As the US, British, and French dogs of war strain at the leash for yet another act of imperial hubris in the Middle East, you'll search the opinion pages of the Australian ms press in vain for an informed and savvy analysis.
Thankfully, there's always Antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo. Just to whet your appetite, here's the salutary introduction - dealing with the Damascus gas 'attack' - to his latest essay, Transparent Hoax Could Lead to War:
"Those rolicking jihadists, the Syrian rebels, love a joke: although they can be deadly serious - such as when they're eating the internal organs of their enemies - what they enjoy more than anything else is a good prank. There was the time they claimed the Assad regime was killing babies in incubators - not very original, but hey, it worked for the Kuwaitis! Then there was the 'massacre' at Houla, which was alleged to have killed 32 children and over 60 adults: a photo started appearing in the mainstream media, documenting the slaughter. The state-supported BBC was first to run with it - until it was discovered the supposedly incriminating photo was taken in Iraq during the recent war. The photographer was justifiably furious, the story was withdrawn, and the Syrian rebels went back to the drawing board.
"I could go on for quite a while about the various Syrian hoaxes we've been subjected to, but let's get down to the latest one - a claim Syrian government forces used nerve gas at the Syrian village known as Ghouta. Videos posted by the rebels show rows of people killed or incapacitated without any dramatic indications of physical trauma: instead, the victims display convulsions and other signs of exposure to asphyxiating gases. Yet, as Ha'aretz reports: 'Western experts on chemical warfare who have examined at least part of the footage are skeptical that weapons-grade chemical substances were used, although they all emphasize that serious conclusions cannot be reached without thorough on-site examination. Dan Kaszeta, a former officer of the US Army's Chemical Corps and a leading private consultant, pointed out a number of details absent from the footage so far: 'None of the people treating the casualties or photographing them are wearing any sort of chemical-warfare protective gear,' he says, 'and despite that, none of them seem to be harmed.'
"Perhaps Allah is protecting the caregivers and others attending to the sick: or maybe the aid we're shipping the rebels includes some really neat stuff from Marvel Comics. On the other hand, maybe the whole thing is yet another put up job. You tell me.
"If the 'massacre' at Ghouta involved military-grade nerve gas, all those doctors and others milling around the fallen victims would be dead or in serious trouble. That's because the poison would stick around for days, penetrating the skin and being inhaled by anyone who came close to them or even entered the vicinity. Another problem is that, as Kaszeta says, 'One issue is that you can't really test for sarin gas, you test for chemicals that are released as it decomposes.'
"The UN inspection team was in Damascus anyway, investigating previous claims of poison gas use: of course, it's just a coincidence that this latest claim is made about a site a few miles from where they're staying. They are on their way to Ghouta even as I write: but how will they determine who used whatever chemical agents were unleashed, if indeed that is what happened? The answer is: they won't. They have only to come up with 'evidence' that some sort of 'WMD' was used: in spite of rebel claims that they would retaliate' in kind in response to previous alleged chemical attacks, it will simply be assumed by Western governments and media... that the Syrian government is responsible.
"As for Washington and its allies: they aren't waiting for the 'evidence.' They already know who is guilty, and who is not. A 'senior US official' is cited by ABC as saying: 'Based on the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, witness accounts, and other facts, there is very little doubt at this point that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in this incident. We are continuing to assess the facts so the President can make an informed decision about how to respond to this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons.'
"The War Party has the President's ear, and believe you me they aren't whispering in it - they're making their case loud and clear, in public and no doubt in private. The only dove in the vicinity of the White House is Hagel, and he's consigned to simply preparing the US military for any and all contingencies. On that front, the news isn't good: US forces are already converging on the region and moving into position."
You can read the rest without my help.