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Old 09-02-2013   #41
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The saga continues:

Saudi Arabia and Israel are strange bedfellows.

NATO is convinced it was Assad, but the chief doesn't feel the need to do anything about it.

In sum, everyone agrees chemical weapons are bad, but no one is really sold on doing anything about it. If someone is gung ho, they don't want to make the first move.
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Old 09-02-2013   #42
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Default So, its go hard or go home

Patrick Porter weighs in; the title is longer: Hitting Assad is unwise. But if done, it should be a punch, not a slap:http://wp.me/pLP3q-iS
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Old 09-02-2013   #43
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Bill, that surely depends on what you want to accomplish, yes?

I learned that the first principle of war was "the selection and maintenance of the aim" which the Americans changed to "Objective".

You see the Brit use of "maintenance" rules out what is now called "mission creep". (But that is another story)

So let's stick with the yanks and the word "objective".

What would the objective of a Syria intervention be?

How and who would (or should be punished) for using chemical weapons? IMHO, around that "objective" should be set.

Bombing the hell out of a bunch of Syrian facilities and/or killing a few thousand Syrian grunts would achieve what exactly when those who made the decision to use these weapons go free?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/69275...#axzz2dhRDi1hk

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.
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Old 09-02-2013   #44
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The French intelligence report, in French and using Google Translate is not an option:http://www.gouvernement.fr/sites/def...02_09_2013.pdf
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Old 09-02-2013   #45
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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
The French intelligence report, in French and using Google Translate is not an option
The final paragraph followed by a loose translation via my not so very good French:
Nous estimons enfin que l’opposition syrienne n’a pas les capacités de conduire une opération d’une telle ampleur avec des agents chimiques. Aucun groupe appartenant à l'insurrection syrienne ne détient, à ce stade, la capacité de stocker et d'utiliser ces agents, a fortiori dans une proportion similaire à celle employée dans la nuit du 21 août 2013 à Damas. Ces groupes n’ont ni l’expérience ni le savoir-faire pour les mettre en oeuvre, en particulier par des vecteurs tels que ceux utilisés lors de l’attaque du 21 août.
We conclude that the Syrian opposition lacks the capacity to conduct an operation of this size with chemical weapons. All of the insurgent groups lack the capacity to store and make use of chemical agents such as those used on the night of 21 August 2013, especially in the quantities used on that date. These groups lack both the experience and the knowledge to make use of such chemical agents, particularly via the means used in the August 21st attack.
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Old 09-02-2013   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMA View Post
Bill, that surely depends on what you want to accomplish, yes?

I learned that the first principle of war was "the selection and maintenance of the aim" which the Americans changed to "Objective".

You see the Brit use of "maintenance" rules out what is now called "mission creep". (But that is another story)

So let's stick with the yanks and the word "objective".

What would the objective of a Syria intervention be?

How and who would (or should be punished) for using chemical weapons? IMHO, around that "objective" should be set.

Bombing the hell out of a bunch of Syrian facilities and/or killing a few thousand Syrian grunts would achieve what exactly when those who made the decision to use these weapons go free?
That is a reasonable response to my comment. If we're only attempting to deter the regime from further use of chemical weapons that would be a limited objective (or maintenance of the aim), and if the administration assumes a limited strike will achieve that, then an argument can be made we can do this unilaterally. My argument is this isn't Sudan which was a little more black and white, and more isolated, so after we launched a few missiles they directed UBL to depart. A limited strike achieved the limited objective denying Sudan as a safe haven.

The situation is far from black and white and far from being isolated. If the strike results in further regional instability do we have a plan B? Do we care? I tend to think we do, it would do much for our credibility in the region or world if the limited strike resulted in retaliatory strikes and a widening of the war beyond the borders of Syria resulting in more deaths than those caused by the chemical weapon strike.

Bottom line, if the first round of strikes doesn't deter further use of chemical weapons, are we prepared to escalate? Are we going to do so my ourselves? This isn't resonating so well on the home front politically. Initially the President and our Secretary of State said Assad must go, now the President isn't advocating regime change, but a limited strike to stop further chemical strikes, yet regional experts are telling us a limited strike will make the situation worse. Our administration needs to learn to have a cup of shut the f*%$ up and stop boxing themselves into non defendable positions with rash statements.
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Old 09-02-2013   #47
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Default What your allies say - this time in Iran

As Iran has been the victim of CW, with large losses, some outsiders expected the official reaction to the allegations would be different. Instead, possibly more telling, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani appears to have his own views on the Assad regime, which was reported and quickly amended by the official news agency. So what did he say:
Quote:
The people have been the target of chemical attacks by their own government and now they must also wait for an attack by foreigners......The people of Syria have seen much damage in these two years, the prisons are overflowing and they’ve converted stadiums into prisons, more than 100,000 people killed and millions displaced show the plight of Syria more than ever before.
Link:http://eaworldview.com/2013/09/iran-...er-syria/#rafs

The local news site facing criticism has the original video of the speech.
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Old 09-03-2013   #48
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My Persian is terribly rusty and I was only able to pick out a few words of his speech. Going off the translated summary, I'd say Rafsanjani is right. Either way, Syria loses. Anyone who gets involved loses, too. This brings me to my next point.

davidfpo, I was poking around your link's website and I found THIS little gem.

Here's the title to whet your attentions: When A Top Diplomat Says Syria’s “Al Qa’eda” Insurgency is “Under Command of Saudi Prince Bandar”

I know what you're all thinking: this is nothing new from Tehran. We're all certainly familiar with their tricks.

Here's the burn. He's not a hardliner, nor has he ever been really affiliated with the more- shall we say vitriolic? parties in Tehran. He's long been advocating direct talks with us. Not that the SL or President at the time would indulge in them.

But why, why would Saudi Arabia be doing this? Well, Mr Lucas found an interesting bit here:

Quote:
The new plan drawn up by Bandar and the secret service of Saudi Arabia aims to create a so-called “Sunni Hezbollah” as counterbalance to the Lebanese Hezbollah movement. The main goal of a meeting that Bandar held with [Lebanese political figures] Samir Geagea, Walid Jumblatt, and Saad Hariri was to form military resistance forces against the Lebanese Hezbollah.
And we all know who backs Hezbollah. Hezbollah grew directly out of the policy of 'Export of Revolution' that has never officially ended. Given Tehran's growing influence and history of meddling, Iran has long been a problem spot for many of their Sunni neighbors.

Since Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and Wahhabism, they view themselves as the keepers of Sunni orthodoxy. Shi'a are an abomination to be wiped from the Earth. They are lower than dhimmi and even kufir. Gee, if only there was a group that thought the same way? Oh snapums. There is! And it was founded by a Saudi, too! How convenient.

I've said this before. Tehran is bat-#### crazy. No doubt about that, but 15 of the 19 Hijackers came from Saudi Arabia.

We need to be very careful. What a perfect win for them. They can piss off Tehran and watch a bunch of Americans get killed in the process.
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Old 09-03-2013   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by graphei View Post
Tehran is bat-#### crazy.
But somewhat predictable, right?
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Old 09-03-2013   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
But somewhat predictable, right?
They are nothing if not consistent. Sing songs about destroying Zionists, paint pictures with Statue of Liberty's crown made of bombs, yell about colonialism and globalization.

Personally, I want to see how the rhetoric is going to change now that Rouhani is in office. It won't change much of what is coming out of Fars, but he's expected to set a different tenor than Ahmadinejad. Plus, many Iranians want more favorable relations with the West. Many of them are tired of the hardline rhetoric.

The Saudis, however, have always kept quiet. That's why I worry about them.
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Old 09-03-2013   #51
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Default They're aren't the only thing we should be worried about...

Quote:
Originally Posted by graphei View Post
That's why I worry about them.

...we need to worry about all those ells in your hovercraft.
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Sorry, I know, serious topic, but just couldn't help it
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Old 09-04-2013   #52
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Default Intelligence - what's it good for?

In one screen:
Quote:
The US, Britain and France are in broad agreement that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in an attack near Damascus last month. Syria has blamed rebels for the attack, and Russia says it has 'a good degree of confidence' that it was an 'opposition provocation' – although neither Moscow nor Damascus have publicly produced any evidence to support their claims. This is how the western countries' separate intelligence reports compare:
Link:http://www.theguardian.com/world/gra...red?CMP=twt_gu

A properly translated Der Spiegel story on German intelligence:http://www.spiegel.de/international/...-a-920123.html
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Old 09-04-2013   #53
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A lot of people are suspicious of our intelligence on Syria's use of chemical weapons after the fiasco in Iraq based largely on the inaccurate intelligence on Iraq's WMD program. That suspicion is healthy, but not always reasonable.

I agree with those that think we have great capacity for stupidity, but there is a limit to that stupidity and I don't think we would risk making the same mistake twice on the world stage, so I suspect the intelligence that Assad's forces employed the nerve gas is probably pretty solid. Furthermore, SECSTATE Kerry made some good arguments IMO during the Congressional hearings today in the hour or so of the hearings I caught tonight on CSPAN. Most interestingly in my view is he said Iran and Russia also claimed to oppose the use of chemical weapons, which puts them in a difficult position to retaliate if we release intelligence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt Assad's forces conducted the attack. They can still act if they choose, but certainly puts them in a bad light internationally if they do, so how much do they really want to sacrifice for Assad? If they want influence in Syria when this is over, they probably need to find another champion other than Assad. It is still a gamble, but not an unreasonable one. Still a lot of questions on the day(s) after, but in reality no one can answer those questions with anything more than an educated guess. Is intervening the right thing to do? Probably. Is a limited strike the right way? Unknown.
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Old 09-04-2013   #54
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Default A Post Mortem of previous stand-off "punishments

I'm not sure of the value add by any US strike as a supposed punishment of the Assad regime.

This Article provides a commentary on the apparent results of prior attempts to "punish" bad actors in the region.

I cannot comment on the source, but I will note that writers discussing punishment say that punishment has the following goals--deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, reparation, and retribution/revenge. I'm not sure how launching a number of TLAMs at Syria meets any of them.
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Old 09-04-2013   #55
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Default What point are you trying to make?

WM, in the article you cite is the following:
Quote:
..., Shi’ite Muslim suicide bombers blew up US Marine and French barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Marines and 58 French paratroopers. President Ronald Reagan pulled forces out of Lebanon in February 1984. Lebanon’s civil war raged on until 1990.
So there appears to be a price for inaction, six years of civil war. The good news for us was, it was not our war.

In the case of bin Laden the limited actions we did take led to a different result for the U.S.

Quote:
Analysts and historians say “Operation Infinite Reach” was interpreted by bin Laden, who reportedly joked that the attack killed only camels and chickens, as evidence that the United States lacked the stomach for confrontation with his forces. In October 2000, the US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Cole was hit by an al Qaeda suicide attack while it refueled at port in Aden, Yemen, killing 17 American sailors. A year later, the 11 September attacks in New York and Washington killed nearly 3,000 people.
In this case our actions were too weak to deter our enemy and we suffered for it.

So there is a fine line here. Looking back it is easy to see what worked and what didn't. Looking forward is another matter.

As for the five purposes of punishment, deterrence would be the one we are most interested in. Remember that there are two other considerations with punishment. First, deterrence works not only against the perpetrator, but it also can have an effect on others who would take a similar course of action. The second point is that there is a correlation between the time lag from the time the crime is committed and the time the punishment is administered. The longer the period between, the less it is apt to work. Perhaps that only applies with children and common criminals, but it is worth considering.
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Old 09-04-2013   #56
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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
The second point is that there is a correlation between the time lag from the time the crime is committed and the time the punishment is administered. The longer the period between, the less it is apt to work. Perhaps that only applies with children and common criminals, but it is worth considering.
It is not just worth considering it is an imperative, this is why I keep saying we don't need a good General for most of todays situations we need a good Street Cop. America has been and is continuing to loose it's Street Survival Credibility with the Worlds Gangs weather they are state gangs or non state gangs.

On a more Strategic level we have never learned Warden's most important principle, that of the time value of action and Syria is an absolute prime example of it's misuse.
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Old 09-04-2013   #57
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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
As for the five purposes of punishment, deterrence would be the one we are most interested in. Remember that there are two other considerations with punishment. First, deterrence works not only against the perpetrator, but it also can have an effect on others who would take a similar course of action. The second point is that there is a correlation between the time lag from the time the crime is committed and the time the punishment is administered. The longer the period between, the less it is apt to work. Perhaps that only applies with children and common criminals, but it is worth considering.
You asked in your title what point I was trying to make. I was trying to suggest that the record of recent military "punishment" operations shows that they have not had any of the 5 desired effects of punishment. I think it is probably the case that short of winning a general war and then trying the leadership of the losing side, that will always be the case. And, IMO, the only aim of punishment that this latter course will meet is that of retribution/revenge.

What we've got here from the administration is best exemplified in this scene from Blazing Saddles. (It might also be "failure to communicate" as Strother Martin said in Cool Hand Luke but that is a different point.
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Old 09-04-2013   #58
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A short paper 'Additional Thoughts About the Damascus Chemical Warfare Incident' that IMHO asks more questions, than giving answers by a previously unknown expert:
Quote:
Dan Kaszeta is the author of “CBRN and Hazmat Incidents at Major Public Events: Planning and Response” (Wiley, 2012) as well as a number of magazine articles and conference papers. He has 22 years of experience in CBRN, having served as an officer in the US Army Chemical Corps, as CBRN advisor for the White House Military Office, and as a specialist in the US Secret Service....
Link:http://strongpointsecurity.co.uk/sit...l-Thoughts.pdf
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Old 09-04-2013   #59
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Originally Posted by wm View Post
You asked in your title what point I was trying to make. I was trying to suggest that the record of recent military "punishment" operations shows that they have not had any of the 5 desired effects of punishment. I think it is probably the case that short of winning a general war and then trying the leadership of the losing side, that will always be the case. And, IMO, the only aim of punishment that this latter course will meet is that of retribution/revenge..

I will agree with that.


Although my thoughts on this are the same as they are on our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan trying to create democracies where they are not feasible - are we taking this action based on an understanding of how Assad will interpret events or are we taking it based on how WE interpret events? A corollary would be, are we taking this action based on how a reasonable (or unreasonable) third party dictator would interpret these events?
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Old 09-04-2013   #60
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Default A littel rant

Just to be clear, I think we are making the right move to take action in this case. The question in my mind is, "what action will yield the desired result?"

That is a complex and nuanced question. But unlike others on this council I will not walk away from it just because it is complex. I have seen too many people here try to pass off the observation that a problem is complex as some form of intellectualism - with their next statement being that if it is too complex we should not get involved. Sorry, but that is poor logic and even poorer scholarship. There is nothing profound about standing on the sidelines.

If we want 1) to deter Assad from using these weapons again, and 2) deter other like-minded leaders from using the same tact - what is the response that will yield that result. What can we take away that Assad cares that much about. What can we threaten that other leaders will think twice about before they chose to use chemical weapons.

My response is - we need to know what Assad cares about first - then we act.

An appropriate response against Assad will yield the desired deterrence against others.
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