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View Diary: Syria - For Republicans There is No Downside -or- How Democrats Can Really Be Hurt (86 comments)

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  •  Obama is parrying - he has no desire to intervene. (2+ / 0-)
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    truong son traveler, corvo

    He & Hagel have no desire whatsoever to get involved here. It would be unpopular politically. It would be expensive. It would lead to future blowback of some sort. And it would essentially be picking up right where George W. Bush & the neoconservatives left off, implementing the Project for a New American Century. PNAC, if we may recall, envisioned absolute U.S. domination of the Middle East through a series of wars, first on Iraq, then on Syria, then on Iran.

    I completely agree that there would be no upside for the Democrats politically. Intervention would likely ensnare the U.S. deeper & deeper in a brutal sectarian war that threatens to engulf the entire Fertile Crescent. If it goes badly (which it would) the Democrats would own it politically. And even worse, it would send them into the 2014 elections fractured & demoralized. In my mind, it's no exaggeration to say that going to war in Syria would effectively end Obama's presidency.

    Also there is the matter of how to pay for it. The costs of the wars in Afghanistan & Iraq were simply added to the national debt, but back when Republicans held power we never heard a peep about deficits. But nowadays, with the sequester & all this austerity, any Syrian operation would have to be paid for with offsetting cuts elsewhere in the budget. It would require exempting defense from the sequester & moving all the cuts to the domestic side, which is basically what the Republicans are trying to do anyway. So effectively, by intervening large-scale (& any intervention would have to be large-scale to be effective), Obama would be abandoning the Democratic agenda & embracing the Republican/neoconservative agenda.

    In spite of all this, my sense is that the U.S. will eventually dive in. Too many influential foreign policy "wise men" are advocating it. The putative prize - depriving Iran of its critical regional ally & replacing the Assad regime with a more pliant, conservative Sunni-led government - may just be too tempting, even if the more likely outcome is years of chaos & carnage.

    Then too, the Israeli tail often wags the American dog. After months of wavering, apparently the Likud government has decided that it wants regime-change in Syria & is trying to goad the U.S. government into intervening. After the "chemical weapons" disclosure 2 weeks ago failed to do the trick, the recent missile/rocket attacks were just the latest escalation.

    The fundamental problem is this: whatever party holds the White House or the houses of Congress, within the American foreign policy establishment the bias is always in favor of intervention, at least when the Middle East is concerned. Enough Democrats are now on board that any intervention will be touted as having "bipartisan support". The media & think tanks are clamoring for it. The American people don't want it, but it's not like we'll have any say in the matter.

    •  unless of course (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, PrahaPartizan
      Intervention would likely ensnare the U.S. deeper & deeper in a brutal sectarian war that threatens to engulf the entire Fertile Crescent. If it goes badly (which it would) the Democrats would own it politically.
      that's part of the plan.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Wed May 08, 2013 at 06:14:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  otherwise your comment is spot-on. n/t (0+ / 0-)

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Wed May 08, 2013 at 06:15:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not Obama's plan, but that of the Repubs/neocons (1+ / 0-)
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        InAntalya

        Look at it this way: if Mitt Romney had won the election, we'd already be at war in Syria. Heck, if Hillary Clinton were president, we'd already be at war there. Obama's mandate is to END American involvement in Middle Eastern wars, not start new ones. If his administration does lurch toward intervention, he's more foolish than I ever thought.

        So far he's resisted. Resisted HRC, Petraeus, Netanyahu, & all the armchair interventionists in the media & Congress. Two days ago, after Israel launched rocket attacks on Damascus, as the pundits & "experts" on cable news were all but declaring American intervention inevitable, I was getting nervous, but more recent news reports, especially of the recent meeting between Sec. of State Kerry & Russian Foreign Min. Lavrov, seem to suggest that they're backpedaling & playing for time, at least for now.

        Obama appears to understand that entering the war in Syria would . . .
        - be an open-ended commitment & likely ensnare us deeper
        - insert us into what is now a nasty sectarian fight-to-the-death
        - just be more gasoline on the flames of a war that is dangerously close to erupting into a region-wide conflict
        - effectively end cooperative relations with Russia, on the Iran file & other issues as well
        - effectively foreclose any settlement with Iran on the nuclear file, setting us inexorably on the path to war with Iran
        - be enormously expensive
        - empower his political opponents
        - be unpopular politically.

        If there's an upside for Obama & the Democrats, it's completely lost on me.

        •  Sorry, but it's everyone's plan. (0+ / 0-)

          The only differences are of degree/speed, not of kind.

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Wed May 08, 2013 at 12:40:30 PM PDT

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          •  I won't accuse the president of bad faith yet. (0+ / 0-)

            Whatever my disappointments with Obama, & there are many, I'm still inclined to believe that he is acting in good faith to avoid another Middle Eastern war. My fear is not that he really, secretly wants it or supports the neocon worldview, but rather that political gravity (e.g., AIPAC, the neocons @ AEI, the neolibs @ Brookings, the NYT & WaPo, influential senators in both parties) may suck us in anyway. So far at least, the president does appear to be trying to avoid this trap.

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