Posts Tagged 'Syria'

Cowboy Talk on Syria

1. Those fundamentally to blame for the slaughter in Syria are those carrying it out.
2. That said, Obama’s failure to punish Assad for the use of poison gas in 2013 gave a de facto green light for the killing to go right ahead and the Russians to double down on their involvement. He didn’t do it because he wanted to preserve the Iran nuclear negotiations.
3. Of course the US could have smashed Assad’s air force over the course of the conflict. It also possesses the wherewithal to impose a no-fly-zone over Syria. It could still do so now. The US military can project force on a far greater scale than the Russians.
4. However, neither course would have been free of risks or costs prior to the deepening of Russian involvement and the costs and risks involved would be much greater now.
5. Still, given the scale of the killing those costs and risks, even now would be worth accepting, provided those costs and risks were well understood by all parties beforehand.
6. Cowboy talk and cowboy ideas about how simple and low cost such an intervention might have been or might yet be open the way for disaster on an even greater scale.

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Obama and the Urge to “Do Something” in Syria

I’d like to ask what the thing   that Obama is supposed to do about Syria is but won’t because he is a wuss,  or  whatever. A something that would make Iran  take the US seriously, not lead to the US neglecting risks elsewhere in the world and would stand a  fair chance of reducing the body count over the short/medium term. Some possibilities:

 1. “Send in the drones, Assassinate Assad”

Okay, might take a long time to get him though (remember Saddam), with a risk of US credibility draining public appearances in the meantime.  And HB, the Iranians and the non-trivial number of Syrians who support the regime are going to pack it in because of that? It’s going to make a significant difference to the outcome? It’s going to reduce the body count?

 2. “Establish a NFZ zone or something similar. Look what the Israelis have been able to do.”

 The grave weaknesses of this argument are  extensively dealt with in this article. It’s a little long but you need to read it if you want to talk about what the US should/shouldn’t do in Syria.

 3.  “Arm the rebels”

I guess we’re already doing that. I guess also that we could do it some more. The benefits of this for human rights outcomes in even the short term remain unclear to me.

 4. ” Bomb Assad’s chemical weapons stocks”.

 How many of the 70,000 odd deaths in Syria have been caused by chemical weapons?  If the government (or the rebels) starts using them  on a large scale then we might be in different territory but so far, if we haven’t been moved by the mass slaughter occasioned by the use of conventional weapons then it’s hard to see why we should go to war over this.

“We should do it to deter Iran and because we said we would”, you say. So a couple of quick in and out raids with stand-off weapons like those carried out by the Israelis is going to have them sitting up and taking notice in Tehran? Really?

 “We could do it on a much bigger scale”. Yes, we could, that brings us to …

 5. “Invade Syria, overthrow the regime, rerun the occupation of Iraq but this time do it right”.

Now we’re talking.  Anything less than this isn’t worth doing in terms of the outcomes for Syrians. It’s not clear that doing it is in the US’s interest though and certainly it couldn’t be sold to US public opinion and it’s rather risky in terms of the pressure it might put the US military under when the amount of money it has to spend is being reduced.

So, you are in favor of US intervention in Syria? Great, you are in effect in favor of option 5. TINA



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