Waiting for Halabja

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112 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    What’s the endgame, though? Egypt? (It seems to me that the likely outcome is Egypt.)

    If they’re merely going to move from this to Egyptian-style democracy, why do they need our help to do it?Report

    • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to Jaybird says:

      What’s the endgame, though?

      Short term a Syrian state that isn’t violating a raft of international obligations (targeting civilians, torturing children, using chemical weapons, etc). Clearly negotiations for post-Assad governance will be difficult, and the US clearly has a particular set of goals for how that regime would be positioned in the Middle East (less favorable towards Iran). But in my view, the nearest hurdle is arresting the Assad regimes ability to continue committing crimes.

      Long term, all the good stuff of the 2012 Geneva Communique (pdf), pluralistic democracy, calm, safety for all, etc., etc.

      why do they need our help to do it?

      Because the current government of Syria sees fit to barrel through a bunch of norms, international laws, and standards of decency that are considered fundamental to the post-WWII word.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Creon Critic says:

        It seems to me that it’s equally likely that we’d play the same game that we did in Iraq. Win the “war” in a matter of weeks, lose the peace over the next decade, pour billions of dollars (and atheist god knows how many liters of blood) into the sand on behalf of people who will resent the crap out of us for doing so *AND*, on top of that, we’ll be putting our thumb in Russia’s eye at the same time.

        And the absolute *BEST* case scenario seems to me to be the same amount of pluralistic democracy, calm, safety for all, etc., etc. as Egypt has managed.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

          Don’t get me wrong: if I thought that Syria would end up the way that we were promised Iraq would end up, I’d be more open-minded on the topic.

          I just think that instead of Syria ending up the way that we were promised Iraq would end up, Syria will end up the way Iraq ended up.Report

        • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to Jaybird says:

          The Bush administration demonstrated an utterly jaw dropping level of mismanagement and incompetence in post-Saddam Iraq, among other things due to bureaucratic politics battles Colin Powell lost. State Department planning set aside in favor of truly bizarre politically motivated appointments, or another for instance, where having a strong conservative pedigree mattered far more than having expertise on a subject.

          I agree the post-Assad Syria will be a difficult situation, but that isn’t an excuse to permit atrocities now. A series of steps can be taken to limit the ability of the regime to use air power, through no-fly or no-drive zones. Also possible is setting up safe zones, or humanitarian corridors, to better shield civilians from misconduct. I disagree with just holding Iraq up as an exemplar of what intervention looks like, there are other cases like Bosnia and Kosovo that have yielded far better results. Even in the face of Russian intransigence (Kosovo).Report

          • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Creon Critic says:

            Having had the opportunity to visit Syria, and having a good friend who has family trapped in Syria, I fully empathize with your position. The situation is agonizing.but I think you’re struggling with the nirvana fallacy, comparing this current real world catastrophe to a hypothetical much-improved future. But where is the evidence that we will achieve that better future through intervention? The track record is not good.

            This is, I think, one of the most excruciating problems for humanitarians: seeing what is happening, knowing that in a better world something could and would be done about it, but realizing that in this world the “could” is so often just a wish, nit a reality.Report

          • Avatar Barry in reply to Creon Critic says:

            “The Bush administration demonstrated an utterly jaw dropping level of mismanagement and incompetence in post-Saddam Iraq, among other things due to bureaucratic politics battles Colin Powell lost. State Department planning set aside in favor of truly bizarre politically motivated appointments, or another for instance, where having a strong conservative pedigree mattered far more than having expertise on a subject. ”

            And how many of the same voices are saying the same things now? You’re assuming that a new administration means disregarding the history of these things.Report

      • Avatar amspirnational in reply to Creon Critic says:

        Yeah, right. Israel has been “violating a raft of international obligations” for the past decades.

        Did the US move it out of Samaria and the West Bank like it moved Iraq out of Kuwait?

        This is more positional propaganda that makes me suspect Israel considers the Assad-Hezbollah-Iran the most dangerous enemy just now. Why not,after the Israel-firsters
        in the US succeeded in destroying Saddam’s Iraq, believing a quick victory would
        install a pro-US pro Israel puppet?
        The result? A pro-Iranian, pro-Syrian government.

        The American ruling class can’t bring stability to the Mideast, it can only attempt to bolster Israeli hegemony,ensuring ever more enemies for the American people.

        If we had more Ron Pauls and Dennis Kuciniches, we might be able to serve as neutral arbiters in the region. Replace the ruling class with non-interventionists or prepare for more self-defeating loss of blood and treasure.Report

        • Avatar Barry in reply to amspirnational says:

          “The result? A pro-Iranian, pro-Syrian government.”

          OTOH, Iraq has been destroyed as a nation for decades; part of it (Kurdistan) is flat-out independent; the Sunni technocratic part has been exiled or killed; there’s still massive violence.

          From the Likkud viewpoint, it was still a success (which might have been the plan – ‘heads there’s a functioning Iraq with a US puppet regime, tails the place gets burnt to the ground’).Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Jaybird says:

      Seems to me the endgame is Libya, not Egypt. Except with less oil.Report

  2. Avatar John Wiser says:

    “Why wait for even more war crimes, even more crimes against humanity, and even more systematic, widespread, and gross violations of human rights?”

    Why, indeed? A regime installed by us can do all those things perfectly well
    at surely not more than 100X the cost of less bold measures.Report

  3. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    What reason is there to believe US military intervention won’t make the situation worse in the short and long run?

    The assumption in Iraq is that Iraqis would have a better future if we invaded and deposed Saddam. After a decade and now seeing the Arab Spring, it is clear that the assumption that invading Iraq to bring it dempcracy would make it better off was woefully unfounded.

    Why is it founded in the case of Syria?

    That is my worry.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      This. As appalled as I am by what’s happening in Syria, I think Creon Critic is wildly overestimating the probability of a good outcome, with damned little supporting evidence.

      And that’s why, despite conduct that shocks the conscience, doubt is not disspelled.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      The parallels to Bosnia are exact. No sooner had the first shovelful of dirt fallen on Tito’s coffin than the breakup of Yugoslavia began. The Croats began to sing their old Ustashe songs, enraging the Serbs. Nobody had ever punished the Ustashe for their crimes against the Serbs. Nobody ever punished Hafez al-Assad for the Hama massacre.

      For all practical purposes, the Ba’ath Party survives into modern times as an unreconstructed Arab Nazi Party: they certainly backed the Nazis during WW2 and persecuted the Jews of Damascus and Baghdad, where they had anciently lived for many centuries. The Syrian regime essentially kidnapped their Jews and ransomed them off.

      As with Yugoslavia, another made-up country (how often and tiresomely I have come to repeat myself on this subject!) Syria was a mess from the moment of its creation from the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire. The French carved off Lebanon from the bulk of to protect the Christians, with whom they’d had relations since the time of the Crusades. Jordan, Iraq, Israel — nobody who lived there had any say in how those border were created, any more than the hapless Yugoslavians.

      Tito the minority Croat kept his ethnic constituencies firmly suppressed, using his own minority to control the rest of Yugoslavia. Hafez al-Assad the Alawite did exactly the same in Syria. All these made-up countries are subject to the same pressures and stabilise under exactly the same sort of Strong Man.

      The Syrian civil war, let’s call things by their proper names, is not the result of the Arab Spring. It’s the result of the downfall of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Bashar al-Assad tolerated the exiled Baathists of Iraq: they brought money with them. He tolerated the jihaadis within his borders — as long as they went off to Iraq to fight, provoking a three-way war between jihaadis, local Sunni authorities and the Americans. The American military came to terms with the local sheikhs of al-Anbar and drove the jihaadis back into Syria, where they bided their time, regrouping in the Sunni north.

      The current Sunni-on-Shiite violence in Iraq and the Sunni-on-Shiites (and everyone else) in Syria are all of a piece, controlled by the same Salafi elements we fought in Iraq. The violence in Iraq is meant to keep the Iraqi government otherwise occupied. There are no good guys in any of these fights, that much is certain. Bad as they were, and they were awful, the Ba’athists were resolutely secular and they ran a multi-confessional scheme of operations.

      When Clinton finally intervened, lifting the siege of Sarajevo (the longest in modern history, outlasting even the siege of Stalingrad), it was just enough to give the Bosnians enough purchase to break out. The Russians screamed about American intervention against their precious Serbs and came in with an attempt to rescue them but it was all a bit too late. And it’s probably a bit too late for Obama: the Russians will be anticipating such a move and have a warm welcome prepared.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP says:

        The parallels between the Cold War and the diplomatic situation between the U.S. and Russia with respect to Syria are striking. It almost feels like a proxy war in the making, only between two countries that have no reason to fight proxy wars with each other.

        Also, Leningrad. Stalingrad was much shorter than Leningrad or Sarajevo. Neither has anything on Candia, though (not modern, of course).Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris says:

          Leningrad, you’re right. I stand corrected. A million dead here, a million dead there, pretty soon you’re talking about real casualties, heh.

          The Cold War was never all that cold. Nor was it a single war. The Hearts ‘n Minds war, we won that with the Consumerist Paradise. The brushfire wars, some we won, some we lost. Russia emerged from the wreckage of the USSR, more solidified and autocratic than ever.

          But that solidity came at a price. Russia just can’t make and keep decent friends. It’s as if they have no conception of Soft Power or how to use it. America’s not much better at this game than the Russians: after Iraq, Americans are seen as even more ignorant and belligerent than ever.

          Cynically, short term, I rather hope Assad wins this round and I’m pretty sure he will. Russia and Iran will make sure he does. But in the long term, Assad doesn’t stand a chance of getting this fart back in the dog. He will be seen as just another puppet, only in the service of Russia, whose track record in Chechyna and Dagestan has not endeared them to Muslims.

          The Sunni jihaadis are arming, tens of thousands of them in Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, all putting on their white robes, intent upon becoming shahid martyrs. Nothing better for them to do, what with no work for them. These would-be jihaadis are heading towards Syria, exactly as they did when the Russians decided to rescue their good buddies in Kabul, when they got sucked into Afghanistan. Shahid Osama bin Laden was one and Syria will produce another. That same phenomenon was seen in Iraq when the Americans invaded.

          Trouble is, once they arrive, then all hell breaks loose. The resulting conflagration will be horrifying and it will burn down everything in its wake. Plenty of Sunni-Shiite wars to compare it to: the Sunni-Shiite division began with just such a war.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to BlaiseP says:

        “For all practical purposes, the Ba’ath Party survives into modern times as an unreconstructed Arab Nazi Party: they certainly backed the Nazis during WW2 and persecuted the Jews of Damascus and Baghdad, where they had anciently lived for many centuries. The Syrian regime essentially kidnapped their Jews and ransomed them off. ”

        D8mn, but that’s some strong stuff. I’d ask for a toke, but I’ll pass on that level of brain damage.Report

    • Avatar agorabum in reply to Shazbot5 says:

      Is it military intervention, with US forces, or just providing small arms and ammunition to the rebels?
      Despite all the denunciations and gnashing of teeth around the web, I’ve yet to see any sign that US forces are going in, just small arm supplies. And that is nothing to sneeze at; one thing the Germans in WWII always marveled at was how much ammo we could afford to pour into them. A rebel that can shoot 200 bullets in a battle is at least twice as effective as one husbanding 50 bullets.
      Sometimes arms are all that is needed; that’s all the US had to do in the Greek civil war. The true question is: does it end at arms? There is not going to be a security council resolution permitting overt military action. Also, the US would not take such action without the blessing and support of Turkey.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I agree with Shazbot5, its unclear that intervening in Syria would make things better. The opposition to Assad is wide-spread but ill-defined. There are no prominent organizations or leaders among them. It just seems to be a loosely confederated group of different organizations that share one goal, getting rid of Assad. In Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt, the opposition was a bit better defined.

    Its also unclear whether the opposition is going to be better than Assad. Many of the minority groups in Syria are siding with Assad because they fear persecution from the Sunni majority if the Opposition wins the Syrian Civil War. Its not even clear whether Opposition knows what they want for Syria besides no Assad.

    The entire situation in Syria is chaotic. We should provide asylum and aid for Syrian refugees. Thats a given. Feed them, clothe them, house them, medicate them, and give them legal status in other countries if they so desire. At the same time, do not intervene within interal Syrian politics except to contain the Syrian Civil War in Syria. More actors would just make the entire situation more confusing.Report

    • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Shazbot5, LeeEsq, and anyone else who’d care to comment,

      In your view should Obama have made “red line” remarks about chemical weapons use late last year? Suppose Syria does start using chemical weapons in force, does that change anything at all? An insufficiently organized opposition should be decisive?

      From my perspective, you’re worried about potential atrocities tomorrow. A totally valid concern. But I’m pointing at the atrocities underway now. “Internal Syrian politics” should be no shield once the level of government misconduct passes a threshold that Syria blew by long ago. I guess part of my question is where that threshold lay for those saying, “not yet”.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Creon Critic says:

        Creon, my simple answer to each of those questions is “no.”

        And it’s not simply “potential” atrocities we’re worried about, but overwhelming likely atrocities, based on historical evidence. I don’t think anyone who’s considered the full historical reord on intervention could possibly be without doubt about the merits of intervention, even if they ultimately favor it.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Creon Critic says:

        Creon,

        There are the atrocities that will happen or become worse if we don’t intervene and there are the atrocities that will happen if we do intervene.

        We don’t know which atrocities are worse or more likely. We don’t know whether military intervention is good for the Syrian people over the next 1, 5, 10, or 20 years.

        NB: The claim “used chemical weapons on his own people” was a major selling point in the selling of the Iraq war. It shouldn’t have been.

        There are scenarios where things in Syria get so bad that we ought to intervene, where certain criteria for intervention are met, but we aren’t there. IMO, one of those criteria is support from all the regional powers, and that certainly isn’t met. The reason we need to follow that criterion is if you support one side in a civil war (or the like) and local powers are supporting the other, you get a whirlwind of hell that can spread.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Creon Critic says:

        Not that it matters, but Obama’s remarks that chemical weapons were a red line, was not a threat to invade (or set up a no fly zone or give heavy weapons to the rebels). It was a general statement saying that there will or could be some sort of consequences (not necessarily invasion or air strikes) if Assad used chemical weapons.

        I think he was right to say that chemical weapons use will not be tolerated, but it was unwise to make it so explicit using the “red line” language, because it does connote a threat to invade or do something really consequential like airstrikes to some people. A rather small diplomatic slip, but not a particularly awful one, because Obama can always back out of it.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Creon Critic says:

        Like Shazbot said, the red line statement was not a threat of invasion if crossed. The red line statement merely said that the use of chemical weapons would have consequences. I think it was important statement to make to at least demonstrate that certain behaviors are unacceptible.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

          And like I pointed out, I’m only anti-military intervention. I do believe that we should help with the Syrian refugees by giving as many of them as possible asylum or any other aid necessary. The internal political situation is not clear enough to justify formerly supporting the Rebels with military intervention though.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Creon Critic says:

        “From my perspective, you’re worried about potential atrocities tomorrow. A totally valid concern. But I’m pointing at the atrocities underway now. ”

        ‘Look you have a badly infected hand. I want to chainsaw you in half. Let’s worry about the infected hand now, and the potential consequences of chainsawing you in half later’.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Barry says:

          Exactly, a good first rule for any problematic situation is don’t make it worse. I think the evidence is fairly conclusive that outside military intervention in Syria will make things worse. Again, we can aid the refugees and give them asylum even. Thats a moral requirements and it won’t make things worse. Sending in troops will only confuse an already confusing muddle.Report

  5. Avatar Patrick says:

    Here’s the thing.

    Muammar Gaddafi was very probably summarily executed. Saddam got the noose. Hosni Mubarak got life imprisonment… and he’s got what a potentially-outgoing-probably-mildly-paranoid-dictator might regard as suspiciously bad health record since he went into the hoosegow.

    Forget about what’s best for Syria, from the standpoint of Bashar al-Assad, “Bashar al-Assad must be transitioned out of power” is functionally equivalent to “your expectations for your future comfort and security are laughably bad, please submit your neck size here.”

    Nobody uses chemical weapons against his own people if he has any expectation whatsoever of ever winding up answering to those people… whether or not this is a realistic expectation or not, you have to assume that *he* thinks it is. He’s not leaving standing up.

    If your unwilling to get into the ground game, your only way to get him out is to get one of his own guys to put the kaibosh on him. It pretty much stands to reason that whoever this is will also have a bad record, and if they’re the ones that assume the seat of power, whatever happens in Syria under that person is going to fall at the feet of whoever pays him to put a bomb in Bashar’s lunchbox.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Patrick says:

      Seriously, Assad, and likely his entire sect, is fighting for his (their) life. He (they) either wins or he (they) die. Early on it could have been different, if he’d folded, or not gotten enough support or lost his nerve but he didn’t and he doubled down. Now if he breaks and runs Syra seems set for a massive sectarian bloodbath with the victors hounding the losers.

      It is utterly beyond me why anyone would want to inject the US into the middle of that clusterfish.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to North says:

        It is utterly beyond me why anyone would want to inject the US into the middle of that clusterfish.

        I think there’s a fundamental difference of opinion, when it comes to foreign policy, between folks like me and folks who support getting involved in Syria (there’s also a fundamental difference of opinion between myself and non-interventionists, but that’s a different ground for another thread).

        I’m of the opinion that if there is no clear exit strategy that is a winner, you’re better off not getting involved than you are getting involved, because people will blame you for the outcome once you get involved.

        The people I disagree with appear to believe that if you don’t get involved, you’re going to get blamed anyway for not getting involved.

        I don’t think the international community works that way. My observation leads me to believe that countries will go a long way to hang you for what you did or didn’t do if you stick your neck into a situation, but they’ll go an equally long way to not hang you for what you didn’t do but could have if you don’t.Report

        • Avatar Barry in reply to Patrick says:

          I partially agree, but note the exceptions: “The people I disagree with appear to believe that if you don’t get involved, you’re going to get blamed anyway for not getting involved.” doesn’t apply if oil and Israel are not involved. I don’t remember an equally loud clamor to get involved in Rwanda or the Congo. I don’t remember Ann-Marie ‘Duty to Prevent’ Slaughter arguing publicy for intervention in Bahrain during the slaughter there – and that would have been much quicker and easier than anything else.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to North says:

        When you play the game of thrones, you win or die.Report

        • Avatar Patrick in reply to Shazbot5 says:

          This, really, was the failure of the international community very, very early on.

          Somebody should have rung up Putin and asked him to grant Bashar a nice villa somewhere and a back-door wire transfer of some of Syria’s oil money to put him up for life, and maybe a seat on Gazprom’s board of advisory council or something, in exchange for the U.S. and France supporting a mutually-agreeable interim President until the next national election can be held.

          Bashar gets a cushy retirement (which, clearly, he doesn’t deserve, for the record), Putin gets to be the power player which is good for his ego, and everybody else only has to agree to not object to somebody for a period of a few months.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Patrick says:

            Well, that and to allow Russian troops to supervise the peace.
            Resource peace, naturally.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Patrick says:

            If only those pesky Syrians would play their parts in the Great Game like civilized people!

            Okay, that was silly. Yes, this would have been a perfectly acceptable resolution diplomatically and politically, although perhaps not morally. But it still would have required Assad to have agreed to it and it doesn’t look like he was all that interested in giving up power in the first place: “For my part, I had rather be the first man among these [Iberian] fellows than the second man in Rome.” G.J.C., as quoted by his unauthorized biographer.Report

            • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Burt Likko says:

              Of course it is it Assad alone. When he inherited power he tried liberalizing, and was quickly stopped by others in the Syrian power structure. It is a thoroughly corrupt system in which those n power also have widespread and deeply embedded economic interests. Had Assad listened to such an offer he might nt have lived to accept it, and if he did live and accept it the rest of those corrupt family and friends would still have fought to retain their privileged positions. The only relatively peaceful way out for Assad would have been to call them all in for a conference, then burn the room down.Report

              • Avatar Patrick in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

                He could have outsourced that to Putin.Report

              • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Patrick says:

                He was worried about his Super Bowl rings.Report

              • “In the game of thrones, you win or you die.” — Cercei Lannister.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Burt, I beat you to it.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

                I don’t think Assad stepping down would’ve changed a thing because he’d have been replaced within a week by someone from the same oppressive elite power structure. Unlike the typical strong-man dictator who built a cult of personality through personal force, he’s just an eye-doctor born to the proper Alawite family. There is almost no way to change Syria without having the current elites give up their pervasive control, and they are very afraid to do that because they would not only lose their perch and suffer the whirlwind, but once again become the oppressed victims of a Sunni majority that despises them.

                Syria is one of those countries where the power structure is extremely unbalanced and not at all representative of the underlying demographics, and where any peaceful transition to democracy would tax the full abilities of a Nelson Mandela or a Gandhi, and the region has been particularly short of such men.Report

              • Avatar DRS in reply to George Turner says:

                +1,000.

                Don’t get used to it, George. But good comment.Report

              • Avatar Barry in reply to DRS says:

                Seconding both sentences there.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Barry says:

                Thirding. Assad kind of reminds me of a more competent version of Nicholas II. Tsar Nicholas II was a thoroughly pleseant man of conventional opinions who would have made an excellent constitutional monarch. The problem was that he was born to be the heir of an absolute monarchy and was over his head.

                Assad wasn’t really meant to be the heir to his father but his older brother died in a car crash. Like Nicholas II, Assad was probably a fairly ordinary pleseant eye-doctor, although considering his family we don’t know about his actual personality, and probably would have been happier if he stayed in the UK. Unlike Nicholas II, Assad learned how to be a thoroughly unpleseant dictator very fast.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Patrick says:

            “Somebody should have rung up Putin and asked him to grant Bashar a nice villa somewhere”

            I’m of the opinion (not based on any evidence) that they did. Russia doesn’t need Assad per se, they just need the Med port. There would have been plenty of room to make a deal, as long as Assad was willing to get onboard.

            But obviously Assad never took that deal, (if one was offered) – and right now, it looks like he made the right call.Report

          • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Patrick says:

            Cersei was offered asylum and a nice villa, and look where that got the Starks.

            People like power. Early on, Assad wouldn’t have considered his overthrow likely enough to be willing to consent to giving up power gracefully.Report

  6. Avatar Damon says:

    The reason Syria is a mess is because of Western power intervention from ages past and I see no reason to get into another mess again. Why? It’s not “winnable”. Second, frankly, I don’t give a damn about the the Syrians, the massacre of their children or anything else in the god forsaken part of the world. “The problems of others are not my concern”. We’ve got enough problems to fix within our own borders.

    Yes, I’m a cold hearted SOB. Deal with it.Report

    • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to Damon says:

      Damon,
      Human rights concerns do not figure prominently for you, fair enough. I wouldn’t call you “a cold hearted SOB”, different people have different lenses for analyzing foreign policy. I can accept that.

      I would raise other issues with you then. There are the concerns about refugee flows, destabilizing neighbors, and the potential for wider conflict that’s disruptive to trade/resource flows. That’d have economic consequences you ought to keep in mind. There is also the concern about Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. That’s a pretty straightforward, US national security concern that should be of interest.

      In an interdependent, interconnected world where states are exposed to the global economy and more agile kinds of non-state actor dangers, “the problems of others” quickly become the concern of citizens on the other side of the globe.Report

      • Avatar DRS in reply to Creon Critic says:

        CC, if America is so worried about refugee flows in the region, maybe it can start by worrying about the Iraqi refugees that fled to Jordan, Syria (!!), Lebanon, Turkey and the West over the past 10 years.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Creon Critic says:

        Dealing with spill over and related events isn’t the same as intervention. More meddling is only going to screw the place up even more. It’s one thing to monitor borders for chemical weapons moving out of the country or being sold to terrorists. It’s an entirely different thing to give anti aircraft weapons to the rebels, to bomb airfields, and supply soldiers with ammo and weapons, training and “support”, by which I mean special forces “boots on the ground”.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Creon Critic says:

        Creon Critic June 17, 2013 at 5:09 pm

        ” Damon,
        Human rights concerns do not figure prominently for you, fair enough. I wouldn’t call you “a cold hearted SOB”, different people have different lenses for analyzing foreign policy. I can accept that.”

        Creon, it’d sure be nice of you to link to your post urging intervention in Bahrain, and to slapping around Israel a bit (you know, human rights violations, violating UN resolutions, that sort of thing) or we might just think that you pick and choose here.

        I’m not saying you are, but small minded people might think so.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Damon says:

      ” I don’t give a damn about the the Syrians, the massacre of their children or anything else in the god forsaken part of the world.”

      I am against military intervention, and get that you are trying to be passionate, but the way you stated this makes you look like a monster. You should care about the fate of each person, regardless of religion, and if intervention helped people without risking harming them, there would be a case for it. The legitimage case against intervention arises out of care for Syrians.

      The illegitimate case rises out of not caring for people of other races or religions.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Shazbot5 says:

        I disagree. There is no case for intervention, ever, baring some global crisis, like nukes. Given the reason these places are even more screwed up than normal being past intervention, I see no justifiable reason to intervene. It always ends badly, leaves a mess, costs more in blood and treasure than ever expected, and yields unintended consequences. Let them sort out their own problems.

        How would you like it if China decided to intervene in America because of some internal squabble we were having? Stay out of other people’s lives and expect the same. I can regret that they can’t get their stuff together, but I’m not going to do a damn thing about it. Their problem, theirs to fix.

        Call me a monster. I call it cold hard rationality.Report

  7. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    This was an excellent post, Creon.

    As to your questions (because I am a non-interventionalist on this issue), I kept trying to think of ways to re-state what Fareed Zakaria said last week, because I think he’s on the money. Then it hit me that me just paraphrasing Zakaria was a little idiotic, so instead I’ll just link to the video.Report

  8. Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

    By the way, I know it sucks to write a guest post and get hit with such a harsh response. But kudos on posting it. I disagree with you, but so what? Reading blogs where I agree all the time is boring. You laid out your position clearly and challenged folks–that’s a job well done.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

      Absolutely. This is the best-argued case for intervention I’ve seen, and I learned from it. Also, the comments, while pretty strongly negative, were largely civil and well-reasoned. Win all around.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        That’s like a challenge.

        The real reason we should supply small arms to Syria is that it was an oppressive anti-gun regime where the citizens only owned about 700,000 private firearms, possession of which required registration and licensing, and under which sales between private parties were completely prohibited. Possession of an unlicensed gun could result in 15 years in a Syrian prison. When the bulk of religious people are disarmed by sectarian and secular socialist elites, tyranny inevitably follows, along with utterly stupid firearm regulations such as “Licensed firearm owners in Syria are permitted to possess one single-shot revolver and two hunting rifles.” (from gunpolicy.org). WTF is a single-shot revolver, and what exactly revolves? Is that the kind of revolver Barney Fife used?

        This kind of nonsense can’t be allowed to continue, and it behooves both the US and the International small arms community to make an example of the Syrian regime while teaching them to properly fear an armed populace.Report

        • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to George Turner says:

          “could result in 15 years in a Syrian prison.”

          Where else would they send their prisoners?

          “When the bulk of religious people are disarmed by sectarian and secular socialist elites, tyranny inevitably follows, along with utterly stupid firearm regulations…”

          ???

          ???

          Let me see if I get this sentence. You mean to say the following, IMO:

          When religious people (or non-religious people) disarm religious people (though not necessarily non-religious people), tyranny and disarming people follows.

          Some questions.

          1. Does religion play any part in what you are trying to say here?

          2. It is true that disarming people follows from disarming people, but you seem to want to say more than A follows from A. So, are you saying that tyranny is caused by disarming people or that tyranny causes people to be disarmed, or both?Report

        • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to George Turner says:

          “it behooves both the US and the International small arms community”

          Are you saying that individual gun owners all over the world and in the U.S. should be donating weapons to Syrian rebels with or without the consent of the U.S. government or the government they live in?Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to George Turner says:

          In fact, the current Syrian regime, awful as it is, is the only thing protecting religious minorities, including Christians, from oppression or even massacre by the Sunni majority. Arming the rebels endangers them.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            Arab Christians were heavily involved with the creation of Arab nationalism as a way to protect themselves from majority rule. Part of this is that they wanted to create a secular identity for the Middle East that would put them on equal footing with the Muslim majority rather than have them in their traditional second class status. The Ba’ath movement was founded by two Arab Chirstians. Like their Eastern European counterparts, the Arab Christians decided that the Jews needed to be excluded from the national movement though.Report

        • Avatar Michelle in reply to George Turner says:

          You pretty much lost any brownie points you won on your previous comment with this one. Sounds like you think bringing the NRA and USA-style gun laws to Syria would have stopped the problem before it started. Because nothing bring peace to a region beset by religious and sectarian conflict like lots more guns.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

          Hey Shaz, you said “Also, the comments, while pretty strongly negative, were largely civil and well-reasoned.”

          Well now you have something different. ^_^

          It was that or explain that by electing a Sunni, the US people committed themselves to getting involved and opposing the Shiites.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to George Turner says:

          Nicely done, but it is hard to tell when you’re trying to be silly.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        No, it’s not the best-argued; I can see major flaws off of the top of my head:

        1) No plan whatsoever (hope is not a plan). You’re urging a war, without a realistic plan for a reasonable outcome.

        2) IGNORING THE F-ING IRAQ WAR (sorry to yell, but you did seem to not notice a few years of war and a few-several hundred thousand deaths).

        3) Treating people here as having bad motives for failing to get involved in a war, just because you want one.

        Actually, come to think of it, this is a very badly argued post for a war. I mean, it looks good by neo-con intellectual standards, but that’s not saying much.Report

    • Thanks all.

      I definitely appreciate this site’s commentariat. Don’t know that I’ve encountered a group as strong in constructively, critically evaluating outside grad school seminars. And grad school didn’t have as many laughs.

      Also, “Reading blogs where I agree all the time is boring.” is spot on.Report

  9. Avatar zic says:

    This is one of those situations where there are no right answers.

    None.

    Assad will only leave his office in a casket. And between now and then, the carnage to Syrians will continue. The suffering and spread of refugees and unrest to neighboring states. Ancient cities and towns, of enormous historical value, will be destroyed.

    Yet the US cannot afford another war, either.

    Intervening is wrong. Not intervening is wrong. There are no right answers, there is only a path of picking between wrong answers, and even there, it’s not a path of least harm.

    But I think finding answers in the US is quite possibly the greatest wrong. The Arab nations need to be the front line to resolution; not just for Syria, but for the other Arab nations (Turkey, too); they’re the places where the unrest spreads, they’ve the cultural tools to speak directly to Syrians.

    We have no faith and good credit in our pockets to spend on this one. And my personal feeling is that we’ve already sent to much in the way of arms to the region.Report

    • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to zic says:

      This is one of those situations where there are no right answers.

      Haven’t got it handy at the moment, but I think part of the reason Samantha Power’s book is named “a problem from hell”.

      Intervening is wrong. Not intervening is wrong.

      Well, there’s a richer space between not intervene and intervene. I didn’t make it so clear in the original post but there’re a suite of military policy options: extensive no-fly zone, limited no-fly zone (focusing on Jordanian border), safe zones, humanitarian corridors, and so on. There are proposals for even more limited steps like helping opposition communication with Jordanian side of the border posts that facilitate in within Syria internet access.

      Part of the frustration is the fact that diplomatic steps have been so ineffective thus far. I briefly worked at an international human rights NGO at the UN headquarters, and it is absolutely wonderful when countries say all the right things. Diplomats are, by and large, charming, and they’ll woo you with their “understanding” and “working towards a solution”, their “constructive dialogues” and any number of forms of words to paper over differences and get activists to stop complaining so loudly. In urgent situations that stream of communiqués and reports can be incredibly frustrating, and Syria is definitely an urgent situation – I think the death toll circa August 2011 was 2,000 and it now stands at 94,000+.

      But I think finding answers in the US is quite possibly the greatest wrong….

      Maybe at the outset I could see a space for more deference to regional actors, but at some point – particularly looking at all the lofty words about conduct during war time and treatment of civilians and given the steadily rising death toll – one has to draw upon whatever power is willing to intervene. Regional power assent or not, UN Security Council approval or not, Russian approval or not.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Creon Critic says:

        On the last point — US intervention — military intervention is problematic because it will, beyond any shadow of a doubt, be a banner for the US-haters in the region; just as it was in Iraq and Afghanistan. While inflaming that hate is a potentially useful political tool, it’s rooted in US behavior, or the perceptions of US behavior. We do not make nice with our military; we become useful tools for local rivalries. And Syria, from what I can tell, is nothing but rivalries when you strip away government coercion. I would love to be proved wrong on that.

        Non-military intervention, supporting NGO’s and neighboring governments efforts and refugees I’d get behind, but even there, it’s a banner for soft targets providing aid for those so inclined to hit western or western-backed targets.

        And I hope you’ll write more about your time at the NGO. And I totally get the diplomatic talk = squelch. It’s own unique form of agitprop.Report

        • Avatar DRS in reply to zic says:

          Love you madly, zic, but seriously: it’s just too damn convenient for Americans to view disagreement and opposition as hating America. The lack of planning in Iraq that is now seen as “oopsy – bad us” had devastating impacts on the people of Iraq – you remember, the people you went in to save? – and if America is hated by a lot of Iraqis today – well, no surprise.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to DRS says:

            DRS, I don’t view disagreement and opposition as ‘hating Americans.’

            I make no excuses for the US; I hate very notion of American Exceptionalism; the most idiotic bit of propaganda on which to build a foreign policy imaginable. We’re often bullies, often abusive, often ham-fisted; even when we’re not, we still get it wrong too often. We do not have a good track record of learning from our mistakes, either; we continue to repeat them.

            So the US doing anything is not necessarily going to have a positive outcome — even doing what would be perceived as humanitarian good; and as I tried to say, may spark more of the totes cray.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe in reply to DRS says:

            https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2013/06/small-arms-in-syria/#comment-554900

            Somethings pretty clear to me though. Between the comment linked above and the one you made below – and from prior history of comments – you, DRS, never address anything any authors says, and continuously fail to grasp any nuance in the various points of view expressed. It’s quite apparent that you are an arrogant condescending American hating Eurostain. Or at least playing one on the internet.

            (you know why, Shazbotx, that so many people don’t give a damn? Because no matter what the US does, there’s always going to be people like DRS that continuously carp on the sins of the US, both real and imagined. So fuck it. Let someone else run the world for a change. And take some fucking responsibility)Report

            • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Kolohe says:

              Love it or leave it DRS. Great Americans like MLK or Jesus or Ronald Reagan would never criticize the American Government or the average American as acting immorally.

              USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!

              —-

              I suspect the reason that people don’t care about dead Muslims is racism and Islamophobia, not valid (or at least debatably valid) critiques of American foreign policy mistakes and cruelties made by a minority of people like liberals like DRS and I (and a lot of libertarians and old-school conservatives, too).

              I am not sure if “Eurostain” falls on the other side of the line of what the comments policy here allows, but I find it deeply interesting that you think associating someone with a particular region or ethnicity is an insult to that particular person. This is a sign of small-mindedness and a subtle form of in-group bias that is at the heart of racism, anti-semitism, islam0phobia, and xenophobia more generallyReport

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Shazbot3 says:

                I suspect the reason that people don’t care about dead Muslims is racism and Islamophobia

                I had an interesting discussion with a Young Person about the actions the US government takes. The topic was the NSA surveillance hubbub. He said they’re looking out for the best interests of all of us, right? I said, no not necessarily. Sometimes that institution does things that hurt people, often people in foreign countries. I listed some examples. He said, but we aren’t in a foreign country.

                Well, I walked right into that one and felt silly for approaching the topic that way. But the takehome for me was that there are a lot of people who truly believe that government – our government – is looking out for their best interests. And in particular, that it isn’t about racism or zenophobia or anything like that.

                To the extent that people like the kid I was talking to can determine an answer, what they believe strikes them as true! And I realized that disputing it brings us down into the weeds pretty quickly.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Stillwater says:

                Sure Still, but as you seem to agree, there is a difference between saying:

                1. “My government should put extra effort into protecting my interests above those who live under different governments.”

                and

                2. ” I don’t give a damn about the the Syrians, the massacre of their children or anything else in the god forsaken part of the world.”

                By analogy, I think parents should put more of their time and effort into protecting their own children, but they shouldn’t go so far as to say “I don’t give a damn about other people’s children.”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Yes. Sure. Maybe my reluctance to fulling embracing that view is the “should” part. I mean, from their pov they shouldn’t, or they already would.

                It’s a tricky business, should.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                To be perfectly honest, I don’t know how much weight to give “caring” at all but it seems to me that “diddly squat” is more likely to be accurate than “lots and lots and lots”.

                Especially since we’re in a place where we can’t really distinguish between “caring” and “communicating caring”.Report

              • Avatar Barry in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                “By analogy, I think parents should put more of their time and effort into protecting their own children, but they shouldn’t go so far as to say “I don’t give a damn about other people’s children.””

                Where ‘I don’t give a damn about other people’s children.’ means ‘not calling in an airstrike’.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Shazbot3 says:

                Is nothing allowed to get in the way of American vanity? Do you seriously believe that you can guide the outcome of a war like you’re playing a video game? Have the past dozen years taught you nothing?

                You have no business intervening in a civil war. This is not going to end well for you. And please don’t moan to the rest of us about “they hate us for our freedoms” when it blows up on you. Literally.

                Since we’re insulting Americans, broad insulting generalizations are OK. Because we’re all Texas Southern Rednecks, you know. And those people suck.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Shazbot3 says:

                I use my terms with a target in mind. I met many fine people during my time at ISAF – some of whom never made it back to their homes.

                There has long been a fashionable anti-Americanism among a slice of the (Western) European polity, who all experienced an existential crisis when their anti-capitalist heroes in the Soviet Union collapsed. But now, in the new century, with the US having a few self-inflicted wounds, they’re back. And it really doesn’t matter that the US has changed its government late in the last decade and nobody is thinking of redoing past mistakes (of course, the US govt is going to make completely new ones)

                But I say, fine, you win. Be in charge. We’re out. Be in thrall to your German bankers and whatever French military adventures they’re doing this week. See if the Swedes are willing to pay for the Mediterranean’s 35%+ under 30 unemployment rate.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Kolohe says:

                Critique of American foreign policy does not equal anti-Americanism.

                Failed American foreign policy may turn into anti-Americanism; and policy that is not subjected to critique is more likely to fail. And in the some parts of the world, there’s little differentiation between American policy and Western policy, so people not American suffer the brunt of American foreign policy failure.

                So I’m not sure that you’re making as insightful a comment as you think.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to zic says:

                “Critique of American foreign policy does not equal anti-Americanism.”

                No shit

                “And in the some parts of the world, there’s little differentiation between American policy and Western policy, so people not American suffer the brunt of American foreign policy failure.”

                I’m talking specifically about those Westerners who have never suffered the brunt of American foreign policy failure – except maybe the failure to stay out of WW2 and fight a Cold War with Nazi Germany. Maybe.

                “So I’m not sure that you’re making as insightful a comment as you think”

                I’m not trying to make an insightful comment, I’m on a quixotic quest to get us to quit the game.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

                Shorter me – European Socialists hate the US more than Vietnamese Communists. So screw it, let’s go bowling.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Kolohe says:

                “I’m not trying to make an insightful comment”

                Mission Accomplished.Report

              • Avatar Barry in reply to Kolohe says:

                “And it really doesn’t matter that the US has changed its government late in the last decade and nobody is thinking of redoing past mistakes (of course, the US govt is going to make completely new ones) ”

                It didn’t change governments; it changed the administration. 95 or more % of the government employees are there, most of the policies are the same, most of the politicians are the same, even many of the executive appointees are the same.

                And what’s most the same is the same people who called for an invasion of Iraq are calling for an invasion of Syria, using basically the same rhetoric, and the same blithe assumption that everything will go according to plan (when they don’t even have a plan, which is also the same as before).Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:

              you … never address anything any authors says, and continuously fail to grasp any nuance in the various points of view expressed

              You may be right, Kolohe. But she does it with style.Report

            • Avatar DRS in reply to Kolohe says:

              Aaaaah! Poor woobie. did your American fees-fees get all hurted?

              Well, tough.

              And while America’s “sins” are a matter of debate that is best waged by Americans, the issue of America’s royal screw-ups is one that can be discussed internationally. If the past 12 years haven’t given Americans a sense that maybe a ready-fire-aim foreign policy isn’t the way to go, then you have to wonder what will.

              And did you notice that in CC’s original post he makes a lot of assertions with very little proof? America has national interests in Syria – like what? America will be successful in implementing regime change – oh really? How will that happen exactly? And what if the regime that replaces it is equally bad? No word on that, just dismissive comments about isolationism.

              My real response to Kolohe would definitely be against policy so I won’t tell him to get stuffed – oops, darn it. No edit key. Too bad.Report

              • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to DRS says:

                DRS,
                The only time the word “isolationism” appears on this page is in your comment.

                America has national interests in Syria – like what?

                From the original post,

                Syria is in a region of longstanding strategic significance to the US. Syria borders one NATO ally, Turkey, and two major non-NATO allies, to use the official designation for Jordan and Israel. Syria possesses significant stockpiles of chemical weapons. And finally, the Assad regime is backed by Iran, a key US strategic challenger in the region.

                If you want to say I’m gravely misjudging the US national interest in the region, fair enough. But there are at least one or two facts there.Report

              • Avatar DRS in reply to Creon Critic says:

                Yes, there are one or two facts – and none of them prove that America has a national interest there. Repetition is not explication. Assertion is not proof. Your deep concern counts for nothing tangible. American interference will do more long-term harm than good – especially to America itself – and in your vanity you refuse to see it.Report

  10. Avatar RTod says:

    Totally off subject:

    I am reading this on my phone, and on our new mobile interface when you get deep in the threads it looks like you’re reading an argument between e.e. cummings and Emily Dickinson.Report

  11. Avatar Chris says:

    i cannot live with you,
    it
    would
    be
    l
    i
    f
    e
    and life is
    over there
    behind
    the shelfReport

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

      ugh, that didn’t work at ALL!

      Apparently you can’t do Dickinson as cummings intentionally; it has to happen organically through a bad mobile interface. (Also, was supposed to be a reply to Tod.)Report

  12. Avatar b-psycho says:

    Why is this to be considered the responsibility of the U.S.? What would be wrong with simply not getting involved at all?

    However reluctant President Obama is to get further involved in another Middle East conflict, the clear threats to US national interests are already upon us

    Um… how exactly are you defining “US national interest”?Report

    • Avatar DRS in reply to b-psycho says:

      Absolutely nothing wrong at all. CC is pulling your leg, that’s all.Report

    • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to b-psycho says:

      A rough outline of the US national interests I see from macro to micro, though they overlap.

      Macro, a benign international environment, an environment with minimal instability and low pressures on allies, particularly refugee flow stressors (on countries like Turkey and Jordan). Averting humanitarian catastrophes. Continuing the norm against the use of chemical weapons in conflict. Nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

      Micro, a reduction in the power projection capabilities of a strategic challenger in the region (Iran). Sight and accounting of Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles, ensuring they aren’t transferred or seized by malign actors. The reduction of Iran’s overall influence in the region, particularly cutting off a transhipment point for arms to Hezbollah.Report

      • Avatar b-psycho in reply to Creon Critic says:

        So no distinction between national & international I take it, in your view?

        Reduction of Iranian influence… gee, shoulda thought about that before invading Iraq, huh?
        As for Syrian chemical weapons… how is helping overthrow Assad conducive to securing those? At least in his hands it’s obvious where they’re at, if we’re going to play this game.

        That said, my own preference is for the attempts at US steering of the rest of the world by force to simply cease, in all.Report

  13. Avatar DRS says:

    the US clearly has a particular set of goals for how that regime would be positioned in the Middle East (less favorable towards Iran).

    This phrase right here proves that Creon Critic is having it on. Well done, CC, I actually thought you were serious for a while. I should have known better. After the screw-up that was Iraq, it’s obvious no one really believes America can go into yet another Middle East country with no planning, no budget to pay for the effort, no allies to fight alongside, no realistic end goals. CC has done a masterful job of spoofing the whole America-Fuck-Yeah school of international relations and mindless military adventurism.

    Of course, ousting Saddam Hussein was one of the best gifts Iran could have received in the past dozen years, taking out the next-door neighbour who was Iran’s biggest rival. Iraq and Iran are fast allies now, and there’s no guarantee that Iraq won’t side with Iran in any kind of confrontation. Iraq made that pretty clear a couple of years ago when all the hoohaa about invading Iran first came up. So to do the same thing all over again with nothing but vanity and short-sighted intentions on America’s side – it’s just too funny.

    Well played, CC, well played. (*Golf clap soundeffect inserted here*) You’ve got a talent for spoofing.Report

  14. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    A million people die every year of malaria and nobody is arguing that this is urgent enough to require a tithe of the resources that would be wasted on a Syrian war. This isn’t humanitarian. Aggression is never humanitarian, no matter how much the sophists try to paint it as such. Nor can we know whether more lives could be saved by aggression than would be destroyed by it – given the examples of Iraq and Afghanistan I strongly suspect there would be a net loss of lives compared to letting this thing end on its own. Do you seriously believe that the insecurity, the civilian deaths, the flood of refugees will stop if America, or anyone else, invades? I don’t; not for a second, because I’m basing my judgements on precedent set all too well by the previous administration.

    Wait for what? Wait for this to come to whatever end it comes to, without intervention from us. Sending arms to the rebels is a step towards war. Declaring a no-fly zone is right on the edge of starting a war. And a war in Syria is madness. Has America learned nothing from the disaster that was Iraq, from the failure that is Afghanistan? The fact that the rebels oppose Assad is no indication that they will be more favourable to US wishes and strategic goals in the region than Assad had been prior to the uprising; they may even be worse.

    If you want to save and improve lives, take the few trillion dollars you want to throw away on a war that would widen instability and chaos beyond Syria to the whole Middle East, and put it into fighting AIDS, malaria, TB, starvation, and poor sanitation. They kill more people yearly than Assad could dream of doing. And if you don’t want to do that – drop the facade of morality that you’re trying to raise over warmongering. It isn’t working.Report

  15. Avatar Barry says:

    “…the clear threats to US national interests are already upon us. ”

    Bullshit.Report

  16. Avatar Barry says:

    CC: “(All the liberals dabbling in realism and lecturing about how foolish the George W. Bush administration was to remove key Iranian challengers, Hussein’s Iraq and the Taliban’s Afghanistan, they should be jumping at the opportunity to remove Assad from power, a key Iranian partner.)”

    Yes, after watching the ways that the last couple of wars turned out, we are remiss in not jumping into the next war with blithe disdain for whatever may happen.Report

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