The John Batchelor Show

Tuesday 10 September 2013.

Air Date: 
September 10, 2013



Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Лев Никола́евич Толсто́й,)

Today is Lev Tolstoy's 185th birthday.   Painting above: Lev Tolstoy in his cabinet, by the magnificent Ilya Repin, 1891.  Tolstoys's dates: 9 September 1828 – 20 November 1910), [O.S. 28 August to O.S. 7 November] Lev Tolstoy's entre oeuvre is now online, the gift of his descendants, at


Hour One

Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 1, Block A:  Pres Barack Obama's speech on Syria.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My fellow Americans, tonight I want to talk to you about Syria, why it matters and where we go from here. Over the past two years, what began as a series of peaceful protests against the repressive regime of Bashar al-Assad has turned into a brutal civil war. Over a hundred thousand people have been killed. Millions have fled the country. In that time, America has worked with allies to provide humanitarian support, to help the moderate opposition and to shape a political settlement. But I have resisted calls for military action because we cannot resolve someone else's civil war through force, particularly after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

     The situation profoundly changed, though, on August 21st, when Assad's government gassed to death over a thousand people, including hundreds of children. The images from this massacre are sickening, men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas, others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath, a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk. On that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detail the terrible nature of chemical weapons and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off limits, a crime against humanity and a violation of the laws of war. This was not always the case. In World War I, American GIs were among the many thousands killed by deadly gas in the trenches of Europe. In World War II, the Nazis used gas to inflict the horror of the Holocaust. Because these weapons can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them. And in 1997, the United States Senate overwhelmingly approved an international agreement prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, now joined by 189 government that represent 98 percent of humanity. On August 21st, these basic rules were violated, along with our sense of common humanity. No one disputes that chemical weapons were used in Syria. The world saw thousands of videos, cellphone pictures and social media accounts from the attack. And humanitarian organizations told stories of hospitals packed with people who had symptoms of poison gas. Moreover, we know the Assad regime was responsible. In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad's chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area they where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces. Shortly after those rockets landed, the gas spread, and hospitals filled with the dying and the wounded. We know senior figures in Assad's military machine reviewed the results of the attack. And the regime increased their shelling of the same neighborhoods in the days that followed. We've also studied samples of blood and hair from people at the site that tested positive for sarin. [more]

Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 1, Block B:    John Batchelor: note that in WWI, both sides used gas against each other In WWII, Hitlerites used gas in mass-murders.  The president then went to speak of the end of the Twentieth Century, to the chemical weapons treaty administered by the UN. This ewer the inspectors in Damascus on the day of, following up on allegations of an attack in March on civilians, perhaps deliberately used to intimidate the rebels.   . . .  France proposed to the Security Council dismantling the chem weapons arsenal; Russia took umbrage; the Russians are "balking."

 Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Francis Rose, Federal News Radio, and Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review & Pirates fan, in re:  Alleged chem attack 21 Aug, not confirmed by authorities with lab samples, pending testing. Speech held lots of vivid imagery of children being gassed.   Press releases flew the instant the president stopped speaking. Mary Landrieu – a senator whom the president needs for her vote - endorsed not using military force. First the president asked for a resolution, now asks that there not be a vote.   The House was a resounding no.    The WH thought that the House would be hard to persuade but the Senate was a pathway forward – which it is not.   Ed Markey, the Mass senator replacing John Kerry gave an emphatic no.  Blue Dog Dems propose doing nothing for 45 days, allow Syria to give up its weapons.  President still hasn't said what he actually wants to do. He hasn’t sold Congress and I'm sure he hasn’t old Moscow tonight. One of the displacing moments: when he addressed "my friends on the left and my friends on the right of the country," he nullified his 2004 speech saying "These are the united States," and left those of us in the middle feeling unattractive.

Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 1, Block D: Lee Smith, The Tablet & Hudson Institute and author of The Strongest Horse, in re: American policy has ceded the lead to Moscow. Putin is very pleased; has shown himself a man of great subtlety: not insulted Kerry or Clinton, but has graciously shown the president of the United States a way out.  Pres Obama could have said, "I referred this to the Hill because we're stronger when united; however, as chief policymaker I deem it in the interests of the United States to strike Syrian chem. weapons."  He did not; sounded weak.  "We're not the world's policeman"  -- in fact, we're a superpower with vital national interests all around the world and thus have lots of allies everywhere.  Pres Obama has never made the case that this is in the US's interests; surely it's not ours to make world moral.

Hour Two

Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  John Fund, National Review Online, and David M Drucker, Washington Examiner Sr Congressional correspondent, in re:

Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 2, Block B: Reza Kahlili, author, A Time to Betray, in re: [intro music: Red Army marching song]Iran is watching what the president of the US said, as Moscow watches Iran watching.    Hassan Rouhani headed to New York (UN) with a peace plan;  he's happy because he heard another confusing message from the WH. For long the Iranian regime: If you attack us or our interests [e.g., Syria], we'll attack Israel and other of your allies and interests. Complex situation. but tonight they breathed easier.  The Russians delivered tonight.    Rouhani will say, "Ignore Ahmadinejad, who was a poor speaker; it's I who kindly represent Iran."  Iran is funding Syria, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, the rebels in Bahrain – many bad actors in the region.    Syrian plane bombed he rebel suburbs of Damascus; if the president had sent the rockets ten days ago, those planes wouldn’t have flown. Assad will move strongly; Pres Obama's indecisiveness will cost many, many lives.  Obama has made clear to Iran that he will ever, ever attack Iran.

Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: Rep Devin Nunes (CA-22), in re: Pres Obama basically said that chemical weapons are bad. No news here.  Today, Assad even admitted that he has them; the question is, what are you willing to do about it?  For the last two years, a lot of us have been asking the president to do something and now, sadly, the ship has sailed.  M Fabius called Moscow, which now is "balking."  What happened is that the president said he'd do something, didn’t, several times; said he'd go to the Congress (which wd not agree); Sen Manchin and I said, Let’s speak diplomatically with our friends –but none of us though t wed do an unconditional surrender to the Russians.  He never had he votes in the House ("dead"); in the Senate, where the Dems control the majority, I thought maybe they'd make it over the finish line, but no.  Then the Russians made the useful offer, Senators bit.  How does the president get out of this?  I favor our plan: 6 days, go to our allies, lay out the plan to take up the chem weapons, then go back to the UN.  The WH waited too long – two years went by when we should have been supporting secular elements in the Syrian rebellion, and now it’s too late.  Our other allies: are they a tad nervous? Recall Churchill: The Americans eventually do the right thing – after exhausting all other options. Bottom line: we will return, Assad will fall; this goes back to the 1920s at the end of the Ottoman Empire.  Response from WH on your proposal w Sen Manchin? Not yet, although Sen Manchin may have. 

Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 2, Block D:   Steve Dennis, RollCall, in re: ObamaCare. $988 bil for a continuing resolution. 

Hour Three

Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 3, Block A:   Stephen F Cohen, NYU, in re:  today, Britons and French drafted a Security Council resolution vs Russia: If no satisfactory conclusion in SC, then we'll resort ot war. To write Russia out of the picture? Can't be done. Or because they're none too bright? Probably.  Kerry is to meet Lavrov in Geneva on 12 Sept.  Speak of possible solutions without mentioning war to start.   Russia has been a sophisticated diplomatic player for at east 300 years; does Washington understand that? Looks like no.  Who's the president's chief advisor on Russia - Michael McFaul?  Egad.  Remember Gromyko: Nothing in the world can be solved without discussing it with Russia [in fact, the USSR]. Then Russia was on its knees for awhile. That happened when Hitler invaded, then Russia got up stronger than ever. If we measure strength as ability to affect world affairs, then Russia has been quite powerful for at least the last 24 hours. 

Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  Stephen F Cohen, NYU, in re: post Tunisia and Egypt, Russia has said it isn’t Arab Spring – it's destabilization and jihadism  Also, chem. weapons on the loose directly threaten Russia: Caucasian terrorists, Putin wants chem. weapons secure for the national interest of Russia.    Clinton shared the "Russians are devils" notion, whereas Kerry seems to be a bit more open-minded.  . . .    This opens the door to Russo-Am cooperation past Syria – in Iran, in fighting terrorism globally. If this opportunity is not seized, we should impeach our entire policy-making class.    . . . Before the chem. attacks, it appeared that the Am perception of the Middle East was becoming more like the Russia, Further, the chem weapons open a new vista that threatens everyone. However, as soon as Putin steps n the world stage, the US expect him to stand up to Putin – which Obama isn’t much good at.  Lavrov is scary,  but the most impressive foreign minister I've ever met. 

Putin Critic Trails in Moscow Race, Exit Polls ShowExit polls for the Moscow mayoral election showed that the incumbent had narrowly won, but Aleksei A. Navalny said he won enough votes to force a runoff.  Moscow Election Yields Low Turnout

Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 3, Block C:   Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re:  Egyptian tanks and helo gunships in Sinai caught 20 and killed 20. There are 7,000 terrorists in Sinai now (there were 3,000 under Morsi) –more eqpt now flowing in heavily from Sudan (from Iran via Sudan?) .  Assad still moving some of his chem. weapons and most valuable arms to near Latakia on the coast. Russia will oppose Brit-French proposal that leads to a military option at the end, whereas the Russians demand that be removed entirely.  Americans oppose mil ops without thinking it through.    Assad has used chem weapons probably 13 times over the year, but most of his killings are conventional and there's no indication of that ceasing.   Mohammad Zarif. Iranian foreign minister.   . . .  Putin told Arafat: "An attack on Israel is an attack on Russia (we have a million citizens there)."  Prince Bandar is now head of Russian intell and – a lot more. Sinai: this is a critical battle for Egypt; multiple groups, will be extremely tough. Every day there's an attack; fighting near the Philadelphi [yes] line.   While there's good security cooperation Egypt-Israel, this is in fact an Egyptian battle.    Hundreds of Palestinians are fighting in Sinai, have been trained and armed; closing by Egypt of tunnels to Gaza has radically diminished Hamas funding.   Rouhani's proposal.

Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 3, Block D:  Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal editorial board, in re:  Why Tony Abbott Won
 Australian voters ignored left-wing elites.

Hour Four

Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Fred Burton Stratfor, in re: Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi

Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  Robert Zimmerman,, in re:  The first commercial launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 has been pushed back to September 14.

I must apologize to my readers. I completely missed this news item last week. However, in my defense SpaceX has been unusually tight-lipped this time with information. The launch itself also seems dependent on a hot fire engine test that SpaceX wishes to do first, which means that the September 14 date might still be pushed back again.

The competition heats up: Orbital Sciences has now mated the Cygnus capsule to its Antares rocket for its September 17 launch to ISS. With photos. Having completed its investigation into its scrubbed launch two weeks ago, Japan’s space agency JAXA has announced a September 14 launch date for its new Epsilon rocket.

The first and second launch of the Space Launch System are likely to be delayed due to budget issues. “It’s very clear that we could have slips of a year or two,” said [deputy administrator Lori] Garver, referring to both the 2017 launch — which won’t have a crew — and the first planned flight of NASA astronauts aboard the SLS rocket in 2021.  Garver claims that it is insufficient funds for SLS that will cause the delays, despite getting $3 billion per year, or ten times the money the private commercial program is getting. I’m on a hike today, but so any additional comments about this insanity will have to wait

Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott (1 of 2)

Tuesday  10 September 2013 / Hour 4, Block D: : Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott (2 of 2)

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