‘Major problem of US govt - President surrounded by warmongers’
US Defense Secretary James Mattis claims last week's US missile strike on a Syrian airbase damaged or destroyed 20 percent of the country's air force.
He also warned Syria against using chemical weapons, an allegation Damascus denies.
The sudden pivot by President Trump on the Syrian conflict appears to break a campaign promise many of his supporters once praised him for: namely, abstaining from routine military intervention abroad.
RT: The White House has said Washington could take further military action in Syria. What can we expect to see happen?
Richard Black: We need to look at what occurred. We know with absolute certainty that Syria did not drop poison gas - because there has to be a motive. There was no motive. Syria was advancing and defeating the jihadists on every front. Why would President Assad enrage the world and order to kill a handful of civilians? If for some reason, he decided to use poison gas, why would he use it against heavily entrenched terrorists instead of killing a gaggle of women and children? The whole thing is totally irrational; a child should be able to see through it. Now what we do know for a fact is that CNN reported on September 13, 2016, - just five months ago - that US B-52 attacked a major ISIS poison gas facility in Mosul. Where did that poison gas go? Where did the sarin gas and so forth that they produced go? It WENT INTO artillery shells, and it was distributed to warehouses. I believe the Syrian air force did drop bombs on a warehouse. Why do I know that? Because under the protocols that were established Syria notified the US so that they could de-conflict aviation going over there. My guess is that what happened is that they bombed a warehouse, it had poison gas belonging to the terrorists and some of those shells were damaged in the attack and that was the cause of the release. It gets back to this point. I was a prosecutor in the Pentagon; I was the top criminal justice authority in the Pentagon. You always look to the motive. There was absolutely no motive. And I defy anyone to come up with a satisfactory motive why President Assad would incur the wrath of the world over just to kill a handful of women and children walking down the street. It is utterly ludicrous; there is no possibility that it occurred.
Trump’s decision to hit Syrian airfield was outside UN framework – Belgian foreign minister https://t.co/2bc2veuU0C— RT (@RT_com) April 10, 2017
RT: Was there any justification for the US attacking the Syrian air base? Some say it played into the hands of ISIS fighters. What are your thoughts?
RB: I think it was a terrible thing to do. Shortly after the attack was launched, ISIS launched a ground attack. We don’t know how they knew about the missile attack, someone apparently informed them, and they launched an attack immediately afterward. There was no justification; it was a rash, impulsive decision, at best. At worst, it was a very carefully orchestrated pre-planned occurrence that was done in conjunction with covert intelligence agencies. We know they’ve done this before. It happened in 2013 with the false-flag attack in Damascus, and they know that when they do this, and they pretend that the civilians are killed - sometimes civilians are killed. I don’t deny that - but when they claim the Syrian government does it, all of the media in unison conclude absolutely they have to be guilty. Even though there is not a shred of evidence...
RT: Tillerson is due in Moscow on Tuesday, what do you think we can expect from this meeting? Is there any hope left for anti-terror co-operation between Russia and the US?
RB: I hope so. I think Rex Tillerson would like to cooperate with Russia. There is a lot of pressure within the Trump administration. When they got rid of Michael Flynn, he was truly the adult in the room, he was a well-informed individual, and WE’RE beginning to see the Trump administration eliminate the most coherent and most intelligent members, the most experienced members and replace them with neocons who simply respond to the global oligarchs, who make their money on war, oil, and drugs. I would hope that Rex Tillerson can bring a positive message. I know that Boris Johnson said that "we should show a united front to President Putin." I don’t think that this is the case. I think that the President of the US should talk with the President of Russia and they should coordinate. We don’t need any of these unified groups, these gaggles of people who are simply there to do propaganda. We need to talk government to government.
RT: Former President Obama repeatedly vowed that there would be no "boots on the ground" in Syria and Iraq, but didn’t keep his word. This tradition of hypocrisy isn’t a recent thing though. “He kept us out of war,” was the slogan for Woodrow Wilson campaign; he then got the US involved in WWI. Peace candidate Lyndon Johnson got the US into the Vietnam War. Now, Trump has dropped his campaign promise to curb US intervention in Syria. What are your thoughts on that?
RB: The President is coming under the influence of some people who are not seeking peace in the world. The President looks around the table, and all he has got are these warmongers, their bread is buttered on violence. They are connected with the war industry, and so they block the President from getting really good people placed into office. It is a major problem; it is part of the way our government works. But it is not a good thing; it is very bad thing.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.