FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Syria: Obama’s Bay of Pigs?

The CIA’s secret armies —humiliation and disaster, once again.

Rebel forces, secretly armed and trained by the CIA, attempt to overthrow a brutal dictator despised and vilified by Washington. Hit by devastating airstrikes, the rebels put out a frantic call for American help.

Sounds like the latest reports from Syria, where Russian planes have been attacking rebel forces including groups backed by the CIA, and rebel commanders are pleading for aid from the U.S.

It also sounds like a tragic drama that played out more than half a century ago, at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs.

Remember the Bay of Pigs, back in April 17, 1961, when some 1400 Cubans, secretly armed and trained by the CIA, stormed ashore at Cuba’s Bahia de Cochinos and were immediately bloodied by Castro’s small air force.  They desperately appealed to their U.S. backers for help. But President John Kennedy, who had inherited the operation from the Eisenhower administration, refused to provide air cover. He was afraid of being drawn into a very bloody and embarrassing war that, as he saw it, could only damage America’s interests at home and abroad.

Kennedy apparently swore he’d never walk into another trap like that again.

But there we are, listening to Al Jazeera English this morning and as their correspondent in Beirut reports that two Syrian rebel organizations—equipped and trained by the CIA– have been hit by Russian airstrikes and are calling for American help.

But who were those U.S.-backed rebels? When we last checked, most media reports about Washington’s attempts to arm and train Syrians were focused on a $500 million dollar program to create an army of  “moderates” to take on Bashar al-Assad. That program, the Pentagon recently admitted, had tuned out to be a total fiasco, Only 4 or 5 rebels were still in action.

It turns out, however, that the CIA has also been running its own program to train and equip other groups battling Assad. Indeed, there have been a few vague articles about that effort, but the information has been spotty, the facts few-and-far between.

But with Russian and Iranian military now fully involved—a total of ten countries involved in bombing ISIS) this conflict the area has become a dangerous tinderbox—a game of chicken. A wrong move could be disastrous.

Thus it seems very unlikely Obama will agree to supply any kind of anti-air missiles to the Syrian rebels the CIA has been backing. Such a move would open an even more precarious confrontation with the Russians. There’s also the chance those missiles could wind up in the hands of even more radical groups.

Viewing all this, you would think Americans would be demanding to know what’s going on. What kind of commitments have been made by American representatives. To whom and to what end.

Who, for instance, determines which rebel groups to support? With what criteria? It turns out that one or more of the CIA-backed groups may be coordinating actions with the al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda.

I thought the U.S. was staying clear of radical jihadists. Maybe not. But who’s deciding? And who’s watching the deciders?

How much has the CIA spent on its efforts in Syria? We don’t know. How many rebels have they trained and equipped? What promises have been made to them? Don’t know that either.

There are plenty more questions.  What are America’s supposed allies in Syria—like the Saudis and Qataris—what are they up to? Who controls where their weapons and money go? Could their own goals and actions drag the U.S. into even more perilous waters? How many “independent contractors”—mercenaries—have been enrolled in this battle?

There are those who say this is secret, classified stuff. It can never be made public. The executive branch has thousands of experts guiding and shaping policy. And Congress has tireless committees composed of wise men and women who oversee the Pentagon and the CIA’s massive, clandestine operations on the nation’s behalf.

After what we’ve witnessed in the Greater Middle East over the past decade and more, such reassurances ring very hollow.

But don’t hold your breath if you expect any serious, adult debate on these issues from America’s Congress–nor most of its media.

More articles by:

BARRY LANDO is a former producer for 60 Minutes. He is the author of  “Deep Strike” a novel about Russian hacking, rogue CIA agents, and a new American president. He can be reached at: barrylando@gmail.com or through his website.

Weekend Edition
August 07, 2020
Friday - Sunday
John Davis
The COVID Interregnum
Louis Yako
20 Postcard Notes From Iraq: With Love in the Age of COVID-19
Patrick Cockburn
War and Pandemic Journalism: the Truth Can Disappear Fast
Eve Ottenberg
Fixing the COVID Numbers
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Every Which Way to Lose
Paul Street
Trump is Not Conceding: This is Happening Here
Robert Hunziker
The World on Fire
Rob Urie
Neoliberal Centrists and the American Left
John Laforge
USAF Vet Could Face ‘20 Days for 20 Bombs’ for Protest Against US H-Bombs Stationed in Germany
Andrew Levine
Clyburn’s Complaint
Kavaljit Singh
Revisiting the Idea of Pigou Wealth Tax in the Time of Covid-19
Paul Ryder
Here Come the 1968 Mistakes Again
T.J. Coles
Fighting Over Kashmir Could Blow Up the Planet
David Macaray
Haven’t We All Known Guys Who Were Exactly like Donald Trump?
Conn Hallinan
What’s Driving the Simmering Conflict Between India and China
Joseph Natoli
American Failures: August, 2020
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid or One State: Has Jordan Broken a Political Taboo?
Bruce Hobson
The US Left Needs Humility to Understand Mexican Politics
David Rosen
Easy Targets: Trump’s Attacks on Transgendered People
Ben Debney
The Neoliberal Virus
Evelyn Leopold
Is Netanyahu Serious About Annexing Jordan Valley?
Nicky Reid
When the Chickens Came Home to Roost In Portlandistan
Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj
The Power of the White Man and His Symbols is Being De-Mystified
Kathy Kelly
Reversal: Boeing’s Flow of Blood
Brian Kelly
Ireland and Slavery: Framing Irish Complicity in the Slave Trade
Ariela Ruiz Caro
South American Nations Adopt Different COVID-19 Stategies, With Different Results
Ron Jacobs
Exorcism at Boston’s Old West Church, All Hallows Eve 1971
J.P. Linstroth
Bolsonaro’s Continuous Follies
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Right-Wing Populism and the End of Democracy
Dean Baker
Trump’s Real Record on Unemployment in Two Graphs
Michael Welton
Listening, Conflict and Citizenship
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump Is The Only One Who Should Be Going To School This Fall
John Feffer
America’s Multiple Infections
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Thinking Outside the Social Media Echo Chamber
Andrea Mazzarino
The Military is Sick
John Kendall Hawkins
How the Middle Half Lives
Graham Peebles
The Plight of Refugees and Migrant Workers under Covid
Robert P. Alvarez
The Next Coronavirus Bill Must Protect the 2020 Election
Greg Macdougall
Ottawa Bluesfest at Zibi: Development at Sacred Site Poses Questions of Responsibility
CounterPunch News Service
Tensions Escalate as Logging Work Commences Near Active Treesits in a Redwood Rainforest
Louis Proyect
The Low Magic of Charles Bukowski
Gloria Oladipo
Rural America Deserves a Real COVID-19 Response
Binoy Kampmark
Crossing the Creepy Line: Google, Deception and the ACCC
Marc Norton
Giants and Warriors Give Their Workers the Boot
David Yearsley
Celebration of Change
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail