Posts Tagged 'WMD'

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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