Sunday, February 16, 2014

Doing Something About Syria


For John, BLUFStay out of Syria.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



From The American Interest and Mr Walter Russell Mead we have "Slaughter in the Cities, Ineffectual Mumbling in the White House". 
The President can only count his one remaining blessing:  the press is still busy trying to shield itself from understanding the full damage this administration’s painfully inept Syria policy has done.  Our Syria response has harmed America’s position, our alliances in the Middle East, and our relationships around the world — to say nothing of the humanitarian disaster we’ve implicated ourselves in.

To bluster heroically about how ‘Assad must go’, then do nothing as he stays; to epically proclaim grandiose red lines and make military threats that fall humiliatingly flat; to grasp with pathetic eagerness an obviously bogus Russian negotiating ploy; to sputter ineffectually as the talks collapse…it is rare that American diplomacy is conducted this poorly for so long a period of time.

OK, that is the indictment, and Mr Mead is not the only one doing the indicting.  We have Analyst Max Boot, who on 10 February wrote in The Financial Times, "Obama’s Syria policy is a deadly mistake".  Author Max Boot is no lightweight. He is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, in New York City.

Someone I know commented on Mr Boots article thusly.

No one has commented on the feasibility of Max's military courses of action in achieving his aim.  I am of the opinion that no fly zones, safe havens etc, will not stop the war, they will only change it.

Good for AQ that they want to attack America.  The last guys they sent couldn't light gasoline on fire in Times Square.  Better Assad fights them there.  If they do win, we can target their camps and drop the new version of a BLU-82 on their heads.  Cruise missiles are so 1998.

I think our obsession with moderate, secular, democrats is ridiculous.  Nice people don't fight house to house.  Hardcore, extremists do that.  Marines do that.  The US Army is rumored to have a few in hiding who claim they can.  The point being, like a grand plan of stopping the violence via "safe zones," winning via moderates doesn't pass the tactical reality filter.

My life has been unchanged by Srebrenica.  If everyone in Syria dies, I'll still be able to get the double chocolate brownie at Starbucks.  If the Jordanians, Saudis, Turks and other regional players won't fight, why should we?  Our track record in this sort of thing is terrible and in the last 30 years we've fought in Syria's eastern and western neighbors to no avail.

Falling into the trap that limited force as a third party can positively change another's total war damages American credibility more than fake red lines or from behind leadership.

And, as stated, it is "total war" for them, while it is a "limited war" for us.

The other thing about Mr Max Boot is he is pretty casual about the President sidestepping Congress with regard to acting in Syria.  It is time for the US Congress to stop playing lap dog to the President on issues of war (or conflict, if you prefer).  That said, President Obama did right when he checked with the Congress over Syrian Chemical Weapons.  In fact, the President has generally done well with Syria, notwithstanding his "red line" and his "Assad must go" statements.  I am sure there is a lot of pressure on him from the "Responsibility to Protect" contingent in the Administration.  That he is resisting is a credit to him.

Nowhere in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence does it say we have to sally forth to protect the citizens of other lands.  We have done such things in the past, but with a mixed record.

This is not the Holocaust, with the victims trapped inside the country and being rounded up and gassed and their bodies burned to ashes.  There are, in fact, hundreds of thousands of refuges in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.  President Obama recently told Jordan's King Abdullah II that we would continue to provide $660 million a year in aid and $1 billion in loan guarantees, to help out with refugee relief.

The President is on the correct course.  Let us not encourage him to jump off this approach.  Work with others and see if we can find common ground.  Americans killing Syrians to save Syrians doesn't make much sense at this point.

Regards  —  Cliff

  I wonder if that is an indirect reference to Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter and her time as Director of Policy Planning at the Department of State, which she left in February of 2011.  She is also known for her Atlantic article, "Why Women Still Can't Have it All".
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