Three ways to break encryption »« The Daily Show on Syria (and blog platform issues)

What are the reasons for the push for attacking Syria?

The US government says that its goal is to not to overthrow the Syrian government militarily, something it could do easily if it were not for overwhelming public opinion against such a move. It also says that it is not allied with the Syrian rebels, an understandable public distancing since some reports indicate that about half of that motley group consists of extremely undesirable elements, including violently anti-US groups.

And yet, whenever it looks like the rebels are losing ground, the US intervenes by giving them more weapons and other means to neutralize any Syrian government advantage. President Obama’s recent expressions of a desire to attack Syria came at a time when the Syrian government seemed to be again getting the upper hand. Back in August 29, Musa al-Gharbi argued that the Obama administration’s policy to bomb Syria had been decided well in advance when it seemed like the government was overpowering the rebels, and that the use of chemical weapons in Ghouta was used as an excuse to justify the action.

The Obama Administration’s previous decision to arm the rebels came just after the fall of the pivotal city of al-Qusayr, as the Syrian Army was preparing for a major campaign to purge Aleppo of rebel forces. At the time, Saudi Arabia and France argued vehemently that some kind of immediate intervention was needed to interrupt these efforts, which were otherwise likely to be successful—and devastating for the rebellion.

This new chemical weapons incident just happened to occur at a moment when the regime is on the verge of a general de facto victory over the insurgency while the world’s attention was focused primarily on the unfolding crisis in Egypt.

So what are we to make of US policy? What is the actual goal? Why is there a drive for attacking Syria’s government while at the same time no apparent desire to have the rebels actually take over the government, a seemingly pardoxical situation captured in this Ted Rall cartoon? It seems as if the US government wants to maintain a perpetual status quo in which both sides keep killing and destroying each other and innocent civilians while neither winning nor losing. Could it be that it is the policy of the US to just have more and more people die in Syria in a civil war?

As in the case of Iraq, there are many factors that lurk beneath what seems incomprehensible on the surface. Jean Bricmont and Diana Johnstone have a good article with an exhaustive analysis of all the possible reasons that might be at play. They look at the role of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the oil lobby, and the military-industrial complex. They also look at why Israel and its US lobby were way out ahead on this issue, pushing strongly for the attack, only to be thwarted at the last minute by public opinion and Russian diplomacy. They point to long-term US geopolitical strategy and the role that Israel plays in those plans.

People on the left are not wrong in supposing that Washington would want to defend “American geo-strategic interests”. Those certainly exist, and are a proper object of controversy. But the crucial question here is whether support for Israeli policy aims in the Middle East is among them. Indeed, there is a sector of the U.S. foreign policy establishment that promotes an aggressive global foreign policy that amounts to a sort of world conquest, with U.S. military bases and military exercises surrounding Russia and China, as if in preparation for some final showdown. But the fact is that the most active advocates of this aggressive policy are the pro-Israel neoconservatives of the Project for the New American Century that pushed the Bush II presidency into war against Iraq, and now, as the Foreign Policy Initiative, are pushing Obama toward war against Syria. Their general line is that U.S. and Israeli interests are identical, and that U.S. world domination is good, or even necessary, for Israel. Such close identification with Israel has caused the United States to be intensely hated throughout the Muslim world, which is not good for the United States in the long run.

The authors go on to argue that that does not mean that Israel wants Syrian president Assad gone. As always, their main focus is on Iran, the one remaining middle eastern country that Israel sees as a potential threat that needs to be destroyed.

Even so, it is not certain that Israel’s war aim would be to overthrow Assad. A clue to Israel’s strategy is provided by a September 5 article in the New York Times: “Israeli officials have consistently made the case that enforcing Mr. Obama’s narrow ‘red line’ on Syria is essential to halting the nuclear ambitions of Israel’s archenemy, Iran. More quietly, Israelis have increasingly argued that the best outcome for Syria’s two-and-a-half-year-old civil war, at least for the moment, is no outcome. For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.”

“This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.”

So, the real goal of the limited strikes (and the reason why they ought to be limited) would be to send a message to Iran, about its nonexistent nuclear arms program and, in Syria, let both sides “bleed to death”. How nice! Waging a war based on the flimsiest of evidence only to prolong a bloody conflict may not be a very moral endeavor for all those who claim to act out of passion for “our values” and for deep concern over the “suffering of the Syrian people”.

As appalling as such a rationale sounds, David Swanson writes that this would not be something new in the annals of geopolitical scheming. On the August 6 anniversary of one of the most shameful acts in history, the dropping by the US of nuclear bombs on Japan, he writes:

Harry Truman spoke in the U.S. Senate on June 23, 1941: “If we see that Germany is winning,” he said, “we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible.”

Did Truman value Japanese lives above Russian and German? There is nothing anywhere to suggest that he did. Yet we debate, every August 6th or so, whether Truman was willing to unnecessarily sacrifice Japanese lives in order to scare Russians with his nuclear bombs. He was willing; he was not willing; he was willing. Left out of this debate is the obvious possibility that killing as many Japanese as possible was among Truman’s goals.

So we can ignore all the bogus tears shed for the victims of the chemical weapons attack that president Obama and all the other warmongers shed. What they seem to be after is a lot of deaths in Syria but spread out over a long time using conventional weapons. It looks as if the US policy is to place its hand, either overtly or covertly, on the military scale of the Syrian civil war to maintain the balance and see that the war continues until the country and its people are destroyed.

That would be pretty much consistent with what is now going on covertly in Yemen and Somalia, countries that are out of the headlines at present but that we are sadly going to hear about in the near future as they further disintegrate.

Comments

  1. unbound says

    I find the Bricmont / Johnstone article to be lacking. Overly simplistic arguments (e.g. their argument about capitalist motives are made from the view that there is a single capitalistic entity in lieu of the multiple of corporations that have their own agendas) and lack of convincing evidence (e.g. Pro-Israel lobby is very powerful because there are news articles) really takes the wind out of the article. They may end up with the right arguments, but it would seem to be more accidental than due to actual solid logical reasoning.

  2. colnago80 says

    So we can ignore all the bogus tears shed for the victims of the chemical weapons attack that president Obama and all the other warmongers shed. What they seem to be after is a lot of deaths in Syria but spread out over a long time using conventional weapons. It looks as if the US policy is to place its hand, either overtly or covertly, on the military scale of the Syrian civil war to maintain the balance and see that the war continues until the country and its people are destroyed.

    Of course, Prof. Singham is full of prunes if he really believes that this is US policy. Putting aside the moral issues, such a policy would be insanity as there there is every possibility of the Syrian civil war spilling over into neighboring countries, including Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan (it’s already spilled over into Iraq as the Shiite and Sunni intramural war there is well underway, and Lebanon between Sunnis and Hizbollah). There have been exchanges of fire between military units of the Syrian Army and forces in Lebanon, Turkey, and Israel (a number of exchanges across the Golan Highths cease fire line). Such events could easily escalate into a full scale war which would be bad for US allies in the Middle East, as well as Europe and the US. In fact, IMHO, the only reason full scale war has not broken out between Israel and Syria is because Syrian forces facing the Golan Highths have been thinned out as cannon fodder was needed elsewhere.

  3. colnago80 says

    I would also point out that the lobbying of AIPAC was, apparently, ineffective as few votes in Congress changed. IMHO, AIPAC’s heart wasn’t really in it; they were going through the motions as a means of sucking up to Obama, who is not one of their fans.

  4. Dunc says

    I have a general rule for understanding foreign policy, especially when things are this unclear: it’s usually got a lot less to do with actual foreign policy objectives than with domestic politics. Politicians advocate foreign policy stances which play well with their domestic constituencies, regardless of whether they support any rational objective, or indeed make any sense at all.

    In this case, Obama has to say something, otherwise he looks weak and isolated. The Syrian government has been consistently demonised in the English-speaking press (not exactly without good reason), so he can’t be seen to support them. However, the opposition is complex, fractious, and contains many elements which are opposed to US interests, so actively supporting them (sufficiently to shift the balance of the civil war) carries a severe risk of political blowback in the future. So actions to maintain the status quo become the default option – Obama is seen to act, but does not risk the negative (domestic political) consequences of either side actually winning. The fact that this means the continuation of a bloody civil war with absolutely no end in sight is just an unfortunate side-effect, not an actual objective.

    There may also be an element of “dual containment” (to dig up a phrase from the Iran / Iraq War), but I suspect it’s a secondary consideration.

  5. says

    The US government says that its goal is to not to overthrow the Syrian government militarily, something it could do easily…

    This is bullshit, and it seriously damages the credibility of your post overall.

  6. Mano Singham says

    That is a good point but why Syria? Somalia is a mess too at this time, with various groups jockeying for control and the civilian population badly affected. The US is covertly involved there too but no one is calling for anything major there.

  7. says

    So we can ignore all the bogus tears shed for the victims of the chemical weapons attack that president Obama and all the other warmongers shed.

    Are you really trying to say that our concerns about the use of chemical weapons against civilians is “bogus?” That’s going way too far, and again, it totally undermines what could have been a plausible thesis. That is, in fact, one of the reasons for our entanglement in Syria — our government is responding to sincere humanitarian concerns, both at home and abroad. Criticize our leaders and their actions if you will — there’s plenty of solid ground for both — but don’t just accuse us of “bogus tears” and expect us to take you seriously.

  8. colnago80 says

    It could do so easily by, for instance, dropping a 15 megaton bomb on Damascus, which would take out most of the Syrian Government. Of course, there would be considerable collateral damage but hey, can’t make an omelet without breaking a few egg shells. By the way, just to make it perfectly clear so that there be no misunderstanding, in no way, shape, form, or regard am I advocating such a policy in Syria.

  9. says

    The “easily” part. If you really think that a ground invasion of yet another Islamic country is “easy” for our overextended and underfunded military, then you haven’t been paying attention. There’s nothing “easy” about overthrowing a government, or replacing it.

  10. says

    Did Truman value Japanese lives above Russian and German? There is nothing anywhere to suggest that he did.

    What the fuck does that have to do with Truman’s specific objectives? Truman wanted to win — and END — WW-II ASAP, which was good for Japanese, German and Russian lives alike. And he chose to nuke a city, rather than a military base, because he calculated (rightly or not) that that was the best way to end the killing altogether sooner rather than later. Accusing Truman of “wanting to kill people” is nothing but a lazy, simpleminded ad-hom attack that totally ignores the more complex reality of military thinking.

    And dragging up this long-past dispute, in a discussion of present-day SYRIA FFS, just makes your whole thesis all the more ridiculous.

  11. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    an understandable public distancing since some reports indicate that about half of that motley group consists of extremely undesirable elements, including violently anti-US groups.

    Is that a new euphemism for Al Quaida and associates /linked groups? (E.g. Al Nusra front from what I gather.) Seems a remarkably restrained way of describing them.

    Besides its not like Assads regime or any Syrian faction that I’ve heard of has exactly been wildly pro-US in contrast. Botn sides – rebels with their heart eating fanatic dudes and dictatorship which has been shelling its own civilians are just horrifically nasty from I’ve heard and read. (Which, yes, is no doubt not everything and limited and objective but still.)

    I hope a diplomatic solution which removes the Syrian’s WMDs from all sides works.

    I pity their innocent civilians and the refugees fleeing from the horrors of that nastiest oxymoron “civil” war.

    I don’t have a clue which side we should be backing or what if anything we realistically can do – ideally arresting Assad and the worst criminals on the rebel side alike for their crimes against Humanity whilst harming nobody innocent and then allowing free and fair and well-informed elections to occur if it could be arranged. But I sadly every much doubt it can be though hope to be proven wrong.

    I hope the conflict can be contained and doesn’t spread, that it ends with less harm done rather than more but already seems too late for that. Dreadful situation and lose-lose for almost everyone really there I fear.

  12. Mano Singham says

    I think it would be very easy for the US to overthrow the government of any smaller country like Syria if it wanted to and as long as it is willing to ignore the consequences. The US has overwhelming numbers of troops and military hardware. It is what to do next that is the hard part.

  13. Mano Singham says

    It is a very relevant link, showing that ending a war in not always the desired goal of policymakers but continuing it could be.

    As to your claims about Truman’s motives, the Swanson article I linked to addresses those, even though you may choose not to accept his arguments. But taking your argument at face value, would you accept such an argument if, hypothetically, Assad said that he used chemical weapons in order to bring a quick end to the civil war and thus spare the deaths of many more people in a prolonged civil war?

  14. deepak shetty says

    Are you really trying to say that our concerns about the use of chemical weapons against civilians is “bogus?”
    From a non US perspective yes. The US government doesnt really care about the use of chemical weapons or other atrocities against civilians – otherwise it would have to change quite a few of its policies and interfere in quite a few more countries including ones it currently supports.
    Some US citizens on the other hand may be genuinely concerned

  15. Nick Gotts says

    their argument about capitalist motives are made from the view that there is a single capitalistic entity in lieu of the multiple of corporations that have their own agendas

    I don’t think you read the article with much attention. Bricmont and Johnstone make exactly the point you do:

    There is a widespread tendency, shared by much of the left, especially among people who think of themselves as Marxists (Marx himself was far more nuanced on this issue), to think that wars must be due to cynically rational calculations by capitalists. If this were so, these wars “for oil” might be seen as “in the national interest”. But this view sees “capitalism” as a unified actor issuing orders to obedient politicians on the basis of careful calculations.

    They go on to argue that only a small minority of US corporations, not including the largest, profit from actual wars, as opposed to “threats” of wars.

  16. Dunc says

    Because of many factors, including its historical involvement in the Cold War, its relationship with Russia and Iran, its position slap-bang in the middle of the Middle East, and its history with Israel, it’s already on the Western foreign policy agenda in a way that Somalia isn’t, making it much harder to ignore.

    I also can’t help but suspect that the generally darker complexions of the people in Somalia might have something to do with our willingness to ignore that country’s problems…

  17. Nick Gotts says

    Why Syria rather than Somalia? Look at a map: Syria is close to the largest oil and gas reserves on the planet, and even apart from that, is in a geo-strategically vital position at the junction of Africa with Eurasia. Somalia has no oil discovered so far, and while it is at the outlet of the Red Sea, the parts that border that sea are under the control of breakaway regions (Somaliland and Puntland) which do not harbour pirates or in other ways threaten western interests. Intervention in the rest of Somalia has been outsourced to the reliably pro-western regime in Ethiopia. It’s not clear that either the US or Israel has any coherent Syrian policy, since both hate Assad for his ties to Iran and Hezbollah, but can’t rationally want him replaced by forces linked to Al-Qaeda, and nor is it clear how continued war serves their interests. I’m sure what both would like is a docile pro-western military dictatorship such as has recently been restored in Egypt, but there is no obvious path to achieving that.

  18. colnago80 says

    Swanson merely repeats the same old arguments that, as I recall, were first proposed by Gar Alperovitz several decades ago. The argument basically is that Japan was ready to surrender and would have done so shortly if the bombs had not been dropped. What Swanson and Alperovitz fail to consider is that members of the armed forces high command in Japan, who wanted to fight to the last man, were plotting a coup against the emperor, who was, in fact, in favor of unconditional surrender, which coup was quite advanced in planning even while the Enola Gay was winging its way to Hiroshima. One can argue that the coup would have been unsuccessful if the bombs had not been dropped but that’s Monday morning quarterbacking. The fact is that the bombs were dropped and Japan surrendered virtually unconditionally a few days later.

    As to the argument that an invasion of Japan would have resulted in fewer casualties then were caused by the bombs, that certainly wasn’t true on the US side as it was estimated by the Pentagon that a half million casualties or more would be inflicted on the invading forces. Truman, and anyone else who might have been president would have made the same decision as his mandate was to limit US casualties as much as possible.

    Just for the record, more civilian deaths were inflicted on Germany by the allied bombing campaign then were the result of the 2 bombs combined.

  19. wtfwhateverd00d says

    Why Syria, because WMD, and we’ve always made WMD a sticking point.

    Why Syria over Somalia, because apart from pirates, who cares about Somalia and pirates will never be the problem that WMD are.

  20. wtfwhateverd00d says

    “I think it would be very easy for the US to overthrow the government of any smaller country like Syria, if it wanted to and as long as it is willing to ignore the consequences. ”

    I think most of us could solve any relationship problems we have, if we wanted to as long as we are willing to ignore the consequences.

    Evidence is very few of us solve relationship problems that way, so separating the second clause from the first clause at the comma may not make for a reasonable analysis.

  21. wtfwhateverd00d says

    Related: What is the current outcome of the Arab Spring. Has that gone well for anyone, or have all those movements mostly been put down and replaced with perhaps even more authoritarian rule or perhaps worse chaos?

  22. Nick Gotts says

    we’ve always made WMD a sticking point

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah!!!!!

    *chortles, trying to get a hold of his mirth*

    Yeah, good one wtfwhateverd00d. I mean, no-one could possibly say such a thing seriously, considering:
    1) The vast amounts of aid and unquestioning support Israel gets from the USA, despite having a large nuclear arsenal, and refusing to join either the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, or the Biological Weapons Convention.
    2) The large amounts of military aid Egypt gets from the USA, despite refusing to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, or ratify the Biological Weapons Convention.
    3) The support and assistance the USA gave Iraq in its war of aggression against Iran, despite Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons in that war – even to the extent of pretending it was the Iranians using them.

    What? You were serious?

  23. says

    In other words, the job is “easy” if you don’t actually follow through with it. If you’re going to start talking like a neocon, that’s just another blow to your credibility. C’mon, dude, you’re better than that and we all know it. Make a little more effort, willya?

  24. says

    Yes, underfunded. As in, not having the resources to do what Mano thinks is “easy.” That’s one of the reasons our Iraq venture was such a failure: our troops didn’t have what they needed to do the whole job (as opposed to just the killing and blowing shit up part).

  25. says

    Just because our policies were inconsistent, does not mean our people didn’t care at all. It really doesn’t take that many brain cells to understand that. Do you really think it’s even POSSIBLE, let alone desirable, to have a foreign policy that’s rigidly consistent across multiple regions, times, administrations, and circumstances?

    Besides, crying about “consistency” is an old standard reactionary response to ANY advocacy of change: the advocates of change can’t make the same change all over the world at once, and they come from a time when the changes hasn’t yet happened, therefore they can easily be labelled “hypocrites.”

    There’s lots of sensible criticism to be made of US policies, both now and in the past, but your otherwise plausible critique is hobbled by a glaring lack of common sense.

  26. says

    No, I would not accept such an argument — certainly not from a scumbag like Assad Jr. — because Assad had other opportrunities to end the violence that he refused to take: he could have made some sort of deal with rebel factions, he could have resigned (with or without a deal), or he could have taken other measures to defuse the hatred, as some other Arab states did when faced with similar internal disturbances.

  27. says

    Nick, your lazy pseudo-leftist blather-points haven’t changed since the 1970s. I’m all in favor of recycling, but this is ridiculous. If you’re really dumb enough to believe that every decision we make in the Middle East is motivated by oil, and nothing but, then you clearly don’t care enough to pay attention at even the shallowest level. Grow up.

  28. Jeffrey Johnson says

    The US government says that its goal is to not to overthrow the Syrian government militarily, something it could do easily if it were not for overwhelming public opinion against such a move.

    Even if the public were for it, I doubt there would be any goal to militarily overthrow the Syrian government. Reason number one, which is also a major reason the public opposes a full out war, is that we have finally learned, what we already should have known, from Iraq and Afghanistan, that rebuilding a nation after destroying its government is a long, arduous, complicated, expensive, and often bloody enterprise that nobody knows how to do, and is probably impossible. The infrastructure and knowledge base that various systems of government depend on evolve organically over long periods of time, and must happen from within a nation, and can’t be imposed from without.

    But a second major reason is that, as you mention in the article, there are not just two sides to this conflict. It is Assad/Alawite/Iran/Iraq/Hezbollah/Shiite against FSA/Al Nusra/other Sunni groups/Saudi Arabia/Jordan/Turkey. The sides entail a spectrum of various shades of radical Islam to moderate Muslims willing to support elements of a secular democracy within a moderately Islamic framework. We just can’t pick a winner, we can’t take a side on Sunni vs Shiite, which this fight is largely become a proxy for. It hurts US interests in every way to try to force an outcome in Syria.

    If the US entered this conflict in a big way on the side of the FSA (the only group we might reasonably support), we would alienate Iran at a time when historic opportunities to make diplomatic progress exist. That is too valuable to risk. As it is, we have been working behind the scenes diplomatically, in hopes that all sides in the Syrian War might perceive that victory will not be possible, and thus have motives to negotiate at the UN sponsored Geneva II. We hope a solution requiring Assad to step aside might result, but one that doesn’t open a power vacuum for violent jihadis to benefit by. All of this has been in process over the last couple of years, though the media has not emphasized it. Obama brought up the chemical disarmament for Syria with Putin as early as June of 2012. The fact that chemical weapons was a large issue on his mind, as is nuclear disarmament and preventing nuclear proliferation, is attested to by his record in the Senate, and the work he did with Richard Lugar along those lines. This fact is the whole reason that a “redline” remark was ever made. This red-line remark was distorted by the media because too many were quick to equate it to the red-line Netanyahu wanted in Iran, with the ridiculous Wile E. Coyote bomb diagram he presented to the UN. If you pay attention to what the President said (something hardly anyone seems to do), he never set an absolute robotic trigger such that any chemical weapons use would automatically trigger a military attack. He said that it would change things, that it would change his calculus in Syria, and after Aug. 21, in response to overwhelming evidence, it did change his calculus. Thus early small reports of chemical weapons use did not trigger an attack or a threat of attack, but you can bet it triggered a lot of intelligence activity. And at Ghouta on Aug. 21 a line was finally crossed that made the President decide he had to put the brakes on any escalation of chemical weapons in a way calculated to not signal taking sides or trying to end the war.

    We don’t have secret motives or underlying benefits to getting involved in this war. We have an interest in stopping the spread of chemical weapons use, and in making sure that any leaders in the world know it will be punished if they persist in this. All of the underlying benefits and motives for the US are in trying to balance a delicate set of tangled diplomatic relations with Iran, Russia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, obviously with varying degrees of priority. And trying to balance this web of concerns is best served by the US staying out of the Syrian Civil War, which we intended to do whether we used a military strike to punish the Assad regime for chemical weapons use or not. Putin wants us to stay out of this war so badly that at the first sign of a US attack he jumped as fast and high as possible to effect a diplomatic process that had already been requested at least as long ago as June of 2012. Putin didn’t even want to risk waiting to see what the US Congress would say, he preempted it diplomatically as fast as possible. This result is completely in-line with US interests in Syria.

    So what are we to make of US policy? What is the actual goal? Why is there a drive for attacking Syria’s government while at the same time no apparent desire to have the rebels actually take over the government, a seemingly pardoxical situation captured in this Ted Rall cartoon? It seems as if the US government wants to maintain a perpetual status quo in which both sides keep killing and destroying each other and innocent civilians while neither winning nor losing. Could it be that it is the policy of the US to just have more and more people die in Syria in a civil war?

    I understand the kind of anger and disappointment that leads people to make insinuations like this. But here are some wise words from philosopher Sidney Hook: “Before impugning an opponent’s motives, even when they may rightly be impugned, answer his arguments.”

    Impugning motives, motives which you have no way of actually knowing, is counter-productive, and it often makes the accuser look ridiculous. The paragraph I quoted above is the kind of rhetorical strategy one sees used by the likes of Sean Hannity and Glen Beck all the time. Ask a series of unanswered questions that cast ever sleazier aspersions on your adversary.

    The final sentence is so ugly that I think you should apologize for it unless you can actually provide some real evidence that this could be the case, that the US wants more and more people to die in Syria. I find it sickening.

  29. Mano Singham says

    You seem to be arguing my point, that the blowing up and overthrowing of the government part is not the difficult part of the war. Recall that in Iraq it took about a month.

  30. Jeffrey Johnson says

    I totally agree with your point that the US could easily overthrow the Assad regime if it wanted to, as easily or more easily than we toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. The hard part comes in the aftermath: how to deal with the power vacuum, how to re-build civil and political institutions, how to maintain infrastructure, and how to prevent more civil war. There are enough sides in Syria that getting rid of Assad would not end the war. It would start a new wave of fighting among the various rebel groups. It would take a complete idiot to have watched what happened in Iraq, and then think we can go in and overthrow the Assad regime and avoid the same kinds of problems. Which is exactly why the arguments that the US has secret motives for entering the Syrian war, unrelated to concern about chemical weapons use, are all absurd.

    If there were a unified moderate opposition that was competent and organized and qualified to run the country, just maybe we could make it work if we toppled Assad and then got the hell out of the way. Iraq would probably have ended up much better if we had done this, rather than trying to boss the Iraqis around and micro-manage the “peace” and make Iraq safe for US companies to get fat contracts. There was plenty of hubris to go around in the Iraq war, but I think the worst of it came after the fall of Baghdad and helped create the insurgency.

    But actually I think it’s better that we failed so badly in Iraq. Imagine how dangerous the US would be with the confidence of a problem free regime change under its belt. It’s better that we learn democracy grows organically from within countries, and should not be imposed from without.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>