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Thread: Syria: a civil war (closed)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    You'll want to recover that phlegmatic disposition long enough to recall that you don't give orders 'round here.
    Last time I said something like that to someone I got suspended.

    You've expressed certain opinions that need to be supported to be taken seriously. It's up to you to support them, is it not? If you're not willing to do that, why should you be ordering anyone else to listen to you?
    Let me help you here.

    I am obviously different from the emotionally fragile USians of your generation and younger.

    I am happy to be taken seriously by people I care about. I am not driven (it should be obvious by now) to attempt to seek acceptance by people I don't know and will never get to know and really don't need to know.

    This discussion group is interesting and I have learned much here... but it gets trying when people without even rudimentary knowledge of the military speak as if they do. Always better to stay within the bounds of your expertise which in your case is what?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Which need?

    3,000 people died in inter-tribal violence in province Pibor, South Sudan, at the beginning of this year. We didn't even notice, much less did a Western public discuss the prospect of intervention.

    Why is there a need for action in Syria, but not in other places?

    Looks to me as if it's not a need, but a personal preference.
    The Syrians are having a civil war. I can resist the urge for calling for an involvement.
    I see where you are coming from... but I did not say intervention in other areas/places is not needed. This is a thread about Syria, we are talking about Syria.

    Would you agree that there are scales of potential involvement/intervention?

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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    And as Rod Liddle pointed out, by asking an obviously rhetorical question, we know very little about who the people in rebellion really are, while we know a great deal about Assad, the Ba'ath Party, the Alawite minority in power, and so on. If events in Egypt and Libya are any indication, regardless of the current gush-gush over the insurgents in many quarters, only the hard core, radical Islamist groups have sufficient organization, resources and clarity of goals to shape the end state after the overthrow of the the Assad regime. The rest will be sidelined.

    At least for the present, the situation seems to be that the Arab League would like somebody to intervene, so that the "somebody" will be the bad guy rather than them. Otherwise, those Saudi and Jordanian aircraft, tanks and infantry would already be on the scene.

    Meanwhile, the choosing of sides is leading to a rift between Hamas and Iran - which I think most rational people would consider a Good Thing.

    I'm with you, Fuchs. Resisting the temptation to intervene is proving very easy.
    It is important that the US does not intervene.

    Ron Liddle was just filling space and providing fodder for those looking for reasons to oppose any intervention. His work is apparently necessary to help those unable to think for themselves.

    So I guess you are right then... lets all just sit back and watch 1,000s of people being butchered. I wonder what that makes us?

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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    Well, if JMA thinks otherwise he's kept it secret. He doesn't ".. support that intervention being carried out by the US (due to their extremely poor record with such interventions)," he doesn't want the rebels armed, and he agreed with Fuchs' summary of the possibility of other actors intervening, so that pretty much takes everything off the table except for his three cruise missile option. Oh, and the usual "viewing with alarm," "strongly disapprove," "condemnation by all civilized people" and useless economic sanctions the Syrians are pretty much already ignoring.

    Of course, a decapitation strike in Syria would lead to complete chaos as everyone fought for position in the aftermath, with no telling what kind of resulting state of affairs. I hope JMA will explain to us why this is "good planning" as opposed to what he considers the U.S. record of "bad planning."
    This is very immature comment. I am amused that you seek to establish what I think/believe/want. Then you start you put things into my mouth... which is naughty.

    My best advice to you is to force yourself to think for yourself. Difficult at first but really worth the effort even at this late stage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I'd expect a Sunni Arab majority gaining control; their religious radicals would likely fail to be a majority nation-wide.
    90% Arabs
    Sunni Muslim 74%

    The result would be pretty obvious, yes?

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    ...

    Simply put we all have a very different world map, with assigned, changing priorities and sometimes governments are in parallel with their own public. Sorry who cares about 'province Pibor' ? Very few outside the immediate area and the two Sudan's.

    ...

    Sadly whole chunks of the world are rarely delivered to our screens, how many viewers let alone editors want to learn about feuding tribes in South Sudan? I'm sure some here will remember the reporting of the famine in Ethiopia, that led to the Band Aid concerts.

    ...

    The UK's record is not good in this respect.
    Except for the occasional incidents, such as Darfur, the world usually turns a blind eye to bad things happening in primitive places far away. For example, I doubt the general public anywhere in the developed world is aware of the ongoing horror show in the Great Lakes region of Africa.

    The UK isn't alone in the poor record department. The list of humanitarian disasters that the post WW II world has ignored begins with Biafra, runs through Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge right up to Syria in the present with lots of stops along the way. And after Syria ...?

    Part of my cynicism comes from the realization that calls to intervene don't reflect any desire to build a better world so much as a desire for the caller to feel good about himself for making the call, and as a result he hasn't put much thought into what the intervention entails. (e.g. If you want to stop a slaughter you will have to kill people. And if those people collect human shields, some of them will be killed as well.)

    In the instance under discussion, I doubt anyone calling for intervention has thought through what it would cost, or what the aftermath would be if the intervention didn't continue past the immediate goal of toppling the current regime. As much as I believe the whole notion of Nation Building to be complete rubbish, intervention without some long term (decades) commitment to improve on the past is a likely to turn out a wasted effort, almost certain to require a repeat in a few years when the new gang of thugs out lives its "welcome." (cf. Iraq now that the U.S. and allies have pulled out, or Afghanistan a few years after we’re gone.)

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    I don't know enough about Syria or the Assad regime and what short of "boots on the ground" would affect their decision-making.

    That caveat aside what we should do beyond declarations is practical:

    • Ensure the evidenceof brutality is collected and is ready for the day when justice can be done.

      Boost radio broadcasting to the region.

      Reduce all Syrian embassies to consular duties, close all trade offices and UN delegations. Send the staff home PNG.

      Monitor all import / export activity and ask those involved why publicly. Yes, publish which ships and aircraft visit.
    All of which would be good things to do, but of only limited value in reducing the carnage. And I suspect, even if they effected a stop, it would only be long enough to let the world move on to its next cause du jour, after which the retribution would continue and finish off the opposition. Quietly, so the world can blissfully ignore it.
    Last edited by J Wolfsberger; 03-08-2012 at 05:41 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Would you agree that there are scales of potential involvement/intervention?
    Is the country under attack?

    If not: Their defence is no topic for our security policy.
    If yes:

    Are they allied (by treaty!)?

    If yes: Collective defence, we are all under attack.
    If not:

    Are we really sure they are becoming victim of a genocide?

    If not: Keep an eye on the topic, all else is an issue for the UNSC.
    If yes: Check whether we can do something about it.

    Can we do something about it?

    If not: Go back one step.
    If yes: What can we do about it? (Military intervention is just on possibility.)

    ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I'd expect a Sunni Arab majority gaining control; their religious radicals would likely fail to be a majority nation-wide.
    90% Arabs
    Sunni Muslim 74%

    The result would be pretty obvious, yes?

    Depends what you mean.
    You cannot simply multiply these figures and come up with a figure for relgious radicals.

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    on my question, Question for Military Experts. That's fine. Keep the question in mind. If you run into a military resource which bears on a Turkish-Syrian conflict per my hypothetical, please post it.

    TZ is running a Turkish geopolitical analysis of "Who's on First" in the Middle East, ‘Ankara is Iran's rival whether it likes it or not’ (8 Mar 2012):

    Turkey and Iran are two countries in the region that have not been paralyzed by the events of the Arab Spring. “I believe that Iran, the oldest imperial regime of the region, will try to preserve its position in the region at all costs,” Çağaptay added.

    While Turkey turned its back on the East and tilted toward the West, Iran strengthened its hand in the region, Çağaptay noted. But when Turkey refocused its foreign policy on the Middle East 10 years ago and began deepening its relations with other countries in the region, Ankara became Iran's rival.

    “If the Arab Spring had never occurred, there would have been secret competition,” Çağaptay posited.

    He pointed to the two countries' conflicting stances on the regime crisis in Syria, which he said has taken the Turkish-Iranian rivalry to an unprecedented level. “While Turkey supports the Syrian opposition, Iran has decided to support Syria's Assad regime. In the end, either the Syrian opposition or the Assad regime will win. In other words, either Turkey or Iran will win.”
    This article leads me to a second question for military experts (the first one - a Turkish-Syrian 1 on 1 - is still on the table):

    If Turkey were to proceed with a conventional armed intervention into Syria, and Iran responds with a conventional armed attack on Turkey - a 2 on 1 with full commitment of military forces by all three states, who would win ?

    No US-NATO support of any kind for the Turks; and Russia and China stay out of it completely (other than making noises about "aggressive war", etc.).
    The Turkish preference (based on what TZ and its columnists have been saying for the last few months) appears to be a Turkish-brokered diplomatic deal involving Turkey, Iran and the Arab League (Saudi and the Gulf states as the money partners) being the "peacekeepers" and guarantors of limited negotiated external interests (Russia-China; US-NATO) - a reverse Sykes-Picot, in effect.

    Regards

    Mike

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    I'll go ahead and lay out my view and analysis regarding military intervention, specifically the use of military means toward a political end.

    First of all, I think there are three "categories" in which military force could be used:

    1. Regime change, by whatever means.
    2. Change the balance of power between Assad’s forces and the opposition so that Assad’s forces cannot conduct mass killings.
    3. Compel Assad to make a political decision to stop the mass killings or reconcile with the opposition.


    Let’s examine the utility of military force in each case:

    First, regime change:

    • Regime change is something military force can achieve by following, very roughly, the Libya model. Another example is the post Desert Storm counter-factual where the Iraqi Shia rebels receive a proxy air force to finish Saddam off after we decimated his conventional forces. The US does have a lot of experience at this sort of thing - see also Afghanistan in 2001-2002.
    • The problem is, however, that whatever the circumstances, we can’t control how regime change occurs or turns out in the end. It’s a pretty big gamble and the odds are good that the result will not be pretty. The stakes are a lot greater in Syria than Libya because Syria is bigger, more populous, better armed, has chemical weapons, is more geographically strategic, and plays an important regional role with it's alliance with Iran and involvement in factional Lebanese politics. It's not clear at all how things would turn out if we upset that apple cart, but I think the result would look a lot more like Iraq circa 2006 than Libya 2011.
    • The best case for regime change is a successful coup, but that’s not something we can create or control through military force. It's also not clear that an Alawite successor would view the rebels any differently than Assad and it's highly unlikely anyone but another Alawite could stage a sucessful coup.
    • Even if Syria transitions smoothly to a new government, the effect will likely be that Syrians will still die, they'll just be different Syrians. A Marine officer over at Tom Rick's blog said: "Killing several thousand Syrians so they don't kill several thousand other Syrians only to leave the nation knowing that several thousand more will die is not protecting anyone." That sums it up IMO.
    • The worst case is an open and brutal civil war in a highly militarized country rife with internal divisions that also happens to have a lot of chemical weapons.


    The second option is to use military force to change the balance of power between Assad and the opposition. There are two basic ways to do this.

    • First is to create no-fly/no-drive zones, (using the Southern/Northern watch model) or something similar like "humanitarian corridors" which some advocate for. A bigger version of this the Bosnia partition model which would require an enduring ground-force commitment to separate the warring parties. Any of these options could be accomplished militarily, but there are some serious downsides. The most obvious problem is that such measures are inherently temporary. At some point the NFZ or enforced partition will end. Perhaps a political solution could be negotiated while the parties are separated, but that is not likely for a whole host of reasons I won't belabor here. If a political solution isn't reached, and the political will to continue spending resources enforcing the "peace" ends, then the situation would likely return to the status-quo ante.
    • The second option involves attriting Assad’s military and security forces while strengthening the opposition so that Assad no longer has the capability to conduct the mass killings even if he still has the intent. This is a task the US military could accomplish, though it would take a long, sustained air campaign. The problem with this option, however, is what then? Either the situation will slide again into Assad’s favor (a return to the status quo ante), or the opposition will be strong enough to overthrow Assad (see regime change), or you end up with a stalemated civil war in which neither side has a decisive advantage. None of these options sound very good to me and they would all involve killing a lot of Syrians, not protecting them.


    The third option is to use military force to compel Assad to come to a political solution with the opposition instead of using violence. This seems the least-realistic of the options and the one least-likely to be accomplished with military force. Is Assad the kind of man who can be bullied into compliance? It's possible I suppose, but it would be uncharacteristic for the typical dictator in Assad's circumstances. And if the interventions in Libya and Iraq are any guide, the political mission creep will tend to try to box Assad in and provide no option but to fight until the bitter end. There's also no guarantee that the opposition would accept any offer from Assad (much less agree among themselves), especially since their primary demand is that Assad step down from office. In my judgment, this option is mostly fantasy abetted by wishful thinking.

    There is a fourth option which focuses on punishment as the goal. Although it wouldn't prevent mass killings, it would "send a message." I'm talking, of course, about the tried and true punitive raid. For Syria it would have to be pretty big and would likely last a couple of days - look at Operation Desert Fox for an example of what it might look like. The operation would likely strike regime targets and key strategic facilities. It won’t stop the killings, won’t topple the Assad regime, but at least we could be satisfied that we “did something" even if that "something" is counterproductive.

    So in the end, I don't think a military intervention is, at this point in time, justified when compared to the risks and consequences, both intended and unintended.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    I'll go ahead and lay out my view and analysis regarding military intervention, specifically the use of military means toward a political end.

    ...
    Nicely done.

    One thing to add to your appreciation of the military options is that in both Libya and Iraq, the regimes were politically and geographically isolated. That is clearly not the case with Syria. As a result, it seems that any military action would likely draw in other actors.

    That touches on jmm99's post:

    The Turkish preference (based on what TZ and its columnists have been saying for the last few months) appears to be a Turkish-brokered diplomatic deal involving Turkey, Iran and the Arab League (Saudi and the Gulf states as the money partners) being the "peacekeepers" and guarantors of limited negotiated external interests (Russia-China; US-NATO) - a reverse Sykes-Picot, in effect.
    I can almost see Turkey and the Arab League working together, but the Iranians are much more likely to be spoilers, and would definitely get involved on Syria's side if there were any military intervention.
    Last edited by J Wolfsberger; 03-08-2012 at 07:52 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    I am obviously different from the emotionally fragile USians of your generation and younger.
    I'm aware that you've a high opinion of yourself. The reminder is unnecessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    I am happy to be taken seriously by people I care about. I am not driven (it should be obvious by now) to attempt to seek acceptance by people I don't know and will never get to know and really don't need to know.
    I don't know why you'd see supporting your statements with evidence or reasoning as "seeking acceptance". I also can't see why you'd bother making statements if you're not prepared to back them up if questioned: it's called a discussion board for a reason. Stating fringe opinions and retreating to bluster and obfuscation when they're challenged is not consistent with any definition of "discussion" that I know of.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    it gets trying when people without even rudimentary knowledge of the military speak as if they do. Always better to stay within the bounds of your expertise which in your case is what?
    The discussion in progress on this thread is predominantly political, not military. In any event the credence any opinion gets here should depend solely on the reasoning and evidence presented to support that opinion.

    I'd be curious to know what specific expertise supports your dramatically stated opinion that US leaders won't intervene in Syria because they're pissing their pants in terror of some still unspecified threat from Russia and China.

    The repeated suggestion that these interventions could be achieved neatly and cleanly if only people were "competent" begs the question of what steps you think competent people would take, what you think the outcome would be, and why you think that. In the absence of that information, the claim of "incompetence" is less than compelling.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Just run your military credentials past me so I can try to understand where you are coming from here.
    I asked the question so that you might display your knowledge.

    If I challenged your assessments of the capacity to carry out such a strike, or the means by which such a strike might be carried out, that would involve military credentials. The question as asked involves the anticipated political response to a military action, not the action itself, and is essentially a question involving political expertise, not military expertise.

    Again, it looks like you're evading the question because you can't answer it. Best way to change that perception is to answer the question.

    You've proposed the three cruise missile theory and the process by which it would be implemented. No question or challenge there. The question is what political outcome you'd expect from those steps, and why.

    Entropy's post above would be an excellent starting point for reasonable discussion of the prospects for intervention in Syria.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    Of course, a decapitation strike in Syria would lead to complete chaos as everyone fought for position in the aftermath, with no telling what kind of resulting state of affairs.
    You start with the definite - "would lead to complete chaos" and have no idea of the "kind of resulting state of affairs".

    You obviously have no intel and neither do I. So neither of us can tell and given the poor track record of the CIA they are most probably not in a position to advise accurately.

    I hope JMA will explain to us why this is "good planning" as opposed to what he considers the U.S. record of "bad planning."
    All planning is based on good intel. With no intel you go in blind. This is perhaps the reason for the US failure in such foreign interventions.

    Put the intel on the table and take it from there.
    Last edited by JMA; 03-09-2012 at 06:31 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Is the country under attack?

    If not: Their defence is no topic for our security policy.
    If yes:

    Are they allied (by treaty!)?

    If yes: Collective defence, we are all under attack.
    If not:

    Are we really sure they are becoming victim of a genocide?

    If not: Keep an eye on the topic, all else is an issue for the UNSC.
    If yes: Check whether we can do something about it.

    Can we do something about it?

    If not: Go back one step.
    If yes: What can we do about it? (Military intervention is just on possibility.)

    ...

    Understandable but too simplistic I suggest.

    Most such decisions are driven by a mix of political and emotional motivations. There are a lot of factors which lead to a given set of circumstances being pressed home into the national psyche resulting in action being taken and those can safely be ignored.

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    Professor Paul Rogers commentary:http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-ro...ost-of-failure

    It has nothing new or surprising and is a good summary of the position. Noteworthy as it does not discuss intervention.
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I'm aware that you've a high opinion of yourself. The reminder is unnecessary.

    I don't know why you'd see supporting your statements with evidence or reasoning as "seeking acceptance". I also can't see why you'd bother making statements if you're not prepared to back them up if questioned: it's called a discussion board for a reason. Stating fringe opinions and retreating to bluster and obfuscation when they're challenged is not consistent with any definition of "discussion" that I know of.

    The discussion in progress on this thread is predominantly political, not military. In any event the credence any opinion gets here should depend solely on the reasoning and evidence presented to support that opinion.

    I'd be curious to know what specific expertise supports your dramatically stated opinion that US leaders won't intervene in Syria because they're pissing their pants in terror of some still unspecified threat from Russia and China.

    The repeated suggestion that these interventions could be achieved neatly and cleanly if only people were "competent" begs the question of what steps you think competent people would take, what you think the outcome would be, and why you think that. In the absence of that information, the claim of "incompetence" is less than compelling.

    I asked the question so that you might display your knowledge.

    If I challenged your assessments of the capacity to carry out such a strike, or the means by which such a strike might be carried out, that would involve military credentials. The question as asked involves the anticipated political response to a military action, not the action itself, and is essentially a question involving political expertise, not military expertise.

    Again, it looks like you're evading the question because you can't answer it. Best way to change that perception is to answer the question.

    You've proposed the three cruise missile theory and the process by which it would be implemented. No question or challenge there. The question is what political outcome you'd expect from those steps, and why.

    Entropy's post above would be an excellent starting point for reasonable discussion of the prospects for intervention in Syria.
    LOL ... pass

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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    I'll go ahead and lay out my view and analysis regarding military intervention, specifically the use of military means toward a political end.

    First of all, I think there are three "categories" in which military force could be used:

    1. Regime change, by whatever means.
    2. Change the balance of power between Assad’s forces and the opposition so that Assad’s forces cannot conduct mass killings.
    3. Compel Assad to make a political decision to stop the mass killings or reconcile with the opposition.


    Let’s examine the utility of military force in each case:

    First, regime change:

    • Regime change is something military force can achieve by following, very roughly, the Libya model. Another example is the post Desert Storm counter-factual where the Iraqi Shia rebels receive a proxy air force to finish Saddam off after we decimated his conventional forces. The US does have a lot of experience at this sort of thing - see also Afghanistan in 2001-2002.
    • The problem is, however, that whatever the circumstances, we can’t control how regime change occurs or turns out in the end. It’s a pretty big gamble and the odds are good that the result will not be pretty. The stakes are a lot greater in Syria than Libya because Syria is bigger, more populous, better armed, has chemical weapons, is more geographically strategic, and plays an important regional role with it's alliance with Iran and involvement in factional Lebanese politics. It's not clear at all how things would turn out if we upset that apple cart, but I think the result would look a lot more like Iraq circa 2006 than Libya 2011.
    • The best case for regime change is a successful coup, but that’s not something we can create or control through military force. It's also not clear that an Alawite successor would view the rebels any differently than Assad and it's highly unlikely anyone but another Alawite could stage a sucessful coup.
    • Even if Syria transitions smoothly to a new government, the effect will likely be that Syrians will still die, they'll just be different Syrians. A Marine officer over at Tom Rick's blog said: "Killing several thousand Syrians so they don't kill several thousand other Syrians only to leave the nation knowing that several thousand more will die is not protecting anyone." That sums it up IMO.
    • The worst case is an open and brutal civil war in a highly militarized country rife with internal divisions that also happens to have a lot of chemical weapons.


    The second option is to use military force to change the balance of power between Assad and the opposition. There are two basic ways to do this.

    • First is to create no-fly/no-drive zones, (using the Southern/Northern watch model) or something similar like "humanitarian corridors" which some advocate for. A bigger version of this the Bosnia partition model which would require an enduring ground-force commitment to separate the warring parties. Any of these options could be accomplished militarily, but there are some serious downsides. The most obvious problem is that such measures are inherently temporary. At some point the NFZ or enforced partition will end. Perhaps a political solution could be negotiated while the parties are separated, but that is not likely for a whole host of reasons I won't belabor here. If a political solution isn't reached, and the political will to continue spending resources enforcing the "peace" ends, then the situation would likely return to the status-quo ante.
    • The second option involves attriting Assad’s military and security forces while strengthening the opposition so that Assad no longer has the capability to conduct the mass killings even if he still has the intent. This is a task the US military could accomplish, though it would take a long, sustained air campaign. The problem with this option, however, is what then? Either the situation will slide again into Assad’s favor (a return to the status quo ante), or the opposition will be strong enough to overthrow Assad (see regime change), or you end up with a stalemated civil war in which neither side has a decisive advantage. None of these options sound very good to me and they would all involve killing a lot of Syrians, not protecting them.


    The third option is to use military force to compel Assad to come to a political solution with the opposition instead of using violence. This seems the least-realistic of the options and the one least-likely to be accomplished with military force. Is Assad the kind of man who can be bullied into compliance? It's possible I suppose, but it would be uncharacteristic for the typical dictator in Assad's circumstances. And if the interventions in Libya and Iraq are any guide, the political mission creep will tend to try to box Assad in and provide no option but to fight until the bitter end. There's also no guarantee that the opposition would accept any offer from Assad (much less agree among themselves), especially since their primary demand is that Assad step down from office. In my judgment, this option is mostly fantasy abetted by wishful thinking.

    There is a fourth option which focuses on punishment as the goal. Although it wouldn't prevent mass killings, it would "send a message." I'm talking, of course, about the tried and true punitive raid. For Syria it would have to be pretty big and would likely last a couple of days - look at Operation Desert Fox for an example of what it might look like. The operation would likely strike regime targets and key strategic facilities. It won’t stop the killings, won’t topple the Assad regime, but at least we could be satisfied that we “did something" even if that "something" is counterproductive.

    So in the end, I don't think a military intervention is, at this point in time, justified when compared to the risks and consequences, both intended and unintended.
    You have put some time and effort into this so I will be gentle.

    I ask you again to start at the beginning.

    It is the politicians who decide to intervene and generally place a whole string of limitations on such intervention.

    The Pentagon (in the case of the US) then usually don't have the balls to say no (meaning that under those circumstances with those limitations the aim is unlikely to be achieved). Its all about not putting one's pension at risk you see.

    Then the planning staffs get hold of it and begin to play. And out pops a plan of sorts... think "Bay of Pigs", think "Operation Eagle Claw" think "Son Tay Raid" and any other of the cock-ups these "planners" (or what passes for them) produce. Then the 'fine tuning' starts with input normally from people who have never been exposed to more than Hollywood movies and BB guns.

    Then they send the troopies out to die.

    After the dead are buried they dish out a gongs (medals) to the survivors and praise the patriotism and bravery of those involved... but never a word of apology for sending soldiers to their death on some incompetently conceived and ineptly planned operation/intervention.

    So all that said ... don't plan for options you at your level will not be asked to decide on.

    Next I would like to comment on that (idiotic) quote from that Marine officer. (I hope he is a Lt at most otherwise the USMC is in a lot of trouble)

    (In Rumsfeld style)... if there are bad guys (which no doubt Assad's military are) killing opposition groups and their families (even if these opposition groups include some nasties) then the killings by the regime of mainly unarmed men, women, children supporter of the opposition is quite simply a crime against humanity.

    So if a guardian angel starts to take out 1,000s of the bad guys (being from Assad's political and military hierarchy) is not the same as killings civilians (men, women, children) in Homs with artillery, mortars, armour and then by firing squad.

    Now one wonders why a Marine officer can't connect the dots in order to protect civilians (regardless of their religious or political persuasion) from being butchered by Assad's thugs (can't call people who do that soldiers) it is clearly necessary to kill a lot of Assad's thugs. Now this killing of Assad's trigger men must be swift and extremely violent because (as reports state) if they refuse to kill civilians and oppositions groups they themselves will be killed by the regime's enforcers. So to tip the balance in favour or defection/flight/whatever one needs to send them a very serious message.

    So ignore that idiot Marine officer. Sadly though he seems to have influenced your thinking because you come up with this: "None of these options sound very good to me and they would all involve killing a lot of Syrians, not protecting them." So think it through again I suggest and understand that to save Syrian civilians a lot of "bad guys" are going to have to be killed.

    Finally I suggest that your "gut feel" is not what counts here. When you arrive at what you think will or won't work consider the basis on which you arrived at that decision. In appreciations the deductions and conclusions are not 'plucked' out of the air but are arrived at through your discussion of factors. So "in my opinion" and "but I think" and "the odds are" have no place in an appreciation.

    For example your man Wolfsberger states that if Assad is taken out it "would lead to complete chaos". Where did he pluck this from? Sadly he states this opinion (his opinion) as a fact. He gives no inkling as to how he is able to state this with such certainty. You should not fall into this trap as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    So if a guardian angel starts to take out 1,000s of the bad guys (being from Assad's political and military hierarchy) is not the same as killings civilians (men, women, children) in Homs with artillery, mortars, armour and then by firing squad.

    Now one wonders why a Marine officer can't connect the dots in order to protect civilians (regardless of their religious or political persuasion) from being butchered by Assad's thugs (can't call people who do that soldiers) it is clearly necessary to kill a lot of Assad's thugs. Now this killing of Assad's trigger men must be swift and extremely violent because (as reports state) if they refuse to kill civilians and oppositions groups they themselves will be killed by the regime's enforcers. So to tip the balance in favour or defection/flight/whatever one needs to send them a very serious message.
    Since there is no guardian angel, how exactly do you propose to accomplish this? What specific steps would you recommend, what outcome do you expect those steps to achieve, and why do you expect that those steps would lead to that outcome?

    If you, as a military expert, were to propose a course of action to civilian leadership, you would presumably be asked those questions or something very much like them. How would you convince them that your proposed course of action would work?

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    When you arrive at what you think will or won't work consider the basis on which you arrived at that decision. In appreciations the deductions and conclusions are not 'plucked' out of the air but are arrived at through your discussion of factors.
    That's exactly what I've been asking you to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    For example your man Wolfsberger states that if Assad is taken out it "would lead to complete chaos". Where did he pluck this from? Sadly he states this opinion (his opinion) as a fact. He gives no inkling as to how he is able to state this with such certainty. You should not fall into this trap as well.
    He can speak for himself, but he would probably look at prior cases, recent and otherwise, where dictators have been removed by outside force (Iraq, Libya, etc). He'd likely listen to what people who study Syrian politics have to say. He'd probably at least consider the possibility that various factions would contend to fill the power vacuum left by Assad's removal, and the possibility that the contention would involve violence.

    What do you think would happen if Assad were "taken out", and why do you think that?

    You stated this opinion:

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Two cruise missiles is all it will take
    That opinion certainly looks like it's being stated as fact, as much as anything J. Wolfsberger said. You also give no inkling of how you are able to state this with such certainty. What's the basis on which you arrived at that conclusion?

    The same might be asked of comments like this:

    What will restrain any temptation to intervene is the opposition of Russia and China.
    Again, stated as fact without any inkling of how you are able to state this with such certainty.

    Why criticize others for doing what you do so readily yourself?
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Since there is no guardian angel, how exactly do you propose to accomplish this? What specific steps would you recommend, what outcome do you expect those steps to achieve, and why do you expect that those steps would lead to that outcome?

    If you, as a military expert, were to propose a course of action to civilian leadership, you would presumably be asked those questions or something very much like them. How would you convince them that your proposed course of action would work?

    That's exactly what I've been asking you to do.

    He can speak for himself, but he would probably look at prior cases, recent and otherwise, where dictators have been removed by outside force (Iraq, Libya, etc). He'd likely listen to what people who study Syrian politics have to say. He'd probably at least consider the possibility that various factions would contend to fill the power vacuum left by Assad's removal, and the possibility that the contention would involve violence.

    What do you think would happen if Assad were "taken out", and why do you think that?

    You stated this opinion:

    That opinion certainly looks like it's being stated as fact, as much as anything J. Wolfsberger said. You also give no inkling of how you are able to state this with such certainty. What's the basis on which you arrived at that conclusion?

    The same might be asked of comments like this:

    Again, stated as fact without any inkling of how you are able to state this with such certainty.

    Why criticize others for doing what you do so readily yourself?
    LOL... pass

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Depends what you mean.
    You cannot simply multiply these figures and come up with a figure for relgious radicals.
    Arab and Sunni majorities are reflected in the demographics.

    I agree that it is difficult to estimate religious radicals as what has been bubbling under the surface in that brutal dictatorship is almost impossible for an outsider to know as the regime itself with a network of informers does not fully understand (otherwise they would have nipped this insurrection in the bud).

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