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Thread: Syria: the case for action

  1. #21
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    Default All playing out according to schedule - part 3

    The WH may see in the two recent polls the light shining at the end of the tunnel. In any event, the WH momentum has not lessened.

    US prepared to strike Syria despite rebuke from Britain, White House officials say (NBC News; by F. Brinley Bruton and Erin McClam, August 30, 2013)

    White House officials are signaling that President Barack Obama is prepared for the United States to strike Syria — after a rejection from the British Parliament and in the face of deep reservations in Congress.

    An NBC News poll released Friday found that an overwhelming majority of Americans, roughly eight in 10, want the president to seek approval from lawmakers before any attack on the Syrian government for its apparent use of chemical weapons.

    The poll found that support among Americans is higher for a limited military strike, such as cruise missiles fired from Navy warships in the Mediterranean Sea. But half of Americans are opposed to any military attack on Syria.
    What the WH is looking at is not the 80% wanting congressional approval, but the 50% who support limited strikes. IMO: President Obama is looking at the same thing; and if ill-advice is occuring, it is presidentially self-made. In addition, the polls over the last several months have shown an increase in the percentage approving limited strikes.

    Syria Poll Finds Little American Support For Air Strikes (by Emily Swanson, Posted: 08/28/2013):

    Americans largely oppose any U.S. intervention in Syria's civil war, according to a new HuffPost / YouGov poll, with only a quarter saying they support air strikes there.

    The new poll, conducted after U.S. officials claimed Syria's government killed thousands of civilians with chemical weapons, shows 25 percent of Americans now support air strikes to aid rebels in Syria, while 41 percent said they are opposed. Another 34 percent said that they're not sure.

    Support for air strikes has risen since two previous HuffPost / YouGov polls. A poll conducted in April found found that 16 percent of Americans supported air strikes. A poll in June found 19 percent supported air strikes.
    ...
    The 59 percent of respondents who said they believe Syria has used chemical weapons against rebels there were about evenly divided on whether the U.S. should conduct air strikes, with 37 percent in support and 38 percent opposed. Twenty-six percent were unsure. The June HuffPost / YouGov poll found that a plurality of those who believed Syria has used chemical weapons were opposed to air strikes, 49 percent to 29 percent.

    Respondents to the latest poll were divided over whether the U.S. has a responsibility to prevent the Syrian government from using chemical weapons. Thirty-one percent said it does, 38 percent said it does not, and 31 percent said that they were unsure.
    ...
    Two other options for intervening in the Syrian conflict were even less popular than air strikes. Sending U.S, troops to aid the rebels was opposed by a 65 percent to 11 percent majority of respondents, while providing weapons to rebels was opposed by a 49 percent to 13 percent plurality.
    The WH has looked at the trend line - increasing in support for limited strikes; as well as the large undecided percentage and the increased support for strikes among those who believed that the strikes were Assad ordered.

    The NBC poll simply verifies that view, NBC poll: Nearly 80 percent want congressional approval on Syria (NBC News; by Mark Murray, Senior Political Editor, August 30, 2013):

    Nearly 80 percent of Americans believe President Barack Obama should receive congressional approval before using force in Syria, but the nation is divided over the scope of any potential strike, a new NBC News poll shows.

    Fifty percent of Americans believe the United States should not intervene in the wake of suspected chemical weapons attacks by Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to the poll. But the public is more supportive of military action when it's limited to launching cruise missiles from U.S. naval ships - 50 percent favor that kind of intervention, while 44 percent oppose it.
    Thus, the NBC poll gives the White House a "mandate" to go ahead with limited strikes. A long holiday weekend might just be the best political time to do that.

    Finally, in answer to Jon's question about what Assad will do, I can only say what I'd think I'd do in an existential situation for me and my supporters. I'd continue with my plans and kill as many enemies as possible. I'd be in an Iwo Jima situation, where the Japanese general did the best he could under the circumstances. Surrender was not an option.

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 08-30-2013 at 08:53 PM.

  2. #22
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    I cut and paste (and edited) a few comments to make this post:

    http://www.brownpundits.com/2013/08/...tacking-syria/

  3. #23
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    An impressive report by Frank Gardner 'what we know', ten minutes, with rarely seen CW experts:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23908846

    Oddly it makes no reference to the US publications.
    davidbfpo

  4. #24
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Humble pie?

    There is not surprisingly a good deal of political point scoring in the UK now, some suspect ministers will be sacked - for not hearing the division bell - and the media are wondering what it all means.

    So from another surprising place, a Daily Telegraph editorial which ends with:
    At the same time, it may be no bad thing that our leaders have learnt that they do not have free rein to commit the nation to overseas adventures – especially not when the public is unconvinced, the consequences are wildly uncertain and our military capabilities have been cut to the bone. Or that Britain has been left a humbler nation – with a far humbler Prime Minister.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/t...-not-down.html

    Hopefully the UK and others will actually provide some help within and beyond Syria's borders to the ordinary Syrian people who are the "jam in the sandwich". Just giving 100k ampoules of anti-nerve agent to MSF would be something (I am a supporter of MSF).
    davidbfpo

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    Why would 24 be needed?

    Quote Originally Posted by omarali50 View Post
    I think IF the US attack is symbolic (24 tomahawks) then his response will be equally symbolic and limited.

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    24 tomahawks was the number mentioned by Jcustis in his comment (as an example of what a US strike could be).
    I am sure it will be more than 24 in reality.
    But really 24 or 48 or 96, it hardly matters. Supposedly the whole point is to "make a point". Can it be made with 13?
    There doesnt seem to be any objective beyond covering Obama's A for the "red-line" remark.
    Unless, of course, people like me have no idea what grand strategic move is being made here (entirely possible, I must admit).

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    Obama, after intending to launch an illegal act of war, now wants Congress to vote. Good. Good. Intentions and how he got here may be embarrassing but he got there. Maybe in a few days he will figure out what his overall strategy really IS. That will be good for America, if not for everyone.
    At least this punctures some of the conspiracy theories about what grand evil plan America was working on here (false flag and all the other BS that was crowding my facebook page..I am Pakistani, remember)...there IS no grand plan.

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    Default NYT on Congressional Vote

    Obama Will Seek Congressional Vote on Syria (By PETER BAKER and ANNE BARNARD, August 31, 2013):

    WASHINGTON — President Obama stunned the capital and paused his march to war on Saturday by asking Congress to give him authorization before he launches a limited military strike against the Syrian government in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack.

    In a hastily organized appearance in the Rose Garden, Mr. Obama said he had decided that the United States should use force but would wait for a vote from lawmakers, who are not due to return to town for more than a week. Mr. Obama said he believed he has authority to act on his own but did not say whether he would if Congress rejects his plan. ...
    President's video statement at USAToday.

    Regards

    Mike

  9. #29
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    This is a positive development from a number of angles. One I am immediately sensitive to is that the Syrian Army's C2 is certainly disrupted to some degree.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by omarali50 View Post
    But really 24 or 48 or 96, it hardly matters. Supposedly the whole point is to "make a point".
    I do sort of wonder what the point is, and to whom it's being made. Would a strike be intended to show Assad that you can't get away with using chemical weapons (if indeed he did), or would it be intended to show everybody else that the US administration stands by its "red lines"?

    Asking approval from Congress, of course, is an excellent way for Obama to avoid acting on the "red line" comment while passing the "wimp" accusations on to someone else.

    In any event, whatever the number of missiles used, I suspect that Assad's forces would simply disperse their key assets and protect them to the extent possible, soak it up, and carry on. They are not going to give up because somebody sent them some cruise missiles.
    “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

  11. #31
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    And that is where political science is rich with a history of miscalculations...where a state took an action, believing it would influence an opponent in a certain way but found out later that it never had the true pulse of the opponent.

    The US isn't even in a position to take a gamble right now because it looks like Assad caught a good flop, checked into an even better turn card, and watched the US flinch when the river was shown.

    He has to be chuckling right now. That, or he is very confused and worried at the mood swings he is seeing as this unfolds.

    In order to prevent an adversary from thinking they got away with something (using chem) in violation of certain norms (yeah, I'm still struggling to figure out why 1,400
    now matter so much), a response has to be more than swift. If this is going to go down from a stand-off, it needs to destroy something Assad holds dear, and I'm not so sure chem munitions fall into that category.

    I think it also needs to be something other than chem, where the message is, "Those missiles just schwacked X,Y, and Z. Try to use more of X, Y, and Z again, and there will be more attacks."

    I wouldn't target the chem because Assad doesn't need it to continue fighting. At this stage it wouldn't make sense for Assad to employ chem again unless it was part of the FPF. He can avoid using it and still chug along slowly in the fight.

    If armor and artillery are already fairly dispersed at the moment, even 96 Tomahawks would have limited effect. I doubt aircraft wouldl be a more lucrative target because I have not read anything that indicated FW or RW a/c are making a significant impact.

    SAM systems are traditionally more difficult to disperse often and still use effectively, but it wouldn't make sense to target that asset unless an air phase is expected.

    I don't think we're at the point of selecting personalities either, so I am actually at a loss for what makes for a good target within Syria right now.

    Does anyone agree with Gen "Spider" Marks, who has bern going on and on over at CNN about the US going after chem stocks? In light of the path this has taken, does anyone think it males sense to go after those capabilities?
    Last edited by jcustis; 09-01-2013 at 03:10 AM.

  12. #32
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    Default President's Proposed 2013 Syria AUMF

    From the WSJ (link); also a clean pdf file is attached.

    Analyzing this in reverse order, section (b)(1) sanctions the President's powers under the War Powers Resolution:

    (b) War Powers Resolution Requirements.-

    (1) Specific Statutory Authorization.-Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
    What are the scope of presidential powers granted by this AUMF (a rather typical AUMF) ?

    (a) Authorization.-The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria in order to-

    (1) prevent or deter the use or proliferation (including the transfer to terrorist groups of other state or non-state actors), within, to or from, Syria, of any weapons of mass destruction, including chemical or biological weapons or components of or materials used in such weapons; or

    (2) protect the United States and its allies and partners against the threat posed by such weapons.
    Has Congress ever shot down an AUMF requested by a President ?

    While the President is taking some risk here (of an adverse vote), the AUMF gives him far broader powers than his proposal to shoot off some missiles (whether 24 or 240). Looking ahead, the operative clauses (a) & (b) could provide something of a precedent for a future Iran resolution.

    I'd vote against this particular AUMF (because of my personal worldview); but my bet is that Congress will go along with it. If that happens, the legal basis for "responsibility to protect" will be expanded to include intervention by an individual state. R2P has been viewed as requiring UNSC approval - or at least regional organization approval.

    Regards

    Mike
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by jmm99; 09-01-2013 at 05:34 AM.

  13. #33
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    Default Will this mud stick?

    Curious timing, a Scottish newspaper says:
    BRITAIN allowed firms to sell chemicals to Syria capable of being used to make nerve gas, the Sunday Mail can reveal today. Export licences for potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride were granted months after the bloody civil war in the Middle East began. The chemical is capable of being used to make weapons such as sarin....
    Link:http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk...micals-2242520

    Yes the chemicals have an industrial use, aluminium windows!
    davidbfpo

  14. #34
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    I'll be interested to see if any lessons were learned from Libya when it comes to targeting.

    Also one would have thought that national leaders would have the intelligence not to box themselves into a corner by drawing 'red lines'.

    And for the Brits... how is it possible that Cameron wanted to make a move before absolute proof of the Syrian regime having used chemical weapons was presented?

    Where are all the smart guys? Obviously don't go into politics.



    Quote Originally Posted by omarali50 View Post
    24 tomahawks was the number mentioned by Jcustis in his comment (as an example of what a US strike could be).
    I am sure it will be more than 24 in reality.
    But really 24 or 48 or 96, it hardly matters. Supposedly the whole point is to "make a point". Can it be made with 13?
    There doesnt seem to be any objective beyond covering Obama's A for the "red-line" remark.
    Unless, of course, people like me have no idea what grand strategic move is being made here (entirely possible, I must admit).

  15. #35
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    Default Assad learnt from Saddam?

    JMA refers to lessons learned. It has taken awhile for the question has Assad learnt from Saddam to be posed:http://www.al-bab.com/blog/2013/sept....f5XeZHfK.uxfs
    davidbfpo

  16. #36
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    Default The "mud" didn't stick

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Curious timing, a Scottish newspaper says:

    Link:http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk...micals-2242520

    Yes the chemicals have an industrial use, aluminium windows!
    The FCO official response, via Twitter:
    The licences were revoked & the chemicals were not exported.
    davidbfpo

  17. #37
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    Default The Arab League has spoken!

    Reuters is reporting the Arab League is backing intervention in Syria.

    I read this headline and I got a bit giddy. I was expecting them to weigh in on their onetime member. So, I click on the link and begin reading.

    Syria's neighbors Lebanon and Iraq, as well as Algeria, all declined to back the text, as they have done with similar resolutions in the past. Syria itself is suspended from the League.
    Okay, not surprising, so maybe Egypt and Saudi Arabia agreed.

    Egypt, which has been promised $5 billion by Saudi Arabia to bolster its dwindling reserves since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, had said it was opposed to foreign military intervention in Syria, but did not vote against the resolution.
    The Saudi Arabians bribed the Egyptians?! Say it ain't so! Quelle horreur.

    So, of the 21 states represented in the Arab League all of the key players have said no (or were paid off) and Saudi Arabia essentially pushed this through. What about the other 16 states you ask? My response: Do you really think Yemen and Djibouti can hold up against Saudi Arabia?

    Ultimately, this should read: "Saudi Arabia votes for intervention in Syria." However, this is interesting. With some Western nations declining to get involved, do you think we'll see Arab nations take the lead?
    هاورکرافت من پر مارماهى است

  18. #38
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    This will be infteresting. Egypt and Turkey are in a war of words at the moment over the coup and suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood, and have recalled ambassadors.

    Turkey has just as much a mind to influence the run up to a Syrian intervention and aftermath as the kingdom does, but there are a lot of other incentives that can drive policy, like reconstruction dollar that Turkey stands to gain. Jordan is in the same boat.

    I think we all need to buckle in and prepare for the landscape of the Middle East to be irrevocably altered across the next 6-12 months.
    Last edited by jcustis; 09-02-2013 at 04:51 AM.

  19. #39
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    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/69275...#axzz2dhRDi1hk

    Efforts by Saudi Arabia and Syrian opposition leaders to convince the organisation to back a US military strike failed. Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia and Algeria voiced opposition to foreign military intervention.
    Mr Obama had hoped the organisation would endorse language that could back a military operation without the approval of the UN Security Council. But the Arab world remains starkly divided on Syria and hostile to further US-led wars in the region despite widespread public sympathy for Mr Assad’s opponents.
    We can act unilaterally, but I suspect it won't accomplish much if we don't get support from the regional actors. In fact it would be better for an Arab country to take the lead and we support, but the odds of that happening are politely very slim.

  20. #40
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    I wonder if Egypt would have played a more central figure at the conference if Mubarak was still in power, and whether it would have been an advocate for action AND a military response.

    My intuition tells me yes, and this whole Arab League resolution highlights how weak in is regionally. Egypt can get away with offering tepid support to "somebody" doing "something", while not being seen as supporting US aims, because the administration has backed off on any diplomatic pressure. The US has backed off on a lot of things with Egypt because it has become very important to not piss off the provisional government (army), or put it in any undesirable public position in the eyes of its citizens.

    The nature of our relationship with Egypt will morph and shift considerably during the next 6-12 months too.

    The diplomats have got to be working in overdrive right now. I hope they are all on message.
    Last edited by jcustis; 09-02-2013 at 01:00 PM.

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