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Works and Days

Syrian Knowns and Unknowns

September 8th, 2013 - 5:48 pm

4) The Middle East is the Middle East: Syria reminds us of the Middle East paradoxes:

A) We don’t like either pro-American (e.g., Mubarak) or anti-American (e.g., Gaddafi) dictators.

B) We don’t like populist Islamic theocrats (e.g., the Iranian theocrats, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas).

C) We don’t like chaos and rule by militias (e.g., Sudan, Somalia, Libya).

D) We accept but do not promote monarchs (e.g., Jordan and the Gulf sheikdoms).

So we keep hoping for a fifth way of pro-American “reformers” that come to power through elections (like a partisan Maliki or corrupt Karzai). But to achieve choice E, we must invade, overthrow tyrants, occupy the country, force reforms and protect the weak legitimate government — something we are doing in Afghanistan and did in Iraq, but apparently never wish to do again.

So what are we doing in Syria — given that bombing may lead to chaos or help al-Qaeda, but not empower pro-Western reformers enough to grasp power, hold elections, and institutionalize legitimate consensual elections?

Does anyone believe that the insurgents are mostly pro-Western reformers, will come to power by our bombing Assad, and will form a legitimate consensual government that appreciates American help?

5) Iraq? Syria, the administration promises us, is not Iraq. Yes, in terms of blood and treasure it probably will not be as deadly as Afghanistan or Iraq. But the latter two were more costly than Libya because the aims were so much more sweeping — the creation of constitutional systems, not just the destruction of tyranny and a laissez-faire attitude about the very bad things that follow our bombing and killing. I wish there were a third way, but so far those are the two stark bad choices.

Tomahawks and Hellfires might even remove Assad, but they most assuredly will not lead to even mediocrities like Karzai and Maliki, warts and all, but rather to something like … who knows what? (See the choices below.)

Second, Bush went into Iraq on four premises:

One, he had over 70% public support after a year of discussions and debates. Two, he had overwhelming congressional support, so much so that the 23 writs that were passed went beyond even his own casus belli. Three, he labored (in vain) at the United Nations. Four, he had 40 allies in his coalition of the willing.

All that effort was because Bush had an aim (removal of Saddam Hussein), a methodology (invade and occupy the country in a way we did not in 1991 or during the 12 years of no-fly-zones), and a desired result (some sort of consensual government, or something like the status of the Maliki government when Bush left office in January 2009). You can call it stupid, but there was an “it” to call stupid. There is no such entity in relation to Syria.

Most Americans supported the Iraq war until the insurgency in 2004 made the implementation of the strategy too costly. Then only a few of us believed that far worse than fighting an unpopular war were the consequences of losing an unpopular war we were in.

Promising not another Iraq (or for that matter Afghanistan and Libya) is no substitute for explaining the objective, the means, and the desired result.

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Top Rated Comments   
It doesn't matter what he says. It only matters what the ladies on The View and the Today Show say he said.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If Comrade Obama's masters had wanted Syria attacked, it would have been attacked; he and they have contempt for the Constitution and the Congress and can be confident that the Congress will not do anything effective to them over it. Obama is proceeding from the assumption that the Congress and specifically the Republican-controlled House will not authorize the use of military force in Syria, a refusal he intends to use for domestic political ends. Internationally, I don't think it hurts his personal prestige with the sorts of people who think he's prestigious, and those are the only people he cares about. He can excuse any shortcomings and failures by attributing them to his being thwarted by the racist troglodytes in the Congress and the ignorant, bitter, clingers who elect them; the cool people will lap that up. Meanwhile, things have ground to a halt in Congress on all of the other issues and while the WH hasn't been arm-twisting on Syria, you can bet there have been some furrows plowed on immigration and ObamaCare implementation.

In terms of continuing the "fundamental transformation" and in keeping with standard Democrat hypocrisy, the pieces are in place for a "who lost the Middle East" theme in '16. When HRC runs as the smartest and most experienced person in the World and also as the first woman, the answer to 'who lost the Middle East" will be the Republican Party by thwarting the Democrats in stepping into Syria and thus checking Iran. The problem with all that is that it presumes it all goes their way and nothing spins out of control, a seriously and often fatally flawed presumption.

I've never met a lefty that planned anything in terms of what the opponent would do; they rare plan at all really. They just visualize an outcome and start talking about it, calling the talk progress towards that outcome. Lefties plan by deciding what the other guy is going to do and proceeding from that decision. All you have to do to totally cripple a lefty is not do what he expects you to do. Many, most, of the actors in the ME are not at all rational in any Western sense and certainly not in the sense that leftist elitists could predict their behavior.

The one group with whom Obama will lose prestige is the jihadists and other radicals. His smart smart domestic politics is simply weakness to them and once again people with very bad intentions towards the West will see the US as a weak horse. There is more than one dance going on and more than one entity is calling the dance. A week or two ago I'd have sworn that the Soros Junta was in league with the MB and thus Iran. That is certainly indicated by the fact that when the Soros Junta provoked Egypt's fall to the Brotherhood the Saudis and Kuwaitis said, "Enough" and intervened to oust Morsi and prop up the Army and the Egyptian economy. But now we are being asked to be Saudi janissariies attacking an Iranian/Russian client and the Soros Junta wants to do it. The only thing I can figure is that they don't want to do it and want somebody to blame it on. But the only thing I'm sure of is the fact that Obama and his regime are deeply anti-American, at least as pretty much anyone here would define American.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Here is another outcome that you have left off your list-

Al Qaida ges its hands on two liters of biological weaponry, which will be sufficient to take out downtown Washington DC, Manhattan and Los Angeles while the Iranians send several nuclear warheads to Venezuela to be placed on the North Korean missiles already pointed at the continental USA.

The free nations of the world face the greatest global threat in history with the worst leadership in history.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (59)
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This misses the real problem. Saudi Arabia. They are a big player on the stage. Their money and fact they hate Iran is enough. There is nothing for America here. Assad is a Middle eastern ruler. They are not Western. The values are that of tribalism and sectarian values. They will as the West did over time like, centuries.
Obama assumes because the intellectuals want democracy they speak for the population. Now where have we seen that before. And when the "revolution" happens guess who goes before the firing squad. Yep,the intellectuals!
Guess what happens next. Anti American riots and a hostile
government.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Community Organizer vs. Head of KGB. What do you expect ? Obama is an embarrassment on the world stage.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
First off I find it funny on the terror groups the author forgets to add Al Qaeda or any of the other terror groups to the list. Chances of Hezbollah taking over is slim if Assad falls.

None of us like Bashar Assad? Try again. He's the only one stopping the spread of Islamic extremists and Al-Qaeda. Not everyone is stupid.

His demise would in theory weaken our enemies like Iran and Hezbollah?
Yes and strengthen Al-Qaeda. Is that what you want?


1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think most of us are not against an attack on Syria or even outright war if there is a good and moral goal, a plan, an objective that doesn't require unicorns and fairy godmothers to achieve and will make the Middle East a better place. I haven't heard of any plan that actually does anything that will help the region or us have a more peaceful productive existence. Give us a plan that might just work or sit down and shut up, Mr. President. And tell your dog Kerry to heel. (You've earned that remark Kerry.)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Where is the thumbs down button?
I think most of us ARE against any attack on Syria, and many of us realize it's because we're attacking the wrong people. I'm all for an attack in Syria if we will ONLY target terror groups like Al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda. Not a moderate secular nation fighting our enemies which is what Assad is doing.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank God for VDH and for him sharing his brilliant, multi-faceted insights. His writings illuminate the Truth from the murky pool of random ideas, unique personalities, and wanton strategies, and his ideas also help us to form our own opinions based on historical facts and current realities. We are truly blessed by his comprehensive analyses.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Please someone count the number times Odumbo says "folks" both in his tv statements to interviewers today and his address to the nation tomorrow. Can we get a pool going? I'm putting my bet on 6 to 8.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A drinking game?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What about, "Let me be clear..." and "...not one dime..."?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm opposed because to Obama it is just another "look squirrel!" diversion from his administration's numerous illegal actions, scandals, and disastrous economic policies. A person would have to be seriously delusional to think that he really cares if the Syrians get gassed or not.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is one critical element left out of ALL the discussion I've seen on the Syria question, though you, Mr. Hanson, alluded to it above. That is the moral question. Set aside all the "evidence" and "reason" for blasting Syria for now. SUppose we DO.... and take out Assad. WHY? His regime is declared "evil", but on what bases? Now, take that entire list of "good reasons" and examine our own recent activity vis a vis OUR OWN PEOPLE. He's alledgedly used gas (solid evidence that rebel operatives were responsible for the recent gassing has NOT been properly addressed by the kinyun administration OR the mainstream press). Remember Waco, when WE gassed a group of innocent women and children, leading to their deaths? How about targeting individual civilians to be snuffed? Who was it, Awlaki, and his 16 year old son, both American citizens, killed by two drone strikes? Or, how about that retired Marine, killed in a hail of bullets in his own home, as he took up his weapon to protect his family from what appeared to be a massive violent breach of his home? Seventy rounds hit him... one of those infamous "no knock" warrants, "served" on the wrong address. Sorry, mate..... or how about condemning Assad for his surveilance operations, keeping everyone in the cuntry under his watchful eye so as to foreastall any "opposition"? Here we have NSA spying on everyone all the time, massive surveillance systems in place.. number plate readers, tracking devices on new cars and mobil phones, ten thousand surveilance cameras in Chicago (and still the highest murder rates in the world), they want RFID chips in our driving licenses and passports, and just recently we had government goons searching forty thousand people wanting to take a walk across a bridge..... no warrant, no probable cause. Not to mention the "border zone" interrogations, searches, again, no probable cause or warrant. Assad seems to have largely disarmed his people.... well, our own government haven't quite managed to do that nationwide, but they gave a mighty try on that last season in Congress. Assad controls and restricts much commerce on his nation..... well, what about or "interstate commerce clause", used as the "shill du jour" to regulate, prohibit, restrict, al manner of lawful trade, even within one state. As to his economy in shambles, well, most of us already know our current fiscal position is not exactly sterling......

So, it is obvious WE do not stand much taller than does Assad when ti comes to our "complaints" against him and his regime. SO, remind me again, on WHAT moral basis will we go in and "fix" his problems? If WE are in such a mess on nearly all of the same issues with which we charge him, what is our basis for action, first, and second, our chance of "making a difference" should we intervene and rise to superiority?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The only reasonably 'safe' country in the M.E. might just be Israel--why ? Because Assad knows they'll shoot back. There are too many American noses to be tweaked by Assad--at the behest of the Russians, who want to prove to Assad and their other proxies that they won't get swatted by the US--and Israel isn't one of them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Syria, a sovereign nation, did not sign the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1996.  The present conflict affects only Syrians.  This conflict is not an international dispute; it's a civil war initiated by insurgents and fought entirely in Syria.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_parties_to_the_Chemical_Weapons_Convention#States_that_have_signed_but_not_ratified
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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