Middle East (SCF) – «We’re not focused on the former al-Nusra Front [al-Qaeda in Syria]. We’re focused on Daesh [ISIS]. And that’s what we’re fighting and that’s where therefore we look and where we target». US Defense Department press briefing, 16 August 2016.
Central to America’s war against terrorism was al-Qaeda as being the specific target, but, on August 16th, a US Defense Department spokesperson said that al-Qaeda is no longer an enemy of the United States at all, and that only ISIS is America’s enemy in the war against terrorism. However, Congress never authorized anything but al-Qaeda to be the enemy in the war against terrorism. Consequently, President Obama is now violating the law by his no longer targeting al-Qaeda at all, and he is also ignoring the law by his targeting ISIS (as he has long been doing) without requesting a new authorization from Congress to do so – an authorization that both Democrats and Republicans in Congress would be virtually certain to grant immediately.
This new war-authorization would need to rectify a key failing of the original war-authorization, by naming «jihadism» specifically as America’s enemy, so that regardless of what a particular jihadist group is, it can legally be a target to eliminate. Under the existing resolution, only al-Qaeda can be targeted, because that was the group which was ultimately determined to have caused 9/11, and because the existing war-authorization is restricted to only the organization that perpetrated that specific jihadist act. This new war-authorization would thus need to replace, instead of modify, the existing authorization, so that US military action can legally be taken against any jihadist group, and not only (as at present) against al-Qaeda.
The Congressional resolution that on 14 September 2001 authorized the US President to make war in response to 9/11, declared the President «authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001». That was subsequently interpreted to refer to al-Qaeda. Bush invaded Iraq on 19 March 2003 by declaring that Iraq supported al-Qaeda. Congress – including Hillary Clinton and America’s ‘news’ media – accepted that allegation and never challenged Bush on it, and so authorized him to invade, for 12 reasons, of which five were:
• Members of al-Qaeda, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq.
• Iraq’s «continu[ing] to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations,» including anti-United States terrorist organizations.
• Iraq paid bounty to families of suicide bombers.
• The efforts by the Congress and the President to fight terrorists, and those who aided or harbored them.
• The authorization by the Constitution and the Congress for the President to fight anti-United States terrorism.
In other words: One reason was that Iraq was behind «anti-United States terrorism», and another was that al-Qaeda was «known to be in Iraq», but there were five reasons in total that referred to the 9/11 event – and yet this resolution had to do with Iraq, not with 9/11.
So, the two resolutions on the basis of which Obama is ‘authorized’ by Congress to oppose ‘terrorism’ (meaning only Islamic terrorism, more correctly known as jihadism) are specifically against al-Qaeda. That’s what he’s authorized to fight. The Iraq-invasion resolution did more generally include also «other international terrorist organizations», but pertains only to Iraq (and President Bush announced that that war against Iraq was over; so, the US now operates militarily in Iraq only with explicit authorization from Iraq’s government).
In Syria, al-Qaeda was called al-Nusra, and they recently changed their name and are sometimes referred to as «the former al-Nusra», but they’re al-Qaeda in Syria, whatever their name.
However, the US ‘Defense’ Department held a press briefing, on 16 August 2016 in Baghdad, concerning both Syria and Iraq, and asserted that the US isn’t concerned about al-Qaeda, in either Syria or Iraq, but only about «ISIL» or ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which the Sauds call DAESH (the Arabic acronym for ISIL) and so he did too:
«We’re not focused on the former al-Nusra Front. We’re focused on Daesh. And that’s what we’re fighting and that’s where therefore we look and where we target».
Now the only US target in the war against ‘terrorism’ is the only jihadist organization that wants to defeat and replace the Saud family – the family that (along with George W. Bush) was behind 9/11.
Here’s the video of that comment by him, and of the journalist’s then angering that Pentagon spokesman at 3:25 by referring to al-Nusra as «forces that might be backed by the United States» (at which phrase the journalist’s eyes went down to the ground in recognition that he is aware that that has actually been true all along in Syria – that the US has been supporting every jihadist (or ‘terrorist’) group there (especially al-Nusra) except «Daesh», because they’re all trying to overthrow Assad (and because DAESH are threatening to overthrow the Sauds for being insufficiently Islamic). So, because DAESH-ISIS are a threat to the Sauds, the US focuses its war-effort (in addition to being against Assad) against ISIS, and ignores the other jihadists in Syria. All of the jihadists in Syria are fighting to overthrow Assad, and so (other than the Sauds’ enemy, ISIS), all of the jihadists in Syria are actually strong assets to the US war against Assad.
The Pentagon spokesperson started his response to that with a personal comment, and then simply repeated that the US doesn’t care about al-Nusra or any other jihadist group except «Daesh».
Actually, Obama isn’t authorized to carry out any military operation against «Daesh», because the 9/11 resolution «authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001». And ISIS didn’t even exist back then. We hadn’t produced it yet.
Congress hasn’t authorized him to have any military operation to overthrow Assad. Nor even any military operation to kill ISIS. Obama is a renegade US President who hates Russians and who wants to kill any nation’s leader who is friendly toward Russia (such as Gaddafi, Yanukovych, and Assad). And with the cooperation of the Congress and the ‘news’ media that are controlled by the same US aristocracy that controls him, he’s being given a virtually free rein to do just this – regardless of the existing laws.
The truth is that Barack Obama is obsessed against Russia, and that Assad is an ally of Russia, and Obama wants to overthrow him the way that he and his predecessor overthrew other nations’ leaders who were friendly or allied with Russia: Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and Viktor Yanukovych. Obama is trying to win World War III, not the Cold War – which, in his mind, never ended, and cannot end, until Russia itself becomes surrounded and conquered.
Like Obama’s friend and advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski argued in his 1997 The Grand Chessboard, and Obama evidently also believes, this is a «chess game» that will be won only once the Russians’ ‘king’ (ruling elite) gets overthrown while the American ‘king’ (ruling elite) is still standing. And that’s the way the US aristocracy (and its agents, including the ‘news’ media, and the US government) handle it.
The American public thinks that jihadists are our enemy, but the American aristocracy has no problem with jihadists – their friends, the Saudi aristocracy, are competing in the oil-and-gas market against the Russians, not against the jihadists.
And America’s aristocracy couldn’t care less about the American public.
And that’s why a US President is allowed to break US law with impunity, and say (through an agent) «we’re not focused on the former al-Nusra Front. We’re focused on Daesh. And that’s what we’re fighting and that’s where therefore we look and where we target».
This report prepared by Eric Zuesse for Strategic Culture Foundation.