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Belmont Club

Anchors Aweigh

August 25th, 2013 - 2:22 pm

The administration appears convinced that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against its own population, according to the NYT and may be moving to chastise it. The BBC however cautions that there may never be any actual evidence of the chemical weapons violation. “UK Foreign Secretary William Hague warned that evidence could have been tampered with, degraded or destroyed in the five days since the attack.”

With the BBC innoculating the administration against future media accusations of ‘faked’ WMD evidence by declaring any proof imperceptible in advance, the NYT describes the administration’s possible game plan. “WASHINGTON — As President Obama weighs options for responding to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, his national security aides are studying the NATO air war in Kosovo as a possible blueprint for acting without a mandate from the United Nations.”

With Russia still likely to veto any military action in the Security Council, the president appears to be wrestling with whether to bypass the United Nations, although he warned that doing so would require a robust international coalition and legal justification.

“If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it, do we have the coalition to make it work?” Mr. Obama said on Friday to CNN, in his first public comments after the deadly attack on Wednesday.

The Clinton era is a gift that keeps on giving. Unlike the lawless George W. Bush who went through the trouble of going to the UN and Congress to begin his illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama has learned from Clinton how useful is the loophole of “responsibility to protect”. If Obama uses Kosovo as a precedent, this will be the second time the US has intervened without the usual legal preliminaries to rescue a Muslim population.

Meanwhile, David Axe describes the capabilities of Naval forces now closing on in the Syrian coast.

Although Axe doesn’t quite say it, the goal of Navy is to destroy the Air Force — the Syrian Air Force that is. If the Navy is allowed to sweep the Syrians from the sky — assuming that they are not simply there to send a limited message — then swarms of drones are sure to follow once air dominance is gained. And then it will be all over. Assad may flit among hideouts for a while, but sooner or later the drones will get him. His goose will be cooked and the Syrian rebels, whoever they might be, will be in power.

How will the Navy probably accomplish its goal?

First will come the sleet of land attack missiles. “In the early 2000s the U.S. Navy took four old nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines, removed their atomic rockets and transformed them into undersea arsenals, each packing up to 154 Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles that can be launched while the sub is still underwater.”

It was Florida that opened up the Libya intervention two years ago, firing more than 90 cruise missiles to destroy dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s air defenses, clearing the way for NATO air strikes. …

As recently as this spring Florida was back in the U.S. Sixth Fleet’s patrol area, centered on the Mediterranean. The 560-foot vessel returned to her base in Georgia in June and her sister vessel USS Georgia apparently took her place on deployment. But then in July a Navy photograph depicted Florida departing base “for routine operations.” Meanwhile Georgia was last publicized patrolling the Indian Ocean.

In short, Georgia is within quick sailing distance of the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, meaning she could be available to launch missiles against Syrian defenses. And if Florida is also being sent back to the Mediterranean, the Navy could have no fewer than 300 sub-launched Tomahawks lurking off the Syrian coast.

That’s just for openers. Then come the Burkes.

The U.S. Defense Department has specifically mentioned four vessels in connection with a possible assault on Syria—all of them 500-foot-long Arleigh Burke-class destroyers deployed with the Sixth Fleet. The USS Mahan, USS Gravely, USS Barry and USS Ramage, each packing a mix of 90 surface-to-air and cruises missiles, are all in the Med.

Then come the thousand-foot aircraft carriers, all packed with standoff-missile firing air wings.

Indeed two of the Navy’s thousand-foot-long nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are within a quick jaunt of Syria. The USS Nimitz and USS Harry S. Truman—each with around 70 jet fighters, support planes and helicopters plus several additional destroyers, cruisers and submarines—are both listed as being with the U.S. Fifth Fleet as of Aug. 23. The Fifth Fleet patrols the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.

Given enough time the Navy can probably grind the Syrian airbases to dust, reduce their radars to junk, incinerate any command and control facility worth mentioning. And then with Assad blinded, aerially impotent and defenseless will follow the drones. First the high flying recon drones, operated by the USAF this time, to mark and spot each target of interest. Then the shooting drones. Bam. Bam. Bam.

A few days ago, commenters in the Daily Mail wrote “THIS HAS TO STOP NOW”. By “the somebody” to do the “stopping” of course they meant the USN, the USAF and if necessary the USMC. The truth is that from a military point of view, the United States can pretty much do a job on anybody, a fact normally decried by “world public opinion” until they want “somebody to stop” something. Then everyone’s agreed, the Navy works real good.

The only thing that can possibly stop the US is the Russians in combination with the Iranians, which if it results will create a wider war. The normal method for registering Russian existential objections is the Security Council. But Obama’s not going there, nor is he apparently aware of the existence of Congress whose job it formerly was to “declare war” — a hundred year old practice that white men invented to “grab oil” which nobody remembers any more.

And the reason for these checks and balances is the same reason why dual keys exist in nuclear missile firing silos or submarines. Because this power is so awesome. And with power comes the great responsibility to ensure this unbelievable might is used with due consideration and wisdom. There is no doubt that the USN can pulverize Syria. But to what end? To what strategic end?


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Top Rated Comments   
Just as Europeans routinely conflate the actions of the American government with the desires [and morals] of individual Americans, Americans return the favor. In point of fact, currently neither population has any control over the actions of their government, even if 90%+ of the population opposed them.

Subotai Bahadur
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
"But to what end? To what strategic end?"

President Obama has demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of everything, of everything, except political gamesmanship within the unique, narrow and parochial confines of American domestic politics.

Why on earth would anyone expect Obama to have any strategic end outside of his self serving personal and domestic political strategies and goals?

I think that any and all of his actions/inactions will be to serve and only to serve his own vanity and his perception of how to gain points in American domestic political games.

Sorry, but I think that Obama's world is not the world that most ordinary people around the globe inhabit. For that reason I think it is a waste of time ascribing to Obama normal motives, normal principles and normal logic.

He just is not here with us
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
"But to what end? To what strategic end?"

But that is the paradox of Progressive thinking. The only military actions which are permissible are those which cannot have strategic ends. And if you find after military action that you do have some strategic advantage you must throw it away to prove your purity. Just like Obama did in Iraq.

What a vile and contemptible mindset. US soldiers are nothing more than props for their grandiose fantasies. They have no more regard for them than big agri-business has for an individual chicken that they own. They are nothing. Just like when C*nt Hillary promised the parents of the ones that died at Benghazi that she would see that the bastard that created the anti-Islam video would be punished. It was nothing more than a lie for purposes of propaganda. She didn't give a single flying F*ck about the ones who died or their families. They were just insects and tools to her. And who among the Important People Who Matter could possibly object to the stomping of a few flies?

The disconnection from reality proceeds among the Political Class. Their actions really aren't even intended to impress the little yeast cells beneath them. Its all about fashion statements that will impress the other members of their aristocracy and all else be damned.

I hope they all rot in Hell.

48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (62)
All Comments   (62)
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National Education Association, perhaps?
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here's the opposition:

http://www.mediaite.com/online/obama-flag-at-march-on-washington-gets-twitter-riled-up/

Seems our opposition has an unusual view of American tradition. Check out the third picture down; the woman holding the flag has a National Association of Education (NEA) tee shirt on. Whoodda thunk it? An educator feeling completely at ease with flag desecration. Before you know it, we'll be carrying this abomination into battle.

Get your kids/grandkids out of the public schools.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Going in half-assed in a "limited" incursion will end badly and worst of all, the last one left standing will crow about defeating the Great Satan.

Even humanitarian endeavors create a perception of weakness and virtually invite a terroristic response.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I fail to see why we need to intervene in Syria. It is not a catastrophe, but rather the ideal situation. Terror master Assad and Iran entering into extreme mutual eradication with Al Quaeda? What's not to like about the present situation?

Islam is a religion of mass murder. Terrorism is the export variant of Islam. Keeping the mass murder confined by borders is as effective as any other method of stopping the export of Islamic terror.

Again, what is not to like about Syria, the way it is right now?
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Naval assets are great for (a) tactical messaging, i.e. adding an asterisk to a message (e.g. Reagan's message to Khadafi in the 1980's), (b) strategic dominance of sea lanes of communication, or (c) in support of a ground attack from the sea that secures land bases in which to project power from on a long term basis.

Use of the Navy for messaging would simply be ineffective in Syria, the US already controls the communication lanes around Syria, or could very easily, and the third option doesn't much interest Obama (given that he walked away from a more strategic base option in Iraq). So, yes, what strategic goal would an attack by the US Navy accomplish? Or put more succinctly, how would the US "win" the engagement, if that objective can't be clearly defined?

One thing the Navy - any Navy - will ultimately fail at is indefinite station keeping. I would maintain that the UN "no fly zone" in Iraq was ultimately a failure, as it neither prevented war nor kept Saddam in check. Naval station keeping is very, very expensive, without land based support. Yes, the USN is a true "blue water" Navy, but a very "mini" Navy compared to the Reagan era Navy, or the post WWII USN.

Bottom line: Unless Obama intends to put boots on the ground, secure land bases, and both maintain and sustain those bases INDEFINITELY, it willl be difficult for the USN to sustain a campaign off the coast of Syria.

Even if the Navy can "win" the initial engagement, it wouldn't require direct intervention and military confrontation by third powers (e.g. Russia, Iran) to frustrate that campaign, and quickly drive the costs of the campaign much higher than will be economically, politically, and militarily possible to sustain. Perhaps with a 600 ship Navy, the US could sustain the effort militarily, but it would still fail politically and economically.

I highly doubt that Obama will authorize more than a very limited effort, much less than in Libya, and probably, none at all. If he does go forward with both feet, it will be a disaster for the USA, regardless of how many missiles fly or whether or not a drone based missile finds Assad's spider hole.

Old Salt
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Even if the Navy can "win" the initial engagement, it wouldn't require direct intervention and military confrontation by third powers (e.g. Russia, Iran) to frustrate that campaign, and quickly drive the costs of the campaign much higher than will be economically, politically, and militarily possible to sustain. Perhaps with a 600 ship Navy, the US could sustain the effort militarily, but it would still fail politically and economically.

I highly doubt that Obama will authorize more than a very limited effort, much less than in Libya, and probably, none at all. If he does go forward with both feet, it will be a disaster for the USA,..."



Which would be a win/win for Obama and his Anti-American supporters.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
If only the USA could strike at its real enemies, instead of those whom world opinion believes we have the responsibility to protect.

It’s the Gulf of Tonkin all over again. Or worse:

On 1 September 1939, Adolf Hitler spoke about the cruelty against ethnic Germans in Poland, denounced recent atrocities by the Polish government against German subjects, and denounced the Polish war mobilization.

In response to a false attack on German soil (the Gleiwitz incident, though it did not involve WMDs), Germany would invoke its responsibility to protect cultural Germans maltreated in non-German nations.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tcobb & Steve Smith-

You guys ARE barking up the right tree.

Foreign policy to this bunch is nothing more than a means of propagandizing for home consumption in order to consolidate their power here. Helping the MB costs Obama nothing amongst his voters and actually helps out a big chunk of them in terms of them dealing with their state of cognitive dissonance.

The LIV Dem voters who populate the welfare populations and much of the low-level public workforce, as well as the grant recipients and rent-seekers, are well in line, really don't care about foreign policy, and do not need shoring up.

But the true believers, the public schoolteachers and university types who are the NPR-listening pseudointellectual soldiers of The Narrative™, are just smart enough to know what is happening and want some red meat. The core belief of that crowd is that authentic Christians are the greatest evil the universe has ever produced. To shore up that pillar of their belief system, great lengths must be gone to in order to absolve Islam of any hint of being perceived in a negative fashion. If Islam (or any other belief system) does something terrible, then the Christians aren't that bad and the rest of the worldview no longer makes sense. OTOH, if they are the recipients of military aid from the great Obama that they worship, then that means that they the MB are the good guys and CHristians can remain intact as the bogeyman.

Just last weekend I had one of these types try to tell me that Mormons were so, so horrible because some small percentage of them they wanted a system where an alpha male monopolized all the women. I tried to point out that Islam did the same thing and he actually got combative in insisting that I was wrong.

His point was that Muslims having harems was OK but a quasi-Christian group like Mormons doing so was some great evil and an existential threat

This makes no sense unless you understand the goal, which is to maintain the known and cherished bogeyman at any cost to logic or reason. If Christians being the greatest evil in the universe is central to everything else you believe in, you will engage in whatever illogical flights of fancy you have to in order to maintain the fiction rather than having to tear down everything else and have to do the hard work of rethinking things.

This will include giving a pass to anything Obama does to assist the Muslim Brotherhood. The MB can't be evil. Only Christians can. And they'll shout you down if you say otherwise.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ere too long they'll be throwing Christians to the lions again.

Actually the 'new and improved' version has been somewhat of an inversion of the old Roman model.
The modern guardians of all that is good are delivering mountain lions, bears, and timber wolves directly to the doorsteps of Christian households...With a crash program for repopulating the cultural heritage site formerly known as Detroit with a diverse menagerie of re-naturalized dogs.

Ain't Progressive progress grand?
http://youtu.be/ZW8TlrYhBxk

Regnum delenda est
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dudes! Everybody be calm. Just make sure you've coordinated with your tailor and the swastika arm bands are ready for the One's announcement of a change in venue.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Man, I can hardly wait to taste that omelette.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
The old Ayers underground recipe calls for only 25-30 million eggs...But you know...Inflation.

Henceforth it shall be known as the Climate Underground recipe for anthropogenic omelet making....And it's got cilantro.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
"To what strategic end?" Yeah, the Progressives are a bit confused as to whether support the Shiites or the Sunnis. The Alawites, the Kurds and the Wheys put them into total cognitive dissonance.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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