Seymour Hersh has a new article on Syria which alleges that the 21 August 2013 Ghouta gas attack was a Turkish-backed false flag operation designed to goad the US into launching air strikes against the Assad regime. While most of the attention will be undoubtedly be paid to the incredible allegations against Erdoğan’s regime in Turkey, I want to focus on a different subject mentioned only briefly in the article.
In the aftermath of the 21 August attack Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up targets for bombing. Early in the process, the former intelligence official said, ‘the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently “painful” to the Assad regime.’ The original targets included only military sites and nothing by way of civilian infrastructure. Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into ‘a monster strike’: two wings of B-52 bombers were shifted to airbases close to Syria, and navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles were deployed. ‘Every day the target list was getting longer,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The Pentagon planners said we can’t use only Tomahawks to strike at Syria’s missile sites because their warheads are buried too far below ground, so the two B-52 air wings with two-thousand pound bombs were assigned to the mission. Then we’ll need standby search-and-rescue teams to recover downed pilots and drones for target selection. It became huge.’ The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’, the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.
The Obama administration actually rejected joint chiefs of staff recommendations for Syrian air strikes because they were not “painful” enough. They also wanted to bomb civilian targets such electrical grids and oil and gas depots. As if the sadism that often underlies “humanitarian intervention” was not blatant enough, this seals the deal.