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Where Have You Gone, Admiral Ackbar?

August 27th, 2013 - 3:34 pm

Ralph Peters and Barry Rubin wring their hands in despair over Obama’s decision to bet the farm in Syria — bet the house without even wanting to win the pot. Peters writes that calculation has nothing to do with it.”You might as well try to teach a snake to juggle as hope the Obama administration will think strategically.”

Before launching a single cruise missile toward Syria, Team Obama needs to be sure it has a good answer to the question, “What comes next?” … If al Qaeda and local Islamists seize Damascus, what will we do? …

What if we weaken the regime to the point where the fanatics rev up their jihad to drive out Christians and other minorities? What’s your plan then, Mr. President? After your night of explosive passion, will you still love the opposition in the morning?

Barry Rubin is so sure that President Obama is heading into a trap that he confidently predicts “America’s Impending Defeat in Syria”. The reason? How can you win when you don’t want to win?

The administration has trapped itself with two problems: the rebels who are being supported in Syria are extreme radicals who may set off bloodbaths and regional instability if they win; and a challenge has been given to the very reckless forces of Iran, Syria, and Hizballah. When the United States threatens these three players, the response is always: “Make my day!”

So this is the situation, and the Obama administration is bluffing.

it does not want to exert force and probably won’t. Iran and Syria would be quite willing to fight a war, but the United States –people and government — do not have the will to do so.

Speaking for myself, I am not so sure defeat is in the offing. The tactical power of the United States military is so great that it can give mediocre, even insanely incompetent commanders in chief mastery of the physical field. It can avoid defeat, but it can’t give victory to somebody who doesn’t want it either.

What is of greater concern than Syria is watching Washington in its blindness. It’s like seeing an out-control Michael Jackson in his last days, a disaster waiting to happen. You might think Jackson can make it through the day and even through the next day. But sure as shooting the day will come when too much Propofol, too little sleep, too little thinking will do its work. And in that sometime, somewhere the unbridled penchant for destruction will finally push the thing over its final limit.

It’s not Syria I’m worried about, but what comes after that.

There is about the impending Syrian disaster something of the air of a fait acompli. Right now the political system is almost too astonished to call for a Syrian strategy,  to do anything but shamble along sheepishly, having been habituated to act without thinking; having been conditioned to drool, like Pavlov’s dogs on basis of talking points shopped by failed novelists now working as national security advisers for strategic communications to talk show hosts. In that sense Syria is a lost cause — perhaps not in the military sense — but because Obama himself is a lost cause.

If the Republicans themselves understood strategy — another forlorn hope — then they too would even now be preparing for pursuit. Of course they are not, being Republicans. But as Obama’s mistakes pile up he will be forced to retreat with or without the GOP on his heels, much as the Old Guard did at Waterloo, first a step at a time, then at a halting trot, then finally at a full-fledged, pell-mell run, chased by forces he himself has unleashed. So too will the headlong confusion ensue, whether the Republicans prepare for it or not.

The Democrats, whose next generation have so long been stunted by the suffocating shadows of Clinton and Obama, are ironically presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. Their younger members can survive the wreck of the Obama’s next year in office, seize the once in a lifetime chance to form a new coalition unhampered by the dead weight of the 1960s past — if they prepare now. Charles Krauthammer is right. The era of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton is over. What’s important now is jobs. And those won’t return unless things change.

The President really did fundamentally transform America. Look what he did to the Middle East. Look what his policies have done to the economy.  He is potentially taking the torch to the Jewish pillar of the Democratic Party soon. There is now no scenario in which Israel escapes unscathed from the blunders of the administration. And that will feed back — as all his blunders eventually must — into the Democratic Party. It is not inconceivable that Obama may become the Democrat’s Richard Nixon — he is already being openly compared to Nixon even by the press. It will be recalled that Nixon was persuaded by members of his own party to take a well deserved rest, advice which they presented upon realizing he was an albatross round their necks.

The comparison to Nixon is actually unfair to Nixon, who was guilty of a third-rate burglary. Nixon withdrew from Vietnam (which was Johnson’s boo-boo and which fell after he resigned when Congress withheld aid); he checkmated Russia and generally left things ship shape. No Benghazi, NSA, IRS, none of that mar Tricky Dick’s legacy. Compared to Obama Nixon was the model of competence.

One may laugh. Doubtless the Beltway crowd are looking round and comforting themselves with the fact that it still all looks the same today, so it will look the same tomorrow. But years ago I read an account of the Vietnam-era battle of Operation Apache Snow. The surviving NVA records indicated that the defenders, realizing they were to be attacked by American forces, and probably with a sense of their own impending demise, ordered their machine gunners to set up firing positions facing the dense, impassable forest.

“But sir,” one NVA machine gunner expostulated, “there is no field of fire there!”

“Ah my dear private,” the Vietnamese officer replied,  ”there is a forest there now. But you have never seen the American air force in action. Tomorrow there will be no forest there at all, not even a sapling. It will be smashed to matchwood. Set up the machine guns where I told you to.”

And the fields of fire open up where we least expect them to. Brett Stephens at the Wall Street Journal writes that Obama would be well advised to kill every member of the Assad family. Every last one.

Should President Obama decide to order a military strike against Syria, his main order of business must be to kill Bashar Assad. Also, Bashar’s brother and principal henchman, Maher. Also, everyone else in the Assad family with a claim on political power. Also, all of the political symbols of the Assad family’s power, including all of their official or unofficial residences. The use of chemical weapons against one’s own citizens plumbs depths of barbarity matched in recent history only by Saddam Hussein. A civilized world cannot tolerate it. It must demonstrate that the penalty for it will be acutely personal and inescapably fatal.

Maybe this strikes some readers as bloody-minded. But I don’t see how a president who ran for his second term boasting about how he “got” Osama bin Laden—one bullet to the head and another to the heart—has any grounds to quarrel with the concept.

There used to be an implicit Red Line prohibiting the assassination of a foreign head of state arising from the well-founded fear that Western leaders might themselves become targets of revenge. The way around that was to get the locals to do it. Saddam was convicted by Iraqis and hanged. Khadaffy went into the meat freezer at the hands of Libyans. What happens when or if you go after the president of a foreign country and his whole family with drones?

Won’t happen you say? Oh they’ve thought about it then … have they? Have they thought about anything? Red Lines ain’t what they used to be. Like that NVA commander said “there’s a forest there now boy …” But there’s not a forest there forever.

To the question, what does Obama do for an encore once he’s fired off two billion dollars worth of missiles? Your guess is as good as mine, but if he did have a plan then what is it?  It’s a Brave New World out there, with such people in it.

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Top Rated Comments   
Hell has frozen over. Kuchinich and Ron Paul on the same page. "Former congressman Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio) said today that striking Syria would turn the United States military into 'al-Qaeda’s air force.'”

How can there be any doubt about Obama's genius. Who else but he could make Saudi Arabia and Israel join forces against him. Who but he could get everyone in Egypt, including the Copts, mad at him? How is it possible that he could pit the alliance against itself.

But he did. This is absolutely awesome. Could you do this even if you tried?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Where to begin?

"The tactical power of the United States military is so great that it can give mediocre, even insanely incompetent commanders in chief mastery of the physical field."

The ability of the American military to penetrate and hit targets in Syria is not questioned. There is a risk of unexpected counterattacks, but those should be capable of being handled.

The danger is what will happen OUTSIDE Syria in reaction. Not only in the Middle East [and a strike on Israel is almost certain, and the reaction is outside US control]; but elsewhere. Terrorist attacks can happen worldwide. And in the case of the United States, given the absolute incompetence of the regime in dealing with terrorists [or even admitting their existence], trust in the machinery of government will suffer. The incompetence in stopping such attacks will dismay those who believe in the Lightworker. And those of us who don't will surely have to give strong odds that the attacks are really a false flag operation carried out by the regime itself to justify limits on civil liberties and a seizure of power.

"Right now the political system is almost too astonished to call for a Syrian strategy, to do anything but shamble along sheepishly, having been habituated to act without thinking; having been conditioned to drool, like Pavlov’s dogs on basis of talking points shopped by failed novelists now working as national security advisers for strategic communications to talk show hosts."

The political system as we knew and were taught for generations no longer exists. There IS NO Opposition party, and the Republicans have learned to sit quietly and not object to the actions of the Left. The silence of the Republicans when Obama, by Decree, suspended part of the Obamacare law without legal or constitutional authority, solely because it was to his political benefit, was loud. The total silence of the Republicans as Obama takes us to war without any threats to US interests and without authority from either the Constitution or statute [War Powers Act] is deafening. We are living in a one-party state with no Constitution. The times are .... interesting.

The Republicans will not resist, nor will they pursue. They will do as they are told. The only argument will be whether it is out of cowardice and greed, or active treachery. They do hope to be eaten last.

"He is potentially taking the torch to the Jewish pillar of the Democratic Party soon. There is now no scenario in which Israel escapes unscathed from the blunders of the administration."

That majority of American Jews that support the Left will do so regardless of the consequences to Israel. If the entire Jewish state was destroyed and every Jew in the Middle East was killed; they would rejoice that the non-progressive throwbacks were gone.

"There used to be an implicit Red Line prohibiting the assassination of a foreign head of state arising from the well-founded fear that Western leaders might themselves become targets of revenge."

Now such attempts [and they will come] will be considered justification for domestic crack downs. Even if they have to stage the attacks themselves.

"The NYT has been hacked.

Welcome to Assad's world. "

Making the unprovable assumption that the "Syrian Electronic Army" is not operating out of the NSA.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Congress? Who's that?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (63)
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Rubin et al have nothing to worry about. Obama only intends to "gesture" and gesticulate with cruise missiles -- if the latest news is accurate. Unless our President is setting a clever trap, his Pentagon has been giving away the battle plan, right down to letting the Syrians know that the US Navy or AF intends to take out a field full of attack helicopters. Do they expect the Mi-8s or whatever to still be there by the time the air strikes come?

Is this deliberate misdirection? One woud hope so, but "hope" is a liar with this president. This is the administration that told us which Seal Team killed bin Laden, which we absolutely did not need to know. They also routinely leak classified info for their own agrandizement.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Incidentally, who are these "top brass" these days in the Pentagon? I don't recognize them as serious warfighters, do you? And I've been noticing this well before Obama came to power. It seems that the Gramscian Long March has been pushing its tendrils into the DoD for some time now.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The curious hypocrisy of getting all worked up about chemical weapons has deep roots, starting with the end of WWI. Despite all the carnage wrought by more conventional methods, it was considered dastardly to poison troops in the field like insects. If you want to dispatch a lot of humans at one fell swoop, use intense artillery barages. Nowadays, even the use of incapacitating agents, such as BZ gas, is inhumane. The Marines have tested this gas agent, and it works. But it is "monstrous" to use it. So, in a situation where BZ gas might render a cave full of "militants" helpless, the Marines must instead use thermobaric bombs to roast them to death. Go figure.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No doubt 0bama's got a cunning plan.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obama's interests are inversely related to their importance. Beer summits, rodeo clowns, rogue preachers threatening to burn Korans, Final four brackets, sports team ceremonies, Hollywood celebrities, TV talk shows, golf, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Fluke, Big Bird, Gridiron dinners, school bullying, Women's History Month, shooting hoops, laughing it up with "Pimp with the Limp," etc.

He is no more the "chief executive" than I am. Ironically, his role in this government IS that of a "rodeo clown"-distracting, providing alternative targets and shifting the public's focus so Jarrett, et al. can concentrate on running this country into the ground.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As the war drum beats, cable news spends the day speculating which targets in Syria should be hit with which bombs. []

The Day In 100 Seconds
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I predict that any strikes we make on Syria may engender other responses that the Obama Admin will find astonishing.

If Iran or Syria goes through with their oft-threatened activation of their terrorist forces in the USA, I believe that the entire US population will go Alpha Sierra. The attitude will be "enufadishit!"

I think the Boston Marathon attacks were the last friggin’ straw. And in the past we have not been able to finger a specific country associated with them. Terrorist attacks at this point will cause people to conclude that Syria and/or Iran are close enough for targeting purposes.

Currently US Foreign policy is controlled by those black women you see in the street waving their Obamaphones, standing in line for their share of the Obamamoney. After some Iranian or Syrian terrorist attacks in the USA, even they will call for the creation of glass-lined self-lighting parking lots in the ME.

Can Obama resist calls for effective strikes against the source of such attacks? I doubt it. He is a Leftist to the core but even more a creature of the prevailing wind.

Everybody, but everybody, may be in for a lot more than he thinks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There are two posts out recently- one at zerohedge and one from Caroline Gluck .com sorry I can't link because pjm will only let me link from my dang iPhone

Some of key points -

Both prince bandar and Gluck believe erdogan is an agent of the radical Islamists.

Glick says Obama went to erdogan to form the coalition against Assad and that Obama spurned the moderate Muslims, Kurds, And Christians.

Ergo the idea that there would be "carefully vetted factions" that would act somewhat in America 's interest is complete sham.

Obama got what he wanted- al Qaeda and the mb to run things on the rebel side. There are no rebel forces that we can deal with and Obama made sure of that from the gitgo.

Our forces are not walking into a trap. They are being sent into a purposely designed disaster - designed by Obama himself.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Exactly. Be prepared for this may provide the excuse for attacking Israel and the continental US.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

--in the comments i refer to


--reading on, last night, following links out into crazyland, trying to find the missing info on the missing nukes incident, the John Wheeler murder story keeps coming up. As a 'special assistant' he was 'at' the era/elbow of the top of the AF chain of command from 2006-2008, bracketting the 2007 incident.

(Here i sit smoking Marlboros wondering which of about a dozen fraught tangents to even attempt to mention sensibly)

OK, just the last few days of reading Instapundit, see the several links to various agencies --IRS mainly --''going after'' veteran's organizations --despite the incredible scandal of backlogged claims (the 'f-you' optics).

Wheeler (a leading national authority on chemical weapons and electronically-controlled aerosol applications, BTW) was consulting for 'private government corporation' Mitre Corp on cyber security, when he was assassinated New Year's night 2011. His last known word was an email to a friend, saying he was fearful for his country, that it was 'unprepared for cyber warfare'.

... says the company work is "focused within three Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs). One FFRDC performs systems engineering and integration work for Department of Defense C3I. A second performs systems research and development work for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other civil aviation authorities. The third FFRDC provides strategic, technical and program management advice" to the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Department of the Treasury.[3]"

It's the third one which snapped my attention, when later, even further out in crazyland, i encounter



And this is all too pat --one year ago this month, Obama gives the Red-Line speech. Somehow, the press, amid its vast forgettings, remembers that speech by the ink-barrelful --just as Assad somehow forgets it, and gasses a neighborhood he could've obliterated any number of other, standard, permissable, ways.

And a synarchy a century old (Democrat and Bolshevik) still manages to hide in the shadows of the glittering thrust-and-parry of psychopathic political theater.

Commenters wonder where the Syrian Electronic Army could be located? Well, wherever, it's a good bet it has been there awhile, waiting the cue. That's what Doug Hagmann, who pretty much traced the producers of the Benghazi video all the way into the NSC (search 'hagmann body of lies'), says:
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
See below
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sigh. There really is nothing new under the sun, is there?

"And when people are entering upon a war they do things the wrong way round. Action comes first, and it is only when they have already suffered that they begin to think.”
― Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think it's win-win-win for Obama.

Scenario 1.
A. He "goes in"----whether for R2P (heh!) or to uphold the Geneva Convention (heh!) or because his administration is the most transparent in history or because "Congress isn't going to tell me what to do or not to do" or because, damn, "this crap is keeping me off the links and hurting my game"---and sends a cruise missile or two or whatever.

B. Result: Israel gets pounded.

C: Which means, Israel will have to pound back. (IOW No screwing around like in Gaza or S. Lebanon).

D: Hezbullah/Iran join in the festivities; and things degenerate from thereon in.

E: Result: Israel is responsible for the outbreak of hostilities (even though we all of us already knew that, know that and will know that, forever, amen). World-wide condemnation, pogroms, the whole kit and kaboodle. The whole nine yards.

F: Win-win-win for Obama. He "acts" showing his O-so-serious resolve (heh!) and Israel gets pounded. Death and destruction all around. And Israel will get the blame. And Israel may still be able to cut the "Syrian/Iranian/Hezbullahn Gordian knot" (simply because at that point it's survival time for Israel, nothing less). And Israel still gets the blame. Obama/Kerry will be able to stress just how important I-P peace would have been/should have been/could have been---and IS---though unfortunately, Israel (and Bibi, of course) insisted on torpedo-ing that (of course---doesn't the narrative say so?). And Israel gets the blame. Something to be savored (possibly between the 6th and 9th holes).

Or, Scenario 2:
G: Obama keeps threatening. France keeps expressing righteous indignation. Britain keeps nodding, nodding. Pressure mounts on Syria. Pressure mounts on Israel. Pressure mounts on Bibi. "How long, O Lord; How long?" etc., etc.,

H: Israel, exasperated and anxious, decides it can't just wait anymore.

I: See "D" above. See "E" above. See "F" above.

File under: "You mean if I drop a Tomahawk in the Syrain Desert, they'll all go after Israel? Why didn't you all tell me that sooner???"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Some years ago, I wrote a speculative study in my then-newsletter about what Israel could do, with their arsenal and delivery means, if they believed that they were in fact in the last ditch and abandoned.

At that time, with the proper targeting, I promise you that Israel was capable of totally ENDING the Ummah. Their capabilities, especially means of delivery, have improved greatly since that was written.

Muslims and Buraq Hussein [I grant the possible redundancy] may have faith that they will be protected by Allah. They may find that events disabuse them of that faith.

Convincing a nuclear power that you are going to destroy them may not be the wisest course of action.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Perhaps, but there is always the issue of strategic depth---which is actually a misnomer (i.e., a joke) when it comes to the Jewish State simply because there is none. None at all.

And so the question becomes:
Will the next round be deja-vu 1967? Or will it be deja-vu 1973? (Keeping in mind that one of the reasons 1973 became 1973 was because of the diplomatic fallout---none of it either reasonable or justified, but still it existed, propagated by the Arab States and the USSR, those ne plus ultra stalwarts of ethics, morality and international law, and buttressed by a perverted deGaulle---from Israel's pre-emptive "aggression" in 1967.

And 2013 is the backlash to 1967 in spades---given the fact that Israel has been successfully portrayed (and is currently viewed) as the world's number one villain (kudos to Arafat and the people he leads---yes, still!---and to his successors for strategic brilliance, innovation and stick-to-it-iveness!!).

Israel's hands, as it stands, are tied. Tied because of its own finely honed sense of morality. Tied because of its external predicament. (Jews in Israel---as well as abroad---like so many others, have been infected by the bacillus of false morality that has been created and unleashed by those plotting Israel's destruction.) Tied because Israel would really---as in, really---rather not fight wars (a fact known all too well by its enemies----though they've learned that to count on that fact might result in some hurt).

But not tied entirely. And, ironically---or perhaps not---the current US administration's grand-strategic decision to abandon Israel, to throw it the wolves (or, if you wish, to demonstrate that it desires to cultivate good relations with those who seek Israel's destruction while at the same time insisting that Israel continues to have "no better friend", etc. heh, heh) gives Israel a certain additional latitude that it may not have felt it had previously----but only if the Israeli government truly believes that they are abandoned, which for several reasons it may not wish to do).

"Latitude"? Well, only in the sense that Israel, always believing that it could rely on the US (alas, poor Walt; alas Poor Mearsheimer) can no longer---honestly---do so (though in this, it is no different than Japan, Taiwan, S. Korea, etc.---even if the circumstances may not have the same immediacy).

What is the expression? "In for a penny, in for a pound"?

And here, we're talking about sheer survival.

Keeping in mind that if Israel doesn't manage it, not only will the world not shed a tear, but there will be exultation on a level that will make the exultation at the demolition of the WTC seem like a child's first birthday. Best case scenario would likely go something like, "It's a shame, perhaps, but Israel really did deserve it."

On the other hand, should Israel manage to survive by doing what has to be done, there will be a world-wide eruption of demented fury and rage destroying everything it is allowed to.

(Which, to be sure, is known in some circles as "win-win".....)

All brought to you by those fabulous folks who give you choices each one of which is far worse than the other.... So, have fun kiddies!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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