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Jun 14 2013

Time for a diversion?

What worries me is that president Obama might try to divert attention from the NSA spying story by some sort of military adventure, say in Syria, the way Bill Clinton bombed a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan in 1998 when he was being besieged by the Monica Lewinsky scandal. No one was punished for that crime either.

The timing of the Obama administration’s announcement today that it had confirmed Syria’s use of chemical weapons and was upping its support of the Syrian rebels was suspiciously convenient because it took the news headlines away from the spying scandal. As usual, the government said it had evidence to back up its claims but did not share it and the media seemed incurious as usual. Doesn’t anyone remember how the Iraq war was sold to us with bogus claims of weapons of mass destruction?

But Dan Drezner goes even further about the motive for today’s announcement, suggesting that the Obama policy is to try and maintain a military stalemate in Syria as a means of draining the resources of every party in the conflict, and today’s move was to counter the recent losses by the rebels. Of course they do not care that the Syrian people are suffering intensely from this protracted conflict.

To your humble blogger, this is simply the next iteration of the unspoken, brutally realpolitik policy towards Syria that’s been going on for the past two years. To recap, the goal of that policy is to ensnare Iran and Hezbollah into a protracted, resource-draining civil war, with as minimal costs as possible. This is exactly what the last two years have accomplished…. at an appalling toll in lives lost.

This policy doesn’t require any course correction… so long as rebels are holding their own or winning. A faltering Assad simply forces Iran et al into doubling down and committing even more resources. A faltering rebel movement, on the other hand, does require some external support, lest the Iranians actually win the conflict. In a related matter, arming the rebels also prevents relations with U.S. allies in the region from fraying any further.

Jonathan Turley has a good piece on how the administration continues to make wild claims for the success of the secret NSA spying program without providing any evidence to support it, unbelievably asking us to trust them on it.

The Obama administration has long since lost any right to expect us to trust it. As a result of its steady record of blatant hypocrisy and lying, it has reached the stage where if they say it is raining, I still want to see evidence.

5 comments

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  1. 1
    slc1

    Excuse me, reports from several other countries (Briatin, France, Israel, etc) indicate that sarin gas has been used. The UN Secretary General has also made the claim. Bur, or course, in the conspiracy world of Prof. Singham, they’re all liars. Don Williams would love this blog.

    The truth is that the Obama administration has come under increasing pressure to intervene in the Syrian civil war and has so far resisted the pressure. However, if the administration really want’s the Assad regime to go, it can’t hold out much longer. Especially given the recent intervention of the Hizbollah terrorist organization which has sent thousands of its fighters into Syria to bolster the Assad regime. The way it is now, a victory for Assad is a victory for Hizbollah, Iran, and Russia, his major backers and a major defeat for us and our allies in the region.

  2. 2
    slc1

    All of this is he result of 40 years of tacit support for the Assad Regime by the US and Israel, based on the fact that that regime kept things quiet on the Golan Highths front. Neither of the governments of those countries said boo in 1982 when Assad pere killed in excess of 20,000 people in the City of Hama, and, in fact, were envious of his success in suppressing a radical Muslim uprising.

  3. 3
    Mano Singham

    So if you don’t believe claims by the US until you see evidence, then you are a conspiracy theorist?

  4. 4
    sailor1031

    As a canadian I can assure you I wouldn’t believe anything Stephen Harper said without pretty conclusive evidence. The man is simply parroting the US line on this – as he does on everything else. If poison gases have been used where is the evidence? and what is the evidence? As the Prof says, their word isn’t good enough.
    FWIW I don’t believe anything David Cameron or Netanyahu say, either…..multiple repetitions of the same rumour do not constitute evidence.

    But if it’s so clear cut show us the evidence. Let us judge for ourselves. But all we have are unsubstantiated allegations from totally untrustworthy politicians. Not good enough!

  5. 5
    slc1

    Actually, I have a different slant on the situation in Syria. IMHO, Obama made a major boo boo when he declared that use of chemical weapons would be a game changer. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Once he made that statement, he’s stuck with it.

    The real game changer so far in Syria is the intervention of Hizbollah, which has sent thousands of its fighters to Syria. Unlike the regular Syrian Army, which is mostly made up of Sunni Muslims, who have little or no motivation to fight against the mostly Sunni rebels, the Hizbollah fighters are Shiites and are highly motivated to fight vigorously. The Hizbollah intervention is largely responsible for the recent victories by the regime. In fact, it is highly doubtful that chemical weapons played any part in these recent victories.

    Thus, the Western countries are faced with a dilemma. If Assad prevails, in part because of the bolstering of his forces by Hizbollah, the other countries in the area will take note and adjust their priorities accordingly. A victory by Assad’s forces will be seen as a victory by Iran, Russia, and Hizbollah.

    The fact is that all the alternatives in Syria are bad. Doing nothing is bad, intervening via arming some of the supposedly friendly rebel forces is bad, intervening via installing a no fly zone is bad, massive intervention using ground troops is bad. What the administration has to do is to figure out what is the least bad alternative.

    Rather interesting that Andrew Sullivan, who Prof. Singham regularly bad mouths, stands shoulder to shoulder with him against any intervention.

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