Senate Intervention in Syria: Yay or Nay?

Discussion in 'Community' started by Vaderize03, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus

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    It seems all but certain that the United States, along with willing allies Britain, France, and Turkey, will soon launch a limited strike against the Syrian military. If the talking heads are to be believed, such a strike will be targeted, limited, and have a distinct 'ceiling'; in other words, it will be more about protecting the taboo surrounding the use of WMD's of any type than toppling the Assad regime or even destroying the weapons themselves.

    My feelings on this are mixed. Clearly, Mr. Assad has committed atrocities against his people, and this cannot be allowed to stand. On the other hand, Mr. Obama has approached foreign policy as a multilateralist, relying more on the UN for support than "going it alone"....or at least he did. First in Libya, and now potentially in Syria, he is treading a path very much like the one he criticized his predecessor for taking.

    So what does striking Syria accomplish? My gut is that the United States is almost being forced into this position by President's Obama mouth; he drew a 'red line', and if he doesn't act, America becomes a paper tiger, which has its own implications. The UN is useless here, as Russia has made it clear that without evidence so obvious even a child could figure it out, they will veto any resolution condemning Syria. We are then left with the following choices:

    1) A limited strike, which scares Assad into not using his weapons again-An unlikely outcome, IMHO.

    2) A major strike, with ground troops and an attempt to topple the regime-very unlikely, given the cost in both lives, money, and international condemnation of the United States.

    3) A minor strike that escalates into a much wider conflict-this is the scenario I fear, with Iran goading terrorist elements into attacking Israel and American interests in retaliation, eventually leading to a wider war with Iranian involvement, closing the Straights of Hormuz, etc.

    To sum up, an American military strike with a "coalition of the willing" (sound familiar?) seems to have a lot of risk for potentially limited returns. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely abhor Assad's use of chemical weapons, but the opportunity here is to expose the weakness of the UN. Its governance structure makes it relatively impotent, and its long past the time to push for change. America could do a lot more to help the Syrian people by equipping the rebels with heavier weapons than by dropping bombs. By calling out the currently-defunct structure of the UN, America would be doing more to help victims of state-sponsored oppression in the future than anything that can be accomplished via cruise missiles.

    My $0.02.

    Peace,

    V-03
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  2. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    This should read "Yea or Nay"
  3. Ghost Chosen One

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    We should have acted long ago. (For both humane reasons as well as strategic geopolitical reasons).

    The U.S. should strike with missiles from air and sea, and have limited special forces operations. The objectives should be to have the chemical weapon stockpiles secured, and the Assad regime removed from power.
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  4. Point Given Mod of Literature and Community

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    What makes you think the Syrian rebels will be more humane than Assad?
    Last edited by Point Given, Aug 26, 2013
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  5. Ghost Chosen One

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    As I've said, bomb the ones who commit inhumane acts and who affiliate with terrorists.

    The main rebel factions are good.
  6. Point Given Mod of Literature and Community

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    That sounds much easier said than done. How do you know that some of the "good" rebel factions don't have ties to Al-Nusra or SIF? And why is the solution more bombing?

    Edit: I'm also curious as to how you're going to be able to tell the difference between a "good" rebel and a "bad" one from a plane. You see a group of jeeps and have to make a quick decision? What if you bomb the good ones instead?
    Last edited by Point Given, Aug 26, 2013
  7. Saintheart Chosen One

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    The UN was always going to be dreadfully weak on this, because it's still built on the half-assed foundations of the League of Nations. You cannot be a credible policeman when the five biggest gunowners in town in essence fund you and have an unbreakable veto over whether or not you get to use your lawful authority, and especially when arguably the biggest of those gunowners does not recognise the authority of the International Criminal Court.

    Even so, I'd agree there's an awful lot to be said for America sitting back and saying to the world, "Screw you; we went into Afghanistan after we suffered one of the worst terrorist acts in modern history on US soil, and the Left never stopped accusing us of imperialism for ten years. You want us to go anywhere near Syria, you damn well come up with an unimpeachable UN resolution to back us. The last time we did that, under Bush I, we solved your problem in less than 100 hours of military operations. We're more than happy to do so again once you turf out the useful idiots who are indirectly supporting the gassing of kids by claiming we are imperialists."

    It broke my heart to see the images that are coming out of Syria. But, against that, it's not the Coalition's war this time unless the UN makes a decision, and there's an awful big chance of the problem getting worse. Part of the reason for the prominence of this issue is because the images have gotten out and they're confronting. There was nowhere near this level of international condemnation and talk of immediate military response when Saddam gassed the Kurds. And he killed nearly four times the number that Assad did in this one.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Aug 26, 2013
  8. LostOnHoth Chosen One

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    Well as you know there is a sliding scale for "interventions" with a 'concerned' talkfest on one end and full militiary invasion on the other. I think any US intervention will be along the lines of the Libyan campaign, ie, air and naval support but no massive invasion of troops on the ground.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Aug 26, 2013
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  9. Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus

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    Part of the issue here is that the West is damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    Ideally, the UN would get behind this 100%, but that's not going to happen. Yes, we should have acted long ago, but then the question becomes: where do you draw the line? There's a lot of brutality in the world, yet we obviously can't react to everything. Would an intervention now even be geopolitically effective, given the amount of time that's passed? I don't know. It already looks to be affecting oil prices, as they are spiking this morning on US markets.

    Which brings me to point #3 from my original post: the threat of an economic shock is just as real as an uncontrolled military one. I don't think we're at risk for another global recession, but then again, there's always the law of unintended consequences.

    I agree, btw, that there won't be ground troops. There's zero appetite in the US for that, not to mention money.

    Peace,

    V-03
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  10. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    Oh, there's always money for WAR, just not for poor Americans.
  11. Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus

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    So very true.

    The scuttlebutt says "Thursday".
  12. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    It's definitely going to happen and going to be more directly a U.S. attack than the Libya intervention. It will be U.S. cruise missiles under meager cover of another loose "coalition of the willing." I'm not sure what the military objective can be other than to deny the regime the ability to defend against U.S. air strikes by killing off the usual suspects: early warning and communications installations, try to take out some of its ability to provide air support to its civil war. In other words, a limited punitive strike intended solely to shore up Obama's credibility.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Aug 27, 2013
  13. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    The simplest way to let the rebels win would be dismantling the Syrian military's ability to communicate; Arab militaries are not very good without dictatorial control from the top continually issuing orders-the notion of small-unit initiative is not emphasized in the way it is in Western militaries. This could be accomplished with SF and the Air Force, IMO.
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  14. Sarge Chosen One

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    I still remember my initial chem warfare training in 1990. There was a slideshow with close up pictures of the Kurds that Hussein gassed in Iraq. That's no way for any one to die, let alone women, children, and old people. So, yeah, I want us to launch "surgical" strikes and take out all the chemical weapons. We should have done that ages ago. But boots on the ground? That's a messy, ugly situation. If we take 5 seconds to look at Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan, we ought to recognize that we'd be in over our heads. I don't think there's any good realistic answer to the problems in Syria; all I want us to do is to minimize Syrians' ability to destroy innocent lives.
  15. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    On the one hand, anything that hurts the Syrian military is helpful to the rebels, but do you believe that "letting the rebels win" is going to be the objective of any U.S. military operation against Syria?

    I think the most anyone can expect is a relatively minor punitive action against Syrian military assets aimed at minor disruption of their military capabilities and operations. Of course, it could evolve into something bigger and more involved, but cruise missiles alone aren't going to turn the tide of the civil war.
  16. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    from foreignpolicy.com

    "My assumption is Assad has dispersed his chemical weapons stockpile sufficiently that there isn't one big fat target waiting to be hit," added [Chris Harmer of the Institute for the Study of War ]. "So, using cruise missiles to run around looking for individual targets gets really expensive, really quickly."

    "I think the most effective tactic at this point to deny further use of chemical weapons would be to take out the Syrian air force," said Harmer.

    http://killerapps.foreignpolicy.com...ia_likely_to_get_hit_with_a_us_cruise_missile
  17. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    it depends-it was certainly our strategy in Libya; any notion of impartial intervention got thrown to the wolves there.

    I'd hope that Bosnia is our model; that the ceasefire was enforced against both sides in that conflict is a much stronger model, IMO.
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  18. Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus

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    Not to mention that if the rebels did win, there's no guarantee that their interests would align with the West's.

    More than likely they would not. I agree with taking out the Air Force; it's the only way to halt the strikes.

    Anyone think Russia will try and sanction the US after a strike? They really seem to be spoiling for a diplomatic fight these days, and the Snowden case has left the relationship very raw.
    Last edited by Vaderize03, Aug 27, 2013
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  19. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Good luck with that if they do try-we'd plain cut them off at the knees economically if they wanna get ugly about it, which I don't think they'd do anyway-all of Russia's "!Imperialism!111one!!!" rants about us since 1991 have evaporated into the nothing they are, including Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Libya, and now this.

    The biggest problem will be what happens after whatever happens-Bosnia required an occupation force after the NATO air forces finished demolishing both sides. This allowed both the excellent war crimes investigations and trials to take place, and also lasted a goodly number of years, although it was nowhere near as long as Iraq and Afghan have been, or anywhere near as bloody. I'd really, really hope the Arab world steps up and provides that. It'd defang any AQ protestations and perhaps provide a bit of influence towards the ME actually helping each other-they haven't been particularly friendly to one another since pan-Arabism died in the 1970s.
  20. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

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    Striking as an ally to aid those fighting the regime like with Libya I don't have so much of an issue with. Provided that afterwards there is no interfering with the running of the country, let them decide their own future for themselves.

    If the US had troops on the ground and then toppled the regime I would have reservations. The West should help stop atrocities, not take over nations and decide what future they should have using their own apparently superior model of government. That hasn't worked in the Middle East and it won't work elsewhere.


    It is a shame the UN is just a paper organisation, its structure needs to be overhauled majorly. Ideally a UN peacekeeper force should go in and resolve this issue, but they won't.
    If the UN no longer has the means to intervene in such atrocities, other nations must band together and do it.
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  21. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    A succinct Wiki article on the Bosnian air campaign. I have misrepresented it, as it was not impartial-its primary target was the Bosnian military.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Deliberate_Force

    There's clearly lessons to be gained from this, such as Bosnia not being plunged into a bloody continued insurgency afterwards.
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  22. Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus

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    ....and then there's Israel. Hopefully they won't get dragged into this.
  23. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Israel already is, actually. In the other thread I posted a link stating that the Mossad and the CIA both currently have what are called "paramilitary operations officers" in officialdom (and "Jason Bourne" or "John Clark" by you amateurs :p) on the ground in Syria working with the rebels.

    edit: link.

    http://www.worldcrunch.com/mobile/#a:13183&id2=1
    Last edited by DarthBoba, Aug 27, 2013
  24. Saintheart Chosen One

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    Yeah -- the first lesson to me being that, again, you need a binding resolution from the UN, or in this case a direct request from the UN to intervene, which preceded NATO's incursion.

    The second one is that you need multiple viable locations from which to launch airstrikes: in this case, they were coming from Italy and two US carriers.

    The third lesson is that you need a bunch of definable targets to hit. Many of the targets were conventional military assets, including artillery units around Sarajevo, and which the Serbs demonstrably had no capacity to defend from an airstrike given they only managed to shoot down one NATO fighter out of the 3,515 sorties flown. Not so with Syria where, as with Afghanistan, the lines between friend and foe are annoyingly close.

    And the fourth lesson is that even with arguably a "successful" pacification, NATO still had to leave 60,000 troops in the tinderbox of Europe for the next nine years to make sure those three idiots warring factions didn't start shooting one another again.
  25. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    In order:

    Britain seeking UN ok for strikes Of course Russia will try and veto it, but **** Russia. A country where journalists are murdered for investigating political corruption and gays are under threat of death or jail time doesn't get to have valid opinions about other countries as far as I'm concerned.

    2. I'd say Italy and the Meditteranean Ocean are awfully close to Syria :p

    3. Chemical weapons might not be the easiest of targets, but our surveillance abilities in general are massive compared to what they were in 1995. Hiding military equipment isn't as easy as it once was.


    Your fourth point is rather an oversimplification. Yes, occupation was needed, but, there wasn't a continued civil war, and it was barely half the size of the US force in iraq during the height of the occupation there, and the occupation is why war crimes trials were a thing. And given that the alternative is continued gas attacks on civilians (we're at what, 100,000+ dead now and no end of the war in sight?) I don't see how intervention hasn't already happened.