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View Diary: Administration has an out from its ridiculous saber rattling, it should take it (314 comments)

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  •  Is it out of the realm of possibility (32+ / 0-)

    that Obama defeated Putin AND Assad in a hand of high-stakes poker?

    I'm not taking the position he did, but I think it IS possible.  IF he loses the chemical weapons without an air strike, I think it is a victory.  Yes, he has other ways of killing his citizens, but none more heinous than this way, in my opinion.

    •  I guess I don't understand (21+ / 0-)

      how one form of murder is okay but the other is beyond the pale. Assad is a monster whether he kills people with gas, napalm, torture, mortars, artillery, airstrikes, or a bullet to the head.

      Giving up his chemical weapons doesn't make him any less of a monster.

      And no one has defeated anyone yet. In fact, if Syria gives up its chemical weapons, it would be a diplomatic VICTORY for Russia for averting an attack, as well as one for the US.

      And Syria wouldn't really lose anything, since chemical weapons are actually lousy battlefield weapons.

      If I was the Russians, I'd let the US get dragged into another hopeless war.

      •  Correct, it doesn't make him any less of a monster (9+ / 0-)

        (Again, assuming it all happens) but it does remove an obviously-horrendous part of his arsenal.

        I'm very surprised at Russia seemingly jumping on this, also.  I figured they would let us twist in the wind.

        Interesting development, for sure.  I hope it works out, and we move on.

      •  No need for the Chemical Weapons Convention (15+ / 0-)

        at all then, right? If it doesn't make any difference how soldiers and civilians get killed, why bother restricting their use?

        Also: land mines. Why should we continue to push our government to ratify the Ottawa Treaty? Whether you shoot someone or blow them up with a mine, they're still dead, right?

        For that matter, why bother with the Geneva Conventions? War ain't beanbag. Let's stop treating prisoners of war and medical aid personnel with white gloves.

        •  The point is - why do we only think some (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          3goldens

          war crimes are worth punishing?

          The worst genocide in the last 20 years was committed with fucking machetes.

          The fundamental issue is that civilians are getting slaughtered.

          "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

          by JesseCW on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 02:17:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Wait. You rec'd (5+ / 0-)

        Revenge of Shakshuka's diary wherein he explained how it is different.  But to reiterate the basic fact: if it doesn't make him less of a monster, it certainly makes him a monster capable of less monstrous deeds.

      •  Presumably (6+ / 0-)

        giving up his chemical weapons makes him less immediately dangerous. It's one thing to be a monster, it's another to be a monster uncontained about to strike. The harder it is to bring off his savagery to a successful conclusion, the better for humanity, no?

      •  Please do the math. (8+ / 0-)

        It took two years for both the regime and the rebels to combine forces to kill 100,000 people.

        It took two hours for the regime to kill 1,400 people in their beds.

        Can you calculate a ratio?

        Chemical weapons are apparently orders of magnitude more
        'effective' at killing mass numbers of civilians (let alone
        combatants).

        It seems to be worthwhile to try to discourage the use
        of chemical weapons.

        •  Also chemical weapons kill indiscriminately (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NYFM, highacidity

          You could argue that artillery does also, which I understand.

          But a soldier with a rifle can at least try not to shoot civilians if he wants to.

          Artillery strikes can be targeted at fighting positions if commanders wanted to, and therefore could be used in a way that at least minimizes civilian deaths.

          Poison gas disperses and kills everyone in the area it's used. There's no possible way to target fighters only and avoid civilian deaths.

          Civilians also at least have a chance to escape conventional attacks. If you hear explosions, gunfire etc you can at least try to run. The reports of the sarin attack say that people heard shells hit but no explosions, and then people just started dying.

          Not that it should minimize Assad's conventional attacks on civilians, but those are some reasons why countries should not be allowed to use them.

          When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

          by PhillyJeff on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 12:35:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Gases like sarin are area denial weapons. (0+ / 0-)

            They do not drift over large distances.  They're heavy oily liquids that stick to people and objects, and then gradually release highly toxic gas for a few hours.  Lethal densities are generally only found in the area where the weapon was used.

            These are not the billowing clouds of Mustard in WW1 movies.

            It's not much different than dumping napalm on an area, and it's less painful to the victims.

            The point is not that nerve gases are not horrific.

            It's that they're no more or less horrific than other means used to slaughter civilians, and it's the slaughtering of civilians that ought to be the primary concern.

            "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

            by JesseCW on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 02:21:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  That assumes people were killed at a constant rate (0+ / 0-)

          throughout the 2 years. I'm split on the topic, really, and think I disagree with your general point, but either way, the mathematical argument you make here isn't a sound one from a technical perspective.

          To be clear, what I'm saying is that you could say that the explosion of an artillery shell, killing 10, takes place in a tiny fraction of a second, therefore having an even greater rate-of-kill than the Sarin gas. You have an overall point that's valid, this just isn't the way to argue it.

          "I wish you luck on not hating your parents for mixing up such an unthinkable person." --The frickin´ HP--

          by McWaffle on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 12:54:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Let me be more specific (0+ / 0-)

            Three people per hour using everything but sarin gas (assuming the regime is responsible for half of the deaths
            over two years of fighting).

            Now compare that to 700 people per hour using gas.

            The 'everything but sarin' gas includes:

            1) small arms
            2) mortars
            3) artillery
            4) short range ballistic missiles
            5) helicopter gunships
            6) fighter bombers

            In the past Assad's regime (including his father) used massed
            artillery barrages on civilian targets. It still takes days and
            weeks to produce the 'results' that can be achieved in hours using chemical weapons.

            I guess if Assad's forces had modern generation MRLS
            type artillery they might be able to get their 'kill rate' close
            to what is achievable via chemical munitions but luckily
            the Russians don't seem to have sold such things to
            the Syrians.

            I think Obama was fully justified in 'drawing a red line'
            on this subject and  in pushing a non trivial response to the crossing of that line.

            I think the majority of posters here are wrong on this
            topic. Just an opinion.

            •  What I'm saying though (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JesseCW

              is that an artillery strike (etc) doesn't kill three people an hour. It kills a lot more than that. You're just averaging over a huge time period. We're not talking about 2 years of literally constant artillery

              A fair comparison would be to compare 2 hours of artillery bombardment and 2 hours of gas attacks. It'd still come out in your favor, probably.

              "I wish you luck on not hating your parents for mixing up such an unthinkable person." --The frickin´ HP--

              by McWaffle on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 01:28:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Please look up the Hama massacre in 1982 (0+ / 0-)

                It took Assad's father 27 days using artillery (and
                other conventional weapons) in order to destroy the city
                and kill 10,000 to 40,000 people.

                I believe that if the father had felt free to use chemical
                weapons he could have wiped out that town (or broken
                resistance there) in a day or two.

                However in 1982 Hafez al-Assad apparently did not feel
                comfortable using chemical weapons.

                Interesting.

                Artillery is no where near as 'effective' as chemical
                weapons with respect to killing people who have no access
                to protective gear.

        •  Agree. The objection to CW isn't that it's lethal, (0+ / 0-)

          the objection is that it's lethal and cheap.

          CW has been called "the poor man's nuclear weapon". I  harbor suspicions that international moral revulsion has been somewhat cultivated by wealthy nations who feel that CW threatens their ability to use superior conventional forces to intimidate poor nations.

          But when CW is deployed in civil conflicts, my moral revulsion is quite real.

          “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
          he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

          by jjohnjj on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 01:13:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Lethal and cheap... (0+ / 0-)

            and does not have to be super accurate in order to be
            extremely lethal.

            An artillery round has to strike relatively close to people
            in order to kill or wound them.

            You could fire a thousand artillery shells and kill
            relatively few people if they were in shelter (e.g.
            trenches, basements).

            A chemical weapon bomb or missile just has to land in
            the general vicinity of people and in 'proper' relation to
            the wind direction.

            If you use chemical weapons on people (civilians or troops)
            WHO DO NOT HAVE protective gear you can essentially
            wipe the people out in huge numbers.

            Chemical weapons are particularly effective at producing
            indiscriminate mass casualties and therefore
            require a deterrent. Advanced, wealthy countries have such deterrents - their own arsenals of conventional
            and non conventional weapons are ready to respond.

            The president is attempting to extend this deterrent to
            cover civilians who don't happen to be Americans or
            allies.

            Seems kind of a stand up thing to do as far as I'm concerned.

      •  Or, as President Obama has said, it is in the (0+ / 0-)

        national interest to keep loose chemical weapons out of the hands of al-qaida. Perhaps the intel does show that Assad doesn't have full control over some segment of his army and commanders and they did use them without his ok.  

    •  Declare victory and stay home. (6+ / 0-)

      I think you're half right. As Kos suggests, this development is a way out of the box Obama is in.

      Instead of blindly going to war and after whatever bodies/dollars spent going home leaving the place worse for wear, why not just declare victory beforehand?

      I call it the pre-emptive victory strike. "We've done the calculations, Mr. Dictator, and it turns out we won. Take that."

      •  Perhaps its way out of the box (4+ / 0-)

        the media and pundits say President Obama is in. He never seemed to feel he was in a box, he moved forward not BLINDLY but slowly, thoughtfully and diplomatically (surely there was some behind the scenes at G20 that aided this Putin about face.) IMO those who underestimate President Obama -- or much worse listen to the media about "what President Obama is thinking / doing" have consistently been wrong. Health Care. LGBT rights. OBL. Libya. I respect and expect the president will take this new info into consideration before tomm.'s address. Or I could write what I think he'll say, call him an idiot and get recs.

        •  The "idiot" thing really bothers me (6+ / 0-)

          No one called Clinton an idiot when he was fighting for DOMA, DADT, Welfare "reform," financial deregulation etc.

          No one called him "naive" or "in over his head" etc etc.

          It makes my ears go up when I hear it from the right wing, but for some reason when progressives say it, they just get recs and no one questions why THIS president gets that an our previous right wing "democrat" president was thought of as a "smart guy" who just advocated bad policy.

          When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

          by PhillyJeff on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 12:38:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I think this is what Obama was up to the whole (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      doroma, Pinto Pony, geebeebee, Gurnt

      time.  He's not stupid.   He knew he didn't have the votes in Congress.  There may have been some underground discussion of this option going on for days.

    •  If he did (0+ / 0-)

      No, it's not outside the realm of possibility, but if it's true it's because of cards that he hasn't shown anyone, that have little or nothing to do with the dog and pony show everyone's staring at.

      Reasonable suspicion? How can being wrong 98.6% of the time ever be reasonable?

      by happymisanthropy on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 01:04:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Of course it is possible (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gmats, geebeebee

      International diplomacy really is much more like poker than chess. Part of that success is taking advantage of opportunities when they come your way. And part of that success is making those opportunities possible in the first place.

      Instead of trying to paint this as a win or a loss by Obama or Putin why not think of it in terms of what it will mean to the Syrian people: if Assad can't gas them anymore than they have won.

    •  Is it out of the realm of possibility that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, geebeebee

      securing Syria's chemical weapons is very much in the interest of Russia?

      It's been 10 years since Chechen Separatists used chemical weapons in a terrorist attack in Moscow.

      Chechens armed and supplied by The House of Saud are on the ground right now in Syria.

      You think maybe Putin wants that shit locked down for his own reasons? Maybe the Russians are terrified of those assholes getting their hands on VX?

      This is a win/win that has been staring everyone in the face since the beginning.

      "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

      by JesseCW on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 02:15:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, Kerry's "rhetoric proposal" (0+ / 0-)

      was taken seriously by the Russians and very well could provide a way out of the "Red Line" box.

      Listen to the Newshour interview with VITALY CHURKIN at this link.

      A summary

      Russian Ambassador to United Nations: Well, we're respondent to what Secretary Kerry said today at a press conference in London, where he indicated that a military strike by the United States on Syria could be avoided if the Syrian chemical stockpile could be put under international control.

      And we had the foreign minister of Syria, Mr. Moallem, in Moscow today, and the news of Mr. Kerry's statement came after the talks, and were very promptly responded to by our foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who came up with this initiative that we will work with the government of Syria in order to achieve that international control, and, moreover, to move towards the destruction of the Syrian chemical stockpile, and making Syria a party to the Organization on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

      And the Syrians have responded positively. So I think that, if we work together with the United States and with the United Nations -- and, today, secretary-general of the United Nations made remarks very similar to the remarks of Minister Lavrov -- I think we could accomplish that in a way which would prevent a major escalation of the Syrian crisis.

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 08:44:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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