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« Cameron's--not Assad's--peculiar logic | Main | On gutlessness »

August 29, 2013

Comments

Robert Lipscomb

Yes, yes, out of control chemical stockpiles are much, much better.

Let's just give them a good talking-to and dare them to play chess with the Russians.

Jimiskin

With this action Obama will alienate a large portion of his remaining base. Young people will discern, rightly or wrongly that there is no difference between a Republican and a Democratic administration, and will consequently stay home on election day. The Republicans will not stay home. Goodbye to 2014 hopes and quite likely the same for 2016. Hoping for a miracle to turn this around, otherwise we look to be entering a new Dark Age.

Chris Andersen

Cynicism is so last week.

Really, is it any worse to say that Assad ordered the attack than to say that Assad doesn't have control of his own stockpiles? In either case, we have a situation that can't be left to just stand, fester and inevitably break out even worse than it already has.

What to do? Hell if I know. But the idea that the worst motives lie behind any desire for action is simply an argument for cynicism and cynicism is the rot that eventually destroys Democracy.

Robert Lipscomb

With the exception of the neo-con madness in Iraq, there has not been much difference between the foreign policies of the two parties since the beginning of WW II. Our policy goals and objectives have evolved over time, hopefully for the better, but both parties have been generally close over time.

Turgidson

Obviously the people saying this is Iraq part 2 - electric boogaloo are exaggerating. I don't see 150k US troops ready to roll toward Damascus or a commitment to a sustained air campaign.

But that still doesn't make this a good idea. Come on, Obama. Your judgment in situations like this is part of the reason you're in the big chair. Don't do anything rash.

Peter G

So, if I understand correctly, an intelligence briefing accurately portrays the intelligence available and supplies the necessary reasoning for not being precipitate in an attack, this is wrong? I see no conflict with this estimate and also telling Assad that he sure as hell better get this shit under control or get out of the way and let someone who can do so take the job. Assad may not be responsible for this attack but, if he wants to play president, he is responsible for preventing a repetition.

Robert Lipscomb

I see nothing rash about Obama's overall approach to Syria or the whole "Arab Spring". he seems to have correctly deduced that the Middle east is unwinding the unnatural geopolitical divides imposed by the UK following WW I. the unwinding will happen country-to-country, region-to-region in fits and starts in accordance each internal dynamic.

Thus, we get the complaint from the GOP and Israel of Obama "leading from behind" - because he is. But this flies in the face of portraying Obama acting rashly - or is he just on a slippery slope? It's hard to keep up with ever-changing criticisms.

But this is about war crimes and WMD. If Assad wants to sit atop the world's largest stockpile of chemical weapons, then he damned well better get control of them - or pay the price. If he "only" wants to use use them in a measured way, he damned well better be ready to pay the price.

Anyone wanting a successful, simplistic, hide-and-seek foreign policy should go live in another world. The rest of us are living and dying in this one.

Turgidson

I'm not condoning use of chemical weapons, but I fail to see how lobbing a couple dozen Tomahawks into Syria - which won't take out the stockpiles for obvious reasons, and will presumably be targeted to avoid civilian casualties - is tantamount to making Assad "pay the price" for using them, or allowing a Syrian version of General Ripper to use them.

I still haven't read or heard an explanation for why this intervention is likely to accomplish anything or discourage Assad from using chemical weapons in the future. If one exists, I'd love to hear it.

shsavage

It might be helpful to ask ourselves what lobbing cruise missiles at selected sites in Syria for two to three days would hope to accomplish. If Assad is behind the chemical attacks, any response that leaves him in power will be viewed by him (and the wider Middle East) as ineffective. If he's still in power, he's won, because his only goal at this point is survival.

But suppose, then, that we drop sufficient ordnance to weaken him just enough that it tips the balance in favor of the opposition militias. For each of the multitude of militias fighting in Syria, the getting rid of the Assad regime is only a proximate goal. The final goal for each militia is to take his place. Thus, the exit of Assad will simply bring on the next, far bloodier phase of the Syrian war--the free-for-all. And no one will have control over the chemical weapons, or evryone will. Or just a few of the militias. What if they're not the ones who are "really" on our "side"?

So, as PeterG pointed out a few days ago, the situation will require boots on the ground to secure the chemical weapons stockpiles (assuming we know where they are). PeterG pointed out that the troops need not be US troops, speculating that perhaps the Arab states should supply them. To which one must ask, "Which Arab states?" Half of them are arrayed on each "side." Imagine a scenario where even just the Arab armies on "our side" are let loose on the ground in Syria to find WMDs. Do we really think that this wouldn't be a mad scramble of each nation's army to beat the others to the stockpiles, not so they would have the glory of turning them over to the US or the UN, but in order to keep them for themselves? This kind of situation would be a guarantee that the stockpiles would never be "found." So, who would watch the watchers? Again, we're back to US troops on the ground. Or our hapless European allies, who created this whole bloody mess in the first place.

There simply isn't a limited US response that will acheive our goals (if we even had a clear idea of what those goals should be). And a full-bore offensive simply isn't in the cards. We've now got nearly half of the Congress calling for POTUS to consult with Congress before doing anything, Rumsfeld stressing that POTUS hasn't made a sufficient case for any military action (irony of ironies, he's right, for once), the neocons screaming for a bigger response, and the American people not wanting another useless war in the Middle East. No. Whatever we do will not promote peace and stability in Syria or the wider Middle East--just the opposite, in fact. What will that do to the Democratic party?

Peter G

Not following the logic behind the need for US boots on the ground to secure stockpiles of nerve agents shsavage. The hard part would be getting anybody to commit troops to a battlefield where such weapons are present. But really if any Arab state wanted to make nerve agents it is not hard. It is no more difficult than making an insecticide. They just happen to exterminate mammals and that's the only difference.

Jason

Man, the world sure is fucked up.

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