We are contemplating going to war in Syria to help the opposition a lot and to hurt Assad some, or to help the opposition some and hurt Assad a lot, or to hurt Assad some and help the opposition some, or to force Assad to stop or to leave, or to stop but stay, or to stop and leave; or to restore the word of the president, or the word of the United States, or the word of the international community by bombing, or by threatening to bomb but not bombing, or by neither threatening to bomb nor bombing; or to warn the Russians to stay out, or to welcome the Russians to come in, or to warn the Russians to stay out and welcome the Russians to come in. Message? We are planning to do all kinds of things by not doing anything. Continue reading “Syria in a Nutshell”→
“It was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire woke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves.”
— J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers.
If it were regrettable that Vladimir Putin’s formidable diplomatic skills were wasted squashing rather than ensuring freedom inside Russia, it seems even more lamentable that his impressive prose likewise is not put to better use. Putin’s letter to us, the American people, is brilliant sophistry. The best rhetoric is always that which blends truth with half-truth and occasional fiction. In Putin’s case, he did all that—while offering the dessert of channeling Obama back to Obama.
Of course, as Putin reminds us, we fought together in WWII and should agree that such cooperation should be emulated. Russia suffered enormous losses for the Allied cause. Without such heroic sacrifices, the Anglo-American alliance may well have lost the war.
Yet Putin forgets to remind us that Russia’s war with Germany was prompted by betrayal. Russia was a de facto ally of Hitler. It kept sending him enormous amounts of material to help defeat France and Continue reading “Putin — Saruman Come Alive”→
To support the president’s enforcement of his red line in Syria requires suspensions of disbelief. Here are several.
I wish it were not true, but there is scant evidence that the world, led by the U.S., went to war in the past over the use of weapons of mass destruction — whether by Gamel Nasser in Yemen or by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds and the Iranians. Understandably, the current West’s reaction, including Obama’s, to possible Syrian WMD use is calibrated mostly on the dangers of intervention, not the use of WMD per se. Thus Obama is now focusing on Syria in a way he is not, at least overtly, on Iran, the far greater WMD threat, because he believes the former could be handled with two days’ worth of Tomahawks and the latter could not. That would be understandable pragmatism if it were not dressed up in the current humanitarian bluster about red lines and the “international community.”
Ostensibly, even an intervention of the most restricted sort in Syria, given the loud proclamations of the limited nature of cruise-missile attacks, should not pose geostrategic risks anything like costlier major ground operations of the sort we conducted in Afghanistan and Iraq. Continue reading “Counterintuitively Risky”→
What are the president’s strategic objectives in the present mess? Does he know?
There are four general strategic options — predicated on the political fact that either the Congress will approve the operation or that the Obama administration will ignore it if it doesn’t, and that Obama is not worried about either the present absence of both public support and any militarily credible allies, and that he need not explain our primary objectives that will be made up as we go along (e.g., punish WMD use, regime change, enhance U.S. security, help the insurgents, restore U.S. prestige, etc.) Continue reading “Now What?”→
One of the problems that Barack Obama has in mounting an attack against the Assad regime is that the gambit violates every argument Barack Obama used against the Bush administration to establish his own anti-war candidacy. Continue reading “Obama Indicts Obama”→
By now it should be obvious that whenever the U.S. interferes in another nation’s politics in the name of “human rights,” that that is only a pretext. So it is in Syria, as Obama prepares to plunge America in a war with that nation, and, inevitably, its allies. The United States’ stated reason for intervention, as articulated by John Kerry, is that Syrian President Assad used Continue reading “Obama Crosses Red Line by Supporting Jihadi Terrorism”→
The latest disclosure — and the most grave — of the Assad regime’s supposed deployments of chemical weapons puts the West in general and the U.S. in particular in an untenable position. Continue reading “Rhetoric Running on Empty”→