Although US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that diplomatic options suggested by Russia to solve the Syrian chemical weapon crisis would be pursued, the damage done by the US beating the drums of war has already been done.
The use of propaganda in wartime is nothing new. From experience with Washington's lies during former president George W. Bush's Iraq War, the international community knows the US cannot be trusted.
The Bush administration knowingly and systematically circulated false stories about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) allegedly possessed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
Washington's outrageous claims such as supposed uranium "yellowcake" from Niger being transferred to Iraq proved false. Claims about "aluminum tubes" for rocket production proved false. Claims about chemical warfare and WMDs raised by then secretary of state Colin Powell at the UN proved false.
The broader pattern of Western deception for the Iraq War included falsified "intelligence" reports from the UK ordered by then prime minister Tony Blair. Parliament in its subsequent investigations of the "dodgy dossier" intelligence manipulation revealed Blair's lies.
Investigations of the British claims revealed that Israeli institutions, including the Herzliya research complex, played an important role in creating these false British and US reports.
Today in the case of Syria, the world is experiencing the same spectacle of US, British, and Israeli propaganda and deception. The players remain the same and the pattern of lies and deception is the same.
In the present case, the White House bases its case of the Syrian use of WMDs primarily on a single "intercept" of an unencrypted Syrian military voice communication. Washington alleges that this intercept proves the Syrian military used WMDs against civilians.
But what are the facts? Official Washington carefully avoids identifying the source of the intercept and hides it under the rubric of classified information because, critics say, the source of this intelligence report is Israel.
Experienced retired US intelligence officers believe that Israel is once again playing false with information so as to influence the West to go to war in the Middle East. Reports say that the alleged electronic intercept of a conversation between Syrian military personnel was fielded by Unit 8200 of Israeli military intelligence, which specializes in signals intelligence.
Some US experts believe that this alleged intercept, if it even exists, was doctored by the Israeli government so as to "prove" Syrian government complicity in WMD attacks.
Former British ambassador Craig Murray raises additional questions about the Israeli report.
He claims that the powerful British electronic intelligence center for the region, located on Mount Troodos in Cyprus, has no such intercept from its own monitoring.
He says that this center has such powerful capabilities that no electronic communications in the Middle East can escape it.
In addition to the Israeli allegation, the White House says it has obtained materials from the scene of the recent attack in Syria which "prove" the nerve agent Sarin was used.
From whom did the US obtain such contaminated materials? The Obama administration refuses to identify the source and chain of custody of the materials.
Given Washington's transparent propaganda campaign, it is not surprising that some leaders around the world express grave doubts about US allegations. Russian President Vladimir Putin forthrightly calls such propaganda "lies." Many Americans, including senators and congresspersons, would agree with him.
It is significant that the US Intelligence Community (IC) so far is not on public record supporting the Israeli allegations. The US IC apparently cannot assess with high confidence this Israeli reporting.
This is why the Obama administration had to issue its own politicized report on alleged Syrian WMD use from the White House.
The White House made a major political mistake engaging in such blatant deception of the American people and the international community.
The recent turnabout may mean no strikes, but the harm to US credibility has already been done.
The author is an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. firstname.lastname@example.org