Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I am not going to write about Syria (except maybe a teensy, teensy bit)

I had said in an earlier blog post that I wasn't going to write about Syria, and it still goes against my general approach for this blog (that is, I want to try to say something different -- if I just repeat things everyone else says, I don't feel as if I'm accomplishing anything with this blogging project).   The Anchoress has a pretty good summary of the situation which I'd just copy and paste entirely and it would express much of what I feel. There are other blog posts and news commentaries with similar opinions, and I'm sure my reader(s) have read many of these and don't need further links, or another post saying exactly the same thing.

Obama is disowning the "red line" and claiming the "international community" not he, himself, set this red line, despite his prior explicit statement to the contrary.  He is pushing Congress to act not because it's the right thing to do, but in a dysfunctional "you have to back me up" sort of way (like when your spouse tells the kids something that you don't necessarily agree with but go along to present a united front, but with more of a component of bullying).  There is no plan, so far as I can tell, other than "air strikes now, and trust us to figure the rest out as we go."  It's foolhardy to ascribe any value to the claim that Syria's Middle East neighbors support our intervention -- they have their own reasons to do so and have no interest in a free and democratic Syria as the final outcome. 

At the same time, the folks at National Review's The Corner are pretty divided on the subject, with some opposing and some, in a hold-your-nose sort of way, supporting military action. 

And fundamentally, sitting here at the computer, kids tucked into bed, the situation worries me deeply.  I've never been anti-war.  I don't think we should have left Iraq so hastily or be leaving the Afghan women to their fate so easily.  But in this case:  look, the Arab Spring wasn't a Spring.  Maybe it was the spring of 1816 (the Year Without a Summer), or maybe it was completely a false hope.  But the Obama administration clearly has a very faulty understanding of the dynamics of the Middle East (or, as Hot Air puts it, linked to by, "Throughout the Arab Spring, Obama has clearly been playing checkers while everyone in the region plays three-dimensional chess."), and the situation is so complex, with so many competing interests, that even a top scholar of the region would be hard-pressed to truly get it right.  Military action has so many risks -- not in terms of casualties, but in this case, risks of unintentionally producing quite the wrong outcome -- that aren't being acknowledged. 

And there are claims floating around that the rebels actually fired the chemical weapons, or that they're exaggerating the severity of any such attacks and the U.S. is taking these claims at face value with the slimmest of evidence.

If you've made it this far, you'll have figured out that I have no point, no new insight to contribute.  Fundamentally, I feel powerless.  Will Congress weigh all the facts and come to a decision, or be bullied or feel obliged to support the Resolution, out of fear of Obama's reaction?  If Congress votes the Resolution down, will Obama act anyway, or if the Resolution is approved, will Obama act only within its confines? 

And now I'll go see if I can find a nice episode of House Hunters International for the evening.


  1. What he said (and about as eloquently as it could be said):

    "What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by ...(names deleted)...and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

    What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like ...(ditto)... to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income — to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Now let me be clear — I suffer no illusions about ...(ditto).... He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He’s a bad guy. The world, and the ... people, would be better off without him.

    But I also know that ...(ditto)... poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States or to his neighbors, that the ...(ditto)... economy is in shambles, that the ...(ditto)... military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against ...(ditto)... will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of ...(ditto)... without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaida. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.

    -- Barack Obama, Chicago (Oct. 2, 2002)

  2. I'm not a conspiracy theory nut, not a doom-sayer, not chicken little BUT I think this has the potential to become WWIII as we oppose the wishes and national interests of Russia, China, and several 3rd world countries stocked with screaming religious nutcases who have no rational brakes. It starts slowly, with an apparently inconsequential, minor military action.

  3. Russia says Kerry's statement (to Congress) al Qaeda is not in Syria in the resistance is a lie:

    but a beautiful lie

  4. By most estimates, over 100,000 have been killed with shells, explosives, and gunfire in the Syrian Civil War. One can make a moral case for intervention to put a stop to it, but that exactly is what the administration and its supporters for action have not done. As much as I detest the man, only McCain seems to be staking out a moral position here- he is basically saying that if you are going to act, then act to put a stop the bloodshed regardless of how the killing is done, don't just take meaningless action.

    Now, having written that, I don't know that there is anything the US can actually do here that is beneficial to the Syrian people, and so I have to take the position to let the Syrians sort it out, even if they would rather kill each other.


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I've set the comments up to allow anonymous users -- but I'd love it if you "signed" your comments (as some of my readers have done) just so you have an identity of sorts.