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Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in Featured, Guns, Military, Politics, War | 7 comments

Barack Obama’s Budding Syrian Disaster

David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

To date the biggest foreign policy success of Barack Obama has been keeping us out of another war we didn’t need to fight. If John McCain or Mitt Romney had been elected president, we certainly would have been at war with Iran by now. But Obama, to his credit, hasn’t been pulled into the “Big Stick” conservative think tank macho miasma — until now.

A headline in today’s Washington Post reads: Attack by U.S. would be narrow in scope and duration.” Very prudent that. Well parsed like the law professor Mr. Obama once was and should probably have remained. Except in the real world, especially in wars, things very often don’t go exactly as planned.

Look at what happened in our takedown of Osama bin Laden, which was a huge success. Our very best soldiers using our very best equipment practiced for long months to go at a very soft target — a private residence — expecting (and achieving) total surprise. Yet one of the stealth coptors used in the mission crashed. The Seals on the ground almost got into a fight with bin Laden’s neighbors. And they escaped being shot up by called out Pakistani F-16s by just a very few minutes.

So what could go wrong in this loudly broadcast, coming soon strike on Syria? The mind boggles about what could go amiss in such a venture.

One of the missiles or bombs used could stray into a residential neighborhood, hit a mosque, a school, the hotel where Russian advisers go for a drink. Or maybe everything goes as we planned but Assad has played games with our likely targets. His jet planes have gone on training missions in Iran. His attack helicopters have all been temporarily broken down and put into storage. His barracks are empty and troops dispersed, and school children sent there on summer vacations. His command and control centers are relocated to mosques.

Why wouldn’t he do this sort of thing when he has the time as he does now? Wouldn’t anybody with a brain do them?

So we achieve nothing with this show of force except demonstrate our moral outrage at the use of chemical weapons. Which is very high-minded. Except that the damage done to human bodies by hollow point bullets and phosphorous munitions, and fragmentation explosives are every bit as horrible. And more than 100,000 Syrians were killed with this weaponry before chemical weapons that crossed a “red line” were used.

Ah, that red line. A stupid comment by President Obama that now has to be backed up with a truly, truly dangerous show of force so save what’s left of his credibility.

Will Syrians or their proxies send some nasty stuff toward Israel as their response? Or bring down some of our computer-based infrastructure. Or maybe get real lucky and shoot down an American plane and capture its pilot. What do we do about that one? Would he (or she) become a prisoner war? Think about it. Yellow ribbons on trees again?

Markets are about to take a steep swoon. Our dysfunctional government is facing a slew of ideological idiocies. And now the U.S. is about to jump into the 2013 version of the 1913 Balkans morass.

It should be an interesting early September. “Interesting” in the way of that Chinese expression about “not wanting to live in interesting times.”

(Michael Silverstein’s newest book is The Devil’s Dictionary Of Wall Street)

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  • slamfu

    I don’t really see how is Obama’s mess. The Middle East is just insane. Not being able to reign in the insanity doesn’t make it someone’s. And there is an international ban on the use of those weapons. The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be an international response to their use, everyone is expecting us, sorry, Obama, to take care of it. So hopefully before something is done the President will get some international support for it, like Libya, and then a united front can be presented and something done.

    What are the rules for enforcing international bans on things like chemical weapons? Where does the violation rate in diplomatic terms? Is there a predefined response written down somewhere in some UN charter?

  • justcowboyway

    “Markets are about to take a steep swoon. Our dysfunctional government is facing a slew of ideological idiocies. And now the U.S. is about to jump into the 2013 version of the 1913 Balkans morass.”

    And it really get exciting if he picks Larry Summers to head the Fed.

  • Beginning with the first, absurd, sentence, this analysis flies off the rails.

    The notion that any crisis anywhere in the world is POTUS’ fault and his response is a disaster even before there’s been a response is utterly lacking in fairness — to say nothing of a ‘reality’ principle.

    And the notion that the President of the United States is *personally* responsible for helicopter maintenance and piloting is ridiculous in the extreme.

    Remove those and all that’s left is the whiff of a blind ideology. Surely the writer could have stated a rational case with more prima fascie credibility.

  • sheknows

    This is not only our problem to fix.
    Good questions Slamfu, just what ARE the protocols for violation of weapons use? Whatever is written in the bylaws and sanctioned by the council is what should be employed, since I gather a majority of countries in membership are the final word.
    This whole thing about Obama having one iota of responsibility for this is ridiculous. We are still debating our responsibility TO this. The rest of the world should be the final word on proper action.

  • justcowboyway

    “And the notion that the President of the United States is *personally* responsible for helicopter maintenance and piloting is ridiculous in the extreme.”

    Can you please show me where in the article, that he says that?

  • KP

    Fine article, Michael. There is enormous potential downside to attacking Syria.

  • JSpencer

    Interesting. Reading through comments on this issue (not just following Michael’s post, but the others too) it seems like TMV commenters are less certain in their opinions than usual. My fear is that the window for any useful intervention by the outside passed quite a long time ago. And of course we are all tired of the mess that is the middle east and would just like to turn our backs on it. This isn’t an option though is it. Or is it? What to do, what to do… Glad I don’t have to make the decision.

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