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Politics Middle Eastern power shifts

Discussion in 'Tilted Philosophy, Politics, and Economics' started by Remixer, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. Bodkin van Horn

    Bodkin van Horn One of the Four Horsewomyn of the Fempocalypse

    That's a nice way of framing the issue, Jay Carney. However, I think most people have a problem with the prospect of intervening because the last decade of American foreign policy has been spent dealing with the aftermath of intervening in situations where all the "serious" people swore up and down that we'd be treated like liberators and that the troops would be home in a matter of months. In other words, people who think like you have no credibility because: reality.
  2. redux

    redux Very Tilted

    Foggy Bottom
    Even the UN inspectors initiative is a farce, given that the mission is only to identify IF chemical weapons have been used and NOT by whom.

    All parties, including Russia and Assad have acknowledged that chemical weapons have been used.
    --- merged: Sep 5, 2013 at 3:13 PM ---
    This from one who wants to equate criminal executions by lethal injections in the US with the use of chemical weapons on women and children.

    I get the war weariness and the distrust as a result of the Iraq debacle and I have a different understanding of the underlying intent of those who were salavating to attack Iraq from the day they took office versus the current administration who are proposing a limited, targeted action as a last resort.
    --- merged: Sep 5, 2013 at 3:25 PM ---
    When Clinton bombed Iraq for four days in 1998 (yes under the post Gulf War I decree), degrading Saddam's WMD capabilities and deterring him from slaughtering his own people, did that result in Clinton expanding the mission and putting boots on the ground?

    Just another example of the different mindsets, so the Bush invasion/occupation is not a fair comparison.

    The credibility that you question is based on large part on stated goals and objectives and the distinction is clear in my mind.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2013
  3. Bodkin van Horn

    Bodkin van Horn One of the Four Horsewomyn of the Fempocalypse

    I didn't equate anything. There were no explicit or implicit equal signs. I just mentioned that it's strange that using gas on individuals is considered humane, while using it en masse is a war crime, even though there are plenty of other ways to kill people en masse which are much more brutal than using gas. This doesn't strike you as odd?

    And it's laughable that a person advocating military action would express concern for women and children. I mean, I know that the strikes are going to be "targeted" and that the marketers for US missile technology tell us that their products are sufficiently exact to be able to destroy individual angels dancing on the head of the proverbial pin, but when you advocate military action, you are advocating for the deaths of innocent women and children.


    The publicly expressed rationale is different. Other than that, I suspect that it's business (literally) as usual.
  4. redux

    redux Very Tilted

    Foggy Bottom
    What method is more brutal than being alive and while suffocating to death?

    I'm not naive, nor am I a war hawk. I expect that there will be civilian casualties...but far less than if Assad decides to gas another city under rebel control.

    We clearly have a different perception of the intent of Obama v Bush.
  5. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    The political problem stemming from the U.S. going in without a U.N. resolution is the implication and management of such unilateral action. Regardless of intention, the U.S. leading a military intervention without a resolution will rankle relations between the U.S. and Iran, Russia, and China. Sure, not using chemical weapons against people is an important issue, but so is international law regarding military actions.

    If America wants to shake the world's policeman from its reputation, it needs to focus on working through the U.N.

    If America thinks the U.N. is too ineffective, bureaucratic, impotent, or whatever, then it should come to terms with its dealings as the world's policeman. This is something that has changed fundamentally over the past few decades, and it will continue to change.

    The political mistake I refer to runs deep. Very deep. It would be a geopolitical, domestically political, economic, and national security mistake.

    I get the issue people have with chemical weapons. But this is just another method for killing a lot of people in heinous ways. Nothing has fundamentally changed. People have been dying in Syria for years and they will continue to die even if another chemical weapon isn't used ever again.

    But the issue here isn't the what so much as the how and why. Unilateral action from the U.S. should be avoided.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013
  6. Bodkin van Horn

    Bodkin van Horn One of the Four Horsewomyn of the Fempocalypse

    In Rwanda, people were routinely forced to spend their time waiting to get hacked to death by watching their family members get hacked to death. You could pay your murderers for a quicker death if you had the money and they were feeling charitable. I'd take suffocation.

    All I'm saying is that these little sorties tend to get out of hand, and so you can go in expecting to be out in weeks, and then ten years later there are over 100,000 people who are dead who might not have been dead had you kept your nose cleaner. Shit happens. It's irresponsible to pretend otherwise, especially when Obama clearly believes in telling everyone whatever he thinks they want to hear as long as it lets him do what he thinks he needs to do. I don't think he's any more trustworthy than Bush, in that neither is particularly trustworthy.

  7. redux

    redux Very Tilted

    Foggy Bottom
    I agree that a UN resolution would be preferred and we might get there if we declassify enough intel to shame Russia into refraining from a veto; a simple abstain would serve both sides. If not, and the Arab League neighbors (Jordon, Lebanon) and other western/NATO allies, including Turkey support the action, I could accept that as a mandate, with little consequence other than the existing anti-American pushback.

    From a US legal perspective, it is far more interesting and convoluted.

    As I understand it, it goes back to the Constitutional Convention and, after considerable debate, changing the wording of the Congressional powers from "to MAKE war" to "to DECLARE war" based on the concern of those framers that a president should not be totally restricted from deploying US forces in situations that are considered dire or imminent and that can be addressed with limited actions.

    It was either Truman or Eisenhower (I think) that raised this issue suggesting that the president has the power to use American forces under limited circumstances that are deemed less than "war" and the four most recent presidents before Obama based their actions on this interpretation.

    The debate on this will continue until a future president offers to cede this power....not likely.
  8. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    Oh, and when should we broach the subject of a possible regional war involving Israel, Syria, Iran, Turkey, and various militant groups?

    U.S. military action might be interesting tipping point. I guess it would depend on the scale and methods.
  9. redux

    redux Very Tilted

    Foggy Bottom
    If our intel along with Israeli intel and Turkish intel (however great or limited that might be), and the risk assessment of those parties of the likelihood of it expanding into a regional war is deemed to be extremely low, I think their judgement is acceptable, given that none of those parties are itching for war.
  10. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    I see your point, but this commentary raises questions about each of the possible outcomes, none of them pleasant. Do you think the U.S. should prepare to lose no matter what?

    Syria in the Crosshairs, All Outcomes Terrible – Forward.com
  11. redux

    redux Very Tilted

    Foggy Bottom
    The Bosnian War did not get out of hand; yes it lasted for several more years after the NATO strike, with civilian casualties, but an end to ethnic cleansing.

    Clinton's strike on Iraq did not get out of hand...until Bush came in with a different agenda.

    The Libyan air strike? Too soon to tell, but Gadaffi is not around to carry out his plan of going "door to door and killing protestors like dogs."

    These are the incident in recent history that I look to, not the one that had a different stated purpose and mission from the start.
    --- merged: Sep 5, 2013 at 4:36 PM ---
    The Forward brings an anti-war agenda to the table (those damn socialists), but I will read it.

    For now, I am off to a second night Rosh Hashana dinner with friends, where I suspect it will be the dinner table conversation and may result in a food fight!
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2013
  12. Remixer

    Remixer Middle Eastern Doofus

    Frankfurt, Germany

    Iran has already been very active in directly supporting the Assad regime through sending military supplies, limited amounts of cash, as well as Revolutionary Guard instructors to train infantry units and pro-Assad militia. Russia has continued their arms shipments without any pause. Hezbollah no doubt has sent in actual combat units and weaponry.

    The Arab Gulf countries are also stepping up their supply of money and military hardware to the FSA, seeing as the loose coalition is on the backfoot and quickly losing ground.

    American intervention would tip the scales significantly in favour of the FSA. Add the French military, UK "aid", Israeli intelligence/counter-terrorism operations and even more arms supplies... and you end up with a degree of combat strength that the combined Assad/Hezbollah/Iran/Russia operations can't withstand.

    Lish likely disagrees, but the sanctions imposed on the Iranian economy are having a substantial long-term detrimental effect. Price inflation continues to be a major issue there, and businesses are failing at an increasing rate (unless they're propped up directly by the government). Iran would not be able to step up their activities in Syria much more than they are already doing. Hezbollah has to worry abut its own backyard, especially since the situation in Tripoli (Lebanon) is becoming very unstable.

    If push comes to shove and the West went in with its military might, Assad would quickly fall. Their air superiority would also drastically reduce the supply lines from Iran/Lebanon, and possibly even Russia.

    Which is something Assad most assuredly realizes.

    Making the possibility of a false flag event staged by the rebels all that much more likely.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013
  13. roachboy

    roachboy Very Tilted

    first off, there's abundant evidence that the syrian army has been using gas for some time. but it fit into the strategy of encouraging an unstable situation. this only made sense once there was a wholesale breakdown of diplomatic imagination. that meant there was no predictable outcome.
    so the actual policy has been a quite stark example of cynical realpolitik. a revolution can be transformed into a civil war if you sell enough weapons...the entire transnational weapons bazaar is busily raking in dough from the carnage that's resulted not only from us policy but from that of the eu as well.

    within this there is 21 august. suddenly the gas usage that previously was not a problem is a High Moral Problem. and because of that the only alternative people imagine exists is bomb or do nothing.

    at the moment, there are 4.25 million refugees internally displaced. there are another 2 million refugees in jordan, lebanon, iraq and turkey for the most part. these are consequences of this brutal realpolitik. their situation is not on the american radar.

    how exactly the bombing of syrian infrastructure is going to help the situation of the 4.25 million people displaced inside of syria?

    why is nothing being said or done about the situations in jordan and lebanon, where small things like water are not obvious in supply terms? 2 million people. because of a wholesale failure of western imagination.

    and that total represents about 1/4 the entire population of syria.

    where was the administration's Moral Outrage when information surfaced over a year ago that asad's army was using systematic rape to terrorize populations around combat areas? because rape is not a war crime? it is one...because it only affected women? maybe they are only important on occasion?

    i don't see this action as well thought out. i don't see it fitting into any coherent objective apart from the actual policy of this administration, which is to encourage endless bloody war in syria because no process exists that enables them to control the outcome. because that is the
    objective--pretty clearly if you think about it---then this Moral Language is remarkably cynical.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Bodkin van Horn

    Bodkin van Horn One of the Four Horsewomyn of the Fempocalypse

    Except that the only way you can take the stated purpose and mission (we want to protect innocent lives from war crimes) seriously is if you assume that the Obama administration hasn't been aware of anything that has occurred in Syria in the last two years. Humanitarian intervention is to establishment centrists what WMDs is to neocons. Which is to say it's the spoonful of sugar that helps the war machine medicine go down, and by go down, I mean get loaded with explosives and shot from a plane into a country that poses no credible threat to the US in the context of a mission with no clear humanitarian benefit to anyone.
  15. redux

    redux Very Tilted

    Foggy Bottom
    IMO, there is nothing in Obama's past actions that support your contention of a “hidden motive” or lack of clarity, but rather an evolving and cautious response (certainly much more cautious than Bush) to a complex, changing environment with multiple players and multiple interests involved unlike any recent scenario in the region to the point that it now requires action. Too cautious? Too little, too late? Maybe, but that is no reason not to act when it not only inches across the line of international norms, but takes a giant step.

    There is also a difference between being aware of what has occurred over the last two years and having the clear unambiguous intel to convincingly assess and convince others of culpability beyond reasonable doubt.

    This is not Iraq or Egypt or even Libya, the one theater where you can judge Obama on real policies – policies that were clear and not only limited in scope, but specifically to play a subordinate role to other NATO allies. And there is nothing in his past positions in the Senate that would suggest support for a “Bush doctrine” type preemptive strike with boots on the ground rather than anything more than the limited action proposed.

    And your suggestion of possible or likely escalation if a limited action is taken is further diminished by Remixers post on the capabilities of Assad, Iran, and Hezbollah.

    Finally, your snarky comments, some of which have attacked my character or my level of understanding of the issues (pretty low and naive according to you), add nothing to your position.
    --- merged: Sep 6, 2013 3:24 AM ---
    ps....as an aside, I know I am running against popular opinion, but I believe I have supported my position with reasonable explanations and and the facts on the ground as I see it. You dont have to agree. I dont expect many others here to agree. But you certainly dont need to be so condescendingly dismissive...and not for the first time either.

    Baraka deserves singling out (as is often the case) for the manner in which he engages others in the political discussions here. We dont often disagree, but when we do, he keeps it focused on the issues and always tries to understand the other side.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2013
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  16. Bodkin van Horn

    Bodkin van Horn One of the Four Horsewomyn of the Fempocalypse

    Man, if I got worked up every time someone got snarky at me, I'd be one worked up ass motherfucker. But for the record, I didn't direct my snark at you until after you dismissed my perspective as misguided cynicism not fit for serious thinkers. If you're going to be imperious, you should expect it to become that kind of conversation.

    With that being said, here's a snark free response:

    I reject the idea that anything Obama says can be taken at face value. He's shown time and again his willingness to fabricate information and share it with the American people to meet his political goals. We all have several years' worth of examples of Obama policies and rhetoric, and as far as I can tell, Obama's rhetoric is guided by more by his political goals than some sort of overriding commitment to the truth or any recognizable notion of morality.

    I am sure the situation is complicated, but I also think "the situation is complicated" can be used to obfuscate what's really going on, or as a way for people who don't really know what's going on to justify their gut feelings. I think that for good reason a lot of people don't have much trust in Obama to do the right thing because he's been so bad at it for most of his presidency. This is the policy history I think of; it's more than just Egypt, Iraq or Libya.

    Remixer's post seemed to imply that it would be a bad idea for interested parties to escalate the situation. It doesn't say anything about whether anyone will escalate. I think you can probably appreciate the fact that bad ideas often end up realized. Especially in foreign policy. Assad gassing his people was a bad idea, but he did it anyway. When bad ideas are implemented, the results are usually worse if they happen in a situation where no one is prepared for them to happen.

    In other words, I don't think Obama is trustworthy, I don't understand how anyone could take the things he says at face value. I think his advisers are definitely not trustworthy. Finally, I think that expectations about how various global actors will respond aren't necessarily all that credible.
  17. redux

    redux Very Tilted

    Foggy Bottom
    I'm not worked up, just not interested in getting into a pissing match with you because you dont trust Obama on unrelated issues, despite the fact that on the action most closely related, Libya, he did exactly what he said he would and no more...but he and evidently, all of the players on his team are untrustworthy when it comes to putting American forces in trouble spots for humanitarian reasons, so lets just sit on our collective asses.

    There are many others here who disagree with me and I'll be more than happy to continue the discussions with those folks.
    --- merged: Sep 6, 2013 at 1:30 AM ---
    Here is an interesting commentary from E.J. Donne:
    E.J. Dionne, Jr.: Syria and the Return of Dissent -Truthdig
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2013
  18. Remixer

    Remixer Middle Eastern Doofus

    Frankfurt, Germany

    The risk of direct escalation by Iran, Russia and (going off the far end here) China in case of Western intervention is very unlikely. At least any escalation that involves these countries' military units.

    What would most likely happen, if the West went in:

    - Iran increases its hardware and money supply (as limited as that increase may be)
    - Iran's Revolutionary Guards would expand their training efforts and increase its "black ops" activities to deal direct damage on the opposing force
    - Hezbollah would send more combat units into Syria (again, as limited as that increase can be due to the escalating situation in Lebanon)
    - Lebanon would likely see exponential growth in violence and acts of terror; sectarian-based civil war is a possibility, though it would provide Israel/America with an excuse to directly attack Hezbollah
    - Turkey's southern region would further be destabilized by the sudden rush of many more refugees, as well as Syrian retaliation for Turkey's involvement in the intervention.
    - Kurdish rebels in southern Turkey would see an opportunity to deal damage to Turkey's military and attempt to expand its area of control
    - If Hezbollah is attacked directly, Israel will undoubtedly be affected with rocket attacks and bombings. Possibly disastrous outcome, should Hezbollah gotten its hands on some of Assad's chemical weapons. Who knows what preparations Mossad has undertaken for this scenario.

    I don't believe Iran or Russia would cause an escalation that would involve their troops.

    The past decade has given Iran a very strong impression that US military strategy is to encircle them geographically. Afghanistan has a 100,000-strong and movable NATO force. Iraq was a fuck-up, but it served the US for years as another military base right next to Iran. They will do anything they can to sabotage US efforts in the region, including Syria, but they will not give the Americans the public excuse to carry out military strikes against them. Sending their troops and hardware into Syria to shoot down US planes and possibly kill US infantry would give the Americans ample excuse to attack Iran directly. Israel's current leadership would also be overjoyed at this.

    Russia may have a naval base in Syria and it is strategically important, but it has very little incentive to send its military there to fight against the Americans. But assuming Russia gets involved directly in Syria and actually shoot at the American military, the limited scope of the West's proposed intervention would fly right out of the window. NATO and its members would have no choice but to respond. We would see the Republicans whip the "Communists are attacking the US military!" line to conjure up support for a stronger response, resulting in a drastic increase in allocation of US military personnel to the conflict in Syria.

    At that point, one could describe it as the start of World War 3.

    But again, any of that happening is very, very unlikely. Russia is greatly enjoying its sales of natural resources to the West, and Iran's new leadership has taken on a much more moderate stance than Ahmadinejad.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Bodkin van Horn

    Bodkin van Horn One of the Four Horsewomyn of the Fempocalypse

    You were worked up enough about the snarkiness to mention it. Don't bring something up and then when I engage you on it, pretend that you don't care about it. That's a bullshit move for someone pretending to be interested in discussion.

    So you're going to complain about me being snarky, but then when I explain my snarkiness, and then go against the better angels of my nature and mute my snarkiness you're going to respond with snark? Well played. And here I thought you were the credulous one.

    Just so I understand your perspective, you don't dispute the fact that Obama is loose with his facts when it suits him, or that he's enacted morally questionable policies in the past, you just think that he's being h0nest now and morally upright in this one specific context. And you also think that the relevant people from interested foreign parties are being honest in this particular situation (or is it that you think they are all being forthright)? And you think that we should discount the notion that others will respond to our escalation with escalation because responding to our escalation with escalation wouldn't be rational, as defined by remixer, and you think countries are run by rational actors?
    --- merged: Sep 6, 2013 at 1:53 AM ---
    Remixer I appreciate the rundown. Clearly you are more educated on the intricacies here than I. However, I have a difficult time looking at scenarios like the ones you present without thinking about black swans, or the idea that plans are useless, but planning is essential. In the face of uncertainty, I want to tend towards not shooting missiles at people, especially when the motives and benefits of doing so are ambiguous.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2013
  20. Remixer

    Remixer Middle Eastern Doofus

    Frankfurt, Germany

    The stuff I've written on this entire topic are my thoughts only, anyway.

    I've had the pleasure of knowing some people who were involved in making this type of policies, so I'd like to think I have an inkling how they assess the big picture.

    But really, who knows what opinion a particular adviser/group is pushing in DC.