I think I woke him up. That would be the spirit of my late friend James Jesus Angleton, former chief of CIA Counterintelligence, literary editor, aficionado of James Joyce, and interrogator of Ezra Pound. I’d invested a small fortune getting my ouija board in good working order, and it was working beautifully. Angleton, on the other hand, was clearing his throat and coughing, as you might expect from a man who was never without a cigarette. But I was hoping to get some guidance from him on the Syrian-war-about-to-happen, and his time zone was always unclear…
ML: Sorry, sorry, shall I try again later?
JJA: (Voice even more gravelly than usual.) Just give me a second. Where’s the water? Ah, there (drinks, then two deep breaths). Better. You want to talk about Assad I imagine?
ML: The whole thing. Assad, Obama, Khamenei, Rouhani…
JJA: Oh good. How can I help?
ML: Do you think the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against the “opposition”?
JJA: Yes. Or maybe the Iranians, or the two together. It all comes to same thing. And not just this incident, but many times.
ML: Dexter Filkins, who’s a good reporter and an honest man, tells us that the opposition groups have claimed up to thirty-five chemical attacks.
JJA: Yes, and I tend to believe our intel guys when they say the opposition doesn’t have such weapons.
ML: Do you think we’re going to bomb Syria?
JJA: Haven’t the vaguest. I don’t think the president does, either. He’ll be getting plenty of advice to the contrary.
ML: Valerie Jarrett, as usual?
JJA: Lots of folks, including allies. Do you see Cameron as the reincarnation of Blair? Do you think the Brits really want to attack Damascus? I think the French are more likely to push for action.
JJA: Have you already forgotten about Mali? That was France…
ML: Fair enough.
JJA: The Brits will publicly support whatever Obama says, but remember that their lawyers told Blair, back when, that he needed a clear UN resolution to attack Iraq, or he risked being prosecuted for war crimes. Cameron doesn’t have Blair’s resolve, so far as I can tell, and I’ll bet he’s trying to get Obama to let the UN decide whether to attack.
ML: Clearly, Obama doesn’t want to do anything serious.
JJA:: I haven’t ever seen so many trial balloons coming out of an administration.
ML: And none of them is floating, so far as I can tell.
JJA: Nope. Obama hasn’t made the case for action, and he doesn’t seem able to design anything like an effective strategy. Do we want Assad gone? Dead? Chastened? What?
ML: Most everyone insists there’s no good outcome in Syria.
JJA: Yes, they say that. But then, they forget the covert option…