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The Chicago Tribune:
The war in Syria has killed more than 100,000 people with conventional weapons and sent more than a million people fleeing from their homes. Many Americans may ask, if the U.S. did not intervene to stop those deaths, why should it act now?

Because the use of chemical weapons is a red line drawn not just by the U.S. but by the entire world, to protect civilians. It may seem like a strange distinction: Someone killed by a conventional rifle or bomb is just as dead as someone killed by a chemical weapon.

But the damage from chemical agents, like nuclear weapons, cannot be finely targeted. Such weapons can kill wide swaths of people in a matter of seconds or minutes. They pose a special risk to civilians. These are weapons that many governments possess but few ever imagine using.

The 1925 Geneva Protocol said the prohibition against chemical weapons "shall be universally accepted as part of International Law, binding alike the conscience and the practice of nations." Note that phrase: The conscience and the practice of nations. For nearly a century, nearly every government has abided by this treaty, forswearing use of such weapons. Were that to change, should such weapons be regularly deployed, wars across the globe would be even more destructive and ruinous.

Andrew Bacevich at BillMoyers.com, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, poses a series of questions to President Obama before he launches his response:
First, why does this particular heinous act rise to the level of justifying a military response? More specifically, why did a similarly heinous act by the Egyptian army elicit from Washington only the mildest response? Just weeks ago, Egyptian security forces slaughtered hundreds of Egyptians whose “crime” was to protest a military coup that overthrew a legitimately elected president. Why the double standard?

Second, once U.S. military action against Syria begins, when will it end? What is the political objective? Wrapping the Assad regime on the knuckles is unlikely to persuade it to change its ways. That regime is engaged in a fight for survival. So what exactly does the United States intend to achieve and how much is President Obama willing to spend in lives and treasure to get there? War is a risky business. Is the president willing to commit U.S. forces to what could well become another protracted and costly struggle?

Third, what is the legal basis for military action? Neither Russia nor China is likely to agree to an attack on Syria, so authorization by the U.N. Security Council won’t be forthcoming. Will Obama ask Congress for the authority to act? Or will he, as so many of his recent predecessors have done, employ some dodge to circumvent the Constitution? With what justification?

The Washington Post urges a more comprehensive approach than just targeted military action:
The dangerous outcomes that Mr. Obama worried might be precipitated by U.S. involvement have mostly come about in the absence of such involvement. Syria has become a haven for thousands of fighters affiliated with al-Qaeda. Violence has spread to neighboring states, especially Lebanon and Iraq. U.S. allies Turkey and, especially, Jordan are in danger of being overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. Now, according to Doctors Without Borders and other credible sources, weapons of mass destruction apparently have been used on a scale not seen since Saddam Hussein went after his Kurdish population in 1988, with Mr. Assad seemingly calculating he has little to fear from crossing Mr. Obama’s “red line.”

The U.S. president has been correct from the start that the Syria crisis offered no good options to U.S. policymakers. [...] But the fact that Syria offers no perfect outcomes or options does not mean that all possible outcomes are equally undesirable. It remains in the United States’ interest now as two years ago to see more moderate forces prevail. This can’t be achieved with one or two volleys of cruise missiles. It will require patience and commitment.

The United States can’t dictate the outcome in Syria, and it would be foolish to send ground troops in an effort to do so. But by combining military measures with training, weapons supplies and diplomacy, it could exercise considerable influence. The military measures could include destroying forces involved in chemical weapons use and elements of the Syrian air force that have been used to target civilians, as well as helping to carve out a safe zone for rebels and the civilian populations they are seeking to protect.

The New York Times urges caution and the support of an international coalition as the President moves forward:
If Mr. Obama does forgo the U.N., he will need strong endorsements from the Arab League and the European Union, and more countries than just Turkey, Britain and France should join the effort. And if he does proceed with military action, it should be carefully targeted at Syrian air assets and military units involved in chemical weapons use. This, too, will not be easy, but the aim is to punish Mr. Assad for slaughtering his people with chemical arms, not to be drawn into another civil war.

A political agreement is still the best solution to this deadly conflict, and every effort must be made to find one. President Obama has resisted demands that he intervene militarily and in force. Though Mr. Assad’s use of chemical weapons surely requires a response of some kind, the arguments against deep American involvement remain as compelling as ever.

More debate below the fold.

Dexter Filkins at The New Yorker looks at the question through the filter of a Syrian reporter and activist who was on the scene soon after the attack occurred:

“People were panicking,” he went on. “They were saying, Am I dead or am I alive?”

The worst moment, Salaheddine said, came when he found three women huddled together in the hospital; a young woman, her mother, and her grandmother. All were suffering the symptoms of poison gas, he said, and each was trying to comfort the others. “I was trying to rescue the grandmother,” Salaheddine said. “She was dying. I was trying to give her oxygen. She kept saying to me, ‘My son—my heart, my heart.’ She was gasping for air. She was in agony. She died in my arms.”

Before we hung up, Salaheddine told me he hoped that his story would goad the United States into action. “I want you to pass a message to the U.S. leadership: America has great power and influence and can make a difference. We are suffering. It’s been too long.”

Salaheddine’s message raises the central question: What can America do? It’s not unreasonable to ask whether even a well-intentioned American effort to save Syrians might fail, or whether such an effort might pull America into a terrible quagmire. In the piece about Obama and Syria I wrote for the magazine in May, I detailed just how daunting those challenges are. But how much longer are we going to allow those questions to prevent us from trying?

Bob Dreyfuss at The Nation writes that the crisis can be addressed diplomatically:
Here’s the core question now, in regard to Syria: If it’s true that President Bashar al-Assad’s government used poison gas in an incident that killed hundreds of people, at least, in the suburbs of Damascus, can the United States avoid military action in response? The answer is: yes. And it should.

That doesn’t mean that the United States ought to do nothing. The horrific incident, reported in detail by Doctors Without Borders, demands action. But the proper response by the United States is an all-out effort to achieve a cease-fire in the Syrian civil war. It’s late in the game, but it can be done. The first step would be for Washington to put intense pressure on Saudi Arabia, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, and Turkey, to halt the flow of weapons to the Syrian rebels, while simultaneously getting Russia and Iran to do the same. A concerted, worldwide diplomatic effort along those lines could work, but there’s zero evidence that President Obama has even thought of that.

Eugene Robinson:
History says don’t do it. Most Americans say don’t do it. But President Obama has to punish Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s homicidal regime with a military strike — and hope that history and the people are wrong.

If it is true that the regime killed hundreds of civilians with nerve gas in a Damascus suburb last week — and Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Monday that the use of chemical weapons is “undeniable” — then Obama has no choice. Such use cannot be tolerated, and any government or group that employs chemical weapons must be made to suffer real consequences. Obama should uphold this principle by destroying some of Assad’s military assets with cruise missiles.

I say this despite my belief that Obama has been right to keep the United States out of the Syrian civil war. It is not easy to watch such suffering and destruction — more than 100,000 people killed, millions displaced, cities pounded into rubble — and do nothing. Now I believe we are obliged to hit Assad. But then what?

For more debate, check out this edition of Room for Debate at The New York Times, featuring more analysis on just how the U.S. should handle the crisis in Syria.

What do you think is the best way forward?

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Comment Preferences

  •  100K Syrian dead would be akin to (4+ / 0-)

    a single US State going to population zero.

  •  But to answer Georgia's question: (38+ / 0-)

    The best way forward, for the United States at least, is to let the situation play out until there is a military resolution one way or the other. If the Alawite regime destroys resistance, fine. If the Sunni rebels topple the Alawites and establish an Islamic state, fine. Either way probably all the Christians will either need to flee or be killed.

    War sucks. That's life.

    The United States, however, can't commit to using military force every time there is a crisis in the Middle East. That sort of policy is why we still have a massive military establishment despite the fact that the Cold War has been over for more than 20 years. It is what causes us to be the target of Middle Eastern terrorism, which is then used to justify a massive National Security apparatus. An apparatus that has run amok. This is empire stretching in every sense of the Roman and British sense of the word. We are doing too much, too often, and in too many places.

    •  EXCELLENT analysis, BBB. Thanks. n/t (10+ / 0-)

      "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

      by blue in NC on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 04:57:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Let China handle this one. (11+ / 0-)

      Let's see them step up on the world stage and handle something related to conflict resolution for once.

      -

    •  How is launching cruise missles at (0+ / 0-)

      designated targets empire stretching? Didn't Clinton bomb Iraq in 98? I think people (somewhat legitimately) are worried that this will somehow turn into another Iraq, but it seems as though President Obama has done everything he can to avoid any action on Syria.

      •  Why us? (13+ / 0-)

        We don't have anything at stake in Syria. We aren't under attack. Our borders aren't threatened. Nor are any of our allies at risk.

        Why not Germany? Or France? Or Britain? They certainly talking about doing anything of the sort. They say 'You go! We will applaud from afar.'

        So of all the countries in the world that want to fire missles at Syria, why us?

        Once you get a cogent answer to that question, then we can start talking about what sorts of military intervention is appropriate. But we always skip the 'Why us?' question and just go straight to the range of military options. I haven't mentioned diplomatic intervention.

        •  Europe carried out more strikes in (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          I love OCD, Justanothernyer

          Libya then the United States did. They also committed more resources to the effort in Libya. I doubt that any action taken in Syria would fall solely on the United States and think instead that Europe and NATO are looking to us for the Ok to act themselves.

          Would I rather someone else take the lead? Absolutely. But I also don't think we should sit back and "assess" the situation further because the UN doesn't function.

          •  You're avoiding the question. (0+ / 0-)

            Once again...WHY US? You're getting into the particulars of what to do without answering why.

            •  It isn't just US. Just like it wasn't just US (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mikejay611

              in Libya. You asked why not France, Germany or England but I just pointed out that they did take the lead in Libya, and would likely (given their calls for action) be involved in Syria as well.

              You also said "nor are any of our allies at risk". The last time I checked Turkey, Israel and Jordan were still our allies no?

              •  You're still avoiding. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RadGal70

                WHY US? If Europe want to get involved, let them. If China or Russia or anybody else want to get involved, that's their business.

                Why the United States?

                And no, Jordan and Israel are not our allies. We have no treaty with those countries.

                Turkey is an ally and shares a border with Syria. Yet, they aren't intervening with missile strikes. And they can. But they don't. They aren't braying to high heaven about chemical weapons. So if they want nothing to do with it, why should we?

                •  authority + expectation + strength + legitimacy (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JeremySchro

                  Look.  We are all US citizens.  We all live with the collective ownership of the industrial military complex.  You and me and him behind the tree.  We are all complicit.  We all benefit from the mix of the double-edged sword.  It is obvious why it is bad.  The thing is, WE NEED to also stand up and demand it be used for good when there is no one else with the authority and history to not ignore things like breaking penultimate/antepenultimate steps toward full-on nuclear bombs being dropped.  Wide-scale chemical weapons use is one of those things we must not allow humans to find tolerable.  When they were in WWI, it was horrific beyond the basics of human mass murder.  It was something we cannot see happen again.  It is the difference between genocide by machete and genocide by trains going to death factories.  We cannot tolerate that being ok by the bad guys.  WE cannot tolerate it (why US?) because we have been that country that has the big weapons and moral authority since 1917.  Yes, we have been BAD, BAD, BAD many times when those among us who are BAD, BAD, BAD use our military for evil.  But we are also capable of being able to step in and say STOP in a way no other nation on Earth can. We have all the benefits no other country does: authority (legitimate authority even if many times used immorally, we have real authority because people admire and fear us), expectations to be better than France and China and Russia on human rights, strength (we spend more of my tax dollars than any other nation on Earth and we are combat ready like no one else), and finally legitimacy.  This last one is key.  For all of people's dislike of the USA, the world has historically since 1917 come to accept that once the American's come in, this means business.  It doesn't mean we can't be defeated (Vietnam).  But when Russia or the UK sends in troops it has a different perception than when the US sends in troops.  Notice how things changed in the former Yugoslavia when we got real.  It got done.  It needs to be us, probably with the backing of NATO (e.g., not a bullshit coalition of the "willing", but a real coalition to protect us from Nerve gas as a strategy in routine combat).

                  I respect your strong opinions BBB.  I respectfully disagree with you on this.  I was in agreement when it was a one off use to test out its deployment back earlier this year.  This was not a one-off.  It is now a warfare strategy with the complicit shrug of the Russians.  I support doing something.  I don't know what.  But if we are going to commit to some sort of use of our military, this seems like a just cause.  It is different and sets precedent.  It is time.

                  Mmmmm. Sprinkles. - H.J. Simpson.

                  by ten canvassers on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 07:47:42 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The new reality: (0+ / 0-)

                    The US no longer has legitimacy OR effective power in the Middle East.

                    The US is intervening without a coherent strategic plan precisely because it is desperate to prove to itself that it still has legitimate authority and effective power in the Middle East. And its action will confirm just the opposite.

                •  Did you object to the air war over Libya? (0+ / 0-)

                  B/c two or three other European nations involved (maybe the same ones, Britain and France) could give us diplomatic cover and intel, etc. Takes a load off. Not saying we should, either but that's the way it'll play out. Just watch.

                  What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. King Henry, scene ii

                  by TerryDarc on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 10:02:57 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Maybe because our military is way too big (0+ / 0-)

              and it needs something to do?
              It is, after all, bigger than the next 14 militaries combined. :/
              (snark alert)

              "We need institutions and cultural norms that make us better than we tend to be. It seems to me that the greatest challenge we now face is to build them." -Sam Harris, neuroscientist

              by MarthaPeregrine on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 10:18:49 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  ps--the reason the UN doesn't function is because (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mikejay611

            the "world powers" at the end of WW2 (that would be us) deliberately set it up to be utterly nonfunctional.  That is the ONLY reason why the five victors of WW2 were granted the completely undemocratic power of vetoing anything the rest of the world decided to do.

            Add to that the fact that the US deliberately ignored the UN for half a century and didn't even pay its UN dues--until the end of the Cold War when it became convenient for the US to use the UN as its fig leaf--and it becomes clear that there is one big fat reason why the UN is utterly impotent, and we live in it.

            The UN doesn't function because the US does not WANT it to function, and never did.  Period.

            •  I don't think they established the UN (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              I love OCD, RadGal70

              thinking that it would be completely nonfunctional. I think the thought was that the 5 victors of WWII would be able to function and work together (as they had during the war). They forgot that war makes strange bedfellows.

            •  It isn't the only reason. (0+ / 0-)

              Considering the Security Council was designed to be used in conjunction with a military force to be established under UN command (a measure that never came into fruition). The veto power idea for the Big 5 comes from the idea that it's a lot harder to force a major power to intervene militarily then it is to get them all on the same side. Unanimity makes action swifter and more effective then only a few doing something about it.

              We also didn't ignore then UN for 50 years. The US is the major reason the Uniting For Peace Resolution was passed which allowed a matter that would fall to the Security Council to be taken up by the General Assembly. It is also something we could fall back on if we so wished to if Russia and China keep blocking action in the Security Council.  

        •  Because we have the power (0+ / 0-)

          We are a far larger economy than the UK or France, with broader interests and a military to match.  thus if something is going to be done it is going to have significant American involvement.  Though as with Libya, France an the UK are likely to take significant parts.

          The second point to note is that neither Britain nor France  has any greater or lesser interest than we do in what happens in Syria.

          Whether that interest, ensuring that chemical weapons continue to be regarded as anathema, is sufficiently compelling is something that certainly can be argued;  but the argument that the best equipped, most capable and richest entity should step aside is basically an argument that we have no stake in that question.

          •  LOL. So...'because we can' is your answer? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            conniptionfit, wonmug

            No I mean a real answer. As in, what vital American national security interest is at stake?

            but the argument that the best equipped, most capable and richest entity should step aside is basically an argument that we have no stake in that question.
            You're stating that we have a stake because we're powerful, and we're powerful because we have a stake.

            The only thing that should compel American military action is when America, or its treaty allies, face a military threat. Military threat begets military action. And that is all.

            •  we have a stake because we are a civilized society (0+ / 0-)

              and a world in which the use of chemical weapons is allowed is a worse and more dangerous world.

              Is this a vital American national security interest?  

              No.

              But to claim that we should not intervene because it is more appropriate for others to do so, is disingenuous.

              •  We can intervene...just not militarily. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tb mare

                I'm all for diplomacy, intelligence sharing to tip the scales, back channel deals, humanitarian assistance...the whole nine.

                But the only thing that deserves a military action is a military threat.

                •  Those interventions at this stage are irrelevant (0+ / 0-)

                  there is a point at which it is purely about military force.

                  •  Amazing how that happens isn't it? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    tb mare

                    Once we decide military force is an option for things that aren't military threats, inevitably the only solutions we get to are those that involve military force.

                    This is exactly why we have an out of control national security apparatus, a bloated military industrial complex, and almost no respect for constitutional norms or international law. Because the end point of all international problems is, always, military force. No matter if it solves the problem or not.

              •  my comment below bears repeating here: (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                conniptionfit, nancyjones, wonmug

                international law should be enforced. Should it be enforced unilaterally by the US?  No. Aside from the sheer hypocrisy of the US (who has ignored international law for 75 years and indeed who has refused to accept the jurisdiction of the World Court), I see massive danger in allowing the "only remaining superpower" to become the world's self-annointed police force.  It simply gives a quasi-legal fig leaf to plain ole US imperialism, which enforces international laws against countries it doesn't like while blocking enforcement of international laws against nations it does like. That is an intolerable situation and we should not allow it.

                If the UN is incapable of enforcing international law (and it should be noted that it is US policy and action that MAKES the UN incapable of that), then it should fall to some other international body, such as NATO. That at least will provide SOME check to unilateral US hypocrisy.

                •  Russia and China prevent UN action here (0+ / 0-)

                  not the US.  

                  In any event, the reality is that whatever international organization blesses this, it will be American military power that makes intervention work.

                •  It isn't US policy that makes UN enforcement (0+ / 0-)

                  impossible, it's the UN Charter itself which makes enforcement impossible. The UN has no enforcement mechanism aside from the Court of Public Opinion. As you lament the US not recognizing the World Court as having jurisdiction over the US even if it did it would be irrelevant. The International Court of Justice has no compulsory enforcement mechanism, just like the UN has no compulsory enforcement mechanism. As binding as resolutions passed by the Security Council are suppose to be on the entire body of the UN countries still ignore them without fear of reprisal.

                  US policy has nothing to do with this, it is simply how the UN was designed.

              •  Because we're a civilized society (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                wonmug

                We should start shooting?  You have a strange definition of "civilized".

              •  And how effective has the US been in stopping (0+ / 0-)

                nuclear proliferation?

            •  That's why poison gas is relevant (0+ / 0-)

              "The only thing that compel American military action is when America... faces a military threat".  That's a sound principle.

              Once one petty tyrant gets away with using chemical weaponry, though, chemical weaponry is suddenly placed on the table in every future conflict. And that constitutes a military threat to our forces, and the forces of our allies, in whatever our next military confrontation happens to be.

              Assad butchering his own people by conventional means is not a military threat to America. His gassing them, very arguably, is. I've been opposed to every one of our little Middle Eastern adventures, but this one is a far harder call, at least for me.

              The decisive question here isn't whether America is threatened by Assam's actions. We are. The question is whether there's any military action we can take which doesn't lead to open ended escalation if Assad fails to take the hint. I doubt it, but I can't marshal the arguments to be unequivocal about it.

              Meanwhile in the middle ground, there may be a some military strike which fails to stop him, but costs him enough to make the next generalissimo stop and think twice. A dangerous thing to argue, I realize, since the rationale "make the next one think twice" is too subtle to hold up to the political pressure that will be brought to bear to escalate until Assad knuckles under.

          •  No, we don't have the power. (0+ / 0-)

            Bombing and missile strikes are not going to impose peace on Syria. Nor could years of US military occupation establish friendly stable democratic governments in Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan.

            We may have weaponry out the wazoo, but that doesn't by itself translate into effective power.  

        •  Here's a cogent answer to your question: (0+ / 0-)

          Israel is threatened by the civil war in Syria.  Iran is Syria's ally, and Iran's behind the scenes involvement in the war only strengthens its power and reach in the region, which is a direct threat to Israel.  That's what Israel thinks, and the U.S. is obligated to protect Israel.

          At least that's what I hear.  What I know is, as long as we feel an obligation to protect and defend Israel, and as long as Israel is located in the Middle East surrounded by countries, factions and organizations that she feels threaten her (for whatever reasons), we will not be able to ignore conflicts in the Middle East.

          "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

          by SueDe on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 07:51:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Israel and Syria (0+ / 0-)

            Israel has been itching for years to get the US to support an attack on Iran. Convincing the US to attack Syria is the first step in embroiling the US in war with Iran.

            It is especially urgent that Israel get the US involved now that the elections in Iran have opened for a moment an opportunity window for US-Iran detente.

        •  How About Israel??? (0+ / 0-)

          What good is a vassal state to an empire when it can't use them?

          I just looked at the globe and sure enough there is Israel right on the border of Syria. With their military might, including their nuclear capability (~200 or so weapons) they should be able to handle the situation for us. There is no country in the Middle East that could touch them - save maybe Iran if it were strictly a conventional conflict.

          And yet the word Israel never crosses the lips of any of the talking heads nor in any of the blogs. Israel is not our 51st state. The situation in Syria is more consequential to Israel than to us here. They need to step up to the plate and get involved. After all it is their backyard not ours.  

    •  Pretty much. Way past time to close down the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      conniptionfit, tb mare, nancyjones

      empire and worry about things like hungry people without medical care in the US.  Not good for Raytheon or Haliburton though.

    •  I thought it was the other way around. An (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nancyjones

      incredibly strong military/industrial complex, that wants to assure profits in perpetuity, makes sure that we have a massive military establishment, makes sure we are involved in the kinds of conflicts that can't be settled easily (or perhaps at all), and possibly even (warning: CT) provokes those conflicts in its own interests.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 06:55:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is what comes with having an (0+ / 0-)

      enormous military and relying on continually feeding that military to maintain the country's economic strength.  It becomes necessary to give that military something to do, even if the country has no enemies that can be addressed with military might.  The military is absolutely no good at protecting the peaceful citizens of a foreign country from insurgencies or guerilla warriors or for otherwise beating swords into plowshares.  

      As long as this country maintains an outsized military, the largest  in the world, we will consistently turn to using the military to solve conflicts - and there will always be conflicts somewhere.  As long as a huge percentage of the country's R&D budget is spent within the military budget, the economy can never move past dependence on feeding this lethal behemoth.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 07:39:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  NYPD stop and frisk as applied to US foreign (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue in NC

    policy.

    "A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both." - James Madison, 1822

    by Superskepticalman on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 04:47:41 AM PDT

  •  Andrew Bacevich lost a son in the Iraq war (4+ / 0-)

    thus the questions he pose hold more weight imo.

    If only there had been others in 2003 asking those questions of Bush.  If only there had been others demanding accountability after the invasion instead of rolling over and playing dead on command.  Perhaps Bacevich would not have lost a son  ...

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 04:48:26 AM PDT

    •  The problem with his argument is (4+ / 0-)
      First, why does this particular heinous act rise to the level of justifying a military response? More specifically, why did a similarly heinous act by the Egyptian army elicit from Washington only the mildest response? Just weeks ago, Egyptian security forces slaughtered hundreds of Egyptians whose “crime” was to protest a military coup that overthrew a legitimately elected president. Why the double standard?
      First it rose to the level of justifying a military response when he used chemical weapons which are explicitly illegal.  More specifically it is nothing like Egyptian army actions against protest groups.  When they use chemical weapons on those protesters then it too will rise to that level.  But slaughtering a few hundred is vastly different than slaughtering a hundred thousand and using chemical weapons in doing it.
      Second, once U.S. military action against Syria begins, when will it end? What is the political objective? Wrapping the Assad regime on the knuckles is unlikely to persuade it to change its ways. That regime is engaged in a fight for survival. So what exactly does the United States intend to achieve and how much is President Obama willing to spend in lives and treasure to get there? War is a risky business. Is the president willing to commit U.S. forces to what could well become another protracted and costly struggle?
      Second, he answers his own question.  If Assad won't respond to wrapping of the knuckles and continues using chemical weapons then there is only one solution.  Removal one way or another.  Dead or Alive.  He's a war criminal and needs to be brought to justice.  Preferably without additional violence so that he can be brought up on charges and tried at the Hague.  If he chooses to go in a blaze of glory, so be it.  Either way he's removed and our involvement is done much the same way we were done in Libya once Qaddafi was removed.  
      Third, what is the legal basis for military action? Neither Russia nor China is likely to agree to an attack on Syria, so authorization by the U.N. Security Council won’t be forthcoming. Will Obama ask Congress for the authority to act? Or will he, as so many of his recent predecessors have done, employ some dodge to circumvent the Constitution? With what justification?
      Third the 1925 Geneva Protocol as stated in the first article by the Chicago Tribune gives the US and the UN all  the legal basis it needs.  Russia and China can certainly stand in the way but they would do so in opposition to the Geneva Protocol.  They can argue that the weapons were employed within Syrian borders in an internal conflict but that argument was used before and shot down.  If the UN is to be seen as legitimate then the UN has to step in.

      I fucking hate wars but this has escalated very badly and Assad has proven himself to be a war criminal.  I'm against US unilateral involvement for various reasons but it certainly appears it's time for the UN and the world to get involved.  Assad has to be brought to justice one way or another.  We can't be afraid of going into other parts of the world and policing but it has to be part of a broad group (like say the UN) and has to be absolutely justified.  The problem is Bush and his neo con war criminals went into Iraq with no justification and no exit plan and as a result of the FUBARed situation they got us into there and in Afghanistan we're now gun shy.  If someone is doing something wrong on this mass a scale action is absolutely required.  Posing questions is fine but they should be ones legitimately proposed not to stall us and prevent us from doing the right things but to ensure we're doing the right thing.          

      This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

      by DisNoir36 on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 05:18:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wonder how many people hear were so (0+ / 0-)

        opposed to intervening in Serbia.

      •  It's not our fight (0+ / 0-)

        we need to stay out - there is no proof yet that Assad gassed these people.  would it not be prudent at a minimum to determine who was responsible?  Kerry is running around like an ass....he should have worked for the Bush administration.

        The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

        by ctexrep on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 05:37:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Great comment, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ohkwai, conniptionfit

        with which I totally disagree.
        We have no obligation to stop Assad from using chemical weapons on his own people. Morally, yes, but there are far more moral obligations we have to our own people that aren't being taken care of. Selfish, I know, but that's how I feel.
        You know as well as I do that a few missile strikes on an airbase or two, or other military targets won't do a damn bit of good, it would have to be a serious commitment that at this point, has no good outcome.
        Say we get rid of Assad- then what happens? We have rebel groups funded by various and sundry Islamist groups and we could end up with an even worse situation on our hands, because Assad's supporters and the military will still be around.

        Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

        by skohayes on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 06:12:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  international law should be enforced (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        conniptionfit

        Should it be enforced unilaterally by the US?  No. Aside from the sheer hypocrisy of the US (who has ignored international law for 75 years and indeed who has refused to accept the jurisdiction of the World Court), I see massive danger in allowing the "only remaining superpower" to become the world's self-annointed police force.  It simply gives a quasi-legal fig leaf to plain ole US imperialism, which enforces international laws against countries it doesn't like while blocking enforcement of international laws against nations it does like. That is an intolerable situation and we should not allow it.

        If the UN is incapable of enforcing international law (and it should be noted that it is US policy and action that MAKES the UN incapable of that), then it should fall to some other international body, such as NATO. That at least will provide SOME check to unilateral US hypocrisy.

      •  Both Sides Are War Criminals (0+ / 0-)
      •  War Criminal? (0+ / 0-)

        Yeah, we're certainly the right county to go chasing after evil war criminals.

      •  Bacevich's view of the Morsi government in (0+ / 0-)

        Egypt is remarkably naive and uninformed, too.

  •  Are there moderate forces in Syria? (6+ / 0-)
    It remains in the United States’ interest now as two years ago to see more moderate forces prevail. This can’t be achieved with one or two volleys of cruise missiles.
    Sounds like wishful thinking.
  •  The fact that these "Beltway Sycophants" in any (5+ / 0-)

    way support another faraway US military action for "humanitarian" reasons, and the fact that this administration is even considering such abject foolishness, nay betrayal of the American people, demonstrates the integrity deficit of both.

    Idiotic.

    Stay the hell out of Syria, Mr. President!

    "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

    by blue in NC on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 04:55:41 AM PDT

  •  Let's sit one out and see what happens... n/t (5+ / 0-)

    "WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY FOX NEWS IS JOURNALISM"

    by FakeNews on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 04:56:11 AM PDT

  •  If the use of chemical weapons breaks (6+ / 0-)

    international law, then the international community should respond.  Not just us.  That includes Russia and China.

  •  How about some context here? Before we start (7+ / 0-)

    turning over our inventory of Tomahawk cruise missiles and cutting a check for a couple of billion to Raytheon for stock replenishment:

    New Docs Detail U.S. Involvement in Saddam’s Nerve Gas Attacks

    The U.S. knew about, and in one case helped, Iraq’s chemical weapons attacks against Iran in the 1980′s, according to recently declassified CIA documents obtained by Foreign Policy. Their detailed timeline, also constructed with the aid of interviews with former foreign intelligence officials, indicates that the U.S. secretly had evidence of Iraqi chemical attacks in 1983. The evidence, FP writes, is “tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical weapons attacks ever launched.”

    Ever since last week’s devastating evidence of chemical attacks in Syria, analysts have looked for benchmarks to predict the U.S.’s response. On Sunday, a U.S. official suggested that the U.S. is moving closer to possible military action in the country as the U.S. has “little doubt” that an “indiscriminate” chemical attack took place. Officials are reportedly looking to the 1998 air war on Kosovo for a precedent — a similar humanitarian crisis in the face of virtually no chance of a U.N. Security Council resolution to authorize use of force, thanks to dissent from Russia. And while Foreign Policy’s additional reporting places the Iraq situation in contrast to today’s debate over Syria, the details reveal just how sharply, in the past, the razor of U.S. interests in the Middle East has cut: “it was the express policy of Reagan to ensure an Iraqi victory in the war, whatever the cost,” the report explains. And apparently, that went up to and including helping Saddam Hussein gas Iran.

    http://m.theatlanticwire.com/...

    (And “the US” was not altogether unhappy that Saddam gassed Kurds, in the flux of Geoployitics:

    It was 25 years ago on March 16, 1988 that Kurds in Halabja, northern Iraq, glanced above their heads to find chemical bombs being dropped by Iraqi aircraft. The scene was characterized by witnesses as rising stacks of colored smoke that initially had the vague scent of apples. The misleading fragrance was in fact the product of nerve gas, mustard gas, and other chemical agents. It was the first instance of a government using these specific chemical weapons on the population it governed. Chemical weapons had never been used on such a huge scale directly against civilians in recent history. Halabja continues to hold that horrifying distinction.

    The U.S. would later emphasize the chemical attacks as a fundamental reason to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam, but there was no such concern with Kurdish strife at the time of the bombings. At the time allied with Saddam, the U.S. was generally silent on the subject except to suggest Iranian complicity. The uncontroversial record, combining released U.S. documents and other sources, now proves what was already suspected at the time: the U.S. knew Saddam was responsible but actively ordered its government officials to point the finger at Iran.

    http://www.policymic.com/...

    Now our rulers and apologists can pretend that this is a situation when (almost) all the world’s warring mad dogs and murderers need to join up and take down the currently, apparently, supposedly maddest and most murderous among them. The thing about “policies” justified on High Moral Ground is, there’s an old legal dictum that applies to anyone seeking redress in the Court of Conscience: One must approach the bench with clean hands. Even other potentates need to be concerned that this game will be run on them, next… “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive…”

    The apologist says, Hey, that Iraq-Iran thing was an exigency of the moment, them Persians had dissed and shamed us Big Time! This time, for us who have for the moment donned the ill-fitting White Hat, it’s different! We have to Maintain The International Order (which of course is very different from and a whole lot uglier that what we pretend)! We have a multi-opoly amongst us Players on Megadeath Weapons, and no Pipsqueak Arab Dictator is going to get away with using chemical weapons on his own chattels, I mean, people!

    One more wild card in the Game of Idiocy deck is that I doubt very seriously that there’s a significantly more unified command on the “government” side than there is among what we so charitably personify as “the rebels,” that disgusting bunch of GUNMEN who on the clear evidence, that they post gleefully and proudly for all to see, http://syriavideo.net/...
    have no qualms about random bombardment of “neighborhoods,” Old Brain savagery and heart-eating, stuff like that. It’s called “anomie,” normlessness, and it’s there in spades. http://criminology.fsu.edu/...

    Some local Baath commander, with multiple loyalties to ruler, clan and family, and with artillery of various calibers to play with, could have commandeered some gas shells, manufactured and stockpiled as part of the Great Gamery that this episode is just one sub-scene of, and there you go! Or the other thing, some idiot band of”rebels.” And who is an honest crime scene investigator, with the access and tools to gather and honestly and completely report the facts?

    And by the way, for “our side’s” situation, lookie here:
    “U.S. Chemical Weapons Disposal Slippage “No Surprise,” Expert Says”
    http://www.nti.org/...

    1914 headlines: “IT’S WAR!” Over stories touting the glories of the State and the Military and the People, whichever set of whichever set of those you personally prefer…

    "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

    by jm214 on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 05:01:44 AM PDT

  •  Well, at least we know all the nativist yahoos (0+ / 0-)

    and tribalists dont hang out at REDSTATE.
    Some of the commentors in the last day are either very young, or have no sense of irony. Considering their delight in parroting sentiments voiced over and over again in the US of A thruout the 20th century, by people they'd be embarrassed to share company with in any other context.

    •  Well, at least we know that one of THIS site's (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler

      warmongers-in-chief has found yet another diary to use as a platform for his "more wars is good" philosophy.

      "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

      by blue in NC on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 05:05:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's how I feel about imperialists. nt (3+ / 0-)
    •  Yahoos? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stude Dude

      Seriously? People (and about 91% of poll respondents to WaPo poll here) disagree with you for several very good reasons, they're yahoos?
      By the way, I'm not young, I'm old enough to remember the US selling chemical weapons to Saddam and then Reagan, et al., sitting back and doing nothing when they were used on the Iranians and the Kurds.

      Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

      by skohayes on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 06:21:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  a correction here: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skohayes
        I'm old enough to remember the US selling chemical weapons to Saddam
        The US never sold chemical weapons to Saddam, or to any other nation. The US itself stopped making chemical weapons in 1969 (except for brief manufacture of binary chemical agent in the 80's). Even throughout the entire Cold War, the US never sold or gave chemical weapons to any other nation--even our NATO allies Britain and France did not get any chemical weapons from us, they manufactured their own.

        Saddam got his chemical weapons by purchasing plain old ordinary pesticide manufacturing equipment, perfectly legal, from the US and Europe.  He then modified that equipment to manufacture his own chemical weapons. (Nerve gas is chemically similar to bug spray, and the same equipment can be used to make either one.)

        But this part:

        and then Reagan, et al., sitting back and doing nothing when they were used on the Iranians and the Kurds.
        is entirely true. Not only did we give Iraq the satellite imagery intelligence it needed to plan its chemical attacks on Iranian troops, but when Congress attempted to pass economic sanctions against Iraq to punish it for using chemical weapons, the Bush the Elder White House lobbied successfully against it.

        THAT is precisely why I do not think the US should become the self-annointed world police force with the responsibility to enforce international law.  Inevitably, we will simply enforce law against nations we don't like, and ignore it for nations we do like.  And THAT would make the entire world a much worse place.

        If international law is to be enforced (and of course that argument is just a fig leaf for plain ole American imperialism) then it MUST be the UN doing it, or, failing that, some other international body like NATO.

        Putting the American fox in charge of guarding the world chicken coop, is just a recipe for future disasters.

        •  Yes, you're right (0+ / 0-)
          The CIA had already warned that Iraq was using chemical weapons almost daily. But Mr Rumsfeld, at the time a successful executive in the pharmaceutical industry, still made it possible for Saddam to buy supplies from American firms.
          They included viruses such as anthrax and bubonic plague, according to the Washington Post.
          On November 1, 1983, a full month before Mr Rumsfeld's visit to Baghdad, Secretary of State George Shultz was officially informed that the CIA had discovered Iraqi troops were resorting to 'almost daily use of chemical weapons' against the Iranians.
          Nevertheless, Mr Rumsfeld arranged for the Iraqis to receive billions of pounds in loans to buy weapons and CIA Director William Casey used a Chilean front company to supply Iraq with cluster bombs.
          According to the Washington Post, a Senate committee investigating the relationship between the US and Iraq discovered that in the mid-1980s - following the Rumsfeld visit - dozens of biological agents were shipped to Iraq under licence from the Commerce Department.

          They included anthrax, subsequently identified by the Pentagon as a key component of the Iraqi biological warfare programme.
          The newspaper says: 'The Commerce Department also approved the export of insecticides to Iraq, despite widespread suspicions that they were being used for chemical warfare.'
          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/...

          So, technically, our government didn't sell them chemical or biological weapons, but they certainly "greased the slide", as they say.

          Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

          by skohayes on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 04:26:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  About half the comments have amounted to (0+ / 0-)

        "I dont care about them." "Let someone else worry about it"
        "Who cares what happens over there." "Not my business"
        AS others have noted.
        And I dont just mean on the KOS.
        Thats not thoughtful analysis. Thats a 10 cent bumper sticker.
        And the definition of being a nativist yahoo.

  •  Someone needs to make sure the oval office is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue in NC, Stude Dude

    devoid of red markers.

    Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity -- George Carlin

    by ZedMont on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 05:01:58 AM PDT

  •  Okay....so who's making money off the Syrian (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mkor7

    civil war?

    •  Lobbyists for both sides, probably (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue in NC

      Remember Chalabi, who was being paid handsomely to lobby the US to go into Iraq and promised they'd greet us as liberators? And who was obviously hoping that the US would install him as the new puppet-president of the country?

      I suspect the anti-Assad forces have a bevy of paid lobbyists in Washington (and probably London) hyping the situation. That doesn't mean chemical weapons were not used -- I trust Doctors Without Borders on this one -- but by whom is harder to figure out. And Assad probably has his own highly paid lobbyists pushing back.

      It's a high-stakes, high-rewards game, and the US needs to be careful of being played for the personal gain and ambitions of a few individuals.

    •  I think the answer is "not enough 'Murkin MIC (0+ / 0-)

      corporations", and they want their guy in the White House to change that for them.

      "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

      by blue in NC on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 05:08:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Intrade was giving odds on it.... (0+ / 0-)

      .....before it shut down.

      Syria to be removed from US State Dept list of State Sponsors of Terrorism on/before 31 Dec 2013

      19.9%
      CHANCE

      Expiry value: $1.99 / share

      Expiry date: Mar 11, 2013 15:29 GMT

      Contract Type: 0-100

      Market state: Expired

  •  I don't know about history or public opinion or (4+ / 0-)

    international coalitions or red lines.

    I know a little about the Constitution, and it says the decision is not Obama's or Kerry's or the UN's. It belongs to Congress. Period.

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 05:04:17 AM PDT

  •  the use of chemical weapons SHOULD be a UN affair (4+ / 0-)

    since it's the UN's job to enforce international treaty and law.

    However, since the UN is not in any way democratic (the five victors of World War II all have veto power), it's unlikely the UN will respond.

    What I expect will happen is that the US will act unilaterally, by taking out the Syrian chemical production facilities, with air strikes and/or cruise missiles. That will be a symbolic punishment for the use of chemical weapons, and will cripple Syrian production for at least a while.  

    Alas, though, I see no good end to this. The neocons will use it as an excuse for the "regime change" they have wanted in Syria for 20 years now. The US will poke its nose into yet another Middle East conflict (then act all surprised when someone punches us in the nose for it). Whichever side wins in Syria will be a bad guy anyway, and democracy loses.

    •  Your last paragraph is exactly why the US (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler, tampaedski

      should stay the fuck away...except knowing the MIC profit motive, and the US imperialism motive, I'm afraid that the US will not stay the fuck away.

      Rec'd for the accuracy of your comment, but certainly not because I liked it. :-(

      "Bernie Madoff's mistake was stealing from the rich. If he'd stolen from the poor he'd have a cabinet position." -OPOL

      by blue in NC on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 05:14:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the problem is, suppose the administration (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler

      launches a missile strike, or some other form of short-term military action that doesn't commit ground troops. We blow up some buildings, cripple a little infrastructure. But the Assad regime remains in power nonetheless. Then what?

      Does the administration escalate? Do we go full out and start blowing things up willy-nilly, the way we do over Yemen and Pakistan? And if that doesn't drive Assad from power, then what?

      Keep in mind too, that Assad is wily enough to use any American attack to rally the Syrian people to his side and unite them in opposition to the foreign attackers. His hold over the country may well be strengthened by an American strike, even though his army might be temporarily weakened.

      A military strike might inflame the region. The conflict could spill over into Jordan and Lebanon, involve us in a hot war with Iran, maybe even involve Russia in a proxy war. There are just too many grave consequences to simply going in and blowing things up.

      Obama declared Assad has to go. Therefore, he can't countenance any outcome besides Assad's removal. Otherwise he loses face and looks weak. And this president, like the overwhelming majority of the men who have held that office, finds that unbearable.

      Once you resort to military force, things tend to snowball out of control. Unless you have a clear idea of what you're about and how to accomplish it, it's a virtual certainty that the conflict will end up being longer, more difficult, and more costly in terms of lives than you think.

      Zbigniew Brzezinski has said that he doesn't understand what the administration's objectives are in Syria, nor does he think they have a clear plan for the aftermath of a military intervention. If such a veteran foreign policy hand as Brzezinski can't discern the logic in the administration's policy, then maybe they really have no plan and are totally winging it.

      In which case, we should be very, very worried.

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 05:31:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  two separate intentions. or at least SHOULD be. (0+ / 0-)

        If we act, then our ONLY intention should be to inflict some sort of punishment for the use of chemical weapons (which SHOULD be the UN's job, but since the UN was deliberately set up to be powerless, that won't happen). That would mean we strike the chemical production plants, and then go home.

        Assad and his regime and whether to do anything about it, is an entirely separate issue. Alas, given that the US is . .  well . .  the US, I am quite sure that we will indeed conflate the two entirely separate issues, and get sucked in. After all, the neocons (who set the foreign policy agenda for both parties) have been wanting "regime change" in Syria since the mid 90's.  Here's their chance.  They won't let that opportunity slip by.  After all, what good is it to have the most powerful military force that ever existed in all of human history, if you don't USE it whenever you want to?

        PS--I'm simply describing what I expect the US will do.  I didn't say I liked or or thought it was a good idea.

      •  It could very well escalate into a war with Iran-- (0+ / 0-)

        that's precisely why the Quds brigade is there in Syria: as a tripwire. We would be very stupid to risk tripping it, although Israel would love to see it happen.

        I don't expect war with Russia, though. Russian has just as few attractive options in Syria as we do. They want a Mediterranean base, but they'll get in only if Assad wins and successfully pacifies Syria. But there's been too much blood under the bridge already.

  •  Did major papers decline Bacevich's article? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue in NC, mkor7

    Bacevich has had previous articles in NYT, WaPo, BGlobe etc.

    Why not this one?

    Is it because, with a decision imminent and action likely on Syria, these papers become less willing to print his critical message?

  •  Consider (3+ / 0-)

    ...that anti-war factions were right on Iraq but wrong on:

    - Afghanistan
    - Serbia/Kosovo

  •  Intervention in Syria (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Justanothernyer

    Nice selection of quotes.

    Can anyone argue with this?:

    A political agreement is still the best solution to this deadly conflict, and every effort must be made to find one. President Obama has resisted demands that he intervene militarily and in force. Though Mr. Assad’s use of chemical weapons surely requires a response of some kind, the arguments against deep American involvement remain as compelling as ever.
    Yes they do. But should we sit back on our own shores, protected and safe while Syrians are slaughtered with chemical weapons? Do those who have the power to act have a responsibility to act against perpetrators of mass killings? Should we sip our beers and watch our ballgames content?
    Such use cannot be tolerated, and any government or group that employs chemical weapons must be made to suffer real consequences. Obama should uphold this principle by destroying some of Assad’s military assets with cruise missiles.
    The military measures could include destroying forces involved in chemical weapons use and elements of the Syrian air force that have been used to target civilians, as well as helping to carve out a safe zone for rebels and the civilian populations they are seeking to protect
    On the other hand:
    First, why does this particular heinous act rise to the level of justifying a military response? More specifically, why did a similarly heinous act by the Egyptian army elicit from Washington only the mildest response?
    Fair questions. You do what you can where you can. Syria's use of chemical weapons is the latest in a line of murders and killing by Assad. Egypt's "similar" act, while deplorable, is a false equivalence.
    Because the use of chemical weapons is a red line drawn not just by the U.S. but by the entire world, to protect civilians.  <...cut...>
    But the damage from chemical agents, like nuclear weapons, cannot be finely targeted. Such weapons can kill wide swaths of people in a matter of seconds or minutes. They pose a special risk to civilians. These are weapons that many governments possess but few ever imagine using.
    Food for thought.
    •  There are people all over the world (0+ / 0-)

      getting killed by their own governments and the US doesn't bat an eye, except in the middle east.
      First it was Iraq, then Libya, now it's Syria. Who's next? Iran? Lebanon? What happens when Islamists start messing in Turkey?

      Take a look at this chart and see if we need to be involving ourselves in this mess:
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

      Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

      by skohayes on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 06:40:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rather than send troops and risk American lives (0+ / 0-)

    Let us send in a swarm of recon drones and let the regime know we are watching their every move. Or, if violence is required for some reason, fire a cruise missile at the main government office and/or Assad's residence, sans warning, and have done with it.

    It's stupid all the way down.

    by xenothaulus on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 05:29:36 AM PDT

  •  If anyone here thinks that Assad would be that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    limpidglass, mkor7

    stupid to use chemical weapons on the very day that the UN inspectors were arriving. And to use those weapons just 5 blocks down from where the UN personnel where staying. And to use those weapons - not on the rebels (who are the opposition) but to use the chemical weapons on Assad's own army and citizens?? Where is the logic in that? There is no logic there. It's absurd on its face.

    If you believe that - then I have some WMD's from Saddam Hussein to sell you!

    FN

    John Kerry speech yesterday - "Anyone who can claim that an attack of this staggering scale could be contrived or fabricated needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass."
    Oh, so he's aware of MOST Americans thoughts about Syria?

    "WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY FOX NEWS IS JOURNALISM"

    by FakeNews on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 05:32:18 AM PDT

    •  Really? "Most Americans" think the (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Curt Matlock, TexasTom, skohayes, KayCeSF

      chemical attack was fabricated?

      Yeah, those liars over at Doctors Without Borders are such phonies.

      Doctors Without Borders said three hospitals it supports in the eastern Damascus region reported receiving roughly 3,600 patients with "neurotoxic symptoms" over less than three hours on Wednesday morning, when the attack in the eastern Ghouta area took place.

      Of those, 355 died, said the Paris-based group.

      link

      Since there are only bad outcomes no matter what we do or don't do, it's probably better to step back and let the world respond.  But please don't accuse those victims of a "fabricated" or "contrived" death.

      "It ain't right, Atticus," said Jem. "No, son, it ain't right." --Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

      by SottoVoce on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 05:57:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Like I said it's not logical that Assad would gas (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        urovermyknee

        HIS own soldiers and citizens on THE day that the UN was arriving just 5 blocks away - it DOES NOT make sense. It doesn't make any sense...

        "Contrived or fabricated" are "tautologies" - if you accept the phrase at face value then if follows that you accept the authors premise that to be against his argument is somehow evil...

        Contrived or fabricated - what difference does it make?  A lie is a lie is a lie.

        FN

        Oh, if you believe Kerry I still have some of Saddam's WMD left to sell you.

        "WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY FOX NEWS IS JOURNALISM"

        by FakeNews on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 06:19:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Since when has any of this made sense? (0+ / 0-)

          He's already killed thousands of his own citizens with conventional weapons. What's a few more?

          Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

          by skohayes on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 06:45:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly! Same could be said for the U.S. in (0+ / 0-)

            several countries.

            He's (prez of choice) already killed thousands of his own citizens with conventional weapons. What's a few more?

            That's the thing that has me perplexed. Hate our freedoms? Need Democracy? Killed in disguisting ways? Support the Troops? Freedom fighters? Terrorism past history?  None of these are realistic reasons to go thousands of miles from home and kill / mame thousands and thousands of people. Doesn't make sense...

            There's a reason - but we ain't heard it!! Maybe the Guardian and Snowden have the reasons...

            "WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY FOX NEWS IS JOURNALISM"

            by FakeNews on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 07:35:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I doubt Bashir al-Assad was crazy enough to (0+ / 0-)

          order sarin attacks, but his brother Maher is certainly crazy enough and has the military authority to do it on his own.

          If we absolutely must strike, let it be on the HQ of Maher's Fourth Armored Division south of Baghdad. That would provide some symbolic satisfaction as retribution, although it would not bring peace to Syria.

          But I would prefer we not risk getting involved at all. The Americans have this stubborn bad habit of dangerously exaggerating their military and diplomatic power.  

  •  It's funny to see mention of the Geneva Convention (0+ / 0-)

    It's rather quaint to see a mention of the Geneva Convention in that Chicago Tribune piece. Since when has the US adhered to the Geneva Convention?

  •  President Obama hasn't been (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skohayes, KayCeSF

    napping since this conflict began, folks.  I love pundits who assume this problem has suddenly come to light.  And commenters who pretend to be in the inner circle.  There won't be any unilateral action, the first step will include an attempt at prompting UN action, which HAS occurred in the last 20 years, more than once.  If there's a military response it will be a coalition of several nations working together.  It won't involve American ground troops.  The coalition has been in the planning stages for some time.  International Law drew the red line, Obama didn't invent it.  

    We haven't intervened before now because it IS a civil war, there are multiple bad guys, AQ is not a reliable ally, it's a mess.  And all the con arguments expressed here are very similar to those that kept us out of WWII for so long.  Ultimately we had to get involved.  

    I'd rather have this happening with Obama in office, quite frankly.  He's not the wild-eyed warmonger described here.  

    It's going to be tough decision, he knows there's no rosy outcome, he also knows not to ignore chemical weapons attacks.  I'm guessing the evil NSA is working overtime to discover where they came from and who used them.  

    I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

    by I love OCD on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 06:25:39 AM PDT

  •  I guess I just never understood that the Tomahawk (0+ / 0-)

    Cruise Missile can be so finely targeted that it will not kill entire swaths of innocent people unlike those hellfire missiles fired from drones with seem to kill 20 innocent people for each evil doer so terminated.

  •  Let's stand by while the power-drunk bully (0+ / 0-)

    beats women and children on the street in our own hometowns.
    There's a brilliant thought.
    Everything humanly possible must be done to bring Russian and China onboard.
    Strangle the money supply.
    Bomb, if necessary.
    Arrest and prosecute Assad.

    Betchu REALLY wanna vote, now.

    by franklyn on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 06:54:38 AM PDT

  •  Defining "Weapons of Mass Destruction"... (0+ / 0-)

    ... is fairly easy in terms of military ordnance, and poison gas certainly qualifies. And to be sure, using such a horrid and indiscriminate method to inflict death against civilians is barbaric and uncivilized. That being said, in that corner of the planet, they still stone women to death for being too sexual, mutilate female genitalia to ensure "purity", cut off the hands of people who steal and behead their enemies of the state. Makes you want to run right out there and join up, doesn't it?

    But there's another way of looking at methods used to inflict death in massive quantities: the death of civility in this country, both towards ourselves and other countries has a far more long-term effect. Physical death, when it comes, is final and quiet; nobody- however nefarious and evil their intentions- can manipulate, tax, proselytize, cheat, steal from, lie to or abuse a person once they have died (although some politicians have tried in spite of the obvious inevitable results).

    The weapon of mass destruction in the United States that nobody talks about or is willing to do anything about is fear- we can't board an aircraft without some federal stooge observing or groping our bodies, nor can we keep our shoes on. We can't vote without being fearful of which set of liberties or laws will be discarded in the name of security, austerity or majority-placed discrimination.

    No- not Obama, Kerry or anyone else in this or any other administration in recent positions of leadership has declared any "war" on that one tool of subjugation and psychological enslavement - FEAR. The only person who has ever approached that subject was Franklin Roosevelt, and the reich wing republicans have hated him for it ever since.

    Given how well the countries in the Middle East and their religions have honored their purported values of cherishing life and reason, I'm perfectly content to remember my favorite childhood poem - the Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat, by Eugene Field - and hope for a similar outcome for them. Meanwhile, this country would be far better served if we could figure out a humane way to euthanize the fear mongers.

  •  "We've got to do something!" (0+ / 0-)

    Step 1 to quagmire.

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