There is something fishy about #syria-n intervention (ht @timothy_stanley)

English: Brasilia - The president of the Syria...
English: Brasilia – The president of the Syrian Arab Republic, Bashar Al-Assad during a visit to Congress Português do Brasil: Brasília – O presidente da República Árabe Síria, Bashar Al-Assad, em visita ao Congresso Nacional (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kerry’s narrative is full of holes. First, we’ve yet to ascertain that chemical weapons really were used by Assad …

Second…It must know that by using chemical weapons it would isolate itself from any international support and invite a Western military response. More importantly, Assad was already winning the war – so why bother to use WMDs during the last lap to victory?

via Syria: why would Assad invite a Western intervention by using WMDs in a war he was winning? – Telegraph Blogs.

Stanley makes the same point many of us are edging towards. Why would Assad do this? Remember this they thought WMD’s were used previously? There is evidence assigning blame to the rebels. And, they are threatening to do it. How do they have chemical weapons? Oops.

Added to this is Ambassador Rice’s assertion last week that a mere denial of a UN investigation is proof. Kerry’s comments this week aren’t any better. And by better, I mean, according to the U.S. system of justice including but not limited to the 5th amendment and that whole concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ Assad is guilty of a lot of things, but of using chemical weapons? I’m not so sure.

We are rushing headlong into war without even a Bush-era lie to guide us.

What is going on in Syria is ruthless, bloody, and something I want to stop, but we do not know the full story. There are reports of Al-Qaeda intermixing (leading) with the rebels.

And, as I tend to tract libertarian when it comes to foreign policy, I am just unsure about involving ourselves (again) in another crisis not our own.

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11 Replies to “There is something fishy about #syria-n intervention (ht @timothy_stanley)”

  1. Joel, I am no supporter of large scale intervention in Syria. But I think we can reasonably assume that the State Department has evidence about these chemical weapons that they have not made public – not least because they have said precisely that, and that they will publish it. It’s not at all the same as in Iraq because we have all seen pictures which are in themselves more or less proof that WMDs exist and have been used. But the question is, who by? I don’t know, but the State Department probably has a good idea.

    As for why Assad would want to use these weapons now, we need to remember that despite his western education he is an Arab leading a nation of Arabs. Obama’s red line was a direct challenge to him. His instinct was to cross it immediately to test if the international community really meant what they were saying. He waited until now perhaps because he judged it safe to do so and perhaps because he wanted the UN inspectors to be in place. In other words, he is deliberately provoking the West.

    Of course he is risking going down like Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi did. But he is probably also counting on that not happening. And if it doesn’t he will have shown himself stronger than them, simply because he was able to stand up to the West. But he can’t make that claim if he keeps behind the red lines we draw.

    So what should we do? I see two ways out: say that the evidence is inconclusive and do nothing, or present it as conclusive and take some military action. The first will cause the Arab world to see us as cowards. So I think we have put ourselves in a position where we have to take some rather limited military action, like missile strikes from a safe distance. That may not be enough to defeat Assad, but at least it will show that we mean what we say.

      1. Why so cynical about the State Department “right now”? The Iraq WMD error was 10 years ago under a different President. Benghazi was whipped up into a frenzy but came down to one statement in the heat of the moment which in hindsight turned out to be only part of the truth, plus the budget cuts which meant security was inadequate. Maybe they don’t know all the truth and don’t have perfect judgement, but they know more than you do and are trained professionals in making decisions like this. Indeed, isn’t your attitude like that of non-scientists who claim they know more about evolution than the experts? Yes, they can find a few errors in mainstream science, but that doesn’t prove young earth creationism.

        1. Nope, that’s not it all – (straw man?)

          Peter, I believe you assume that the State Department changes with the Administration. It does not. Sure, a few appointee positions change, but overall it is the same.

          I agree with you about Benghazi (red herring), however, before we go about breaking international and possibly constitutional law, we really need more than ‘they don’t know all the truth and don’t have perfect judgment.’ We need something substantial. Yes, they know something happened, and it looks like a chemical attack, but they don’t know for sure, and they don’t know who did it.

          As I pointed out, the rebels have access too – and as you have pointed out on other forums, there are many factions of rebels, with some factions killing others.

          And what is the end game? As few bombs? Come on… something ain’t right.

          1. I know it’s many of the same people at the State Department. But in 2003 the ones at the top, the ones who do change, were looking for an excuse for war and the minions found it for them. It’s different now. No one has an appetite for action in Syria. So I trust them not to act unless the evidence is compelling. They are much more likely to look for some uncertainty that they can use as a way out.

            It is indeed a problem that there is no defined end game. Assad may stay. “Assad to leave power, but as part of a negotiated political settlement with the Syrian rebels” is a joke. But if a few more tyrants learn that they can’t get away with genocide with total impunity, the world will be a better place.

          2. Peter – are you paying attention to GOP leaders? McCain and his ilk are clamoring for war. Christian Zionists want this! Those who wanted us to attack Iran want this. Yes, there is an appetite.

          3. “Joe Biden said there was “no doubt who was responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria: The Syrian regime”.” (BBC) So that settles it! 😉

  2. The way this has developed over the past several years I believe that there is little or more likely nothing that can be done to improve the long term objectives of the US. Washington keeps thinking we can change the mindset of the Arab nations and insert our idea of a democratic government, something that has not succeeded for thousands of years despite many efforts.

  3. Is it our (the United States) moral imperative to use military force in a civil war? Regardless of what Obama laid down as a red line. And I supported Obama. But not to fight a questionable war. And cruise missiles in a stand-off strike? What does that do. I’d bet Syria is smart enough to place civilians in their military facilities, so they can show us killing civilians. We need to have the balls to economically punish Russia, and any other supporters, even if it hurts our economy too. Economy sanctions, not military strikes. If that doesn’t work, at least no one is killed. Remember, we are still the largest consumers in the world. If we lose business in Russia, suck it up, business leaders. Now everyone can tell me how we can’t do that. But you want to kill a bunch of people ourselves, instead? Right!

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