Friday, August 30, 2013

War on Syria??

Syria has been undergoing a bloody civil war. Over 100,000 people are said to have died. There are numerous rebel groups which are opposed to the Assad regime. However these groups are not exactly all a ragtag bunch of reluctant revolutionaries who sadly took up the gun and look forward to ending the war to return home and peacefully live out their days on a Tatooine moisture farm. Many of them are a pretty nasty bunch, who when they aren't enjoying such activities as cannibalism on government troops or gang rapes of women (and boys/men/girls too for that matter), are often seeking ways to impose Islamic rule over the previously secular Syria. Well that is Sunni Islamic rule. The Assad regime, despite being secular, is from the Alawite branch of Islam, and is considered akin to apostate or heretic by some fundamentalist Sunnis. This conflict isn't only a political revolution but also has ethnic and religious undertones. This last is of course being funded and fanned by our very good friends, the Saudis. Ironically of course the Muslim Brotherhood and associated groups, whom we claim to despise in Egypt, form some of the opposition in Syria. So does Al-Quaeda. Hezbollah, a Lebanese primarily Shia group, has come to the aid of the Syrian regime, without asking the Lebanese people if that was a good idea. Israel has bombed what it claimed were Syrian weapons transfers to Hezbollah. Iran and Syria have threatened Israel. Syrian Kurds, unpopular with and worried by all of the sides in the conflict have been fleeing to Iraq. Well, that is they've been fleeing to the northern portion of Iraq, which is heavily ethnically Kurdish and has enjoyed a sort of de facto home rule from the rest of Iraq. Greater numbers of Kurds could eventually pull Iraq back into a new civil war if the northern section gets emboldened to declare formal independence. Syrian refugees of all ethnicities and faiths have been fleeing the country. Both the rebels and the government have committed atrocities.

Allegedly the Syrian government used chemical weapons. I doubt that claim. It wouldn't make sense as they've been winning the war as of late. There are some issues with the evidence, not least of which is that the Secretary of State can only publicly offer youtube videos as casus belli. It's unclear as to who used chemical weapons and even if they were used. Still anything is possible. The US may or may not attack Syria in the next few days or even the next few hours. I don't know. I'm not invited to the meetings where those decisions are discussed. Neither are you in all likelihood.

This is, to quote noted foreign policy expert Yogi Berra, deja vu all over again. I don't have time or interest frankly to list all of the arguments against US involvement. You can read some of them here in the post on Libya. I'm trying to write shorter posts anyway.

No I will just raise a few issues here.
First off I agree with the man who said this :
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
Imagine if we had such a person in office today
  • By what authority does this President muse attacking Syria?
  • Next what is the point of attacking Syria? What is the US interest? Syria has not attacked the US. I have no doubt that the US can successfully drop bombs/fire missiles anywhere in Syria with zero or minimal US casualties. Then what?
  • What is the political impact of bombing Syria? Is that going to make Russia and China more or less amenable to listening to us on issues where we need their assistance? Will other countries decide that they need to either upgrade their air defense forces or more likely go nuclear? After all, you must have noticed although North Korea has a fat crazy dumpling of a Fearless Leader, nobody is talking about bombing North Korea. North Korea has nukes and deliberately gives off the impression that they're itching to use them.
  • Does the fact that Russia is moving additional warships to the Eastern Mediterranean concern anyone? 
  • The American people are overwhelmingly against it. Is that of any interest to politicians?
  • There are many violent struggles in the world, including some against rulers we support. What makes this one our business?
  • If the US does attack Syria would it be time to just drop the pretense and admit that some of us don't think that the people in the Middle East are smart enough to run their own affairs?
  • Do the people claiming that only a barbarian uses chemical weapons feel the same about nuclear weapons usage? If not why not? Why is it okay to incinerate people and not okay to gas them? Similarly why is it a bad thing to line up people against a wall and gun them down but just fine to drop bombs on them from three miles up and never see, hear or smell the effects of what you do? Are chemical weapons worse than depleted uranium usage? Why or why not?
None of this is meant to defend the Syrian government. But I'm not sure Syria is any nastier than Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Bahrain or any of the other nations funding the rebels for their own reasons. The Middle East is not exactly a region known for toleration of peaceful dissent. And no matter how they gained power there are few governments anywhere in the world who won't respond in kind when peaceful dissent turns violent. I say if other countries wish to intervene in Syria and likely bring about either a new military dictatorship or a fundamentalist Islamic state they are free to spend their own money, resources and lives. I'm not seeing why the US needs to be involved. And thanks to democratic blowback over a rush to judgment in Iraq, it looks like the UK may be prevented from tagging along this time as well. I think that it's past time that Congress put its foot down and wrestled back war making authority from the Executive Branch. But as always I could be woefully wrong. Let me know.

What's your take? 

Should the US do something? 

Was there a chemical attack? 

Do we owe something to the Syrian people?

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