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The Rosett Report

Syria vs. North Korea: The Calculus of Mass Atrocities

September 10th, 2013 - 1:52 pm

The news of U.S. policy on Syria is, at this stage, moving in such loops and spirals that Russia — major arms supplier and supporter of the Assad regime — seems to be calling the shots. Suddenly the neutered United Nations is back in the ring, and for the average guy in Topeka, the whole thing by now probably makes about as much sense as the federal budget.

But if we might focus for a moment on the underlying issue: President Obama has been arguing that Syria’s use of chemical weapons is “a serious threat to our national security.”

There’s a good case for that, but the president and his top officials have yet to make it in a way that fits into any coherent global strategy — and yes, we live in a world of interconnected threats. Syria’s closest ally is Iran; both are clients of North Korea’s emporium of both conventional weapons and more exotic approaches to mass murder. Much entwined with their alarming ventures — doing business with them, and running diplomatic interference for them — are Russia and China. Add to that such matters as al-Qaeda and other jihadi groups, state-sponsored or otherwise, organizing the next plot to kill Americans.

Amid the president’s talk of red lines, credibility, international norms, and changing calculus, Americans have been left wondering what the commander-in-Chief actually means when he says those words.

What equations does his math include? What variables will he factor in? How does this calculus apply to other threats, red lines, rogue regimes, and violations of norms?

The White House has accused Syria’s Assad regime of a chemical weapons attack on August 21 that killed at least 1,429 people, including at least 426 children. Citing that, the president told the nation he wanted to take action against Syrian military targets: “We cannot and must not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus.”

Okay — but how do we then explain turning a blind eye for years to atrocities on far larger scales, inflicted not in war but as a routine matter of state policy, because that’s how the ruler stays on top?

What about a regime that, according to multiple accounts from defectors, has tested chemical weapons on its own women and children? What about a regime responsible for the deaths by politically targeted famine of an estimated million or more? What about a regime operating a gulag to which three generations of a family can be exiled for the suspected political disloyalty of a single member? What about a regime that routinely tortures, starves, and works to death those in its prison camps?

And what if that regime, while starving, torturing, and killing its own people, happens to sustain itself by selling chemical weapons, missiles, and nuclear technology (including an entire clandestine nuclear reactor, a.k.a. a plutonium factory) to the Middle East, including Syria’s regime in Damascus?

What if that regime were testing long-range missiles, and had already conducted three nuclear tests — the most recent just this past February?

Would we target them with … Dennis Rodman?

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All Comments   (13)
All Comments   (13)
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The heart of man is evil; who can know it? When mankind is stripped of his civility and moral compass you get Islam and other things like Hitler's Germany and North Korea. For our leadership to even contemplate joining the evil in Syria is too horrible to contemplate.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's good that you are asking the questions that few others seem to ask, but I think you also know the answers. The calculus is the same for foreign policy as domestic -- Obama and his administration are only concerned with his personal political appearance and popularity. All actions and 'policy' decisions are about Obama. This time it didn't work out the way they had planned; he went off script, preening for the cameras, and set into motion the events that exposed weakness and vanity that most people who see through him already knew.
Of course there's no logic or justification for drawing a red line in Syria while ignoring Korea and Iran, in the same way it's inexplicable to define chemical weapons as off limits in Syria, while sanctioning the use of conventional weapons that have killed over 100,000. The Obama Doctrine: "Insuring civil wars remain civil, wherever they are." Or: "Keeping wars chemical free", in little countries that nobody likes and can't cause me much trouble". Somehow the instrument of human destruction is what's important to him.
But loss of life isn't the point; it's always about appearances and scoring political points. Drawing a red line with Korea or Iran would require an actual costly conflict and a long term commitment with an opponent who might fight back, and do so unpredictably. Syria isn't either. You can park your ships 200 miles offshore, fling a few missiles at 8am to demonstrate "you mean business", and still catch 9 holes before dinner. Mission accomplished - the mission being to look like you give a damn and to show you're a tuff guy.
He just didn't expect that his own party would not be impressed with his show of force, which most agree makes him look weaker, and as you pointed out so well, a self serving hypocrite.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
McCain wanted to have sleep over with Syrian kidnappers 09/09/2013

http://dailycaller.com/2013/09/09/mccain-wanted-to-have-sleepover-with-syrian-kidnappers/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When the head of the Great Satan who was hated and feared deflated into a puny wussy clueless bobbing head who bows to dictators, snoops and tax-audits his opponents, it's prudent for the Great Satan to lay low and stop playing the role of side-kick to prop up Putin, a thug who murders his opponents.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Leaving no Rosett-a-stone unturned, what might crack the dilemma of North Korea? Other than cloning there a million Rodmans, that is.

If your point is to acknowledge and condemn Nork atrocities then fine, but there seems not to be anything we can do about those atrocities.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"...and for the average guy in Topeka, the whole thing by now probably makes about as much sense as the federal budget." WTF? i suspect that the "average guy in Topeka" has a lot more on the ball than, say, an english major from Yale or Columbia.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Note to jlw and Harmless: My apologies for what was clearly clumsy phrasing. I was aiming to insult the federal budget, not the guy from Topeka.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
so much for that english degrees, huh?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
...those...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes, and not just a bad choice of words: the Fed budget doesn't make sense, neither does the current farce. Ms. R is wrong here.

We all know many roads lead to Iran and N Korea. The question is why our hapless state dep't still whimpers repeatedly at the thought of grasping the nettle, as it has for nearly two decades. (For once, something that isn't all Pres. Cardboard's doing.)

Endless spiralling in a sea of 'nuance' -- my ass -- gets you nowhere. Iran nearly has or nearly may have a few not-so-fancy nukes, and NK weaponry is based on the legendary splashers, the Dong and Long Dong. Then there's Pakistan, unaccountably forgotten in all this....

And what have we got to answer them with? -- more military and economic options than the world has ever seen, that's all. Yet from the cringing tone, you'd think we're left with a dab of perfume and a silly grin.
.
The urge to waffle will kill us all if it doesn't stop.
Assad can hand over half a dozen rusty old cans of Yuban filled with goat piss and O will preen and declare victory.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And what about a regime that, reportedly, did this last week to a group of performers one of whom was (reportedly) a love rival of little Kim's wife.

Pretty egregious slaughter, if true.

http://marathonpundit.blogspot.com/2013/08/meet-new-boss-same-as-old-boss-nork.html



1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Libs couldn't care less about atrocities. They only care about power.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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