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Pity the poor jingoists among us! Syrian civil war is too complicated to lend itself to sloganeering!

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America’s pseudo-patriots usually can be counted upon to support almost any suggestion of U.S. military action abroad. They were that way with regard to Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and countless smaller skirmishes. Any opportunity for our nation to validate its macho bona fides was welcome.

But, alas, the current situation in Syria doesn’t lend itself to bumper-sticker bravado. Moreover, with Barack Obama currently at the helm of the U.S. military, there’s a reluctance among some self-styled patriots to give voice to a battle cry.

For a handy primer on what’s going on in Syria these days, check out THIS PIECE by the estimable John B. Judis, which begins with a few pertinent questions:

The Obama administration now seems likely to approve a military strike against Syria in retaliation for its use of chemical weapons. Why is the administration so bent on intervention? Isn’t it violating international law? What will be the likely impact of an attack? Will it plunge the United States into another war in the Middle East? Or will it have no effect whatsoever on the carnage? Should the U.S. go further and ensure a rebel victory by crippling Bashar al Assad’s regime? Or should it stand back and watch the two sides destroy each other and the country?

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6 Comments

  1. How about something like “Don’t cross the red line or I will have to consider doing something serious?”

    or

    “If you think crossing the red line is bad, just try crossing the the orange line!”

    Here is a key passage from the link Pat provided:

    “Obama did warn Assad in August 2012 and again in December that if he used chemical weapons, he would be crossing a “red line,” and beginning early in 2013, there were repeated reports that Assad’s forces had been using these weapons. In April, Great Britain, France, and Israel each charged that Assad had used chemical weapons, and in June, the Obama administration said it had confirmed that the Assad regime had killed 100 to 150 people from chemical weapon attacks around Aleppo. The administration announced that in response, it would now be giving some military aid to the rebels, but the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, worried about funding the Islamists, joined forces to set conditions on aid that were tantamount to blocking it.

    On August 21, reports surfaced that the Assad regime had launched a massive poisonous gas attack against civilians in the rebel-controlled suburbs of Damascus. Doctors with Borders estimates at least 300 dead from the attack and 3,000 affected. The Russians initially denied that any attack took place and the Syrian government blamed the rebels for the attack, but the U.S., Britain, France, Israel, Turkey, and the Arab League countries put the blame squarely on Assad. Some policy experts have insisted that Assad could not have used chemical weapons, because he had no interest in doing so. He would just offend the United States and could kill as many civilians with normal explosive. But those who believe it was Assad and not the rebels point out that the Assad government actually possesses chemical weapons, has always claimed to secure them against theft, and has the ability to use them, which the rebels don’t. Assad might have also believed that with the tepid American response to the Aleppo killings, he could get away with a tactic that would terrorize the rebels’ civilian supporters.”

  2. I think doc considers Obama too reluctant to pull the trigger — or something like that.

  3. No.

    I think he was a fool for using his red crayon. Now he has backed us into a corner that even the Brits don’t want to stand in with us.

  4. Illinois Viking

    We can’t afford to raise our debt ceiling for another war (for which our children and grand children will pay), much less one in which our involvement is clearly unwelcome, as the world has made abundantly clear.

    It’s sad that the Syrians can barely fight back due to being all but disarmed by their government through their strict gun control laws (people complain here, in the US-take a look at Syria’s gun laws…).

    The chemical attacks are a tragedy to be sure, but what is it that would justify our involvement in Syria’s civil war? It is a humanitarian crisis, to be sure, as re the tragedies happening in Darfur, The Congo, and Somalia (which we left no better than we found it after our involvement).

    I think President Obama would be wise to disengage on this front, and leave the issue in the UN’s hands. It’s time to let someone else be the “Heavy”. Let Canada or Pakistan take the lead on this one……

    We can’t be the world’s policeman any more, and need to stop trying to insert our 237 year-old brand of justice and democracy into ancient civilizations whose ideologies and customs we don’t even understand.

    What works for us doesn’t work for them. It’s that simple. We need to bring ourselves to the realism that this world will never be an American-sanctioned Utopia. We think that our way will be best for everyone else, but the rest of the world clearly disagrees (although they do enjoy the aid money that we keep borrowing to send to them).

    We need to stand back, keep our focus on where it is that we are currently engaged, and hit those who support the Assad Regime’s actions where it hurts the most. Withdraw the immense US Aid that we provide to those countries who support Assad’s actions. And from those who didn’t and don’t want to back us.

    Reel that money back in, put it toward our debt (after our officials give themselves a hefty raise), and use it for America’s best benefit.

    I hate to sound uncaring and callous, as I’m not, but it’s time to turn inward and correct our own problems and course.

  5. Neftali

    Illinois Viking – Disagreed with several of your comments

    1. The Syrian Rebels can indeed fight back. But they’re backed by the parts of the Taliban and various other rouge organizations from Palestine. In truth they’re not much better than the authoritarian dictatorship the runs the government. But you’re right that the people in between have little resource to defend themselves. The whole thing sucks.

    2. As far as war goes, we’ve tried to make some sense of it all in the last century. Primary almost all countries have have signed a UN pact to not use chemical weapons on each other. So Obama is right. It does cross a red line. So while killing people with guns and tanks is awful, using chemical weapons is even worse. (I know that makes little sense, but that’s the world in which we operate.) I suppose in theory, using guns on each other is kinda considered a “fair fight.” And use of such can be primarily targeted towards your enemy. When chemical weapons are used, the effects are almost always more horrific. The effects can last for months or years, polluting the soil and water supplies. It cannot be tolerated.

    3. Like it or not, we have the most advanced, and most efficient military in the world. Trying to pass the ball off to Canada isn’t very realistic. Basically, we are the United Nations enforcers. In the end, someone has to do it. And it’s better us than some other country.

    4. We understand Middle East customs just fine. Perhaps you don’t, but there are millions in this country that do. And here’s the brutal honest truth. We are better than them. We empower our women to have equal rights. We have laws against children in the work force. We have laws against the sexual exploitation of minors. These things don’t exist in most Arab countries. For the betterment of the human race, and for the love of people around the world, we have a responsibility to encourage everyone to fight for the freedom that we enjoy.

    5. To turn our back on all this is the same thing as walking down the street, and seeing an innocent person being assaulted, and not doing anything about it. Pacifism is not a solution. Doing that right thing is.

    6. You are correct about the cost. We really cannot afford to be involve in a prolonged battle. But we cannot morally just sit back on the sidelines either and watch genocide occur. The Obama administration appears to be taking all these factors into consideration. That’s why a limited long range targeted strike against the Syrian government, which regulates the control of chemical weapons, appears to be the right solution. It’s enough to send a heavy message, and countries like Russia might scoff at it, but it won’t be too much to get us involved “full force.” Using ground troops is not a realistic option.

  6. Illinois Viking

    I’d be with you on a lot of those points, Neftali, but to be honest, I’ve served over there in the Military. I’ve seen behind the curtain, and know well how the Arab world operates, and the ideologies that fuel the actions of their culture.

    The Canada/Pakistan reference was made jokingly, because you’re right, and we all agree: “That ain’t happenin’”.

    I’m not one to run from a fight, but we need to assess this more closely. Egypt is still reeling from recently putting the Muslim Brotherhood in charge after electing someone they, themselves, clearly didn’t understand.

    There is more grease on the wheels turning in Syria than we see at face value on the news. There is a lot of backing in place from Russia, China, and most prominently Iran, and each has their own agendas.

    I’m not actually a pacifist, but there is far deeper consequence to us getting involved, and the widespread collateral damage to innocents and carnage it will create. If this happens, it’s got to be on a UN scale, and we have to step back and take the supporting role on this one. There is a reason that the UN isn’t getting involved, and waiting for us to shoulder the load.

    There is a much bigger picture to consider in this scenario. When Colin Powell told President Bush and Congress (with respect to engaging in a war in the Arab world): “If you break it, You own it”, he knew exactly what he was talking about.

    We can’t shoulder the load and liberate a people who doesn’t want to fight liberate themselves at all costs, because eventually, we have to leave, and when we do, the wolves take after them again, and they will soon fold. We can’t stay there forever.

    The Syrian people need to electrify themselves into action with UN backing. They have to want it, and be willing to fight for it at all costs. They need to broaden their scope and take action to take their country back. If they can’t do it, the international community (UN) needs to get off of their asses, take ownership of assisting the liberation of the Syrian people, and own it as an international community splitting the efforts between cooperating forces. Sadly, they aren’t willing to do this.

    It is unwise for us to engage at this juncture.

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