SIO34: Did Assad Use Chemical Weapons? – Debate with Nanar

When Nanar came on the show a few weeks ago to discuss the background of the Syrian Civil War, we all learned a lot and the response was great! After messaging back and forth about the Sarin attack of April 4th though, it became clear that we disagreed on who the likely culprit was. So, Nanar agreed to come on and have a bit of a debate about it. In my opinion, this was about the best possible kind of debate – where we both genuinely care about the truth of the matter more than scoring any sort of debate points. Along those lines, I’ll include all of my sources and the sources Nanar sent for your consideration below. I’m very curious to hear where people land on this question!

Thomas’s links: New York Times Breakdown, Guardian Piece First Reporter on Site – BEST SOURCE, How the Alt-Right Was Fed a Narrative by Russian Media, NYT on Assad Motives, Washington Post on US Gov Debunking Russia Story

Nanar has written his evidence into research paper form. Check it out here: Proof-why-its-not-chemical-attack-by-gov

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4 Replies to “SIO34: Did Assad Use Chemical Weapons? – Debate with Nanar”

  1. Why wouldn’t USA wait after second chemical strike?
    Obama put forth effort to congress to
    Bomb Syria gov. But did not happen.
    Obama warned them. Trump backed up the warning. Simply as that. We already waited before.

  2. The French and the Brits came to the same conclusion. Both were independent investigations. The is really silly for a person to deny.

  3. I want to be clear that I don’t find the arguments against Assad’s government using this chemical weapon to be at all compelling. That said, I think throughout this discussion, both Thomas and Nanar assumed a kind of competency, cautiousness, and a respect for consistency on the part of the Trump administration that feels completely unearned.

    Why would the Trump administration make unfounded allegations or outright lie about intelligence if they knew they might get caught and face legal/political repercussions? Maybe they don’t expect to get caught. Maybe they fail to appreciate that making claims about intelligence is a different, more serious thing than making other false claims (e.g., accusing president Obama of wiretapping Trump’s phone — an accusation which could, conceivably, also sink a presidency). Maybe they felt confident any blowback from acting on incomplete intelligence would impact them less than it would benefit them to have a dramatic, televised military show of strength running on cable-news for a week. Maybe they’re confident whoever’s going to take the fall isn’t anyone Trump cares about (e.g., himself). Maybe they’re not lying, but they have poor investigative standards and stopped looking once they found evidence to confirm their biased assumptions. Maybe Trump has no interest in the Republican party retaining power beyond his presidency, and while it might be absurd to think any president would repeat the mistakes of the Bush administration so blatantly, maybe Trump is an absurd/ignorant person. Maybe while the nation is not in the same psychological space that it was following the terrorist attack on 9-11, Trump and his administration feel confident (rightly or wrongly) they can capitalize on the appeal of using similar military tactics.

    As to the point about non-Trump administration staffers needing to be complicit in presenting a favorable interpretation of facts, I posted a similar point on a previous episode, but I think it’s dangerous and short-sighted to assume that because Mattis and McMasters (et al.) are competent and professional military figures that they will act impartially in the nation’s best interest in a way that contextualizes military force in a wider worldview which prioritizes oversight, transparency, and diplomatic engagement. I don’t mean that at all to belittle these people, or to assume that they’re incapable of insight beyond their field of expertise, but I do think it’s important to remember that the nature of the military power structure, the ethical complications of authorized disinformation and covert action justified vaguely by national security interests, and a historical understanding of the conflation of moral imperatives and current political assumptions (as well as other contextual factors) all coalesce to muddy the waters of what it means to act in the national interest in a professional and ethical manner. Moreover, without a consistent stated goal or strategy (e.g., destabilization, regime change, etc.), we pretty much just have to speculate as to whether particular actions are reasonable, consistent with national/political interests, or even relevant to available facts.

    And again, to be clear, I don’t mean to focus on this one point for pedantic reasons. I think asking “why would they lie if they know they could be caught?” as if that were a meaningful refutation ignores the reality of the Trump administration in an important and dangerous way.

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