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to air and missile strikes, possibly with training and resources being provided to rebels in Syria. That's certainly not a good thing, but it's not cataclysmic. There's also a strong possibility that this is a calculated bluff, to shake up the status quo. NATO has the ability to destabilize the military strength of the Assad regime, by taking out their air capabilities and key military infrastructure. They could enforce no-fly zones and target Syrian forces that are attacking. Libya is probably a good model for what could happen, but likely military action would be less severe, since there isn't much clarity on how to effectively replace the Assad regime.

It's definitely very strange that Assad is apparently continuing to use Sarin in attacks against civilians. Either he's crazy, he doesn't have control over the Syrian forces that are using sarin, or he's desperate. He may be overconfident of Russia's support.

By the same token, military action against Syria is pretty crazy, since things are so unstable. There aren't many foreseeable good outcomes to getting rid of Assad, and things are already unstable enough to be having effects beyond Syria's borders. Israel is clearly concerned, and watching the situation closely.

The level on which this makes the most sense to me is as a very credible bluff by NATO, to try to shake the situation out of its current unstable rut. This could impel Russia and/or neighbouring countries like Iran to take a more active role in negotiating a better solution for Syria. It could promote a shakeup within the Assad regime, with leadership passing to more stability-oriented individuals.

Even if the bluff is called, NATO military action will be limited. It's very hard for me to imagine anyone putting boots on the ground in Syria - that would be a logistical, financial, political, and diplomatic nightmare. This will be an air war - minimal casualties, taking out Syria's air defenses, which will leave them much more vulnerable to potential future military actions. Russia will grumble, but there's not much they can do. Military action in Syria isn't going to significantly shift public opinion polls anywhere.

I'm not saying this because I like it, or I support it. I can't really say whether I think it will be effective or not - I think it's potentially effective as a bluff, but don't have adequate information to evaluate the effectiveness of a military action - I haven't been following this closely enough.

I feel that this is one of the repercussions of the Arab Spring - the Middle East is in a less stable phase, but the previous stability was based on supporting repressive dictators. The instability that we're seeing now in the Middle East is at least partly a reaction to that repression. There really aren't graceful ways to transition.

I've been reading various theories on DK about what military action in Syria would mean, so I decided to share my perspective. I'm not defending/supporting military action, and I don't have any alternative solutions. I don't think that the worst-case scenario in Syria comes anywhere close to the consequences of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

FWIW, here's a Slate article that I found interesting on the topic: Obama’s Guns of August. It doesn't much discuss the geopolitical factors, which I'm interested in learning more about.

Update: Several commentators have made the case that Syria's air defenses are quite formidable, and could provide a much stronger defense than Libya, for example. That could be a significant factor.

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Comment Preferences

  •  What makes you so sure of this? (11+ / 0-)
    It's definitely very strange that Assad is apparently continuing to use Sarin in attacks against civilians. Either he's crazy, he doesn't have control over the Syrian forces that are using sarin, or he's desperate. He may be overconfident of Russia's support.
    The timing sure was interesting too.
    •  Not very sure. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SpecialKinFlag

      Agreed, the timing is interesting.

      •  Erratic, if you were winning a civil war, if you.. (9+ / 0-)

        .had the fundamentalist terrorist rebels on the run, would you jeopardize your gains by using chemical weapons, eliciting worldwide outrage?

        Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

        by PatriciaVa on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 08:53:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Assad might well, yes (7+ / 0-)

          "Winning" is a relative thing, and I don't think he is risking all that much.  

          1.  The US and NATO really don't have any good military options.
          2. The Russians and the Iranians are backing Syria.
          3.  If the Syrian gov't can goad Israel into intervening in Lebanon, it helps them, since it puts the rebels in a bad position, and other Arab governments, and since....
          4. Hezbollah is fighting in Syria on the gov't side, they are in a great position to shell Northern Israel.  Which will, well, annoy the Israelis.

          As Juan Cole points out, using these weapons terrify areas that the Syrian army lacks troops to pacify by conventional means.

          I think that after suffering a largely symbolic set of air strikes, Assad will start back using everything in his arsenal to bring the war to the end.  And in all likelihood, he'll get away with it.

          Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

          by mbayrob on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 09:31:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Interesting possibility! (0+ / 0-)

            So Assad could be trying to goad NATO into attacking, in the belief that he has adequate defenses, and could then justify more aggressive action.

            •  He doesn't have adequate defenses (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              erratic, eztempo, qofdisks

              I just don't think the US or NATO is willing to do enough to break the government's resolve.  And that they may (reasonably, I think) assume that Arab public opinion will swing their way if a lot of Syrian civilians are killed.

              This goes double if Hezbollah starts shelling the Israelis, even if the Israelis sit tight (as the Americans will certainly insist).

              The reason Obama has kept us out of this is that there was never a likely military or diplomatic solution to what is an internal Syrian problem.  The use of chemical weapons has forced his hand.  But it hasn't changed the situation on the ground in any way that will make the problem easier to resolve.

              Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

              by mbayrob on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 09:48:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  You are unbelievable. You believe our government (0+ / 0-)

              About Syria using chemical weapons and even propose reasons for Syria's use of chemical weapons even though a week ago you found out that the CIA lied about their involvement in the Iranian coup in 1953.  You basically praised those lies as a teachable moment for yourself and all Americans instead of the reprehensible action that they were, and then you had the audacity to suggest that this revelation would lead to better relations with Iran.

              And today you have no problem believing the US government when it says Syria has used chemical weapons?  Or that Syria could be goading the UN into attacking them?

              Erratic is accurate.

          •  Why would Israelis intervene in Lebanon now? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            johnny wurster

            Their current problems are not with Lebanon. In fact, they don't have any serious military problems right now.

            And if Assad starts using everything, air strikes will escalate. Russia will abandon him and it will be Libya 2.0.

            •  The Israelis just bombed Lebanon 3 days ago (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              erratic, qofdisks

              in retaliation for Al Qaeda linked group firing 4 missiles into Israel.

              BTW, Hezbollah is at odds with Al Qaeda due to Syria.

              Hezbollah makes its home in Lebanon and gets its arms from Syria and Iran. This is why the west is intent on destroying Syria.

              Hezbollah says could hit all of Israel in future war

              Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel on Sunday that thousands of rockets would rain down on Tel Aviv and cities across the Jewish state if it attacked Lebanon.

              Speaking four days after the ceasefire which ended a week of conflict between Israel and the Islamist Hamas rulers of Gaza, Nasrallah said Hezbollah's response to any attack would dwarf the rocket fire launched from Palestinian territories.

              "Israel, which was shaken by a handful of Fajr-5 rockets during eight days - how would it cope with thousands of rockets which would fall on Tel Aviv and other (cities) ... if it attacked Lebanon?" Nasrallah said.

            •  Israel and Syria have cold war thing going (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eztempo, erratic, FG

              There's never been any sense that relations were anything but hostile.  But there are definite rules, and the sides seem to be serious about them.

              The Syrians:

              * Keep their border quiet, per the 1974 agreement.

              The Israelis:

              * Have figured out that Syria considers Lebanon to be in its sphere of influence, and to stay the fuck out of Lebanon.

              The sides aren't evenly matched, so Israel will send warplanes if they are pissed off, and the Syrians will get at the Israelis using third parties like Hezbollah if they see the need.  But the intensity of the conflict has been limited.  I believe that Israel would probably cede the Golan if the Syrians were interested, but I don't think the Syrians are all that interested.

              The wild card here is what Syria does if the US seriously intervenes.  I think that stirring thing up in Lebanon would put pressure on the US and any coalition they put together.  Since Hezbollah is heavily committed to Assad's side in the war, Hezbollah can help by shelling the Israelis and by attacking Syria's enemies in Lebanon.  I see this as likely.

              Hezbollah can, if it chooses, force Israeli in Northern Israel to live in bomb shelters for weeks.  The internal pressure on the Israeli gov't to "do something" will get intense if this happens.  The US won't want this, and Israelis will know they are being played,  but a response may turn out to be unavoidable.

              Widening the conflict helps Assad's position.  If he can do this, he likely survives.  I expect he will at least try.

              Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

              by mbayrob on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 12:25:10 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  This (8+ / 0-)
      It's definitely very strange that Assad is apparently continuing to use Sarin in attacks against civilians.
      is a sign that U.S. propaganda is yet again being accepted without any serious scrutiny.

      "President Obama is a global George Zimmerman because he tries to rationalize the killing of innocent children in the name of self defense." -- Cornel West

      by Sagebrush Bob on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 08:23:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I suspect Assad is seeking an American response (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erratic

      As it stands, Saudi and the other Arab states are standing by, arms folded, doing nothing to help Assad (in fact, Saudis are working against him) while facilitating his opposition.  If he can provoke a military clash with America -- by using gas or whatever means -- the political feeling "on the Arab street", as it were, changes.  Assad may find allies, or at least make it more difficult for his Arab neighbors to work against him.

      Corollary note: this is exactly why John McCain is an utter idiot, once again.  Making Syria's civil war into an Assad vs. the America conflict, as McCain would have it, only enhances Bashar al-Assad's standing and solidifies his support in his own country, while at the same time discrediting his opposition as toadies of the United States.

  •  I agree about no troops on the ground (5+ / 0-)

    If Obama wanted troops on the ground, it would have happened already.

    The comparisons to Iraq are flawed. Bush's people were beating the drum for war for a long time. Obama is clearly being reluctantly pulled into the situation in Syria.

    •  Hillary Clinton wanted to arm the fundamentalist.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elmo, qofdisks

      ..rebels last year....

         March 29, 2013, 11:00 p.m. ET

      Inside Obama's Syria Debate

      http://online.wsj.com/...

      Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came to believe late last year that Washington could no longer watch the Syria carnage from the sidelines. But Mrs. Clinton and other advocates of arming the rebels didn't in the end aggressively push for the initiative, put forward by then-Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus, as it became clear where Mr. Obama stood, according to current and former administration officials.

      ...

      In August, Mrs. Clinton flew to Istanbul, prepared to look at a no-fly zone, which Ankara earlier had floated to NATO as an option. But Turkish officials told their American counterparts later in August that they weren't prepared to move forward with a no-fly zone, and the option—already opposed by the U.S. military because of concerns about Syria's air defenses and Russia's reaction—died there, U.S. officials say.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

      by PatriciaVa on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 09:05:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erratic, highacidity

        I said Obama, not Clinton. Obama is president.

        •  The point is (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          erratic, FiredUpInCA, qofdisks

          that Obama is clearly not eager to get the U.S. involved in the Syrian conflict, and thus, the idea that we are somehow manufacturing these reports of chemical weapon  use, similar to the Bush administration's hype of nonexistent WMD in Iraq, is not credible on its face.

      •  I can't read the link (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Just Bob, eztempo, qofdisks

        But to be clear, there are also non-fundamentalist rebels in play: http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        I feel that it would be irresponsible to brand all the rebels as fundamentalist.

      •  we have been training them (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erratic

        and arming them for a couple of years now, mostly indirectly though third parties.

        Sibel Edmonds has written in her Boiling Frogs blog and spoken in video interviews that there was a

        "joint US-NATO secret training camp in the US air force base in Incirlik, Turkey, which began operations in April - May 2011 to organize and expand the dissident base in Syria."
        CIA has arranged for shipping weapons from Libya and elsewhere to the rebels via Turkey.
        The CIA compound in Benghazi was a logistics hub for weapons, but not only weapons from Libya. Weapons ordered by and destined for other countries, like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries, knowing the plan, were allowing the weapons to be diverted, with Libya acting as the central shipping hub

        canadafreepress.com

        Weapons from Croatia have been sent to Syrian rebel groups.

        Source The Telegraph on 8 March 2013.

        US and Europe in 'major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb'

        The United States has coordinated a massive airlift of arms to Syrian rebels from Croatia with the help of Britain and other European states, despite the continuing European Union arms embargo, it was claimed yesterday.

        CIA and Israeli trained troops entered Syria from Jordan about 10 days ago.
        Sourced from the French Le Figaro newspaper and reported by AntiWar.com

        Regime change in Syria has been policy for many years. Both Daniel Ellsberg and General Wesley Clark spoke of "a foreign policy coup" shortly after 9/11. It should be clear that those who gained influence in that coup are still in charge.

        Orwell - "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable"

        by truong son traveler on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 01:03:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  How about limiting it... (9+ / 0-)

    ...to someone else playing cop?

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 08:22:23 PM PDT

    •  The UN inspectors said there were no WMD in Iraq (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kickemout, Calamity Jean

      We attacked Iraq, killed lots of people, and then we found out there were no WMD there. Ooops.

      We should let the UN deal with the situation.

      Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now 400ppm. That is "Climate Cluster Chaos". (hat tip to JeffW for CCC)

      by Zinman on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 10:38:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Russia and China will veto (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erratic, qofdisks

        any U.N. action in the security council.

        So do nothing, you say?

        •  I'm saying we should not pre-empt the UN (0+ / 0-)

          Their inspections not concluded.

          Remember when the US attacked Iraq because we thought they had WMDs, even though the UN inspectors said they did not?  How did that turn out for us?

          Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now 400ppm. That is "Climate Cluster Chaos". (hat tip to JeffW for CCC)

          by Zinman on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 08:45:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I doubt we're going to act before (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erratic

            the U.N. finishes, although they might not be able to finish. They're being shot at.

          •  The US did not attack Iraq because of WMD (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Zinman

            that excuse was cooked up after the invasion.  

            •  Yes, it was disinformation to sell the war (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              erratic, qofdisks

              Yes, the Bush administration wanted to attack Iraq from their first day in office, it was part of their PNAC agenda. I was being a bit snarky about saying "we thought they had WMDs" because that is what all their propaganda, like the mushroom cloud scare tactic, was meant to do, and it worked on lots of people.

              I am concerned that we may be getting rushed to military action again before all the facts are on the table and before all our options are evaluated. If it is such a slam dunk certainty that the Syrian government used the chemical weapons, then why not get the proof in hand from the UN inspectors about exactly what was the gas and how was it delivered? Furthermore, is our only option firing missiles at Syrian targets? I want to see the UN report finished and presented to the UN Security Council.

              Assuming that it was the Syrian govenment who deployed the gas, is attacking them our only option? I don't think so. Russia has a huge presence in Syria and has an interest in keeping it. If they were to be agree to help the UN round up all remaining chemical weapons and destroy them it might save them some face. I want to see what the UN is able to do to identify the perpetrators and what they propose to do then.

              My bottom line is that we should let the existing UN procedures play out before we rush to use unilateral military force.

              Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now 400ppm. That is "Climate Cluster Chaos". (hat tip to JeffW for CCC)

              by Zinman on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 11:32:19 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I assume by minimal casualties you mean (5+ / 0-)

    on the part of the American and allied forces.

    This will be an air war - minimal casualties, taking out Syria's air defenses, which will leave them much more vulnerable to potential future military actions.
    If it's true that the Assad regime is depraved enough to use chemical weapons against civilians it seems reasonable to assume that large number of civilians will be moved to potential military targets so the regime will have some atrocities to point to when the bombs start falling.
    •  Actually, I'd expect minimal casualties (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      virginislandsguy

      among Syrian civilians as well. Your suggestion that Assad might emulate Hussein in using human shields for military targets is a possibility, but I haven't seen much discussion of that.

      •  American drone strikes have not resulted in (7+ / 0-)

        limited civilian casualties elsewhere.  Why should cruise missile strikes?

        The only reason we think civilian casualties are "minimal" is because the US media shows us none of the death and misery caused by our attacks.

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 08:50:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Expect a huge exodus (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erratic

        of refugees if the black flag people who have done the majority of the fighting on the ground on behalf of the rebels get anywhere near the seats of power.

        These are very hardline jihadis who have killed people, beheaded them and eaten their organs if they dislike them. The Alawites, Christians, Shiites, Secularists and moderates of all persuasions are their targets.

        They will flee or be killed.

        That the Western Governments support these people is unimaginable.

        I suppose their interests in killing this project outweigh and concerns they have about the aftermath of a rebel takeover in Syria.

         

        Orwell - "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable"

        by truong son traveler on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 01:24:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  If that is the case it will not work. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster

      The world will understand that it is their fault that those people are killed, as we only attacked military targets. The blame will bounce right off of us and onto them.

      •  Most likely, it indeed will not work (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        qofdisks

        I think Assad, having survived this far, will not step down in response to anything the US or NATO will be willing to do.

        Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

        by mbayrob on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 08:50:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, you're right, he won't. (0+ / 0-)

          But by hitting his palaces we can wipe out his family around him, leaving him a very miserable man. We can punish him severely for his actions, even if we can't necessarily defeat him without going in with troops.

          •  If he loses, the rebels will kill them anyway (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erratic, truong son traveler

            Assad doen't survive if his troops don't win.  Win or lose, he's not going to get to open a dental practice in Toledo after this.

            Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

            by mbayrob on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 09:35:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Wipe out his family? That's a despicable (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            qofdisks

            Suggestion.  Actually it's down right evil.

            •  Syria has real potential for ethnic violence (3+ / 0-)

              Lots of ethnic cleavages, religious minorities, and long supression of the Moslem Brotherhood and similar groups.  The only thing keeping the peace has been the very repressive and heavy hand of the government.

              Killing Assad's family is of course despicable.  But Assad is an Allawi, the group most closely attached to the Baathist regime.  Killings of Allawis would be a likely outcome of the regime's fall.  Killing Assad's family would be the least of it.

              Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

              by mbayrob on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 12:55:00 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Bashir's brother Maher al-Assad, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              erratic, qofdisks

              commander of the 4th Armored Division, is widely thought to have ordered the chem weapons attacks, and I think that makes him a fair drone target if we must get involved in this mess.

              But I oppose US military intervention. The US would be picking sides in the emerging Sunni-Shiite/Alewite War spreading from Syria across West Asia, and the consequences of that would be disastrous. There is nothing the US can do to impose peace on Syria.

              Intervening in Syria will do great damage to the Obama Presidency, too. Only 9% of Americans favor intervention, and our casus belli is once again unconfirmed fears about WMD-- as with Cheney's Iraq invasion. And even the decision to intervene will look like an act of weakness on Obama's part, given his obvious reluctance in the recent past.

              NOTHING good will come of US intervention.

      •  "The world" does not speak with one voice, and (3+ / 0-)

        at any rate the correct assignment of blame seems like a minor detail if bombs are falling where you live.

        I'm not categorically opposed to military intervention to protect innocent lives but at this point I think it's likely that American strikes against Syria would make the humanitarian situation worse rather than better, and that's without even considering the possible destabilizing effects on the region.

  •  What about the most obvious conclusion? (6+ / 0-)
    It's definitely very strange that Assad is apparently continuing to use Sarin in attacks against civilians. Either he's crazy, he doesn't have control over the Syrian forces that are using sarin, or he's desperate. He may be overconfident of Russia's support.
    Doesn't this suggest that Assad had nothing to do with the gassng?
  •  there is no sense to this (8+ / 0-)

    FFS. Does anyone seriously think that less than a thousand civilians will die in a bomb and missile retaliation for the alleged death of a thousand civilians? (the inspectors haven't reported yet, sound familar?)

    Bombing something to make a point is really stupid, like W. Bush stupid.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 08:31:47 PM PDT

    •  Human Rights Watch (0+ / 0-)

      reported at least 72 civilian deaths from NATO bombings in Libya: http://www.hrw.org/...

    •  The point is not to try to extract (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elmo

      justice by killing civilians. The point is to discourage this behavior in the future for Syria and for anyone else who would do this. So even if more civilians were to die in our attack than originally were gassed, it is still possible that the tactic will be successful. Plus, if we say there is a red line then we have to back that up. If we don't, no one will ever back off again when threatened by a US president. That could lead to future wars.

      •  I'll leave this comment to someone else (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Claudius Bombarnac, Duckmg

        I just can't stand shooting fish in a barrel.

        This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

        by Karl Rover on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 08:53:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  "I just want you to know that, when we talk about (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        geomoo, liberaldemdave

        war, we're really talking about peace"

      •  How many Iraq citizens were killed by (4+ / 0-)

        Americans in the last decade?  How many of them were children?

        Why is it that we have images of these deaths in the media but we never see images of any Iraqis or Afghanis who've been killed in the past decade?

        Readily accepting such incongruities is flawed.

      •  So, the US is the big daddy of the world? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        triv33, Nada Lemming, BruceMcF

        And when US President makes proclamations, the sovereign nations of the world need to fall in line?  Sounds like a good movie.

        What if the US President is training the government to be a torture state, as we have in Iran and all through Latin America?  Is it important to back that up?  What if the US is advising a country to privatize public wealth and allow multi-nationals to operate unfettered, as the US has done all over the world?  Is it important that everyone in the world understand not to back down and insist on their own sovereignty, on their right to use public wealth for the public good?  What if the US is empowering war lords to dominate the population, as we have in Afghanistan?  Should the word of the US President be law then, for those citizens of sovereign nations half way around the globe?  What if the President is insisting on the right to spy on the people of foreign nations?  Is it important to you that everyone understand that there will be no resisting the might of the powerful, hypocritical US President.

        This is not a playground and we are not playing king of the jungle.  Please try to understand that the USG is not a force for good and that the US President no longer speaks with moral authority, if he ever did.  Even if he did, it still would be none of our fucking business.

        Secrecy is a hot bed of vanity. - Joseph Brodsky They who have put out the people’s eyes reproach them for their blindness. – John Milton 1642

        by geomoo on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 04:00:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And no matter ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          triv33, geomoo

          ... how limited the USG decides its intervention may be, there are radicals all across the Middle East who are perfectly ready to fight their cause by proxy in Syria to the last Syrian.

          Indeed, US action is substantially more likely to be to the advantage of Al Qaeda affiliates if the US engaged in a "limited action". The more limited the US action, the more the balance of the fighting strength among various rebel groups swings to those groups backed by wealthy Gulf State supporters of Sunni Islamacist extremism.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 01:58:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  taking out air superiority is only leverage, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erratic

    clarity may never happen

    They could enforce no-fly zones and target Syrian forces that are attacking. Libya is probably a good model for what could happen, but likely military action would be less severe, since there isn't much clarity on how to effectively replace the Assad regime.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 08:33:53 PM PDT

  •  Not much talk about the legality (6+ / 0-)

    Without a U.N. approval, and without it being a matter of U.S. self-defense, military action against Syria is against international law, in a very clear and straightforward way.

    •  Definite gray area (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erratic

      I saw the report tonight on Chris Hayes's show.  Obama is clearly briefing congressional leaders.  I don't think the Administration wants to get ahead of Congress, so at least the forms of US law will be followed, such as they are.

      No idea how this is justified in int'l law.   Not only IANAL -- IANAILL either.

      Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

      by mbayrob on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 09:16:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hague figures it can be done w/o full UN approval (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erratic, Garrett, truong son traveler

      They will do what they want to do despite international law. This sort of thing has never stopped the western powers before. They simply couch it in humanitarian terms.

      William Hague: We can act without UN security council unity

      ‘So, is it possible to act on chemical weapons, is it possible to respond to chemical weapons without complete unity on the UN Security Council? I would argue, yes it is.

      ‘It is possible to take action based on great humanitarian need and humanitarian distress, it’s possible to do that under many different scenarios. I’ve pointed that out in Parliament over recent months before, but again, anything we propose to do on this, the strong response that we’ve talked about, whatever form that takes, will be subject to legal advice, must be in accordance with international law so I can be very clear about that.’

  •  Team America! (3+ / 0-)

    Fuck Yeah!

    Coming again to save the motherfuckin' day, yeah!

    The tent got so big it now stands for nothing.

    by Beelzebud on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 08:37:28 PM PDT

  •  Every time we carpet bomb a country (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erratic

    with cruise missiles, we learn a great deal. You can only learn so much through practice and exercises. Real combat takes your forces up to a much higher fighting level. So that is something the military brass thinks about, whether or not an offensive action could be additionally helpful from an educational perspective (though this should never be the only reason we attack somebody). Some might find this idea offensive, but it is a real consideration for our generals and admirals.

  •  This is really great (7+ / 0-)

    Syrians are killing each other in a sectarian civil war, and have done so far up to 100k

    At this point we intervene with a truly altruistic burst of humanitarian interventionism and kill off a few further thousand with a volley of cruise missiles.

    No doubt, they will be eternally grateful to us, The Good Guys.

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 08:41:19 PM PDT

  •  NATO and the USA have not taken on a foe (5+ / 0-)

    as well armed as Assad for decades.

    Saddam had nothing compared to Assad.
    Qaddafi had nothing compared to Assad.
    Afghanistan sure as hell had nothing compared to Assad.

    He's got dozens upon dozens of MiG's and a decent Russian/Soviet air defense system.  Sure, we can overwhelm it, but it will take a lot of air power. A lot.

    This won't be like pot shots over Libya. Or shooting down Saddam's helicopters.  It could be a major battle, just the first go round.

    On the other hand, if we lob in a couple dozen cruise missiles (exposing our ships to possible MiG attack), what will it do?

    Assad has already shown he can withstand a couple dozen big explosions.

    This is not a good idea in any way, shape or form.  And if Israel gets involved, the whole Arab citizenry may become inflamed.

    The place is a freaking tinderbox.

    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

    by YucatanMan on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 08:48:03 PM PDT

    •  Interesting! (0+ / 0-)

      I wasn't aware that Syria had such impressive defenses. Do you have links to info about that?

      Agreed on the importance of Israel as a factor: http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      •  Yup, not hard to find: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erratic, truong son traveler

        Syrian Air Force:

           Between ~712 to ~991 fixed wing aircraft:
                Combat/recon/OCU aircraft: Between ~611 and ~850
                Training aircraft: Between ~81 and ~117
                Transport aircraft: Between ~20 and ~24

            Between ~176 to ~214 rotary wing aircraft:
                Attack helicopter: Between ~110 and ~123
                Armed transport/utility helicopter: Between ~146 and ~164
                Electronic warfare/command helicopter: Between ~25 and ~30

        MiG 29s - 75 to 90 with agreement to purchase 10 more in May 2013.

        MiG 25s - 65 to 80

        MiG 23s - 155 to 190

        MiG 21s - 200 to 220

        Those are not all the very latest aircraft, but it is a hell of a lot to contend with just in sheer numbers.  Some have been damaged or destroyed in the civil war, but it is still a huge number.

        By contrast, the largest US carriers have about 90 aircraft total, only a portion of which are combat aircraft.

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 09:10:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Time has an article on this (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erratic, Just Bob, YucatanMan
        Syria’s Air-Defense Arsenal: The Russian Missiles Keeping Assad in Power

        Syria’s military arsenal presents the West with a far different calculus, in part explaining why no Western country has intervened militarily so far. While Gaddafi had huge stocks of weaponry, including Russian and Chinese antiaircraft missiles, much of it was discovered after Gaddafi was killed in October 2011, lying unused in warehouses. That suggested that the Libyan military did not know how to install the new weapon systems or had not had time to do so, according to military analysts. And Assad could also have learned some lessons from Gaddafi’s spectacular defeat. Gaddafi lacked long-range missiles capable of combating the high-altitude bombing strikes that NATO fighter jets conducted over Libya. “It’s against these types of operations that, for example, the S-300s or other SAMs [surface-to-air missiles] could be used with some efficiency,” Wezeman says. “In Libya the systems were old and out of date, and the Libyans did not really know how to operate them. It would be much more difficult for outsiders to intervene in Syria, in the way that took place in Libya.”

        Read more: http://world.time.com/...

        •  Absolutely agreed. Qaddafi was a madman. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Claudius Bombarnac

          Assad is rational and cold-blooded. His military capabilities are greater and supported with Russian assistance and replenishment. (so far)

          "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

          by YucatanMan on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 11:04:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Saddam in 1991 had much stronger army than Assad. (0+ / 0-)

      In 2002 it's hard to say, probably a wash. Syrian MiGs are not a threat, they are pretty old.

      •  By 2002 Saddam only had the army. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        truong son traveler, FG

        There was no air-force and no missiles by then. During the decade following Iraq I, the coalition forces flew 280,000 sorties over Iraq. Hundreds of tons of bombs were dropped during this period.

        In addition, there were 3 major operations during this period:

        The US conducted cruise missile attacks in 1993 (23 Tomahawks), 1996 (44 Tomahawks) and 1998  (325 Tomahawks & 90 air launched cruise missiles). In addition there were hundreds of regular bombing sorties.

        All during this period Saddam lived high while the ordinary citizen suffered and died under sanctions.

        •  All of this is true but Syrian army especially (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          erratic

          after over a year of civil war is not particularly good either. Of course, total annihilation of Syrian army would involve some major operations and significant casualties on both sides. And the country will be impossible to hold (see Iraq). But that's not what we are talking about since no one is planning that. The question is whether Syrians can seriously do anything about limited bombing being discusses. And it doesn't look like they can do much.

      •  You can use huge groups of tanks in So. Iraq (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erratic

        Syria's geography isn't so accomodating.  

        The Syrians can't win.  But the US would have to put in scary amounts of troops to pacify the country.  I don't believe for a minute they'd be willing to do that.

        Quote of the week: "They call themselves bipartisan because they're able to buy members of both parties," (R. Eskow, Campaign for America's Future.)

        by mbayrob on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 01:02:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  True but now it appears that Russia (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erratic

      will not step in to help Syria.

      Moscow

      Russia feels blindsided by what it perceives as a senseless Western rush to take military action against Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told an "emergency" press conference in Moscow today.

      This from:
      The Christian Science Monitor - Weekly Digital Edition

      Officials should not act before the facts about last week's alleged nerve gas attack near Damascus have been verified, he said, warning that if Western "hysteria" leads to military intervention, it will produce wider destabilization in the Middle East, and intensify the bloodshed in Syria.

      Lavrov made clear, as he has in the past, that Russia has neither the capability nor the desire to take any direct action to help Mr. Assad, even if the Kremlin does sincerely doubt that the Syrian regime is responsible for the attack.

      But the foreign minister did suggest that there could be dire consequences for the already-troubled US-Russia relationship.

      Orwell - "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable"

      by truong son traveler on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 01:42:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Our last military victory was (0+ / 0-)

      what ... Grenada?

      Tinderbox indeed YucatanMan. Syria will defend itself if attacked.

      I would not be surprised to see Iran's involvement. Syria is very important to them. What if they block the Hormuz Straits.

      Also there is Lebanon with Hezbollah and Israel is nearby as are Turkey and Iraq. The rebels have been fighting the Kurds in Syria. The Kurds are also in neighboring Turkey. They will not be pleased if the rebels take control of Syria.

      I use the term "rebels" loosely. Most of the fighting against the Syrian Government has been done by the radical al-Qaeda linked jihadis.

       

      Orwell - "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable"

      by truong son traveler on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 06:39:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I heard that we (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lepanto, Duckmg

    got the news about this via our good buddies in Saudi Arabia.

    Of course they wouldn't lie to us, or have ulterior motives, would they? /s

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 08:58:46 PM PDT

  •  Different situation than Libya (0+ / 0-)

    The fighting in Libya was mostly out in open desert where we could very effectively use air power.

    Most of the fighting in Syria is taking place in densely populated areas. I don't know if we have many good targets there without causing a lot of collateral damage.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 04:55:24 AM PDT

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