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Deja vu.  News media quote unnamed "senior officials" arguing for war.  Then a Saddam-hating former embezzler was taken seriously when he said Saddam was pursuing weapons, now we have the word of rebels fighting Assad and Israelis who hate Assad that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons.  Good thing the IDF is such a credible source of information.  Otherwise Kerry might have to call up the heart-eating rebel guy and take his word for it.

Junk intelligence is followed by tough guy threats - then it was "48 hours to leave Iraq", now it's "red lines" and punishing Assad for using chemical weapons.  Threats that must be followed up or you look weak.  Peace, though, must come with the abdication of the one in power - Saddam had to flee, and President Obama insists that Assad must step aside as a condition for peace talks.  Then as now, those beating the drums of war aren't telling us how they're going to handle the situation after the kinetic thingamajig has worked it's magic.

I said "half" the mistakes, because there are of course differences between the soon-to-be-war on Syria and the war on Iraq.  Biden isn't the recently retired CEO of a major contractor standing to make many billions in no-bid contracts from the war.  Mr. Obama probably isn't planning on setting up a torture program or sending in a hundred thousand ground troops.  Assad, unlike Saddam, really is currently "killing his own people" with military strikes and police state tactics.

Other differences: those familiar with the history of the region could have told you in 2002 that deposing Saddam was likely to result in a tribal/sectarian civil war that would cost far more lives than simply leaving Saddam in power.  But with Syria, that war is already taking place.  We know, because the United States has supported the rebels and the rebellion - and the violence - might have ended without that support.  But what happens when Assad is finally deposed by a Predator drone or killed in the streets like Gaddafi?  We haven't been arming the dirty hippie faction in Syria, but the Mujahideen Al Qaeda.  So President Hillary or President Michelle could be right back with the air craft carriers and drones in 5, 10 or 15 years to fight the old enemy of our enemy that is now the next enemy.  It's a vicious cycle, which the Pentagon has taken decades to perfect.

Oh, and one other thing: Bush got U.N. and Congressional approval for his war.  Obama has already forgone the U.N., and now claims that he will "give Congress a voice" - is he not merciful?  It's just a formality, since the President claims he can act without Congress, bypassing cumbersome red tape like the War Powers Act.  But after the junk intelligence, lack of post-strike plans, and ignoring international law, there's still one question that stands out in the sea of unanswered questions:

Why hasn't President Obama been threatening to strike at anyone who uses chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war, but only the Assad government?

Edits: vicious, not viscous, and Bush's attempt to get support for Iraq failed in both the General Assembly and at the Security Council; misremembered the latter.

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Comment Preferences

  •  President Obama has turned to Congress for (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Johnny Q, Kickemout, corvo, NT Toons

    approval to intervene militarily in Syria because due to his inopportune red lines he has boxed himself in.

    I predict that Congress will grant the President the AUMF he needs.

    But not to help him, but to put him in back in to the present situation - for once the President has AUMF from Congress than the ball will be in his court again:
    - either he doesn't act on his red line and loses face, or
    - he does, and intervenes militarily without the backing of a UN Security Council resolution, which would make his intervention an act of aggression and a war crime

    If Congress meant to help the President it would do so by denying him AUMF so as to enable him to get out of this mess of his own making, for then he could do nothing and excuse himself by saying he was obeying Congress.

    But our partisan Congress will do everything possible to embarass him - grant him AUMF and then criticize him for whatever he does.

    Wait and see.

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

    by Lepanto on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 01:50:12 AM PDT

    •  The President did not box himself in (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DrTerwilliker, NT Toons

      Seeking Congressional approval is his "out". Republicans aren't going to vote for ANYTHING this President proposes. If he walked on water and brought corpses, rotting in the hot desert sun for days, back to life, they wouldn't even applause. They would seek a reason to impeach him for it.

      Congress won't approve it and we won't go in.

       Innocents will die.

      •  Combining Obama's 2 worst traits in 1 action (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NT Toons, Chaoslillith

        His innate (and Harvard Law School reinforced) obsession with 'consensus building'.
        His impulse to always raise the white flag even before he's  been asked to surrender.
        "Brainy yet timid and tentative" has never been on the list of qualifications for US Pres.

      •  Sure they will. See NDAA rollcall. (0+ / 0-)
        Republicans aren't going to vote for ANYTHING this President proposes.
        Both parties are still quite united on matters of finance, war, and letting the working class fend for itself.  And if there's one thing Republicans love, it's war.

        That's not to say they wont find some way to make a partisan fight out of it, like when they lost their minds at having their own health care plan, cooked up by the Heritage Foundation in the 90's, signed into law by a Dem president.

        But continuing PNAC'S plan to bomb countries in the Middle East?  They'll make it happen.

  •  Syrian rebels are not the nicest people around (7+ / 0-)

    The establishment press seems to be conveniently demphasizing the atrocities that rebels in Syria have committed. When rebels eat the hearts of slain opponents, kidnap, torture, and execute without conscience, one can hardly blame Assad and the government for reacting. The rebels in Syria are often the worst type of heartless extremists.

    I totally disagree with Obama's view that we should get involved in their total mess.

    •  Are you condoning the use of chemical weapons? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NT Toons, FG
      When rebels eat the hearts of slain opponents, kidnap, torture, and execute without conscience, one can hardly blame Assad and the government for reacting.

      "I'm a progressive man and I like progressive people" Peter Tosh

      by Texas Lefty on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 06:44:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Are you condoning eating hearts of opponents (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NT Toons

        Are you condoning eating the hearts of opponents, the kidnapping, torture and executions of these Al-Qaeda associated rebels?

      •  Are you condoning helping Al Queda? (0+ / 0-)

        Back then, anyone who questioned the war was accused of being a Saddam supporter or condoning the use of "torture and rape rooms".

        The "neat" thing about this conflict, however, is how easy it is to lob those straw men right back over the net.  If you support bombing Assad, does that mean that you support all of Al Qaeda, or just the heat-eating branch?

        Syria: the final resting place of the straw man.

  •  Getting Stuck in Viscous Cycles (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, NT Toons

    As the tough guys from 2002 put it, everyone wants to go to Tehran but real men want to go to Cairo.

    Our army was going to storm through Iraq, then pivot through Syria or Iran on our way to the grand prize of Egypt: power nexus of the Middle East.

    One of the (many) reasons I was leary of kicking off this chain was that we had good reason to think we would become over extended and get bogged down at one of the links in the chain.  

    The big surprise was that we got stuck at the very first link.  

    In retrospect, it's clear that when Shinseki testified that 450,000 troops would be needed to accomplish the mission he was saying not "find me another 300,000 troops" but "this is a bad idea, don't do it."

    Some diarist recently made the point that the mystery of US military power was in itself a potent diplomatic weapon, that showing our hand drained some of the terror from threats of further action.

    Sometimes everything goes according to plan but not according to schedule, and we may be living out the tough guy dream in wicked slow motion.

    That suggests to me that going into Syria is a really bad idea.

    Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies have nothing to lose but their chains -Marx (-8.75,-8.36)

    by alain2112 on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:08:13 AM PDT

    •  I believe you mean "vicious cycles" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alain2112, NT Toons

      although blood, having a high viscosity, kind of works too.

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

      by corvo on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 06:25:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You Caught My Meaning (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NT Toons

        The diarist made the slip originally, and once seen it could not be unseen.

        I spent some time in Damascus in a previous life, in my mind's eye stretch the outer suburbs stretch away on the hillside.  One particular courtyard sticks in my mind, tea with a friendly doctor in a shaded orange grove.  Could that be the site of an errant missile strike?

        Confidence is not high that this is all going to end well.

        Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies have nothing to lose but their chains -Marx (-8.75,-8.36)

        by alain2112 on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 10:30:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Factually challenged (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Texas Lefty, NT Toons, FG
    Oh, and one other thing: Bush got U.N. and Congressional approval for his war.
    Bush got UN Security Council approval for the war in Afghanistan, which was legal because of both the UN resolution and the 9/11 attacks.

    But Bush failed to get UN approval for the Iraq war and there was no first Iraqi attack, making that war illegal.

    Also, I think you left out the Arab spring uprisings.

    •  Link (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NT Toons

      for approval of the Afghanistan war by the UN?  It is my understanding that there was no such approval.

      Afghanistan: The Other Illegal War

      Did 9/11 Justify the War in Afghanistan?

      •  Yes there were (0+ / 0-)

        There were several and they have been renewed over the years.

        I was going to say something snarky like google is your friend, but I see that the phrases UN Security Council Afghanistan 9/11 has been google bombed so that you don't get accurate results.

        Here's for starters -- just scroll through for the ones on Afghanistan:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        The Afghan war is legal even if one opposes it on other grounds.

        •  Just scroll through? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NT Toons

          Ok, 1301: "Extends mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara" Is that it?

          1302: "Extends Oil-for-Food Programme in Iraq" Is that it?
          ...
          1399: "Condemns activities by the Rally for Congolese Democracy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo" Is that it?

          1400: "Extends mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone"  Is that it?

          Maybe you mean 1368 and 1373, the ones sometimes cited, and the ones mentioned in the links I provided?

          Of course, the UN Security Council might have determined that one of these necessary steps was to authorize an attack on Afghanistan by the United States. But it did not. Resolution 1373, the only other Security Council resolution about this issue, laid out various responses, but these included matters such as freezing assets, criminalizing the support of terrorists, exchanging police information 
about terrorists, and prosecuting terrorists. The use of military force was not mentioned.
          link
          The U.N. Charter provides that all member states must settle their international disputes by peaceful means, and no nation can use military force except in self-defense or when authorized by the Security Council. After the 9/11 attacks, the council passed two resolutions, neither of which authorized the use of military force in Afghanistan. Resolutions 1368 and 1373 condemned the Sept. 11 attacks and ordered the freezing of assets; the criminalizing of terrorist activity; the prevention of the commission of and support for terrorist attacks; and the taking of necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist activity, including the sharing of information. In addition, it urged ratification and enforcement of the international conventions against terrorism. link
          •  So you're determined NOT to read ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FG

            any of the listed resolutions about Afghanistan?

            1301: "Extends mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara" Is that it?

            1302: "Extends Oil-for-Food Programme in Iraq" Is that it?
            ...
            1399: "Condemns activities by the Rally for Congolese Democracy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo" Is that it?

            1400: "Extends mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone"  Is that it?

            Or was it too intellectually challenging for you to look for the word, "Afghanistan," in the titles of the resolutions to see which were relevant? Was the phrase, "scroll through" too difficult for you?

            And then you cite David Ray Griffin who doesn't even think Al Qaeda was behind the attacks -- that it was Dick Cheney or something -- as "proof" that the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions didn't authorize the use of force?

            Okey Dokey.

            Whatever dude. Enjoy your stay in Bizarro World.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

            •  Resolution 1386 was after the Invasion (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NT Toons

              The ad hominem attacks are neither useful nor welcome.

              The United States refused to negotiate and launched Operation Enduring Freedom on 7 October 2001 with the United Kingdom and Italy, later joined by Russia, France, Australia, Canada, Poland, Germany and other mainly western allies, to attack the Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces in conjunction with the Northern Alliance.
              War in Afghanistan
              United Nations Security Council resolution 1386, adopted unanimously on 20 December 2001. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1386
              You have yet to provide one relevant UN Resolution that authorized the War. Unless you are arguing that 1386 did so retroactively?  

              Back to my original polite question for the assertion that you made:  

              Link for approval of the Afghanistan war by the UN?  It is my understanding that there was no such approval.
    •  Thanks for the correction. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      i dunno
      Bush got UN Security Council approval for the war in Afghanistan, which was legal because of both the UN resolution and the 9/11 attacks.
      But where was the exact resolution approving the invasion of Afghanistan?  Looks like your memory might just be off as well.  

      While speaking of faulty memory, almost all the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, and the Taliban said they would present Bin Laddin for a trial but Bush wasn't interested.  So no justification for the invasion of Afghanistan, with or without approval from Congress or the U.N.

      Also, I think you left out the Arab spring uprisings.
      "Assad, unlike Saddam, really is currently "killing his own people" with military strikes and police state tactics." wasn't sufficient?

      Alright, lets talk about the wider Spring.  Lets talk about how it was put down in Bahrain with American weapons with ongoing American arm shipments.  Let's talk about how the State Department refuses to use the word "coup" on Egypt so the flow of gun money isn't interrupted.

  •  Actually, I think we're increasingly willing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NT Toons, i dunno

    --- to judge by dramatically increasing support for military action against Syria as reflected by recent polling -- to repeat all the mistakes we made with Iraq, and then some.

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

    by corvo on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 06:24:21 AM PDT

  •  The March to War (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NT Toons
    Oh, and one other thing: Bush got U.N. and Congressional approval for his war.
    There was no such approval from the U.N.
    then it was "48 hours to leave Iraq", now it's "red lines" and punishing Assad for using chemical weapons.  Threats that must be followed up or you look weak.  Peace, though, must come with the abdication of the one in power - Saddam had to flee, and President Obama insists that Assad must step aside as a condition for peace talks.  Then as now, those beating the drums of war aren't telling us how they're going to handle the situation after the kinetic thingamajig has worked it's magic.
    Indeed. See: The March to War
    •  Thanks for the correction. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      i dunno
      •  Trying to update diary but it's not cooperating. (0+ / 0-)

        I click "Save Changes" and it just brings up text asking if I'm sure I want to save, but doesn't give me another button to do so.  So I guess next time I'll just have to confirm U.N. resolutions and double check the viscosity of auto-correct.  :)

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