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G M
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« Reply #100 on: August 28, 2013, 02:49:01 PM »

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/143161

Clinton Calls Assad 'Reformer' as Video Shows Massacre

US says it will not intervene militarily in Syria just because of some 'police actions' but Al-Sanamayn video shows slaughter.
 


 By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/27/2011, 6:43 PM / Last Update: 3/27/2011, 6:54 PM
 



 
 
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday that the U.S. would not intervene militarily in Syria as it is doing in Libya, and drew a distinction between Libya's Muammar Qaddafi and Syria's Bashar Assad. The latter, she explained, is seen by congressmen from both parties as “a reformer.”
 
 
 
“What’s been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning," she told CBS's Face the Nation regarding Syria, "but there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities," as Qaddafi has done, and the violence by the Assad regime, which merely amounted to "police actions which, frankly, have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.”
 
 
 
Clinton said that the circumstances that preceded the intervention in Libya -- international condemnation, and resolutions by the Arab League and United Nations Security Council -- are “not going to happen” regarding Damascus.
 
 
 
Even as Clinton explained the fine differences between Qaddafi and Assad, videos from Al-Sanamayan, near Daraa, appeared to document a massacre of civilians as it occurred.
 
 
 
The first video shows protesters running away from a loud hair of gunfire, the source of which is not clearly visible. The shooting goes on for over a minute as the crowd becomes frenzied and casualties are carried away. The second video shows people grieving over bodies lined up in a makeshift morgue.
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G M
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« Reply #101 on: August 28, 2013, 03:09:55 PM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2013/08/28/syria-a-mission-destined-for-failure/

Syria: A mission destined for failure


posted at 10:01 am on August 28, 2013 by Bruce McQuain






One of the first things any military commander must do is define the mission clearly and succinctly. It must have a goal and that goal must be achievable with the assets the commander is willing or able to commit to the mission.
 
What it shouldn’t be is some nebulous one-over-the-world hand wave of a mission driven by politics and open to interpretation. Unfortunately, it appears that’s precisely the type mission the Obama administration is ginning up for Syria according to the NY Times:
 

President Obama is considering military action against Syria that is intended to “deter and degrade” President Bashar al-Assad’s government’s ability to launch chemical weapons, but is not aimed at ousting Mr. Assad from power or forcing him to the negotiating table, administration officials said Tuesday.
 
“Deter and degrade” are open to interpretation and Syria could and likely would initiate another chemical attack after the US attacks just to point out that they’re neither deterred or degraded.
 
Here’s the problem:
 

The strikes would instead be aimed at military units that have carried out chemical attacks, the headquarters overseeing the effort and the rockets and artillery that have launched the attacks, according to the options being reviewed within the administration.
 
An American official said that the initial target lists included fewer than 50 sites, including air bases where Syria’s Russian-made attack helicopters are deployed. The list includes command and control centers as well as a variety of conventional military targets.
 
A) We’ve told them where we’ll strike.  Since it is a limited strike and it is going to be against specific units, Syria has the option of dispersing them, an option I’m sure they’ll take.  They’ll also likely disperse them in to highly populated urban areas where they can.
 
B) We’ve told them what we’re going to strike.  Since they have thousands of artillery pieces capable of firing chemical shells, it is unlikely a limited strike is going to even seriously dent that capability.  Moving artillery into the cities would likely deter the US more than the US would deter Syria.  Helicopters can be moved as well.  They don’t need long runways. Other aircraft will be dispersed  And finally, command and control are easily moved and dispersed.
 
C) We’ve told them how we’re going to strike.  It is clear that if an attack does happen it is not something that is supported by the majority of the American people for various reasons.  Couple that with a seemingly risk averse commander and you can pretty well define how this will happen – missiles.  Specifically Tomahawk missiles.  Given our history of their use, you can pretty much guess at what and where they’ll be aimed.
 
D) We’ve pretty well told them it won’t be much of a strike.
 

Perhaps two to three missiles would be aimed at each site, a far more limited unleashing of American military power than past air campaigns over Kosovo or Libya.
 
Result?
 
Well even the administration knows this is a recipe for failure so they immediately engage is a classic attempt to lower expectations:
 

Some of the targets would be “dual use” systems, like artillery that is capable of firing chemical weapons as well as conventional rounds. Taking out those artillery batteries would degrade to some extent the government’s conventional force — but would hardly cripple Mr. Assad’s sizable military infrastructure and forces unless the air campaign went on for days or even weeks.
 
The goal of the operation is “not about regime change,” a State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said Tuesday. Seeking to reassure the public that the United States would not be drawn into a civil war in the Middle East, and perhaps to lower expectations of what the attack might accomplish, Obama administration officials acknowledged that their action would not accomplish Mr. Obama’s repeated demand that Mr. Assad step down.
 
And what would we accomplish?  Well likely the opposite of what we hoped would happen – deterrence and degradation.  Assad would be invited to prove the US wasn’t successful in either by doing what?  Using chemical weapons once again.  His reasoning would be that since he’s being accused of doing so, and supposedly punished for doing so, there’s no reason not to do it again.
 
Then what?
 
~McQ
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #102 on: August 28, 2013, 04:42:08 PM »

GM strikes again with deadly aim up from the memory hole!

However, with regard to Saddam's chem attacks on the Kurds, please give me a pithy summary of whether we helped or knew and looked away.


==============

Two Minds on Syria
George Packer

So it looks like we’re going to bomb Assad.

Good.

Really? Why good?

Did you see the videos of those kids? I heard that ten thousand people were gassed. Hundreds of them died. This time, we have to do something.

Yes, I saw the videos.

And you don’t want to pound the shit out of him?

I want to pound the shit out of him.

But you think we shouldn’t do anything.

I didn’t say that. But I want you to explain what we’re going to achieve by bombing.

We’re going to let Assad know that chemical weapons are over the line. There’s a reason they’ve been illegal since Verdun or whenever.

Except when Saddam used them against the Kurds—we knew, and we didn’t say a word.
Is that a reason to let Assad use them against his people?

At this point, I don’t think Assad is too worried about the Geneva Conventions.

He should have to think hard before using them again.

He’s a bloody dictator fighting for survival. He’s going to do whatever he has to do.

Not if we really hurt him. Not if we pound his communications centers, his air-force bases, key government installations. He’ll be more likely to survive if he doesn’t use chemical weapons.
Killing civilians while we’re at it.

These would be very specific targets.

The wrong people always get killed.

Maybe. Probably. But if you were a Syrian being bombed by Assad every day, trying to keep your head down and your family alive, wouldn’t you want the world to respond, even if a few more people die? I think so.

Easy for you to say.

Hey, can we not personalize this?

Weren’t you just saying that I don’t care about dying children? (Pause.) So you want us to get involved in their civil war.

I’m not saying that.

But that’s what we’ll be doing. Intervening on the rebel side, tipping the balance in their favor.
Not necessarily. We’ll be drawing a line that says dictators don’t get to use W.M.D.s without consequences.

You can’t bomb targets on one side of a civil war without helping the other side.

It would be very temporary. We’d send Assad a clear message, and then we’d step back and let them go on fighting. We’re not getting involved any deeper than that, because I know what you’re going to say—

The rebels are a bunch of infighting, disorganized, jihadist thugs, and we can’t trust any of them.

I’m not saying we should.

And what do we do if Assad retaliates against Israel or Turkey? Or if he uses nerve gas somewhere else?

We hit him again.

And it escalates.

Not if we restrict it to cruise missiles and air strikes.

Now you’re scaring me. Have you forgotten Iraq?

Not for a single minute.

My point is that you can’t restrict it. You can’t use force for limited goals. You need to know what you’ll do after his next move, and the move after that.

It only escalates if we allow ourselves to get dragged in deeper. Kosovo didn’t escalate.

This isn’t Kosovo. The Syrian rebels aren’t the K.L.A. Assad isn’t Milosevic. Putin isn’t Yeltsin. This is far worse. Kosovo became a U.N. protectorate. That’s not going to happen in Syria.

You think Putin is going to risk a military confrontation with the U.S. and Europe?

I think Russia isn’t going to let Assad go down. Neither is Iran or Hezbollah. So they’ll escalate. This could be the thing that triggers an Israel-Iran war, and how do we stay out of that? My God, it feels like August, 1914.

That was a hundred years ago. Stop with the historical analogies.

You’re the one who brought up Verdun. And Kosovo.

I brought up Kosovo because you brought up Iraq. That’s the problem with these arguments. Iraq! Vietnam! Valley Forge! Agincourt! People resort to analogies so they don’t have to think about the matter at hand.

And because they don’t know anything about the matter at hand.

I know what I saw in those videos.

Thank God Obama doesn’t make foreign policy that way. He knows what he doesn’t know about Syria. He’s always thinking a few steps ahead. He’s not going to get steamrolled by John McCain and Anderson Cooper.

At a certain point, caution is another word for indecisiveness. Obama looks weak! Or worse—indifferent. Anyway, he should have thought ahead when he called chemical weapons a “red line.” He set that trap a year ago, and now we’re in it.

Why does it have to be a trap?

Because our credibility is on the line.

Thank you, Dr. Kissinger.

See, that’s another thing people do in these arguments.

What?

“You sound like so-and-so.” It shouldn’t matter who else is on your side. I mean, you’re in bed with Rand Paul. Anyway, credibility matters even if Kissinger said so. You have to do what you say you’re going to do, especially with bullies.

I don’t think Obama committed himself to any one course of action. But if he does bomb them, we’re involved in that war, and I sure hope his advisers have thought through all the potential consequences better than you have.

Inaction has consequences, too. Assad gases more people, the death toll hits two hundred thousand, the weapons get into Hezbollah’s hands, Iran moves ahead with its nuclear program, the Syrian rebels disintegrate and turn to international terrorism, the whole region goes up in sectarian flames.

And how does firing cruise missiles at Damascus prevent any of this?

It doesn’t. But, look, all of this is already happening with us sitting it out. If we put a gun to Assad’s head, we might be able to have more influence over the outcome. At least we can prevent him from winning.

A violent stalemate. How wonderful for the Syrians. Some people think that’s the best solution for us.

I’m not saying that.

What are you saying?

I don’t know. I had it worked out in my head until we started talking. (Pause.) But we need to do something this time.

Not just to do something.

All right. Not just to do something. But could you do me a favor?

What’s that?

While you’re doing nothing, could you please be unhappy about it?

I am.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 04:45:35 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #103 on: August 28, 2013, 05:55:18 PM »


Third post of the day:

http://www.breitbart.com/InstaBlog/2013/08/27/Video-Biden-Will-Impeach-Bush-if-He-Attacks-Iran-Without-Congressional-Authority
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G M
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« Reply #104 on: August 28, 2013, 06:06:10 PM »


I'm sure most dems would point out that it was Bush they were talking about, and Syria is like a totally different country, so it's apples and oranges.
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G M
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« Reply #105 on: August 28, 2013, 07:02:44 PM »

However, with regard to Saddam's chem attacks on the Kurds, please give me a pithy summary of whether we helped or knew and looked away.

http://hnn.us/articles/862.html?page=1

Monday, January 22, 2007 - 23:11

He Has Gassed His Own People







HNN Staff



"Saddam Hussein is a man who is willing to gas his own people, willing to use weapons of mass destruction against Iraq citizens. "--President Bush, March 22, 2002

"As he said, any person that would gas his own people is a threat to the world."--Scott McClellan, White House spokesman, May 31, 2002


Over the past six months President Bush has repeatedly reminded the public that Saddam Hussein gassed his own people. What he has neglected to mention is that at the time Saddam did so the United States did nothing to stop him. Indeed, as Samantha Power makes clear in an account in her new book, A Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide, the United States refused even to condemn the killing of civilians.

The infamous gas attack took place in mid-March 1988 in the Kurdish town of Halabja, the crossroads of an ongoing battle waged between a joint Kurdish-Iranian force and the Iraqi army. Caught in the middle were innocent civilians, including women and children.

From Power's account:


"It was different from the other bombs," one witness remembered. "There was a huge sound, a huge flame and it had very destructive ability. If you touched one part of your body that had been burned, your hand burned also. It caused things to catch fire." The planes flew low enough for the petrified Kurds to take note of the markings, which were those of the Iraqi air force. Many families tumbled into primitive air-raid shelters they had built outside their homes. When the gasses seeped through the cracks, they poured out into the streets in a panic. There they found friends and family frozen in time like a modern version of Pompeii: slumped a few yards behind a baby carriage, caught permanently holding the hand of a loved one or shielding a child from the poisoned air, or calmly collapsed behind a car steering wheel.

Halabja was the "most notorious and the deadliest single gas attack against the Kurds," killing 5,000 civilians. But as Power notes, it was just one of some forty chemical assaults staged by Iraq against the Kurdish people.

The official U.S. government reaction to Halabja? At first the government downplayed the reports, which were coming from Iranian sources. Once the media had confirmed the story and pictures of the dead villagers had been shown on television, the U.S. denounced the use of gas. Marlin Fitzwater told reporters, "Everyone in the administration saw the same reports you saw last night. They were horrible, outrageous, disgusting and should serve as a reminder to all countries of why chemical warfare should be banned." But as Power observes, "The United States issued no threats or demands." The government's objection was that Saddam had used gas to kill his own citizens, not that he had killed them. Indeed, subsequently State Department officials indicated that both sides--Iraq and Iran--were responsible perhaps for the gassing of civilian Kurds.

On August 20, 1988 Iran and Iraq ended their war. Within days Iraq again gassed the Kurds. A front-page story in the New York Times summed up the purpose of the latest assault: "Iraq has begun a major offensive [meant to] crush the 40-year-long insurgency once and for all." After a delay of weeks Secretary of State George Shultz condemned the assaults. But the United States again failed to act, even as hundreds of thousands of Kurds were being uprooted from their homes and forced into the mountains, tens of thousands killed. By 1989, says Powers, 4,049 Kurdish villages had been destroyed.

Why had the United States not acted? That was what William Safire and a few other columnists in the media wanted to know. Years later James Baker explained:


 Diplomacy--as well as the American psyche--is fundamentally biased toward "improving relations." Shifting a policy away from cooperation toward confrontation is always a more difficult proposition--particularly when support for existing policy is as firmly embedded among various constituencies and bureaucratic interests as was the policy toward Iraq."

Domestic special interests had a stake in the survival of Saddam. Exports to Iraq of American agricultural products were large: 23 percent of U.S. rice exports went to Iraq; a million tons of wheat. When members of Congress threatened to pass a sanctions bill against Iraq, the White House opposed the measure.

In 1989 President George Herbert Walker Bush took power and ordered a review of United States policy toward Iraq. According to Power:


The study ... deemed Iraq a potentially helpful ally in containing Iran and nudging the Middle East peace process ahead. The "Guidelines for U.S.-Iraq Policy" swiped at proponents of sanctions on Capital Hill and a few human rights advocates who had begun lobbying within the State Department. The guidelines noted that despite support from the Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, and State Departments for a profitable, stable U.S.-Iraq relationship, "parts of Congress and the Department would scuttle even the most benign and beneficial areas of the relationship, such as agricultural exports." The Bush administration would not shift to a policy of dual containment of both Iraq and Iran. Vocal American businesses were adamant that Iraq was a source of opportunity, not enmity. The White House did all it could to create an opening for these companies"Had we attempted to isolate Iraq," Secretary of State James Baker wrote later, "we would have also isolated American businesses, particularly agricultural interests, from significant commercial opportunities."

Powers mordantly comments: "Hussein locked up another $1 billion in agricultural credits. Iraq became the ninth largest purchaser of U.S. farm products.... As Baker put it gently in his memoirs, 'Our administration's review of the previous Iraq policy was not immune from domestic economic considerations.'"
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #106 on: August 28, 2013, 07:05:15 PM »

Exactly what I was looking for GM, thank you. 
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G M
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« Reply #107 on: August 28, 2013, 07:14:34 PM »

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/2008/specials/CandidateQA/ObamaQA/

Barack Obama's Q&A

 By Charlie Savage
Globe Staff / December 20, 2007

 


1. Does the president have inherent powers under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for national security purposes without judicial warrants, regardless of federal statutes?




The Supreme Court has never held that the president has such powers. As president, I will follow existing law, and when it comes to U.S. citizens and residents, I will only authorize surveillance for national security purposes consistent with FISA and other federal statutes.

2. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J. Res. 23, which states in part that “any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress.” The recent NIE tells us that Iran in 2003 halted its effort to design a nuclear weapon. While this does not mean that Iran is no longer a threat to the United States or its allies, it does give us time to conduct aggressive and principled personal diplomacy aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

3. Does the Constitution empower the president to disregard a congressional statute limiting the deployment of troops -- either by capping the number of troops that may be deployed to a particular country or by setting minimum home-stays between deployments? In other words, is that level of deployment management beyond the constitutional power of Congress to regulate?

No, the President does not have that power. To date, several Congresses have imposed limitations on the number of US troops deployed in a given situation. As President, I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law.

4. Under what circumstances, if any, would you sign a bill into law but also issue a signing statement reserving a constitutional right to bypass the law?

Signing statements have been used by presidents of both parties, dating back to Andrew Jackson. While it is legitimate for a president to issue a signing statement to clarify his understanding of ambiguous provisions of statutes and to explain his view of how he intends to faithfully execute the law, it is a clear abuse of power to use such statements as a license to evade laws that the president does not like or as an end-run around provisions designed to foster accountability.
 

I will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law. The problem with this administration is that it has attached signing statements to legislation in an effort to change the meaning of the legislation, to avoid enforcing certain provisions of the legislation that the President does not like, and to raise implausible or dubious constitutional objections to the legislation. The fact that President Bush has issued signing statements to challenge over 1100 laws – more than any president in history – is a clear abuse of this prerogative. No one doubts that it is appropriate to use signing statements to protect a president's constitutional prerogatives; unfortunately, the Bush Administration has gone much further than that.

5. Does the Constitution permit a president to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants?

No. I reject the Bush Administration's claim that the President has plenary authority under the Constitution to detain U.S. citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants.

6. Does executive privilege cover testimony or documents about decision-making within the executive branch not involving confidential advice communicated to the president himself?

With respect to the “core” of executive privilege, the Supreme Court has not resolved this question, and reasonable people have debated it. My view is that executive privilege generally depends on the involvement of the President and the White House.

7. If Congress defines a specific interrogation technique as prohibited under all circumstances, does the president's authority as commander in chief ever permit him to instruct his subordinates to employ that technique despite the statute?

No. The President is not above the law, and the Commander-in-Chief power does not entitle him to use techniques that Congress has specifically banned as torture. We must send a message to the world that America is a nation of laws, and a nation that stands against torture. As President I will abide by statutory prohibitions, and have the Army Field Manual govern interrogation techniques for all United States Government personnel and contractors.

8. Under what circumstances, if any, is the president, when operating overseas as commander-in-chief, free to disregard international human rights treaties that the US Senate has ratified?

It is illegal and unwise for the President to disregard international human rights treaties that have been ratified by the United States Senate, including and especially the Geneva Conventions. The Commander-in-Chief power does not allow the President to defy those treaties.

9. Do you agree or disagree with the statement made by former Attorney General Gonzales in January 2007 that nothing in the Constitution confers an affirmative right to habeas corpus, separate from any statutory habeas rights Congress might grant or take away?

Disagree strongly.

10. Is there any executive power the Bush administration has claimed or exercised that you think is unconstitutional? Anything you think is simply a bad idea?
 

First and foremost, I agree with the Supreme Court's several decisions rejecting the extreme arguments of the Bush Administration, most importantly in the Hamdi and Hamdan cases. I also reject the view, suggested in memoranda by the Department of Justice, that the President may do whatever he deems necessary to protect national security, and that he may torture people in defiance of congressional enactments. In my view, torture is unconstitutional, and certain enhanced interrogation techniques like “waterboarding” clearly constitute torture. And as noted, I reject the use of signing statements to make extreme and implausible claims of presidential authority.

Some further points:

The detention of American citizens, without access to counsel, fair procedure, or pursuant to judicial authorization, as enemy combatants is unconstitutional.

Warrantless surveillance of American citizens, in defiance of FISA, is unlawful and unconstitutional.

The violation of international treaties that have been ratified by the Senate, specifically the Geneva Conventions, was illegal (as the Supreme Court held) and a bad idea.

The creation of military commissions, without congressional authorization, was unlawful (as the Supreme Court held) and a bad idea.

I believe the Administration’s use of executive authority to over-classify information is a bad idea. We need to restore the balance between the necessarily secret and the necessity of openness in our democracy – which is why I have called for a National Declassification Center.

11. Who are your campaign's advisers for legal issues?

Laurence Tribe, Professor of Law, Harvard University

Cass Sunstein, Professor of Law, University of Chicago

Jeh C. Johnson, former General Counsel of Department of the Air Force (1998-2001)

Gregory Craig, former Assistant to the President and Special Counsel (1998-1999), former Director of Policy Planning for U.S. Department of State (1997-1998)

12. Do you think it is important for all would-be presidents to answer questions like these before voters decide which one to entrust with the powers of the presidency? What would you say about any rival candidate who refuses to answer such questions?

Yes, these are essential questions that all the candidates should answer. Any President takes an oath to, “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." The American people need to know where we stand on these issues before they entrust us with this responsibility – particularly at a time when our laws, our traditions, and our Constitution have been repeatedly challenged by this Administration.
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G M
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« Reply #108 on: August 28, 2013, 07:30:40 PM »

Operation Mom Jeans

Operation Nobel Peace Prize II

Affirmative Action Baby (Whoops, that's a Secret Service codename for someone at the white house)

Operation Power (Short for this is how Samatha Power uses Syria and Iran as proxies to attack Israel)

Operation What Scandals?

Operation Syrians Invented Twerking

Operation Avenge Trayvon (The NYTimes has now coined the term "White-hispanic-Syrian".)
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #109 on: August 29, 2013, 07:14:56 AM »

For the record, I believe the decision to continue funding the Egyptian military can be legally justified by saying that underlying "coup" is the notion is that it is anti-democratic and here the military was carrying out the openly demonstrated will of the majority of the Egyptian people to rescue it from one man, one vote, one time to install religious fascism.  Nonetheless the essence of this piece seems quite sound to me.
==========================================

A weirdly worded wandering to war
By GEORGE F. WILL
Last Updated: 11:27 PM, August 28, 2013

Barack Obama’s foreign-policy dream — cordial relations with a Middle East tranquilized by “smart diplomacy” — is in a death grapple with reality. His rhetorical writhings illustrate the perils of loquacity. He has a glutton’s rather than a gourmet’s appetite for his own rhetorical cuisine, and has talked America to the precipice of a fourth military intervention in the crescent that extends from Libya to Afghanistan.

Characterizing the 2011 Libyan project with weirdly passive syntax (“It is our military that is being volunteered by others to carry out missions”), he explained his sashay into Libya’s civil war as pre-emptive: “I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”

With characteristic self-satisfaction, Obama embraced the doctrine “R2P” — responsibility to protect civilians — and Libya looked like an opportunity for an inexpensive morality gesture using high explosives.

Last August, R2P reappeared when he startled his staff by offhandedly saying of Syria’s poison gas: “A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.” The interesting metric “whole bunch” made his principle mostly a loophole and advertised his reluctance to intervene, a reluctance more sensible than his words last week: Syria’s recidivism regarding gas is “going to require America’s attention and hopefully the entire international community’s attention.”
Regarding that entirety: If “community” connotes substantial shared values and objectives, what community would encompass Denmark, Congo, Canada, North Korea, Portugal, Cuba, Norway, Iran, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Poland and Yemen?

Words, however, are so marvelously malleable in the Obama administration, the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “coup” (“a change in the government carried out violently or illegally”) somehow does not denote what happened in Egypt.

Last week, an Obama spokesman said: “We have made the determination that making a decision about whether or not a coup occurred is not in the best interests of the United States.” So convinced is this White House of its own majesty and of the consequent magic of its words, it considers this a clever way of saying the law is a nuisance.
Section 508 of the Foreign Assistance Act forbids aid to “any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup” until the president determines that “a democratically elected government” has been restored. Secretary of State John Kerry was perhaps preparing to ignore this when he said something Egypt’s generals have not had the effrontery to claim — that the coup amounted to “restoring democracy.”

Perhaps Section 508 unwisely abridges presidential discretion in foreign policy, where presidents arguably deserve the almost unfettered discretion they, with increasing aggressiveness, assert everywhere. And perhaps if Obama were not compiling such a remarkable record of indifference to law, it would be sensible to ignore his ignoring of this one.

But remember Libya. Since the War Powers Resolution was passed over Richard Nixon’s veto in 1973, presidents have at least taken care to act “consistent with” its limits on unilateral presidential war-making. Regarding Libya, however, Obama was unprecedentedly cavalier, even though he had ample time to act consistent with the Constitution by involving a supportive Congress. As Yale Law School’s Bruce Ackerman then argued:

“Obama has overstepped even the dubious precedent set when President Bill Clinton bombed Kosovo in 1999. Then, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel asserted that Congress had given its consent by appropriating funds for the Kosovo campaign. It was a big stretch, given the actual facts — but Obama can’t even take advantage of this same desperate expedient, since Congress has appropriated no funds for the Libyan war. The president is simply using money appropriated to the Pentagon for general purposes to conduct the current air campaign.”

Obama is as dismissive of red lines he draws as he is of laws others enact. Last week, a State Department spokeswoman said his red line regarding chemical weapons was first crossed “a couple of months ago” and “the president took action” — presumably, announcing (non-lethal) aid to Syrian rebels — although “we’re not going to outline the inventory of what we did.”

The administration now would do well to do something that the head of it has an irresistible urge not to do: Stop talking.

If a fourth military intervention is coming, it will not be to decisively alter events (which we cannot do) in a nation vital to US interests (which Syria is not). Rather, its purpose will be to rescue Obama from his words.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #110 on: August 29, 2013, 08:35:46 AM »


http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/08/28/20227083-un-meets-to-discuss-resolution-on-syria-action?lite

"Meanwhile, a terror group linked to al Qaeda pledged a “volcano of revenge” against Syria. A branch of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant said it would attack Syrian government security and military targets, according to a statement highlighted by the SITE monitoring service and reported by Reuters.

"U.S. Navy officials said four destroyers are lined up ready to strike: the USS Barry, the USS Mahan, the USS Ramage and the USS Gravely."
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« Reply #111 on: August 29, 2013, 10:07:35 AM »

Third post

Syria and the Limits of Comparison
Robert D. Kaplan

Because so many war plans simply do not survive the reality of war itself, each war is a unique universe unto its own and thus comparisons with previous wars, while useful, may also prove illusory. One of the many wrong assumptions about the Second Gulf War before it started was that it would somehow be like the First Gulf War, in which the pessimists had been humiliated by the ease of the victory. Indeed, the Second Gulf War unfolded in vastly different ways, this time proving the pessimists right. That is why the recent media refrain comparing a military operation in Syria with the one in Kosovo in 1999 worries me.

There are profound differences.

Syria has a population ten times the size of Kosovo's in 1999. Because everything in Syria is on a much vaster scale, deciding the outcome by military means could be that much harder.

Kosovo sustained violence and harsh repression at the hands of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, which was met with a low-intensity separatist campaign by the Kosovo Liberation Army. Violence was widespread but not nearly on the scale of Syria's. Syria is in the midst of a full-fledged civil war. The toppling of Milosevic, moreover, carried much less risk of ever-expanding anarchy than does the toppling of Syrian ruler Bashar al Assad.

Kosovo was more or less contained within the southern Balkans, with relatively limited chance for a spillover -- as it turned out -- into neighboring countries and territories. Full-scale sectarian anarchy in Syria threatens to destabilize a wider region.

The Kosovo Liberation Army may have been a nasty bunch by some accounts, with criminal elements. But it was not a threat to the United States like the transnational jihadists currently operating in Syria. For President Bill Clinton to risk bringing to power the Kosovo Liberation Army was far less of a concern than President Barack Obama possibly helping to midwife to power a Sunni jihadist regime.

Kosovo did not have a complex of chemical weapons facilities scattered throughout its territory as Syria does, with all the military and logistical headaches of trying to neutralize them.

The Kosovo war campaign did not have to countenance a strong and feisty Russia, which at the time was reeling from Boris Yeltsin's incompetent, anarchic rule. Vladimir Putin, who has significant equities in al Assad's Syria, may do everything in his power to undermine a U.S. attack. Though, it must be said, Putin's options should Obama opt for a significant military campaign are limited within Syria itself. But Putin can move closer to Iran by leaving the sanctions regime, and ratchet-up Russia's anti-American diplomacy worldwide more effectively than Yeltsin ever wanted to, or was capable of.

The Kosovo war did not engage Iran as this war must. For all of the missiles that America can fire, it does not have operatives on the ground like Iran has. Neither will the United States necessarily have the patience and fortitude to prosecute a lengthy and covert ground-level operation as Iran might for years to come, and already has. A weakened or toppled al Assad is bad for Iran, surely, but it does not altogether signal that America will therefore receive a good result from this war. A wounded Iran might race even faster toward a nuclear option. It is a calculated risk.

The Kosovo war inflicted significant pain on Serbian civilians through airstrikes, but the Syrian population has already been pummeled by a brutal war for two years now, and so it is problematic whether airstrikes in this case can inflict that much more psychological pain on the parts of the population either still loyal or indifferent to the regime.
The goal in Kosovo was to limit Serbia's geographic influence and to ignite a chain of events that would lead to Milosevic's ouster. Those goals were achieved: Milosevic was forced from power in the fall of 2000, largely because of a chain of events stemming from that war. His ouster, as I wrote in The New York Times on Oct. 6, 2000, meant the de facto death of the last ruling Communist Party in Europe, even if in its final years it had adopted national-fascism as a tactic. Because the war was in significant measure a result of the efforts of a single individual, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, it demonstrated how individuals can dramatically alter history for the better.

Kosovo thus symbolized the power of human agency over impersonal forces in order to wrest a victory for human rights. This is a popular cause among liberal journalists and intellectuals, as is the desire to do something to punish the massive human rights violations of the al Assad regime. The comparison between Kosovo and Syria follows from that. But it is a flawed comparison: Elegantly toppling Milosevic incurred no negative side effects. Toppling al Assad could lead to a power center in the Levant as friendly to transnational jihadists as the one in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan was in the late 1990s until 2001.

Of course, the Obama administration will try to calibrate its military effort in a way to avoid further jihadi chaos in Syria. But even with overwhelming firepower, it is not necessarily in control. Whereas ending Milosevic's rule meant an end to ethnic cleansing, it is far from certain that sectarian carnage would end with al Assad's demise; it might possibly even intensify, with Sunnis exacting revenge on a weakened and cornered Alawite community.

Obama faces a dilemma more extreme than the one Clinton faced in Kosovo. If he chooses limited military strikes to send a message against the use of chemical weapons, he risks looking weak, especially following the powerful rhetoric employed by his secretary of state, John Kerry. If he chooses regime change -- while not calling it that -- he threatens to unleash a jihadi nightmare. He may try a middle option calibrated to seriously erode al Assad's power base while sending a message to Russia and Iran to help him negotiate a stable transfer of authority in Damascus -- something that might yet open up a wider diplomatic process with Iran. But that is obviously very difficult to do.
Keep another thing in mind about Kosovo. At that time, the United States had not been in a ground war for a quarter-century and thus the American people were not weary of war. Even so, Clinton rightly calculated that the public would not tolerate casualties on the ground in a war that did not involve a naked American interest. But the American public is now tottering from more than a decade of bloody ground war, and so Obama has even less leeway than Clinton, even as Syria presents a greater military challenge than Kosovo.

So far, Obama has handled the Middle East tolerably well. (?!?!) He has reduced and ended ground force commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq, while avoiding quagmires elsewhere in the face of regional change and chaos. This is in keeping with the leadership of a global maritime power that has serious military commitments in Asia and elsewhere, even as its energy dependency on the Middle East is on the wane. But Obama now faces a defining event that will test his commitment to keep America out of regional quicksand while being able to wield considerable power in the region at the same time. If Obama prosecutes a significant military operation, one thing is certain: Syria will be its own war for the United States with its own narrative, for better or worse.
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« Reply #112 on: August 29, 2013, 10:18:21 AM »

Fourth post

Irony abounds!

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/08/29/216739517/obama-hasnt-made-case-for-striking-syria-rumsfeld-says
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« Reply #113 on: August 29, 2013, 11:47:46 AM »

http://theaviationist.com/2013/08/28/russian-evacuation-syria/?fb_source=pubv1#.Uh5FmpKkqHd
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« Reply #114 on: August 29, 2013, 04:51:00 PM »

Interesting BBG.  At the same time, Putin says they are sending ships and a sub?

Separately here's this:  http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/08/28/20227083-obama-on-syria-i-have-not-made-a-decision?lite

If I read this correctly, we are waiting on the Brits, and the Brits are waiting on the UN inspectors to report, and for its parliament to vote , , , not once but twice.  Given the Ruskis' and the Chinese vetoes to come the UN will not be on board and it seems not likely that the British parliament will be either-- after all they would not want to be "Baraq's poodle".

Thus it seems likely that Baraq will

a) not have the UN
b) not have the Brits
c) not have spoken to let alone gotten a vote from the US Congress
d) not have a clue as to how to get himself out of the corner into which he has painted himself , , , and our country.

 cry cry cry

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« Reply #115 on: August 30, 2013, 06:27:48 AM »




A Serious Bombing Strategy
The Syrian air force is 'this close to being defeated.'

 
   

President Obama said Thursday he hasn't decided whether to attack Syria, adding that any strike would be a brief "shot across the bow" in response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons. We can't recall another President suggesting his goal was to miss his military target. But assuming he does want to hit something and have a military impact, our suggestion would be to take out the regime's air force.

So far the debate over military intervention has been posed as a false choice: Either do the pinprick attack that multiple White House leaks seem to portend, or do a much larger intervention that means a long campaign and ever-deepening military commitment. The former won't make much difference and might even strengthen Assad, while the latter is intended to frighten the American public into believing any intervention means another Iraq or Afghanistan.

The latter fear has been enhanced, regrettably, by the Administration itself and especially by the public declarations of Mr. Obama's chief military adviser, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey. Asked in July by the Senate Armed Services Committee for a possible plan of action in Syria, General Dempsey sent a three-page letter that made any intervention seem both arduous and expensive.

His unclassified overview is so sketchy it's hard to judge it in any detail. But its clear message is that any kind of air suppression campaign would cost about $1 billion a month, go on endlessly, and lead to a quagmire. Even a limited attack with standoff weapons that operate from a distance would require "hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines, and other enablers" and "the costs would be in the billions," the General wrote.

The analysis was so one-sided that if left Senators Carl Levin and John McCain notably frustrated. Given that General Dempsey is now planning the limited strike option he didn't include when answering the Senate, it's hard not to conclude that the General wanted to make any strike seem too costly to undertake. This politicized testimony has become a pattern with General Dempsey, who often sounds more like an Administration official than an independent military counsel.



Meanwhile, another analysis making the Pentagon rounds shows there is a more realistic military option. It comes from Christopher Harmer, a former Naval aviator now at the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think-tank. The plan has been examined and broadly endorsed by retired four-star General Jack Keane, one of the architects of the 2007 "surge" that saved the day in Iraq.

Mr. Harmer starts with the proposition that the Syrian air force is far from mighty, with only 100 or so planes and perhaps only 50 of them still operational. They fly from only six major airfields controlled by the regime. "The Syrian air force is this close to being defeated," he says, holding his thumb and forefinger an inch apart.

These columns have endorsed a no-fly zone in Syria, but Mr. Harmer says that isn't necessary. Target those six airfields—their runways, bomb and fuel depots, control tower and radars—and you can essentially shut down the bombing raids that have so harmed the opposition. Going after the aircraft would also be desirable but is unnecessary if the Syrians can't sustain flight operations. The U.S. might need to attack the airfields again if the Syrians are able to repair and rebuild, but similar sorties could do the job.

Even better, Mr. Harmer says all of this can be done by using standoff weapons like Tomahawk cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles like the JASSM. No U.S. pilot would be put in harm's way, since no aircraft would have to enter Syrian air space. The attack also wouldn't require taking down Syria's air defenses, which he says in any case are far less capable than advertised.

Every military operation has risks, and even in this scenario Syria and Iran could hit back at other U.S. targets, such as embassies, or at our allies. But the point of the Harmer analysis, says General Keane, is that there is a practical and limited military option that does serious damage to the regime's capacity to wage war against its own people.

This in turn would level the battlefield for the opposition. The Syrian military strategy has been to spread terror by dropping bombs indiscriminately on rebel-held territory. The chemical attack in part of Damascus was merely an extension of that bloody strategy. The Harmer bombing plan would have even more impact if it were accompanied by arming moderate rebel groups, as the White House promised in June.
***

Which brings us back to Mr. Obama's goal in striking Syria. So far, we're told, the U.S. has provided no direct lethal aid to the rebels. We also hear the Saudis have been supplying less military aid than they otherwise would due to U.S. opposition. This suggests the Administration isn't sure it wants to oust Assad from power.

If this is true, then a mere "shot across the bow" attack could leave Assad even stronger. He'll know that he survived the "consequences" that Mr. Obama promised with only minimal damage. He'll also know he can unleash his air force and perhaps even chemical weapons again with little chance of further U.S. military response. All the more so after Assad has watched the debate in Western capitals over even limited bombing, including Thursday's defeat in the British Parliament.

A pinprick attack portends more months or years of civil war, leading to an eventual Assad-Iran victory or perhaps a divided country. The jihadist groups, now a minority in the opposition, will grow as the war drags on and they focus on holding territory rather than fighting the regime.

We'd support a larger military intervention aimed at regime change. Short of that, any U.S. military strike should focus on doing enough damage to the Syrian air force so the rebels can change the regime themselves.
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« Reply #116 on: August 30, 2013, 06:52:40 AM »

Second post of the morning, in the interest of balance:

Year Five of Obama's Foreign Policy Ineptitude
The Price of Appeasement and Tolerance in the Middle East
By Mark Alexander · August 29, 2013

 "A universal peace ... is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts." --James Madison (1792)

2013-08-29-alexander-1

History of the World 101: Tyranny does not leave vacant the void created by appeasement and tolerance.

In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain addressed his countrymen infamously insisting that signing the Munich Agreement and adopting a policy of appeasement and tolerance toward Adolf Hitler would provide "peace for our time."

Seventy years and some very hard lessons later, candidate Barack Hussein Obama promised another "peace for our time," adopting Chamberlain's foreign policy and insisting he could mollify our radical Islamist foes and "reset" our relationship with Middle Eastern states by resolving the conflict between Western democracy and Islamic fascism. Recall, too, that he did so to great applause from his legions of mesmerized supporters.

Regarding the post-9/11 Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, and the larger War on Terror, Obama promised, "Let me be as clear as I can be. I intend to end this war. My first day in office I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in and I will give them a new mission and that is to end this war -- responsibly, deliberately, but decisively."

Of course, the only way to end a just war "responsibly, deliberately, but decisively" is through victory.

Obama based his foreign policy expertise with Islamists on little more than a grossly naïve assertion: "I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries."

At that time, it was abundantly clear to anyone who could think beyond the cadence of Obama's rhetoric that he was a national security neophyte. Little has changed since then.

A few months after his first election, Obama departed on his now-infamous Middle East Apology Tour, with the objective of appeasing the world's most dangerous fascist movement since the Third Reich -- Islamists occupying the borderless nation of "Jihadistan" -- one that is singularly devoted to the destruction of Western democracy, and one that seeks the imposition of a worldwide caliphate and Shariah law.

Obama's National Security Adviser, Denis McDonough, insisted that Obama was uniquely qualified to satiate the threat of Islamist regimes, noting, "the president himself experienced Islam on three continents before ... you know, growing up in Indonesia, having a Muslim father -- obviously Muslim Americans are a key part of Illinois and Chicago."

Well, "community organizer" to the rescue!

Obama insisted a key part of his policy toward Islamist states was the need to re-educate Americans about the "religion of peace," stating, "I think that in the United States and the West generally, we have to educate ourselves more effectively on Islam. And one of the points I want to make is, is that if you actually took the number of Muslims Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world."

There are indeed about 2.5 million Muslims in the U.S., but Obama's "largest Muslim countries" calculus neglected the fact that there are 205 million Muslims in Indonesia, 180 million in Pakistan, 175 million in India, 80 million in Egypt, 74 million in Iran, 32 million in Iraq, 30 million in Afghanistan, 25 million in Yemen and 20 million in Syria, and a billion Muslims in other countries around the world.

On the first stop of his Apology Tour, Obama outlined his Middle Eastern policy, telling Islamic masses in Cairo: "[I have] unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things ... confidence in the rule of law; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. ... America and Islam share common principles -- principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings. ... Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism -- it is an important part of promoting peace. ... The fear and anger that [9/11] provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. ... It's easier to start wars than to end them. It's easier to blame others than to look inward. ... America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own. ... Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance."

Thus saith Obama, but the lesson, tragically, did not endeth with the "Obama Doctrine."
2013-08-29-alexander-2

President George W. Bush's Doctrine of Preemption toward Islamist terrorists was clear, and it was predicated on these tenets: Know our enemy; Take the fight to that enemy and keep it on their turf in order to prevent them from bringing it to ours; Don't appease or tolerate this enemy, annihilate them.

I recall John McCain, in his 2008 campaign against Obama, being asked how long we should be in Iraq. He responded, "A hundred years," meaning that our continued presence in the region was critical to stability. Of course McCain was pilloried by Obama's Leftist NeoCom cadres, but the fact is, McCain understood the nature of the Long War commitment we would have to make in order to contain the Islamist threat. (For the record, virtually every terrorist act in the last five decades has been perpetrated by Islamists.)

Now, five years into Obama's Middle East policies, he has damaged our relations with Israel and tolerated Iran's nuclear ambition. In addition, he has surrendered our military capabilities in Iraq and will soon do so in Afghanistan. As a result, much of the Middle East is now in chaos.

In the aftermath of Benghazi, with Egypt and Syria on the verge of civil war, and with clear indications that Islamic Jihad is alive and well, it is abundantly clear that Obama's foreign policy in the region has failed miserably. Now, his feckless administration is scrambling for solutions.

Clearly, we are in need of a total "reset" of our policy regarding Islamist states. Unfortunately, however, we can't obtain a retroactive reset of the 2008 or 2012 presidential elections.
2013-08-29-alexander-3

The cost of the War on Terror, both in terms of blood and treasure, has been enormous. But make no mistake, that cost will pale in comparison to the cost of our recovery from and response to a nuclear detonation in an East Coast urban center, which may well be the price we pay for years of Obama's appeasement and tolerance of Islam, and his ignorance of Fourth Generation Warfare in this, the Second Nuclear Age.

The pendulum of politics and foreign policy has become well defined since World War II.

The bloodiest and most costly conflicts since then have begun under Democrat presidents and ended under Republican presidents. The Korean War began under the watch of Harry Truman and ended under the watch of Dwight Eisenhower. The Vietnam War began and escalated under Democrats Kennedy and Johnson and ended under Republican Richard Nixon. And, of course, the decades-long Cold War began under Harry Truman and ended under Ronald Reagan and his successor, George H.W. Bush.

In the Middle East, Nobel Peace Prize-winning Jimmy Carter's appeasement and tolerance led to the rise of Islamist regimes, especially that which now controls Iran. Bill Clinton's equivocal response to the Islamist threat led to the 9/11 attack on our country, resulting in the launch of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

There is a distinct pattern here, one that is characterized by increasing hostilities in the wake of the Left's appeasement and tolerance, followed by decreasing hostilities when the Right takes corrective action.

Now, under Nobel Peace Prize-winning Obama, Islamist coalitions are thriving and oppressing millions. And, once again, they are threatening our national interests in the region and in our homeland.

This week's regional challenge: What to do about the Syrian regime's suspected use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. For those of us with family members on active duty, this challenge hits close to home.

My suggestion: Use this opening to take out Syria's air power and chemical weapon resources. This will not end the conflict in Syria, but it will limit Bashar al-Assad's ability to use those resources elsewhere.
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« Reply #117 on: August 30, 2013, 07:38:40 AM »

The piece makes many points with which I am quite sympathetic.  However, a big part of the problem I have is this:

To undertake what the piece suggests means a willingness to follow through if our enemies escalate in response and we are led by a man who simply is in over his head quite badly.   
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« Reply #118 on: August 30, 2013, 07:48:26 AM »

Third post:

following up on GM's research for us:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/08/25/secret_cia_files_prove_america_helped_saddam_as_he_gassed_iran
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« Reply #119 on: August 30, 2013, 10:03:41 AM »

My good friend Rob Crowley writes (note the date):
=============================

When I was a younger man….

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2004/10/letters-to-the-editor/303495/


As a veteran of two Clinton-era contingency operations, I found Joshua Marshall's reverence for Senator Kerry's foreign-policy wonks puzzling. Surely we aren't so far removed from the Clinton years that we look back on that era's shiftless foreign policy as a model of success. I make this point not to criticize the Clinton Administration but to suggest that the members of the "professional national-security apparatus" whom Marshall affords such praise may deserve more-critical scrutiny. One might even argue, in the post-9/11 world, that the approach they embodied then and espouse now is due for some tough reappraisal.

May I make the indelicate suggestion that the vehemence of ex—Clinton officials such as Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrooke, and Rand Beers flows from a combination of intellectual arrogance and concern for their own legacies? Although the situations in both Afghanistan and Iraq came to a head under the current Administration, no rational observer would conclude that either threat emerged overnight. In the former case the Clinton Administration chose to deal with Osama bin Laden with a few cruise missiles and other half-hearted measures. In the latter case, although the Administration adopted the policy of regime change in 1998—a policy Senator Kerry supported—it took little action to further this end. With that in mind, it seems disingenuous to entertain criticism of current policies from those who could have applied the ounce of prevention but failed to do so. The same could easily be said of our tensions with North Korea and Iran.

The multilateral approach the Kerry policy team advocates seems to depend significantly and tellingly on the circumstances. Although Senator Kerry's advisers criticize President Bush for failing to secure UN approval for the invasion of Iraq, they cite the bombing of Serbia, executed without UN approval, as a success story. Moreover, whereas U.S. policy toward North Korea encourages that country's neighborsto take part in resolving conflict on the peninsula, Senator Kerry advocates bilateral talks. Marshall accepts these policy differences as reasoned and nuanced; a more cynical observer might suspect a touch of political expedience and opportunism.

At the end of the day, Marshall's evaluation of the Kerry foreign-policy team suffers from a curious lack of patience. No one in the Bush Administration would argue, I believe, that the post-invasion operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have gone perfectly. As in any operation, numerous errors and miscalculations have occurred. Intelligence is never perfect, the enemy has a vote, and successful counterinsurgency, not to mention nation-building, takes time. With that in mind, I would remind readers that the Balkans, with a relatively Western mindset and history, remain home to a multinational force roughly a decade after the first intervention. Surely no one should expect miracles in the short run from operations in Afghanistan, a failed state that has never had a strong central government, or Iraq, a multi-ethnic state ruled by a dictator for the past three decades.

Although this is not a generous view, I submit that the brilliance now attributed to Senator Kerry's foreign-policy advisers was less apparent when they were in a position to demonstrate it directly. It is far easier to speak of what someone else should have done than to make the correct choices yourself. Of course, as always, history will be the judge.

Rob Crowley
Sammamish, Wash.

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« Reply #120 on: August 30, 2013, 10:22:48 AM »

5th post

 An Unwilling Coalition: U.S. Options Dwindle in Syria
Analysis
August 30, 2013 | 0901 Print Text Size
An Unwilling Coalition: U.S. Options Dwindle in Syria
British protesters hold signs in front of the Palace of Westminster in London on Aug. 29. (ANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images)
Summary

With the British leg of the Syria operation collapsed, U.S. President Barack Obama is evidently not getting the multinational coalition his administration was expecting to share the burden of a limited strike operation against Syria and the aftermath. The United States has the choice of unilaterally firing a symbolic but ineffective shot to demonstrate action for the sake of action, waging a highly unpopular multi-month air-land attack alone or abandoning the military campaign altogether.

Without a meaningful coalition, the United States has little choice but to focus its efforts on a highly ambitious and difficult negotiated settlement involving Russia and Iran. However, the low prospects of that negotiation on top of the limited utility of a unilateral punitive strike could lead the United States to back off its position on Syria unless it sees a significant shift from still wavering NATO allies France and Turkey.
Analysis

The only countries that have contributed military assets to a potential Syria operation so far are the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Only the United States and the United Kingdom have dispatched vessels that are actually capable of launching cruise missiles to strike targets in Syria. The United States has five destroyers and an unknown number of submarines in the area, and the United Kingdom has one submarine nearby to strike targets in Syria. The United Kingdom also has one amphibious ship, two frigates and six Typhoon fighters in Cyprus for air defense, and France has also dispatched a frigate that can contribute in an air defense role.
The State of the Coalition

On Aug. 29, the British Parliament voted against military action in Syria. The loss of London as a potential coalition partner is critical because the United Kingdom is the only viable ally with the ability to strike with land attack cruise missiles from the sea beyond the Syrian anti-ship missile defenses. Many other NATO allies, including France, have the capability to launch standoff attacks using air-launched cruise missiles such as the Storm Shadow, but such munitions typically have much shorter range than the Tomahawk missile and would require the deployment of tactical aviation squadrons to air bases closer to Syria. Such a deployment would necessarily raise the stakes.

The United States so far looks to be the only country that would militarily engage Syrian targets in the event of an intervention. If the strike were to escalate, then other allies that have not yet refused participation, most notably France and Turkey, could contribute tactical fighter squadrons, warships and other assets. Paris also has the option of dispatching the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier in support of operations. Notably, French President Francois Hollande told Le Monde newspaper Aug. 30 that, even with the United Kingdom bowing out of the operation, France could still participate in a U.S.-led strike against Syria. However, France has decided to buy some time to get a clearer picture of the situation in the United Nations, the White House and within its own Parliament before making any firm commitments. A parliamentary debate in France is scheduled for Sept. 4 to weigh the military option. The French president is not bound by the need for parliamentary approval of a strike, but his already low popularity will make it difficult for Paris to commit to an operation in its former colony without sufficient parliamentary backing.

Due to geographic proximity, Turkey could provide critical support if a military operation escalates beyond a limited strike. But Turkey is also the NATO member most vulnerable to retaliatory strikes, and although the government issued strong statements calling for action, the already constrained government in Ankara could be calculating that it is not worth the risk to join a dwindling coalition at this point, particularly for a limited strike scenario.
 A Trying Negotiation

The mounting limitations on the U.S. military option will redirect U.S. attention to an uphill diplomatic effort with difficult negotiating partners. Russia has an opportunity to demand U.S. attention on a number of issues related to defining a Russian sphere of influence in former Soviet territory and having the United States respect the boundaries that Moscow sets. The United States needs a creative diplomatic solution in Syria, and Russia might be able to deliver such a solution given its influence within the Syrian regime. It will be politically difficult to fashion a settlement that would grant Syrian President Bashar al Assad and his inner circle amnesty, especially since al Assad has little reason to trust a deal when he is likely to be tried for war crimes. There may be more innovative ways to facilitate an "escape" for al Assad (most likely to Iran) to then pave the way for the creation of a post-al Assad regime.

There likely are Russian efforts underway to pick out and present to the United States the Alawite regime members who could fill a void left by al Assad. However, removing al Assad could open the regime up to fracturing and will likely be violently rejected by the Sunni rebels, a situation that could spiral beyond the Russians' control and create an even bigger political mess in Damascus. Moreover, any such deal would be designed to allow Russia and Iran to preserve political influence in Damascus. The United States could get a reprieve from its current military predicament, but it would still in the longer term have to deal with an emboldened Russia and Iran. Even if the United States scrapped both a military operation and a negotiation, Russia and Iran would still be in a comfortable position.

Russia currently has the upper hand in Syria, and Moscow certainly would not mind having the United States embarrassed by inaction on Syria or, better yet, bogged down in another military operation in the Middle East. Still, Russia has a rare opportunity to engage in a long-deferred negotiation on issues that extend well beyond Syria. Moscow is unlikely to pass up that opportunity, but the negotiation itself may be too ambitious for the time. The United States is already seeing its credibility over even a limited, punitive Syria military operation erode, but it also is unlikely to strike a deal that strengthens Iran and Russia over a country whose civil war is manifesting beyond the control of any one foreign player. Given the constraints, the United States may begin backing off its position that a military operation is necessary and, for now, absorb the risk of having a reputation for issuing questionable ultimatums.

Read more: An Unwilling Coalition: U.S. Options Dwindle in Syria | Stratfor
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« Reply #121 on: August 30, 2013, 11:55:38 AM »

6th post

Eight things to consider before intervening in Syria (ECFR)
Anthony Dworkin, Daniel Levy and Julien Barnes-Dacey write for the European Council on Foreign Relations:
1. What are the goals of intervention?
* All statements coming from the western leaders most likely to undertake military action (US, UK and France) suggest a narrow focus on chemical weapons (CW), rather than action designed to sway the overall trajectory of the conflict in Syria. PM Cameron went as far as to say, “this is not even about the Syria conflict. It is about the use of chemical weapons.” On the overall conflict, all continue to suggest that ultimately a political outcome is needed.
* Beyond a perceived sense of the need to ‘do something’, the intention seems to be to send a signal on CW to deter further use in the Syria arena and reinforce a global norm alongside an apparent goal of restoring western credibility. Washington in particular seems to have become convinced that non-action on its own red line would imply a presidency that has replaced gung-ho with gun-shy to an extent that might undermine global assessments of American willingness to deploy hard power as well as generating criticism from inside the DC bubble.
* Given the dominance of the CW prism in western messaging, the potential consequences of military action for the Syria conflict and for a dangerously polarised and destabilised region are being paid insufficient attention. Less than one per cent of casualties in Syria are even being attributed to CW claims – if there is a plan involving military action to reduce the suffering of Syrians and improve the situation, then presumably that would be aired irrespective of proof of CW use. The assumption therefore has to be that no good plan exists. Nevertheless and as is known to decision-makers, any action will have consequences well beyond the CW issue – so any proposed action should also be measured against broader criteria of prospective implications for Syria and broader regional issues (including sectarian escalation, refugee flows and instability in Iraq and Lebanon, radicalisation and diplomacy with Iran).
* The West will be consciously trying to impact the Syria military balance if there is a strike – but there is a danger that the options under consideration could make the situation worse in Syria, in the region and for the prospects of crisis management diplomacy. The US Chair of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey set out his reservations regarding military action to Senator Levin on July 19th here and Congressman Engel on August 19th here (before the Ghouta incident). Nothing has changed militarily since Ghouta and Dempsey’s letters remain the most authoritative open source assessment that should caution against Western military engagement.
2. The chemical weapons dilemma
* If CW have been used in Syria, then preventing its further use in no way suggests that Syrian casualties and suffering will be reduced, given that at least 99% of deaths are not attributable to CW. It would therefore appear legitimate to question whether preserving the norm on CW should trump all other considerations on the impact for Syria and the region in driving our policy.
* There are two options for addressing CW in the Syria context – deterrence or control of CW stocks. In General Dempsey’s letter to Senator Levin July 19th he devotes a paragraph to what it would take to “control chemical weapons” (that can be downloaded here). The conclusion being the necessary deployment of a no-fly zone, missile strikes, and “thousands of special operations forces and other ground forces would be needed to assault and secure critical sites.” We are led to believe that such an option is not under consideration; therefore CW will not be controlled.
* That leaves deterrence – the proximate justification for any potential strike and an argument that may in a narrow sense be vindicated. But there are no guarantees that Assad will be deterred, that there are not better options for achieving deterrence, that the negatives of a strike will not outweigh this potential positive or that deterrence on CW is where the preponderance of attention should be focused given that 99% of casualties are non-CW related. These points are further explored in the rest of this memo.
* Another CW danger in the Syria arena is likely to be the scenario of such weapons falling into the hands of irregular and notably AQ affiliated or AQ-Style salafi jihadist groups. There are good reasons that the West has sought to avoid a total collapse of the Syria state, an ill-considered military option could undermine that goal and accentuate the danger of CW capabilities reaching multiple users.
3. The problem with evidence
* We may now be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the Assad regime has deployed chemical weapons. Yet that determination has not been made in a sufficiently robust way. We must at least take seriously and acknowledge that there is a degree of conviction with which some non-western actors are making a counter case – whether that be in Russia, China, Iran or elsewhere in the region and the world, notably on a ‘cui bono’ (who benefits) basis.
* The suggested irrefutability of the western claim is undermined by the sense that we are being hasty and rushing to conclusions and that we have pre-determined the outcome of the UN inspections currently being undertaken by not giving those sufficient time. It is worth remembering that the UN inspectors on the ground, a development that the West pushed for hard at the UN, are ostensibly in Syria to review claims of CW use from five months ago, western leaders would therefore appear to be on shaky ground in claiming that an investigation of CW use from five days ago is too little, too late.
* Given that the backers of the Assad government in Moscow and Tehran have rushed to condemn CW use a better strategy might be to pursue a stronger evidentiary base. It will not be easy for Assad to use or use again CW on a mass scale and in ways that would be ever-more detectable under these circumstances.
* Such an approach to inspection missions of ‘moving the goalposts’ also carries the danger of sending an unhelpful signal to Iran at this particularly delicate and potentially hopeful moment in diplomatic efforts with Iran.
4. The legality challenge
* The legality of military strikes against Syria in the absence of authorisation by the UN Security Council is at best questionable. There does not appear to be any basis to claim that military action is being undertaken in self-defence. While the use of chemical weapons undoubtedly violates international law, this does not mean that a coalition of countries has the right to take punitive action without UNSC authorisation. Therefore the only possible legal basis for action lies in the disputed notion of humanitarian intervention.
* There are precedents for military action without UNSC authorisation to prevent harm to civilians (most notably NATO’s intervention in Kosovo and the creation of safe havens for refugees in Iraq in 1991-2 are the two most recent examples). However few states have explicitly claimed that military intervention for humanitarian purposes can be lawful, and a large number of states have rejected the notion. While the UK asserted a right of humanitarian intervention in the case of Kosovo, the US took a more cautious approach in describing the action as justified on a one-off basis. Moreover at least one supporting factor in the case of Kosovo (the support of the relevant regional organisation) is arguably lacking in this case, as the Arab League has not supported military intervention, despite its condemnation of the use of chemical weapons.
* Whatever legal arguments are advanced, an attack on Syria would inevitably fuel the belief around the world that western powers are willing to act outside the UNSC when they wish. Military action would help reinforce the international norm against the use of CW, but arguably undermine the norm against the use of force without UNSC backing. Every time that western countries bypass or act outside of the UN Security Council we undermine international legality and collective security, which is not in our long term interest.
5. The military dynamic of western intervention
* All the signalling from western leaders is that any military action would be limited in scope and duration. That is easy to say and is backed up by a lack of appetite displayed in public opinion polls, western militaries and even by political leaders to be stuck in another prolonged Middle Eastern military engagement.
* But as General Dempsey quoted in his letter, “Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is harder to avoid.” What if evidence arises of new CW use? We would certainly be incentivising a Syrian opposition whose main goal for a long time now has been to draw in western military intervention. They would do everything to make claims of new atrocities and to provoke the Government. What if regional and other backers of the Assad regime respond by escalating their own involvement? There will be an understandable temptation to recalibrate a prohibition on CW use into a general prohibition on “killing too many innocent people at once.”
* Standing firm on any strike being a one-off is not only difficult, it can also be self-defeating if the goal is deterrence and restoration of credibility – it can end up making one look weak.
6. Impact on the trajectory of the Syria conflict
* Despite western protestation to this being limited, proportional and CW-focused, the targets will undoubtedly be Syrian government military assets so there will be a direct impact on the trajectory of the fighting in Syria and the balance of power. But not in a decisive way – for that the intervention would have to be massive and ownership assumed of the Syria crisis and its aftermath, something most western politicians wisely continue to oppose.
* In that context, it is hard to imagine but we must take into account that this can get worse for Syrians, even more destabilising for the region and can generate new threats to western security.
* There is a great unpredictability to how the regime, the various rebel factions and the regional actors will respond to any western strike. The regime has not yet unleashed all the firepower it has. The rebels will undoubtedly see this as an opening to a more extensive western military intervention and will calibrate their actions and PR efforts accordingly.
* In terms of domestic opinion in Syria, which is still a relevant factor, it is hard to see how the regime does not benefit with its public if and when American missiles dispatched from offshore locations appear over their skies, especially if there are civilian casualties.
* Finally and crucially, how will this impact the flow of refugees? There are already reports of a significant uptick in refugees crossing the border, including an accelerated departure of the business community whose presence at least keeps some kind of economy ticking over. This would come on top of an already devastating and dramatic refugee crisis that is stretching the coping mechanisms of neighbouring states and has already seen an accelerated number of refugees from Kurdish areas into Iraq in recent weeks. The possible impact on the refugee situation cannot be a secondary consideration.
7. Impact on the region
* Credibility matters for the West as much as for anyone else, including the adherence to red lines. It might be the case that the Assad regime is deterred and makes certain recalculations regarding the overall trajectory of the conflict in response to western action. Likewise Iran and even Russia but that is far from guaranteed and probably belongs in the ‘unlikely’ category.
* The Syria conflict is the epicentre of a regional conflict but the current western debate on Syria and a potential strike is taking place absent a broader strategic conversation on prioritising what matters most for western interests in the Middle East. The default position is to continue to see the emasculation of Iran as the primary concern despite growing evidence that the greatest threat from the region is a cycle of sectarian escalation with Syria at its core that this is fuelling radicalisation, which is giving rise to unprecedented chaos and new ungoverned spaces, that is threatening to push Lebanon and Iraq deeper into the abyss and to generate a new momentum for anti-western jihadism.
* An attempt to rethink the region should therefore focus on a strategy, the centre point of which is regional de-escalation, requiring more, not less, diplomacy with those with whom we disagree both in the region and beyond, notably Iran and Russia. Such a strategy would notably push any opening for rapprochement/dialogue between Iran and Saudi Arabia, rather than encouraging maximalism on either side. It is hard to see how a military escalation can serve this goal; it is though easy to see how it would further squeeze the space for sectarian de-escalation.
* In thinking through response options, significant weight must be given to consequences regarding new diplomatic openings with Iran and to what this might do to the formative stage of the Rouhani Presidency.
8. A diplomatic alternative?
* There is some speculation that any limited western military action could serve as a pivot to a renewed diplomatic effort. For now such speculation appears optimistic. But a diplomatic push would be the right approach before any strike and while making it more difficult, it would be the right thing to do after such action. If the intention is to redouble diplomacy post-strike we would question the logic in that but hope for the diplomatic component to be pursued with greater vigour and courage than in the past.
* As we have previously argued, most western policy debate, has, until now, navigated between military-lite and diplomacy-lite options. Military-lite is what is under consideration now; diplomacy-lite is not to bite the bullet on accepting that there will be a role for the Assad government during any transition or that one needs to include Iran. Going all-in on diplomacy is what we should be doing. It was hinted at in May 2013 when Kerry and Lavrov first announced a Geneva II gathering but was largely placed in abeyance ever since. Some of that diplomatic failure is attributable to how ineffective the West has been with its own allies in the region and with the Syrian opposition (partly a creature of the West’s invention). A planned meeting this week on Syria between the US and Russia has already been postponed and the UN Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has been marginalised. That needs to change and a more concerted and blunt diplomatic effort needs to be made, including to bring the opposition to the negotiating table and to engage Iran on Syria and not just on the nuclear file. It is hard to see how a military strike enhances the prospects for diplomacy.
* In the immediate term, if there is a diplomatic alternative it might include: (a) to work to expand at the UN the mandate of the inspectors regarding the current allegations of CW use, pushing Russia on this issue will play to an area in which they are on the defensive – rather than where their position is stronger, namely in opposing military force; (b) to thereby establish a clearer evidentiary basis on CW use in advance of further discussions at the Security Council; and (c) this would build on the positions that Russia, China and Iran have taken against CW use and for greater evidence, in order to push Assad on inspectors; (d) a second phase for such an approach could try to promote options for CW oversight in Syria as well as the broader diplomatic effort.

Mirrored from The European Council on Foreign Relations
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« Reply #122 on: August 31, 2013, 07:27:29 AM »


http://world.time.com/2013/08/30/for-turkey-planned-u-s-missile-strikes-on-syria-not-good-enough/
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« Reply #123 on: August 31, 2013, 06:19:44 PM »

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-23892594
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« Reply #124 on: August 31, 2013, 06:22:10 PM »

Krauthammer argued today that despite the horrendous and incompetent actions and words of our incompetent CiC, the US needs to keep respect for its word; indeed IIRC correctly he called for far more decisive action than our wannabe CiC.   He said it with a lot more eloquence than I just did.

He was quite scathing and contemptuous of Baraq's statements today to the effect of "there's no hurry".
« Last Edit: August 31, 2013, 06:33:45 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #125 on: September 01, 2013, 12:12:48 AM »

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hama_massacre
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« Reply #126 on: September 01, 2013, 08:38:29 AM »

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s aides were stunned at what their boss had to say when he summoned them to the Oval Office on Friday at 7 p.m., on the eve of what they believed could be a weekend when American missiles streaked again across the Middle East.

President Obama on Saturday presented his most fervent case yet that Syria needed to be punished for a deadly chemical weapons attack.

In a two-hour meeting of passionate, sharp debate in the Oval Office, he told them that after a frantic week in which he seemed to be rushing toward a military attack on Syria, he wanted to pull back and seek Congressional approval first.

He had several reasons, he told them, including a sense of isolation after the terrible setback in the British Parliament. But the most compelling one may have been that acting alone would undercut him if in the next three years he needed Congressional authority for his next military confrontation in the Middle East, perhaps with Iran.
If he made the decision to strike Syria without Congress now, he said, would he get Congress when he really needed it?

“He can’t make these decisions divorced from the American public and from Congress,” said a senior aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations. “Who knows what we’re going to face in the next three and a half years in the Middle East?”

The Oval Office meeting ended one of the strangest weeks of the Obama administration, in which a president who had drawn a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons, and watched Syrian military forces breach it with horrific consequences, found himself compelled to act by his own statements. But Mr. Obama, who has been reluctant for the past two years to get entangled in Syria, had qualms from the start.

Even as he steeled himself for an attack this past week, two advisers said, he nurtured doubts about the political and legal justification for action, given that the United Nations Security Council had refused to bless a military strike that he had not put before Congress. A drumbeat of lawmakers demanding a vote added to the sense that he could be out on a limb.

“I know well we are weary of war,” Mr. Obama said in the Rose Garden on Saturday. “We’ve ended one war in Iraq. We’re ending another in Afghanistan. And the American people have the good sense to know we cannot resolve the underlying conflict in Syria with our military.”

The speech, which crystallized both Mr. Obama’s outrage at the wanton use of chemical weapons and his ambivalence about military action, was a coda to a week that began the previous Saturday, when he convened a meeting of his National Security Council.

In that meeting, held in the White House Situation Room, Mr. Obama said he was devastated by the images of women and children gasping and convulsing from the effects of a poison gas attack in the suburbs of Damascus three days before. The Aug. 21 attack, which American intelligence agencies say killed more than 1,400 people, was on a far different scale than earlier, smaller chemical weapons attacks in Syria, which were marked by murky, conflicting evidence.

“I haven’t made a decision yet on military action,” he told his war council that Saturday, according to an aide. “But when I was talking about chemical weapons, this is what I was talking about.” From that moment, the White House set about formulating the strongest case for military action it could.

Last Sunday, it issued a statement dismissing the need to wait for United Nations investigators because their evidence, the statement said, had been corrupted by the relentless shelling of the sites. By Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry, who had long advocated a more aggressive policy on Syria, delivered a thunderous speech that said President Bashar al-Assad was guilty of a “moral obscenity.”

By midweek, administration officials were telling reporters that the administration would not be deterred by the lack of an imprimatur from the Security Council, where Syria’s biggest backer, Russia, holds a veto.

Yet the president’s ambivalence was palpable, and public. While Mr. Kerry made his fiery case against Mr. Assad, Mr. Obama was circumspect, sprinkling his words with caveats about the modest scale of the operation and acknowledgments of the nation’s combat fatigue.

“We don’t have good options, great options, for the region,” the president said in an interview Wednesday on PBS’s “News Hour,” before describing a “limited, tailored” operation that he said would amount to a “shot across the bow” for Mr. Assad.

Page 2 of 2)

White House aides were in the meantime nervously watching a drama across the Atlantic. They knew that Prime Minister David Cameron’s attempt to win the British Parliament’s authorization for action was in deep trouble, but the defeat on a preliminary motion by just 13 votes on Thursday was a jolt. Although aides said before the vote that Mr. Obama was prepared to launch a strike without waiting for a second British vote, scheduled for Tuesday, the lack of a British blessing removed another layer of legitimacy.

Mr. Obama was annoyed by what he saw as Mr. Cameron’s stumbles, reflecting a White House view that Mr. Cameron had mishandled the situation. Beyond that, Mr. Obama said little about his thinking at the time.

It was only on Friday that he told the aides, they said, about how his doubts had grown after the vote: a verdict, Mr. Obama told his staff, that convinced him it was all the more important to get Congressional ratification. After all, he told them, “we similarly have a war-weary public.”

And if the British government was unable to persuade lawmakers of the legitimacy of its plan, shouldn’t he submit it to the same litmus test in Congress, even if he had not done so in the case of Libya?

Mr. Obama’s backing of a NATO air campaign against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011 had left a sour taste among many in Congress, particularly rank-and-file members. More than 140 lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, had signed a letter demanding a vote on Syria.

Moving swiftly in Libya, aides said, was necessary to avert a slaughter of rebels in the eastern city of Benghazi. But that urgency did not exist in this case.

Indeed, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Mr. Obama that the limited strike he had in mind would be just as effective “in three weeks as in three days,” one official said.

Beyond the questions of political legitimacy, aides said, Mr. Obama told them on Friday that he was troubled that authorizing another military action over the heads of Congress would contradict the spirit of his speech last spring in which he attempted to chart a shift in the United States from the perennial war footing of the post-Sept. 11 era.

All of these issues were on Mr. Obama’s mind when he invited his chief of staff, Denis R. McDonough, for an early evening stroll on the south lawn of the White House. In the West Wing, an aide said, staff members hoped to get home early, recognizing they would spend the weekend in the office.

Forty-five minutes later, shortly before 7, Mr. Obama summoned his senior staff members to tell them that he had decided to take military action, but with a caveat.

“I have a pretty big idea I want to test with you guys,” he said to the group, which included Mr. McDonough and his deputy, Rob Nabors; the national security adviser,

Susan E. Rice, and her deputies, Antony J. Blinken and Benjamin J. Rhodes; the president’s senior adviser, Dan Pfeiffer; and several legal experts to discuss the War Powers Resolution.

The resistance from the group was immediate. The political team worried that Mr. Obama could lose the vote, as Mr. Cameron did, and that it could complicate the White House’s other legislative priorities. The national security team argued that international support for an operation was unlikely to improve.

At 9 p.m., the president drew the debate to a close and telephoned Mr. Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to tell them of his plans.
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« Reply #127 on: September 01, 2013, 09:52:02 AM »

Third post:

Though the attempted wit is not entirely successful nor the logic , , , rigorous, there is a legitimate point being posed by this piece.  Unfortunately it flinches from taking the final step-- that by his prior and ongoing steps Baraq has made the actions he calls counter-productive.  Thanks to Baraq and his allies, we no longer are what we were and are in no position to enforce this line.  It is an ongoing and growing tragedy.



War, What Is It Good For?
By ROSS DOUTHAT
Published: August 31, 2013 210 Comments

The following is a not-entirely-verified draft of remarks President Obama planned to deliver this weekend announcing a strike in Syria. It was found in a rubbish bin outside the White House shortly after he changed course and decided to seek Congressional approval first:


MY fellow Americans, I’m speaking to you tonight because, at my orders, the United States has begun punitive strikes against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

There’s a formula to this kind of address: some references to the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding inside Syria’s borders, some nods to the international community’s support, some claims about the threat the Assad regime poses to American interests, and finally a stirring peroration about freedom, democracy and human rights.

But it’s my second term, and I’m awfully tired of talking in clichés.

So let’s be frank: Striking Syria isn’t going to put an end to the killing there or plant democracy in Damascus, so it’s hard to make the case that our values are really on the line.

Nor are our immediate interests: Assad’s regime doesn’t pose a direct threat to the United States or our allies, and given the kind of people leading the Syrian rebellion these days, we may be better off if the civil war drags out as long as possible without a winner.

Nor do we have much in the way of official international support — no Security Council, no Arab League, not even the British. We’re down to the same “coalition of the willing” we started with in the 1770s: It’s just us and the French.

Even at home, I don’t have many cheerleaders. My base is naturally antiwar, half the Republican Party has turned anti-interventionist, and the hawks of the right and left see this kind of strike as too limited to be worthwhile.

No, this one’s on me. And I owe you an explanation of what I’m thinking.

Basically, it comes down to America’s role on the international stage, and how we can use our extraordinary military preponderance for our own good and the world’s.

One answer, embraced by my predecessor, is that we should be in the business of spreading democracy by force of arms. American military power should be deployed to challenge authoritarian powers whenever possible, to protect democratic governments and movements whenever necessary, and to topple dictators outright when the opportunity presents itself.

The experience of Iraq and Afghanistan exposed the limits of this expansive approach. Which is why I promised to chart a different course. After neoconservatism, I pledged a mix of realism and liberal internationalism, in which military force would be used much more sparingly, and American power would be placed in the service of a stable, rule-based, multilateral world order.

I still believe in the “stable” and “rule-based” part. But what the view from this office has taught me is that real stability still depends almost exclusively on the United States military’s monopoly on global force. Multilateralism is a nice idea, but right now it’s the Pax Americana or nothing. There’s nobody else prepared to act to limit the ambitions of bad actors and keep them successfully boxed in.

And that’s really all this intervention is about. There is an acknowledged line around the use of chemical weapons, Assad’s government flagrantly crossed it, and we’re the only ones who can make him pay a price.

Of course there’s something arbitrary about telling a dictator he can kill his subjects with bullets but not gas. But there’s something arbitrary about any constraint we impose on lesser powers. The point is to sustain an environment of constraint, period — in which troublemakers are constantly aware they can only push so far before American military power pushes back.

True, pushing back won’t necessarily make the underlying political and humanitarian situation better. But that isn’t why we do it. It’s not really about fixing problems or transforming regions or winning final victories. (That was the mistake that George W. Bush and Lyndon Johnson made, and that Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower avoided.) It’s about demonstrating that there are limits to what other governments can choose to do without repercussions, and maintaining our credibility when we threaten to rain those repercussions down.

Look: I know Thomas Aquinas wouldn’t endorse a war for American credibility, and I know the Barack Obama of 2007 probably wouldn’t either. But most of my post-cold-war predecessors would, and did. And they’ve bequeathed me a world that — no matter what the headlines suggest — is more at peace than at any point in human history.

It’s not a world free of tyranny, like my predecessor foolishly promised to pursue. But it’s a world with fewer invasions, fewer war crimes, fewer massacres than in the past. And if we want to keep it that way, there has to be a price for crossing lines.

So that’s the why of it. Thank you for your attention, and may God bless — and, if necessary, forgive — the United States of America.
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« Reply #128 on: September 02, 2013, 08:56:56 AM »

I nominate this Dog Brothers Forum, not Biden for President in 2016.

Most here have been advocating we hit Iran nucs for *years*.

Unfortunately it doesn't appear that will happen.  It appears the plan is containment.   

There is likely a back up offensive plan but only if shoved into it.

As for what to do in Syria.   In my most expert military, strategic, political, and in international affairs opinion I think we do as Doug suggested:  hit all WMD sites in Syria (though not yet convinced about NK).

I also agree with one Middle East analyst on CNN (I don't know his name) who said a more credible "red line" would have been the Syrian air force.  Thus we should destroy Assad's planes.

Congress should stand up.   Forget idiotic "shots across the bow".  The Congressional authorization should be to do the job and not half assed laughable crap.  Get rid of all known WMD and air force.

Or, do nothing.   Forget 'face'.  We are not Japanese.   Reagan pulled out of Lebanon.   He didn't worry about his face or his reputation.   He worried about America and our military.

Frankly I prefer do nothing or as we have suggested for many years now go after Iran.

As for NK, I haven't thought about it much.  But come to think of it suppose we just get rid of that monstrous family there.   It is not the middle east.     
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« Reply #129 on: September 02, 2013, 05:46:58 PM »

http://tomnichols.net/blog/2013/08/28/the-realities-of-the-coming-syrian-war/
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« Reply #130 on: September 02, 2013, 08:35:45 PM »

Some interesting thoughts.  I don't agree with all of them.

I do like this:

"Few concepts have polluted American strategic thought as badly as the “Powell doctrine,” a Cold War relic from Colin Powell’s days in uniform that never made much sense and has since been consistently misapplied in recent years. In its various forms and emendations by Powell, it basically says: Never fight unless you absolutely have to, and only fight wars you know you can win. Buy low, sell high. Rotate your tires. Never poke your sister in the eye with a stick. That sort of stuff"

Watching Colin Powell these last five years keeps provoking the question, "how in the world did this guy become Joint Chief of Staff?"
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« Reply #131 on: September 02, 2013, 10:54:22 PM »

Obama’s Plan to Blame Syria on Congress

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On September 2, 2013 @ frontpagemag.com

Obama’s belated agreement to take the Syrian strikes before Congress, while asserting that he will not be bound by whatever Congress decides, buys him a convenient exit strategy.

The Congress trap will let Obama opt out of an attack that he is ambivalent about while blaming Republicans for destroying American credibility. Even now the progressive spin machine is roaring into action and denouncing Congress for not immediately returning to session to consider Obama’s plan.

Considering that Obama waited for two years before deciding to bomb Syria, it seems ridiculously hypocritical of his political palace guard to denounce Congress for not immediately springing into action; but hypocrisy is hardly an obstacle for a Democratic Party that dramatically reversed its position on Iraq and now once again favors unilateral wars over WMDs.

Obama’s Rose Garden speech baited the trap with its warning to Congress to avoid partisan politics.

“I ask you, members of Congress, to consider that some things are more important than partisan differences or the politics of the moment. Ultimately, this is not about who occupies this office at any given time; it’s about who we are as a country. I believe that the people’s representatives must be invested in what America does abroad,” Obama said.

That is the Catch 22 trap. Either Congress adopts an unpopular attack in order to do the supposedly responsible thing or it gets accused of sabotaging American credibility for partisan politics and is held responsible for a great many dead children.

Obama prefers creating Alinskyite political traps for his opponents over doing the responsible thing. And his favorite trap is the one that shifts the blame for his irresponsibility to the Congressional Republicans who have been his favorite target ever since Bush retired to paint dog pictures.

Either Congress “invests” in Obama’s war and immunizes him from criticism by the Republican Party. Or Obama opts out of the war and blames Republican obstructionism for undermining American credibility abroad while splitting the Republican Party between interventionists and non-interventionists.

Obama’s speech and the distorted media coverage of it have given the impression that Congress gets the final say and that Republicans either have to give Obama a blank check on Syria or get the blame. These are the same cynical tactics that Obama has employed on the economy.

When faced with a difficult political choice, Obama’s natural instinct is to find someone to blame and to use that blame to sow division among his enemies while escaping responsibility for his own disaster.

On the debt ceiling, Obama self-righteously insisted that he would not allow Congress to avoid “paying our bills”. The bills were actually his bills, but he frequently uses the singular possessive pronoun for things that he believes that he controls but does not own, like the United States military, but shifts over to the plural possessive pronoun when trying to avoid responsibility for things that he should own up to.

“Now is the time to show the world that America keeps our commitments,” Obama said in the Rose Garden. But America had made no such collective commitments. Congress certainly had not.

When avoiding responsibility, Obama uses “Our”  to mean “Mine”.  What he really means is that having made a mess of Syria, he intends to dump the problem on Congress and make it “our problem” while still keeping all of his options open.

Once Congress begins debating Syria, the media will spin it as “partisanship” and an inability to reach a decision while contrasting that unfavorably with the decisiveness that led Obama to announce that his red line had been crossed some months later. Congress will be lambasted in editorials and cartoons for being unable to make a decision while Syrian children are dying.

Congress can give Obama the option of staying out of Syria while scoring political points. And that is why the Republican Party has to be careful when navigating these treacherous political currents.

Americans largely oppose intervention in Syria. So do most other countries. The Republican Party should not undermine its 2014 prospects by rubber stamping an unpopular military campaign that will raise Obama’s profile and reward Al Qaeda. But it should also avoid giving the appearance of irresponsibility that the media will be looking to seize on.

The best way to blunt the push for war is to ask the tough questions about the links between Al Qaeda and the Free Syrian Army, why so little attention is being paid to chemical weapons manufacture by the Al Nusra Front and whether the strikes will actually destroy Assad’s WMD stockpiles or whether they are only meant as the symbolic gesture that some officials have said that they will be.

Obama has said that he does not intend to intervene in the war or to implement regime change by military means. These assertions would be more credible if he were not arming the Syrian rebels and if he were willing to carry out drone strikes against Al Nusra Front leaders, instead of limiting the attack to the Syrian military, implicitly favoring the operatives of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Mitt Romney failed to be fully prepared when challenging Obama’s Libyan War narrative. Republicans should learn from his mistake.

Benghazi was the outcome of Obama’s Libyan War. Republicans failed to hold him accountable for that. Now Obama has thrown another war with even more dangerous implications into the lap of Congress while hoping that it will blow up in their faces.

The debate will provide a national forum to question whether we should be picking a side in this war. The interventionists will point to photos of dead children, a staple of regional conflicts, but Republicans should instead ask the hard questions about the number of dead and exiled Christians at the hands of the Islamist militias we will be fighting to protect. And they should even call on some of them to testify.

In Libya, Obama claimed that the humanitarian plight of the people of Benghazi required urgent military intervention, but it was really the Islamist militias of Benghazi that he was worried about. In Syria, any strikes will be conducted on behalf of the same Islamist militias scrambling to hold on to cities that were once full of Christians, but are now run by Sunni Islamic Jihadists implementing Islamic law at gunpoint.

Obama intends to use Syria as a weapon in a political power struggle against the United States Congress, but it’s also an opening for exposing his Muslim Brotherhood alliances and the wisdom of his Muslim Brotherhood regime change operations in Syria and Egypt.
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"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #132 on: September 03, 2013, 12:12:41 AM »

Obj. et al:

Please respond to the following assertions:

1) Agree or disagree:  If necessary we should go to war to stop Iran's nuke program.

2) Agree or disagree:  We are at war with Iran in Syria.

3) Agree or disagree:  If we do nothing, Iran will think it has green light to go nuke.

4) Agree or disagree: This means the Saudis et al will also take steps to go nuke.

5) Agree or disagree:  If we do nothing, Israel will feel it has to act to stop Iran's nukes, just as it took out Saddam's nukes at Osirak in 1983 and the Syrian nuke program being built by the Norks a few years ago.  Given how dug in the Iranian program is, Israel may feel it has to go nuke first as a matter of natural survival.

6) Agree or disagree:  If we do nothing (this includes shooting some missiles up some camels' asses and pretending it is action) either we establish that chem warfare will be tolerated and/or if anarchy results or AQ takes over there is a goodly chance that the world's largest stockpile of chem weapons falls into AQ hands.

7) Agree or disagree: If we do nothing, the growing refugee problem will cause the King of Jordan, our best Arab friend (and of Israel too) in the mideast, to fall.
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ccp
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« Reply #133 on: September 03, 2013, 08:20:35 AM »

Some Republicans criticized Obama for threatening to act alone.  OK so he now goes to Congress.  So Congressional Republicans should stand up and do the right thing - Americans don't want another war - do not authorize it.

Most Americans don't want to be the world's policemen.

Sure, the media, university, Democrat party socialist/fascist machine will spin it to their way of propaganda. 

Bottom line people will vote their pocket books.  Not for chemical weapons use in Syria.   
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #134 on: September 03, 2013, 08:33:59 AM »

OK,  so what when Jordan's king falls and the Palestinians take over and Israel is beset from Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan (all aided by Iran)?  What when Iran goes nuke and much of the Arab world with it?  What when Israel tries to take out Iran's nukes? 

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #135 on: September 03, 2013, 09:48:32 AM »

U.S. Still Hasn't Armed Syrian Rebels
By  ADAM ENTOUS  and  NOUR MALAS

In June, the White House authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to help arm moderate fighters battling the Assad regime, a signal to Syrian rebels that the cavalry was coming. Three months later, they are still waiting.

The delay, in part, reflects a broader U.S. approach rarely discussed publicly but that underpins its decision-making, according to former and current U.S. officials: The Obama administration doesn't want to tip the balance in favor of the opposition for fear the outcome may be even worse for U.S. interests than the current stalemate.

U.S. officials attribute the delay in providing small arms and munitions from the CIA weapons program to the difficulty of establishing secure delivery "pipelines" to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands, in particular Jihadi militants also battling the Assad regime.

Allied rebel commanders in Syria and congressional proponents of a more aggressive military response instead blame a White House that wants to be seen as responsive to allies' needs but fundamentally doesn't want to get pulled any deeper into the country's grinding conflict.

In June, the White House authorized the C.I.A. to help arm moderate fighters battling the Assad regime, a signal to Syrian rebels that the cavalry was coming. Three months later, they are still waiting. Adam Entous reports on the News Hub. Photo: AP.

The administration's view can also be seen in White House planning for limited airstrikes—now awaiting congressional review—to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons.

Pentagon planners were instructed not to offer strike options that could help drive Mr. Assad from power: "The big concern is the wrong groups in the opposition would be able to take advantage of it," a senior military officer said. The CIA declined to comment.

The White House wants to strengthen the opposition but doesn't want it to prevail, according to people who attended closed-door briefings by top administration officials over the past week. The administration doesn't want U.S. airstrikes, for example, tipping the balance of the conflict because it fears Islamists will fill the void if the Assad regime falls, according to briefing participants, which included lawmakers and their aides.


Squaring those positions will be one focus of congressional hearings on the proposed strikes starting Tuesday, administration and congressional officials said. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry are among those slated to testify.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said it was "shameful" that promised U.S. arms haven't materialized, given recent shipments of advanced weapons from Russia and Iran in support of Mr. Assad.

After meeting with President Barack Obama on Monday, Sens. McCain and Lindsey Graham, another leading Republican critic of the administration's approach to the conflict, said they believed the administration was formulating a plan to "upgrade" the capabilities of moderate rebels, but they offered no details.

Sen. McCain also held out the prospect that Mr. Obama would consider widening the targets for strikes to degrade Mr. Assad's ability to carry out chemical weapon and conventional attacks.

Growing frustration with the slow pace of the CIA arming and training program has prompted calls from lawmakers and some Arab leaders to shift the effort to the Pentagon, said congressional officials who favor the move. White House and Pentagon officials had no immediate comment.

Putting the Pentagon in charge would allow the U.S. to do "industrial strength" arming and training, Sen. Bob Corker, the top ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview Monday.

Some lawmakers accused the White House of failing to deliver on its promises because of concerns it would get blamed if the effort went wrong and for fear of getting trapped in a proxy fight that pits Mr. Assad and his backers—Iran, Russia and Hezbollah—against an array of opposition groups, some linked to al Qaeda and others supported by the U.S. and some Arab allies.

"There's been a major disconnect between what the administration has said it's doing relative to the rebels and what is actually happening," said Sen. Corker, who recently visited rebel leaders in Turkey. "The (CIA) pipeline has been incredibly slow. It's really hurt morale among the Syrian rebels."

Many rebel commanders say the aim of U.S. policy in Syria appears to be a prolonged stalemate that would buy the U.S. and its allies more time to empower moderates and choose whom to support.

"The game is clear to all," said Qassem Saededdine, a spokesman for the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army's Supreme Military Council. "When it comes to the interests of superpowers…the average Syrian comes last."

Some congressional officials said they were concerned the administration was edging closer to an approach privately advocated by Israel. Israeli officials have told their American counterparts they would be happy to see its enemies Iran, the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah and al Qaeda militants fight until they are weakened, giving moderate rebel forces a chance to play a bigger role in Syria's future.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been particularly outspoken with lawmakers about his concerns that weakening Mr. Assad too much could tip the scales in favor of al Qaeda-linked fighters.

When the CIA arms program was revealed in June, it was described by U.S. officials as a change in Mr. Obama's approach to the conflict and the beginning of a process to build up the armed opposition against Mr. Assad.

It took nearly a year for the idea to gain traction in a skeptical White House, which last summer authorized the CIA to join Saudi Arabia and other allies to train handpicked rebels at a secret base in Jordan. At the time, Mr. Obama balked at providing arms. Nonlethal U.S. military support, such as medical kits and night-vision goggles, started arriving in small quantities this spring.

Congressional committees that oversee the CIA and its budget initially raised questions about the covert arms program, officials said, delaying startup funding.

The CIA also appeared conflicted about the effort's utility. Congressional officials said CIA leaders in briefings indicated they believed that U.S. arms would only have a limited impact on the fight in a country awash in weapons. They also told Congress the U.S. was investing little compared with Iran and Hezbollah, which the U.S. believes will do whatever it takes in Syria to prevail.

But CIA officials told lawmakers providing arms would help the agency build relationships with rebel forces and give it greater leverage with such allies as Saudi Arabia, which provide the bulk of arms and money.

"When we have more skin in the game, it just puts us in a position to have deeper relationships with the opposition but also work more effectively with other countries who are doing a lot in terms of support," a senior administration official said.

A former senior administration official involved in the effort was more dismissive, describing the CIA program as "designed to buy time without getting the U.S. deeply involved in the civil war."
—Carol E. Lee, Julian E. Barnes and Siobhan Gorman contributed to this article.

Write to Adam Entous at adam.entous@wsj.com and Nour Malas at nour.malas@dowjones.com
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DougMacG
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« Reply #136 on: September 03, 2013, 10:30:44 AM »

OK,  so what when Jordan's king falls and the Palestinians take over and Israel is beset from Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan (all aided by Iran)?  What when Iran goes nuke and much of the Arab world with it?  What when Israel tries to take out Iran's nukes? 

I don't see who are the good guys in Syria so I don't support this intervention or tipping the balance.  I support containment and improving our own readiness.  But if I were in congress I think I would vote for authorization of use of force and put this right back on the President to do (or not do) the right thing based on best judgment of the advice and information he is getting from our intelligence and our military.  There is so much we don't know from here.  The rebels have a history with Sarin gas too, for example.  But I would not want the Commander in Chief's hands tied due to the concerns well-articulated above.

Striking the nuclear facilities in Iran, adding support for the King of Jordan, having Israel's back, these are responses too.  Much of what is happening in Syria is not about us.

Elephant in the room:  If intervention (in Syria) is right, for Syria, for the region and for the world, then the structure and composition of the UN Security Council is wrong. The moral compass of 2013 planet earth goes through Putin and the oppressors in the Chinese ruling committee?!  Are we joking?  What is our Nobel prize winning, Befuddlement in Chief going to do about THAT?    (nothing)
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #137 on: September 03, 2013, 10:47:59 AM »

 Syria: A Comprehensive Look at the Options for Intervention
Analysis
August 27, 2013 | 1225 Print Text Size
Syria: A Comprehensive Look at the Options for Intervention
The USS San Jacinto cruiser fires a Tomahawk cruise missile toward Iraq in 2003. (MARK WILSON/Getty Images)
Summary

The United States and its allies have a few options if they proceed with an intervention in Syria, a prospect that seems increasingly likely. A limited punitive strike on critical targets meant to discourage future use of chemical weapons would be the simplest operation. Another option would be to target the Syrian regime's chemical weapons delivery systems and storage facilities, but this option would require significantly more resources than the limited strike, and the risk of mission creep would be high.

Another problem with targeting the regime's chemical weapons is that such weapons are notoriously difficult to destroy. Therefore, the West could elect to deploy ground forces to secure the chemical weapons and ensure their destruction. Such a mission would be tantamount to a full-scale invasion, and thus we believe it is very unlikely.

Analysis

In general, the larger and more complex the operation, the more time it will take, the more of a leading role the United States will have to assume and the more obvious the force buildup will be.
Limited Punitive Strike

A limited punitive strike on regime targets is the least risky option and requires the fewest resources. This option would seek to demonstrate American and allied credibility by striking regime targets, including command and control facilities and other high-value and symbolic targets. The purpose of a punitive strike would be to dissuade the al Assad regime from the further use of chemical weapons in the civil war without crippling the Syrian regime itself.
Target Set

In this scenario there are more possible targets than the West is interested in attacking. Command and control facilities will likely be prioritized, driving home the message that the regime leadership, particularly the military leadership, would pay for the decision to use chemical weapons. However, Bashar al Assad himself would probably not be targeted because his death would tie the coalition deeper into the conflict than it wants to be.

Specific facilities that may be targeted are the Defense Ministry, the Air Force Intelligence Directorate, the Political Security Directorate, the Interior Ministry, the 4th Armored Division and Republican Guard headquarters in Damascus, the headquarters of the three Syrian army corps and various key communication and command and control facilities across the country. The specific artillery units that are believed to have participated in the chemical weapons attack could also be on the list.
Assets Required

In total, the United States and its allies would need to strike fewer than a hundred targets in such a mission, although some targets would require multiple munitions and repeated strikes. The majority of these targets could be engaged with non-penetrating cruise missiles, but those with hardened defenses or those that are buried underground would require bunker-busting munitions.

Given U.S. resources and their current deployment, Washington is already in a position to commence a limited punitive strike. A crucial advantage is that the United States would not need to deploy tactical aviation in this strike and would not need to penetrate the Syrian air defense network with non-stealth warplanes. The United States already has four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean. Two of the destroyers can carry up to 96 Tomahawk cruise missiles, and the other two can carry as many as 90 Tomahawk missiles. In reality, the vessels carry other missiles, such as air defense missiles, so the Tomahawk payload is usually much less -- about half would be a good estimate. Therefore, it can be assumed that the four destroyers can deploy around 180 Tomahawk missiles.

If the payload of the nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine that is likely nearby is added, then the number of Tomahawk missiles on U.S. naval vessels already in theater is at least 334 -- and likely more because other nuclear attack submarines are almost certainly in the region. If needed, strategic bombers and even tactical fighters can deploy air-launched cruise missiles such as the JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile) from beyond the range of Syrian air defenses. These aircraft can stage out of Europe and the Middle East or, in the case of the bombers, can even come from the continental United States.

For hardened targets, the United States can rely on B-2 bombers flying missions from the continental United States. Each B-2 can carry 16 2,000-pound (about 900 kilograms) penetrating bombs or 8 5,000-pound bombs, enabling it to strike multiple targets in one mission.
Cripple the Regime's Chemical Weapons Delivery Capability

Should the United States and its allies decide to take the mission a step further, they could attempt not only to discourage the further use of chemical weapons but also to remove the regime's ability to use the weapons. The command, control and communication facilities would still be targeted, but the operation would also need to strike at a much wider network of targets and their associated defenses.
Target Set

The mission would focus on the three main ways the regime can deliver its chemical weapons: the air force, the ballistic missile force and the artillery force.

Although several regime airfields have been neutralized or captured by the rebels, several others are still operable. In theory, aircraft from at least 13 airfields can participate in a chemical weapons attack. To neutralize an airfield, the United States can crater the airfield, strike parked aircraft, destroy fuel and ammunition stores and disable ground control, radar and maintenance facilities. Some of the airfields contain a considerable number of aircraft hangars and bunkers. For example, the Tiyas air base has some 30 aircraft shelters, not all of which can survive a Tomahawk strike.

Battlefield use during the conflict has significantly diminished the Syrian ballistic missile force. At least half of the regime's ballistic missile inventory has been expended in strikes against rebel-held territory, leaving approximately a couple of hundred missiles at most. Syrian ballistic missiles, especially the larger ones, are mostly concentrated in a few bases around the country, of which the 155th and 156th brigades based in al-Qutayfah appear to be particularly prominent. At these bases the Syrians have constructed several underground drive-in vehicle storage bunkers to protect their transporter erector launchers as well as other underground bunkers for missile storage. Other notable bases that house ballistic missiles include the Hirjillah army barracks and the Mezze and Dumayr tactical surface-to-surface missile storage facilities. Roughly one-third to one-half of the chemical weapons inventory is believed to have been assigned for ballistic missile delivery prior to the Syrian civil war.

The best estimates for the Syrian army's remaining artillery inventory ranges from 1,000 to 2,000 pieces, including towed, self-propelled and multiple-rocket artillery. As the conflict has progressed, the Syrian army has dispersed its artillery holdings in support of its widespread operations. While the artillery pieces are not located in hardened positions, their dispersal complicates their targeting.
Assets Required

Adequately neutralizing all three forces, and thus crippling the regime's ability to carry out chemical weapons attacks, would require a significant contribution of resources by the United States and its allies. The risk of mission creep is high, and the campaign would tie the United States deeply into the Syrian conflict. Simply eliminating the bulk of the regime's artillery and air force would instantly tilt the balance of power toward the rebels, implicating the United States in the responsibility of post-al Assad Syria. The psychological impact of such a campaign should also not be underestimated; loyalist forces under incessant air attack while fighting on the front lines against the rebels would be under considerable stress.

Significant post-strike analysis would be necessary in such an expansive campaign, and the effort to neutralize the regime's artillery assets in particular would require extensive tactical and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. Given the need to operate within the range of Syrian air defenses with non-stealth aircraft, a comprehensive suppression of enemy air defenses campaign would also be necessary. The Syrian air defense network has suffered several blows during the civil war but remains dense and dangerous.

Many more Tomahawk-equipped vessels would be required for the initial campaign to take out air defenses as well as the follow-on strikes, and U.S. Navy carriers with tactical aviation assets, especially electronic warfare aircraft such as the EA-18G Growler, would need to be deployed. Indeed, electronic warfare would figure prominently in such a campaign, from jamming to cyber attacks. At least one super carrier would be needed, but more could be deployed depending on the number of tactical aviation squadrons sent by the U.S. Air Force and allied countries.

U.S. Deployments Near Syria

Without short-range basing from countries such as Cyprus, Turkey, Jordan or Greece, operations by tactical fixed-wing aircraft would be greatly complicated because of the limited combat radius of those aircraft. The deployment of combat search and rescue elements would also necessitate forward bases (or aircraft carriers) close to Syria. In total, at least 400 Tomahawk missiles would likely be needed for the operation before a comprehensive fixed-wing campaign could commence -- more than twice the number fired during the intervention in Libya. Such a campaign would require a variety of munitions, including anti-radiation missiles, cruise missiles, penetrating bombs, air-to-air missiles, gravity bombs and air-to-ground tactical missiles.

Notably, several variables can shape the nature of the conflict. There are hundreds if not thousands of different orders of battle that can be deployed based on wide-ranging factors, such as the allies' commitments, available basing, cost, commanders' preferences and enemy resilience. For example, something as simple as whether Turkey joins the mission dramatically alters the scenario, immediately bringing 200 or more tactical fighters to the operation (by the simple fact of their being within range and Turkey being vulnerable to retaliation and operating accordingly).
Secure the Chemical Weapons in Syria

The most ambitious and risky operation would be to attempt to secure the regime's chemical weapons to definitively prevent their further use. This operation would probably also signal the demise of the al Assad regime. In many ways, this option would be synonymous with an invasion of Syria, since any attempt to secure the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal would necessitate significant ground forces. It is for this reason that we believe the likelihood of this option to be very remote.
Target Set

Scant information is publicly available on Syria's chemical weapons program. However, Syria is not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons, and until July 23 the regime had not publicly admitted to possessing the weapons. The al Assad regime is suspected of having VX, sarin, tabun and mustard gas, and it purportedly can produce a few hundred tons of chemical agents per year.

Several major storage and production sites are believed to be located near Homs, Hama, Eastern Damascus, Aleppo, Latakia and Palmyra. An additional 45-50 smaller facilities are believed to be spread across the country. While the United States and other Western allies have proved that they have active intelligence and surveillance of numerous sites, it would be nearly impossible for the entire stockpile to be accounted for at any one time, and it can assumed that all locations are not known.

Chemical weapons are difficult to destroy completely. The most common method is incineration at very high temperatures over a sustained period of time in a contained system. Munitions used by the military almost never reproduce these effects, especially the ones designed to penetrate a hardened structure. Another problem is the sheer volume of material. Estimates put Syrian stockpiles in the hundreds of tons of various types.

The most likely result of strikes on hardened facilities holding chemical weapons is the destruction of some of the material and the release of some into the atmosphere while the rest remains protect by the collapsed structure in rubble. In other words, a strike would succeed in destroying the material only partially while potentially causing collateral damage (many of the facilities are near populated areas) and only temporarily denying the regime the use of any remaining stockpiles.
Assets Required

Securing all of Syria's chemical weapons would necessitate a comprehensive suppression of enemy air defenses campaign. This first step would require strategic and tactical air assets combined with naval platforms, similar to the steps taken to eliminate the chemical weapons delivery capability. However, the difference is that securing the weapons would also require ground forces to be deployed in the country.

Securing even a few chemical weapons manufacturing or storage facilities would require the deployment of numerous detachments of special operations forces. Such a deployment would likely be preceded by the seizure of a Syrian airfield, which would serve as a temporary base for the operations. After the initial campaign to suppress the regime's air defenses, all threats within the vicinity of the airfield would be targeted and special operations forces would be flown in for either a combat drop or air landing. From there, the airfield would be used as a temporary bridgehead to launch several smaller operations aimed at grabbing specific sites.

The benefit of such an operation is that it would quickly put highly trained assets on the ground in moderate numbers with no buildup necessary in neighboring countries, meaning that tactical surprise could be achieved. Once the bridgehead is established, it would then be used as an air bridge to bring in reinforcements such as the 82nd Airborne Division. Absolute dominance of the airspace would have to be maintained during such an operation.

Chemical weapons are difficult to comprehensively eradicate; in about four decades the United States has destroyed only about half of its stockpiles. Units seizing chemical weapons sites could not simply strap C4 explosive blocks to them for the same reason that cruise missile strikes would not work: little is destroyed and much of it would just be flung around, risking unintended contamination and only temporarily denying the material to the enemy.

A comprehensive scenario that entails the seizure of all known stockpiles and roots out any missed supplies would essentially entail a full-scale invasion of Syria. The U.S. military reportedly estimates that it would need 75,000 troops to secure the entire network of Syrian chemical weapons. This is probably a low estimate. This option would be very complex and multifaceted. Again, a requisite suppression of enemy air defenses campaign would have to take place so the United States could dominate the airspace. Ground forces would have to be bought into theater in numbers, primarily in Jordan or Turkey. An amphibious component involving U.S. Marines could be utilized to establish beachheads on the Syrian coast. Special operations forces could also be tapped in conjunction with the 82nd Airborne Division to seize critical airfields to open up further fronts or capture time-sensitive targets deep in the Syrian core.

This would take a lot of time. Similar buildups for Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom took months. There would be little to no strategic or tactical surprise, and the United States and its allies would rely on raw firepower and rapid movement. This would be a full combined arms operation, where air and naval assets would facilitate the movement of ground forces.

This is the option with the greatest potential for bogging down forces in an occupation. Chemical weapons are hard to deal with and require time to destroy and longer still to move elsewhere and destroy. Either way, a standing army will find itself in Syria for at least a few months. Any form of mission creep into nation re-stabilization or building extends the timeline indefinitely. Even if the invasion went well, as it did in Iraq, the occupation period creates an opening for guerrilla or insurgent warfare waged by the fallen regime, Islamist extremists, disenfranchised rebels or all of the above.

Read more: Syria: A Comprehensive Look at the Options for Intervention | Stratfor

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G M
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« Reply #138 on: September 03, 2013, 10:52:57 AM »

Obj. et al:

Please respond to the following assertions:

1) Agree or disagree:  If necessary we should go to war to stop Iran's nuke program.

Well, unless you want them to have a nuke to strike the great satan with...

2) Agree or disagree:  We are at war with Iran in Syria.

Iran has been at war with us since 1979, sadly it's pretty much been one way.

3) Agree or disagree:  If we do nothing, Iran will think it has green light to go nuke.

Yeah, they've had that green light for years, it got especially bright when they got Buraq in the white house.

4) Agree or disagree: This means the Saudis et al will also take steps to go nuke.

Why wouldn't they?

5) Agree or disagree:  If we do nothing, Israel will feel it has to act to stop Iran's nukes, just as it took out Saddam's nukes at Osirak in 1983 and the Syrian nuke program being built by the Norks a few years ago.  Given how dug in the Iranian program is, Israel may feel it has to go nuke first as a matter of natural survival.

Israel has been nuclear for a long time now, but I very much doubt we would ever see a first use from Israel.

6) Agree or disagree:  If we do nothing (this includes shooting some missiles up some camels' asses and pretending it is action) either we establish that chem warfare will be tolerated and/or if anarchy results or AQ takes over there is a goodly chance that the world's largest stockpile of chem weapons falls into AQ hands.

The Soviets used chem weapons in A-stan. Did we go to war over that? There have been and will be mass murders using everything from starvation to machetes. Why are chemicals so special?

7) Agree or disagree: If we do nothing, the growing refugee problem will cause the King of Jordan, our best Arab friend (and of Israel too) in the mideast, to fall.

Best then to use our assets to support him rather than a masturbatory waste of cruise missiles.
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objectivist1
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« Reply #139 on: September 03, 2013, 11:05:05 AM »

GM's post below is right on the money.  However, I don't think he goes far enough.  We have a President who has neither the will nor the determination to do what needs to be done regarding Iran, and should have been done decades ago.  There are no "good guys" to support in Syria.  If we back the rebels, we are backing Al-Qaeda.

Lindsey Graham and John McCain long ago lost their grip on reality.  If they think they are going to get any sort of agreement from Obama which he will honor - they are truly psychotic.  Obama doesn't want to do anything meaningful in Syria.  I believe he is in sympathy with the Muslim Brotherhood.  Many previous administrations have by their inaction led us to the point where Obama will either by action or inaction cause the Middle East to ignite.

So - we are left with the ugly consequences of a powder keg region set to explode - quite possibly into another World War.  Iran will not stop when it gets nukes (and it is only a matter of time, if they don't already have them) with nuking Israel.  We will be a target as well.  Just as with WWII - the United States is going to be drawn into this war whether it wants to or not.  We will be attacked - whether by an EMP or a direct nuclear assault.  If anyone thinks either Obama or this impotent Congress is going to do ANYTHING effective to stop this - they had better put down the crack pipe.
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"You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
G M
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« Reply #140 on: September 03, 2013, 11:21:43 AM »

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DougMacG
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« Reply #141 on: September 03, 2013, 12:47:52 PM »

Right when we found out Chemical weapon use was awful, the President's advisers also found out it would be a good way to further divide the Republican party with themselves, to divide Republicans with the American people, and to keep tax reform  and Obamacare repeal off the table.

Didn't Hillary recently call Assad a reformer?  And didn't Kerry recently say to Assad: Shall we enjoy another bottle of Dom Romane Conti?

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bigdog
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« Reply #142 on: September 03, 2013, 12:59:54 PM »

Is this any more a defense or reason than the left's use of the Saddam/Rummy handshake?
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DougMacG
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« Reply #143 on: September 03, 2013, 02:14:42 PM »

Is this any more a defense or reason than the left's use of the Saddam/Rummy handshake?

No, but the left did take power back in Washington using such tactics, and the right must play on their field since honest policy debates never happen.

There was a reason the US cooperated with Iraq in 1983, opposing Iran.  Rumsfeld (reportedly) tried to leverage our support there for his help with terrorism in Lebanon.  Hillary saying Assad is a reformer showed naivete or ignorance.  What was Kerry thinking at this dinner other than - Look! I'm dining with world leaders!
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bigdog
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« Reply #144 on: September 03, 2013, 02:17:41 PM »

Forgive my ignorance on the subject: was Kerry a senator in the picture of SecState? If the latter, why shouldn't he be meeting with a world leader? Especially one that the US has hopes will cease the killing of civilians.
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« Reply #145 on: September 03, 2013, 02:29:12 PM »

If I'm not mistaken this was Sen. Kerry of the Foreign Relations Committee.
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bigdog
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« Reply #146 on: September 03, 2013, 02:43:43 PM »

If I'm not mistaken this was Sen. Kerry of the Foreign Relations Committee.


Thanks. In that case, should he still not be meeting with world leaders?
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G M
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« Reply #147 on: September 03, 2013, 03:31:48 PM »

If I'm not mistaken this was Sen. Kerry of the Foreign Relations Committee.


Thanks. In that case, should he still not be meeting with world leaders?

Well, he working to sabotage Bush's isolation of Syria, so of course it's fine!
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DougMacG
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« Reply #148 on: September 03, 2013, 03:36:01 PM »

Nothing says stop the ceaseless killing of civilians like fine social dining and enjoying a laugh and a story or two over a fine bottle of US taxpayer provided wine.  If the party affiliation was opposite, as pointed out, the left (and media) would be all over this.  

A serious military strike on Syria, if taken, should kill the threat at the head, which means likely killing both spouses of the first couple and perhaps their children.  Didn't we already meet with them, warn them, etc.?  But instead we hear of "a shot across the bow" as the "proportional" response to alleged genocide. Are these personal relationships that may be keeping us from making such a strike really not noteworthy?  I disagree.
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bigdog
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« Reply #149 on: September 03, 2013, 04:06:30 PM »

I didn't say that, GM.

And is it personal relationships or Russia, Doug?
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