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Sunday, March 27. 2011
The unusual ad hoc mixture of supporters of the US military involvement in Libya can cause heads to explode among those with other principles. I count myself as having a shattered skull.
The weird mixture of automatic supporters of Obama’s usual muddle and wrong-headed policies together with many neocons who automatically endorse humanitarian foreign interventions even when our national security is not seriously threatened have provided cover for a descent into madness.
Heads are exploding among those of us who require clearer goals that further our national interests and demand the will and means to achieve them. But, as Congressman Duncan Hunter points out in this op-ed, the Constitution does not really restrict President Obama’s military intervention. Only the uproar of Americans against Obama’s dangerous flailing and specific restrictions that may be passed by Congress can save the US from further squandering our servicemembers’ lives, our strapped wealth, and our credibility in the world as the actor who has the will and means to accomplish serious goals.
If one wanted to find a country where civilians have been and are currently being slaughtered by a minority despot who also directly supports the most dangerous armed foes of the US and its MidEast allies -- Hezbollah and Hamas, armed by Iran, go no further than Syria.
Junior Assad, of the splinter Allawite Shia sect, faces uprisings by majority Sunnis throughout Syria. He is brutally murdering the rebels. See the map at the link.
Assad has virtually subjugated Lebanon, squashing its Cedar Spring and helping its Hezbollah ally to turn Lebanon into a launch pad for missiles that have and will again reach throughout northern Israel. Syria serves as a way-station to send longer-range missiles to Hamas in Gaza, that now are launched into southern zones of Tel Aviv and into the major port at Ashdod. Syria has served as a privileged sanctuary for terrorists and trainers killing Americans and Iraqis in Iraq. Syria is a reliable ally of the region’s archfoe, Iran. In short, Syria is an immediate and severe threat to peace and to US interests throughout the Middle East.
Assad’s air force could relatively easily be destroyed, and his ground forces meted irreparable damage, by similar actions as we’re now taking in Libya. Assad’s minority regime could not survive. That would be a worthwhile goal, within our means, if the Obama administration actually had the sense and will to put US national security interests above all.
P.S.: Also see this analysis from JINSA, "Syrian Turmoil Could Benefit the Region." --Also see "Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Urges Syria Regime Overthrow Against White House Policy." -- Two more links: Elliott Abrams in the Washington Post, "Ridding Syria of a despot," and Michael Ledeen on Iranian snipers caught shooting Syrian rebels.
P.P.S.: Secretary of State Clinton notes a distinction that doesn't make a difference:
Senator Lieberman, Chair of the Homeland Security Committee, however, is a bit clearer on whether the US should intervene against the Assad slaughter of rebels:
Senator Lieberman must be missing the slaughters that Assad is already committing. Intervention in Syria should be put on the front-burner of the Obama administration, as more analysts correctly raise the issue of priorities and national security. Secretary of Defense Gates remarked that Libya is not a "vital interest" for the US.
There would be proper concern as to what may follow Assad. However, as the Sunni majority would be in control, instead of Assad's Shia Alawite sect, it is unlikely that Syria would continue as a paw for Iran or arming Hezbollah and Hamas. That's a victory in itself.
P.P.P.S.: Ed Morrissey lashes into the Obama administration and Senator Lieberman. "In Syria, our national interests and security interests are much more clear — as they are in Iran." -- Martin Indyk, usually a parrot to liberal hopes that coddling Middle East tyrants will further peace, finds the correct road now, to Damascus.
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I don't think you've made your case, but wouldn't it be neat for Congress to debate this?
I'd argue that regime change almost anywhere, but especially in the middle east, is not in "our national interest." Why? Because we waste energy, lives and goodwill fighting podunk "wars" that accomplish little after the dust settles but leave in place all the evil that stirred up things in the first place.
The process exhausts our will to: 1) fight real wars against real life-threatening enemies; and 2) totally annihilate such enemies.
A Congressional debate over going to war against Syria would be mighty interesting (especially to the rest of the world) if "going to war" meant turning Syria into a parking lot.
Assad’s minority regime could not survive.
Yes, but what would replace it? Chances are, another puppet for Iran. Why should we spend our strength replacing a weak enemy with what would certainly be a stronger one?
There was at least a small chance that revolution in any of the North African Arab states would result in something other than another islamist terror-state. But Syria? Never happen. Islamist it is, islamist it will remain.
Replacing the Alawite sect of Shia with even a radical Sunni regime -- although remember there are strong commercial sectors within Syria whose primary goal is stability to not endanger their trading -- would rob Shia Iran of an ally and conduit to Lebanon and Gaza, as well as demonstrate to the rest of the Middle East that the US can prioritize its national interests and act forcefully to further them. -- It would as well put that into Turkey's two-faced face that it better get on board with the west and not radical Islamist regimes.
I seem to remember, some time after Obama was inaugurated, all sorts of Democrats flocking off to Syria—Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and I don't remember who else. It seemed weird at the time. What was that all about? Or do I misremember? Was this some kind of Obama charm offensive?
Yes, consistent with Obama's other dangerous delusions, all proven false and encouraging to greater turmoil.
What is in our national interest is to get out of the middle east for good, and find our oil elsewhere. I'm 48 years old and have never lived in a time of "peace" in the middle east. The place is a cesspool, and an expensive one at that.
I am not sure about their going to Damascus AFTER Obama was elected, but both Kerry and Pelosi made trips to Damascus when Bush was President, to show their abhorrence of Dubya's horrible interventionist policy in Iraq.
Kerry and Bush were not the only Americans of note who made the pilgrimage to Damascus to show their abhorrence of Dubya's horrible interventionist policy in Iraq. David Duke also went to Damascus.
Birds of a feather?
We should leave Syria to Israel. We should take on Iran. We still owe them for 1979, if nothing else.
I'm all for doing in bad guys.
If we are back to doing Liberal War, can't we just designate the Bad Guy and camp over the country until we can kill him with a SDB or maybe a JDAM?
We don't have more than a few hundred TLAMs left.
If we don't crater the country, we don't have to Pottery Barn anything. None of the regimes-in-waiting have any love for us - they are going to be just New Thugs at best, connected Islamists at worst - so we could set a valuable precedent here.
Obama is flailing. Let us realize at least some measure of pragmatic value in return for deadly state acts committed out of ignorance and fraudulent morals.
We are pulling triggers for the wrong reasons, with the wrong weapons, with nary an objective that stands even passing examination. But we can say "He's a right bastard, always has been, and maybe, just maybe the bastards in the wings might take a lesson from this."
I know, simple solutions for complex problems. We are so far gone as a nations I have nothing approaching an elegant solution.
All very true. Unfortunately, to paraphrase Abe Lincoln, the planet cannot exist half slave and half free. Take your pick.
If the game being played by the Empty Suit Known as Barack Hussein Obama is the one he studied from Saul Alinsky's playbook - then overextending the US military all over the globe for specious reasons would be a big component. Just thinkin' out loud.
"Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive"
What Winston Churchill and the late, great British Empire would have done with this opportunity!
Yes, in a hundred years we would have trouble with the region again....?
Libya, Tunisia, and even Egypt are sideshows. Syria and Iran are the main events. They are the biggest terrorist sponsors and among the most brutal dictatorships in the world.
We ought to be openly supporting their rebels - unlike the Egyptians, the alternatives probably can't be worse. In Iran they are much bettter. We should drop cheap "Liberator" pistols over areas of unrest - like we did over occupied France during WWII.
Too bad our incompetent leaders want the distractions of the sideshows so they don't have to address the real problems.
ditto. it's almost time to give up and just watch the train wreck. almost, but not quite. The best we can hope for is that our military savvies the situation institutionally and starts taking a passive/aggressive attitude toward the catastrophy-in-chief in the White House. Bunkering for the next 20 months. but aw hell that ain't right either.
The consistent foreign policy principle of Obama is to sow chaos; especially in the middle east. Unhinge stability so as to increase our energy costs and make windmills, solar, and whatever other inefficient technologies his cronies are peddling economically viable.
From a Bloomberg story:
Clinton said the elements that led to intervention in Libya -- international condemnation, an Arab League call for action, a United Nations Security Council resolution -- are “not going to happen” with Syria, in part because members of the U.S. Congress from both parties say they believe Assad is “a reformer.”
My BS meter pegged out when I read that.
The US should not be getting involved ANYWHERE in the Arab world. The "rebels" are not sympathetic to us or to democracy.
Try it this way:
The US and Europe spent decades propping up the Arab dictators who are now on the run. The Arab masses have never tasted democracy because we didn't use our leverage to liberalize these countries.
THAT is the story that the Arab street has internalized over decades of Western unconcern. They associate "the West" with the thugs they've been living under.
Is is any wonder they support radical anti-Western Muslims?
There IS no "democratic opposition" in ANY of these new revolutions - because the West didn't bother to cultivate such change.
So: there is no side for us to prop up in this fight, and we have zero credibility with the Arab street.
The West should step back, let the chips fall, and THEN begin meaningful engagement of the Arab world.
Yes, we will then face more openly Islamic governments. But that is the result of our own passivity - and cannot be changed at this late date, no matter what we do.
Ayn Rand, who was no fan of indiscriminate military intervention, did state that as a matter of general principle, any non-free nation, by its mere status as non-free, constitutes a danger to any free nation, such that a free nation is justified in pre-emptive force to protect itself. She then went on to add that no nation as of the time of her writing was free enough to be entitled to such an action.
No US treasure for any Muhammadan nation, tribe, government.
Quarantine the lot and let them get to ridding the earth of each other.
That's the strategy I support. All of the West should stop now allowing Muslim immigration.
President Assad is popular in Syria and the people trust him to continue the reform process. It wasn't easy for him, actually. His father was leader of the very hardline militarist quasi-fascist party. Younger Assad has sidelined his father's most dangerous lieutenants without killing any of them or himself being killed, he has steadily improved freedoms.
I have Syrian friends, who were bitterly opposed to old Assad, who support the current President Assad (in fact who were refugees escaping his regime who recently returned). Syria always has been a fractious society. As well as liberalising, Syrians want a government that can hold it all together.
Note that, for all the media hoo-haa, the protests have been much smaller than the pro-government demonstrations. You may say this is orchestrated, but I know people who live in Syria, so I know the popularity of President Assad is genuine.
Thanks for the note Chris.
However, the Junior Assad has bought urban support among those in the mercantile class at the expense of those rural and away from Damascus + has become a conduit of Iranian influence and violence to Hamas and Hezbollah + was trying to obtain nuclear capacity + his "astro-turf" demonstration is transparent + he is murdering, imprisoning and torturing opponents ++++etc.
Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Well, the charge of murdering will have to wait. I don't believe the media on any subject. People say a lot of things, and the media today never check.
As for supporting Hezbollah, I think Assad has been doing the right thing. Lebanon is a weak country, but it has a right to self defence, and Hezbollah are the only effective deterrent to the Israeli aggression. So, for all their obvious flaws, I don't have a problem with him supporting them, much as the US supported the Mujahadeen among innumerable others.
As I said, the suggestion that the demonstrations are orchestrated is an easy one to make, but I can only trust what I hear from people in the country.
I wouldn't call him 'bad rubbish', although as an American I guess it's a habit to regard people with contempt. Syria is a very complex and potentially unstable society, with some powerful enemies. He's done a good job so far. He will survive and he will be more popular and successful for having survived.
Thanks again Chris, for making your sympathies clearer -- which aren't those for or by the US or Israel.
My views aren't partisan. Why should I take sides?
I supported Bush's liberation of Iraq, but I disagree with those who want to attack Iran.
I supported Israel against Arafat and the terrorists he harboured, but I reject Israel's outrageous actions against Lebanon. Hezbollah are nasty, but what Israel has dome to that country over the decades has been worse. Lebanon, like America, is entitled to a deter her enemies. Israel is her own worst enemy. That country could enjoy a lot more peace than it does. Needless aggression is stupid, and in international affairs, stupidity is nearly as big a sin as evil itself.
President Assad of Syria is not Saddam Hussein. He's a reasonable and intelligent man negotiating a very delicate course in a complex and unstable society - albeit a little slowly - and doing so with apparent wisdom and skill. He's no enemy of moral people.
Well, Cris, it looks like since 2003 you've, yes, taken a partisan stance (yes, you do "take sides"), and not one supportive of the US or Israel, and supportive of Hezbollah and Iran. -- Seems pretty clear from your own words.
Well, your idea of 'taking sides' is the bully's attitude frankly: "if you want to be on my side, you'll agree with what I say. If you don't agree with me, you must be my enemy."
Fine. I'm just glad you're not president...
You clearly take sides. Re-read your own words, or would that be "bullying" you.
Sounds like you're glad that Obama is president. Or, is that "bullying" you, too.
Sorry, but enough nonsense here please. Perhaps it fits better on one of the leftwing sites.
It seems yall's friends aint bright atall returning but meself is glad they have.
Syria is a tribalist mess which Assad is ruling with great Shia aplomb.
It would be `very democratic, Islamicly for Mudboy to not engage Syria militarily.
But the boy won't be long and then Msr. Kessler may get his wish and yall's hero, the Mahdi can sort out the carnage.