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The Syrian government appears to have used chemical weapons in its civil war.  The BBC has seen video and eyewitness testimony that appears to corroborate allegations of chemical weapons' use in the Syrian town of Saraqeb.  The United States has seen sufficient evidence of the use of chemical weapons to be convinced as well, though that may be less persuasive to some.  As the Guardian reports, Medecins Sans Frontieres also corroborates the allegations.  

(Although there have been suggestions that the rebel groups would be motivated to employ chemical weapons, there is less independent evidence that any of the rebel groups opposing Assad possess such weapons. Moreover, the use of chemical weapons by one or more rebel groups doesn't rule out use by Assad and vice versa. Welcome to the civil war.)

The use of chemical weapons is a clear violation of one of the few widely respected tenets of international law. International law is only as strong as the willingness of the strongest supporters of international law to enforce it.  Currently, those supporters are  the United States and to a lesser extent the UK and France.  So, either we act against Syria or the international law against the use of chemical weapons is weakened.

Upholding international law and saving innocent civilians are not the only interests that we have in Syria.  Most of our other interests in Syria are facilitated by intervening against the Assad regime (disrupting the flow of arms to Hezbollah; opposing state supporters of terrorism; reducing Iranian and Russian influence).

Further, the United States has a strong interest in maintaining its credibility and President Obama previously stated that the use of chemical weapons would be a redline for the United States  Obtaining a reputation for not following through on threats and commitments can be very expensive for a country.  That is a powerful, albeit self-inflicted, reason to act.

However, we do have some interests that are not likely to be advanced by intervening in Syria and we should think seriously about those before we intervene:

Most importantly, we have a very strong interest in preventing the proliferation of chemical weapons especially to groups affiliated with al-Qaeda.  A number of rebel groups are affiliated with al-Qaeda and if the Assad regime were to fall, those groups would have a significant chance of obtaining chemical weapons.  Further, an attack focused on chemical weapons depots or chemical weapons associated infrastructure, even if it doesn't topple Assad, would also increase the likelihood of an al-Qaeda affiliated group obtaining access to chemical weapons.  That would argue that securing chemical weapons would need to be a significant part of any intervention which would imply at least some use of ground troops. It should be noted that we are unlikely to use ground troops to intervene, for obvious reasons. Evidence of use by rebels of chemical weapons suggest this concern may be moot; but, even if the rebels have some chemical weapons we continue to have an interest in minimizing there proliferation.

If we smash Assad using airpower alone, Syria will likely fracture and descend further into civil war.  Whether the eventual outcome of this is better off for the United States  than the current situation is unclear and whether this is more destabilizing to surrounding countries (which would not be in American interests) is also unclear.

It is also relevant to note that neither the countervailing interests nor the interest in maintaining American credibility were present in the Libyan situation.  

We also need to consider that Assad probably has the support of about 15% of the population plus external supplies from Iran and Russia. This situation is very different from the situation in Libya or Afghanistan.   It also differs from the situation in Iraq.

While I've noted an awfully large number of disingenuous arguments against intervention on this site, and am tentatively in favor of intervening, we also need to think about the limits of our intervention and its goals.  So far, these have not been articulated.  While American intervention may be warranted here, we need to have a clear understanding of the goals and limits of that intervention before we embark on it.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Nuance, you has it. (15+ / 0-)

    Well written.

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 08:42:55 AM PDT

    •  Nuance? (13+ / 0-)

      The argument hinges on upholding UL. Bombing Syria w/o Security Council signoff would violate IL.

      The other main argument -- that it's needed to uphold US credibility -- is too ridiculous to take seriously.

      Nowhere does the diarist even try to make the case that US bombing would make this situation better. Bombing for the sake of bombing.

      •  Nuance, you does not has it. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mookins

        But you never do.

        "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

        by raptavio on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:33:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We didn't vote for George W Obama (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Johnny Q, jacey, Lepanto

          Pres Obama should not become a second George W Bush.  I don't want the US to be the world's policeman, judge and jury.

          Syria has not attacked the US, and has not threatened the US. If anything, a US attack on Syria, will provoke terrorist attacks against US civilians and we will be less safe from terrorists and increase and extend our mistreatment by our own government.

          If the rebel forces in Syria prevail, it is far from clear the Syrian people or the US will benefit from the change.  Yes, 1500 have been killed by poison gas out of over 100,000 killed in their civil war - the other deaths were not much better.

          We have fought in too many Muslim countries already. We are hated in that world as much or more as when Bush was president.  For some reason, waging wars against Muslim people has not made them like us, respect us or made them more inclined to live in peace with us.

          Governments in many countries from time to time do terrible things to their people, and have done so for thousands of years and will do so in the future.  These terrible actions frequently focus on those opposing those in power - that's why civil wars are so destructive.  The difference today is that global media now gives us up to date high quality video of these terrible acts instead of a few articles from journalists.

          High quality video is not a reason to act against the interest of US citizens.

          During the Vietnam war, Kerry famously said how it was immoral to ask people to die for a lie.  Those who have argued for using our military force against people in Syria now argue we must do so because of what Pres Obama has already said.  

          What Pres Obama has said about the use of gas being a red line was a presidential mistake.  It would be wrong for the US to kill people because we cannot admit that Pres Obama made a mistake.

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 10:19:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  When they say it's about "crediblity" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lepanto

        they mean  it's really about our swingin' cod.

        You may think that. I couldn't possibly comment.-- Francis Urqhart

        by Johnny Q on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 12:43:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  "But I want you to explain what we’re going to (11+ / 0-)
    achieve by bombing.
    George Packer.

    Read for content, dude.

    No evidence whatsoever that the Syrians are proliferating chemical weapons in the region.

    If you or Justanothernyer are so eaten up for war with Syria, why don't you just go there and fight yourself?

    "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 08:49:50 AM PDT

    •  Speaking of reading...I read TFD... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Johnny Q

      and THIS:

      Further, the United States has a strong interest in maintaining its credibility and President Obama previously stated that the use of chemical weapons would be a redline for the United States  Obtaining a reputation for not following through on threats and commitments can be very expensive for a country.  That is a powerful, albeit self-inflicted, reason to act.
      ...has got to be one of the dumbest reasons to bomb a country I have ever read on this blog...and that's saying something.

      I had no idea that our "credibility" > human lives.

      Adequate health care should be a LEGAL RIGHT in the U.S without begging or bankruptcy. Until it is, we should not dare call our society civilized.

      by Love Me Slender on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 11:57:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Syrian government could just as easily (7+ / 0-)

    use bombs and bullets to kill whomever they want.

    It makes no sense for them to use chemical weapons especially after Obama drew a line in the sand.  

    Also, Fukushima is spiraling out of control and they need more money and resources in Japan to control this threat to the planet.  

    And we are broke, we should be spending our precious resources containing the looming nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

    •  Makes no sense? (0+ / 0-)

      Sure it does. It is quick and debilitating. So they did it anyway. Now what about that red line?

    •  Chemical weapons can kill more people than (5+ / 0-)

      conventional ones. So if one of the sides in the war doesn't have the overwhelming advantage in conventional weapons but does have chemical weapons the temptation to use them can be pretty high. Maybe they thought Obama won't enforce his line in the sand or that Russians will protect them. Who knows.

      •  Maybe, in an act of desperation... (5+ / 0-)

        the rebels used chemical weapons on their own people blaming Assad in an effort to force the United States to help them...  Dead is dead and if Syria wins, it doesn't matter if they are killed with chemical weapons or conventional ones; they'll be just as dead.

        Sacrificing a small portion of your people in an effort to save thousands more and possibly win your country back is not a crazy move.  President Obama basically said with his line-in-the-sand speech that was the only way we would join their side and fight the Syrian establishment.  Assad was winning so taking a chance of involving the United States would be a terrible unforced error.

        It makes more sense to me that the rebels tried to make a chess move by sacrificing their perceived pawn to try to put the king in check.  It hasn't work yet.

        "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

        by Buckeye Nut Schell on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:40:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  This is why credibility is important. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justanothernyer
        Maybe they thought Obama won't enforce his line in the sand...

        Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

        by AaronInSanDiego on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 07:59:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  We are NOT broke. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justanothernyer, gustynpip

      There are good arguments against intervening in Syria. Being broke is not one of them. Read Krugman.

      If we need to help with Fukushima, we can certainly afford to do that, regardless of whatever we do or don't do in Syria.

      Disclosure, FWIW: I tend to agree with the diarist, but I have no confidence that diarist and I are right. But nor do I have any confidence that the non-interventionists are right. There are no good answers.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 11:27:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can't we just help the rebels (18+ / 0-)

    by providing them with aid instead of bombing the crap out of their country?

    These diaries drumming up war make me sick to my stomach.

    If you want to argue in good faith, own your shit and stop with the distractions. -- Dallasdoc

    by Colorado is the Shiznit on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 08:55:39 AM PDT

    •  they are drumming up war because... (14+ / 0-)

      ... we all know how this story ends. The diaries are pre-emptively defending Obama for once again being just like Bush. I really doubt that if Romney was president right now there would be ANY support here for a Syrian war.

      •  You may very well be right about that. (10+ / 0-)

        In the meantime, I want a definitive answer as to how the US intervening (a.k.a. military force) in Syria is going to help that country at all.

        If you want to argue in good faith, own your shit and stop with the distractions. -- Dallasdoc

        by Colorado is the Shiznit on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:09:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  How is it just like Bush? (19+ / 0-)

        Bush and his aides pretty clearly wanted to invade Iraq from the beginning of his administration and certainly post 9/11 and had no issue with putting tens of thousands of American troops on the ground.

        It's pretty clear Obama has been reluctantly to get involved Syria, and wont put boots on the ground.

        That doesnt mean you have to support intervention, but that comparison is just inaccurate.

        •  in the following ways: (16+ / 0-)

          1. assumes america is world cop, responsible for resolving issues around the globe

          2. naively believes our participation will somehow help intractable situations

          3. naively believes we can have a "limited engagement" with pandora's box

          4. willing to take country to war without declaration of war from congress

          5. willing to attack a country without provocation that poses no threat to us whatsoever

          6. willing to go into an elective war without UN approval

          7. wiling to go into an elective war we cant afford

          etc...

          •  So, anyone not Ron Paul is George W. Bush (0+ / 0-)

            This may or may not be "naive" --  it's ironic to use this word of all words in such a simplistic argument -- but Bush certainly wasn't.  

            Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

            by Loge on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 11:27:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  democrats who are neither Paul nor Bush: (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Johnny Q

              But still tend to think correctly about above issues:
              Al Gore
              Russ Feingold
              Denis Kucinich
              Ron Wyden
              Obama (candidate version only)
              and many others.

              •  "I don't oppose all wars, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Justanothernyer

                only dumb wars." -- Senate Candidate Obama.

                There's nothing preventative or preemptive here, no record of ginning up conflict for a decade.   The overall record of Obama in Syria has been caution and empiricism.  And of anyone mentioned, only a knee jerk isolationist (like Paul or I guess Kucinich) would agree that 5 applies to these facts in particular, and none would agree with the label "naive" to describe the internationalist case, as these are standards that aren't driven by empirical observation but by deduction from the first point.  The U.S. doesn't have to be the world's anything -- we have an arguable interest and better ability than anyone else to stop a slaughter.  The point is, not all intervention is Bushian, but your standard for non-intervention is more Paulist than the Democrats you appropriate to your position.  I'm sure some might oppose intervening in Syria -- but I don't think a single one of those folks (except for Kucinich again, whom I do not regard) would make that comparison, nor would agree with most of your enumerated points.  

                Gore, in particular, voted for the 1st gulf war and was presumably on board with the Clinton interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo - the latter are much better precedents than regime change in Iraq.

                Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                by Loge on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 12:16:54 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I love Kucinich (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Johnny Q

                  If what you are saying is that i'm a DFH kucinich fan, then we are already in agreement.

                  Further, the standard I lay out is really not that high for going to war:

                  1. have a clear mission
                  2. only congress can declare war
                  3. if you have not been attacked, then you should only be the aggressor if you have support from at the very least the UN, but ideally the UN, NATO, and other regional organizations
                  4. if you have not been attacked, only go to war if you can afford it

                  if the only name you can name who agrees with these criteria for war is ron paul, then we are in deeper trouble than even i thought.

                  •  well, we don't know what (0+ / 0-)

                    role Congress will adopt, what the policy is and therefore what the exit strategy will be.  As far as the UN, there's a conflict between states' obligations and the Security Council process, and I don't think form should trump substance.  In other words, China and Russia can't use their veto to shirk their human rights responsibilities, especially when at least at fault for arming Assad in the first place, in Russia's case.  And what we can afford is always a movable target -- the money's there, we just choose not to tax it and not to spend money on other things.  This list is more reasonable than the first list, and less ideologically determined.  The trouble is, it doesn't really tell you what the right policy should be at any one point.  What is clear, how much support, e.g.?  

                    Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                    by Loge on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 12:36:25 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  sorry but your standard is no standards (0+ / 0-)

                      1. constitutionally mandated role of congress: we shall see

                      2. long standing convention that, unless clearly acting in self defense, UN approval be obtained first: only if they agree with us

                      3. fiscal sanity: replaced by wishful thinking about future fiscal situations.

                      i just cant buy into any of that.

                      •  sure, they're loose inclinations (0+ / 0-)

                        i'm ok with that.  The problem confronting the United States isn't some abstract thing about the politics of meaning, but something Bashir Assad is doing right now that the U.S has an interest in, and possibly the ability to stop, and whether it's therefore advisable to stop it.  It's not a value free inquiry, but no checklist is self-applying, except at the expense of being too rigid.

                        The Constitutionality of the War Powers Act (whether too deferential or too restrictive) is a wholly separate discussion.  Obtaining Congressional approval doesn't make a bad policy good, and it doesn't mean that a good policy that's blocked is somehow ok.  I don't see a reason to assume the WPA will be circumvented before it happens, in any event.

                        Point two mischaracterizes the argument, but only slightly.  The UN is a nobly intentioned organ but is often little more than the sum of its parts.  The notion that China and Russia are acting in bad faith doesn't give them the right to hold up the process they subverted as the model to follow.  

                        Ending Iraq and winding down Afghanistan helps fiscally, but assuming for the sake of argument the administration opts for anything, it won't be full on regime change or occupation, so fiscal concerns are rather low, and the failure of other fiscal policies doesn't justify not saving lives of Syrians, assuming there's a way to do so (which is the only circumstance in which the issue would ever be implicated).

                        As signposts to guide discretion, those points are fine.  (The first one is a different category, but also not really at issue.)  But they're not rules.

                        Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

                        by Loge on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 01:19:54 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

          •  Those same arguments were made about (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Justanothernyer

            our involvement in Libya, though. There were dire predicitons made by some about that military action that didn't actually pan out.

            •  actually in libya ALL dire predictions were true (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Johnny Q, Lepanto

              1. the country is in near anarchy, with muslim brotherhood forces openly defying the western puppet government
              2. genocidewatch has the country under its second highest level of alert
              3. the country is now the headquarters for AQ's strongest group
              4. the only reason news of the chaos are even leaking out is because opposing forces have shut down oil exports. otherwise we wouldnt even know the state of the country.

              •  Would you have preferred (0+ / 0-)

                we stand by and watch Gadaffi massacre hundreds of thousands of his own people?

                Where was Gadaffi's Libya on Genocide Watch's alert scale?

                We have not gotten bogged down in Libya. You can't argue with that fact, presumably.

                •  gaddafi's libya... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Lepanto

                  1. was quickly becoming a western ally
                  2. was going to be taken over by his even more pro-western sons soon
                  3. was a haven for diversity - the people at risk for genocide now are the subsaharan immigrants gaddafi imported
                  4. was on nobody's genocide watch list

                  gaddafi was a very bad man, but sadly i doubt the warlords who are taking over will be any better.

        •  The focus on the President's feelings (7+ / 0-)

          whenever issues of war, droning, etc. come up, is not really all that helpful, or all that pertinent. Who cares how he feels while he does the same sorts of things Bush did?

          I thought he would be better on Iran; I thought that was one of maybe two or three things that made him better than a Republican. Now that faith is shaken, b/c it's quite possible he's intending to go through Syria to Iran. I haven't bought that one yet, but my faith is a hell of a lot less than it was last week.

          The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:36:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If he sends troops into Syria (7+ / 0-)

            I would agree. Otherwise, the comparison seems very flawed. The better comparison is Clinton and Kosovo.

            •  I admit I'm looking ahead (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              poco, Johnny Q

              and worrying that this is going to mushroom.

              The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?

              by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:55:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I guess I'm looking at it (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                elmo

                from the other side, and giving the benefit of the doubt. If Obama wanted boots on the ground in  Syria, he would have done it already.

                If he wanted the same in Iran, he could have used the Green revolution in 2009 to do so.

                •  Well, I always thought he was being smart on Iran. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Lepanto

                  (aka not bulling in guns blazing, resisting the people who wanted him to go to war there) But this course doesn't seem smart to me at all.

                  Maybe he's finally caving to pressure, I don't know.

                  Or maybe it will all be fine, but I'd feel a lot better if we limited our involvement to supplying arms and money to, uh, whatever group of rebels we can find that is somewhat stable and not linked to al-Quaeda.

                  The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?

                  by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 11:56:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  My views on this question are independent (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        doroma, JohnnySacks, gustynpip, Lepanto

        of who the President is.

      •  Oh horse manure. If Romney were President, he... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gustynpip

        would be saying "just how much oil is there in Syria?"

        He wouldn't even be mentionining Syria, let alone be talking about doing anything about Assad using chemical weapons.

        Tax and Spend I can understand. I can even understand Borrow and Spend. But Borrow and give Billionaires tax cuts? That I have a problem with.

        by LiberalCanuck on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:29:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Don't you think the introduction fo chemical (13+ / 0-)

        weapons makes the situation a bit different?  I'm certainly not saying I'm in favor of any intervention, but I have a tough time accepting that we should ignore the violation of international law either.  Either international law means something or it doesn't.  If it doesn't, then chemical weapons will become the weapon of choice.  Cheap, infinitely terrifying for all, so there will be an incredibly incentive for all to try and make sure there's no one anywhere near them who might stand up to an authoritarian regime, and effective.  Why waste money on guns and bullets?  And why put your own soldiers at risk when you can stay a long distance away and kill thousands in one fell swoop?

        Having such concerns hardly makes me an Obama apologist, as I guess you're implying.  It actually makes me someone who's thinking about a situation rather than having a knee jerk reaction.  The knee jerk reaction seems to me to be coming from people like you on this one.

        •  I agree with this, except for the last (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pasadena beggar, CenPhx

          paragraph. Assad using chemical weapons on his own people is most assuredly a game changer, and I think it's important that the international community do something about it.

          However, I don't see how the US and its allies bombing the fuck out of Syria is going to help anything. I really don't.

          If you could explain that to me, I'm all ears.

          If you want to argue in good faith, own your shit and stop with the distractions. -- Dallasdoc

          by Colorado is the Shiznit on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:37:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Did I say I thought it was going to help anything? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Justanothernyer

            See, that's the knee jerk reaction I'm talking about.  I say that the use of chemical weapons changes things in my mind and I don't think it can be ignored.  You immediately assume I'm in favor of bombing the fuck out of Syria, without actually thinking about what I said.  The judgmental attitude of assuming the worst of anyone who isn't only screaming "do nothing" is what's bothering me about pretty much all your posts here.

            •  so what do you propose then? (3+ / 0-)

              the discussion here is about intervening in Syria. you say america shouldnt ignore the use of chemical weapons there. i guess in this context it is not unreasonable to assume you support military intervention. perhaps you could be clearer about what course of action you support?

              •  If I had that answer, believe me, I'd have (0+ / 0-)

                been on the phone with the President a long time ago.  The point is that this is a very complex problem and requires thought and discussion, not a shoot from the hip reaction.

                It's not reasonable to assume I support anything.  I certainly don't have anywhere near sufficient information to form an opinion about whether military intervention is the appropriate response and, if so, whether that intervention should or should not include bombs.  What is reasonable to assume is that I believe people should refrain from making personal attacks and acting as though they're the only ones with a legitimate opinion and that anyone who doesn't automatically jump on their bandwagon is stupid, immoral, uncaring, or any of the other innuendos and outright attacks that are being made.  I want the freedom to gather information, figure out what I believe options to be available, and then form an opinion.  Not that my opinion will have a hairsbreath of impact on what does happen, but I'd still like to be provided with the right to make up my own mind without being attacked for even considering whether an option you don't like is right or wrong.

                •  not sure where i have denied you your right (0+ / 0-)

                  to have an opinion or have made any personal attacks on you whatsoever. perhaps you are confusing me with someone else?

                  in any case, feel free to think deeply about this issue. i will too, though i personally will not consider armed aggression as a viable pathway.

                  •  You responded to me responding to someone (0+ / 0-)

                    else.  You stated that it's safe for you to make an assumption based upon my response to someone else which I attempted to clarify as to why you're making an inaccurate assumption.  If you're not able to follow the contexts of the posts, I'm afraid you'll have to accept believing that I'm accusing you of doing something you didn't do.

        •  how can the Swedes and Japanese ignore it? (7+ / 0-)

          how do they sleep at night? can we first just talk to them and figure out how they do it before getting into another war?

        •  Would you be saying this if this were Pres Romney (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lepanto

          doing this?

          A bad policy is still a bad policy, even when done by a Democrat.

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 10:30:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  We could but: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gustynpip

      1.  Do you really want to provide anti-aircraft weapons to al-Qaeda affiliates?

      2.  Why do you think this will kill fewer Syrians?  

      3.  If we are providing real time intelligence and coordinating rebel operations, how are we any less involved?

      Moreover, aid  coupled with bombing is likely to lead to a faster departure for Assad if that is the goal.

      In what way is aid without bombing a superior alternative?

      •  I don't want to see anymore fucking (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hardhatmama

        dead bodies, man. Not in Syria and not from our troops.

        So, yes, providing aid to the rebels is absolutely a superior alternative than bombing anyone.

        And, seriously, I can't even believe you asked that. Wtf is wrong with you?!

        If you want to argue in good faith, own your shit and stop with the distractions. -- Dallasdoc

        by Colorado is the Shiznit on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:17:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You could have replied (11+ / 0-)

          without impugning his character.  "Wtf is wrong with you?" Holy crap, he has a different opinion and never once derided your viewpoint.

        •  Hmmm. You didn't answer even one of the quite (6+ / 0-)

          legitimate questions.

          - What about the al qaeda connection?  Do we pretend it doesn't exist or do we actively work to put them in power there?  Do you think there will end up being fewer dead bodies if they take power?

          -How will our providing more weapons decrease the number of dead bodies?  

          If these questions have such incredibly easy answers that you think someone is just fucking crazy for asking them, why not give those answers?

          Or you could simply drop your outrage over someone having an opinion different than you and accept that this is an incredibly complex problem with no acceptable solution, that there is nothing that is going to stop use from seeing more dead bodies,  that the goal is to try to come up with a way to reduce the number of dead bodies, and that no one has a clue as to how to do that and there's more than enough room for disagreement on what the most effective one might be.

        •  people killed by bombs are more dead (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gustynpip

          than people killed by small arms?

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

          by happymisanthropy on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 10:44:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Pick another want. (3+ / 0-)
          I don't want to see anymore fucking dead bodies, man. Not in Syria

          It seems reasonably clear dead bodies will continue to pile up in Syria if we do NOT intervene.

          Of course there will also be dead bodies if we do.

          So you can't have your wish. It's a reasonable and laudable wish; but it's not a possible one, no matter what the US does or doesn't do.

          The question is which option is least bad. Which will result in fewer dead bodies? Especially fewer dead civilian bodies?

          No easy answer.

          and not from our troops.
          There are certainly ways to intervene that would not put Americans on the ground in Syria. We might lose some pilots; that would surely be a tragedy; but as I noted above, some tragedy is unavoidable here.

          I don't like that. It's just the way things are.

          I tend to agree with the diarist. But I have no confidence I and diarist are right.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 11:34:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  No more dead bodies in Syria? LOL. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Justanothernyer

          You might wanna get something to eat, that could take a while.

          "See? I'm not a racist! I have a black friend!"

          by TheHalfrican on Wed Aug 28, 2013 at 07:12:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  You make a big assumption that the US (5+ / 0-)

        would take down the Assad regime were they to intervene.

        Another assumption not in evidence is that the Assad regime doesn't want US intervention.

        Assad knows that given the choice between supporting Al-Q-type rebels and him, he wins hands down with almost every one of the leading nations of the world who might pose realistic military threats to his regime.

        Assad could easily make a deal with the US in the event that we did intervene which would basically be, we'll kill all of the terrorists you hate (with pleasure) and tone it down with Lebanon if you let us keep our authoritarian government in tact - and I bet the US would take that deal.

        In the past 12 years we've fought in Afghanistan endlessly making little progress; broke and bought Iraq which is still limping along; cheered on Mubarak's removal after trying to protect him and now are dealing with the ramifications of a clash between a theocratic movement and the Egyptian military - and we have to referee the civil war in Syria, too?

        I do not believe that intervention on the part of the US is going to end up being quite as humanitarian as you seem to think it would be - primarily because our interventions rarely, if ever, are.

        •  I don't assume that the US would take down (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          erratic, Catte Nappe

          the Assad regime.

          That is why I want a clearer understanding of what the goals of any intervention are.

          For example, one might imagine a situation where we are fine with a Syria split into several pieces with Assad retaining one largely Alawite piece, possibly provided he gives up chemical weapons.  Or, we might be fine with him surrendering most or all of his chemical weapons and otherwise indifferent to his continued reign over Syria.

          However, it is reasonably clear that Assad would prefer not to have US intervention as there is no scenario in which military action against Assad by the US will help Assad.

          •  You are basically talking about goals (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pasadena beggar, tardis10, CenPhx

            that would end up being our occupation of the country - whether or not you really think that's what you are asking for here.

            Another 10-20 year commitment on the part of the US to the region is not in our national interest no matter how many oil executives might think it is.

            •  We also have an interest in limiting (0+ / 0-)

              the costs we incur if we intervene.  Some potential goals would require more significant commitments and costs then others which is why I want to have the goals of any intervention articulated in advance.

              •  Same shit, different year. (5+ / 0-)

                All the same shit about Iraq and goals was paraded out and basically everyone who thought that goals could be limited was delusional - we were not greeted with flowers.

                If you want to go in, you go in with complete and total dedication to seeing the intervention through - or you end up with years of chaos as we saw unfold in Iraq.

                We intervened in Vietnam which ended up with us basically uniting the country under a communist regime.

                We intervened in Korea and did only slightly better.  You want a humanitarian cause?  Why aren't we rescuing those North Korean people?  Why have we let them suffer for decades under that insane regime?

                There are tons of projects around the world, if you want to be the "humanitarian" military brigade.  Tons of projects.

                We can go to countless countries, topple their leaders, bomb bridges and schools and then rebuild them only to bomb them again and rebuild them again.

                But what about this country?  If we are such great humanitarians then why are we making people in this country suffer under austerity, sequesters and rapidly falling wages/standards of living?  

          •  So our attack (0+ / 0-)

            wouldn't be about Assad, it would just be spreading death and chaos into an area already overflowing with same.

            Yay us.

            You may think that. I couldn't possibly comment.-- Francis Urqhart

            by Johnny Q on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 12:59:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  We have been aiding the rebels for some time (6+ / 0-)

      Syria is a giant proxy war.

      Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

      by moviemeister76 on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:17:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No one is "drumming up war". In case you haven't (8+ / 0-)

      noticed, there already is a war going on.  Its been going on for close to two years.  Tens of thousands have already died.  The peace option has sailed away long ago.

      The question is, should the U.S. or the rest of the world care enough to do anything about the use of chemical weapons now being used in this war.

      Your response is basically, "No".

      Tax and Spend I can understand. I can even understand Borrow and Spend. But Borrow and give Billionaires tax cuts? That I have a problem with.

      by LiberalCanuck on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:27:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We don't even know who did the strike (11+ / 0-)

      with chemical weapons yet.

      Can we allow inspections and get the facts first?

      The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:32:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe the rebels used chemical weapons? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kickemout, Johnny Q

      Assad and his forces have been pretty much dominating the rebels over the last six months.  Why would he use chemical weapons, which obviously would spark up reactions from Europe, the U.N., and America?

      Perhaps Assad is even more ruthless than previously thought, but if you're winning, why do something like use chemical weapons and jeopardize having the world now intervene.

      But if you're the rebels and you know your only option remaining is to draw in US and European help by claiming that Assad used chemical weapons...  Maybe that would happen, maybe it wouldn't.

      My point here is that the last time newspapers and "unnamed sources" reported that a dictator had chemical weapons, it turned out that he didn't.

      So we should be very careful in picking sides.  And I would recommend not picking sides, mostly because we don't have enough clear information to make an informed decision.

      "Give me a lever long enough... and I shall move the world." - Archimedes

      by mconvente on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:33:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not clear the rebels are better for people of (2+ / 0-)

      Syria or for US interests.

      Assad has no history of giving chemical weapons to terrorists or other countries, how do we know if the rebels prevail they will let these weapons out of the country?

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 10:25:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The rebels are not that great either. (0+ / 0-)

      I think that is one of the biggest problems in trying to figure out how to deal positively with the situation. There is no obvious "good" side to help. Both sides have been committing atrocities, and some (though not all) of the rebels are fundamentalists anyway.

      At this point I am for staying out of it.

    •  Too right, CITS... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lepanto

      Since when did we become war hawks?

      Oh wait...since our president was named Obama instead of Bush...because NOW, it's A-OK.

      Adequate health care should be a LEGAL RIGHT in the U.S without begging or bankruptcy. Until it is, we should not dare call our society civilized.

      by Love Me Slender on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 11:59:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  limited intervention = bombing (8+ / 0-)

    And saving civilians is not something that bombing will accomplish.

    And intervening because Obama said chemical weapons are a red line and it causes us to lose credibility if we don't intervene is stupid. You need a plan and end goals, only an idiot would think lobbing a few missiles (and drone strikes) over there is going to solve the situation on its own. Unfortunately, that's what happens sometimes, and I think that hurts the U.S. credibility a lot more than Obama not backing up a statement he made.

  •  Interesting - (6+ / 0-)

    CAIRO (Reuters) - The Arab League squarely blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday for a gas attack near Damascus and urged the U.N. Security Council to act, providing what diplomatic sources said was political cover for a possible U.S. strike.

    http://news.yahoo.com/...

  •  I appreciate you going out on a limb... (6+ / 0-)

    I am in the "do something effective, but what?" camp, and am exploring the following thoughts:

    1.  What if?   What if a Syrian strike inadvertently (or even advertantly) struck a chemical weapons supply held by the rebels or AQ?  How does this change the "act now" calculation?  Do we, will we have definitive evidence that such weapons were deployed by Syria against the rebels/civilians on the rebel side, or is it murkier?

    2.  There is no half-and-half end game in my opinion, we can't smack Assad a couple of times then let the war continue - there is no penalty box in this game.  In order to accomplish anything meaningful we have to overthrow the regime and put in place an interim government with security for both that government and the people and Syria's neighbors.  

    3.  If we accept as given that striking from afar will not help than we must accept that any intervention will have to involve ground troops to separate the side - whose troops will those be?  Can the US supply the airpower and not put boots on the ground?

    4.  We can not let this powder-keg it's way into a proxy war between Iran and Israel, we can not simply let the "rebels" win and be immediately autonomous without at least cleaning out Assad's caches of weapons (add to that the distaste of being on the same side as AQ).

    Honestly, we should have intervened earlier, but also honestly Russia and China have to take a leadership position NOW and demand and facilitate Assad's and his top lieutenant's exit as part of a UN sanctioned cease-fire so that aid/diplomatic and security boots can get on the ground, so that foreign AQ elements can be isolated and exiled so that an interim government can be formed with at least a snowball's chance in hell of succeeding.  

    Assad and his thugs can be persecuted later, mind you - but I think the only way to de-escalate and avoid a disastrous intervention or the disastrous results of non-intervention is for the big boys (US/EU, Arab League, China, Russia and even Iran's new leadership) to simply say, game over - split the sides up and end this civil war by both agreement and force to back it up.

    The above are just some of the thoughts running through my head right now....

    •  What gives the USA moral authority (6+ / 0-)

      to pass judgement on anybody?

      •  Obama (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        doroma

        Obama is not Bush/Cheney.

        Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite. John Kenneth Galbraith .

        by melvynny on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:19:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Obama is your reasoning for (8+ / 0-)

          the United States using its power to make unilateral world decisions? Really?

          If you want to argue in good faith, own your shit and stop with the distractions. -- Dallasdoc

          by Colorado is the Shiznit on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:28:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  similar acts (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Loge

            by different people need to be judged independently.  Sometimes even a pacifist has to weigh the evidence and fight for humanity.  Not often, I'll grant you--but sometimes Machiavelli can be translated as --a good despot can use might makes right.

            Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite. John Kenneth Galbraith .

            by melvynny on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:44:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  He just turned a blind eye on them... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Johnny Q

          and called Bush a "good man."

          "Yes We Can!" -- Barack Obama

          by Sucker Politics on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:29:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think these comments are unconstructive (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Loge, gustynpip

            to the actual question, which is to say, should we lead or participate in an intervention and accept the consequences and responsibility of that decision or should we not intervene and accept the consequences and responsibility of that decision?  While I appreciate and understand the greater context, it is in the now that I always reduce moral calculations to the binary to achieve clarity and not be paralyzed by naval gazing.

            Is it in our present national interest and moral interest to force a stop to this war before it get's worse, or to do nothing and allow it to play out?  Both options are fraught with both foreseeable and unforeseeable consequences.

            I don't see a "do nothing" option which doesn't exacerbate the situation even further and ultimately compel us to participate when the conflict is somehow even more chaotic than it is now.  I don't see the moral benefit of allowing the refugee situation to worsen, the benefit of abandoning the legit Syria rebels to AQ's leadership, the likelihood of this war spilling over the borders and further involving Israel and Iran.  The time to act was probably a year or so ago, but is most definitely now.

            I think we should participate in an international intervention if the primary goals are to unseat Assad, stabilize the region, including chemical munitions, exile the foreign terrorist elements.

            If this can be achieved through the UN w/Russian and Chinese support/pressure, that would be ideal as it would maximize the chances of a less violent intervention and may even create a model for peaceful resolution with Iran.  If not, we should consider joining/leading a coalition if it includes the Arab League and the EU.  

            •  What I'd like to see... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gustynpip

              1. Rigorous confirmation of the chem reports (apparently shouldn't taken more than a few days).
              2. If confirmed, the best course of action debated and decided on by informed, impartial advisors (could be done in under 24 hours if you pick the right dream team). These advisors should have no vested interest in outcomes and should be committed to what's just and right.
              3. Military action if that's the best course of action.
              4. A prompt move on other fronts to ensure the mission remains purely humanitarian and isn't tainted by financial or other such objectives.
              5. When the dust settles, addressing American war crimes.

              "Yes We Can!" -- Barack Obama

              by Sucker Politics on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 10:05:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Pretty much anyone in the entire universe (4+ / 0-)

        has moral authority to pass judgment on a government that uses chemical weapons.

      •  The International community (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        6412093, gustynpip

        banned the use of chemical weapons, not the USA. That's the authority (I'm not big on framing "morals"). I don't see "moral authority" being used in people's thinking and attempting to parse this complicated issue here.

  •  Beware overthinking that leads to inaction. (0+ / 0-)

    Certainly careful consideration must be paid anytime military is about to be taken, but the moral outrage of gassing women and children must be answered or the credibility of the US is gone.

    A measured military response like the use of cruise missiles against gas launching sites is not only called for but is mandatory. The moral right has been established, don't overthink it, just do it.

    But after the US has established its morale credentials, there is another consideration. Where is the United Nations in all of this? If  the tragic use of poison gas against women and children doesn't stir the Security Council, yes the misnamed Security Council, into action what will. As usual, the UN makes speeches, runs never-ending "investigations" and, as usual, does nothing. This continued inaction by the UN is both maddening and disgusting. Disband this bloated, ineffective bureaucracy if it can't live up to its Charter.  

  •  huh? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Colorado is the Shiznit, CenPhx

    Intervening against Assad would keep his weapons out of the hands of Al Qaeda?  In the chaos of an Assad defeat, the best organized rebels would be the ones to claim that prize.  Any guesses as to who that might be?

    As to enforcing international law, that needs to be a joint effort.

  •  This Is The Chance For The US To Stick It (0+ / 0-)

    to Russia.  Of late I have had some hate for Russia.  The way they treat gay people and anyone who says anything bad about religion are treated like criminals.  I would like to see the whole world stick it to Russia and Syria for thinking that using chemical weapons as a weapon in their genocide of their own people would be seen as ok.  I wouldn't mind the US sending in some cruise missiles even if it is to let Russia, Syria and Iran know that the rest of the world don't like bullies.

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:12:32 AM PDT

    •  There is so very much wrong with (11+ / 0-)

      this comment and this line of thinking that I can't even begin.

      /pauses for dramatic effect.

      This isn't a goddamned game, man! You're not playing Risk, for fuck's sake! We're talking about people's lives here, and you want to "stick it to Russia"?

      And this:

      I wouldn't mind the US sending in some cruise missiles even if it is to let Russia, Syria and Iran know that the rest of the world don't like bullies.
      You want to bully other countries to let them know that bullying isn't OK? Got it, Holmes.

      Jesus Horatio Christ jumping up and down and waving his arms around wildly, you cannot make this shit up.

      If you want to argue in good faith, own your shit and stop with the distractions. -- Dallasdoc

      by Colorado is the Shiznit on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:23:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  t/R for a well presented view of an unpopular (11+ / 0-)

    opinion.   I tend to be against intervention, but all arguments are needed here.

  •  Arab Spring (0+ / 0-)

    Has the Arab Spring been a good thing for its citizens?  Can (will) Assad be replaced by a stable democracy?  The problems can be traced back to colonialism--but the solutions might have no creator.  Putting our head into the sand almost sounds comfortable--any action deserves criticism--yet is understandable.  I too lean towards doing something--but claim ignorance as to what that is.  Maybe a naval blockade--ineffective because of geography, but also painless.

    Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite. John Kenneth Galbraith .

    by melvynny on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:18:53 AM PDT

    •  The problems can be traced back much further (0+ / 0-)

      than colonialism.  Although that certainly created most of the borders that resulted in such diametrically opposed peoples to be ruled by the same leader.  The truth is that the Middle East has not been a peaceful part of the world for many centuries past.  There are too many diverse groups in a small area with limited resources for it to have ever been peaceful.

  •  United States interest in it's own credibility? (5+ / 0-)

    From your diary

    International law is only as strong as the willingness of the strongest supporters of international law to enforce it.
    and
    Further, the United States has a strong interest in maintaining its credibility
    I am having a hard time reconciling those statements with this UN says US spying violates international laws

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist." Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara

    by Haningchadus14 on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:22:51 AM PDT

  •  The WORLD needs to intervene in Syria. Sadly... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JohnnySacks, reginahny

    that is unlikely as most of the world doesn't give a tinker's damn about any  but their own.

    If Syria had oil, the world would be pounding Syria's doors off their hinges.  Because they do not, the world will find a thousand reasons to let Assad continue murdering his own people.

    Tax and Spend I can understand. I can even understand Borrow and Spend. But Borrow and give Billionaires tax cuts? That I have a problem with.

    by LiberalCanuck on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:24:29 AM PDT

  •  Unfortunately, we've lost all moral authority. (5+ / 0-)

    When Obama, Congress, and -- most important -- we the American people (via "business as usual" activity) decided not to pursue justice for American war crimes, it further reinforced the nauseating hypocrisy of this country.

    You can't start pointless wars, torture people in violation of international law, let those behind the policies walk free, and then expect to be taken seriously when mouthing off about what's evil in Syria.

    What a joke.

    "Yes We Can!" -- Barack Obama

    by Sucker Politics on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:26:56 AM PDT

  •  I'm reccing your diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    imfunnytoo, Gurnt, reginahny, Tracker

    not because I agree with the conclusion but because you laid out your case objectively and with corroboration.  

    That said, I feel Syria is a trap being set by the Russians primarily.  This is all about Putin.  He is on a tear lately to stoke Russian nationalism and thus his authoritarian power.  Putin's been in our face now for some time trying to provoke a confrontation.  This has all the markings of an attempt that seems as if it will be successful.  

    Clearly the world is hammering for some response over seeing pictures of children gasping for air with their eyes bleeding.  There is international justification for SOMEONE to step in and do something.  

    We were very good at our response in Libya because the Arab world cried for us to be there and the scope was so limited.  We're starting to hear that same outcry from the Arab world in this as well.  Our trick to this is absolutely not allowing ourselves to be fully drawn in, blasting the international media with the horrors we're stopping and by all means minimizing collateral damage.

  •  But intervene "how" exactly? (3+ / 0-)

    Soldiers on the ground?
    Cruise missiles?
    No-fly zone?
    Guns & ammo for the rebels?
    One drone strike to take out Assad?

    All these things have very different potential consequences.

    Personally, I'm very mixed on this. What's going on in Syria is horrible (chemical weapons or not), but I'm not sure if intervening will make it better or worse. I don't think anyone really does.

    Anyway, thanks for the diary...

    Freedom isn't free. That's why we pay taxes.

    by walk2live on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:30:52 AM PDT

    •  Drone Strikes (0+ / 0-)

      are an intriguing possibility/test of the technology here - and I am saying this mostly from the armchair military strategic pov in the context of international cooperation.  It would be a potential game-changer if they could actually be used to "decapitate" the Assad regime, take out his military's airpower, with Special Forces parachuted in to secure chemical weapons caches, in the context of air support and ground movement from other allies to take up security/stabilization positions around the country.

  •  Isn't torture also supposed to be (4+ / 0-)

    verboten under international law?

    I don't feel we have the moral compass Kerry talks about.

    Further, I don't see why bombing the hell out of them is going to prevent people using chemical weapons on each other. Unless, of course, we're planning to take over the entire country and control it indefinitely with our superior military forces. Yet another unstable colony state. That should be fun.

    Further, I don't see why it's our job to do this. We're already involved in 75 wars. Our economy is crumbling. Why is Assad ours to fix--if indeed, Assad actually did it?

    The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:31:54 AM PDT

  •  Well, "intervene" is a broad range of options. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    imfunnytoo

    From food drops to a hit on Assad's capabilities to arming a group to ensuring a win for someone and then keeping the peace.

    I'm not really concerned about the prospect of Syria fracturing and a deeper civil war: the use of chem weapons is either a cause or a symptom of a civil war that's not going to get any deeper or deadlier than that.

    So no way can we do more than hit Assad's capabilities.  Anything we do is going to look bad and probably be worse than it looks.

    I googled "confirmation bias" and Daily Kos raided my house! And and and smashed my hard drives! Ask CNN, it's all truthy!

    by Inland on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:33:35 AM PDT

  •  There are only bad options here (4+ / 0-)

    - Don't act and there are all sorts of fallout even beyond the continuing violence and death.

    - Act in a limited way and all you are likely to do is to raise ire against the US, kill a lot of people, and have Assad remain defiant.

    - Act in a larger way and now you've got even more ire to the US, possibly mired into another large conflict, and still no guarantees that an overthrown Assad regime would lead to anything any better in its replacement unless the US wants to stay longterm in another Iraq/Afghanistan situation.  If the US doesn't stay, then Syria could fall in to the control of extremists and possibly their chemical weapons would too.

    Honestly, I don't know what should be done.  Long-term, acting could even be worse than doing nothing and letting the slaughter continue.  The best alternative would be for someone other than the US to take the lead here, preferably the other Arab States.  But that's not going to happen.  I suspect they will attack Assad, kill a lot of civilians in the process, make his gov't fall, and chaos will reign because there are so many foreign fighters in the country.  The chemical weapons will not be fully secured and the problem will be worse than if they had not acted.

  •  Disagree (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wayoutinthestix, Kentucky Kid, CenPhx
    The use of chemical weapons is a clear violation of one of the few widely respected tenets of international law. International law is only as strong as the willingness of the strongest supporters of international law to enforce it.  Currently, those supporters are  the United States and to a lesser extent the UK and France.  So, either we act against Syria or the international law against the use of chemical weapons is weakened.
    Really?  International law is supported by three whole countries and two of them only marginally?  That's a load of bull right there, sir.

    We are not the world's policemen.  If there's going to be intervention there needs to be an international coalition of countries to participate. We can't be the only country spending our treasure and blood to fight every war everywhere.

    The United States violated international law with a torture program so I'd say our support of international law is marginal at best. I'm not sure about the international laws on holding foreigners captive for decades without charges or trials but that seems pretty ridiculous on the face of it. Not to mention our well-known international spying that is almost certainly a violation of laws, international or not.

    Claims of other countries violating international law is extremely weak sauce coming from the United States. Let's clean up our own act by closing Gitmo, renouncing torture, and abandoning our entrenched international spying programs before we decide to get on our high horse being the world's police force.

    Most importantly, we have a very strong interest in preventing the proliferation of chemical weapons especially to groups affiliated with al-Qaeda.  A number of rebel groups are affiliated with al-Qaeda...
    Stop it with the al-Qaeda fear mongering. There's no "especially" here, it's just that we don't want weapons falling in to the hands of religious radicals anywhere. Where did Syria get these weapons and why hasn't the United States and an international coalition been pressuring Syria to destroy them?

    We have our own problems here in this country. We need to stop prancing around the globe selectively enforcing international law.

    [Terrorists] are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. --Digby

    by rabel on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:35:02 AM PDT

  •  New poll shows supports for strikes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doroma, Catte Nappe

    49% Approve  38% Disapprove

    http://swampland.time.com/...

  •  For me, it's the difference between "would" (0+ / 0-)

    and "could."

    I believe our intervention "could" deter the Syrian govt from using these weapons again.

    But I, being a non military person am not sure it
     "would."

    My emotion, after seeing those children is "Intervene!"  

    But emotion should never rule a decision to go to war.

    So I say no.

    Dear budget cutting GOP'ers: Public transit is my “car.” And frankly, I’d like it back.

    by imfunnytoo on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:53:05 AM PDT

  •  Way too late (0+ / 0-)

    and the Obama administration is to blame.

    When innocent citizens were gunned down in the streets while peacefully marching for democracy (by the minority gangster Assad regime) two years ago, this country stood by and watched.

    Thousands have died since while we pretended there was nothing we could do to help that peaceful movement.

    So it was always going to devolve down to this.  Obama let the hand play him, rather that seizing the initiative near the beginning, when the outcome could have been much better.

    We can now watch the chemical genocide of poor Sunnis in Syria, and establish that states can gas people with impunity, or try to "do something" semi-symbolic, while watching the daily slaughter there go on.

    Obama's notorious "caution" (which he has woefully displayed since day one with Republicans here in the US) has led America to this point of lobbing some cruise missiles at a failed state, instead of joining the thousands who originally came out into the streets demanding peaceful democratic change two years ago.  

    As in Egypt, our government has proven again it has little interest in fostering democracy in the Middle East.

  •  Changing Assad's cost/benefit analysis (3+ / 0-)

    What is the objective of an intervention? What will its duration be?

    Lots of people seem to be assuming that the answer is, "to do enough damage to Assad's forces such that the rebels can win the war," and, "indefinitely". I don't think that that will be the case. I think the objective will be to do more damage to Assad than he benefited from the use of the weapons, to send the message that it's in his interest to put them back in storage. He gasses a few hundred people, we bomb a military airbase. Assad asks himself, "Is this a trade that I want to make again?"

    Yes, I know, artillery fired into urban areas is nearly as indiscriminate as chemical weapons. And we've been green-lighting Assad to kill as many people as he likes, so long as he sticks to "conventional" means to do it. It seems kind of arbitrary to police the choice of weapons, rather than the overall actions. But I think that that's the level of intervention that Obama will be comfortable with. It's likely to be successful in that very limited objective -- we can make chemical weapons sufficiently expensive that they're not worth using.

    A case can be made that we should be intervening more decisively, with the objective of ousting Assad. A case can be made that we shouldn't. But realistically I don't think that that's even being considered in the White House. If Obama wanted to intervene on that scale, he would have been pushing for it long ago.

    My cat doesn't understand macroeconomics or death metal; but he's loyal and I love him.

    by lilnev on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:56:34 AM PDT

  •  No. Just No. n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CenPhx, Johnny Q, Lepanto

    "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

    by EdMass on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:57:41 AM PDT

  •  Seen this movie before (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Johnny Q, urovermyknee

    hussein used chemical weapons on his own people. We shouldn't have gone in then, shouldn't go in now. Simple.

  •  Just an observation, not advocating (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gustynpip

    Decimate the Syrian Air Force. Its a strictly military target, air power has been one of the major force multipliers for the Assad regime and has been used extensively to turn the tide against the rebels.

    Cruise missiles have the capability to crater the runways of airfields leaving them useless.

    Help me to be the best Wavy Gravy I can muster

    by BOHICA on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:58:06 AM PDT

    •  Re-check (0+ / 0-)

      Assad has not used air power much.  Shelling with conventional weapons.   Disabling the "air force" does nothing to stop him...

      "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

      by EdMass on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 10:03:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Undertanding the real issue of chemical weapons (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    defluxion10, gustynpip

    The main issue concerning the use of chemical weapons is THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS! The world has been wary of the use of chemical weapons in war since the days of world war I when the Germans introduced mustard gas on the battlefield for the first time. Mankind was able to observe the real danger of the use of chemical weapons and discovered the real horror in the use of these weapons is the LACK OF CONTROL once the agent is released. A significant change in the wind direction can send airborne agents flowing back into the face of those who released it. Tracking is also a huge problem. Some nerve gas can kill within 2 seconds of exposure, and it is colorless and has no smell to warn potential victims.

    However beyond the current statistics for nerve gas agents is the realization that the use of modern chemical engineering techniques can produce future gas agents with killing potential on a worldwide scale.

    Therefore it has been the unwritten resolve of western nations to steadfastly monitor both the use and expanse of chemical weapons throughout the world. The ban on chemical weapons was one of the founding reasons for the creation of the United Nations as the international agency authorized to police the affectivity of such a ban. However international politics have rendered the Security Council of the UN completely unable to perform this duty. As a result the western nations are left with only one alternative and that is to put intolerable pressure on any government  that decides to use chemical weapons. Western dedication to the maintenance of an uncompromising high level of pressure against the use of these weapons anywhere in the world will likely be in the form of limited military action. The primary goal of this unrelenting pressure is to convince the user of chemical weapons that such action will expose them to the full wrath of a coalition of nations who are totally dedicated to prohibiting the use and further development of these weapons.  Therefore under these circumstances the real issue is not Syria. Libya, or Iraq or any other nation that finds itself engaged in a long term internal rebellion. It is simply the use of chemical weapons which will ultimately result in an immediate reaction from the western nations.

    It is curious that the U.S. invaded Iraq not long after Saddam Hussein killed thousands of Iraqi Kurds with a nerve gas agent. The US argument for attacking Iraq was that Saddam was developing "Weapons of Mass Destruction". The perception given the public was the complaint concerned Iraq possible development of nuclear weapons, whereas the actual concern of the US was over the expanded development of  chemical weapons, since Saddam had already demonstrated that he had nerve gas available but was willing to use it.  

  •  Damn Straight (0+ / 0-)
    While I've noted an awfully large number of disingenuous arguments against intervention on this site, and am tentatively in favor of intervening, we also need to think about the limits of our intervention and its goals.  So far, these have not been articulated.  While American intervention may be warranted here, we need to have a clear understanding of the goals and limits of that intervention before we embark on it.
    I would also add that if the Obama administration has such incontrovertible evidence that Assad used chemical weapons, it should present it - now, before this thing runs off the tracks. At this particular time, John Kerry has no more personal credibility than Colin Powell did prior to the Iraq invasion. GWB and Cheney were roundly criticized here for not making their case to the American people prior to acting. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice ... You can't fool me twice."

    "A famous person once said, 'You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.' But as I once said, "If you don't teach them to read, you can fool them whenever you like." – Max Headroom

    by midnight lurker on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 11:16:32 AM PDT

  •  sickening (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilK

    good ole'.... "we must destroy this village in order to save it" thinking at work here

    we are being played for such patsies it makes me nauseous. the media drumbeats are echoing and everyone has already forgotten the idiocy and horror of Iraq and Afghanistan.

    that fact that we are treating this like a kids video game while we discuss 'moral authority' (despite using chem weapons ourselves in Iraq) is just mind boggling

    oh well... let's at least make sure we time the bombing for prime time!!

  •  Requires proof that the government did this (0+ / 0-)

    And that the proof be made public.  Not just that someone did it.

    "When dealing with terrorism, civil and human rights are not applicable." Egyptian military spokesman.

    by Paleo on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 04:49:43 PM PDT

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