What is President Obama Thinking About With a Military Intervention in Syria?

Is he?


earning it

For more than two years, Syria has been embroiled in a civil war. It began when the long-time regime of Bashar Assad (handed down to him from his Ba'athist father, Hafez Assad) tried to quell uprisings in the country pinned to the Arab Spring and spiraled into a full-fledged armed conflict. American interventionists like John McCain have been pushing for US involvement in Syria since 2011. The Obama Administration took a relatively more subdued approach, though President Obama had already said Assad "had to go" back in 2011. That declaration, however, wasn't backed by any kind of real support, and instead had the effect of cutting off the idea of engagement as a solution to an issue the US foreign policy establishment believes is relevant to them.

Eventually, Obama laid down a "red line," the use of chemical weapons. In April, Israel said it was "nearly 100% certain" the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons, but Chuck Hagel wasn't so sure. The next day, Hagel said U.S. intelligence sources had "some degree of varying confidence" Assad had in fact used chemical weapons. Obama said a "line was crossed," but that more "direct evidence" was needed. Eventually, Israel hit what the Free Syrian Army said was a chemical weapons facility. Then, all still this April, Obama moved the goal posts to the "systematic" use of chemical weapons. Iran helpfully agreed that the use of chemical weapons (they, of course, meant by rebels, who the Syrian regime accused) would be crossing a line. But Western (and Iranian, too) intervention in Syria had already begun. By June, the White House said it had confirmed the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, and announced it would be providing Syrian rebels with military aid.

In this month's apparent chemical weapons attack, the Obama Administration is signaling its intent for a more forceful punitive response. The White House insists it's not seeking regime change (but it already acknowledged that's what it was looking for years ago), but to send a message that chemical weapons use is unacceptable. Here's the way one official put it to the LA Times:

[H]e believed the White House would seek a level of intensity "just muscular enough not to get mocked" but not so devastating that it would prompt a response from Syrian allies Iran and Russia.

"They are looking at what is just enough to mean something, just enough to be more than symbolic," he said.

A phone call to Tehran or even Moscow would ensure a response that was "more than symbolic" without risking the life and limb of whoever the US might decide to point cruise missiles at in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons. Despite the insistence of interventionists to "do something," no one in the US foreign policy establishment has articulated anything close to a strategic interest in intervention. The former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, on the other hand, has been able to articulate a very clear strategic interest in non-intervention: intervention would make the US akin to "Al Qaeda's air force," and even trigger a world war by making a unilateral move in a multilateral conflict. Kucinich zeroed in on the strategic interest that was inherent in not intervening similarly in Libya two years ago; Al Qaeda today has a far stronger presence in the country than it did under Col. Qaddafi (when it was nearly non-existent), and tens of thousands of surface-to-air missiles (and other weaponry) went missing after the US intervention.

Foreign Policy's Stephen Walt sees Obama as being dragged reluctantly into the Syria conflict by a desire not to appear to be damaging US credibility by drawing red lines that can be crossed without a whim. Walt writes that the notion of Obama lacking credibility on the use of force is "especially silly" given the president's history of the use of force in places like Afghanistan, Libya, and in the drone campaign. But credibility isn't just about the use of force. It's about engagement. And while Obama's foreign policy has been heavily interventionist, it has avoided engagement. Together, it makes for a sometimes aimless but highly destructive foreign policy. Obama, for example, "escalated" in Afghanistan, as Walt writes, but he did not use the fruits of that escalation to attempt to broker a peace or negotiate an exit. He let the moment come and pass, and is still dithering on a withdrawal, unwilling to commit to it, but unwilling, also, to engage anyone else about it.

And so it is with Syria, where President Obama and his advisors believe lobbing cruise missiles, without the authorization of Congress and or even an understanding of what would happen next, is more palpable than engaging the other sides involved. Or even imagining that the conflict in Syria might not need any kind of American involvement, and that regional powers, even including in Europe, were free enough to handle it on their own.


NEXT: 26 Killed in Bombings Across Afghanistan

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  1. Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side?
    If Barack Obama decides to attack the Syrian regime, he has ensured ? for the very first time in history ? that the United States will be on the same side as al-Qa’ida.

    Quite an alliance! Was it not the Three Musketeers who shouted “All for one and one for all” each time they sought combat? This really should be the new battle cry if ? or when ? the statesmen of the Western world go to war against Bashar al-Assad.

    The men who destroyed so many thousands on 9/11 will then be fighting alongside the very nation whose innocents they so cruelly murdered almost exactly 12 years ago. Quite an achievement for Obama, Cameron, Hollande and the rest of the miniature warlords….

    1. Of course he knows, as a good Suni he’s got to tow the lion and stomp a little Shia ass… amiright?

      1. The US has always been at war with the Alawites. Al Qaeda Militant Wahabi mujahid have always been a US ally.

    2. Well, weren’t on the same side as al Qaieda in Afghanistan and in Bosnia?

      1. That was the head scratcher for me too. We’ve been allied more often than not with the early oughts being the outlier exception. Even up to the late nineties, the State Department and CIA thought of bin Laden as their guy on the inside whom they could do business with. All their Pakistani and Saudi buddies were telling them he was legit. The anti-Western war rhetoric was just a bit of inner group social cohesion only zealots who got out of hand took seriously. Pretty much the same memos circulate now except with the Muslim Brotherhood being written above the whiteout where Al Qaeda went.

        1. Yep. And up until 911 the US government was being pretty friendly with the Taliban as well because of their opium eradication successes.

    3. Well, weren’t we on the same side as al Qaieda in Afghanistan (late 70’s and 80’s) and in Bosnia?

      1. Al-Qaeda was not formed until 1988. So no.

        1. The Soviet War went until 1989.

        2. The Mujaheddin ‘guest book’ that formed the basis of Al Qaeda leadership goes back further than 1988. That was an important date in their founding though as they were formalizing what to do after the Soviets left.

          1. Too bad we didn’t realize that the godless commies were less of a threat to us than those crazy monotheists still striving to pull the world back to the good old days of the 7th century…

            1. It was the one place on the planet that communism would have been an improvement.

              1. Actually communism destroyed Afghanistan.

                My understanding is that prior to the commies taking over, the place was headed in a good direction, and they ran it into the ground.

                1. Jesse Walker had a link to a photo montage of life in Afghanistan in the late 60s, early 70s that showed quite a bit of modern growth shaping into a real economy. You have to understand that the Russians have been influencing Afghanistan since the time of the Tsars, and that is where the modern influence comes from. The governments of the 60s and 70s were formally Marxist. Before the war rolled around, the leaders in Kabul were already Soviet puppets. If the civil war did not occur development would have continued along the lines of, say, Tibet now, than a much worse version of the Balkans even under the communist. So, yes, Soviet Taliban even if that isn’t saying much.

                  1. Squirrels, you speak ASCII, motherfuckers!!!

                    Soviets greater than Taliban.

      2. Keep in mind back then the Soviets were the main enemy.

        Even in Iran, the revolutionaries also hated the Soviets.

        Admandinijad (sp?) as a student actually voted to occupy the Soviet embassy not the US embassy.

  2. What is President Obama Thinking…

    Here’s your fatal assumption…

    1. He is a light worker. He doesn’t think, he emotes.

    2. He’s thinking he’d look good in a general’s uniform. Damned good.

      1. With some double blitzes on the lapels.

        1. And a shitton of medals.

          1. Peace Prize!

            1. From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. Silence! In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now. . .16 years old!

    3. I think this might backfire on Obama. I was looking at some comments on CNN this AM. NO ONE was pro intervention. He is out of his fucking mind drunk with power.

      1. Wait till Syria sinks a US naval vessel, which would be a perfectly legitimate action considering that the US has essentially announced that it intends to attack Syria in a war of aggression.

        Americans will rally around the president and Congress will demand war.

        History suggests that Syria doesn’t even have to attack; a Gulf of Tonkin type event is enough.

        1. Americans will rally around the president and Congress will demand war.

          I won’t.

        2. Maybe.

          I think the population is completely sick of war and this is one of the most blatant wag the dog scenarios I’ve ever seen.

          We are going into our 6th conflict in 22 years because this asshole wants to save face and divert scrutiny from his scandals.

          People are waking up.

          1. I think you’re overly optimistic about the critical thinking capacities of Americans, but time will tell. I hope you’re right.

            Personally, I think that both the progressive Obamatons and the warboner neo-cons will support kinetic military action in Syria through thick and thin. There’s a little grumbling over at Kos and Huff and a bit more at Freerepublic, but nothing that suggests that the tide is turning. My liberal relatives still think the world of Obama and my conservative friends still think America is the indispensibly exceptional nation.

            1. People don’t care about foreigners. And they really don’t care about middle east. If this war costs any lives, they are going to stand up.

              1. Like they have since 2001? Which is to say, making rhetorically vociferous and politically anemic declarations that fall apart entirely after a Democrat takes office?

            2. Of course, if their annointed “tolerable GOPer” Chris Christie ends up inheriting the war in 2017 and continuing to prosecute it much the same way Obama did, he will turn into Adolph Hitler.

        3. Wait till Syria sinks a US naval vessel

          With US ships presumably sailing on a war footing at this point, I don’t see how the Syrians really pull that off.

          1. The last time someone fired an anti-ship missile at a U.S. Navy ship, it killed 30+ sailors. Reagan was president.

            The U.S. Navy hasn’t been tested in a very long time…. a. very. long. time.

            1. I assume you’re referring to the Stark, which was hit by an exocet in an inadvertent strike when the navy was not on a wartime footing. Defensive countermeasures have come a long way since 1987.

              1. And whilst I was in the Navy, I participated in anti-missile defense drills.

                Some were comforting. Some were scary (as in the defenses failed utterly).

                And the Stark’s CO wasn’t the only (or last) idiot Navy CO who has allowed his ship to become lax.

              2. I assume you’re referring to the Stark, which was hit by an exocet

                Nonsense. The Stark was hit by a big sword.

        4. See, I think it’ll go the other way if Syria gets a winning lottery ticket and manages to sink a few U.S. warships. We’ll be faced with a few thousand dead all at once, in a war that Obama never bothered to get Congressional approval for. The few thousand dead easily can happen if they pop a carrier with some of those 72, Mach 3 sea-skimmers the Russians sold em.

          So, basically, he’d have doubled the casualties from the GWOT in about 30 minutes, doing something that only 9-15 percent of the American public thinks we should be doing. I think we’d invade Syria, but I also think Articles of Impeachment would be on the House floor the same day.

      2. I am actually arguing with somebody who says that the War Powers Resolution is itself a ‘specific statutory authorization’, like a blank check AUMF to start any 60 day war he’d like.

    4. He’s thinking that if he is to have a legacy of having been a truly great president, he must have a truly great body count.

      1. The dronings are not enough. I must have a heapin’ helpin’ of bodies. THAT will secure my legacy…

        /Teh Prez

      2. Some Japanese govt official at the turn of the last century noticed that Japan was only regarded as a ‘civilized’ country when it became advanced to kill w/ the same efficiency as the West.

          1. What is the state but organized murder on a grand scale?


            1. Honestly, the countervailing points leftists put up against the atrocities of the State are matches against floodlights, as if people might not figure out the mysteries of overland transportation without also ceding virtually unmitigated power to conduct wars or domestic surveillance or incarcerate millions of citizens. Or we couldn’t possibly save for retirement without the feds arranging a massive, redistributionary Ponzi scheme with themselves as the primary beneficiary.

              You know what? I’ll take that chance, thanks.

    5. He’s thinking of the chariot ride through DC and the laurel wreaths and how to stop the Senators from stabbing him in the back later.

      1. “Et tu, Harry?”

      2. “Memento mori.”

      3. Who’s going to be the slave behind him whispering “Remember you are mortal” or whatever they whispered?

        1. Raaaaaacist!

        2. Sequestered, sorry.

    6. What is President Obama Thinking…

      Damn, Michele’s new strap-on really tore up my ass.

  3. What might help not painting oneself into a corner is to not make red line statements. But hey, as long as we bomb just enough to save face that’s good enough for government work.

    1. Or maybe it’s wise to think through exactly what you plan to do when your imaginary line is crossed BEFORE you declare the big red line to the world… It’s awesome having such supreme competence in our POTUS.

      1. Well, part of the problem for him is he knows he can only act if he gets permission from Congress. So, he’s worried about obstructionist Teathuglicans more than anything.


    2. Exactly. Should stick with ‘all options are on the table.’

    3. At this point, what difference does it make?

      The decision has been made for another Middle East war.

      Could happen to a more deserving fellow than Assad, though.

      1. I would personally be quite surprised if we have a ‘war’ with or in Syria. There will be a face saving strike and Syria will let it go (they will likely even let Syria know about it).

        1. Of course, the wild card is how Russia might react. We could see a proxy war or worse, though I think the odds are that Russia is just making noise and has no more stomach for problems with us than we have with them.

          1. The Russians are a wily lot… ruthless too.

            Look how they shocked the Clinton admin with their paratroop assault and capture of the airport in Serbia after the U.N. authorized peacekeepers to stabilize Yugoslavia.

            They are very willing to move against the U.S. if they think it’s in their best interests, and have the capability to achieve strategic surprise in their operations.

            And having a naval base in the med is a very big deal to them.

            1. Which is why we have to tell them that if they don’t back the fuck off, we’ll go in whole hog to support Turkey.

              1. Turkey is a Nato member with a U.S. airbase on it.

                I’m not sure what more support the U.S. needs to provide to go whole hog.

                1. Easy–tell Turkey we’ll remain silent if they invade and conquer Syria.

  4. “All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptable. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.”
    Frank Herbert

    1. Not only that, but it is a competition, played out across increasing distances and numbers of people. If I’m honest, and you’re not, if I’m earnest, and you’re calculating, if I raise my money without selling future favors, and you don’t — then just how in the world can a person honestly think I could win?

      And yet, they apparently do. Many actually believe it’s possible to end up electing good people. It’s not, and the degree to which it is not increases with the distance between the voter and the office in question.

  5. I have to say, watching the racistly proggie coworker of mine joining the the unreformed Vietnam era warhawk VP of our company in a pity party of “WTF is the president doing” was really really funny.

    I can’t think of a pair of people less likely to agree on anything.

    1. Heck, tarran, I am smiling just thinking about that.

      1. The part that really tested my ability not to snort with laughter despite the provocation was when the proggie bitterly related all the online petitions she had signed and letters she has sent to various officials. It was the respectful manner in which she rolled out the name ‘Senator Elizabeth Warren’ that almost made me crack.

        But I managed to keep my mouth shut.*

        The proggie has mistakenly concluded that I am a big supporter of Al Gore (it’s a long, stupid and funny story), so she is being polite to me rather than her usual surly self, and it makes my job microscopically easier. 🙂

    2. Everyone hates this thing. If it goes more than a couple of days, Obama may actually finally go too far.

      1. The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

        Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

        So, if it turns out the U.S. target list is designed to assist an Al Qaeda franchise take over Syria, I think a pretty open and shut case may be made to remove Obama from office.

        It ain’t gonna happen, but it would be nice.

        1. If there are significant US casualties, it could. If not, then no.

        2. Of course, just going to war without Congressional approval strikes me as more than enough to remove a President, regardless of the second-order issues like, who are we actually allying with.

          1. and ^^this x1789

          2. Yes, but there is no objective standard already in writing as to whether going to war without Congressional approval is a crime let alone a high crime.

            On the other hand, the AUMF means that Al Qaida is an enemy of the U.S., and if the president orders the U.S. Navy and Air Force to act as its air arm, he is pretty unambiguously committing treason.

            The former has no chance of getting traction with a majority of the senate, whatsoever.

            The latter has a whelk’s chance in a supernova of getting traction with a majority of the senate.

            1. Actually, there is an objective standard, in written law. It’s called the War Powers Act, and Obama already violated it in Libya, Yemen, Pakistan and who knows where else.

              1. Not to be a pedant, but it’s The War Powers Resolution of 1973.

                The resolution was adopted in the form of a United States Congress joint resolution; this provides that the President can send U.S. armed forces into action abroad only by authorization of Congress or in case of “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”

                I seriously doubt this situation qualifies as an emergency.

                What he did with Libya was an impeachable offense.

                1. Of course it was. We’re fucking lost because we can’t remove these guys from office. The last I don’t know how many presidents should’ve been ousted.

                2. can send U.S. armed forces into action abroad

                  That’s his out. He’s not sending people into action. He’s sending arms into action, not armed forces. The arms fly themselves and explode themselves. Like guns.

            2. At this point, I would support an impeachment proceeding, not out any hope of convicting Obama, but the right special prosecutor could drag out the proceeding for a significant portion of Obama’s remaining term.

          3. Actively aiding enemies of the United States, is a lot bigger deal than going to war without Congressional approval. The latter is breaking a law which has no enforcement mechanism. The former is treason.

            1. The “enforcement mechanism” is the impeachment process, which our betters are too pussified to use.

              Upon reflection, I have to agree that aiding enemies is worse than violation the Constitution. But violating the Constitution – for a President – to my way of thinking, is WAY fucking bad. Like, tars, feathers, string ‘im up no shit no I’m really not kidding bad. Bush 1, Clinton, Nixon, Carter, Obama, Reagan, Bush 2 – yeah, fuckin’ string ’em all up. They ALL violated the fuck out of their oaths. Then we start on the Congresstards…

              But that’s just me.

              1. The enforcement mechanism for Treason is sending you to death or prison.

              2. There are all sorts of checks and balances–including impeachment–that could be but aren’t being used. Our republic is breaking down quite nicely, and the parallels are striking with the breakdown of some previous republic.

          4. Yes, but allying with Al Qaeda gives Republicans a pretext that doesn’t limit their ability to do the same thing as much.

      2. Too far for what? At this point he is 90% focused on his legacy (10% on the midterms). The foremost thought in his mind is “What are history professors going to be saying about me 100 years from now.”

        1. He needs a large body count for that, and the clock is ticking.

        2. If he loses the midterms, there might be an honest investigation into his administration. That would prevent him from having much of a legacy.

          1. If he loses the midterms, there might be an honest investigation into his administration. That would prevent him from having much of a legacy.

            There is no way that happens to Obummer. Just today I read a tweet that insisted the only reason to be upset about our government mass spying on us is because O is black. As long as there is a contingent of people who believe that any dissent of his policy is ipso facto racism, there is no chance that he’ll have his administration investigated for wrongdoing.

      3. If even one American pilot ends up getting killed over this clusterfuck, his approval numbers might finally drop down into the thirties where they belong.

  6. Okay, anyone else think the Google image used today to mark the “I Have a Dream” speech looks like someone other than MLK?

    1. YES

    2. It’s the ears.

      1. Exactly. Google puts up a drawing of a jug-eared mulatto, and we’re not supposed to think of Obama?

        1. Of course, it was intentional.

          1. Obviously, MLK’s ears didn’t stick out at all.

    3. I didn’t notice.

      Of course, I don’t give a shit about the anniversary of the speech. As somebody born in 1972, I’m sick and tired of the extent to which our culture and journalism is stuck in the 1960s.

      1. Agreed about the 60s, though what is funny is that the modern leftist view of race is almost completely opposed to the sentiments expressed in that speech.

        1. The modern leftist view is utterly at odds with reality. Is there still racism? Yes, in terms of individuals who hate…others. It will ever be thus.

          Does the government at all levels have laws that discriminate explicity based on race? Putting Affirmative Action aside (a big thing, I know) – no. There’s no Jim Crow or Separate But Equal. Quite the opposite.

          So we’re seriously supposed to believe that “voting rights” is a big issue for minorities? As opposed to, say, anarchy in inner city schools due to an utter breakdown of the family…directly due to government programs (which were not “race based”, mind you).

          Yeah – the Proggies really are that fucking retarded. Fuck ’em.

          1. Instead of the Great Society and a War on Poverty, we wound up with great poverty and a war on society.

        2. I am not sure of that. Yes, the speech has the part about ‘content of character rather than color of skin’ but it also hits most current leftist concerns regarding race (police brutality, economic inequality, discrimination in housing, lodging and services).

          1. Leftists are fine with police brutality – as long as it’s against Teathuglitards. Econ inequality – OK for Gore, Obama, Clinton, Soros, et al – not OK for Teathuglitards, especially those with the surname “Koch”. What “discrimintation” in housing? Like they have in San Fran and NY – driving rents throught the roof till The Rent Is Too Damned High? Well, except for hipsters and Leftist 1%ers – who can afford it.

            Services – WTF? Really?

            No – it’s all bullshit, and it’s OK WHEN MY TEAM DOES IT, and “the left” in the US totally does everything they protested in the 60’s and live in willful denial of it. Cause only evil old white guys are bad.

            1. Yeah, because “the left” is one unified group that believes the same about everything. I’m no fan of the contemporary American left, but that is a ridiculous over-generalization.

      2. Seconded. As someone born in 1978, I’m tired of the guy coming to repo my car because I had to pick which bill to pay lecturing me about how I benefit from white privilege.

  7. Most Americans seem to think our form of government is a democracy, when it’s really a republic. I say this because the Obamas, Wasserman-Schultzs, Tonys and Buttplugs of the world always tout how we live in a democracy, and that their majority rules.

    So tell me then, why is Obama going to go through with attacking Syria when the polling shows an approval rating of less than 10%, which is lower than the Vietnam approval polling at the lowest point in that war? Could it be that we live in a democracy when a majority of people want “moar free shit” from government, but a “representative republic” when we don’t agree with what the government is doing?

    1. I thought I saw a poll on the Washington Post saying 60% supported a strike ‘if chemical weapons were used?’

      1. That’s not what I’ve been hearing all day on the radio.

        1. Ok, the numbers are all over the place depending on the nuanced version of the question asked. This also proves how dumb people are. But, even with chemical weapons being used, it looks like most people still oppose intervention.

 of ‘Mericans think Obama should act.

            1. Darn. I was hoping the first link meant that only a little more than one-and-a-half percent of Americans think Obama should act.

          1. Just glancing at the ABC article, it says 69% of Americans would agree with attacking if the US allies attacked by Syria. Al Qaida is not our ally.

            1. -63 percent if the Assad regime used these banned weapons against its own people


              1. Those polls are from 2012. More recent polls show much lower levels of support. An eight month old poll is useless.

                1. You are correct. The current poll does show that even if such weapons were used against the Syrian people large majorities oppose.


                  Mea culpa! That is what I get for glancing at the headlines in the Post this morning and relying on that glance.

                  1. I don’t always agree with Bo, but holy fuck is it nice to see intellectual honesty.

              2. Chemical weapons are not banned in Syria. Syria never signed that treaty.

          2. Obama more generally has a 54 percent approval rating for handling international affairs, its highest in three years, matching his post-election job approval rating overall.

            What the fuck? For WHAT?

            1. It’s from December of 2012. His approval rating was still riding the post election bump that idiots give to every reelected president.

              1. Yeah, because all I’ve been hearing all day on satellite radio was that Americans had the lowest approval rating basically ever for Obama to intervene and strike Syria. But, he doesn’t work for the American people, so there you have it.

            2. What the fuck? For WHAT?

              If you asked me, I would have mildly approved. Obama is no great shakes, but he’s miles better on wars than Bush (until now).

    2. I never tout “democracy”, you idiot.

      I do emphasize social contract (Constitution) as the basis of our government.

    3. Because when you disagree with Obama, it’s because of your false consciousness.

      Just because you’ve never seen Syria cross a magic red line doesn’t mean Syria hasn’t crossed a magic red line. Barry, as leader of the proletariat and vanguard of the people’s glorious revolution, has seen the red line crossed, and since he represents the will of the people, that should be enough for you.

  8. There are absolutely positively ZERO positive outcomes for Syria right now. There are no secular groups with any type of relevance so whoever ends up replacing Assad’s iron fist will probably be just as if not more brutal.

    So sure, we should probably waste a few billion making the rubble bounce.

    “Wherever there’s injustice, oppression, and suffering, America will show up six months late and bomb the country next to where it’s happening” PJ O’Rourke

    1. There are absolutely positively ZERO positive outcomes for Syria right now. There are no secular groups with any type of relevance so whoever ends up replacing Assad’s iron fist will probably be just as if not more brutal.

      Not to mention the fact that Assad is a dictator whose only real desire is to retain power and rule his little kleptocracy. Let’s say he gets replaced by radical Islamists who desire Jihad. That would represent a much larger threat to American security interests than Assad retaining power.

      This war could very well result in the West being worse off than if we just left Assad alone.

      1. Come on Irish, things are sooo much better now that Egypt got rid of Mubarak.

      2. At this point it looks like Assad will eventually lose. He poses absolutely no threat to US security, so if anything we should be ensuring his victory. Just don’t go saying that at any DC cocktail parties.

        1. Since I believe your first sentence, I have to disagree with the second.

          What we should be doing is cynically letting the Russians and Iranians try to prop up Assad – which will fail long-term. Prolonging this conflict for years is good for us as long as Turkey and / or Israel don’t get sucked in.

          1. We don’t even need to be realpolitik cynics, we could just not give a shit what Syrians choose to do to each other.

          2. Well, Syria is supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon, and that’s bad for Lebanon and Israel. The region as a whole would probably be slightly better off if Assad were gone.

            The West getting involved in the war to do it, though, it probably not a good idea.

      3. If I were a Syriac Christian or an ordinary Alawite, I would much prefer a repressive kleptocrat to a whacked-out Wahabi theocrat.

      4. Assad’s number one priority right now is to avoid being sodomized to death with a broomstick in the manner of Muammar al-Gaddafi.


    1. How about bombing Chicago? Think of the stimulus.

      1. Or Detroit, since nobody lives there any longer so we could blow shit up without anybody getting killed plus we level a bunch of condemned houses…

        1. nobody lives there any longer

          Oh, so blacks don’t even exist. Invisible to you.


      2. So many broken windows…so many new jobs!

    2. I support an immediate, surgical cruise missile strike.

      On the White House.

  10. What difference, at this point, does it make?

  11. So long as they’re stroking their war boners to Syria, does this mean they’ll stop stroking them to Iran? Or will they get back around to Iran once they’re done defiling this hot, young thing?

    1. They will never bomb Iran. Doing that would actually serve US interests. And wars can only be done for pointless “humanitarian” reasons. They can never be waged because it would serve US interests. He will let the Iranians build a bomb and use it if they wanted to. But will bomb the shit out of Syria over a few thousand people gassed in a civil war.

      1. I do not think bombing Iran would serve US interests one bit.

        1. Letting them build a bomb would? What the hell playing MADD with the Soviets, who were a hundred times more competent and a thousand times less crazy only came close to causing a nuclear war five or six times. Why not try playing the same game with Iran? They wouldn’t really fuck up and start a war.

          1. There won’t be any MAD with Iran. If they use one nuke to attack, that’s the end for them. Iran using a nuclear bomb would be terrible. But so would having a big enough war with them to prevent them from ever developing one.

    2. So long as they’re stroking their war boners to Syria, does this mean they’ll stop stroking them to Iran?

      I stroke it to the east
      And I stroke it to the west
      And I stroke it to the nation that I love the best
      I be strokin’

    3. Men have two hands for a reason.

      Apparently, it’s to stroke two warboners at the same time. Too bad for Syria, Iran and the US citizenry.

  12. I get the feeling the administration would really like an ‘out’ right now. It’s too bad they have stripped the fig leaf of constitutional authority away, or they could go to allies in Congress and quietly ask them to throw up roadblocks.

    1. I think they have been allowed to run wild for so long, they don’t care. They don’t think anything bad will happen to them. They are totally out of control.

      1. It will be interesting to see what the UN people say, and what the US response to that is.

        1. I can’t see China and Russia not vetoing it. The irony of him going to war without a UNSCR and watching liberals twist themselves in knots explaining how this is so different than Iraq is going to be delicious.

          1. Already got the response. It’s a pause, followed by, “…well at least Obama hasn’t deceived the American public about this.” To which I respond, “True, he clearly has much less respect for the opinion of the electorate than Bush did. If Bush lied, at least you would have the consolation that he felt like he had to justify himself to someone.”

            1. Except that there is every possibility that the calls they intercepted showed that the Syrian officials were just as surprised as anyone else, pointing to a false flag attack. In which case, by conveniently leaving that out, they are indeed lying.

  13. Standing armies are just like dicks, always looking for someone to fuck. I mean common, we’ve got these really sweet missiles, how can we just leave them alone in the tubes and not shoot our load?

    1. “A standing army is like a ‘ standing member ‘: an excellent assurance of domestic tranquillity, but a dangerous temptation to foreign adventures.”

      – Elbridge Gerry 1787

      1. That quote is just too good to be real, but I hope it is. Can you cite where it came from?

        1. He said it at the constitutional convention. That makes it even better.

  14. What is so magical about “chemical weapons” being used to kill innocents? What about 1,000 tribesmen hacked to death with machetes? Or mowed down in refugee camps by AK47s? If the U.S. goes into Syria to intervene in its civil war, then it will become that much easier to justify intervening in any civil war where the number of deaths shocks the conscience of those comfortably ensconced in their barcaloungers in front of the tv.

    1. What is magical about them is the memory of WWI in our collective subconscious.

      1. I don’t remember WWI at all. Maybe my collective memory is broken :*(

        1. That was yet another Democrat war we fought for reasons other than you know being attacked.

          1. Well. Attacked without provocation, sure. But since before there was an America, Americans have excelled at manufacturing casus belli.

        2. Maybe my collective memory is broken :*(

          THe problem with most things that are collective is that they are perpetually broken.

        3. Yeah, but I’m sure you’ve seen the movies. Rotting corpses of dead horses mingled with dying soldiers choking on poison gas while coughing up bits of lung? That whole thing.

      2. If you’re referring to the term Jung coined, it’s “collective unconscious”.

  15. The best headline we could read in the next few days would be, ‘Russian Anti-Missile Defense Batteries Knock Down Tomahawks.’

    The American dilemma is not that we are an empire because in the traditional sense we are not. It is instead that our president is allowed to have the powers traditionally only vested in tyrants and absolute monarchs when foreign lands are concerned. If a leftist who loathes American foreign policy ever got elected he could turn the tables on us all by pissing off every region of the inhabited planet with mindless applications of the McCain Doctrine (American might makes right) that serve to make our nation lose all of its credibility on the international scene. There is no check on the system to prevent that from happening. Impeachment? That extreme is it, absolutely it. The best we can hope for is that an action taken is 1) unpopular, 2) gets smacked around a bit in our far too weakened to apply a check on the executive congress, and 3) embarrasses the president at a minimum expense to our international standing. Unfortunately, the system is rigged where we take the fall as a nation for the boneheadeness of a few at the top.

    1. I think one of the biggest problems is that Congress refuses to impeach lesser officials. They can impeach anyone. Impeaching a President is a real problem since it nullifies an election. But impeaching Hegal or Kerry doesn’t nullify an election. Congress needs to tell Obama that if he does this, he better be ready to appoint a new cabinet because the ones he has are going to be removed.

      1. You’re right. It needs to be used far more than it is, and it would not even need to be a presidential impeachment to be effective. Pick a guy that lied to Congress and throw the book at him. If things don’t shape up, pick the next one in line. There is a tremendous amount of pressure not to rock the boat in Congress that prevents them from exercising this rightful power. If you ever do so, you’ll never be invited to make serious buck at the lobbying firms. That perk only goes to those who stayed loyal to the DC social club during their career in Congress.

  16. Regardless of the merits or demerits of intervening in Syria, it is at least worth noting that if we do nothing, then the Syrian government WILL use more chemical weapons.

    Once they know they can do it and nobody is going to stop them, they are likely to start using them a lot more.

    I’m not saying that makes it worth intervening, but it’s something that we should recognize is going to happen.

    1. Your concerns are predicated on the assumption that a pack of pathological liars are telling the truth this time.

      Obama accuses. Assad denies. Both are pathological liars. Who do you believe? It’s really tough to decide.

      1. I decide on “whom”. 😉

        1. +1 Mr. English Person

          1. ‘Whom’ is cold, distant, aloof and formal. A damn fine word. ‘Wilst’ though wears a kilt as a groomsman at his brother’s wedding, greases his mustache in a twirl, has skin drooping like a vagina from his under utilized knees, and once played cello in the Decemberist.

      2. I’d have to go back to headlines from the beginning of the year, but I recall the opposition already being caught planning an action like this to take advantage of the red line drawn in the sand.

        1. I agree it’s a possibility. Frankly, it would be a releif if true.

          On the other hand, given the prior rumors that they had used chemical weapons drew little to no response from us, I suspect it’s possible that the Syrian government might have calculated that they could get away with it.

    2. OK. Couldn’t give two fucks about foreigners killing each other.

      I guess if they only kill each other with guns and not gas it’s 200% more moral?

      I’m much more upset when my tax dollars are used to terrorize myself and my fellow citizens, or foreigners for that matter.

    3. then the Syrian government WILL use more chemical weapons.

      Assuming they used them in the first place. Right now this is a pretty big assumption. A few days and some UN inspections and some transparency and this could be much less opaque.

      1. But didn’t Assad update his facebook feed with “Welcome to my party, your in for a real gas” I think he also tweeted something like “I am #Syria, choke on my gas rebel scum”

        1. Facebook AND Twitter? I didn’t realize how strong the evidence was.

          1. How else is the NSA supposed to know what’s new in his life? He’s a social media master.

      2. It’s almost irrelevant whether they did or not. At this point, everyone thinks they did. Which means the Syrian government is going to say “well, as long as they think we’re using them anyway, and are (or aren’t) doing anything about it, we might as well use them.”

        What does Assad have to gain by NOT using hcemical weapons at this point?

    4. Fair, but the presumption there is that missile strikes would eliminate the regime’s current capabilities, and, last I heard, not only do we not have a lock on the location of their storage facilities, but that’s not even on the table as an objective. There’s literally no military objective, strategic or otherwise, behind what the administration is proposing.

      1. I agree. The cruise missile strikes are going to be little more than symbolic. Which means they are going to keep using chemical weapons. Maybe somewhat more sporadically.

        I don’t see a pretty outcome here. We’re either going to stand by and witness Assad brutally crush the rebellion using nerve gas, or we’re going to escalate the conflict, at least to the level of a bosnian-style air war.

  17. Time for Alpha Dog to piss on another fire hydrant.

    1. With all the frantic posturing about how the U.S. can’t tolerate Syria crossing Da Red Line, I’m starting to think U.S. strategic thought really doesn’t go beyond the thinking of a frat boy whose frat was just dissed.



        OK THEN! DANCE OFF!!

      2. Do you really think it’s that profound? The drunk frat boy probably understands the tradition and history of his own fraternity and nature of his antagonist.

        1. Ohhhh SNAP!

  18. The powers that be assume that they can start any war any time and the public will go along. And that is largely true. But nothing says that it will be true forever. You won’t know when it isn’t true until it is too late.

    1. I hope you’re right. But the terminal level of stupid in the world and this country seems beyond reversal.

      1. Who cares about a place I can’t even find on a map. Who gets kicked out of the Big Brother house next??? That’s what’s important!

      2. Wars haven’t affected many people. Very few people have to fight them or even know anyone who fights them. So it makes the issue one of a bunch of shallow posers fighting over who can be most aggrieved, the hawks or the peaceniks. Most people just tune that out. But this thing is so blatant and so unpopular and people are so tired of the Middle East, people might not just tune out.

  19. What is President Obama Thinking…

    …that it’s been damn near TEN YEARS since we attacked a Baathist dictatorship in the Middle East, and these cruise missiles are gonna go bad if we don’t use ’em up soon!

    1. It turns out, a lot of the furniture in the Oval Office carries a strange fungus whose spores make people really want to blow shit up in the Middle East. While Washington is one of the few places it is commonly found in North America, it’s all over the place in the Middle East.

  20. #4 is a seven, over #5 at a six? What pair of eyes would even take notice of this alleged seven in a crowd?

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