Archive for August, 2013

How far are we willing to go? (Updated)

August 28, 2013

OK, so there’s this:

There is a chorus of criticism over the pending action from those who argue that it will not resolve the conflict in Syria and fear that any action taken will lead to the kind of protracted on-the-ground involvement that has proved so costly and fruitless in Iraq and Afghanistan. These critiques are misguided. There is no reason why targeted and carefully proscribed, but nonetheless potent, air attacks could not effectively deliver a message to Assad that these abuses must stop. His air defenses can be targeted. His weapons stores can be targeted. Economic assets associated with his closest associates, upon which his regime depends, can be targeted. This last approach — targeting the financial backers and cutting off money stream — is what ultimately proved to tip the scales most effectively in the former Yugoslavia during the 1999 bombings known within NATO as Operation Allied Force. This was an example of successful but limited use of air power without ground support that advanced a specific goal — in that case, the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo. (Ironically, tellingly, the rationale President Bill Clinton’s administration gave for the bombing included the fear that failing to undertake it could be a disaster in Kosovo that could claim some 100,000 lives — the same total lost to date in Syria.)

So to be clear, we can bomb them and then they will know that we can bomb them. Some more. Agreed. That is what they will know. Also, Syria is not Yugoslavia. The Serbians didn’t have a defense system meant to counter the Israeli air force.

What is really breaking my brain right now is reading people I respect make the American Exceptionist case:

If it is true that the regime killed hundreds of civilians with nerve gas in a Damascus suburb last week — and Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Monday that the use of chemical weapons is “undeniable” — then Obama has no choice. Such use cannot be tolerated, and any government or group that employs chemical weapons must be made to suffer real consequences. Obama should uphold this principle by destroying some of Assad’s military assets with cruise missiles.

This is a case in which somebody has to be the world’s policeman.

Says who sir? You?

But, what if in being bombed, that is, they become desperate because, well, we just bombed them, and so in desperation they use that pile of chemical weapons we are told they have. I mean, why the hell not at that point?

How far are we willing to go? Once we drop bombs we are fully committed. As is stated above, anything can be targeted. Never mind that those targets include human beings, that collateral damage thing we occasionally hear about.

Where do we draw the red line on our own actions? If the civil war continues to worsen, we will be expected to escalate our response. We will already ‘be there’.

Once we jump into this we are in. Into a civil war that can more accurately be described as chaos. We would be bombing amongst other things targets that would weaken the capabilities of a regime on the side of Russia, China, Hezbollah and Iran, which would have the effect of allowing a highly fractured, and increasingly radicalized, rebel force to, um, suddenly shit a collective rainbow and get along?

I am starting to have flashbacks. I am pretty sure we went through this fairly recently. Has one person actually came out and said there is conclusive proof of these chemical attacks? Or who perpetuated them?

And let’s say they did happen, and the Assad regime committed these crimes. OK. Now what? We bomb, then maybe bomb again. The regime retreats to the coast, doing what ever it takes to get there. Possibly. Then what? Do we sit by and let more ethnic cleansing happen? You think it won’t?

Never mind the battles between rebel forces already happening, never mind that no one seems to know how to deal with the massive refugee issue that is surely to arise from our actions as they intensify. And they will.

Or that no matter what we do we will still be hated even more in the region. Somehow our actions will be used to recruit more terrorists.

Will Russia, China, Hezbollah, and Iran respond? In what ways? Again, how far are we willing to go? And for that matter what concessions are we willing to make to ensure they don’t?

If we do this, we have to acknowledge the fact that we may very well become bogged down, that we will be on the hook for more support, possibly ground troops regardless of what anyone says right now. We have to accept that we will have to help rebuild, and we haven’t proven successful in that endeavor as of late.

Or we don’t, and end up looking like dicks for blowing up their infrastructure, which anyone will need to rebuild.

So what’s our commitment? Drop a few bombs? Make a point? What point exactly? That we can?

Then what? I highly doubt Assad has any plans to surrender. So we are in this till when exactly? And if other countries decide to back him, what is our game plan? And most importantly, what imminent threat does all this pose to the US?

Well, that’s my peace. I would hope it doesn’t happen but I am tired of being disappointed.

Update – Here is a lot more background on the groups involved in Syria.