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Why Are We Going To War With Syria?

pozessed
Posts: 1,034
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8/28/2013 4:26:00 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
http://www.newsday.com...

This article sums up how I feel about this war. Would anyone care to please elaborate their thoughts reflecting this article?
Jack212
Posts: 572
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8/28/2013 4:47:14 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/28/2013 4:26:00 PM, pozessed wrote:
http://www.newsday.com...

This article sums up how I feel about this war. Would anyone care to please elaborate their thoughts reflecting this article?

Oil.

I don't care what the article says, the answer is "oil".
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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8/28/2013 4:51:53 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
So you think the US feels it has to do it, for it drew a red line? I'd say the article condemns how the line was drawn too late on, and now the war is not being fought for moral reasons, which I'd agree with, but I think most people unfortunately would be unhappy with as a political foreign policy.
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YYW
Posts: 36,391
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8/28/2013 4:55:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
While I always like to see IR professors making the news, and I especially like to see professors from Harvard in the news, there are some general issues I have with this little article. I'll itemize them below:

"America's slow-motion entry into the Syrian bloodletting illustrates how hard it is for the United States to stay out of these nasty little wars, even when it is not obvious what using force will accomplish, when it is clear that doing a little now will create pressure to do more later, when there is little public support for getting in, and when it is hard to identify a clear or vital U.S. interest at stake."

Alternatively, one might argue that Barack Obama has resisted the war only because he doesn't want to endure the political costs of intervention, however marginal the effect. It's not hard to avoid the war -Obama's done a brilliant job of that thus far. I think -and this is speculation on my part- that the President is probably distraught by the bloodshed and tumult that has been going on since 2011. I think further that Obama would like to intervene, but he understands that America is tired of getting involved in wars, that the American people are more concerned with economic growth and the unemployment rate than the human rights atrocity that has claimed more than 100,000 lives as a direct result of Bashir al-Assad's zealous despotism and intransigent disregard for human life. Even still, avoiding the war is easy. All Obama has to do is essentially what Clinton did to Kosovo until he was shamed into acting: ignore, ignore and ignore.

Moreover, there is a very good idea of what impact the use of force (as the Administration currently plans) will have. Firstly, the Obama administration has to do something that is string enough to be a credible deterrent to the further use of chemical weapons. He must do this because last year, he defined chemical weapon's use as a "red line" which would invoke an American response. To not appear hypocritical, he must keep his word. Secondly, the Obama administration would be well advised to employ a degree of force sufficient to indicate to the world that America (and western states, more broadly) will not tolerate the flagrant violation of international legal prohibitions on the use of chemical weapons. In the absence of enforcement, which is to say that if Obama gives Assad a pass, further use of chemical weapons will be imminently more likely -and the failure to enforce international arms treaties, UN protocols, etc. to that end severely undermines both the integrity of the integrity of those institutions and the credibility of their meaning.

There are more aspects to it than that, but we'll get into those in a bit.

Yet we now appear to be getting ready to drop a lot of ordnance on Syria - and for a pretty flimsy reason. Secretary of State John Kerry is outraged that President Bashar Assad's forces have used chemical weapons - or so he believes. But Assad's forces have already killed tens of thousands with good old-fashioned high explosive, which is much more effective than sarin in most cases.

If by "pretty flimsy reason," the professor is referring to the proof beyond any reasonable doubt that the Assad regime perpetrated a chemical attack on the Syrian rebels which was invariably the worst since Saddam gassed the Kurds -then the professor is willfully choosing to ignore inconvenient evidence. Even still, that the West -and principally the United States- has chosen to ignore manifest human rights violations hence forth (or, really, until early this summer) is no reason that when a regime uses chemical weapons (which are illegal to use under international war covenants), that chemical weapons' use should be ignored.

Yes, chemical weapons are illegal and yes, there's a taboo against their use, but going to war solely to reinforce a rather unimportant norm is a poor reason. The fact that Assad is killing innocent people with this particular tool and not some other equally nasty tool is not by itself a reason to get involved.

A norm that precludes a state's ability to kill it's people with chemical weapons is unimportant? By what standard? That it isn't presently in Cambridge? Hogwash. That America has chosen to stand by thus far is no reason that it shouldn't do so now, even if doing so is inconvenient.

What is most striking about this affair is how President Barack Obama seems to have been dragged, reluctantly, into doing something that he clearly didn't want to do. He probably knows bombing Syria won't solve anything or move us closer to a political settlement. But he's been facing a constant drumbeat of pressure from liberal interventionists and other hawks, as well as the disjointed Syrian opposition and some of our allies in the region.

What's most striking about this article is how poorly reasoned it is. The essential argument is "we haven't been involved before, so we should continue not to get involved." When 100,000 people have died, "I don't give a sh!t" is not a good enough reason not to do anything -especially when American interests (not only the interests of our allies, but OURS) are on the line. I grant the professor that Obama doesn't want to get involved, because of various constraints (like a lack of logistical support on the ground, difficulty gathering intelligence to assess the situation, the tiredness and frustration of the American people, and others -just to list a few). I can't imagine any president wanting to sacrifice American lives to do the right thing -but I would hope that despite the whiny nonsense that I'm sure he's been hearing (probably from advisors on this professor's faculty), he'll have the moral decency and political horse sense not to let an already bad situation get any worse.

More to come in the following post.
Tsar of DDO
vbaculum
Posts: 1,274
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8/28/2013 4:57:30 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/28/2013 4:26:00 PM, pozessed wrote:
http://www.newsday.com...

This article sums up how I feel about this war. Would anyone care to please elaborate their thoughts reflecting this article?

I've never quite understood the chemical weapons argument either. 100,000 people have been killed in the civil war over the past 2 years with bullets and other conventional ammunition. Perhaps the use of chemical weapons would imply an attempt by the regime to genocide the Sunnis, though I've never heard this argued.

I do, however, understand the credibility argument. When the war was starting, Clinton (Hillary) was adament in her calls for Bashir to step down and insisted that he would eventually be forced to. That's to say nothing of Obama's red line business. If the U.S. did nothing at this point, it would signal that our geopolicial rhetoric was valueless.
"If you claim to value nonviolence and you consume animal products, you need to rethink your position on nonviolence." - Gary Francione

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YYW
Posts: 36,391
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8/28/2013 5:08:05 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
He foolishly drew a "red line" a few months back, so now he's getting taunted with the old canard about the need to "restore U.S. credibility."

It is an old line, because it's the reality of international politics. If you say something, you have to do it, lest you look like a coward and a hypocrite before the world. There are some times that looking like a coward, a hypocrite, or even a cowardly hypocrite or a hypocritical coward are acceptable -though outside the halls of the academy, appearing in that manner has actual consequences rather than hypothetical implications. I agree that Obama is probably regretting his word choice, but the bed he made is his own -and he knows it.

This last argument is especially silly: If being willing to use force was the litmus test of a president's credibility, Obama is in no danger whatsoever.

Being willing to use force is a part of it. Keeping one's word is more significant, though.

Or has everyone just forgotten about his decision to escalate in Afghanistan, the bombing of Libya, and all those drone strikes? More than anything else, Obama reminds me here of George Orwell in his famous essay "Shooting an Elephant."Orwell recounts how, while serving as a colonial officer in Burma, he was forced to shoot a rogue elephant simply because the local residents expected an official of the British Empire to act this way, even when the animal appeared to pose no further danger. If he didn't go ahead and dispatch the poor beast, he feared that his prestige and credibility might be diminished.

The Assad regime is like a rogue elephant? Really? It's remarkable to me how oft intellectuals cite Orwell whenever governments are forced to chose between doing what they ought to do, and doing what people want to avoid because the inconvenience of the choice. Unlike an elephant, rogue of otherwise, Assad's actions have resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 people and made more than 1.7 million people refugees as a result of the crisis. He has haphazardly massacred civilians, he consorts with and relies upon the aid of terrorists and rogue states (Hezbollah and Iran, respectively) when it looks like the FSA is gaining ground and then callously denies that he's done anything wrong.

Like Orwell, Obama seems to be sliding toward "doing something" because he feels he simply can't afford not to.

Like Orwell, the good Harvard professor is out of his depth.

Sad, but also revealing.

How curious it is that I reached the same conclusion of Walt.

Walt [the article's author] is a professor of international relations at Harvard University.

How lovely.
Tsar of DDO
pozessed
Posts: 1,034
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8/28/2013 7:02:46 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Something that he didn't state in his article that is part of my opinion is this.
Just because I don't feel like America should get involved militarily does not mean I do not think America should be involved.
I do understand that the Syrian war is taking innocent human lives. I also understand that violence usually leads to more violence. Though I don't think we should have a violent assault on Syria, I do think there should be some compromise that all nations can agree on to help Syria end its feuding.
lewis20
Posts: 5,093
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8/29/2013 1:40:40 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Raytheon and General Dynamics are why we go to war, those cruise missiles are 1.4 million a pop. There's no way the few dozen military buildings they'd destroy would justify the millions in cost to the taxpayer. We don't buy new cruise missiles unless we use them up.
I remember going through this same thing when we were bombing Libya, to absolutely no benefit.
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AnDoctuir
Posts: 11,060
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8/29/2013 2:37:47 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
YYW, you're actually a joke. And it's beyond funny - just pitiful.

"Ooh look at me! I can rub shoulders with professors, mommy!"

How about actually believing in something besides power? No? Oh, okay. Sucks that you're never moving very far past being a retard, then, doesn't it?

Oh yeah, sorry, forgot about the d1ck sucking. Good luck with that.
YYW
Posts: 36,391
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8/29/2013 9:16:41 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 8/29/2013 2:37:47 PM, AnDoctuir wrote:
YYW, you're actually a joke. And it's beyond funny - just pitiful.

"Ooh look at me! I can rub shoulders with professors, mommy!"

How about actually believing in something besides power? No? Oh, okay. Sucks that you're never moving very far past being a retard, then, doesn't it?

Oh yeah, sorry, forgot about the d1ck sucking. Good luck with that.

lol
Tsar of DDO