My two cents on Syria

I am severely disappointed in President Obama. I still think he’s a better choice than Romney, but he’s turning out to be the least competent Democrat we’ve had in a long time. However, that’s a topic for another essay. Let’s talk Syria.

Looking at all the publicly available evidence, I can say how I read it:

1. I’m certain there was a sarin attack (or at least a release). However, I note that UN team has not reported yet, and the samples we tested were smuggled out of Syria by the rebels. Not a pristine chain of evidence. As with Iraq, we’re going ahead without the UN report.

2. I’m pretty sure it was by Syrian government forces (but we’ve admitted that the rebels also have CW).

3. I and others, are not so sure it was ordered by Assad. The evidence there is all ‘third party’ — Israeli for the most part. Israel is not our friend and has an interest in involving us in a Middle East quagmire. That, too, is a topic for another essay.

On the opinion side, I see no reason for the US to unilaterally intervene, and I see a lot of reasons not to, clear reasons against and less clear but well-founded fears of unintended emergent consequences:

4. Whatever Yoovian logic is used, if we go in without UN approval, not having been attacked ourselves, it’s a violation of international law.

5. This isn’t anything like the use of nuclear weapons. CW have been used before, by (just for e.g.) Iraq, both internally (on Kurds, at least), and externally, on Iran. The US did nothing either time, because (a) the Kurdish attacks were an internal affair, and (b) we’ve always been in favor of anything that hurts Iran. We ourselves used ‘non-lethal’ CW in VN, to drive VC and NVA out of their bunkers into the open, where we could napalm them. There is no bright red line because it’s been scuffled into a blur over the years. Obama’s moral huffing and puffing are pure show.

6. Just as with our other ME wars, the government has started out by lying to us. Up until recently, everybody agreed that the major (and most effective) part of the rebels were now Al Qaida affiliates, or the equivalent in Islamic extremists. Kerry now says it’s 15-25%. Putin flat-out called him a liar. God help me, I’m on Putin’s side on this. Do we really want to become Al Qaida’s Air Force?*

7. Depending on which of Kerry’s reported discussions you believe, we either do or do not plan to use force to effect a regime change. Once again, he’s lying to somebody. The fact is, if we make an attack, we have to ensure regime change. Assad can’t overlook an overt US attack on his country. It’s a defacto declaration of war. What will he do in return? I don’t know, but I do know that Americans will die because of it. For example, the war could spill over into Lebanon, to Israel, to Kurdish Turkey. Russia could support her client by sending fighters, or advanced SAMs, or advanced ship-killer missiles through Iran. Are we going to go to war with Iran as well? With Russia? The GOP would love that. So would the Israelis.

It looks to me like Obama got stampeded into making a lot of bellicose statements that he feels he now has to back up or be seen as ineffective or something. His credibility is at stake and therefore our credibility as a nation is at stake, because The President is The Nation. Personally, I see no reason to commit an act of international aggression just to save Obama’s face, or any other part of his anatomy.

History may judge a failure to act as an insult to what America stands for, but I think it was Lenny Bruce who said “I was at Salerno. I can take a lot of insults.”

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*and who would have thought I’d ever quote Ted Cruz approvingly?

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