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Old 03-07-2012   #321
ganulv
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Originally Posted by JMA View Post
Does Liddle answer [the] question [“What proportion of the Syrian population is fully in support of the continued uprising”]?

Not close.

Maybe he passed journalism school with junk like this but would not pass staff writing at any half decent army college.
I disagree that he failed to answer his own question, but I do agree that the prose is very much journalism writing. As such, you can get the gist by reading the first sentence of each paragraph (this is so the editor knows what can be cut without asking the writer). These include:

Quote:
But I still do not see much evidence of burgeoning fury and rebellion among ordinary Syrians; as Hillary Clinton put it: ‘You don’t see uprisings across Syria the way you did in Libya.’

At the very least — the very least — you can say with some certainty that the popular opposition to Assad is far less widespread in Syria than was the opposition to the government in Bahrain, for example.
I think it is a responsible answer given the limited evidence available. While you may find that he hedges too much, I will remind you of the words of someone whom you seem to admire: “The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice.”
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Old 03-07-2012   #322
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Yes, but what if they are used, for instance, to protect an offensive? Weapons that are used for tactical defense can help on the offense.
Let's stay serious.
I understand your point, but you overstate it.

The bigger problem is that defence is not decisive. The people or Syria may protect themselves with foreign assistance, but that doesn't equal an end to the civil war, they cannot defeat the regime with defence alone.

The foreign meddling would most likely turn towards supporting the offence of the rebels, just as in/over Libya where bombers -originally supposed to destroy tanks which attack towns - began to pave the way for the rebel offensive by bombing regime defenders ripe for assault.


So the really despicable thing here is not that "defensive weapons" is misleading, but that the hawks pull an old trick and try to lower the threshold to get Western powers involved, expecting that mission creep will then carry the Western powers to what the hawks really want.

It's a salami slicing tactic, and I regret that more than one Western public is stupid enough to fall to such tactics again and again (at least in the current setting; not so sure what would happen in a direct democracy when people discussing at a bar would have a sense that their discussion and their vote may have consequences).
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Old 03-07-2012   #323
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Fuchs,

I think you're overthinking things. My point about "no such thing as a defensive weapon" was simply to point out that you can't give a rebel movement "defensive" weapons and expect them to use those weapons only for "defensive" purposes. So I think we basically agree and are just arguing semantics.
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Old 03-08-2012   #324
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Thank you for your opinion on the matter. As stated before you are so far out in left field on this that there is no point is discussing the matter further with you.
That may be your opinion, but can you support it? What situation since WW2 can you cite in which US intervention was (your word) required. Not justifiable, advisable, or desirable, but required

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I really don't care what criteria you cite because quite simply nothing (in your opinion) would meet those criteria. No point in discussing the the matter further with you.
I thought initial intervention in Afghanistan was justified and desirable, though not required. Of course it was hopelessly messed up by the transition into "nation building" but that doesn't change my opinion that intervention was in that case justifiable and desirable. So there's one, which takes "simply nothing" out of the picture.

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You may expect what you like but people passing through any discussion board are not required to answer to your beck and call.
Supporting your opinions with evidence and/or reasoning isn't answering to someone's beck and call, it's accepting a fundamental principle of rational discourse. If you're not willing to do that, don't expect anyone to take your opinions seriously.

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In this thread it goes beyond arrogance and into the realms of stupidity in that despite my saying repeatedly that the US should not intervene in Syria I get asked why should the US intervene in Syria. Pointless to respond to that sort of insanity.
You previously wrote:

Quote:
If I personally believe there should be an intervention in Syria (as I did in Libya) I am entitled to say so.
Quote:
intervention is necessary and justified
You are entitled to say these things, of course. If you fail to say why you believe these things, don't expect anyone to take the opinions seriously.

Saying you think there should be an intervention in Syria but the US should not be involved is like saying you want to eat beef without a cow being killed.

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Tibet 1951?
Or Vietnam '79. If you place China's minimalist history of messing along its borders beside the US history of global projection, though, what do you see? Do note, as well, that during China's surge in global presence and influence over the last 20 years there have been no military interventions, suggesting that intervention is not in any way necessary for a nation to gain global influence and prominence.

Unless you're prepared to cite some sort of evidence and reasoning to support the point, I don't think you can reasonably argue that the US is declining because it has not conducted enough interventions abroad, or that failing to intervene in any case has hastened or will hasten its decline. If you're going to link decline to overseas intervention, that opinion has to be supported if you want anyone to take it seriously.

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So you missed the main issue with Libya then?
The "main issue" for who? MG is gone and the US isn't responsible for the inevitably messy aftermath. Goals achieved. Where's the "debacle"?

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The world tends to watch the actions of the current US Administration and not listen to odd bod US citizens with different opinions.
I suspect and hope that the US administration will take its cue from the 56% of odd bod US voters who don't want intervention in Libya. The world will make of this what it will, as always.

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Originally Posted by JMA View Post
OK... so like us against him (like in the school yard?)
I'm sure that even those who agree with you, were there any, would be interested in hearing the reasoning and evidence behind your opinions.

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Originally Posted by JMA View Post
I suggest that that is a very ignorant opinion... suggest further study on your part.
I suggest that you've tossed out an unsupportable opinion and are declining to support it because you can't.

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Originally Posted by JMA View Post
Fight? Can fear only be linked to a fight?
What else would there be to fear?

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Originally Posted by JMA View Post
That's your opinion
Yes, it is. Look at the poll numbers cited earlier: 56% of surveyed voters "say the United States should leave the situation in Syria alone". Do you think that American politicians in an election year are going to ignore that? Don't you think that figure poses a more immediate and potent restraint on the temptation to intervene than some imaginary connection to Russia or China? If you think not, please say why.

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Good, now lets have no more innuendo that the cost of these interventions are the cause of the US's current economic woes from you then, OK?
A cause, not the cause. One among many.

Look at your own words:

Quote:
The current situation in which the US finds itself is as a result of a massive political leadership failure and accompanying inability to constrain domestic spending.
If domestic spending is an issue, than overseas spending has to be an issue also: spending is spending, and domestic spending has at least some residual economic benefit. The money spent on Iraq, Afghanistan, and the means required to prepare for additional such prospective escapades is not the sole cause of the US spending problem, but it's in no way chump change, return on investment has been minimal to nonexistent, and if spending is a problem this has to be part of it. On the ledger a dollar spent in Iraq is no different than a dollar to a welfare recipient in Detroit, except that the Detroit dollar is re-spent in the domestic economy and most of the the Iraq dollar isn't.

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Yes you can't see it, won't entertain it... so there is no point in discussing it with you, yes?
If you believe that "intervention in Syria, or anywhere else, would put the US in a better position", why won't you tell us why? If there's no point in discussing matters with those who disagree, this place will get very quiet very quickly. Surely you cannot expect people to entertain your opinions if you're not prepared to reveal the reasons why you hold those opinions.
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Old 03-08-2012   #325
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Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
I disagree that he failed to answer his own question, but I do agree that the prose is very much journalism writing. As such, you can get the gist by reading the first sentence of each paragraph (this is so the editor knows what can be cut without asking the writer). These include:
Oh he also no doubt believes he has answered his question... as do some around here

To that I respond with my favourite Bertrand Russell quotation:

Quote:
If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way. – Bertrand Russell
I suggest that our man Liddle (and those who support his view) are ready to clutch at any straw which they see as building a case against intervention in Syria or arming the various opposition groups.

Quote:
I think it is a responsible answer given the limited evidence available. While you may find that he hedges too much, I will remind you of the words of someone whom you seem to admire: “The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice.”
If I may suggest that you are getting ahead of yourself here (much like Entropy did) by not dealing with the initial question.

I would ask Liddle why he asked the question when he knew (or should have) that he did not have the answer. What was his point? Meeting a blog deadline? He gets paid by the word? What? Did his blog entry inform? I could go on...

I respect Russell for his honesty and moral courage - as apart from the physical (lower level) variety which many of us have displayed in battle at one time or other. I have mentioned this before (around here somewhere) that the need to protect their pensions has made many generals (both Brit and US) moral cowards to the cost of the respective militaries and their countries.

Russell again:

Quote:
Many a man will have the courage to die gallantly, but will not have the courage to say, or even to think, that the cause for which he is asked to die is an unworthy one. - Bertrand Russell
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Old 03-08-2012   #326
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Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
If you believe that "intervention in Syria, or anywhere else, would put the US in a better position", why won't you tell us why? If there's no point in discussing matters with those who disagree, this place will get very quiet very quickly. Surely you cannot expect people to entertain your opinions if you're not prepared to reveal the reasons why you hold those opinions.
I am ignoring the majority of your post because your are obviously looking for someone to argue with... and I'm not taking the bait.

I have told you on a few occasions that you lack comprehension skills and this is once again evident in the final piece of your post (quoted above).

My position on Syria is simple...

I would support intervention in Syria (for much the same reasons I did for Libya) but would not support that intervention being carried out by the US (due to their extremely poor record with such interventions) neither would I support arming the opposition (for much the same reasons I stated for Libya).

That said... now go find someone else to play with.
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Old 03-08-2012   #327
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I would support intervention in Syria (for much the same reasons I did for Libya) but would not support that intervention being carried out by the US
So who do you think should do it, or is that also destined to remain a mystery?

If you insist on presenting strongly worded opinions, expect people to ask you to support those opinions with evidence or reasoning. That's not being argumentative, it's an established convention of rational discourse. It may be awkward, especially if you can't support the opinions with evidence or reasoning, but that's not the fault of those asking you to support your opinions.

Regarding this...

Quote:
If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way.
There was a time (we were all young once) when I was a great advocate of humanitarian intervention... of course nobody cared or listened, but I believed. Most Americans raised in liberal progressive environments have that cultivated instinct to help. It was only with the passage of time, and some painful scrutiny of a rather large body of evidence, that this instinct was gradually replaced by a much more restrained set of opinions.

Most of us have changed our minds on something, at some time.
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Last edited by Dayuhan; 03-08-2012 at 03:37 AM.
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Old 03-08-2012   #328
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The Israelis are "not suitable" for an intervention in Syria.

The Turks would possibly face imperialism rumours, as if they wanted to re-establish the Ottoman Empire.

The French would have no entry point, and their expeditionary forces would have troubles with the quite heavily-armed Syrian army. Their only option would be air strikes from the CdG (if the ship is operational at the time; dunno), but that wouldn't be much. Alternatively they might be allowed to use Cyprus as base for AdA strikes.

Same for the British; they couldn't do more than Cyprus allows.

Russia has rather been a supporter of Syria and will certainly not intervene.

Saudi-Arabia is an absolute monarchy that's more interested in getting over with the Arab Spring and the secular Syrian baathists than in protecting the Syrian people.

Jordan is too weak for intervention.

Iraq is too weak for intervention.

Lebanon isn't even strong enough to ward off Syrian influence domestically.

Italy and Spain have no significantly better intervention potential than the UK.



So who should in your opinion intervene? The Americans were the only ones crazy enough to sink trillions of dollars in the ability to beat up a medium-sized, very distant country that has a large and obsolete military.
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Old 03-08-2012   #329
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So who do you think should do it, or is that also destined to remain a mystery?

If you insist on presenting strongly worded opinions, expect people to ask you to support those opinions with evidence or reasoning. That's not being argumentative, it's an established convention of rational discourse. It may be awkward, especially if you can't support the opinions with evidence or reasoning, but that's not the fault of those asking you to support your opinions.

Regarding this...

There was a time (we were all young once) when I was a great advocate of humanitarian intervention... of course nobody cared or listened, but I believed. Most Americans raised in liberal progressive environments have that cultivated instinct to help. It was only with the passage of time, and some painful scrutiny of a rather large body of evidence, that this instinct was gradually replaced by a much more restrained set of opinions.

Most of us have changed our minds on something, at some time.
Yes we were all young once... and some of us were soldiers too... now listen to me... go find someone else to play with!
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Old 03-08-2012   #330
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So who should in your opinion intervene? The Americans were the only ones crazy enough to sink trillions of dollars in the ability to beat up a medium-sized, very distant country that has a large and obsolete military.
Good summary.

Most can't while those who could either won't or should not.

How does this, if at all, detract from the need curb the excesses of the Assad regime?
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Old 03-08-2012   #331
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If Turkey were to proceed with a conventional armed intervention - a 1 on 1 with Syria with full commitment of military forces by both states, who would win ?

No US-NATO support of any kind for the Turks; and Russia and China stay out of it completely (other than making noises about "aggressive war", etc.).

Regards

Mike

PS: This headline from TZ, ‘Turkey seeks parliamentary authorization to avert Syrian threat’ (7 Mar 2012), is seriously misleading because Davutoğlu speaks throughout in the conditional.
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Old 03-08-2012   #332
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now listen to me... go find someone else to play with!
You'll want to recover that phlegmatic disposition long enough to recall that you don't give orders 'round here.

You've expressed certain opinions that need to be supported to be taken seriously. It's up to you to support them, is it not? If you're not willing to do that, why should you be ordering anyone else to listen to you?
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Old 03-08-2012   #333
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... a conventional armed intervention - a 1 on 1 with Syria with full commitment of military forces by both states, ...
Why would there be a need for an intervention on this scale?

Can you put your finger on where the problem lies?
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Old 03-08-2012   #334
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Why would there be a need for an intervention on this scale?
Realistically, do you think Assad, his military forces, and his substantial base of civilian support are going to disappear or give up in the face of anything less than an intervention on that scale? Surely you don't really believe that they will tuck their tails between their legs and submit to a foreign will simply because somebody fires a few cruise missiles at them...
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Old 03-08-2012   #335
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Good summary.

Most can't while those who could either won't or should not.

How does this, if at all, detract from the need curb the excesses of the Assad regime?
Which need?

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

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

Looks to me as if it's not a need, but a personal preference.
The Syrians are having a civil war. I can resist the urge for calling for an involvement.
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Old 03-08-2012   #336
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Which need?

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

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

Looks to me as if it's not a need, but a personal preference.
The Syrians are having a civil war. I can resist the urge for calling for an involvement.
And as Rod Liddle pointed out, by asking an obviously rhetorical question, we know very little about who the people in rebellion really are, while we know a great deal about Assad, the Ba'ath Party, the Alawite minority in power, and so on. If events in Egypt and Libya are any indication, regardless of the current gush-gush over the insurgents in many quarters, only the hard core, radical Islamist groups have sufficient organization, resources and clarity of goals to shape the end state after the overthrow of the the Assad regime. The rest will be sidelined.

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

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

I'm with you, Fuchs. Resisting the temptation to intervene is proving very easy.
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Old 03-08-2012   #337
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Realistically, do you think Assad, his military forces, and his substantial base of civilian support are going to disappear or give up in the face of anything less than an intervention on that scale? Surely you don't really believe that they will tuck their tails between their legs and submit to a foreign will simply because somebody fires a few cruise missiles at them...
Well, if JMA thinks otherwise he's kept it secret. He doesn't ".. support that intervention being carried out by the US (due to their extremely poor record with such interventions)," he doesn't want the rebels armed, and he agreed with Fuchs' summary of the possibility of other actors intervening, so that pretty much takes everything off the table except for his three cruise missile option. Oh, and the usual "viewing with alarm," "strongly disapprove," "condemnation by all civilized people" and useless economic sanctions the Syrians are pretty much already ignoring.

Of course, a decapitation strike in Syria would lead to complete chaos as everyone fought for position in the aftermath, with no telling what kind of resulting state of affairs. I hope JMA will explain to us why this is "good planning" as opposed to what he considers the U.S. record of "bad planning."
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Old 03-08-2012   #338
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Syria is very divided in ethnic and religious groups, almost as bad as Lebanon.
Assad's minority will feel the urge to emigrate when Assad falls, and I suspect the bigger factions will dominate the country "democratically". This requires that they're united (not split in religious extremists and others themselves);
the new regime will likely be ethnically dominated, not religiously or ideologically.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demogra...#Ethnic_groups

I'd expect a Sunni Arab majority gaining control; their religious radicals would likely fail to be a majority nation-wide.
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Old 03-08-2012   #339
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From Fuchs a few posts back:
Quote:
3,000 people died in inter-tribal violence in province Pibor, South Sudan, at the beginning of this year. We didn't even notice, much less did a Western public discuss the prospect of intervention.
This reminds me of an issue that has appeared on SWC before and JMM99 has used a nice global map to illustrate his point of view.

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

Incidentally I had to search for the location of Pibor:http://earthcatalogue.com/?ecd=SD_HS...er-Pibor-Sudan and a BBC report on the incident(s):http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16394664

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

Two of us here have already reminded readers of the shame Europe first & foremost has over Bosnia and FRY. The late Michael Foot, a Labour leader, made a startling documentary at the time and IIRC the title was 'Three Hours from Here'. There was endless TV reporting, Martin Bell being one; sometimes grim and even then it took months, years for politicians to get the courage to change the ROE. The UK's record is not good in this respect.

If anyone needs a reminder of humanitarian intervention view the 1999 BBC series 'Warriors', which is awesome - a word I rarely use. It is on YouTube and here are links to Part 1:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGj3cLQKlik and a rather crude snippet:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_Occ...eature=related

Why the outrage over Syria? Well first foremost geography, secondly we have a mass of footage (still) of the year-long protests and check out:http://www.enduringamerica.com/ Add in the calls for "something to be done", even here in the UK by some surprising people - who oppose(d) our role in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I don't know enough about Syria or the Assad regime and what short of "boots on the ground" would affect their decision-making.

That caveat aside what we should do beyond declarations is practical:
  • Ensure the evidenceof brutality is collected and is ready for the day when justice can be done.

    Boost radio broadcasting to the region.

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

    Monitor all import / export activity and ask those involved why publicly. Yes, publish which ships and aircraft visit.
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Old 03-08-2012   #340
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Realistically, do you think Assad, his military forces, and his substantial base of civilian support are going to disappear or give up in the face of anything less than an intervention on that scale? Surely you don't really believe that they will tuck their tails between their legs and submit to a foreign will simply because somebody fires a few cruise missiles at them...
Just run your military credentials past me so I can try to understand where you are coming from here.
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