World View: The Drums of War Beat over Syria

World View: The Drums of War Beat over Syria

This morning’s key headlines from

  • U.S. promises ‘accountability’ for chemical weapons attack
  • Military intervention in Syria raises many issues
  • United Nations chemical weapons inspectors reach attack site
  • Syria versus Iraq
  • Mideast peace process meeting canceled after 3 Palestinians killed

U.S. promises ‘accountability’ for chemical weapons attack

U.N. chemical weapons inspectors travel to attack site on Monday
U.N. chemical weapons inspectors travel to attack site on Monday

The horrific videos of Wednesday’s chemical weapons attack in Syriahave been streaming in, and Syria continued until the last week tobomb and shell the site of the attack, in order to degrade and destroythe evidence. These factors have dramatically changed internationalattitudes between Friday and Monday. As recently as Friday, officialsindicated that there was no desire for military action. By Sunday,attitudes were changing rapidly, and by Monday, Secretary of StateJohn Kerry was using very strong, personally emotional words:

“What we saw in Syria last week should shock theconscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me beclear: The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing ofwomen and children and innocent bystanders, by chemical weapons isa moral obscenity. By any standard it is inexcusable, and despitethe excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it isundeniable. …

Moreover, we know that the Syrian regime maintains custody ofthese chemical weapons. We know that the Syrian regime has thecapacity to do this with rockets. We know that the regime has beendetermined to clear the opposition from those very places wherethe attacks took place. And with our own eyes, we have all of usbecome witnesses. …

I went back and I watched the videos, the videos that anybody canwatch in the social media, and I watched them one moregut-wrenching time. It is really hard to express in words thehuman suffering that they lay out before us. As a father, I can’tget the image out of my head of a man who held up his dead child,wailing while chaos swirled around him; the images of entirefamilies dead in their beds without a drop of blood or even avisible wound; bodies contorting in spasms; human suffering thatwe can never ignore or forget. Anyone who can claim that an attackof this staggering scale could be contrived or fabricated needs tocheck their conscience and their own moral compass. …

But make no mistake: President Obama believes there must beaccountability for those who would use the world’s most heinousweapons against the world’s most vulnerable people. Nothing todayis more serious and nothing is receiving more seriousscrutiny.”

No U.S. aircraft carriers are being sent to the region. However,there are four U.S. destroyers positioned in the easternMediterranean, with hundreds of Tomahawk cruise missiles ready to belaunched, if and when President Obama gives the order. Countries onthe region are going on high alert. U.S. Department of State

Military intervention in Syria raises many issues

These are some of the issues being raised about military interventionin Syria against the regime of president Bashar al-Assad:

  • Military options: No boots on the ground, except possibly for special forces already stationed in Jordan. Most likely attack from cruise missiles. Russia has provided Syria with advanced long-range S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, and so aircraft are unlikely to be used.
  • Missile targets: These include airports that are used by Russians to resupply weapons to Syria. Missiles will attack runways, aircraft, munitions and fuel stores. The objective will be to substantially degrade al-Assad’s military power.
  • Legal issues: Russia is saying that any attack on Syria would be a “grave violation of international law.” The Obama administration would like to have some legal justification for an attack. Russia and China would veto any U.N. Security Council resolution. However, there are two military actions from the 1990s that are being considered as precedents:
    • Operation Desert Fox (1998): When Saddam Hussein blocked U.N. WMD inspections, the U.S. bombed military and security targets, to degrade Iraq’s ability to produce, store, maintain and deliver weapons of mass destruction.
    • Nato peacekeeping operations (1990s): Nato launched bombing missions several times in the 1990s, particular on Bosnia in 1995 and on Kosovo in 1999. In both cases, the objective was to prevent further genocide.

    The legal standing of an American military intervention would be considerably stronger if other nations participated militarily, rather than America going it alone.

  • Military objective: What’s the objective of a missile campaign? When President Clinton sent some cruise missiles into Afghanistan hoping that one of them would kill Osama bin Laden, nothing was accomplished. Is the objective for the attack on Syria simply to punish al-Assad? Can Syria’s air power be sufficiently degraded to militarily justify the attack?
  • Blowback: Russia’s defense minister Sergei Lavrov is warning that if the U.S. attacks, then Syrian jihadists will use it as an excuse to attack Western targets, a laughable claim, since jihadists need no excuse. Lavrov also made a comparison to the Iraq war and the Libya military intervention, which he said “destabilized the region in a dangerous way.” However, as I wrote two days ago ( “24-Aug-13 World View — U.S. hints at cruise missile strikes against Syria”), my opinion is that Syria has reached a tipping point and that the Syrian conflict is going to spread around the region, irrespective of whether there’s any attack or not. If there IS an attack, then the attack will be blamed for the wider war.

Dept. of Defense and NATO

United Nations chemical weapons inspectors reach attack site

After being delayed by the Bashar al-Assad regime for five days, theUnited Nations chemical weapons inspectors finally reached the site ofthe attack on Monday. The lead vehicle came under heavy attack byunidentified snipers as it approached the site, and was forced to turnback, but there were no injuries, and the inspectors reached the sitelater. According to a spokesman, the team had a “very productive” daycollecting evidence and interviewing victims, and will continue itswork on Tuesday. CNN

Syria versus Iraq

I’ve written many times in the past that if Al Gore had won thepresidency in 2000, then he would have pursued the Iraq war, just asPresident George Bush did. (See, for example, “The Iraq war may be related to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” from 2008.)

I received a lot of scoffing and ridicule for that assertion, but nowwith President Obama we can see what might have happened with aPresident Gore. There is no one more politically opposed to anymilitary action than Obama, but he’s being forced into attacking Syriafor political reasons, but knowing that he’ll be blamed if anythinggoes wrong, just as he bitterly attacked Bush for the Iraq action.

And so, once again, Generational Dynamics has been proven to beright, and its critics have been proven wrong. This has happenedtoo many times to count.

Mideast peace process meeting canceled after 3 Palestinians killed

The Palestinian Authority canceled peace talks on Monday, afterIsraeli security forces killed three Palestinians at the Kalandiyareguee camp in the West Bank. According to the security forces, theywere reacting to a large scale attack on them by hundreds ofPalestinians. A Palestinian spokesman called on the United States tointervene and prevent the collapse of the “peace process.” Jerusalem Post

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