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Old 1 Week Ago   #661
carl
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Obviously true, but it may also be true that since there are several hundred different groups fighting Assad in Syria, that the most rational decision is to deal with the government?
No, the easiest thing to do is deal with the government. If there are lots of groups there are lots more chances you can find some pretty good people to work with. But it would take work, imagination, insight, Arabic language skills and it would be dangerous and uncertain.

It would be the most rational choice if your unstated objective was to make your life and career progression easier. But if your actual objective was the good of the USA and you took the easy route, you would have to admit to yourself that you weren't worth much.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #662
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Think there is more going on than you're giving our policy wonks credit for.

http://www.state.gov/p/nea/rls/rm/223971.htm

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However, based on our experience on the ground over the past year, we have been refocusing our activity. Over the past few months the State Department and USAID have stepped up efforts to channel resources directly to local and provincial governments and civil society groups, as well as the SOC.

Our focus is increasingly on ways to help communities maintain basic security, keep the lights on, provide water, food and basic medical care – staving off the advances of extremist groups who seek to exploit peoples’ desperation. It allows these localities to maintain the basic public institutions that will be so critical in rebuilding a post-Asad Syria.

In towns and cities under opposition control, we are beginning to provide cash grants to pay local law enforcement and teachers. We continue to train local councils and civil society organizations in administration and local governance. And we are providing equipment and supplies to help them, including heavy equipment such as generators, cranes, trucks, and ambulances. In one major city, for example, we have helped reopen 17 schools serving 9,300 students. In another major city, we funded the refurbishment of 60 police stations and are providing non-lethal equipment and basic stipends to 1,300 policemen, who are struggling to maintain order. Paying stipends not only helps keep these people on the job, but it also helps deprive the extremist groups of the chance to fill the vacuum themselves.

Make no mistake: this is extremely difficult work and nobody is saying that this assistance will turn the tide against what remains an extremely serious and deteriorating situation. As we learned in Iraq – even with 160,000 American troops, ten years of effort, tens of thousands of schools refurbished, and hundreds of millions of dollars spent – it takes generations to restore stability in societies wrecked by decades of dictatorship and civil wars.
There are several talks going with numerous groups, but I suspect if we're interested in crushing ISIL we may share a limited and common objective with Assad. The world isn't black and white, and I know you know that. I'm actually surprised by how much we are doing, and then if you consider what other countries from the region and Europe are doing there are plenty of helping and non-helping hands all working quietly to pursue their objectives.

What exactly do you think we need to do at this point?
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Old 6 Days Ago   #663
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No, the easiest thing to do is deal with the government. If there are lots of groups there are lots more chances you can find some pretty good people to work with. But it would take work, imagination, insight, Arabic language skills and it would be dangerous and uncertain.
Is it certain that we need to "work with" someone in Syria? Getting involved in a proxy war is a complicated and risky business... we need to have clear and specific goals and we'd need a plan B if our chosen proxy is unable to do the job. Do we have either?
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Old 6 Days Ago   #664
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One of the unpleasant things to consider is the DC genii may be more comfortable and therefore more willing to deal with an 'established' government, no matter how bad, than a bunch of ragamuffin rebels.
Theoretically, you're right.

In practice, the actual problem is that there is an immense (and growing) gap between what the intel is recommending and what the politics (i.e. political decision-makers) is doing.

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...I think quite within the realm of probability they would rather stay within their bureaucratic comfort zone with the devil's representatives than venture out of that zone in the company of flawed angels.
And I 'think' Obama (and all sorts of his supporters) is badly in need of an excuse for doing nothing at all - simply because he 'knows better'.

And what comes out of doing nothing... well, should a better example appear in the time of my life than this ISIS affair, I'll eat my hat.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #665
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In practice, the actual problem is that there is an immense (and growing) gap between what the intel is recommending and what the politics (i.e. political decision-makers) is doing.
Intel does not in itself recommend anything. It's information. It's one input into recommendations and decisions. I don't think any of us have access to the intel or the decision making process, and if we did we wouldn't be talking about it.

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And I 'think' Obama (and all sorts of his supporters) is badly in need of an excuse for doing nothing at all - simply because he 'knows better'.

And what comes out of doing nothing... well, should a better example appear in the time of my life than this ISIS affair, I'll eat my hat.
As the Mark Lynch piece that David linked to points out:

Had the plan to arm Syria’s rebels been adopted back in 2012, the most likely scenario is that the war would still be raging and look much as it does today, except that the United States would be far more intimately and deeply involved... As catastrophic as Syria’s war has been, and as alarming as the Islamic State has become, there has never been a plausible case to be made that more U.S. arms for Syrian rebels would have meaningfully altered their path.

Did you actually read it? It's worth a look, even (especially) if you don't agree.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #666
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No, the easiest thing to do is deal with the government. If there are lots of groups there are lots more chances you can find some pretty good people to work with. But it would take work, imagination, insight, Arabic language skills and it would be dangerous and uncertain.

It would be the most rational choice if your unstated objective was to make your life and career progression easier. But if your actual objective was the good of the USA and you took the easy route, you would have to admit to yourself that you weren't worth much.
There are two assumptions in your argument, one is flat out wrong. First you're logic implies the U.S. not doing anything (wrong, we did things, so you obviously meant not enough) is why Syria ended up the way it is. Syria ended the way it is due to a host of local and regional factors that had nothing to do with the U.S.. When you embrace American Hubris views, then of course you view the world as though we're the center of all, and we are the cause and effect of all, but that has little to do with reality.

The other assumption is if we intervened to a greater extent there would be a different outcome. That may or may not be true. If we killed Assad and greatly neutered his military it is probable his regime would have fallen, but we have no clue what would have happened after that, but we sure as heck would own the problem at that point, and to what end?

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But if your actual objective was the good of the USA and you took the easy route, you would have to admit to yourself that you weren't worth much.
This argument assumes that getting the U.S. involved in a regional quagmire would somehow be in our interest? Why isn't it in our interest to see both of our adversaries (Sunni extremists and Iran and their proxies) fight one another, and for once strain their economies instead of ours? Why can't we wait until there is an opportunity to actually achieve something that is in our interests? Removing Malaki would be one example, the situation was managed to great effect in that aspect, but who knows what the new government will do.

Since I'm not sure of the extent of support we're providing and to whom, I can't make an argument on whether we need to increase it our not, but I haven't see a good argument yet on why we should intervene, or should have, intervened, militarily in Syria. Everyone is making a lot of wild guesses made on sensational news reporting instead of facts, because the facts are not available the public.

We had our so called expert on Syria, and his/her expertise was due to tweeting back and forth to "one" person he/she knew in Syria. The first casualty of any conflict is the truth, but I would hope most people who visit SWJ have enough experience to realize that and try to look beyond the headlines.

In the end those clamoring for U.S. military involvement should provide a theory of change and identify a condition that we can feasibly obtain. None provided to date other than criticism for the U.S. policy wonks, and trust me I like to criticize them as much as any body else, but at the end of the day if we can't provide a sound strategy that is our interest, not one that merely satisfies our emotional craving to do something, then recognize the complaints for they really are, just background noise from frustrated people.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #667
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There are two assumptions in your argument, one is flat out wrong. First you're logic implies the U.S. not doing anything (wrong, we did things, so you obviously meant not enough) is why Syria ended up the way it is...
Bill,
I'm the first to say that, a) 'no, the USA is no centre of the World'; b) 'no, the USA would not go killing Assad' even if WH decided to 'do something' about Syria; and c) there is no certainty about the outcome of a possible US intervention in that country.

BUT...

- A matter of fact is that this 'war on terror' against specific extremists is de-facto one of priorities in the foreign policy of the USA. It doesn't matter whether you like this fact or not, or whether you want to fight that war or not: you're 'Target No.1' on targeting lists of extremists in question.

- This results in conclusion that

a) whenever the USA fails to act, and especially when the USA fails to act preventively, extremists are going to exploit the situation to their advantage;

b) whenever the USA fails to act, majority (if not all) of the West is failing to act too;

c) whenever the USA fails to act and drags the West with it, most of pro-West actors around the World fail to act too, and

d) this is precisely what happened in Syria.

So, perhaps doing nothing in Syria was in 'best interest of the USA' - supposedly because 'getting USA involved in a regional quagmire is not in interest of the USA'. Fine. But, it resulted in nobody else - except extremists and their supporters, of course - doing anything at all. And that has made space for extremists. Worse yet: doing nothing in Syria resulted in massive frustrations for various of US friends in the Middle East, because it resulted in a direct threat for their security and simultaneous 'success' of their enemies.

Therefore: in this case, lack of US action resulted in an outright catastrophe - in Syria, and in Iraq.

If you think that's 'bolstering US interests in the Middle East'... well, perhaps you should go back to checking that with 2+2=4, too.

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This argument assumes that getting the U.S. involved in a regional quagmire would somehow be in our interest?
You - the USA - are eyebrows-deep in that quagmire since at least 1942 (start of cooperation with Sauds and thus Wahhabists), indirectly since 1919 (King-Crane Comission), and very directly ever since, so where is the problem?

On the contrary, if you argument/think in this fashion, then the question is rather: why everywhere else (in the Middle East) but only not in Syria? Where's the logic in that?

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Why isn't it in our interest to see both of our adversaries (Sunni extremists and Iran and their proxies) fight one another, and for once strain their economies instead of ours?
Because whichever of them 'wins' (all provided that conflict is 'winnable' for one of involved belligerents) they remain your (US) enemies.

Means: whichever party wins there, it's only going to be reinforced by success.

Is this in US interest?

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Why can't we wait until there is an opportunity to actually achieve something that is in our interests?
Oh, no problem. You can repeat the exercise from the 1990s, and wait until another airplane crashes into some skyscraper - or something else of that kind happens.

It's your choice, really. You can ignore the fact that, in military terms, the ISIS is far more sophisticated than the AQ ever was. You can further prefer to offer them more time so they can get even better, too. No problem: just wait and see.

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Removing Malaki would be one example, the situation was managed to great effect in that aspect, but who knows what the new government will do.
That was near-pointless, and came much too late.

But, don't let yourself get disturbed by such observations....

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Since I'm not sure of the extent of support we're providing and to whom, I can't make an argument on whether we need to increase it our not, but I haven't see a good argument yet on why we should intervene, or should have, intervened, militarily in Syria.
In essence, official USA are not providing any kind of serious help to anybody (in Syria). There is simply no trace of evidence for that.

The WH is meddling (in particularly idiotic fashion) through attempting to condition provision of aid by third parties (Saudi Arabia, Turkey etc.) to specific groups of genuine Syrian insurgents, and/but - foremost - through attempting to steer specific groups of (genuine) Syrian insurgents (not Jihadists) from 'operational rooms' in Jordan and Turkey. This meddling is usually to be seen in stoppage of all flow of aid provided by other players whenever this is needed the most (like when the regime is on offensive). Which in turn is usually resulting in Syrian insurgents getting only more frustrated by the lack of US support, then in defections of the same to the side of Islamists etc., etc., etc.

Except for this, the WH has only permitted specific private, US-based organizations to provide non-lethal aid (cars, food, clothes etc.) to hand-picked groups of Syrian insurgents.

Is that of any help?

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Everyone is making a lot of wild guesses made on sensational news reporting instead of facts, because the facts are not available the public.
That depends on what facts do you want to get, and especially: what do you prefer to hear (or ignore), I would say.

From my POV, 'sensational news' were all those declaring the uprising and insurgency in Syria for 'al-Qaida' right from the start, which was a mountain of nonsense and BS. Tragically enough, that had the 'desired' effect - between others of keeping the USA (and West) out of this affair - and now a group worse than AQ advancing there too.

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In the end those clamoring for U.S. military involvement should provide a theory of change and identify a condition that we can feasibly obtain.
While I'm not 'pro-US intervention', I offered plenty of 'theories' that have proven to 'work' over the time. For example, an 'investment' of little more than 50, perhaps 100 million into right groups, back in summer 2012, could have prevented Syria from going down the sink. Various people high above circles you or me are frequenting have suggested very much the same.

So, perhaps some (re-)reading (?) of older posts might be of help here.

While yes, it's terribly frustrating to see what became of the country and people (who were quite effectively frustrated away from the West by the lack of support), it's really not my fault if you (and quite a few of others) prefer to look the other way and consider this for, 'just background noise from frustrated people'.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #668
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It's your choice, really. You can ignore the fact that, in military terms, the ISIS is far more sophisticated than the AQ ever was. You can further prefer to offer them more time so they can get even better, too. No problem: just wait and see.
That's probably true, but since the threat from AQ was never military action, it's also of limited relevance.

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While I'm not 'pro-US intervention', I offered plenty of 'theories' that have proven to 'work' over the time. For example, an 'investment' of little more than 50, perhaps 100 million into right groups, back in summer 2012, could have prevented Syria from going down the sink. Various people high above circles you or me are frequenting have suggested very much the same.
Yes, I recall these theories. They were quite extraordinarily theoretical, and based on sweeping assumptions with little evidence presented to substantiate them. They dealt with possibilities that were extensively evaluated, and for excellent reasons rejected, back in the day.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #669
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Crowbat

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A matter of fact is that this 'war on terror' against specific extremists is de-facto one of priorities in the foreign policy of the USA. It doesn't matter whether you like this fact or not, or whether you want to fight that war or not: you're 'Target No.1' on targeting lists of extremists in question.
While I don't agree with many of our leaders' decisions, it is dead wrong to assume we don't recognize the threat from terrorists and we're not acting upon those threats. Just because you didn't see it in the media doesn't mean we're not disrupting this threat. Approaches can be argued, and I don't think it is the U.S. approved approach, but I see an advantage when our adversaries are killing each other. They're expending limited resources and exposing to the world what they represent, and I think the world needed a reminder to stiffen their resolve.

As for spending a few million dollars, we have certainly done that. Furthermore, several Arab nations have provided millions in support to different groups. While money is important, it is of relative importance since others are providing it. If we want a specific group or groups to win I think we would have to provide direct military assistance like we did in Libya, but I don't think those groups would be able to stabilize the country after Assad fell if we did that. Do you? If you do, how do you see that happening?
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Old 5 Days Ago   #670
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Think there is more going on than you're giving our policy wonks credit for.

http://www.state.gov/p/nea/rls/rm/223971.htm



There are several talks going with numerous groups, but I suspect if we're interested in crushing ISIL we may share a limited and common objective with Assad. The world isn't black and white, and I know you know that. I'm actually surprised by how much we are doing, and then if you consider what other countries from the region and Europe are doing there are plenty of helping and non-helping hands all working quietly to pursue their objectives.

What exactly do you think we need to do at this point?
The program you described is a worthy one, but it will do nothing at all to help those communities when and if an IS battle group shows up. Perhaps something added to the program described that would be viable against that IS battle group would be a good thing. A vital thing actually for when that IS battle group shows up if it can't be defeated all that other stuff means nothing at all and anybody who participated in them may be killed for doing so.

Big boys rules on a grand scale now and that has to acknowledged by the powers that be. Part of big boys rules may be this: tell Assad we are going to work with him, use him, then when IS is gone, whack him. That way we got the two birds that are messing up the garden.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #671
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Since I'm not sure of the extent of support we're providing and to whom, I can't make an argument on whether we need to increase it our not, but I haven't see a good argument yet on why we should intervene, or should have, intervened, militarily in Syria. Everyone is making a lot of wild guesses made on sensational news reporting instead of facts, because the facts are not available the public.
Crowbat argued the case better than I can but I want to address this particular point.

To me your argument in the paragraph above boils down to "Trust us we know what we are doing and you don't need to know...and by the way if you did you would see how good we were but we won't let you know so trust us."

After L. Paul Bremer, Rumsfeld, the spectacle of us paying the Pak Army/ISI to kill us and all the other things that have happened over these many years, I don't trust those with the facts not available to the public not to be anything but hammer headed stupid.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #672
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Crowbat argued the case better than I can but I want to address this particular point.

To me your argument in the paragraph above boils down to "Trust us we know what we are doing and you don't need to know...and by the way if you did you would see how good we were but we won't let you know so trust us."

After L. Paul Bremer, Rumsfeld, the spectacle of us paying the Pak Army/ISI to kill us and all the other things that have happened over these many years, I don't trust those with the facts not available to the public not to be anything but hammer headed stupid.
Carl,

A of lot truth in that argument and there is the rub. A lot of our covert and clandestine efforts are conducted by idiots who don't have a clue and their work is concealed from critics, so they have a degree of free play that won't be exposed until it is a tragic failure. On the other hand, covert and clandestine operations don't work if they're exposed, so obviously there is a tension here that can't be resolved unless we take covert and clan ops off the options list. I don't think we want to do that. There has been talk for years on pushing these paramilitary ops from the CIA to the military. I think there are pros and cons for doing that and I'm not prepared to present an informed opinion on keeping the same or switching DOD to the lead. Like you said, we have already seen what the likes of Rumfield and Wolfowitz did as DOD leaders, imagine giving them the lead for the nation's covert and clan capabilities for paramilitary operations. It really comes down to picking the right people to lead these I think more than picking the right organization.

We work best when we're not trusted and are forced to demonstrate we don't have our head up our butts. My point to Crowbat is I suspect, I certainly don't know in my current position, we're doing more than meets the public eye. A large of part I suspect is due to partners in the region not wanting their roles publicized. Is it enough? Is it the right thing? Are our objective right? I don't know.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #673
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..As for spending a few million dollars, we have certainly done that.
I'm sorry, but I haven't seen a single dollar of any kind of official US aid (except relief supplies for refugees) reaching insurgents.

All I've seen is plenty of babbling in the media, sure, but there are no bucks, and thus no 'Buck Rogers'.

Yes, the WH is telling Saudis, Emiratis, Kuwaitis, Qataris, Turks and whoever else, 'do it yourself' - but then meddling through 'interventions from highest points' (WH) whenever things develop the way 'USA' (WH, again) don't like them.

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Furthermore, several Arab nations have provided millions in support to different groups. While money is important, it is of relative importance since others are providing it.
In the case of Saudi Arabia, it's rather something like few billions - most of it meanwhile squandered because of Qatari 'interventions' (usually either ignored, or wholeheartedly supported by the WH).

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If we want a specific group or groups to win I think we would have to provide direct military assistance like we did in Libya, but I don't think those groups would be able to stabilize the country after Assad fell if we did that. Do you? If you do, how do you see that happening?
Sigh... again: Syria is so piss-poor, that any money is making difference. Saudis had it easy to build up the IF: sure, from the US standpoint, that organization has 'wrong' religion, and seems not the least curious to make any promises about 'peace with Israel'; but hell, one can't really expect the Syrian Sunnis to convert to Christianity as 'thanks', can one? And expecting anybody in Syria to make promises about some sort of future peace with Israel... come on... that's fantasy.

Anyway, even few Syrian private businessmen found it relatively easy to build up the SF and SRF, which are presently major recipients of Saudi aid.

The problem in all these cases is always the same: lack of management skills, which results in plenty of money (and other 'stuff') ending in wrong hands and being squandered for no profit in return. And even more so: Qatari interventions through 'direct donations' to specific commanders (usually those that eventually sided with the JAN or the ISIS), which in turn caused quarrels and then loss of influence of major politico-military alliances, like the FSyA and then the SNC.

A strict control and relatively simple disciplinary measures - plus a 'muzzle' over Qatari noses, of course - could've been imposed. One could've followed the Pakistani example from dealing with 'seven parties' of Mujaheddin in Afghanistan of the 1980s and say, 'bring me a video showing you've used what I've provided; no video, no beans, bullets and gas'.

Not only ironically, but 'idiotically', the US-run 'control rooms' never acted in that fashion. If they moved at all, then to stop the flow of supplies to insurgent groups during specific of regime's offensives. Obviously, this did little to 'bolster' Saudi or Emirati influence.

So, investing into 2-3 groups (the Farouq Brigade and various of its franchises that began emerging in 2012 and 2013 would be one of good examples; ever since, the once powerful and influential Farouq was largely destroyed by a combination of regime's and ISIS' attacks), and thus provoking a 'snowball' effect in sense of 'others' seeing that these 2-3 groups are 'flourishing' and 'well-supplied', was one of very promising ideas.

For those who are now going to say, 'But Tom, you can't possibly predict the future or know what would have happened', all I can say is 'shut up, that's precisely how the Islamists and then the ISIS did it too'.

Namely, when one asks them, major reason why various insurgent groups began joining Islamists, and then even Jihadists, was a) disappointment over lack of support from the West, and especially b) they saw that these (Islamists and Jihadists) are better supplied and thus better organized too.

They had the money, beans and bullets; moderates not. And so, gradually, after 'winning' enough people to their side - or killing anybody opposing them (or letting the regime kill the people in question) - the ISIS was left to spread in Syria.

Guess, that's 'evidence' that my ideas in this case wouldn't work, right?
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Old 5 Days Ago   #674
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Guess, that's 'evidence' that my ideas in this case wouldn't work, right?
My evidence to support my assumptions is that there are over 100 different groups (probably way more than that) in Syria. No leader is able to consolidate power through his ideology and vision.

While no group has the winning narrative, the Islamists have narrative that resonates more with young men because the Islamists demonstrate both military capability and a vision that appeals to young men who don't have the capacity yet to use history to inform their thinking to anticipate what the repercussions will be if the Islamists actually win.

If we removed Assad, and we probably should have after he used chemical weapons, it would be a free for all for king of the hill that would result in continued bloodshed, perhaps worse than it is now, with no foreseeable end. The most likely winner in the long run would be the Islamists unless external powers intervene, but the Islamists wouldn't be able to control the entire country, so the war would continue and it would destabilize the region as a whole.

I'll now argue against myself, the region is becoming destabilized anyway, neither Assad, al-Nusra, ISIS, or the minority moderates can win at this point, so to bring this to a head the region needs to intervene militarily to either:

A. Greatly reduce the strength of ISIS, which in turn empowers al-Nusra (AQ) and Assad.

B. Remove Assad, which may free up al-Nusra and other groups to direct their power towards ISIS.

C. Put LH and Iran in checkmate, but I don't know how we would.

D. Support Assad and return the status quo which is morally reprehensible after he gassed his people.

Of course morality changes with time. We certainly had no qualms deliberately attacking civilians in WWII in both Germany and Japan with fire bombs to compel the nation to stop fighting and surrender non-conditionally. Assad is doing the same, but in 2014 we don't find that acceptable. I agree it isn't acceptable, but it isn't entirely irrational either.

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Old 4 Days Ago   #675
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A strict control and relatively simple disciplinary measures - plus a 'muzzle' over Qatari noses, of course - could've been imposed.
How exactly would you have proposed to "muzzle" the Qataris? They do not take instructions from the US.

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So, investing into 2-3 groups (the Farouq Brigade and various of its franchises that began emerging in 2012 and 2013 would be one of good examples; ever since, the once powerful and influential Farouq was largely destroyed by a combination of regime's and ISIS' attacks), and thus provoking a 'snowball' effect in sense of 'others' seeing that these 2-3 groups are 'flourishing' and 'well-supplied', was one of very promising ideas.
Promising if you assume that money is the only variable, but we all know that money is not the only variable.

What you're not acknowledging is that choosing a proxy, especially in a fight with no clear and realistic desired end state and no compelling US interest at stake, is a blind two-footed jump onto the mother of all slippery slopes. What do you do when your proxy doesn't win? Do you write it off, or double down, or triple down, a course that inexorably points toward direct involvement?

Of course it's easy to say that the proxy would win if only the US did whatever you suggest, but in all of these fights there's always a pack of people claiming that it'll all be right if only a few tens of millions get thrown at whoever they like. What they say and what happens are two very different things.
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Last edited by Dayuhan; 4 Days Ago at 01:59 AM.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #676
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My evidence to support my assumptions is that there are over 100 different groups (probably way more than that) in Syria. No leader is able to consolidate power through his ideology and vision.
So what? Why is it 'always' necessary to have 'one' leader and unity?

There are no 100, but about 1000 different Syrian insurgent groups. Yes, some work together excellently in the north of the country, and fight each other in the south etc. But, generally, most of them are working together rather well. Foremost: main reason for quarrels between them - and the main reason for all of their 'lost battles' are supplies. So, if one provides supplies, there's no reason to fight.

On the contrary, and as you can read in these two very detailed articles by another chap from ACIG, describing some of recent insurgent ops (note: made by two French authors, so English is a lil' bit 'jumpy'), whenever there are supplies, they come together and fight joint battles against the regime:

- Rebels attack the military base of Hamadiyah (Idlib province), July 2014

- Lift the blockade of Mleha (August 3, 2014)

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While no group has the winning narrative, the Islamists have narrative that resonates more with young men...
What Islamists there have such a narrative?

None. Get yourself some contacts in Syria, ask whoever you like. It's not about narratives but about food, ammo and organization.

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... because the Islamists...
You ought to define 'Islamists' here too: do you mean the IF, which is friendly to the JAN, but at odds with the ISIS? Or the JAN, which is friendly to the IF and often cooperating with moderates in one part of the country, while fighting both of these in other part of the country, and is generally at odds with the ISIS?

Or do you mean the ISIS - which is neither Syrian, nor 'rebels/insurgents', nor can be can be considered 'Islamic', but only 'mental illness'?

Or any other of so many 'Islamist' groups there?

And generally: only the IF and the ISIS are demonstrating any kind of military skills. The JAN was so much weakened by the ISIS, that is meanwhile primarily used to provide suicide bombers for delivering coup de main at the start of specific attacks.

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If we removed Assad, and we probably should have after he used chemical weapons, it would be a free for all for king of the hill that would result in continued bloodshed, perhaps worse than it is now, with no foreseeable end.
...but there was none of that so far and an end to this conflict is foreseeable now?

On the contrary, removal of Assad would've:
- removed the credence of 'legal' regime in Damascus;
- thrown ranks of Alawites into disarray (traditionally, Alawites were seldom a solid block, and there are all the time minor uprisings and unrests against the regime between already since October 2012)
- removed the credence of Iranian involvement, which weakened native insurgency to a degree where this became unable to fight the ISIS and lost all of NE Syria to it.

With other words: such an action could've at least limited the spread of the ISIS inside Syria (if not prevented it), in turn denying it a base from which it launched the offensive into Iraq.

While, as the situation is right now, the regime is not only responsible for helping the ISIS establish itself in Syria, but reporting about its 'fight' against the ISIS and flying air strikes against their bases for PR purposes, while actually buying nearly 50% of its fuel from them (i.e. de-facto financing the ISIS); and Iranians - who were near bankrupt just two months ago - are now yielding immense political and monetary profits from the ISIS, because they're now 'good' and 'useful' - for their support for that failed government in Baghdad, and for their support for Kurds too. And that's not to talk about the Hezbollah and other, similar 'factors'...

Sorry, but if the policy of even considering cooperation with all of these jerks is not failed to doom.... then I don't know what else is.

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The most likely winner in the long run would be the Islamists unless external powers intervene, but the Islamists wouldn't be able to control the entire country, so the war would continue and it would destabilize the region as a whole.
'Islamists' are going to win this war, sooner or later. We all have to cope and live with that. That's so because dominant majority of the Syrian population are Sunni Moslems. Question is just: what 'Islamists'.

Here is a point where I can only conclude: as usually, the longer the war goes on, the more extremist sort of Islamists.

Therefore: the policy of protracting the war - which is what the WH is pursuing since 2012 - is an idiotic one.

Last edited by CrowBat; 4 Days Ago at 07:14 AM.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #677
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Default Foriegn Fighters in Syria

http://www.economist.com/news/middle...f-hot-here-mum

Within this long article - with many points made - is this table:
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Old 4 Days Ago   #678
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It really comes down to picking the right people to lead these I think more than picking the right organization.
I ask your personal opinion. Is the US military capable of selecting and putting the right people in charge, or is the personnel system so strong that that is impossible?

Same question for the spook community, are they capable of that? Can either group overcome their bureaucracies in order to accomplish the mission?
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Old 3 Days Ago   #679
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I ask your personal opinion. Is the US military capable of selecting and putting the right people in charge, or is the personnel system so strong that that is impossible?

Same question for the spook community, are they capable of that? Can either group overcome their bureaucracies in order to accomplish the mission?
I can' answer for the spook community. For the military if it was considered important they would carefully select commanders, at least initially much like they do for certain elite SOF units. If it wasn't considered important, then you get what you get from the bureaucracy.
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Old 3 Days Ago   #680
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A of lot truth in that argument and there is the rub. A lot of our covert and clandestine efforts are conducted by idiots who don't have a clue and their work is concealed from critics, so they have a degree of free play that won't be exposed until it is a tragic failure. On the other hand, covert and clandestine operations don't work if they're exposed, so obviously there is a tension here that can't be resolved unless we take covert and clan ops off the options list. I don't think we want to do that. There has been talk for years on pushing these paramilitary ops from the CIA to the military. I think there are pros and cons for doing that and I'm not prepared to present an informed opinion on keeping the same or switching DOD to the lead. Like you said, we have already seen what the likes of Rumfield and Wolfowitz did as DOD leaders, imagine giving them the lead for the nation's covert and clan capabilities for paramilitary operations. It really comes down to picking the right people to lead these I think more than picking the right organization.
The military is already involved in Title 50 operations, though, isn’t it?
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