William Goode’s Journal – Syria and Chemical Weapons Revised

a picture of a russian warship in beirut.

A Russian warship on the way apparently to the Syrian port of Tartus. This ship is though to be in Beirut.

There are more alarms raised as to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. The UN is currently investigating the new claims. Currently the UN is able to investigate outside Syria but the UN has requested permission to investigate inside Syria, that will be interesting if that is allowed.

It was only last month that both the Syrian government and the rebels accused each other of using chemical weapons so we can see how complicated this gets in deciding and investigating the use of chemical weapons. The weapons apparently were used on the village of Khan al-Assal outside Aleppo.

Weapons inspectors when checking for chemical weapons need to check for tissue, urine, blood and soil samples amongst other samples needed, which means they need to be able to have permission to enter the areas concerned. The samples then need to be assessed in a certified laboratory.

The US is talking “red lines” as are the Israelis, I talked about “red lines” in a previous blog. I would imagine all the major western style democracies are wary of the “weapons of mass destruction” mess that has never gone away and are now more careful of verifying before real solid proof appears.

We now seem to be in another time view whereby western democracies are providing reasons or at least putting the idea in our heads that 70,000 people may have died in Syria over the last two years but chemical weapons is the point where we say no.

The Russian ship Varyag apparently on its way to Tartus in Syria

The Russian ship Varyag apparently on its way to Tartus in Syria. Another ship berthed at Beirut.

The Russian troop movements have always been interesting in this war. Tartus, a base I talked about in a blog last year and Russia’s only mediterranean base is reportedly expecting at least three more Russian ships and hundreds of troops. With the already significant presence of Russian marines and more special forces on their way this has to have been a deterrent to US and other western democracies involvement, apart from minor aid (flak jackets etc), to the rebels. On the other side of this the US is more wary of stepping into conflicts as in Libya where weapons seem to have landed in the wrong hands.

a picture of A Russian Spetznaz unit

A Russian Spetznaz unit

What Russia troops and ships are heading to Syria?

It is reported that three Russians warships have called into Beruit on the way to Tartus. They apparently have hundreds of marines and missile systems on board.

Russian sources have apparently been quoted in the “London Times” as saying that the arrival of 300 special forces (other quotes say 700 maybe this includes counter terrorism “Spetsnaz” units) plus those 500 marines who arrived apparently in January, will be there as a deterrent to those who wish to overthrow the Bashar Assad regime.

If you read my earlier blog on the Syrian crisis you would have read about the main role of the Russian special forces troops in Tartus. The Russian line is that they are there to evacuate Russians workers and their families should the situation get worse, how worse does it have to get? Not exactly a special forces role but there are possibly Spetznaz units on the ground already who would be involved in safe evacuations.

The bottom line here is that Russia is not about to let there only mediterranean base go and Syria, an ally good or bad, come under the control of the US, Israel and other western democracies. The US and allies may wish to arm the rebels eventually, the sending of more troops by Russia to Syria indicates that the Russian leadership is possibly losing patience.

The Russian special forces as I talked about in another blog of mine, are from what we can gather highly trained to secure Syria’s chemical weapons should they look like they will fall into the wrong hands. The US and Israel have their versions of wrong hands but think Chechnyan rebels when you think of Russian wrong hands.

Whether chemical weapons have been used or not is still to be confirmed but my feeling is that the Russians have control at some level of these weapons and it would be difficult for chemical weapons to be used by the Syrian government. However this is a country in chaos and control of key areas is split.

The US, Israel, Turkey and other western powers have a lot in common with Russia and Iran in the Syrian crisis. A new Syrian leadership that is acceptable to them all. I bet a lot of talking is going on behind the scenes.

Obviously they haven’t agreed on a replacement for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad just yet.

Meantime people die. An estimated 70,000 in the last two years with over an estimated 1,000000 refugees.

a picture of a russian spetznaz unit

Russian Spetznaz unit

 

William Goode’s Journal – The Nixon / McCarthy Era

 

This is an old subject I know but still ideologically relevant. Was Richard Nixon the intellectual (a view by some) and Joe McCarthy a slightly thought of crazy man used by people like Nixon for their own political gains at the time.

Nixon was considered by those who knew him as an intellectual a real politician who understood the people. It certainly would have been easier to let someone else rave on about communism whilst having similiar views but wishing to play the political game, both ways to some point, and not to be thought of as the crazy man. Which until his Watergate fiasco left him looking very unsteady wasn’t true

Joe McCarthy according to some who knew him say had warmth and was not a total “monster’, another opinion once again we can only read such info. Certainly those who faced his committees wouldn’t have warmed to him.

There are those that say he alerted the US public to the communist threat and saved the US from communism. Maybe that is so but the way he went about it, his side show, the committees, the subpoenas put the fear of life into people and ruined many lives especially those in the artistic world.

J Edgar Hoover and Joe McCarthy became useful to each other. Hoover, another man out to put an end to communism may have passed information on to McCarthy.

william goode j edgar hoover

J Edgar Hoover FBI Boss himself a strong anti communist.

The committees were in some disarray with the investigators experience being questioned, the feeling and opinion of those at the time was that McCarthy was involved in a hatchet job.

Was McCarthy partly finding communism as an agenda he could fly with? A way to grasp the public and entrench himself into a strong position within US politics?

McCarthy (and possibly Nixon) promoted the Democrats as liberal communists and basically traitors to the US. You have to remember the times and communism was perceived as a threat, and quite possibly it could have eventually been a real threat. There were people convinced that the communists would take over the country. Many people also still had an idealised view of communism, once the world learned of Stalin’s purges even the most loyal communist sympathiser was having second thoughts. Once you knew of Stalins real activities communism wasn’t such a great idea. Hindsight is a wonderful thing it is said.

How McCarthy went about his task however has always been at question. The ruining of lives with little proof sounds today almost fascist. This ironically was how the Soviet Union would decide to view the US, either genuinely or at the very least to their people, as a fascist state on the rise. What politician from any political system really tells their citizens the full story. There are times when it is not of value to the state to inform the populace of certain actions however this idea can also be used against the citizens. Under communism it increasingly was.

Did McCarthy do what he did to gain power? or did he absolutely believe in what he said?

william goode mccarthy committee

Joe McCarthy heading one of his committee’s

william goode joe mccarthy

Joe McCarthy

Was communism such a threat that Nixon used McCarthy to get the point across without having to do the awkward work himself? It is wise to remember Nixon was the vice president of the US from January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961.  He was a powerful man. I know we all remember Richard Nixon as the president who resigned because of the Watergate scandal. The McCarthy era was all years before and Richard Nixon had had a full and strong political life before Watergate, he had always been a  powerful and clever politician.

As it turned out Eisenhower didn’t exactly have a great liking for McCarthy and subsequently moves were put in place (eventually effective) to undermine McCarthy. Another Story ( “Army / McCarthy trap” where McCarthy was questioned etc as to exactly how many communists were infiltrating is an interesting one). One to look at if interested.

In the end what McCarthy was doing (the committees, the honing in on artistic individuals who McCarthy felt had communist leanings, it goes on) was, as I mentioned earlier, considered a hatchet job by many. Eisenhower considered that McCarthy had become an actual danger to US democracy. In democracy it is important to have two sides, a third appears now and again and is quickly dispensed with by the two major parties or allowed to poke around in a hopeless fashion but eventually the will of the two wins out, the third party disappears. It’s the way it is and important for democracy, well ours anyways. It puts pressure on the two main parties to perform, not a bad thing. We don’t want things to move along too fast do we? But I digress.

McCarthy’s view and this was beginning to get across to the US public was that the Democrats were Liberal communist traitors. This obviously slightly puts the kibosh on the bigger picture of two parties running the show alternatively, not good for a two party state. Who will replace the other one? Will you be the other party to rule next? Would your party be even capable of winning an election (presumably there would only be one election under communism or fascism) against a party spouting a completely different ideology? Not good for the Republicans or Democrats trying to maintain an industrial capitalist system no matter which of them gets in.

This whole situation was leaving the wide door open for the soviets to denounce the US as a new fascist country, courtesy of McCarthy. We know what the communists think of fascists.

Eisenhower quite rightly felt that McCarthy was more popular than he should be and as politics goes, McCarthy’s days were numbered.

william goode president eisenhower

President Eisenhower who didn’t have a great liking for McCarthy.

McCarthy eventually was calling the CIA communists. Well the CIA today has, I would imagine Russian agents infiltrated in their ranks, as has the FSB (Federal Security Service – Russia’s – KGB of today) US agents in their ranks. I doubt much changes at bottom but the CIA were not a communist threat.

In days of McCarthyism when ordinary people could be accused of subversion certainly it was all too much for the US government to have it promoted to all and sundry and have their citizens view the state as a possible fascist entity.

It was also an exageration, the facts if ever there were any were becoming more invisible.

Finally the idea that the Republicans were saving the US from communism was looking a little jaded and outlandish. The populace didn’t roll with it and a new focus was required. The McCarthy era with all it’s own fascist tendencies was over and many people were quite obviously relieved.

A dangerous movement had formed in the US one that had turned on its own citizens. All clever politicians knows that eventually a populace will rise and turn on the political system that no longer rules for them.

And Richard Nixon? He lived to fight another day and the fight of his life was coming.

william goode cia united states of america

McCarthy began calling the CIA communists.

william goode fsb russia

F.S.B Russia’s replacement for the K.G.B still agents in all the major countries.

 

I’m open to discussion on this.

William Goode’s Journal – Bradley Manning The Case Continues.

william goodes journal bradley manning photo

Bradley Manning is the one on the right, the tidier dresser. Although this web pic looks a bit, size wise, awkward shall we say.

This was another comment I made in the Guardian regarding the Bradley Manning case.

This is the Article

I think most recognise that leaking classified documents is not in a countries national interests. We rely on our spy masters/politicians/judiciary to be responsible people in relation to the tasks they perform for us, we are clerks, salesman, lawyers etc and are busy, they work for us.

Whether you agree about a person leaking classified documents or not the accused in these well publicised trials starts to take a backseat.

What is on trial here now is the US legal system. I would hope they would “do the right thing” because what democracy doesn’t need now is another knock on the head, another opening left for the public to view politics and the legal with even more cynicism.

I don’t think any of us want to be stuck in a small room and effectively tortured as Bradley Manning is. We get it, it’s us and other soldiers you’re trying to get your message across to. Give him a sentence but an appropriate and fair one.

We promise not to leak classified material….Oh and don’t go down the confining Assange track, you’ll really lose us all then.

William Goode’s Journal – The Leveson Inquiry One Of Many Over The Years

This was my comment to an article in the Guardian on the 30 11 12

william goode hugh grant

Hugh Grant one of many celebrities who spoke at the Leveson inquiry.

Once again another inquiry into the press, one of many over the years.

The Leveson inquiry looks to be a careful and thorough report and yet politicians on both sides
still appear adverse to having press regulation debating on about press freedom and the rights of the individual,
always good sentiments to bring out when attempting to get the public onside.
The truth is politicians have had a cosy relationship with press magnates for decades and i doubt politicians
know how to obtain power and influence without the press onside. Their political model it might be said requires
a cosy system such as this, one that has been in place to the detrement of the populace for many years.
This model means being in a close relationship and all participants sticking to the “i didn’t know” and “I wasn’t told” routine should an inquiry rear it’s ugly head (ugly for them), attempting to be on the side of legality.
It’s a world where everyone knows what should be done without actually being told, what a marvellously convenient practice. It has worked well for them.
It has taken decades to build up and it is a very comfortable, albeit with headaches here and there for both sides, liason.

One reality may be that without positive press spin a great many of our politicians would look very ordinary indeed and I doubt many would rise beyond local party level without serious help.

If combat is what politics is about at bottom level, a fight to decide who the best person is to lead, then the cosy press relationship that canny “ordinary politicians” use to gain power should end.
A more level playing field for the really more talented and social conscious politician to shine is what is strongly required for a braver and more governing for all type of politician to shine. Having the press help certain people into power is the political equivalent of “steroids for athletes”.

I agree with what this article has pointed out and i don’t know if the press quite realise this but the press do have only themselves to blame for the statutory controls that are being talked about, the public are seriously fed up with this and many other things.

Of course what happens in all of these types of things is that the person in the street who has been violated illegally tends to be forgotten in the rush by the powerful to regain control of their position, in their bid to regain their status quo.

Similarly in the Savile case we are told endlessly about how the effects on the institution, the BBC, will be enormous. Well yes and so it should be. In both cases you can here the scurrying, the correcting and balancing from the establishment going on behind the scenes, it’s that loud, the person in the street clearly hears it.

At the end of the day once the appearance of a suitable fuss has been made we can only hope as citizens that once again the old ways don’t slowly creep back into play.

We can only hope that a more level playing field which would allow more suitable and constructive political applicants to rise will one day be in place.

The real worry is that if our current politicians don’t fix the house and do it fairly then the public will through our voting system make serious changes and as has been seen in the past, set in play ideologies that don’t always lead to a better world.

William Goode’s Journal – Bradley Manning-Should he take all the blame?

This was my comment to an article in the Guardian on 30/11/12 regarding Bradley Manning.

 

william goode bradley manning

Bradley Manning looking at a long sentence but is it all his fault?

One of the things that always stands out here to the general populace is the lax administration by the US government of the publically owned security files via the armed forces.

I’m sure the government would like Bradley Manning (there will be many more over the years) to be the focus but increasingly the public worries more about their countries secure data.

No one expects governments, anywhere in the world to be super efficient. We know government is a laborious and slowly moving vehicle that like a liner will never ever be up to the pace of the general population. It’s employees and politicians are all unfortunately caught in this pool, in positions that thankfully most of us aren’t in.
Increasingly governments in the world will be on the back foot, their model being tied to a system that to put it simply has no pace.

To expect a population to really accept that one man Bradley Manning is to blame is once again an example of a government (who ever is running it, I doubt it will change with another party as they are running the same system) that is lurking in the past.

Is it possible for governments to ever catch up? will they always be forced through their own lack of vitality and ability to imprison people in small cells and carry out what amounts to torture to correct administrative security inadequacies?

Well the answer to this thanks to the US government awakening the population to this extremly poor administrative tendancy is yes. We know they are concentrating on the man and not the system.

The security laws in this case look very much like a cover for poor clerical and administrative management.

William Goode’s Journal – Israel, U.S. Iran, The U.N. and “Red Lines”

william goode binjamin netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned the U.N. that time is running out and a red line should be drawn over the Iranian nuclear programme.

Iran’s deputy U.N. ambassador is not surprisingly talking about the defence of his country and it sounds very much like Iran is ready to retaliate should the need arise. The Iranian view is that their nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only, needless to say the Israelis do not believe this.

Benjamin Netanyahu talks about “red lines”, the U.S. may talk about “red lines” in private but not in public. In public they are hazy on the “red line” concept. The Israelis seem to have a “red line” at least at the high political level, maybe not so in other areas of the Israeli ruling classes.

But what is a “red line”? Basically it is a threshold that a government has set whereby another country cannot pass without the use of force coming in to play. In this highly volatile part of the world you can see how setting red lines is a very risky business. The U.S. governments view on a “red line” may have shifted somewhat too the question is do they actually have one on Iran?

Netanyahus diagram at his U.N. General Assembly speech where his red line pointed out that Irans nuclear programme would be irreversible somewhere by Spring or Summer, was designed to alarm. The U.S. it would seem prefers to concentrate on when a weapon is constructed. This would I imagine be a “red line” if not the start of the drawing of one. Too late as far as Israels thinking goes.

The worrying thing here also for Israel is that the U.S. feels it is quite acceptable for Iran to have a nuclear energy programme as long as weapons are not involved. The U.S. intelligence community is quite confident they will be able to gather enough information to advice their government with enough time to deal with any dangers. This type of intelligence is called “warning” and it is coming back into vogue in intelligence circles. The U.S. government already shares this “warning” intelligence with Israel so they no how effective it is.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus attack scenario is a lot closer than Than the U.S.’s. Based on weaponry the Isarelis would have to attack much sooner than the U.S. who can base an attack on far superior weaponry, bunker bombs that can deliver blows much deeper than Israeli aircraft can. The danger here is if Israel goes alone would they even be effective, or would the job be left still undone but war started.

The U.S. probably do have a “red line” privately, President Obama says should Iran move towards a bomb assembly they would act.  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said that their is currently no intelligence that points to Iran wanting to make a bomb. The Israelis feel that after the assembly reaches a certain point, the options the Iranians have in place will enable them to build a bomb quickly. The U.S. feels there is at least a year according to some reports.

William Goode Barack Obama

Barack Obama

The U.S. election on November the 5th seems to have prompted Benjamin Netanyahu to speak out even more. Influencing the U.S. Jewish vote may be his target. Mitt Romney has indicated his attitude towards Iran would be a lot more aggressive, Benjamin Netanyahu it seems would prefer a Romney victory.

William Goode Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shakes hands with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad quite possibly knows the value of having a nuclear programme on the world stage. It certainly keeps attention on Iran and a say in the spotlight increasing the perception of Iran as a world power as well as a regional one. Possibly like North Korea it gives Iran a subtle hold on the rest of the world.

Tensions between Israel an Iran are increasing, talks and diplomatic efforts have proven to be fruitless. Barack Obama is looking stronger in the poles which has worried Benjamin Netanyahu forcing him to come out more at the U.N.

Israels security cabinet does not fully believe that an attack on Iran would be wise and after all they are the ones directly reading the American intelligence given to them.

What Benjamin Netanyahu is after at least in the short term, is that if Iran is faced with a “red line” they will back down. That doesn’t seem likely.

Whether a nuclear Iran is acceptable or not will play out for quite awhile yet and the rest of the world still waits and wonders while the Israeli population practice their defence drills hoping for the best.

William Goode’s Journal – Syria’s Chemical Weapons

William Goode Syrian President al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad

There have been reports that Syria has plans to use chemical weapons against it’s own people and the Free Syrian Army. The country according to western spy agencies has the worlds third largest stockpile of chemical weapons amounting to hundreds of tonnes of nerve agent spread around at least 20 sites.

A Major General Adnan Sillu who has recently defected says he was part of talks discussing deployment of the weapons in a major city should the government lose the area of Aleppo.
The General apparently felt he could no longer be part of the regime after these meetings.

There are also reports that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard have assisted Syrian forces in testing dummy rockets (rockets without warheads or chemical weapons) recently in preparation.

william goode chemical weapons

Chemical weapons facilities

This is no surprise as Iran has had influence over Syria for many years, Syria possibly viewed as a proxy if you like and one that Iran is reluctant to see go.

Israel has in the murky world of middle east politics supported, or at least felt they could live with the Syrian government lead by President Assad as long as he kept Hezbollah in Lebanon under some sort of control. By and large this deal has worked. This is all about to change and the big worry for Israel now is the problems that will arise should the chemical weapons end up in the hands of jihadis who are now embedded with the Syrian opposition, which means embedded in Syria and even worse in Israels thinking, Hezbollah.

Has Israel lobbied the U.S. to not intervene in the hope that Assad can survive?

william goode us israel

Tough times for Israel and the US as individual countries and together.

Complicating this is that Hezbollah is looking for recognition and acceptance in their own right from the major powers within Europe and is thought not to want to jeopardise this. However all bets would be off should Israel attack Iran or Syria be totally compromised. The Iranian influence over Hezbollah would certainly come into play and Hezbollahs support for Iran would overide any ideas of acceptance in the near future.

One scenario is that Syria in one last burst of energy fires rockets into Israel (not thought to be likely) but this possibility means the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) have to plan for this. The most likely scenario is that the chemical weapons will fall into the wrong hands. Israel would be able to stop many of these rockets (there has been much training with US help) at interception albeit with the knowledge that Israeli lives will be lost should a war start.

The bigger picture however, and feared by the U.S is that the whole situation may lead to a regional war with Iran and the involvement of Hezbollah who have been trained and armed by Iran to be a strong force, trained in general army manoeuvres and tactics. They can fight more like a regular army hence the difficulty Israel had in the 2006 Lebanon war (known in Lebanon as the July war).

william goode russian troops

Russian troops

So where does Russia fit into all this.

Russia has a base in Syria at Tartus (although the Russians call it a Material-Technical Support Point, not a base). This Material-Technical Support Point (the Russians are correct in calling it this) is really a mediterranean port for repairs to their fleet. It is (at this stage) unable to hold a whole fleet, two ships at a time in the port with others anchoring offshore. It is however at bottom, a Russian base and they don’t wish to lose influence in the region and a valuable base in the Mediterranean that could be developed if need be.

The report that Russia has sent a fairly small fleet (six to ten ships) to Tartus with a few hundred marines has possibly slowed down the US, UK, France, UN etc from intervening (could this have been taken into consideration when Kofi Annan resigned as Syrian envoy?)

But what does all this really mean?

Syrian chemical weapon have been set up possibly with help from Russia and North Korea and are very difficult to spot even using spy satellites making them difficult to send in special forces and disable.

Russia although still wanting influence in Syria, does not want chemical weapons falling into the wrong hands any more than Israel or the US does. Georgia is still a thorn in the Russian side and chemical weapons in the hands of Georgian separatists does not suit the Kremlins plans for the future.

The thinking is that those few hundred highly trained Russian special forces now in Tartus who can equally assist Russian nationals to get out of the country quickly, should that be required, are also trained to spread out and take control of the chemical weapons facilities if the need arises.

After all, they probably know where they are.