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Thread: Syria under Bashir Assad (closed end 2014)

  1. #301
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    There are other disadvantages, but they are rarely considered. The long term implications of sectarian violence is that it can be used to justify retribution at a later date anywhere in the world. Using the popular argument that the purpose of war is to make a better peace, sometimes you have to actually engage in war if you want that better peace.

    Not that I am interested in jumping in, but I think we have a tendency to only look at the short term when - a trait of the corporate culture that only looks at profits to be gained in the next quarter (or next election) to make decisions.
    You bring up a great point about the long term.

    Before we even begin to think about the relatively narrow matter of actually intervening in Syria of 2013 or 2014, we need to figure out if we are willing to own that problem for 5, 10, 15 years. On top of that, how far are we willing to go to keep other malign actors out of the chaos to ensue?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-27-2013 at 09:04 PM. Reason: Was in stand alone thread, now merged to here

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    Default Ashley Deeks on Syria

    Her current piece is The Value of Kosovo as a Non-Legal Precedent (by Ashley Deeks, August 24, 2013). She references a current NYT article, Air War in Kosovo Seen as Precedent in Possible Response to Syria Chemical Attack (August 23, 2013); and her own 2012 post, Syria, Chemical Weapons, and Possible U.S. Military Action (by Ashley Deeks, December 10, 2012). That 2012 post outlines possible policy and legal arguments that the Obama NSC team might make to support US military action if Syria uses or threatens to use chemical weapons.

    Her post today refines what the "Kosovo" argument is - and what it is not. First off, Kosovo is not a good legal precendent - she agrees with Goldsmith on that:

    Jack’s post makes the point that the Kosovo precedent won’t get the U.S. government very far if it is looking for a solid international legal precedent for intervention in Syria. That seems absolutely right. But it also seems worth asking: if Kosovo isn’t a good legal precedent for Syria, how good a precedent is it in the policy, practical, and moral realms? Should the U.S. government cite Kosovo as a precedent at all?
    Here is the "Kosovo" argument in a Deeks nutshell:

    Enter Kosovo. The NYT today [link above] identifies that the Obama Administration is looking to the 1999 Kosovo air war as precedent for action in Syria. As many readers will recall (and as I discussed briefly here [link above]), virtually none of the NATO states that participated in the Kosovo bombings offered legal justifications for their actions. Instead, their diplomats explained why their actions were legitimate as a moral and policy matter.

    This is known in some corners as the “factors” approach, the idea being that there was an unusual confluence of factors that made it imperative for NATO to intervene, but those factors were so many and so distinct that it would be difficult for states in the future to claim Kosovo as a precedent for actions seen as less desirable by the international community writ large.

    The clearest statement of the factors that the U.S. found relevant in the Kosovo context can be found in a March 23, 1999 press statement by State Department spokesperson Jamie Rubin (preserved here). Here is the core defense of the U.S.’s role in NATO action in Kosovo ...
    And here is the Deeks crystal ball:

    Fast forward to Syria. A number of the Kosovo factors have clear parallels in the Syria context: serious refugee flows; the likelihood of destabilizing the region further (see Lebanon); a (likely) multi-lateral coalition supporting action; general disregard for (soft) UN Security Council Resolutions; and serious, widespread violations of international law. Some of the Kosovo factors don’t resonate (no peace agreements; the coalition that would act is not from the same geographic region in which the humanitarian crisis is taking place). But the United Nations now has what looks like pretty conclusive evidence that Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons – a factor absent in Kosovo but critical in the Syria factors column for sure.

    Though the Times quotes a senior Administration official as saying, “It’s a step too far to say we’re drawing up legal justifications for an action, given that the president hasn’t made a decision,” that doesn’t actually ring true. Either the speaker was hinting at the fact that the U.S. justifications for using force in Syria are unlikely to be legal ones, or the official is being coy. Dollars to donuts says that State, Defense, Justice, and NSC lawyers are hard at work, maybe in conversations with close NATO allies, drawing on the Kosovo non-precedent precedent to shape the argument that intervention in Syria is legitimate, if not lawful.
    It would not surprise me if missiles fly soon in a non-war war by a "coalition of the pi$$ed" - to borrow a Gabriella Blum term. President Obama is in something of a corner; and my mind says he is not a person who backs down readily from a moral position he has expressed. I don't like that COA, but it "feels" likely to me.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Carl suggests the following is a good strategy, I think it is a loony tunes strategy.

    http://nationalinterest.org/print/co...lan-syria-8924

    All lines of effort among U.S. agencies, and preferably those of cooperating allies as well, are tailored in support of clear policy goals:

    A) Assad and circle removed from power;
    This would be relatively simple, just as removing the Taliban and Saddam were, but the morning after will present problems we can't simply wish away.

    B) Political process aimed at stabilizing conflict and protecting all communities’ interests;
    With no more to go on than this, it appears to be nothing more than a dream. Who exactly would have the legitimacy to lead this political process with all parties concerns? Why would they negotiate if they believe they can achieve more of what they want through violence? Since Syria is already a proxy war for a number of states, why does the author think they'll suddenly push their proxies to cooperate with a U.S. or UN led effort to reach a political agreement that frankly won't be in their best interests.

    C) Impose maximum political/reputational costs on Iran, Hezbollah, and Sunni extremists, and seek to deny them influence in post-Assad Syria;
    Political costs on Sunni extremists? Having we been waging war against Sunni extremism for the past decade which includes imposing maximum political costs on them? What are we going to do? I suspect we'll hear some State Department representative publically say we seriously oppose this behavior and are initiating sanctions? What more pressure are going to put on Iran? Why wouldn't this pressure force coalitions to form that oppose our mandates?

    D) Maintain constant attention to security equities of Jordan, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Iraq;
    O.K. I'm beginning to see, we're going to work an agreement between the numerous warring parties as long as they address the security equities of the above listed countries. We assume we can ignore Russia, Iran, and others, or that they'll ignore our peace making efforts.

    E) Seek maximum coordination, unity and mandate between the United States and like-minded countries for their mutual efforts toward these ends.
    Seems we're already done that, and Iran, Russia and others are seeking maximum coordination with like-minded countries.

    Sorry, but none of these proposed ways are likely to work. If we need to employ the military to accomplish a specific task or tasks, or even launch a punitive strike to deter Assayd from using more chemical weapons (if he in fact used them) that would be limited and feasible military task (no guarantee it will work).

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    I dislike the author's presumption that Iran and Hezbollah would somehow be weakened if the US were to become involved and take the lead. It'ss a broad, sweeping statement, but it has no depth and frankly very little basis in reality.

    I am slowly coming to appreciate that the hawks are using the same buzzwords: militant jihadists; crime of the 21st Century; Iran; Assad = blood dripping from fangs killer. The list goes on, but I think the affliction of narrow-sightedness remains consistent, and the belief that this will work itself out in the end because the US steps in, has this uncanny way of resonating over and over.

    If the use of force is decided upon, the first jets to break the border need to be Turkish, Jordanian, and Saudi. Think of the coalition-building coup if Israel has a hand in it too. I know, an alliance with the Jews seems far-fetched, but if they are already getting in league with the Americans... As we strive to build partner capacity and strengthen regional relationships, we need to get a coalition formed and involve the neighbors. If they cannot be convinced, co-opted, or coerced into taking on a task that affects their security, then it isn't a task worth doing and we need to settle on other measures that don't result in the expense of deploying forces, nor the direct risk to a single servicemember.

    The US needs to be ready for an Iranian counter move in the Gulf. Perhaps it will be an IRBM launched at Doha. Maybe the IRG will seed tethered mines in the chokepoint. Something cloak-and-dagger across the border in Afghanistan seems more likely. The point is the US needs to be ready to take on not only Assad, but every actor aligned with him. If the US fails to accomodate ffor those actors in any use of force, things will be screwed up from the start. Perhaps--just perhaps--the administration is planning better than ever before, and not just "pondering". I can think of a couple dozen other issues that are at stake through intervention in Syria (e.g. attacks on Israel, terrorism at home, etc.) that must be thought through before someone decides stepping in is really, really, really in the US interest.

    When the Council was established, the US was already involved in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's remarkable that we've seen intervention in Libya since then, and we are now seeing the US stare down the ledge once again.
    Last edited by jcustis; 08-25-2013 at 11:17 AM.

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    Bill:

    I said I liked the plan but it did have some weaknesses, glaring ones. Those weaknesses I mentioned are some of the same ones you cited.

    As far as the opposition goes , well...they're the opposition and will oppose it.

    The plan is not solely military. There are a number of non-military aspects to it and none of the individual aspects of the plan or the plan as a whole may work. It's a plan, not a guarantee. But it seems like a good starting point if it is decided that we should try to do more than stand and watch.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Bill:

    I said I liked the plan but it did have some weaknesses, glaring ones. Those weaknesses I mentioned are some of the same ones you cited.

    As far as the opposition goes , well...they're the opposition and will oppose it.

    The plan is not solely military. There are a number of non-military aspects to it and none of the individual aspects of the plan or the plan as a whole may work. It's a plan, not a guarantee. But it seems like a good starting point if it is decided that we should try to do more than stand and watch.
    Carl,

    First I'm not opposed to acting if our leadership believes it is in our national interests to do so. Those interests may not be directly related to our security, but a larger strategic interest of sustaining U.S. leadership.

    My concern is that most of what the author proposed with the possible exception of A has been in the works for over a year.

    It also seems many of his aspirations are based on assessing the situation, the world in general, as we desire it to be, rather than the way it really is.

    Lets just hope we learned a lot from our mistakes with Iraq.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...97K0EL20130825

    Reuters) - A U.S. military response to alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria appeared more likely on Sunday after Washington dismissed the Syrian government's offer to allow U.N. inspection of the sites as "too late to be credible."

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    First I'm not opposed to acting if our leadership believes it is in our national interests to do so. Those interests may not be directly related to our security, but a larger strategic interest of sustaining U.S. leadership.
    I'd be very nervous about arguments for intervention based solely or largely on a hypothetical need to exercise leadership. If "leadership" means expending blood and treasure and wading into situations without clear, practical, and achievable goals, to hell with it. If "leadership" means appointing ourselves as global police force, to hell with it. Draining our resources, strength and money to no clear and necessary purpose is a far greater risk than losing status as global leader... a status which has not gained a great deal for us in the past.

    In the cited plan, this:

    B) Political process aimed at stabilizing conflict and protecting all communities’ interests;
    seems a major sticking point. It is simply not a practical goal. We have no means to achieve it and it seems aspirational at best, though I'd be more inclined to use the word "fantasy". Whether Assad wins or loses, Syria will be an unholy mess for a long time to come. The question for us is whether it should be our mess.
    “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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    Default I'm willing to wait a couple of weeks, but ...

    as to the President, we really will have to wait and see. From Bill Moore's cited Reuters article:

    Obama has been reluctant to intervene in Syria's 2-1/2-year-old conflict and U.S. officials stressed that he has yet to make a decision on how to respond. A senior senator, Republican Bob Corker, said on Sunday he believed Obama would ask Congress for authorization to use force when lawmakers return from summer recess next month.
    To be clear upfront, I'd vote against the "2013 Syrian AUMF".

    However, I haven't a clue about what Congress would do if given that AUMF. But, I can't think of an "AUMF" that was voted down when initially requested by a President. Yes, the Gulf of Tonkin AUMF was revoked, but years after the event.

    So, my feeling that missiles will fly is still there. The unanswered question is whether we'll see unilateral Presidential action during the Congressional recess ? Or, joint Presidential-Congressional action after Congress returns ? In either case, alia jacta est.

    The issues become (and the political temptations will tease), after tossing some missiles and air strikes at Assad: (1) do you remove the "bad guys" from power by serious and costly warfare ?; and, if so, (2) do you then engage in equally serious and even more costly state building to assure that the "good guys" hold onto power ?

    And, of course, who in hell (Syria) are the good guys and who are the bad guys ?

    So, I believe, it's heading - Lessons Learned ? I doubt it.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Default Bill Moore Scoops Jack Goldsmith; Fox on Syria

    This morning's lede article on Lawfare by Jack Goldsmith, General Dempsey on Syria Intervention:

    As at least some form of minimal military intervention in Syria now looks likely, it is worth reading carefully the letter that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey sent last Monday to Representative Eliot Engel. The letter includes this passage:

    [T]here are certainly actions short of tipping the balance of the conflict [in Syria] that could impose a cost on them for unacceptable behavior. We can destroy the Syrian Air Force. The loss of Assad’s Air Force would negate his ability to attack opposition forces from the air, but it would also escalate and potentially further commit the United States to the conflict. Stated another way, it would not be militarily decisive, but it would commit us decisively to the conflict. In a variety of ways, the use of US military force can change the military balance, but it cannot resolve the underlying and historic ethnic, religious, and tribal issues that are fueling this conflict.

    Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides. It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favor. Today, they are not. The crisis in Syria is tragic and complex. It is a deeply rooted, long-term conflict among multiple factions, and violent struggles for power will continue after Assad’s rule ends. We should evaluate the effectiveness of limited military options in this context.
    From two days ago, we have Bill Moore, A voice of reason. So, HT to Bill; and SWC: getting there firstest with the mostest.

    -------------------------------------
    One article and two videos from Fox - just a quick review of the weekend's events.

    As Obama appears closer to Syria response, Congress now urges caution:

    U.S. confirmation took more than four months after rebels similarly reported chemical attacks in February, though in this instance a U.N. chemical weapons team is already on the ground in Syria. Assad's government, then as now, has denied the claims as baseless.
    I don't see the President waiting for 4 months, unless he decides that no military action should be taken. That would be OK with me, but not likely to be the case.

    Is military action inevitable in Syria? (5 min; Homeland Security Committee Chair Rep. McCaul).

    Time for the US to intervene in Syria? (13 min.; Sen. Bob Corker and Rep. Eliot Engel).

    Regards

    Mike

    PS: Added for the enjoyment of Carl and all other "the USG is full of hot air" proponents: Judge Jeanine: US gov’t full of nothing but hot air?
    Last edited by jmm99; 08-26-2013 at 04:20 PM.

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    I am an amateur observer and dont even follow the ME too closely, but it does look like every sane person has the same questions about "what next"; what is the overall strategic objective or plan? Its hard to believe that even an amateur band of leaders would seriously go in just to "exercise leadership". So one assumes they must have some notion of what they want to achieve IN SYRIA beyond winning brownie points (a highly doubtful proposition anyway) in some popularity contest in the American media.
    My feeling (and i freely admit that this is not based on direct knowledge) is that American officialdom, the people who would actually do the work in any war, are just not up to the task of being successful imperialists OR worldcops and its better if they dont even try. It didnt work in Afghanistan (where it COULD have with the US holding SO MANY cards, all Dalrymple-type BS about "the graveyard of empires notwithstanding) or in Iraq, why would it work in Syria?
    The chairman JCS is right on the money and I am amazed that all this may come to pass in spite of such sage advice.
    One can imagine that in the inner circles of whatever is our ruling class, there are such clever plans that we mere mortals should just shut up and let the adults work, but the evidence of the recent past is not reassuring.
    But hey, one can always hope.
    I could not resist adding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdNsltQXTVU
    Last edited by omarali50; 08-27-2013 at 03:17 PM. Reason: added video link

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    Default Alia jacta est

    Timing of the Attack

    Here are three sources on timing of the attack, which will be preceded by publication of a public report justifying the attack - presumably with arguments from OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) under international and national law (Responsibility to Protect; and Inherent Executive War Powers).

    Exclusive: Syria strike due in days, West tells opposition (by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, AMMAN, Aug 27, 2013):

    (Reuters) - Western powers have told the Syrian opposition to expect a strike against President Bashar al-Assad's forces within days, according to sources who attended a meeting between envoys and the Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul.
    Obama orders release of report justifying Syria strike (by Major Garrett, David Martin, August 26, 2013):

    (CBS News) President Barack Obama called his national security team together Saturday to talk about the next move in Syria. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper led off the three-hour White House meeting with detailed analysis of the evidence about the chemical weapons attack, the disposition of victims and what the administration now believes is a near air-tight circumstantial case that the Syrian regime was behind it.

    Obama ordered a declassified report be prepared for public release before any military strike commences. That report, top advisers tell CBS News, is due to be released in a day or two.
    US ready to launch Syria strike, says Chuck Hagel (BBC, 27 Aug 2013):

    American forces are "ready" to launch strikes on Syria if President Barack Obama chooses to order an attack, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel says.

    "We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfil and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take," Mr Hagel told the BBC.
    The Public Pitch

    The Obama Administration's main thrust, aimed at the general public, will be as close as they can get to Marlon Brando's performance in Apocalypse Now -

    ... the Horror, the Horror ... (Youtube)

    That probably will sell well enough to drum up, at least to begin with, a majority that will agree with the intervention.

    The Targets

    Logically, the targets would be Syria's chemical weapons facilities - as outlined in Jack Goldsmith's clip, George Friedman on Obama’s Bluff (by Jack Goldsmith, August 27, 2013); based on Stratfor's Obama's Bluff (by George Friedman, 27 Aug 2013):

    The question therefore becomes what the United States and the new coalition of the willing will do if the red line has been crossed. The fantasy is that a series of airstrikes, destroying only chemical weapons, will be so perfectly executed that no one will be killed except those who deserve to die. But it is hard to distinguish a man's soul from 10,000 feet. There will be deaths, and the United States will be blamed for them.

    The military dimension is hard to define because the mission is unclear. Logically, the goal should be the destruction of the chemical weapons and their deployment systems. This is reasonable, but the problem is determining the locations where all of the chemicals are stored. I would assume that most are underground, which poses a huge intelligence problem. If we assume that perfect intelligence is available and that decision-makers trust this intelligence, hitting buried targets is quite difficult. There is talk of a clean cruise missile strike. But it is not clear whether these carry enough explosives to penetrate even minimally hardened targets. Aircraft carry more substantial munitions, and it is possible for strategic bombers to stand off and strike the targets.

    Even so, battle damage assessments are hard. How do you know that you have destroyed the chemicals -- that they were actually there and you destroyed the facility containing them? Moreover, there are lots of facilities and many will be close to civilian targets and many munitions will go astray. The attacks could prove deadlier than the chemicals did. And finally, attacking means al Assad loses all incentive to hold back on using chemical weapons. If he is paying the price of using them, he may as well use them. The gloves will come off on both sides as al Assad seeks to use his chemical weapons before they are destroyed.
    But, and this is a big "but":

    A war on chemical weapons has a built-in insanity to it. The problem is not chemical weapons, which probably can't be eradicated from the air. The problem under the definition of this war would be the existence of a regime that uses chemical weapons. It is hard to imagine how an attack on chemical weapons can avoid an attack on the regime -- and regimes are not destroyed from the air. Doing so requires troops. Moreover, regimes that are destroyed must be replaced, and one cannot assume that the regime that succeeds al Assad will be grateful to those who deposed him. One must only recall the Shia in Iraq who celebrated Saddam's fall and then armed to fight the Americans.
    The President can no longer bluff; he must deliver something. Since targeting the immediate problem (chemical weapons) has serious pitfalls, and since targeting the ultimate problem (Assad) has even greater pitfalls, the likely targets will be military installations - perhaps, destroying the Syrian Air Force and its Air Defense system (as has been suggested). That would give both "adult" sides (Russia and the US) the opportunity to see how their weapons systems work against each other.

    If that happens, will it end there ? We are likely to see how well President Obama resists the political temptation to follow with (1) regime removal and (2) regime change - state building.

    Regardless, my little vote is unconditionally negative on all of the above.

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 08-27-2013 at 05:15 PM.

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    Default Syria Special Issue of the CTC Sentinel

    Syria Special Issue of the CTC Sentinel

    Entry Excerpt:



    --------
    Read the full post and make any comments at the SWJ Blog.
    This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

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    Default Will we never learn...

    ...I, for one, do not understand, why the Syrian government, which has been lobbying for UN inspectors, would then use chemical weapons. I also do not understand how the possible use of said weapons is AUTOMATICALLY Assad's regime's fault. How the hell has that narrative come about let alone been accepted. Apparently, there are also WMD in Iraq. This is all just complete madness. The Americans came up with a post Cold-War strategic narraitve that lumped three areas of strategic concern (to them) together into a coherent strategic narrative that Colin Powell could the offer up to his masters. The Americans have become so blinkered by that narrative (WMD+Rouge states+terroism) that they can't see a course of action which would prevent the forces of global terrorism from gaining a foothold in Syria; back Assad. Now that narrative, whose premises where never logically nor for that matter never coherently linked, is constrining the avaliable options. You know what, this is beginning to sound like a rant. F' it.

    T out.

    "The evidence so far for the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army is second-hand and comes from a biased source"

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    Default From the Voice of the Obama WH,

    NBC News.

    Military strikes on Syria 'as early as Thursday,' US officials say.

    Video (10 min.) - NBC News reports that a military strike against Syria could come as early as Thursday. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski, Politico's Rebecca Sinderbrand, The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe, and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., discuss.
    Hard copy - By Jim Miklaszewski, Catherine Chomiak and Erin McClam, NBC News

    The United States could hit Syria with three days of missile strikes, perhaps beginning Thursday, in an attack meant more to send a message to the Syrian regime than to cripple its military, senior U.S. officials told NBC News.

    The disclosure added to a growing drumbeat around the world for military action against Syria, believed to have used chemical weapons in recent days against scores of civilians and rebels who have been fighting the government for two years.

    In three days of strikes, the Pentagon could assess the effectiveness of the first wave and target what was missed in further rounds, the officials said.
    U.S. military options in Syria: A briefing.

    Video (2 min.) - NBC's Richard Engel reports from the Turkish border that Syrians believe that if the U.S. does not respond with military force to what they believe are chemical attacks against citizens, it will only encourage Bashar al-Assad to strike again.
    Hard copy - By Jim Miklaszewski, Courtney Kube and Erin McClam, NBC News

    The crisis in Syria deepened Monday as U.N. weapons inspectors, allowed to access the area where an alleged chemical attack occurred last week, were fired on by snipers. As the situation deteriorates, military intervention becomes less of an “if” and more of a “when” — and that task would probably fall to the United States.
    Regards

    Mike

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    Default What a fine kettle of fish this is

    I was reading earlier today on the AP newswire a Syrian Kurd stated it wouldn't make sense for Assad to use a chem weapon that close to his stronghold. However, it would make perfect sense for rebels to use it on some civilians and point the finger at Assad. We've been saying for months chemical weapons represented a "red line" and hinted force would be used. He certainly made an interesting point. Ultimately, there is no way of knowing who set off that weapon. None. Without that information, I doubt we won't see more out of the UN than a strongly condemnation. I'm sure both Assad and the rebels will quiver in abject terror when they read it.

    If Muslim nations take the lead, it may devolve into a sectarian war. Iran is focused on Western interference at the moment, so other Muslims taking the lead will throw a wrench in that. If Turkey and Saudi Arabia take the lead, I would expect to see the rhetoric change- most likely stop- and Syrian Shi'ite militias with new toys and training. It's not like they don't have decades of experience supporting proxies. I don't think boots-on-the-ground is an option for two reasons:
    1. It would be political suicide at home.
    2. Getting there is mighty tough with Iraq and Turkey in the way.

    Extremists will say whatever Muslim country comes to help the other side is a Puppet of the West, so that's about par for the course.

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    OK, i know this is a fantasy, but what if the US did nothing? And said "we dont want to do anything in the future either until everyone (and that means EVERYONE on the UNSC if nowhere else) gets on their knees (really, literally on their knees) and begs us to please come and sort out the place because no one else can".
    Forget about the Syrian people (whose sufferings will be legendary), what harm will come to the US?
    Not a rhetorical question. I am curious to know what the harm of "inaction" and "weak leadership" is supposed to be?

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    Default Moderator advises

    This was the Moderator's Note at start of thread August 2012: The developing situation in Syria is an important strategic issue and SWC has been watching closely. We simply cannot observe only, so this new thread has been started to discuss what is happening now, not what might have happened if there had been external, coercive intervention.

    The discussion on the previous thread 'Syria: a civil war' was vibrant for a long time, with over six hundred posts; alas the standard of the exchange repeatedly required Moderator action and it was closed a few days ago.

    Link to previous thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=12821 (Ended)

    A few minutes ago I merged the recent stand-alone thread 'Syria: has a 'red line' been crossed?' into this thread, as the situation is gathering pace and it appears something will happen. Maybe even a 'small war'. If so a new thread will undoubtedly appear.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-27-2013 at 09:11 PM.
    davidbfpo

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    Default What could go wrong?" / "something must be done!

    The title is taken from a column by James Fallows in The Atlantic. In effect he asks Americans and those in power to ponder upon:
    In the face of evil we should do something, except when the something would likely make a bad situation worse.
    Link:http://www.theatlantic.com/internati...-syria/279086/

    In the UK little mention has been made of the Kosovo air campaign in 1999, unlike what appears via my Twitter feed from the USA. Perhaps PM David Cameron will "sing the same tune" on Thursday, as Parliament has been recalled to debate what next.

    Fallows cites a linked article that looks at Kosovo, which has a telling passage:
    That the NATO alliance of 780 million people eventually prevailed over Serbia, a country of ten million with a gross domestic product equal to two-thirds that of Fairfax County, Virginia, is hardly a precedent to celebrate, particularly since it proved so spectacularly that the marriage of coercive diplomacy to limited precision bombardment is a colossal failure.
    From:http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/08/...the-crosshair/
    davidbfpo

  19. #319
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    I doubt we really care about chemical weapons use. HE has and will kill many more than any type of gas use at the end of the day. We only need this as a pretext for doing whatever it is we feel like doing.

    I personally think intervention is a naive idea and from a selfish perspective, Id rather not fight in mopp gear.

  20. #320
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    Tangential to the main issue: I am now old enough to start to notice another interesting pattern. Whenever the US is about to start some damn fool war somewhere, in MY neighborhood, the social media of the day (drawing room conversations in the good old days, now electronic social media) start to accumulate a certain pre-apocalyptic buzz by the day before the bombing. At first its the usual suspects (Tariq Ali fans, damn fools, other fringe elements) but then a lot of reasonably sane people start to think the sky is falling. Seeing it start up again with this Syria thing, I wrote this comment to someone on facebook
    The real irony is that nothing new will happen soon enough to make anyone happy (though in the proverbial long run, the enlightenment is always winning). Amrika will waste money and goodwill and kill some people (and get blamed for killing many more) but there will no more Vietnams. Russian and Chinese spokesmen will make some cutting (and popular) remarks. Syrians will die in large numbers from all sorts of causes but very few Americans and even fewer Israelis will die, which will disappoint many people. Surrounding countries will be destabilized but no grand revolutionary victory for the forces of al-Islam or Maoism-Leninism will follow. Dreams of apocalypse and hidden imams will remain dreams. Tariq Ali's soirees will remain popular on college campuses (and his script will remain unchanged and out of touch). Aad sach, jugaad sach. Hai bhi sach, Nanak, hosi bhi sach (from Guru Nanak, paraphrase: truth is the beginning and the end. Nanak, truth is now and truth is all there will be tomorrow).

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