For John, BLUF: Don't do Syria. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Historian Edward Luttwak published an article on 17 June at the Foreign Policy blog site. It is timely, "5 Rules for Arming Rebels". His assertion is "Before going to war in Syria, the Obama administration should heed the lessons of history."
Rule 1: Figure out who your friends are.The nuances are in the article, but the points are important.
Rule 2: Be prepared to do all the work [don't count on allies].
Rule 3: Don't give away anything that you would want to have back.
Rule 4: Do not invite an equal and opposite response by another great power.
Rule 5: Lay some ground rules for the endgame.
And, this just in, per Reporter Jeffrey Goldberg at Bloomberg. "Pentagon Shoots Down Kerry’s Syria Airstrike Plan". Two decades ago then US UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright famously ask Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”
Flash-forward to this past Wednesday. At a principals meeting in the White House situation room, Secretary of State John Kerry began arguing, vociferously, for immediate U.S. airstrikes against airfields under the control of Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime—specifically, those fields it has used to launch chemical weapons raids against rebel forces.Say it ain't so, Joe!
It was at this point that the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the usually mild-mannered Army General Martin Dempsey, spoke up, loudly. According to several sources, Dempsey threw a series of brushback pitches at Kerry, demanding to know just exactly what the post-strike plan would be and pointing out that the State Department didn’t fully grasp the complexity of such an operation.
Our former Senior Senator here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, that one time anti-war candidate for the seat that Ms Niki Tsongas now holds, wasn't advocating that we commit acts of war against Syria, was he?
Back to the five rules from Eddie Luttwak.
Regards — Cliff