The latest on Syria

 
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The latest on Syria

I haven't written anything on Syria, largely because we don't have an explicit position (UPDATE, see below), and whatever I write will be outdated by the time anyone reads it.  Events on this are happening so fast that they are getting outstripped almost immediately.  Nonetheless, today has a few interesting developments.

You'll recall President Obama's "Red Line" statement on Syria from a year ago (August 20, 2012):

“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” the president said a year ago last week. “That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”

Today the President is being challenged by some on the Red Line statement, and is defending himself apparently, per the Weekly Standard which has the video:

"First of all, I didn't set a red line," said Obama. "The world set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world's population said the use of chemical weapons are [inaudble] and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are engaged in war. Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty. Congress set a red line when it indicated that in a piece of legislation entitled the Syria Accountability Act that some of the horrendous things happening on the ground there need to be answered for. So, when I said in a press conference that my calculus about what's happening in Syria would be altered by the use of chemical weapons, which the overwhelming consensus of humanity says is wrong, that wasn't something I just kind of made up. I didn't pluck it out of thin air. There's a reason for it."

He's clearly right for some of it.  I'm not saying I understand why one cause of death is so much worse than any other, but clearly the world community decided it was when it passed the Chemical Weapons Treaty.  And this isn't a DEM v. GOP thing, as was made clear when Speaker of the House Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor agreed with the President.  In fact, the latter specifically agreed with the President (via HotAir.com):

The United States’ broader policy goal, as articulated by the President, is that Assad should go, and President Obama’s redline is consistent with that goal and with the goal of deterring the use of weapons of mass destruction. It is the type of redline virtually any American President would draw. Now America’s credibility is on the line. A failure to act when acting is in America’s interests and when a red line has been so clearly crossed will only weaken our ability to use diplomacy, economic pressure, and other non-lethal tools to remove Assad and deter Iran and other aggressors.

Note that the UN Secretary General isn't particularly keen on the idea of strikes not authorized by the UN.  Nevertheless, the part about "Regime Change" is a sort of new development, which many are ascribing to trying to win over more GOP supporters:

While stressing that Washington's primary goal remained "limited and proportional" attacks, to degrade Syria's chemical weapons capabilities and deter their future use, the president hinted at a broader long-term mission that may ultimately bring about a change of regime.

"It also fits into a broader strategy that can bring about over time the kind of strengthening of the opposition and the diplomatic, economic and political pressure required – so that ultimately we have a transition that can bring peace and stability, not only to Syria but to the region," he told senior members of Congress at a White House meeting on Tuesday.

Obama has long spoken of the US desire to see Assad step down, but this is the first time he has linked that policy objective to his threatened military strikes against Syria. It follows pressure on Monday, from senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, to make such a goal more explicit.

It appears to have worked based on the response from both House and Senate GOP leadership. 

Meanwhile, the Senate is looking at how they are crafting the Authorization for Military Force:

Among other provisions, the draft, which was obtained by Reuters, sets a 60-day limit on U.S. military action in Syria, with a possibility of a single 30-day extension subject to conditions.

Obama is asking Congress to back his call for limited U.S. strikes on Syria to punish President Bashar al-Assad for his suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians during a civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people.

The compromise deal reached by Senator Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the panel, and Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican, includes a provision banning any use of U.S. armed forces on the ground in Syria, according to the draft document.

I'm not a huge fan of any of this, but that last part is somewhat troubling to me.  Why are we explicitely taking things off the table before we even begin?  Is telegraphing our own "red lines" a good tactic?  I don't want ground troops in there anymore than anyone else does, but banning it before we start seems myopic to me.  What if something arises that neccessitates special forces guys on the ground directing strikes, but we've said they are ruled out.  For that matter, would this be entirely binding?  In his role of Commander in Chief, isn't the President the one who decides what is needed?  A sense of Congress might have served a better distinction here than alerting our "enemy" that, "hey, don't worry that there'll be people guiding in our missiles."  The first time we hit on a non-military target through bad INTEL there'll be people clammoring for our heads.

On top of that, are we sure the rebels are the good guys?  Some don't seem certain of that:

More than two years into Syria’s civil war, radical Sunni Islamists are emerging as the prevalent force seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad, according to military analysts in Europe and the Middle East. Their influence is among the biggest challenges facing the U.S. and allies such as Saudi Arabia as they decide which anti-Assad forces to back and how.

“Two of the most powerful insurgent factions in Syria are al-Qaeda factions,” Evan Kohlmann, senior partner at Flashpoint Partners in New York, said by telephone. “Even were the Assad regime to fall and there be some kind of takeover by rebels, there’s not a clear understanding that everyone here will be able to agree and form any kind of government.”

Again, The American Legion doesn't have a specific policy or resolution on this (UPDATE, see below), so I am more curious what you guys think.  It's making strange bedfellows, that much can't be denied, and the "good guys" don't seem all that good.  But can we just sit back while chemical weapons are deployed?  I just don't know....

 

UPDATE:  Looks like I jumped the gun, as Senator McCain has come out AGAINST the proposal....because it doesn't go far enough.

McCain, who has long favored stepped-up U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil  war, said he opposes the resolution crafted by fellow Sens. Bob Menendez of New  Jersey and Bob Corker of Tennessee. The resolution puts a 90-day limit on action  and says no American troops can be sent to Syria.

McCain reportedly wants more than cruise missile strikes and "limited"  action; he wants to tilt the direction of the civil war. He has, though, said he  doesn't want combat troops on the ground in Syria.

 UPDATE x2:  Turns out we do have a position on this, somehow I missed it when it went around.

American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger is urging Congress to consider national interests carefully before deciding whether or not to take military action against Syria.

"While we have not addressed the Syrian situation as such, we commend Congress for its due diligence under its Constitutional authority," Dellinger said. "The American Legion also urges Congress and President Obama to be guided in their decisions by principles outlined in our organization’s relevant resolutions. That is, American national interests should be clearly identified and defined before military action is taken."

 

 

Posted in the burner | 39 comments
 
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Comments

not just no but hell no. Those who choose to ignore history are doomed to repeat it!!!!!

I am opposed to doing anything in Syria, even thought they are most likely using chemical weapons. Remember Iraq: We get rid of Saddam and the Sunnis' and Shittes go after each other. Hell, we freed the Shittes from Saddam's murderous schemes and now they are stating they will hurt US interests in he middle East. We can't win, whatever we do. Many Muslims hate us already, so let the Arab League enter the fray and straighten things out.

Before we insert ourselves in Syria's civil war, I would like to see definitive evidence that this gas was released by government forces and not by the opposition. The government had nothing to gain by its use, while the rebels did. In either case, Syria as a threat to us remains the same no matter which side wins. Syria has not, so far, provided poison gas to Moslem jihadists. The rebels, if victorious, will certainly do so. If we arm the rebels, we will surely once again see those weapons used against us. We have already supported revolutions across north africa to replace regimes with governments more antagonistic towards us than the ones we helped them overthrow. When the radical muslims control all of north africa and the middle east we can all have a big group hug...

The only credibility at stake is that of one B. Hussein Obama, NOT the USA. He's a rogue Muslim Brotherhood operative and is hell bent on destroying the USA. If We The People keep pretending he is a legitimate POTUS, we'll be serving as an enabler to our own destruction as a nation. IMPEACH that usurper now.

Let's mow our own lawns... stay out of the Middle East ... let the oil industries protect their "interests", they have enough money to do so .... Get out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and use our military here in the U.S.A. on our own borders to PROTECT this country ... we are going to have to do it eventually. We are being hated, increasingly so, in the whole Middle East ... We had better mind our own business, our own problems, our own economy, our in-country industrials that can provide more jobs for U.S. citizens who need work. We are not in agreement with Great Britain on this Syrian 'strike' and that should be a clue to Washington that one most important ally will not go with us on this one, so stay the 'hail' out of Syria.... Who is he kidding?... Strike Syria on a 'limited' scale?... and this will not bring about more wanted retribution from the people in the Middle East who already hate us?
We cannot help a people who don't want us to help them, as all they want is for us to supply them with guns, etc., They don't want us to do anything that will change their society .... They want to mow their own lawns as they have for hundreds of years..... We should stay home and tend our own lawns.
I'm 84, but I'd run for President if I thought there would be a chance.... and I would bring this country back the respect that it once had.

I agree with you "Semper Fi", tend our own lawn and let theirs burn in the hell hole they created. From Korea thru Afghanastain we Americans have tried to pour democracy down the throats of every nationality against their will and they always puke on us. Stay home and save our men/women and the $10 billion dollars that will go farther here in good old USA.

We have nothing at all to gain by getting involved in a Syrian conflict, and everything to lose. None of the factions involved have expressed the slightest love for the US, in fact they have shown quite the reverse. The enemy of my enemy is NOT automatically your friend, not in the 21st century.

Stay out of Syria, Mr. President, unless you plan to go in person and on your own.

It's a "civil war" between Assad and the rebels, both of which are our enemies. Why therefore would we be so stupid as to become involved?? Our President wants to save face. Is that worth aiding our enemies? I think not, and at the same time, I pray for God's help for all our world.

Proceed with caution???? Are you guys serious? Really, caution???? How about just saying HELL NO! This is BS. What has happened to the former American Legion?

It appears, from their statement, that the American Legion lacks real leaders at the helm. I don't understand the statement, "Proceed with caution". Dammit, take a real stand on this issue. What will we gain by sending more of our troops in harm's way? Lets drill our own oil and get the hell out of the Middle East!

Lets not forget where Russia stands in all of this. Stay out of Syria. Get the troops out of the middle east. We should be focusing our resources in becoming energy independent of the middle east and protecting our borders and cleaning up our country!

Say out of civil unrest. If we intervene we promote the Muslim Brotherhood.
Listen to this guy talk. cbn dot com/tv/1509282970001
Scratch Belgium for a place to live or go on vacation !!!
When we lived in Belgium 1977 - 1980, it was a great place to live and work.
Will we let Muslim leaders in DC bring Sharia Law to the USA?

Say out of civil unrest. If we intervene we promote the Muslim Brotherhood.
Listen to this guy talk. cbn dot com/tv/1509282970001
Scratch Belgium for a place to live or go on vacation !!!
When we lived in Belgium 1977 - 1980, it was a great place to live and work.
Will we let Muslim leaders in DC bring Sharia Law to the USA?

Stay out of Syria's civil war, haven't we given enough blood for to a region of the world who's people kill each other base upon their religious beliefs ?

Oboma isn't this stupid. Actually he's as cunning as they come. He knows the Republicians in congress have no limit to their stupidty He wants us to use our military might because he knows his Muslim Brotherhood will advance. On their intentions to rule the world. The Republicians are so inept it's shameful. Dwight McMurray

No. Period.

Take care of our depleted uranium infected veterans. Bring the militari Industrial Complex under control or face much more Social Unrest.

Notice that every single comment on the issue is "stay out of Syria". Our representatives are supposed to be just that "OUR representatives". Why would they even consider doing what is against nearly 100% of our wishes to get involved in something that does not benefit the US in any way whatsoever. Stay out of Syria!!!

The United States has no national interests at risk. The use of U.S. military force as an instrument of national power to "spank" another sovereign nation is nothing less than an act of war. War is hell. People die. Think about it. The Obama administration needs to sit on their hands and shut up. This from a retired Air Force officer. Been there - Done that! Don't do it again!

We are dealing with a President who through calls himself a Christian was raised in a Muslim society. We know what that infers don't we. This middle east business is Biblical and we have a president and commander in chief who is non Biblical. He has no clue.

Zech. 12:2-3 2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.

3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces.

Let's stay clear of this conflict which is all about Muslem problems and the hatred of Israel, our friends.

We are dealing with a President who through calls himself a Christian was raised in a Muslim society. We know what that infers don't we. This middle east business is Biblical and we have a president and commander in chief who is non Biblical. He has no clue.

Zech. 12:2-3 2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.

3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces.

Let's stay clear of this conflict which is all about Muslem problems and the hatred of Israel, our friends.

We are dealing with a President who through calls himself a Christian was raised in a Muslim society. We know what that infers don't we. This middle east business is Biblical and we have a president and commander in chief who is non Biblical. He has no clue.

Zech. 12:2-3 2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.

3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces.

Let's stay clear of this conflict which is all about Muslem problems and the hatred of Israel, our friends.

All we have to do is wait until 2017 and the Republicans will get this thing straightened out. They always jump the gun.
G.W. Bush started all this when we went into Iraq, just like a hornets nest, you mess with it and you will get stung.
We will be fighting Muslim terrorist for decades unless we do something to get their attention.
Go or stay out, you are damned if you do and damned if you don`t
Who makes the decision, Congress, Senate, President or the people of the United States??

Let these 2 factions continue to kill one another. Neither side represents any respect for the USA. Besides, with the advent of new fracking techniques, the USA will soon be more independent on both Oil and natural gas. We should be spending our $$ on developing our own country, and get Governor Cuomo to open up fracking in NY State, like Ohio, PA, ND, & WV have already done. ND now has the best economy in the USA, more jobs than they can fill, plenty of hope and are off to the races in the OIl & Gas industry. Too bad Cuomo is holding back NY State with the worst economy & highest taxes in the USA

If Syria has moved most of its forces into civilian areas how many civilians will our missiles kill. Maybe more then there gas attack did. So now who will be the bigger force of evil.

The Navy League has an article stating the lessons learned from a similar situation between Russia and the United States in the Med. Perhaps these lessons learned are helpful to policy and decision makers today.

There are no good guys in that country. When your enemies are committing suicide, stay out of their way. Think about past word wars--would we have supported Germany, Italy, Japan? If they had attacked each other, let them. The more they kill each other, the less anyone else will have to.
O'bomber drew the line. It is his line. Not ours.

Currently the only excuse the administration is using as an threat to us is that if we don't attack now, after the President has drawn a "red line", our credibility in the Middle East will suffer, especially with Iran. In my opinion what any Arab or Muslim leader in the Middle East thinks about our credibility is not a threat to our National Interests. If Iran thinks they can develop Nuclear Weapons just because we don't attack Syria now then they are stupid. A nuclear threat from Iran does directly threaten our and Israel's national interests, nothing Syria does while they kill each other in a Civil War. We need to stay out of Syria unless they directly threaten our allies or American citizens. Any Military action by us in Syria could actually be the spark for a broader war that could force us to actually put a lot of our "boots on the ground" helping defend Israel. We should focus on the real threat, Iraq, and let Syria resolve their own problems. Now all this said, if the UN declares that Syria has stepped over the "red line" then the game changes and we should be a part of a UN action in Syria, but we should not unilaterally elect ourselves as the "World's Policeman."

I misspoke in my comment above. I meant Iran is the real threat, not Iraq. Obama trying to save face and his credibility because he made a stupid "red line" statement a year ago and that is no reason to start a possible WWIII. He should be taking his case to the UN not our Congress. We don't want to be the World's Policeman, it's hard enough and expensive enough just policing our own national interests. It's obvious the President and his advisers are naive at best and ignorant at worst. Any US military action in Syria could bring on the last and worst nuclear world war. It may happen anyway, but our action doesn't need to be the catalyst.

All of this - 9/11, Benghazi, and now this Syria fiasco is Thesis/Antithesis leading to Synthesis; a Hegalian Dialectic if you will to breakdown our resolve to realizing the authority of our Constitution. We do not belong in the affairs of other country's and when we do it will be for actual protection of our nation and not someone else's. As we continue to meddle in the affairs of another country our thoughts stray from the fact that our Congress is in charge of making war and NOT the POTUS. As the MSM continues to foster a position of reporting world events and refuses to be the watchdog it is supposed to be we lose. Because of this all attention is trained away from the fact most all of the US wants a 'Hands-off' policy in the region and "life goes on as normal for the Belt-way crowd". We will not see anything good come out of this for anyone and we will be drawn further into conflict with the Middle East nations. This is the end my friends.

I hate to see us get involved in another part of that region, however, Obama's anticks are causing the world to start losing respect for the United States of America, the greatest nation in the world!

Neil, the answer is to get drop our current Leader and elect someone with a little common sense and respect for our Constitution and laws. Obama violates his oath every time he tells the Justice Department to ignore or not enforce our laws. He should be impeached.

How many 9-11s do you people need before you wake up? If they do to their own people, could we be next? Are these the same WMDs we never found in Iraq? The more time waste arguing about it the more time they have to use it. It's a race we can't afford to lose.

let us fold our tents in the mid east and get home. we fought our civil war 150 years ago and now let the people of the middle east fight theirs. we just dont know who the good guys are (if there is any)

The world disagrees who released the chemicals. 900 plus groups fighting. Christians are being attacked--not by the government. It is a complete mess and tangles. No line of who is the good fighters or terrorist fighters. Most countries, UN, every day people in U.S. and elsewhere are against this. The Pope sent a message to the G20, and he was against it. The release of chemical would have helped the terrorist the most by drawing in the U.S. The good guys McCain took a picture with while over in Syria, was not. Best reason, against the Consitution.

As an ex Army Vietnam era veteran I have grown tired of war just like many millions of other americans . The political hawks calling for US military involvement and the political doves preaching otherwise . Syria is not a threat to the United States or it"s allies . Why for God's sake do we want to involve ourselves in another endless war which could involve more than just Syria . Folks we need a reality check . The president wants us to provide a so called police action aganist a country we have no intrest in . If you folks recall Korea was initally a police action as was Vietnam ! Where did that get us ? Hey I believe in God and country but this isn't our fight ! Between Iraq & Afganistian nothing was
really accomplished . Both will revert back to their tribal differences over time . My question is why does our current president seek intervention and ? Sure in the last 2 years thousands of people have died in this conflict and poison gas should never be used under any circumstances these munitions should have been destroyed many years ago . The Geneva Convention outlawed it"s use a long time ago . Why do these countries still possess it ? You just kind of reach a point where you think the world has gone mad and the inmates are in charge of the aslym . I have been hardened by war and it"s outcome and suffered many losses in Vietnam . But to engage in Syria is maddness . The president is now a lame duck politically but the current congress will be up for re-election . It's time to return to some sanity and pride in our country .

ALOHA DEATH AND CRIPPLING BY GAS IS A TORTUROUS DEATH OR DISABILITY, SO ONE DEATH IS NOT THE SAME AS ANY OTHER DEATH. IT IS A SADISTIC WEAPON. SO ALL CB WEAPONS SHOULD BE TOTALLY ELIMINATED ALMOST NO MATTER HOW. OBAMA CHOOSING TO USE MILITARY ACTION DEPENDS ON SPECIFICALLY WHAT THE ACTION IS, AND OF COURSE CANNOT BE SPECIFICALLY RELEASED TO THE GENERAL PUXBLIC, US AND EVIL PEOPLE. BEFORE WE CAN GIVE A VALID OPINION ONE NEEDS TO KNOW THE SPECIFICS OF THE MILITARY ACTIONS, TARGETS, ETC. AND THE INTENDED CONSEQUENCES AND A WELL THOUGHT OUT PROJECTION OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.
SINCE WE THE PUBLIC CORRECTLY GET ALL OF THESE, IT IS FOOLISH FOR US TO THINK WE CAN MAKE THIS PRESIDENTIAL WEIGHTY DECISION THOUGH WE ALMOST ALL AGREE ABOUT THE TOTAL ELIMINATION OF CB WEAPONS IN ADVERSARY OR POSSIBLE ADVERSARY CONTROL. USA HAS BEEN TOO BURNED BY BAD DECISIONS OF PAST PRESIDENTS, KOREA, VIETNAM, IRAQ, ETC. THOSE INSTANCES WERE MUCH DIFFERENT THAN THE PRESENT SYRIA PROBLEM.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.