September 14, 2013

Syria: An overview of the issues

Update, Sept. 18: The UN investigation seems to tie the attacks to senior officers of President Bashar Assad. Whether they were following orders or not may still not be final, but the linked New York Times story indicates the answer is yes.

That said, per the oft-cited piece by William Polk at the Atlantic? His "cui bono" was, and still is, a good question. And, if part of why he wrote that piece was pushback, given America's generally poor history of regime change in the Middle East, the neocons leading the charge again on this one and Obama not having a Syria exit plan, the shoot-first warmongers can still look themselves in the mirror.

See my new blog post that looks at details of the UN preliminary report here.

Now, back to the original blog post.

First, I cannot repeat too much that we don't know for sure that it was Syrian President Bashar Assad that initiated the sarin attacks of last month. There's all sorts of other agents, from rogue generals through the leading "secular" opposition and more, who would arguably profit more than Assad from a sarin attack.

That's why, as I stressed, we should ask the "cui bono" question — who would benefit most from the use of chemical weapons?

We should also ask who would benefit most from pushing for war against Syria, especially as the neoconservatives who led us into Iraq lead the charge on this one, too.

That's why it scares me that Dear Leader, President Barack Obama himself, is sounding more like George W. Bush by the day, almost, on this issue. That said, per the first link, he's arguably also sounding more and more like himself on domestic policy, boxing himself in a crack then arguing against himself, like on the sequester and the Bush Obama tax cuts.

That's why it shouldn't be surprising that he has no exit plan for Syria; heck, it's arguable he doesn't have a game plan, period. That's why I said NO to boots on the ground when Democrats started talking it up already this spring.

That, in turn, is why nobody, nobody, nobody, should be playing politics with Syria. That's whether it's Rush Limbaugh and the radical right trying to poke another stick in Obama's eye, the bipartisan foreign policy establishment trying to look "muscular," the neocons mentioned above, Obamiacs determined to run Dear Leader up the flagpole and salute him no matter what, or more. American military lives should never be held hostage to politics. As I said in another post, some left-liberals shouldn't use past foreign policy failures of the U.S. to try to justify a reflexive anti-Americanism, though, either.

Speaking of anti-Americanism? I don't relish the idea of Vlad the Impaler, Russian President Vladimir Putin, being a massive hypocrite while pretending to defend ideas of peace. But, as I noted, he's one of two men in the world who have a realistic chance of reining us in, and the other is not Pope Francis. (John Paul II couldn't reign in Bush, either; Stalin wasn't all wrong.)

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To sum up:

Per my "boots on the ground" post, concerns about Syria have been around for months. We shouldn't rush into any military action now without knowing who did this, who would benefit from this, who would benefit from botched or inadequate military action by us, what Team Obama expects as a realistic, non-neocon driven result, and more.

It's unpresidential for Obama to tell the American public any less in a real speech.

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