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Belmont Club

And Now For Syria

August 21st, 2013 - 1:20 am

The headlines are alive with reports that Assad has used chemical weapons in Syria. Liz Sly, Washington Post Beirut bureau chief links to this video, one of several on the web now being uploaded.

Could it be true this time? Or has it been true for some time already? The fog of war has  gathered thick around the Middle Eastern conflict zones. The very same Washington Post also quotes sources which say “‘We have seen zero indication that the Muslim Brotherhood as an organization is organizing these [Coptic Church burning] attacks,’ said a high-ranking Western official who was not authorized to speak on the record. The official said the blame more likely rested with Islamist vigilantes rather than Brotherhood members acting on orders.”

Tapping blindly ahead using whatever collateral one can find yields Noah Schachtman quoting an administration official on the subject of perceiving chemical weapons if used: “as long as they keep body count at a certain level, we won’t do anything.”  Reality isn’t facts. Reality is what the polls can stand.

Writing in Real Clear Defense, Schachtman and Colum Lynch ask, “after eight months of allegations, why do we know so little about Syria’s nerve gas attacks?” Maybe because factual knowledge is dangerous. Spin is so much more useful because it can be altered at will, often in several directions at once. Without hinting at the possible use of chemical weapons the President could not have uttered his manly warning, yet if the chemical weapons have been used  then the President might actually be forced to do the inconveniently manly thing.

The appearance of leadership is much more useful to the Narrative than leadership itself. The chemical weapons have so far been like the administration’s military aid to Egypt. Nobody is sure whether it exists or not. This is a world where there’s no proof that anybody ordered 60 churches burned in Egypt but the NSA can collect every search term you’ve ever launched on Google.

On the Obama administration’s watch, convenient mysteries abound. Take Hillary’s bafflement over Benghazi. Declaring herself ignorant of  the reasons for the burning and sacking of a US consulate, Hillary Clinton responded to inquiries into its cause by saying, “was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?”

Why can’t Syria be like that? Maybe the chemical weapons reports are just the administration drumming up unity for its Arab allies after the scattering of Cairo. But maybe it’s real; and if it’s real a preview of what the administration might potentially do in Syria was laid out by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey. He listed the intervention options as:

  1. Train, advise and assist opposition forces in safe areas outside of Syria.
  2. Conduct limited air and missile strikes against Syrian forces and command centers.
  3. Establish a no-fly zone over all of Syria. That would require hundreds of aircraft and cost up to $1 billion a month.
  4. Establish buffer zones inside Syria as safe havens for opposition fighters and civilians. That would require smaller no-fly zones but also thousands of U.S. troops to defend the safe havens. Estimated cost more than $1 billion a month.
  5. Destroy or seize Syria’s chemical weapons — a massive operation that would require a no-fly zone plus air strikes plus thousands of American troops. Again, the estimated cost would be well over $1 billion a month.

This may have been Dempsey’s indirect way of saying he didn’t anything to do with it.  You can see why.  The only effective options would be equivalent to refighting  a larger version of OIF in Syria , right after having thrown away the victory in Iraq. Moreover, a scrap in Syria would have the potential of escalating into a great power conflict because both Russia and Iran are patrons of Assad.

Dempsey’s points can be restated thus: minefield ahead.

One of the worst possible scenarios for the administration would be if Assad actually used chemical weapons.  It would drag Obama across his own Red Line kicking and screaming.  Any significant commitment to Syria would probably require the abandonment of whatever gains have been won in Afghanistan. It would deep six the President’s downsizing of the military and ruin whatever prospects remained for Obamacare’s funding. In short, the administration would have effectively shot itself in the foot and beggared itself to boot with one and the same blast.

That would be a signal for the President to take another vacation. From the calm of the links, an Obama confronted with clear evidence of chemical weapons use could weasel out by invoking his usual rejection of the False Choice. It will leave a mark though, because his teleprompter has written a check that he can’t easily cash. Such a climbdown coming after his recent humiliation in Egypt might cost him votes n 2014. And you can’t have that.

If Syria metastizes Time Magazine will probably go overtime arguing that ‘Syria doesn’t matter any more’, just as it recently argued that ‘Egypt doesn’t matter any more.’ Unfortunately the fire in Syria now bids fair to spread into Jordan,  Lebanon and Iraqi Kurdistan, and that point maybe neither Obama nor Time will matter any more either.

It would be bad news for the administration if  the chemical weapon line has been crossed in Syria.  It would place them on the horns of the dilemma. It would lay bare all the strategic blunders of the administration from 2009 onwards: the abandonment of Iraq to Iran; the exile of US ground forces to Afghanistan; the self-demolition of the political justification for the War on Terror. And last but not least it would expose the disastrous attempt to wage proxy war in the Middle East using Islamist forces with scant loyalty to Washington.

The Left, in elevating Barack Obama, have manacled themselves to an accident waiting to happen. And now every new day begins with near miss; every fresh crisis starts with the expectation: will this be the one?


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Top Rated Comments   
People joke about how everything Barack Obama says has an expiration date, but the length of that expiration date grows shorter and shorter. At this point, it's approaching zero. No one believes his promises. No one believes what he says. The expiration date is instantaneous. He has turned out to be that guy who compulsively lies about everything. All the time. By preference. And everyone knows it and has stopped listening to him.

In a certain sense being recognized as a pathological liar gives Obama a certain range of mobility. Red line? That was a long time ago. What difference does it make now. It means that he doesn't have to keep his promises because no one expects him to. He can just do whatever he wants at any given moment. Obama's situation is largely the result of no one believing him or trusting him anymore. Delaying and setting aside the particulars of the Obamacare law means that there is no possible way for Republicans to make a compromise with him. How can you compromise with someone in whom you have no trust? So Obama has to do everything alone -- try and implement his agenda with nothing at his disposal but executive orders. They can go a long way if you are willing to ignore the law and simply do whatever you can get away with.

So the answer is that there is no red line because Obama doesn't want there to be one. There are no limits on domestic surveillance because limits don't suit Obama. The only limit is, "Who's going to stop me?" That's how it works in Chicago and the people who warned that Obama was going to turn the Federal Government in the Chicago machine writ large should have been listened to. But they weren't, so now we have a loose cannon in the white house with all the power and no sense of propriety or limitation. Isn't the oath of office just another promise anyway? What was the expiration date on that one?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Train, advise and assist opposition forces in safe areas outside of Syria."
Just where will "safe areas" be found? Not in Jordan if Obama's plan advances. Not in Egypt or Lebanon. Surely not in Iraq or Turkey or Europe. Minnesota Tennessee and Arizona are now crawling with terrorist linked salafists and illegals. Perhaps Hawaii will remain a "safe area" in the Brave New World. Maybe not all of Hawaii though, maybe just Maui or more likely Molokai.

FC
BS. We fought a war to change what they want. The desires of Iran and Iran's agents are what we should be ready willing and able to thwart. We won. We had the Armed Forces there. We had the groups Sunni Shi'a and Kurd pacified or on our side. We could and should have wheeled left and taken out Assad in Syria. We could and should have supported the Iranian people in overthrowing the mullahs. Obama inherited a winning hand. He deliberately threw it away.

The only true thing you say is that you have no idea. You only have Democratic Underground and Talking Point Memos checklists. You are being schooled by reality. We do not like having to pay for your education in blood.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (68)
All Comments   (68)
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I think Obama should file a complaint with the UN, and ask that it issue a stern public reprimand.

By the way, where the heck is France when we need them? Send the French in, along with some UN observers, maybe some peacekeepers from the Ivory Coast and its all good.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Perhaps nothing would give me greater personal pleasure than witnessing Obama's political collapse. But I cannot jump on that bandwagon.

Wretchard asks, "Could it be true this time? Or has it been true for some time already?" If it was true before and there are indications that Assad has used chemical weapons previously, if judiciously, what difference will it make if it's true this time? Where will the pressure upon Obama come from? The right? Republicans? Please. The left? Like they care. The MSM? (OK, that's ludicrous)

Not only are the Coptic Church burning's reportage being suppressed but the Wash. Post is proactively disputing the Brotherhood's involvement, despite public calls by the Brotherhood to do just that. Evidently it's revenge for the Coptic Pope's support for Morsi's ouster.

"One of the worst possible scenarios for the administration would be if Assad actually used chemical weapons. It would drag Obama across his own Red Line kicking and screaming." Wretchard

Would it? Not to be contrarian for its own sake but why would it? Because if not he'd be hypocritical and inconsistent? Please. He doesn't care. Nor do congressional democrats, RINO's and Republicans (but I repeat myself) nor most importantly, do LIV's. As long as Obama has the votes, HE DOESN'T CARE.

And he has the votes. In the face of the greatest amount and degree of scandals in presidential history, without any ads, his personal approval ratings are at 45%...

If Syria metastizes, the entire leftist political apparatus and the media will rush to absolve Obama of ALL responsibility. It will be America's fault, as everything is and to disagree, will immediately be labeled as racially motivated. Discussion over because no one 'argues' with racists.

If the chemical weapon line has been crossed in Syria,it would lay bare TO THE RIGHT (but we know that already) all the strategic blunders of the administration from 2009 onwards but... it will NOT make clear to LIV's the strategic blunders and intellectual bankruptcy of the Obama administration's foreign policies. LIV's will be told and accept that it's all Bush's fault and that Obama (our glorious leader) inherited a situation where "justified" Muslim rage made them unable to listen to Obama's 'voice of reason'. And they'll buy it because no one wants to look the fool. The won't hold Obama responsible until their a** is on the line and even then they'll fear the racist card.

The right doesn't believe his promises, those on the the right don't believe anything he says and know that he's a congenital liar. Liberal useful idiots however are fully on board because once you've drunk the kool-aid, to revolt requires you look in the mirror and accept what a total idiot you've been and that you deserve what you've sowed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No offense wretchard but I reported your COMMENT as abuse. Curious, I clicked on eggplant's comment reported as abuse and I can find nothing about it that would be objectionable. Some might disagree with it but it is NOT by any stretch of the imagination, abusive. Since PJ media obviously has no standards of what abuse consists, I hope I've made a point by reporting yours as abusive. (it's not)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
With my fat fingers on my iPod I tried to hit Like but hit Report Abuse instead. Is it possible to undo a Report? or, shift the button over to the side somewhere to decrease accidents?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Geoffrey,

Thanks for your comment. I think someone has figured out that they can vandalize the Belmont Club comment thread through use of the "Report Abuse" feature. After the comment has been reported as "abuse", the "reply" button goes away and direct reply is prevented. Obviously Pjmedia needs to repair this. My suggestion is the IP number of the person reporting the abuse should be recorded. If the person is misusing the feature then he should be banned from further access.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
On the other hand, a comment reported for "abuse" is sure to get noticed and most likely read whereas otherwise it might not have been.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Normally when I see a comment reported as "abuse", I assume it is spam advertising Viagra or a penny stock swindle and skip over it. As it stands, the "report abuse" feature can be used to vandalize the comment thread.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
True. But if you know the commenter and know better, then surely your interest is aroused? In such cases, 'liking' the comment might act as an effective counter to such juvenile tampering.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
one more attempt at moving the westernies

if one remembered Saddam using toxic gas on the Kurds, the result were evident and proofs remained on the ground, the victims !

Enough of these jihadists manipulations, Assad can exterminate them all, we could send him our suburban candidate to the 72 virgins heaven too

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
blert,
If you can introduce just enough variation between double posts so as to give yourself plausible deniability then you might have a great future in politics. If you just trip over your tongue and lose an argument with yourself then you have a future as an Ensign.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Someone from Derbyshire, UK writes: "THIS HAS TO STOP NOW......THOSE POOR CHILDREN DID NOT DESERVE THEIR LITTLE LIVES TO END LIKE THIS."

Well who's going to stop it now they've voted the Royal Navy and the British Army into tinker toy size? Or are they really saying, subconsciously and out of habit: fix it America.

Well Obama has sent the big deployment to Afghanistan, cut the Armed Forces down to the bone, declared the war on terror over. Obama has also drawn a red line yet he has progressively made himself less and less able to enforce it.

So who's going to bell the cat?

Did all those people now demanding action once say "war solves nothing"? Or "give peace a chance"? What happens if the gas bombs start gong off in Derbyshire?

These are hard questions with no good answers. But "stop the killing" is not as simple as it seems.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The worst part of that pleading to stop the carnage, is that if we did go in, all B-52's and Strike Eagles and Abrams tanks, romping and stomping and unleashing the fire of hell upon those deserve it, then...

Possibly this same guy, and certainly others like him, would be screaming about war crimes and the horror of the warmongering Americans.

In the summer of 2001 a lawsuit was filed in DC Federal District Court on behalf of those interned in Aushwitz against the USA, on the basis that we did not use military force stop the Germans from putting people in the camp.

And now there is a book describing the "horror" of the Allied occupaition of Germany after WWII; this follows one from several years back describing the terrible deprevations visited uipon German POWs by the Allies.

Those who profess to be most upset at carnage also are those who get most upset at the methods used to stop the carnage.



1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
He was specific: they were SS POWs...

No other source has verified his stats, AFAIK.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Moderate OT: Camille Paglia makes dismissive noises about Hildabeast

http://www.salon.com/2013/08/21/camille_paglia_it_remains_baffling_how_anyone_would_think_that_hillary_clinton_is_our_party’s_best_chance/

(scroll down a bit)

Paglia at her best is wonderful, she just hasn't been at her best much recently, but she seems sharp here.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Keane: Emboldened Assad Probably Used Sarin Gas, Doesn’t Fear Obama Threats -- Tuesday marked one-year anniversary of Obama's 'red line' remarks --

http://freebeacon.com/keane-emboldened-assad-probably-used-sarin-gas-doesnt-fear-obama-threats/



Passport

Was There a Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria?

Passport

Al Jazeera: Give Us a Chance, America!

Killer Apps

How the U.S. Is Encircling China with Bases


U.S. Spies, Experts: Chemical Weapons Likely in Syria Attack

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/08/21/us_intelligence_official_finds_chemical_weapons_allegation_credible

And in other news, the NYT reports Russia blames Syrian rebels for attack.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think The Narrative may have run its course because I sense, among the media lefties, a nervousness and unease and maybe even a paranoia. It goes without saying that a criminal conspiracy as large as the one we've seen engulf the country eventually turns on itself. They won't abandon their creation, Obama, but the fantasies that prop him up aren't effective anymore. No, it's time for the scapegoats, the poor idiots who were put in place for future use, to be herded out of the administration's shadows and publically exposed as the cause of all their failures. Maybe it's even started.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"One of the worst possible scenarios for the administration would be if Assad actually used chemical weapons. It would drag Obama across his own Red Line kicking and screaming."

The Prancercise pResident will scream like a little girl. I think the phrase is "Hoist on his own petard".

"Unfortunately the fire in Syria now bids fair to spread into Jordan, Lebanon and Iraqi Kurdistan, and that point maybe neither Obama nor Time will matter any more either."

al Qaeda has flooded the zone in Syria. A whole bunch of those 'fighters' have scooted into Lebanon, Jordan and most likely Turkey. They are "refugees" who will become a large destabilizing force and help to topple the thin regimes still in place in those places. Libya is done. Egypt is done but fighting back. Get enough of the dominos to fall and it to get hungry enough out there and the Caliphate will look like a Pax Romana.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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