Why not Syria?

  • #276
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Mead makes that point, Russ. The articles are worth reading. One of the things that will intrigue future historians is how in the process of setting a new foreign policy, one shaped by people like Samantha Powers, the US has ensured outcomes that run counter to that policy. How is it that so many people who voted for that administration opposed its policies? Or, put the other way, how is it that the administration was unable to make the case to even the people who voted for it? (CNN poll had self-identified liberals opposing a Congressional resolution for the use of force at 45-53)
 
  • #277
mheslep
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The speeding ticket analogy, or whether or not Assad is punished, relies again on the premise of the US as world policeman. US national security interests should lie first in reducing the risk of the use of chemical weapons. Removing the several tons of Assad's chemical stockpile seems to be more effective in that regard than bombing uncertain targets.
 
  • #279
KWilliamsAF
Both sides in the Syria war are extremist. Most of the Islamic moderates, Christians and secular leaders are with Assad. Russian and China will support Assad if we intervene directly in the fight. Let them work out their own problems if it can be contained. I feel for the poor civilians caught in the middle but it's their country to fix and not worth one drop of American blood.
http://www.mypixshare.net/files/img/user_uploads/displayimage.php?id=k1e22oa3dvy81244627.gif [Broken]
http://www.strategyinternational.or...ism-in-syria-geopolitics-and-future-scenarios
Well said!
 
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  • #280
nsaspook
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http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/27/us-un-assembly-syria-resolution-idUSBRE98P1AJ20130927

(Reuters) - Ending weeks of diplomatic deadlock, the United States and Russia agreed on Thursday on a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that would demand Syria give up its chemical arms, but does not threaten military force if it fails to comply.
...
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that his country was ready to help guard Syrian chemical weapons sites and destroy Assad's stockpiles but would not ship any of the chemical arms to Russia for destruction.
 
  • #281
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How many hat colors?

Thirty-five years ago I spent an evening listening to an explanation of Beirut's problems from an ex-patriate participant; about all I could understand was "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

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

A little hasty browsing yields articles mentioning nine to eleven factions "allied" against Assad, and occasionally against each other. Consider the number of possible alliances among a dozen or so mutually belligerent groups, and tell me just who's wearing the black hats and who the white?

T'ain't all that clear, and good guys today can be bad guys tomorrow without any rhyme or reason.
 
  • #282
Astronuc
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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/22/w...said-to-show-widespread-torture-in-syria.html

Obama administration officials, who never fully backed the rebel movement to oust Mr. Assad, had shifted instead to pushing his opponents to sit down with his envoys. Mr. Assad had begun talking confidently of his essential role in a common struggle against terrorist threats.
“I feel like we have had at least one or two Srebrenica moments in Syria already,” said Robert Kagan, a scholar at the Brookings Institution who has pushed for American action. “The White House has completely hardened itself to whatever horrendous news might come out of Syria because the president doesn’t want to get involved.”
And the outcome won't be good.

It seems now that Iraq and Syria are center stage for conflict between Sunni and Shi'a.

How to bring peace and mitigate the enmity of so many?
 
  • #283
Dotini
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It seems now that Iraq and Syria are center stage for conflict between Sunni and Shi'a.

How to bring peace and mitigate the enmity of so many?
I agree with this premise, and with the difficulty of the question.

I would ask about the historical and religious basis for the Sunni/Shi'a conflict. Why are two branches of the same religion engaged in genocide with each other? What's wrong with them?

Does ultra-conservative Saudi Wahhabism play an important role in stage managing this conflict from the periphery? It seems to me the Shi'a in Syria are much more culturally liberal, to judge by attitudes in Damascus towards western clothing, shaving, alcohol, for example, and therefore quite decadent in the eyes of conservatives. In the past, heresy has been used as justification for very strong measures.
 
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  • #284
Astronuc
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I agree with this premise, and with the difficulty of the question.

I would ask about the historical and religious basis for the Sunni/Shi'a conflict. Why are two branches of the same religion engaged in genocide with each other? What's wrong with them?
I don't want this to become a religious discussion, but here is some history care of the BBC.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/subdivisions/sunnishia_1.shtml

One could wonder about the Protestant-Catholic or other sectarian conflicts. It seems there are political and cultural aspects as well.
 
  • #285
nsaspook
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From the Times:
Ahmed al-Ahmed, an activist in central Syria, said through Skype: “The report is nothing new for us. It just documented what has been going on all along.”
“There were many photos before these that were even worse,” he said.
Sadly very true, it's pretty tame stuff when compared to the mass murders in Africa like the Rwandan Genocide where the 'West' had a mixed and sorry involvement.
 
  • #286
russ_watters
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So I guess the pendulum of caring has swung back to where our official stance appears to be to pretend not to notice the atrocities. After crashing and burning when he tried the stance of caring about the chemical weapons attacks, there's really nothing else Obama can do now now but ignore anything/everything happening there.
 
  • #287
Dotini
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Over the weekend, an Egyptian military helicopter with 5 soldiers aboard was shot down with a MANPAD, or man-portable surface-to-air missile, by militants in the north Sinai, near Gaza.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/27/w...ptian-helicopter-killing-5-soldiers.html?_r=0
“This is what everyone has long assumed could happen, and it is a confirmation of those fears — that substantial and advanced weaponry came into the country in the aftermath of the Libyan war,”
 
  • #288
lisab
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An article this week in Reuters highlighted the sectarian nature of Syria's war:

"If you think all these mujahideen came from across the world to fight Assad, you're mistaken," said a Sunni Muslim jihadi who uses the name Abu Omar and fights in one of the many anti-Assad Islamist brigades in Aleppo.

"They are all here as promised by the Prophet. This is the war he promised - it is the Grand Battle," he told Reuters, using a word which can also be translated as slaughter.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/01/us-syria-crisis-prophecy-insight-idUSBREA3013420140401

I think the West was wrong to let the use of chemical weapons go without severe consequences, and this article doesn't change my feelings about that. But if this article is even half correct, and the Syrian War is actually a religious war, what can any "outsider" possibly do to stop the violence?
 
  • #289
nsaspook
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President Bashar al-Assads father and him ran mainly secular dictatorships and the last thing they wanted was religious jihad forces fighting in the country diluting their absolute control of the people in the major cities. Outside the major cities there was plenty of religious and social tension between the groups but they knew that the army would come down on them like a ton of bricks if the religious forces fought internally instead of directing their efforts with AL-Qaeda allied groups inside external targets like Iraq. Now that these groups of Islamic Fundamentalists have internalized the fight (with outside help) it's not surprising that Bashar will fight fire with fire.
 
  • #290
Dotini
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An article this week in Reuters highlighted the sectarian nature of Syria's war:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/01/us-syria-crisis-prophecy-insight-idUSBREA3013420140401

I think the West was wrong to let the use of chemical weapons go without severe consequences, and this article doesn't change my feelings about that. But if this article is even half correct, and the Syrian War is actually a religious war, what can any "outsider" possibly do to stop the violence?
Dear lisab,

Thank you for the interesting article regarding apocalyptic Islamic prophecy working itself out in Syria. Your question is a tough one.

With respect to chemical weapons use, I respectfully request your attention to a recent essay by Seymour Hersch. After the reading of it, I would hope that you would be able to revise your feelings about that issue.

Highest regards,
Steve

http://www.lrb.co.uk/2014/04/06/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line
 
  • #292
OmCheeto
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Dear lisab,

Thank you for the interesting article regarding apocalyptic Islamic prophecy working itself out in Syria. Your question is a tough one.
...
It was so tough, that I had to sequester multiple responses yesterday.

But being old, and wise, I knew all of my answers were [STRIKE]wrong[/STRIKE] unacceptable, in a civilized world.

The only sane voice that I ran across yesterday, via wiki, was some old dead dude, from Pakistan. He shares my feelings. These feelings were imparted unto me, via a young man, from Hyderabad, and my own studies of the Quran over the last 15 years, and my studies, yesterday.

Namaste

-------------------------
ps. His initials are G.A.P.
 
  • #293
mheslep
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Regarding Syria, the WSJ published a front page news article today by Entous and Barnes that describes an ongoing baffling conflict between the US Military and .... the US Dept of State.

Frustrated by the stalemate in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry has been pushing for the U.S. military to be more aggressive in supporting the country's rebel forces. Opposition has come from the institution that would spearhead any such effort: the Pentagon...
This immediately prompts the question, why doesn't the President set the policy, at least for the moment? The article makes a single sentence, single paragraph statement:

It isn't clear where Mr. Obama stands.
which sounds a description of some eccentric 3rd world leadership, not the US executive.
 
  • #294
nsaspook
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This immediately prompts the question, why doesn't the President set the policy, at least for the moment? The article makes a single sentence, single paragraph statement:

which sounds a description of some eccentric 3rd world leadership, not the US executive.
The State Dept. has plenty of forces (DOD SOF units) to enable the rebels in Syria but the President IMO has decided it's not a priority right now. The operations end of the 'Military' wants nothing to do with Syria on the ground (arming people they are fighting in other parts of the world) after two wars in that area hated by all sides and has powerful friends in congress (both D&R) that agree with that point of view. John Kerry of all people knows how it works. The Pentagon is too blunt an instrument for current Syrian operations unless we really want to level the place and I'm pretty sure any plan they give will be overkill (by design) on the need for massive amounts of troops and equipment with a dollar cost to match.
 
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  • #295
mheslep
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The State Dept. has plenty of forces (DOD SOF units) to enable the rebels in Syria but the President IMO has decided it's not a priority right now. The operations end of the 'Military' wants nothing to do with Syria on the ground (arming people they are fighting in other parts of the world) after two wars in that area hated by all sides and has powerful friends in congress (both D&R) that agree with that point of view. John Kerry of all people knows how it works. The Pentagon is too blunt an instrument for current Syrian operations unless we really want to level the place and I'm pretty sure any plan they give will be overkill (by design) on the need for massive amounts of troops and equipment with a dollar cost to match.
The reference stated there is no indication that the President has decided anything on this issue. Clearly the US DoS has no access to any forces aside from its own security needs (and those too have been sometimes insufficient)
 
  • #296
nsaspook
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The reference stated there is no indication that the President has decided anything on this issue. Clearly the US DoS has no access to any forces aside from its own security needs (and those too have been sometimes insufficient)
They would have access to anything they really needed if they had a plan that would stabilize the region instead of just increasing the level of violence to a stalemate with Assads forces. I see this statement of Kerry as just a warning message to the Syria leadership to stay on track with the Russian plan of CW destruction.
 
  • #297
mheslep
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In response to the August 21 Ghouta attacks which are reported to have killed 1400, the US entered into agreement with Russia and Syria in September 2013 to remove/destroy Syria's chemical weapons. Since then, the French and others have reported another dozen chemical weapons attacks in Syria, this time with chlorine.

Western officials have said in recent weeks that they were aware of reports that the use of chlorine might have occurred more than a dozen times.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said there was strong evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons, including chlorine gas, in 14 small-scale attacks since Syria agreed to join the world’s ban on such weapons last fall.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius accused Syria on Monday of mounting 14 separate attacks using chemical agents, mostly chlorine.
NYT
The State
WSJ
Human[/PLAIN] [Broken] Rights Watch


White House Syria page, most recent entry October last year:

October 31: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced that it is confident no additional chemical agents or munitions can be produced in Syria, having finished the first phase of the elimination process by destroying Syria’s capacity to make chemical weapons.
Apparently the best estimate for all Syrian fatalities is 150,000, and up to 220,000, in Syria since the war began, which includes of course women and children. So where are the tweets?
 
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  • #298
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But...but...there was a Red Line!
 
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  • #299
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But...but...there was a Red Line!
Obama and his administration have lately been the epitome of empty statements. It's a little sad.

If we undoubtedly won't become involved, then we shouldn't make threats or boundaries. If we do make threats and boundaries, we should be prepared to act upon them, lest our future threats go unappreciated.
 

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