldn’t we like to really prove—here we have all his sarin and we had sarin from what happened in Ghouta, the UN had a team there and got samples—guess what?It didn’t match. But we didn’t hear that. I now know it, I’m going to write a lot about it.Guess what else we know from the forensic analysis we have (we had all the missiles in their arsenal). Nothing in their arsenal had anything close to what was on the ground in Ghouta. A lot of people I know, nobody’s going to go on the record, but the people I know said we couldn’t make a connection, there was no connection between what was given to us by Bashar and what was used in Ghouta. That to me is interesting. That doesn’t prove anything, but it opens up a door to further investigation and further questioning."
Hilarious!: "US confused over Russia’s real intentions in Syria". It does raise the issue whether it is just the Saudi-Turks who are resupplying the human organ eaters, or whether the Americans are involved. Note that Hersh blames the Saudis.