Senate Intervention in Syria: Yay or Nay?

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

  1. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9

    Not for the US, no; we treat WMDs as WMDs, at least in terms of ourselves-if (for example) Russia dumped a bunch of Sarin in NYC our response would be a nuclear weapon.

    I'm curious to see just how long they're willing to delay-keeping the Nimitz group in the Meditteranean for an indefinite period of time at a high level of readiness is expensive.
  2. Violent Violet Menace Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2004
    star 4
    I agree with both you and Summer Dreamer's latest post, where he argues that the recent diplomatic development happened precisely because of the threat of force. I supported the idea of limited punitive strikes as a response to the use of chemical weapons for exactly the reasons you so eloquently presented in an earlier post. What I am opposed to, and agree with FID on, is the idea of a wholesale campaign with the objective of ousting Assad/supporting the rebels. As has been mentioned, the rebels aren't exactly a savory bunch, so I don't see how it would be worth it. It would just end up a waste of effort and money and lives on all sides.
    Last edited by Violent Violet Menace, Sep 10, 2013
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  3. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Sorry, I just see no use in debating somebody who complains about all of humanity all of the time.
  4. Bib Fartuna Jedi Grand Master

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    Nov 4, 2012
    star 4
    [IMG]
    Violent Violet Menace likes this.
  5. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    The problem here is that the reality of this is the exact opposite of what you and SD are characterizing it as. Neither Syria nor Russia ever cared 2 iotas about the US's threat of force, and such threat had nothing to do with Russia bringing this proposal forward. If this arrangement goes through, then the immediate effect will be to legitimize the Assad government, and the opposition forces will be finished. Syria will have a blank check to decimate the rebels within its borders as long as it doesn't use top tier weapons to do so. Russia will use this time to re-equip the Syrian military with better equipment and cement one of the last full nation-state allies it has. This is the problem that the Obama administration failed to account for when it separated out the chemical weapons issue from the Syrian civil war. I mean, without chemical weapons, and only using conventional means, some 60,000-70,000 or more people have been killed in the conflict. So it's difficult to draw out a moral red line because less than 1,500 hundred people were killed in a chemical weapons attack, even accounting for the uncertainty of who even used the weapons.

    The secondary, long term issue is that the UN is woefully ill equipped to force any kind of accountability on third party regimes. Remember, Iraq was subject to the toughest sanctions in recent history, and even after 12 years, it never complied with UN accountability inspectors. Pre-invasion Libya was also technically subject to international accountability inspectors, and over a decade or more, accountability was never achieved. Look at Iran and the IAEA inspectors. And so on, and so on. In fact, I can't think of a single example in recent times-save one- where the international community tried to force accountability onto a country, where such accountability was ever achieved. It's a paper threat, and both Syria and Russia know this.

    The other problem for Obama is that he didn't negotiate any of this, it just kind of fell into his lap after a series of gaffes, and as a result, the US isn't holding any of the cards for its implementation. As Jabba mentioned above, Kerry stock is worth more than the President's in this issue, and even Kerry originally dismissed the idea of Syria turning in their chemical weapons...that is, until Russia took up the issue and ran with it over Kerry's objections. I think the administration will be insulated more than had it simply attacked Syria, simply because its the lesser of two evils, but it all but cements the President's muddled foreign policy.
  6. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Russia cares about limiting U.S.'s ability to act militarily in the region. And if it has to make concessions on Syria to help constrain the U.S., then it is willing to make some concessions. I don't think you can really mean what you say about Russia or Syria not caring about a credible U.S. threat. And it remains a credible threat.

    Second, the legitimacy of the Syrian government is not the issue, and there is no need to confuse that for the chemical weapons problem, which is a specific breach of the norms of international law. There is no rational argument for why forcing chemical weapons inspections/destruction/removal on Assad's government gives it any more credibility that it already has through the backing of Russia/Iran, etc., and its progress in the civil war. That's an odd assertion, with nothing concrete to back it up. Enforcement of international law norms relating to chemical weapons use has nothing directly to do with changing the ultimate conclusion of the civil war. Coupling these things is something the most hawkish of the neocons want out of the controversy, but it's not going to happen.

    I should point out that the UN inspection regime in Iraq largely worked, as evidenced by the lack of WMDs found in the Iraq war that followed. Inspections did their job and were a wild success. Everyone knows that, and it is not in dispute by any serious student of history. If this works out in Syria, the president comes out looking golden. His drastic pressure tactics worked without any cruise missiles being launched; no mater how the opportunity fell into his lap, it's the response and the flexibility moving forward that counts.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Sep 11, 2013
  7. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    His class is still at DEFCON 2 epidemic alert, so we have to check every day.
  8. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7


    So...terrible at refutation. Got it. You're a mod, right? Cream of the crop? You know how I know you didn't read my post?
    Last edited by Fire_Ice_Death, Sep 11, 2013
  9. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    A little lighter take:

    Help Obama Kickstart WW3:



    [face_laugh]
  10. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Sorry Jabba, I would disagree with just about everything within your post.

    To be sure then, neither Russia nor Syria seemed to be concerned about a US strike as it was presented, because limited cruise missile strikes have never brought about change on their own. Neither Syria nor Russia modified their behavior in the slightest even up to the 24 hours before any such strikes were expected (factoring in that there was no specific time frame given) Syria remained on the offensive against the rebels, and Russia both moved ships into the region and boastfully claimed that it was going to supply Syria with the latest anti-air systems, of which were even more advanced that what Syria was using. If that is "Russia making concessions," then I would hate to see what the result would be if it was actually increasing its involvement... Both Russia and Syria smelled weakness, and tailored their activities to take advantage of such. Yeah, you can most certainly say that the US represented, and remains, a military power. But the military action that was being presented did not represent any kind of credible threat to Syrian and/or Russian interests.

    And the legitimacy of the Syrian government is precisely the issue, as that's the point of the entire civil war. Just before chemical weapons were used for the second time and this "red line" became an issue, the debate was to what extent the US should get involved relating to overthrowing Assad's regime and helping the rebels. Arm the rebels? And how much? Overthrow Assad? And who would take power? By conceding who controls any such agreement-ie negotiating with Assad- the rebels, and by extension, their goal, becomes moot. Even for as much the Libya situation was mishandled, everyone involved knew the first step would have to be to remove Quaddafi's regime from power and then negotiate directly with the rebel coalition, to the point of diplomatically recognizing it as the legitimate authority, not Quadaffi. This "deal" in Syria reverses that entire mindset, because it legitimizes Assad. Going forward, Assad could kill every rebel within Syria, and as long as he doesn't use chemical weapons to do so, it's a diplomatic victory. Again, see the conflict memo about 70,000 people killed by normal means, vs 1,400 killed by the chemical attack, and equate it to "international norms."

    And for Iraq, the inspections themselves were a dismal failure, because even after 12 years, they never achieved their goals, and were never complied with. If the goal is to mandate accountability, then accountability is the necessary yardstick. It's like if you were a teacher in a class and you wanted to eliminate cheating on tests...If every student showed up wearing sunglasses and ball hats, you can't sit back and say "hey! Everyone got an A on the test, so it proves that everyone studied really hard..." The practice of wearing both sunglasses and hats should be the focus relating to academic dishonesty, if that's the goal, not the letter grade of the test.
    Last edited by Mr44, Sep 11, 2013
  11. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    just in case you were wondering, that post above was supposed to be a PM about lice infestation at my son's school. My son doesn't have them yet, but I assume it's only a matter of time.
  12. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    If the goal was to get rid of Saddam's WMD, the program prior to the war was a resounding, unmitigated success. And no, the legitimacy of the Syrian government is not what's at stake here. The current administration has sound reasons for not getting further immersed in the issue of Assad's right or ability to govern Syria. The only thing at stake right now is international norms about chemical weapons use. It would be a serious policy mistake on the part of the president to make his crisis about the ultimate fate of Syria, and thank goodness Obama is resisting the pressure from hawks to make that link.
  13. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    One of the persons pushing for the Syrian strikes, Elizabeth O'Bagy, has been fired from the Institute for the Study of War for lying about her PHD:

    Here: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/wall-street-journal-elizabeth-obagy-fired-96637.html

    Yeah, I trust the people being cited by Kerry and McCain as legit when they're lying about their own resumes.

    This is the same lady who has had ties with numerous rebel opposition groups. She was suspect to begin with.

    I know her claims have supposedly been verified by multiple sources.

    But, it smells.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Sep 11, 2013
  14. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Sounds like she works for the CIA.
  15. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    No, but she is a advocate for a rebel opposition group, a fact she also failed to disclose to the WSJ.

    Her credibility is shot. Gone. Look to others for evidence.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Sep 11, 2013
  16. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    It's this line that makes me think CIA:

  17. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    And this story illustrates precisely why Russia isn't all that intimidated by US threats of force in Syria, and why the political games have already started:

    RUSSIA ARMS IRAN

    Not that there is a direct link between Iran, Syria, and chemical weapons. But Russia is going to use every negotiating ploy it has to gain leverage on everything it has lost traction on in recent memory precisely because it has the upper hand here. From a Russian standpoint, the US's threat of force in Syria is the best thing since the Trabant. If anyone thinks Russia was forced to make concessions well, I have Darth Vader's glove to sell them, that is as soon as it falls through the wormhole.
  18. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    My bolding for emphasis:

    [face_thinking] .
    Last edited by ShaneP, Sep 11, 2013
  19. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Of course they feel threatened. No one said the Russians were intimidated. They simply respond with whatever means they feel will best thwart American military action. In some cases, that may include turning the screws on Syria a bit.

    That's precisely why you see elements in Russia reacting the way the link suggests. Opposing American military action in areas of the world where the Russians are also influential is an obvious policy.
  20. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7

    Shane P - sorry, I have a hard time interpreting emoticons. Can you restate that in English?
  21. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    So it might not be what you're advocating, but it was suggested on the previous page. SD put forth the idea that the "Russians (and Syria) were somehow "caving" to pressure, and it was the mere threat of military force that made them desperate to do everything to prevent a US strike." A couple of people then agreed with that. Except reality is about just as opposite as one can get. Russia wasn't desperate to avoid a strike, as Russia knows that if Obama actually does order a strike, it would play right into Russian hands. Neither Russia nor Syria seemed to be all that concerned about such a strike either. Russia is now using this in all sorts of ways, so it will be interesting to see how this "proposal" actually turns out.

    SD went on to suggest that this was Obama's and Kerry's plan all along to force the other side to compromise.(although to be fair he merely suggested this, and didn't say this was absolutely true) I don't think anyone seriously believes that, and I think that is more born from the perception that the administration can't do any wrong and they're always 1 or 2 steps beyond everyone else. Russia only suggested this because the US administration backed itself into a corner, and it is more embarrassing to US's interests where they intersect with Russia's than anything else.
  22. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    I missed that subcontracted by the Brit and US govts until you pointed it out and mentioned CIA. So this [face_thinking] = interesting.
  23. Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 5
    Gotta go with 44 on this one.

    The Russian proposal wasn't borne out of fear of American threats, but rather a chance to increase its own power in the region. Putin has nothing but disdain for America in general and Obama in particular; I would even go so far as to say he thinks the US is the weakest it's been since 1979. The US may not be so in reality, but that's the current perception in Moscow, and it's driving Russia's actions.

    The scary thing is it's probably going to take another major conflict with America coming out on top to get them to back down again. For now though, they are going to be the counterweight to US interests in the region.

    Peace,

    V-03
    Last edited by Vaderize03, Sep 11, 2013
  24. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Putin's op-ed in the New York Times:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/12/opinion/putin-plea-for-caution-from-russia-on-syria.html?_r=0


    A Plea for Caution From Russia

    What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria

    By VLADIMIR V. PUTIN



    Published: September 11, 2013



    RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.

    Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.


    The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.

    No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.

    The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.

    Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government. The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations. This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world.

    Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all.

    From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.

    No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.

    It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”

    But force has proved ineffective and pointless. Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day. In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes.

    No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.

    The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you. We are left with talk of the need to strengthen nonproliferation, when in reality this is being eroded.

    We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.

    A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days. The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction. Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action.

    I welcome the president’s interest in continuing the dialogue with Russia on Syria. We must work together to keep this hope alive, as we agreed to at the Group of 8 meeting in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland in June, and steer the discussion back toward negotiations.

    If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.

    My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too.

    We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.



    Vladimir V. Putin is the president of Russia.
    Last edited by Summer Dreamer, Sep 11, 2013
  25. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Masterful, but he should have just acknowledged the HRW report and made the case that even if the evidence points to Syrian military use of chemical weapons his position remains the same.
    Jabbadabbado likes this.