All D.C. Signs Pointing Toward Increasingly Heavy U.S. Involvement in Syrian Civil War

The situation is Syria is awful. This much has been true at least since the 1970 Syrian Corrective Revolution, through which Hafez al-Assad came to power (in reality, things had been bad in the country for far longer still). Whatever delusional hopes for reform under Hafez's Western-educated son (the one with the wife that Obama supporters gushed over like an uncapped Kuwaiti oil well),  Bashar al-Assad now presides over a country in the midst of a civil war that is pulling in surrounding countries and threatening to de-destabilize the Middle East.

Over the past two years, 70,000 people have been killed, a quarter of Syrians displaced, and millions of refugees are streaming into neighboring countries. Various Islamist groups are growing in power and influence and the Assad regime has apparently started gassing its own people.

A while back, President Barack Obama issued a "red line" warning that the United States wouldn't stand by idly if the Assad regime (or anyone else) used weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons:  “We will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people, or the transfer of those weapons to terrorists."

Now that it seems clear that the Syrian government has gassed people, what happens next? 

If yesterday's Sunday morning yak shows are any indications, we know where this is all going. Republicans and right-leaning commentators are pushing the line that the U.S. must now get more seriously involved. We're already giving some "non-lethal aid" to rebels and relief groups, but that's never really enough, is it? On Face the Nation, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) hauled out a playbook that almost always ends with long-term U.S. military engagement:

One way you can stop the Syrian air force from flying is to bomb the Syrian airbases with cruise missiles. You don't need to go deep into Syria to do that. If you could neutralize the air advantage the Syrian government has over the rebels, I think you could turn the tide of battle pretty quickly. As to arming the rebels, there are more radical Islamic fighters there than last year. And if it goes on six months more, there are going to be more. Let's give the right weapons to the right people. There are two wars to fight -- one to get Assad out of there. He's really a bad guy, dangerous to the world. The second war, unfortunately, is going to be between the majority of Syrians and the radical Islamists who have poured into Syria. So we need to be ready to fight two wars. You don't need boots on the ground from a U.S. point of view, but you sure do need international actions to bring this thing to a close quickly. If it goes on through the end of this year, the whole region is going to fall into chaos.

Fellow Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia invoked the idea that we don't need to really to be in Syria to control its fate:

We don't need to put boots on the ground, but we need to enable their neighbors, the neighbors of Syria, to bring some sort of peaceful resolution to this. We can do it through a no-fly zone.

To which Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), followed up with the classic hedge of, hey, we've got to be careful here but...

If we take the bomber action, then that may lead to something else, and that's really what I'm referring to in terms of you don't ever want to say absolutely never any boots on the ground because, you know, Iran is busy here. Iran is very busy here. And so is Hezbollah.

Elsehwere, hawks such as Weekly Standard editor William Kristol argued that given the president's unambiguous statements about red lines and chemical weapons, the credibility of the United States is on the line. "No one wants to start wars," Kristol said on Fox News Sunday, "but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do."

We know what GOP hawks want to do: They want to up the American engagment in Syria and throughout the Middle East. And we've got a pretty good sense of what the Democrats - whether hawks or putative critics of "dumb wars" like the president said he was back when he was running for office - will end up doing. Which is signing on to a series of incrementally bigger and bigger interventions until the U.S. is once again in the the thick of things in a part of the world where our reputation and our demonstrated ability to accomplish much are equally weak.

Going to war isn't like getting a little bit pregnant. It's more like an actual pregnancy in that the conditions grows and develops over time until a bouncing baby arrives. And despite the past dozen years of totally inept warmaking on the part of two administrations, it sure as hell looks like we're already knocked up when it comes to Syria.



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  • UnCivilServant||

    I thought all those artillery shells counted as WMDs by Federal law... Isn't that what the bomber was charged with?

  • sarcasmic||

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Only governments get the proper license for these things.

  • Marshall Gill||

    and threatening to de-destabilize the Middle East.

    The war is threatening to bring stability?

  • Marc F Cheney (fka Trespass W)||

    I think he meant "re-destabilize".

    Or else "de-restabilize".

    Possibly "re-setablaze".

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Reinstabilityization!

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    That was very restabilizationist of you.

  • Slammer||

    Nick, we know the Republicans and Democrtas are assholes. Do you have a plan for Syria you can present, or maybe even hint at?

  • ||

    Let it burn.

  • PapayaSF||

    One problem with that is that the longer the war goes on, the more time the jihadist anti-Assad factions have to gain strength compared to the more moderate anti-Assad factions. If so, a decapitation strike or other decisive action (short of boots on the ground) might make a positive difference.

    I'll admit I want to see Assad go down just for being a terror-supporting dictator, regardless of who replaces him. But I'll also admit that any intervention is very risky and that Syria is likely to go from bad to worse, whether we do anything or not.

    Oh, and Obama: Don't blab about "red lines" unless you are going to do something when they are crossed. Derp.

  • Rich||

    Don't blab about "red lines" unless you are going to do something when they are crossed.

    His hands are tied by that fucking sequester!

  • Paul.||

    A decapitation strike to the Assad regime wouldn't make any guarantee that the Jihadist elements wouldn't control the country.

    It's well established (or at least widely reported) that the Jihadist elements are highly experienced in organizing, providing public services, and generally doing the stuff that governments do.

    The non-jihandist elements are a bunch of merchants and farmers and the like, people who just want the yoke of government off their necks. Think of them as "libertarians". So that means they're not going to be the first ones to grab and harness power once a vacuum appears.

    Think of the Jihadis as progressive community activists. They abhor a power vacuum. It must be filled with... regulations.

  • Mr. Soul||

    we could send Kurt Thomas in ala Gymkata. We all saw how he single handedly thwarted the coup in Parmistan.

  • db||

    Better to marry.

  • Bam!||

    Why would anyone assume the US should have a plan for Syria?

  • T||

    Because we're in charge! America Fuck Yeah!

  • Tim||

    What we did in Iraq really helped it out.

  • ||

    Do you have a plan for Syria you can present, or maybe even hint at?

    I've got an idea... How about we say it's none of our business and don't get involved at all? How would that be?

    How about we let those that want to shoot at each other, shoot at each other and we'll dedicate ourselves to making money, innovation, producing things, taking care of our families and living in peace.

    When the bad guys shoot at us, THEN the warboners can shoot back.

  • ||

    "How about we let those that want to shoot at each other, shoot at each other."

    Except that one's shooting at the other in defense against an aggressor. I agree that pragmatically it's not a good idea to get involved in these skirmishes, since history has shown that we're virtually powerless to resolve anything, but I don't think that it's morally wrong per se to intervene.

  • ||

    Invoking libertarian principle, one side obviously initiated force on the other (which side that was is anyone's guess). So we would be morally justified in supporting those aggressed upon.

    BUT, since they didn't initiate force upon us, one must perform a cost/benefit analysis before getting involved. What is better for us? Are the potential negative outcomes worse than getting involved in another expensive (lives and money) drawn out conflict.

    I'm doing the CBA and all I can come up with is a great big HELL NO! In fact, I'm not seeing how anything happening in Syria affects the US at all.

  • $park¥||

    Does the crazy NAP really give you the right to go after someone who did nothing whatsoever to you? Why even bother having Non-Aggression in the name? From now on I'm calling it the He Started It Principle to make it sound as childish as it appears to be.

  • ||

    Does the crazy NAP really give you the right to go after someone who did nothing whatsoever to you?

    Yes. It does. We already discussed this. It does not, however, obligate you to.

  • Fluffy||

    Well...yeah, it does.

    Unless you're arguing that if I walk down the street and see some guy raping a toddler and dousing them in gasoline to set them on fire, I can't intervene, because they didn't do anything "to me."

  • NeonCat||

    "Hey, buddy, you'd damn well better have a burn permit."

  • ||

    I agree with you there. I only said something because there seems to be a lot of people on here suggesting that intervention in and of itself is morally unjust.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Can we afford World Cop anymore?

  • SugarFree||

    China thinks the smoke from our money fires make for gorgeous sunsets.

  • Tim||

    Again, we tried like hell to fix Iraq, we fucked up it more, managed to kill thousands of civillians and oh yeah, handed it to Iran.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I suppose the reality is that the entire planet is now looking to us to prevent stuff from blowing up into (1) nuclear war and/or (2) regional or global wars.

    Maybe if we just did that, we could avoid this weird need to intervene in so many conflicts, especially in the Middle East.

  • $park¥||

    Fuck it, just take over the world. Start with the places that wouldn't even put up a fight and work from there.

  • Hugh Akston||

  • $park¥||

    That's why you don't put a Reddit user in charge of the world.

  • Paul.||

    Libertopia. Where do I sign up?

  • Pro Libertate||

    In Nunavut. Be sure to submit your idea that they become a total haven for libertarianism in the Solution Box.

  • Pro Libertate||

    For our college students, summer jobs are available with the Nunavut government.

  • ||

    Ha, you pitiful weak libertarian fools! I can't wait to take over Grise Fiord and rule it with an iron fist.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Sure, why not enjoy your summer internship in the town that never thaws?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, there is the opportunity to plunder and pillage, which might forestall our economic collapse.

  • $park¥||

    If the US owned the world, who would we owe money to?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Exactly.

  • Mr. Soul||

    so robbing Peter to pay Peter. I like it.

  • Finrod||

    If you really think Iraq is worse off now than it was under Saddam Hussein (the Kurds, for one, strongly disagree with you), then you're firmly into Dead Men Do Bleed! territory and have left the rational world long behind.

  • Jon Lester||

    I'm sure it's occurred to some people of influence, however quietly, that a pipeline from northern Iraq across Syria to the Mediterranean would solve quite a few problems. It's not a bad idea in and of itself, and one would think it would be at least as attractive to a post-Assad regime as any other beneficiary, but at this point, the odds of getting the right people in power might not be very good; one more Salafist energy supplier might not feel so much like net progress.

  • John Thacker||

    Right now they're building a pipeline from northern Iraq (Kurdistan) through Turkey.

  • Adam||

    "but at this point, the odds of getting the right people in power might not be very good"

    As opposed to other points in time, or in other locations, where someone (The U.S. or someone else), was able to put the "right" person in power?

    Anyone keeping up on the situation in Libya? It's hasn't begun "getting better" yet....and I'm not sure we should ever expect that to happen.

  • Jon Lester||

    I speak in relative terms. The net result of all of our foreign adventurism in the last two decades has been the installation of new Islamic republics.

  • Cytotoxic||

    No it hasn't.

  • Jon Lester||

    Care to elaborate?

  • Jon Lester||

    Two years ago, I would have accepted the Muslim Brotherhood as "good enough," but even that diminished standard is looking unreachable.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Libya has been better off since the day Gaddhafi died and to hear otherwise from supposed libertarians is sickening.

  • Jon Lester||

    Not much for nuance, are you?

  • Adam||

    I've been hearing this from people who have actually been living in Libya. Define "better off" as it pertains to the entire country. Are you saying that the average Libyan's life is better? Do you have any evidence to support this?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I think we should push Bill Kristol out of an airplane over Syria.

    What a hateful warmongering scumbag.

  • Tim||

    Public intellectuals don't fight wars, they justify them.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Just send them reruns of Soap and see how that works out.

  • ||

    Why stop with a single weapon strike? I'd include, as a minimum, Krauthammer (and his wheelchair), McCain and Graham.

  • T||

    Fuck it, let's buy a shitload of AKs, RPGs, and ammo from the Russians (to get them on board) and just air drop them all over the country.

    Arm errybody and let it work itself out. I'll make the popcorn.

  • ||

    Put extra butter on mine.

  • $park¥||

    I think we should push Bill Kristol out of an airplane over Syria.

    Give him a Speedo and a combat knife and he'll be back in DC before the plane that dropped him. If you throw Lindsay out with him, they'll be running the country from their palace.

  • Jerryskids||

    So we have a brutal dictator with WMDs who has used them against his own people and whose increasingly belligerent actions are threatening to cause major international problems in the Middle East. I am sure if we step in now to stop this madman we will be greeted as liberating heroes by the Arab populace. Even though some people apparently are objecting to President Bush taking sterner measures against Saddam Hussein.

    (BTW - when did Reason start re-running news articles from 10 years ago?)

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Kristol: "No one wants to start wars"

    Except people like you, who are already fapping to the thought of another glorious military crusade.

    Here's a tip: Instead of just waiting until the war goes bad to make up excuses for the war's "unintended" side-effects, why not pre-emptively denounce all the antiwar people for sabotaging this noble intervention and giving aid and comfort to the enemy? Start now by declaring that the blowback from this war is going to justify even more future wars...oh oh ooooohhhhh aaahhh that was so good!

  • John||

    Or you could start now by claiming that any terrorist attack that happens in the next ten years is just blow back from us even thinking about intervening in Syria. Or maybe it will be blowback for us not intervening. Whatever the reason, it will be because we were asking for it.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Here's the problem: It's been decades since the U.S. even *tried* the policy of leaving people alone so long as they return the favor. It's all been preemption and smirking knowingly at the idea that intervention throughout the world has any blowback effects.

    Were I a neocon, I would actually advocate a period of truce when we didn't meddle in other countries' affairs. If neoconservative premises were correct, this would simply embolden our enemies to attack us, and I would have the proof I needed that we need to go back to a preemptive, interventionist foreign policy. At least until China and others stop lending us the dough.

  • John||

    No it wouldn't. When our enemies attacked us the usual suspects would be telling us how it was all the US fault. No amount of boot licking will ever satisfy the peaceniks.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Dude, calm down. Pissing off the peaceniks isn't a sufficient justification for going to war - by definition, a true peacenik would oppose any war whatsoever, so since any given war would piss off the peaceniks, you've got a ready-made justification for even the most ill-advised war.

  • Fluffy||

    If the initial critique was true, it would take at least one generation to play itself out.

    That's actually the best counterargument available against it, frankly.

    "Hey, we fucked up and tried to micromanage the world for sixty years. But now we can't stop, because if we let up for even a moment, it will slip out of our control, and all the people we've pissed off for all that time will show up at once for revenge."

  • John||

    There is no response to the critique fluffy because the whole thing is based on a fantasy counter factual. If we had just had fortress America after World War II, the world would love us and no one would have ever attacked us. I don't think that is true. But since I can't turn back time and change history to find out, I can never prove that it is not.

    For that reason, the noninterrventionists will always be able to blame anything that happens on some intervention somewhere. If we stop intervening, there are a whole list of past interventions that will forever be available for use.

  • Zeb||

    Well, in the real world cause and effect is very complicated and pretty much everything affects everything else. That being the case, I would find it very hard to believe that at least some of the hostility toward the US in the world is caused in part by US foreign policy.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Where are the Panamanian and Grenadian suicide bombers?

  • Zeb||

    Nobody ever says that it is US policy and nothing else that causes people to attack the US. But your position seems to be that US policy has no effect, which is just as absurd.

  • Finrod||

    Or the German or the Japanese suicide bombers (since 1946), for that matter.

  • ||

    Flog that strawman Cyto.

  • Cytotoxic||

    It's not just a fantasy counterfactual but a bullshit fantasy counterfactual. Could someone list all of the meddling that Canada did to earn the terror attack nearly carried out on Via rail-directed by an AQ cell in supposedly not-our-enemy Iran?

  • Fluffy||

    Canada is part of the US / Britain axis.

    A better comparison would be, say, Argentina. Where are the 9/11 airliner attacks on Argentina?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I'll just repeat what I already said:

    "Were I a neocon, I would actually advocate a period of truce when we didn't meddle in other countries' affairs. If neoconservative premises were correct, this would simply embolden our enemies to attack us, and I would have the proof I needed that we need to go back to a preemptive, interventionist foreign policy. At least until China and others stop lending us the dough."

  • Zeb||

    John, saying that hostility towards the US may be in part because of blowback from US foreign adventures is not blaming the US. It is quite possible for there to be blowback from perfectly justified and appropriate actions.

  • Lyle||

    As a so-called "warmonger" in residence here I'm actually inclined to suggest we do nothing.

    Geo-politically getting rid of the Assad regime would be a good thing. It would end his despotism, it would undermine Hezbollah, and it would be a blow to the powers in Iran.

    However, what will replace Assad will likely be a Sunni Islamist government... at best something like the Morsi government in Egypt. At worst it could be more Salafist and these guys could end up genociding Christians, Allawites, and others.

    You can go on youtube and see all the war propaganda and the fighting. It's some kind of violent and horrible.

    There just aren't any good options. It's like some journalist wrote the other day... there just aren't any secularists fighting for the rebels.

    So either the son-of-a-bitch dictator who isn't our son-of-a-bitch keeps Syria secular through authoritarian violence or we get a Islamist Sunni regime that will do who knows what, but will represent the largest demographic group in Syria (like in Egypt and Tunisia).

  • John||

    We might want to go in and secure the chemical weapons. But beyond that, I am not seeing how this war matters to us. If anything it is giving the jihadists a place to go and fight and die. Better to have them in Syria than plotting mischief elsewhere.

  • Lyle||

    I can see us getting involved for that, and if the rebels win and the genocide of minority religious and ethnic group ensues.

  • ||

    Personally John, I don't give one hairy rat's ass who has WMD. That genie was let out of the bottle long, long ago.

    All I care about is that they are not used on us. When/if they are, THEN we can go to war. NOT UNTIL!

    The minute you justify war based upon what "might" happen, you are able to justify anything.

  • John||

    When they are used on us there will be no one to go to war with. No country is going to use them on us. They will be used by a couple of losers like the two in Boston. So your tough guy talk about going to war in that case is just you talking out of your ass. You wouldn't do shit about it because there won't be anything to do at that point. And you know it. You are just pretending you would go to war as a way of getting around the fact that your solution is to do nothing, hope for the best, and die if necessary.

  • Zeb||

    But going into Syria and securing the chemical weapons wouldn't be much better than doing nothing. If Al Qaeda type terrorists are going to get that kind of stuff, they probably already have it. The risk/benefit doesn't work for me. But I might be a peacenik.

  • ||

    As opposed to preemptively going to war and dying on the battlefield?

    You are saying we should go to war, killing thousands of the enemy, thousands of bystanders, hundreds of our soldiers, spending billions of dollars to secure weapons that exist elsewhere all over the globe, to prevent an attack that may or may not even happen (with the weapons you secured) to potentially save a handful of US citizens?

    That is completely INSANE! With principles like that, why not just kill everybody in the world that isn't American and be done with it?

  • Cytotoxic||

    With chemical weapons, an ounce of prevention is worth saving thousands.

  • ||

    With chemical weapons, an ounce of prevention is worth saving thousands.

    I hope that was sarcasm.

    Do you know how inefficient chemical weapons are?

  • Virginian||

    No no no this is just the latest blossom in the Arab Spring!!!!!

    Doesn't it feel great?

  • Lyle||

    The French Revolution was violent too and culminated in the Napoleonic wars. Such is humanity.

  • John||

    And the French Revolution gave birth to fascism and communism.

  • Lyle||

    Enh... maybe, but not immediately.

    We can't change the fact that the Middle East has a lot of Islamists in it, and that they are dominating the political landscape of the Arab Spring. There has been an Islamist Great Awakening going on for some time. Hopefully the religious fervor will die down... and it may have to die down literally.

    Interesting times.

  • John||

    Occasionally large numbers of people take leave of their senses. Large numbers of Arabs believe in a particularly horrible strain of Islam. There is no way around it. And given that fact, any Democratic process or revolution is going to produce nasty results. But what are you going to do? You can't kill all of them. You can't prop up dictators to keep them down forever. At this point, all you can do is stand back and let it run its course. They will wise up eventually. The radicals will discredit themselves just like they have in Iran and are doing in Egypt. All we can do is try to contain it and make sure they don't ever get the ability to do serious harm to us.

  • Adam||

    Actually the "number of Arabs" that "believe in a particularly horrible strain of Islam" is quite small. That's like saying the "actual number of Christians world-wide who believe in a literal 6 day creation story that happened 6,000 years ago is quite large". It's actually a small, vocal minority. Also with Muslims; it's this small, vocal and active minority that believe in the "horrible strain" of Islam. Of course your definition of "horrible" and someone else's is probably different.

    I live in a country that is 93% Sunni, most of them relatively conservative, but very few are actual Salafists. Most countries in the Arab world, save Saudi Arabia, are fairly similar. Always remember that Saudi Arabia is an exception, in one of more ways, to almost every other Arab country.

  • John||

    Actually the "number of Arabs" that "believe in a particularly horrible strain of Islam" is quite small.

    That is why the Muslim Brotherhood won the elections in Egypt. Go and look at the polls. The majority of people in Egypt are quite happy with the idea of ending civil rights for women, expelling all Christians from the country and so forth. The Brotherhood only ran into problems when the policies, that the people wanted, destroyed what was left of the economy. But had the Brotherhood produced results, they would have been wildly popular.

    I am sorry but the rest of the world is not always like us. I for the life of me cannot understand why it is so God damned hard to admit that yes, there are a lot of people in the world who believe some crazy things.

  • Adam||

    Believe me I have no problem believing that a lot of people believe in "crazy things". I've been living and working in the Middle East, including Syria, for the last 5 years, and quite familiary with what the average, even conservative, Sunni Muslim believes, as

    I've had literally hundreds upon hundreds of discussions with them about various topics. I'd be careful about any polls, since like here, they are highly dependent on the wording of the question, and are then pointed to as proof of something altogether different. That is unless, you're sure of what the questions were, and not just written in English, but how they were asked verbally in Arabic, since a large percentage of Egyptians are functionally illiterate. Otherwise, I take every poll here with a grain of salt.

    As for the Brotherhood, of course they would've been popular if they had produced an improving economy; you could say that about just about every country.

    But the point was a radical form of Islam that supports terrorist acts, and the Muslims that adhere to this is a small percentage. Like with Evangelicals in the States, it doesn't take but 10% of the population to make the entire world believe they control the country. Same with the Brotherhood and their cohorts.

  • John||

    The Brotherhood does control Egypt. And when evangelicals start burning shit down and mobs of them start attacking people, we need to worry about them. But that hasn't happened yet. Why? Because evangelical Christians are nothing like radical Muslims. Stop pretending they are.

    And the Brotherhood's Islamic policies are very popular among a large section of the Egyptian populace. I am sure you have talked to lots of nice reasonable Egyptians. So have I. But you are meeting the cosmopolitan elite. They are not representative of the rest of the country anymore than some Columbia University professor is representative of the average American.

  • T||

    why it is so God damned hard to admit that yes, there are a lot of people in the world who believe some crazy things

    I dunno. It's like you're not here every day as an example.

    /joke

  • Fluffy||

    The problem is that attempting to intervene reinforces the negatives you're trying to avoid.

    Look, I think the Fukuyama thesis from years back has a lot of merit. I think there is a fundamental tendency for technological and economic advance to lead to political and intellectual liberalization, on the model of Europe's development pattern. (Lumping us in with the European cultural zone.)

    I also think that had the Middle East been left to its own devices after the second world war, that process would have played itself out, leading to greater secularization and liberalization over time.

    But it wasn't left to its own devices. It became a superpower playground, with both sides supporting secular strongmen of one variety or another. And unfortunately, that means that secular values are now INEXTRICABLY linked to tyranny, socialism, failure, and international humiliation in these nations' histories. And the only way to counteract that is to let the entire edifice fall, and let the Islamists have at it, so they can fail in turn.

    Because until that happens, Saddam and Assad represent "modernity", and the Islamists are the oppressed liberators who would bring back the Golden Age if they only got the chance. Nothing can discredit the Islamists other than victory - all the more so while the US tries to keep its thumb on one side of the scale.

  • John||

    I think Fukeyama is completely full of shit. Not everyone benefits from modernity. Even though a majority do, some don't. So there is always going to be people out there who will cling to anti modern ideologies.

    But you are right fluffy in that there is not a lot we can do about it. If the people of Egypt decide that living in an Islamist hell hole is the way to go, there is really no way to stop them. All we can do is make sure they are never in a position to do damage to us. Beyond that, they will either figure it out or they won't. These things have a way of running their course at some point.

  • Adam||

    And we talk about "what we'll end up with" taking control of Syria as if it'll work itself out in the next ten years after Al-Assad is toppled; it won't. This will be Iraq x2.

    Like Iraq (and Lebanon) it has one of the more diverse populations in the region, with the majority group looking for the minority group in power to fall. But, it has the added benefit of a far poorer, less educated population, one which will include literally millions of young, uneducation, jobless guys with weapons demanding something from those who are placed in power; The ensuing bloodbath will be a catastrophy that'll make Iraq look like high school fist-fight.

    Added to this there will never be the institutions in place, and I mean never, to produce the resources necessary to placate these guys (with guns and pretty much nothing else) and their families. Just as the war hawks severely underestimated the ensuing problems of a post-Saddam Iraq, very few are dealing with reality should we topple, whether ourselves or just assisting (i.e. Libya). Having lived there for the two years leading up to the protests, I can say with 100% certainty this will be worse than Iraq.

  • Lyle||

    Syria already is worse than Iraq. It's a full blown civil war. A civil war in Iraq in the near future isn't unforeseeable though. The greater Sunni-Shia conflict may just be getting started.

  • Adam||

    I was talking about Iraq circa 2003-2007 (or thereabouts). Not the current situation in Iraq....ten years after Saddam fell.

  • Lyle||

    Oh, I know. I'm saying the Syrian civil war is worse than the bad years in Iraq. There is a lot more destruction of infrastructure going on; the violence is more widespread. The death count may not be as high, but it's up to 70,000 in two years.

    ... and I'm with you on the average religious Muslim. I haven't lived in the Middle East, but I have lived in a Muslim majority neighborhood in Europe. Most may not be Islamists and even if they are, a smaller amount are violent Islamits.

    Although I don't like the Muslim Brotherhood. I can put up with them as long as they don't start wars or support terrorism.

  • A Serious Man||

    Fellow Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia invoked the idea that we don't need to really to be in Syria to control its fate:

    We don't need to put boots on the ground, but we need to enable their neighbors, the neighbors of Syria, to bring some sort of peaceful resolution to this. We can do it through a no-fly zone.

    C'mon America, just the tip!

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Drones, FTW!

  • db||

    Going to war isn't like getting a little bit pregnant. It's more like an actual pregnancy in that the conditions grows and develops over time until a bouncing baby arrives.

    Or, possibly more apropos of our recent military experience, a Bouncing Betty.

  • Fluffy||

    This is such BS.

    Everybody knows that the population of Syria hasn't been above 500 since 1998.

    What sound stage are they filming this shit on?

  • db||

    The key is understanding that they're afraid the mask will slip so excuses need to be ginned up in case someone wakes up or remembers what they saw in the Empty Lands. Genocide, civil wars, all can serve to explain depopulation outside of the truth of the Population Catastrophe of 1998.

  • Fluffy||

    I see!

    I understand it better now.

    I guess we can expect more and more of these stories about wars, terror attacks, etc. in different parts of the world.

    I guess they need some way to explain the satellite images of the abandoned and destroyed buildings out there past the White Line.

  • johnl||

    The Assad administration is not some personality cult like North Korea. It's got a lot of support. Its supporters are over-represented. But the USA should be pushing for a political settlement where the different communities in Syria is protected and has autonomy. And not pushing for the complete repression of Christian and Alawite communities.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    "But the USA should be pushing for..."

    How?

  • johnl||

    The USA could at least make public statements in favor of a political solution, and opposing civil war. And in multinational forums, we could discourage allies from involving themselves, and encourage them to take Russian concerns into consideration.

  • creech||

    Again we see the true meaning of American Exceptionalism in the founding of this country through violent revolution. How fortunate we are that there weren't thirteen or more colonial gangs killing each other for power.

  • Zeb||

    The American revolution is pretty exceptional among revolutions in how well it has worked out. I think that the biggest reason is that not that much changed. There was no major social upheaval or reorganization. Revolutions that have tried to bring about more radical change usually don't work out so well.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The Syrian civil war is the best thing to happen in the ME in a long time. Our enemies are killing each other. It is sucking jihadists in, effectively detoxing a lot of the ME ESPECIALLY Iraq, which I'm sure would be more violent otherwise. The best part is it runs itself NO INTERVENTION REQUIRED (beyond Israel blowing up stuff as appropriate).

  • Lyle||

    Is it "detoxing" Iraq? Some Sunni Islamists took over a town in Iraq like last week and the Shia Iraqi government had to fight to retake the town.

    Sunni Iraqis also live around the border of Syria and have killed some of Assad's forces transiting through Iraq to escape from rebel Syrian forces.

    Also, if Assad falls in Syria... does that embolden Sunni militants in Iraq again?

  • Brian821||

    Let's move this thinking outside of our box. See Stay Out Of Syria here: http://wh.gov/zc1f

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