It was Gandhi who said, "An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it."
A hasty conclusion based on tenuous evidence against Syria from the April 4 incident and the mainstream media, the neocons, the liberal interventionists, all pile on. Ignore the fact that President Bashar al-Assad had nothing to gain and everything to lose by deploying chemical weapons in a war he is winning. Ignore the denials, pooh-pooh Russian claims, fire the Tomahawks to escalate the situation — perhaps gain a few points or stop the constant decline in poll ratings. And send Rex Tillerson to Moscow, after consultation with NATO allies, for this is so serious.
This week, Dr. Theodore Postol, a professor emeritus at MIT and a renowned authority on weapons technology, took it upon himself to investigate the incident and found gaping holes in the White House report. It again looks like a put-up job by anti-government forces much like what happened four years ago.
He finds the evidence faked; the men inspecting the site immediately after the incident were so poorly protected, they would have died had sarin gas been around; the photo of the tube container showing a depression in the middle consistent with a small explosive above to push out the gas from the ends — but not with a device dropped from a plane.
It made no difference. After all, the mainstream media still blames Assad for 2013 when the investigation's conclusions pointed to anti-government groups. So it was that Secretary of State Tillerson found himself in Moscow with a frosty reception. President Vladimir Putin kept him waiting and waiting, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov wagged a very undiplomatic finger at him with the warning that if they ever did this again, there would be serious consequences.
Russia is the only country in the world capable of destroying the U.S. in 20 minutes, which raises the obvious question: what if another such cavalier performance by Trump injures or kills Russian personnel and the Russians retaliate sinking a destroyer, would the U.S. continue to escalate?
After keeping him dangling until just before his flight home, Putin agreed to meet with Tillerson. Then in a calculated snub, he refused to allow any pictures of the meeting. No doubt Tillerson received another stern lecture.
In contrast to candidate Trump, President Trump is best buddies (according to him) with Chinese President Xi Jinping. And instead of allying with Russia against Islamic State group as he repeatedly averred, he now has a profound disagreement with Putin, turning him into an adversary. The establishment seems to have played Trump for the bad out-of-tune violin that he was. He's in concert now, and the Trump presidency, as he had envisioned, is dead.
Harper's is an old left-of-center American magazine priding itself on its prose. So it is unusual to discover in the March issue, British writer Tanya Gold calling the president "a f*****g idiot." His other new adversary, Assad is clearly not but the world equally clearly knows who is.
To confirm the view Trump dropped a US$16 million, 21,600-pound bomb on Islamic State group in Afghanistan as if that will defeat an insurgency. It was the first time since its introduction in 2002 that the cumbersome device was dropped from a transport plane at relatively low altitude making it vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire. It also raised the specter of horrendous civilian casualties, as former Afghan president Hamid Karzai has already condemned its use.
Dr. Arshad M Khan is a former professor whose comments over several decades have appeared in a wide-ranging array of print and internet media.