Former Reagan Ass't Secretary of
Defense Backs Up Joint Chiefs'
Opposition to Syrian War
May 10, 2013 (EIRNS)Lawrence J. Korb, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan, tore into the Syrian war hype over chemical weapons in a strongly-worded article in The National Interest on May 8, that uses his unique experience and insight into U.S. blunders since the August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin debacle in Vietnam to say the United States must learn the "lessons" of "three historical incidents." Korb's article is part of the determined effort by Gen. Martin Dempsey and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to stop another Obama warthis time in Syria.
Korb exposes three cases when the U.S. rushed into military action, either without reason or based on outright lies:
- the 1998 bombing of pharmeceutical plant in Sudan, and
- the 2003 Iraq war.
He brings a unique insight to each case, and in the case of Vietnam, a surprisingly detailed revelation.
"The first [historical incident] occurred in August 1964, when I was deployed as a naval flight officer and the North Vietnamese were alleged to have attacked American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. In discussing the incident with my squadron commander, who had flown combat missions in World War II and Korea and had participated in the Berlin Airlift, he argued that what the Johnson administration was saying had happened in Tonkin made no sense. In addition to doubts about what really happened, he contended that it made no sense for North Vietnam to provoke the United States into a retaliatory attack. As it turned out, my commanding officer was absolutely right. Unfortunately, the Johnson administration used the Gulf of Tonkin incident as a pretext to push a resolution through Congress that gave it the cover to launch a decade-long war, which resulted in the deaths of nearly sixty thousand U.S. personnel and millions of Vietnamese as it tore the country apart."
The second incident: the Sudan pharmaceutical plant is very similar to the chemical weapons hoax about Syria today. In 1998, he noted, the Clinton administration justified the strike
"based on laboratory analysis of soil samples collected by the CIA that appeared to indicate the plant was manufacturing VX nerve agent. It turned out that the soil samples were far from conclusive and that much of the evidence linking the factory to al-Qaeda and chemical-weapons production was extremely shaky."
The missile attack also "may have led to the indirect deaths of many Sudanese who were left without important medicines produced at the site," he said.
In the "ill-fated 2003 invasion of Iraq," it was only ten years after the invasion that questions were raised. He noted that
"Richard Haass, the director of policy planning at the State Department at the time, recently wrote (borrowing language from Richard Nixon) that the real justification for war was to show that the United States was not a pitiful, helpless giant. Reflecting on this history, it is hard not to see shades of such false pretenses in the rhetoric of the hawks agitating for military action in Syria."
Remember, Korb said, the intelligence assessments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction claimed the evidence was a "slam dunk certainty," and there were no weapons of mass destruction.
"Now that we have learned that painful lesson, we must examine the possibility that, if sarin was indeed used, it was used by rogue elements of the Assad regime, or used by mistake.... The last thing this country needs is to rush headlong into another disastrous war like Vietnam or Iraq."
He concluded with a demand that there must be a full discussion "with the involvement of the entire Congress, as the representatives of the people," as well as discussion with the UN about any military action against Syria.