Military Leaders Skeptical, "Embarassed" By Administration's Push for Strikes Against Syria, Says Former Army Major General


The Washington Post is running an absolutely brutal op-ed by retired Army major general Robert Scales on military opposition to the White House push to attack Syria.

Scales, a former commandant of the U.S. Army War College, says his piece is based on dozens of personal exchanges with current and retired soldiers. It lays out what he describes as the "overwhelming opinion" of those currently serving in the military. According to Scales, they are not at all enthusiastic about the administration's plans for going to war: 

They are embarrassed to be associated with the amateurism of the Obama administration's attempts to craft a plan that makes strategic sense. None of the White House staff has any experience in war or understands it. So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective.

They are repelled by the hypocrisy of a media blitz that warns against the return of Hitlerism but privately acknowledges that the motive for risking American lives is our "responsibility to protect" the world's innocents. Prospective U.S. action in Syria is not about threats to American security. The U.S. military's civilian masters privately are proud that they are motivated by guilt over slaughters in Rwanda, Sudan and Kosovo and not by any systemic threat to our country.

They are outraged by the fact that what may happen is an act of war and a willingness to risk American lives to make up for a slip of the tongue about "red lines." These acts would be for retribution and to restore the reputation of a president. Our serving professionals make the point that killing more Syrians won't deter Iranian resolve to confront us. The Iranians have already gotten the message.

Our people lament our loneliness. Our senior soldiers take pride in their past commitments to fight alongside allies and within coalitions that shared our strategic goals. This war, however, will be ours alone.

They are tired of wannabe soldiers who remain enamored of the lure of bloodless machine warfare. "Look," one told me, "if you want to end this decisively, send in the troops and let them defeat the Syrian army. If the nation doesn't think Syria is worth serious commitment, then leave them alone." But they also warn that Syria is not Libya or Serbia. Perhaps the United States has become too used to fighting third-rate armies. As the Israelis learned in 1973, the Syrians are tough and mean-spirited killers with nothing to lose.

Scales is only the latest cmilitary official to express skepticism about the administration's push for war. Last week, The Washington Post published a lengthy report on doubts about the effort within the military. Here's a representative sample: 

"I can't believe the president is even considering it," said the officer, who like most officers interviewed for this story agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity because military personnel are reluctant to criticize policymakers while military campaigns are being planned. "We have been fighting the last 10 years a counterinsurgency war. Syria has modern weaponry. We would have to retrain for a conventional war." 

The New York Times recently aired this bit of skepticism about the administration's preferred approach to the strikes: 

Weapons experts said that Tomahawk missile strikes, while politically and psychologically significant, could have a limited tactical effect. The weapons are largely fuel and guidance systems and carry relatively small high-explosive warheads. One conventional version contains about 260 pounds of explosives and another version carries about 370 pounds. Each is less than the explosive power of a single 1,000-pound air-dropped bomb.

The weapons are not often effective against mobile targets, like missile launchers, and cannot be used to attack underground bunkers. Naval officers and attack planners concede that the elevation of the missile cannot entirely be controlled and that there is a risk of civilian casualties when they fly slightly high.

Some officials have also cautioned that Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants might step up terrorism around the region in reaction to American strikes on Syria. Another risk is that Mr. Assad might respond to the attack by firing missiles at Turkey or Jordan or mounting even more intensive attacks against civilians.

The White House response, meanwhile, has been to be upset with the Pentagon's off-message leaks

So here's where we're at: A large majority of the public opposes attacking Syria. Our closest international ally voted against participating in a strike. The U.S. Congress hasn't voted yet, but it's far from clear that legislators will approve a strike when a vote occurs. And it seems that there's a fair amount of skepticism within the military as well. At this point, you have to wonder who, exactly, supports starting this war. 

NEXT: Non-Essential Staff Told To Leave US Embassy in Lebanon

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  1. The whole thing is insane. For the sake of argument, lets say we do have a duty to protect the people of Syria. How would we do that? It would seem to me that we would either have to invade and occupy like we did in Iraq or at the very least establish no fly zones and safe areas like we did in Northern Iraq at the end of the first Gulf War. Regardless of the wisdom of doing either of those, those options are not on the table. In fact the White House has specifically said it is not going to do either of those things.

    So we are left with the question, what the fuck does the President want to do over there. It isn’t protecting the people of Syria because he has said up front he is not going to do the two things that would accomplish that. It isn’t to end the civil war since he has repeatedly said he has no intention of removing Assad. I can’t see an end state here. How can you go to war without any idea what you want to accomplish?

    1. Their strategy is to blow up some stuff and some people and hope it’s enough to distract everyone from all of the scandals, including the current one of wanting to wage war without any legal or popular support.

      If that doesn’t work, they’ll blow up some more stuff and people.

      1. What good are meaningless red lines? Nobody will take us seriously. That makes the world dangerous. Plus it makes Putin snicker at Obama.

        1. It makes the world very dangerous. It would be one thing if Obama were an isolationist and looked this weak. He would at least not be blundering around antagonizing people and tempting them to try to take advantage of him. But he is a huge interventionist. And that is a very dangerous combination.

        2. That’s all crap, anyway. The U.S. topples nations for fun, especially the last ten years. Just because we decide this one isn’t worth the trouble this time isn’t going to hurt us.

          What hurts us is an obviously incompetent president and administration. At least the last idiot in the White House scared the rest of the world. This one just makes them laugh and roll their eyes. I might respect Obama some if he were trying to stabilize things, but he’s clearly not doing that, either.

          1. Someone called him the White House Fool on another blog.

            I thought that extremely fitting. We could give him a pointy green hat with a bell on it to go with his big ears, and he’d garner no less respect than he currently is.

            The WHF!

            1. Maybe as an understudy to Biden.

              1. I think Obama is actually worse than Biden. Biden is a meandering buffoon. But he has some self awareness that he is just that. Obama is every bit the buffoon Biden is but thinks he is God’s gift to mankind.

                1. I meant Biden is more entertaining as a fool. And he is.

      2. Maybe. Or it also could be that they are totally directionless and without leadership and have no idea themselves what they are doing or how to accomplish it. I starting to wonder if no one is in charge up there. That the President just wanders around shooting his mouth off and they live from one day and one news cycle to the next with no one in charge and no goal much less a plan to achieve it.

        Your explanation works but only works if they have some kind of plan and organizational discipline necessary to try it. But I am starting to wonder if that is giving them too much credit.

        1. Look at the way Obama fucking threw Kerry under the bus by repeatedly contradicting Kerry’s assertions.

          Obama is clearly rudderless and hoping that when the smoke clears he can blame someone else for his fuckups. It’s like he never got out of first grade.

          1. It’s like he’s a freshman in Congress or something without any experience. Weird.

            1. Maybe running a campaign isn’t quite the same as running the executive? To me the signature moment of the Obama administration was Bengazi and not because of what happened on the ground. The signature moment was when Penatta briefed Obama who then took off for a fund raiser in LA. Here we have a US ambassador under attack and the President isn’t even there to plan the response. Penetta and Hillary did the entire thing. Obama wasn’t even there or interested in being there.

              That ought to scare the hell out of you. No one is in charge up there. The President doesn’t give a shit and the people below him don’t view him as a force multiplier and are fine with him not being around.

            2. I believe Limbaugh calls him “the man child.”

              But experience is overrated when it comes to running the most powerful nation in the world.

              1. Certainly, a genius of some sort might be able to handle the job without experience, but that’s a hefty gamble to take, and it obviously didn’t happen even a little bit this time.

                From now on, let’s see the guy in action for a good while before we hand him the nuclear football, okay?

                1. I honestly don’t think you need to be a genius to handle the Presidency without experience. You just need to be humble, deliberate, and good leader. It helps to surround yourself with some people who know the ropes. Oh, and trying to only fulfill the limited role that the Presidency is designed to play rather than solving all the world’s problems might also help.

                  1. “I honestly don’t think you need to be a genius to handle the Presidency without experience.”

                    The constitution tells you what to do. It’s a pretty simple job if you just follow that. In 99% of situations you don’t have to do anything at all.

                    1. Look at it this way JB, Reagan was probably the best President we have had in the last 40 years, and he was renown for taking Fridays off and keeping banker’s hours the other four days. Do less and work less is a very good mantra for a President.

                    2. Unless, you know, you enable creeps like Dick Cheney.

                2. You wouldn’t have to be a genius. Reagan wasn’t a genius or really even that experienced in Washington. And he did well. More than anything it takes wisdom, humility, a core set of values and a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. And perhaps most importantly, it takes a lot of empathy and ability to understand and size up your political opponents. As President you have to be able to reach out and get your opponents to work with you sometimes. To do that, you have to be able to empathize with them and understand their world view.

                  Obama lacks all of those qualities but he most lacks the ability to empathize with and size up his opponents. That is where he fails the most. He comes out of Chicago and the faculty lounge where it is taken as gospel that everyone on the other side is unreasonable and evil. For this reason he both can’t understand his political opponents and is totally unable to reach out to them and work with them when he needs to. All he knows how to do is divide and demonize. That works great in an election. But it is a disaster when you try to govern.

                  1. Good point. He seems to have substituted empathy with judgement.

                  2. Reagan had experience as an executive and administrator as governor of California. That’s relevant.

                    Interestingly, a similar mistake was made with Bush, because most people don’t realize how weak the governor of Texas is compared to governors of other states.

                    1. But Bush had his father and Cheney and various other people around him who knew what they were doing. The Bush White House never looked anything like this incompetent. Think about it, the media spent 8 years trying to make Bush look incompetent and will do anything to make Obama look competent. And despite this, Obama still looks worse than Bush.

                    2. [t]he media spent 8 years trying to make Bush look incompetent and will do anything to make Obama look competent. And despite this, Obama still looks worse than Bush.

                      I’m stealing this.

      3. If the War Resolution fails in Congress, Obama might want to consider pulling a reverse-Clinton. POTUS getting a hummer from an intern might actually distract people from the Syria idiocy.

        1. You know there are those rumors about him going on the down low. Gay sex in the oval office would be an entertaining and generally harmless scandal.

        2. Good idea. Distract people from the scandals by threatening an illegal war, then distract people from the illegal war with a sex scandal. Keep moving from one scandal to another so quickly that we never get around to trying to oust him before his term ends.

          1. Just make everyone’s head spin.

            Spinning, spinning, spinning towards incompetency.

            1. It’s a dizzying strategy that might just work.

          2. Makes sense, then when people make a scandal of the sex, pretend that the sex is the one thing they are angry about, and thus all of their criticisms can be dismissed as simple prudishness.

    2. Fredo Corleone: It ain’t the way I wanted it! I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says… like dumb… I’m smart and I want respect!

      1. Putin; Look America I had to slap Obama around. He was banging cocktail waitresses two and three at a time.

        1. It did not end well for Moe Green.

          1. Yeah, history has shown America has a habit of electing morons who tempt our adversaries only to go Micheal Corleone on them later.

          2. Hillary will need to eliminate the heads of the 5 families and take over Vegas before this is over.

            1. Bill Clinton: My credit good enough to buy you out?
              Obama: Buy me out?
              Bill Clinton: The hotel, the casino. The Clinton Family wants to buy you out.
              Obama: The Corleone Family wants to buy me out? No, I buy you out, you don’t buy me out.
              Bill Clinton: Your Administration loses credibility, maybe we can do better.
              Obama: You think I’m skimmin off the top, Bill?
              Bill Clinton: [shakes his head] You’re unlucky.
              Obama: You goddamn Clintons you really make me laugh. I do you a favor and take Hillary in when you’re having a bad time, and now you’re gonna try and push me out!

              1. The Clintons aren’t the Corleones here.

                1. Can we do a different movie now? This one’s getting boring.

                  How about Joe Dirt?

                  Obama: Well, I was born without the top of my skull and I guess a little bit of my brains was showin’ and it was grossin’ everybody out so my mom put this wig on me to cover it up and then the bones grew together and it got all infused and entwined. I mean I don’t mean to get all scientific with you…

                  1. The Godfather never gets boring.

                    1. That sounds like something Obama would say.

                  2. I use The Godfather for work analogies pretty often. Especially the parts about not letting anyone outside the family know what you are thinking and settling all family business.

                    1. Yeah, you probably like JR you queer. I saw your bumper sticker: Cowboy’s Butts Drive Me Nuts!

                    2. The Godfather is the ultimate American movie. I always figured you for some kind of a damn Pinko commie GBN. Now I know you are.

                    3. Yeah, a bunch of dumb wops murdering each other over Cuban hotels, how apple pie.

                      Joe Dirt is the ultimate American movie, and that’s a fact Jack Daddy Frap Frap.

        2. He doesn’t have enough game to bag one cocktail waitress, let alone multiple at the same time. Even with a million dollars.

          1. I’d be surprised if he could laid in a women’s prison with a briefcase full of pardons.

      2. This came up at dinner the other night. I said “obama is fredo” and it all made sense.

    3. The White House really just seems to be in panic mode. The Assad regime called Obama’s bluff and now the White House is desperately and publicly scrambling to find something to back up the whole “red line” B.S. And because they are in panic mode, they are handling the situation in almost the worst way imaginable.

      After the chemical attack, Obama could have said that the situation was too complex for America to get involved, despite his earlier comments. He could have even *gasp* admitted that it was a stupid comment. He could have made it clear that other situations, like Iran developing a nuke, are different and would get a different response. It would have blown over.

      Or he could have illegally went to war without Congressional approval and refused to submit his reasons to public scrutiny. “Extremists” like us would have screamed but there would have been no real consequences.

      Instead they’ve bumbled this at every step of the way and made themselves look weak and foolish in the process. Which actually may be a win for liberty in the long run.

      1. That is where he fucked up most. If he just wanted to bomb a little to save face, he should have kept his mouth shut and just done it. If he had launched a bombing campaign very quickly before opposition could organize itself and ended it before it became a political liability, he would have probably come out okay.

        But he has no personal discipline. All he knows how to do is talk. He is totally incapable of just shutting up and doing something. Instead he endlessly flaps his gums letting his opportunity to do something pass.

        1. It really is mind boggling to watch. I think it just shows a lack of foresight, a lack of understanding that his off-the-cuff remarks have consequences, possibly because for most of his political career he has gotten by on rhetoric and not substance. It shows a lack of experience, of planning, and skill in a leadership role. I’m a Penn State grad and this reminds of seeing the totally screwed up response in the aftermath of the Sandusky scandal. How anyone can rise to such a high leadership position and be so unprepared to handle a situation like this is just crazy.

          1. It is crazy. And this wasn’t that hard of an issue. Imagine if he had kept his mouth shut and then a couple of days after the gas attacks launched a serious of air raids and missile strikes aimed at high value Syrian targets and officials including Assad himself, leaving a good amount of expensive equipment destroyed and perhaps a few people close to Assad dead. And then said “we have no interest in this civil war but will not tolerate nations using WMD’s on their civilian population and have acted in the name of the international community to stop this from occurring again in Syria” or something to that effect and then left it. Assad would have been left with the warning that using gas could mean a cruise missile coming through your front door, we wouldn’t have involved ourselves in the civil war, and our credibility and commitment to international law would have been preserved. The hawks wouldn’t have been satisfied and the doves’ complaints about a war that is already over with would have been ignored.

            1. Yeah, but that wouldn’t have provided a continuing distraction.

        2. If he had launched a bombing campaign very quickly before opposition could organize itself and ended it before it became a political liability, he would have probably come out okay.

          Syria would not have taken that passively. Given their geography, they are much better positioned to fuck up our day than Gaddafi. Putting them in a position of nothing else to lose, they’ll stop containing the civil war. Both Turkey and Israel rely on them to contain the savages in the rebellion funded by the fundies in the Gulf.

          1. I am not seeing how not containing the civil war is in their interests. Syria can’t do shit expect continue to fight for their lives against the rebels. I suppose Iran could try to launch terror attacks against US interests, but what good would that do? That would just cause the US to bomb more. The Syrians wouldn’t want that. The only thing they could do is take it and hope we didn’t come back.

            1. If that were the case, the gas masks would have stayed on the shelves in Israel. Their is plenty for the Syrians to do to make everyone else feel the pain. Rile up Hezbollah for another Lebanese border skirmish. Get their butthole buddy Kurdish communist friends from way back to raid conveys and ships along Turkish supply routes. The only reason they don’t do it is because they have something to lose. The moment we tilt this war in the savages favor is the moment they let the chips fall where they may. The last thing we want is for a strike to be effective because we are on the wrong side of our own best interest in this.

              1. Rile up Hezbollah for another Lebanese border skirmish.

                Yeah because Israel could never handle that. And if Syria launched a gas attack against Israel or used such on anyone but their own people, the entire world including Russia and China really would turn on them. Nothing would seal Assad’s doom quicker than that. He would have to be suicidal to do that. And I don’t see him being suicidal.

                And all of that stuff with the Kurds would just bring on a war with Turkey. How would that help Assad? That would be almost as crazy as gassing Israel.

                  1. ow would that help Assad? That would be almost as crazy as gassing Israel.

                    As I made explicit, in a scenario where they have nothing left to lose those options are very much viable.

                    Do you really think the Israelis are being illogical with the gas masks flying off the shelves? I think they understand their best interest better than we do, and have more consistently applied it to their own survival than we ever have.

                    And, no, the last border skirmish with Hezbollah was no picnic in the park for them either.

                    1. But nothing short of a full on US invasion would oust Assad. And that isn’t going to happen. If the US bombs, it won’t make a bit of military difference. So Assad’s best course would be to sit tight and wait for us to go home.

            2. The American people could give two shits about a chemical war attack. Recall the last Islamist rebellion in Syria where Assad’s father crushed a Islamist rebellion by massacring the city of Hama. If that were to happen again but with a chemical attack instead of conventional forces, and the American public realized it was Al Qaeda being crushed, we would throw Assad a ticker tape parade circling Ground Zero.

              1. They don’t care if they gas their own people, but if they gassed Israel, Americans would care, not because they care about Israel but because they would understand that if Assad can and will gas Israel, he would gas America.

              2. I would also note that Israel has nukes and would be perfectly justified in using them against Assad if Assad used gas against them. I can’t see anyone objecting to Israel nuking Assad if there was a serious gas attack on Israel.

                Assad is not going to gas Israel.

                1. I don’t even think he did here in the two gas attacks, but if its true the fundies supplied the rebels as appears to be the case in the attack in May, at least where the munitions grade is not Syrian army stock as pointed out by the UN team, then the supplies had to have come through some other country to get there. Turkey, Israel, or Iraq are your best candidates. In the backrooms, Syria has to be asking their leaders, what the fuck are you doing allowing this shit into our country in the middle of a civil war? The answers are likely not very pretty in terms of what it means for culpability. In other words, if they did not start the escalation into WMDs due to a MAD scenario, if it has already broken down, they have little reason to remain passive.

                2. That one post with the single ‘so’ was nothing more than me accidentally hitting return after erasing a sentence, btw.

      2. He could have even *gasp* admitted that it was a stupid comment.

        Obama would never do this.

    4. Basically Chocolate Nixon-Carter just wants to make sure that everyone knows he’s serious when he spouts off about “red lines” and that you better not dis him when he does. Basically our policy toward Syria comes down to grade school level puffery on Obama’s part.

      Put another way, we’re about to kill a bunch of people and provoke terrorist attacks, or if Russia comes to Assad’s aid, possibly even trigger WW3 just to massage Obama’s narcissistic ego. What a shithead.

      1. I will ignore the racism in this comment, but to compare BHO to Nixon is terribly unfair to Nixon. Nixon made a ton of mistakes and may have been fundatmentally dishonest, but he knew how the world worked, and was not incompetent. It is even a bit unfair to Carter, who saw the light after a few years and started to deregulate the airlines–even if he has since gone off to lala land.

    5. You have to go to war to find out whether or not it will work.

  2. I’ll never understand why we even fight counterinsurgency wars in lands we have no intention in keeping. But that’s a whole different issue.

    1. I read a short book (don’t remember the name now) that basically argued that Americans really do feel a moral obligation to spread democracy but don’t want to be viewed as conquerors. So we lob some bombs and call it a day. And the rest of the world has generally been OK with it because they know we won’t ever go full blown imperial, and we prop up a system that is profitable for them.

  3. You know who else didn’t have the support of the officers?

    1. The Wicked Witch?

    2. Captain Bligh?

        1. Wasn’t that Captain Queeg?

    3. Chris Dohner?

  4. the people of Syria

    Even that phrase reveals the amazingly simplistic line of thought among the cheerleaders. The whole point of the civil war has been to show that there is no such as a unified “people of Syria”. It’s a big mess o’ tribes, from Christians to Alawites to Sunnis to Shi’ites, and the civil war is showing that a lot of Syrians put a lot more stock in their religious/tribal identity than they do in their national identity. Bombing the fuck out of Assad just increases the chance that one of the factions currently hostile to his regime will take over (And will then most likely slaughter people from the tribes currently friendly with the regime).

    1. Something that US policy makers have seeming willfully ignored across the planet for going on a century now.

  5. At this point, you have to wonder who, exactly, supports starting this war.

    Barack Obama

  6. What the fuck do those guys know? Did any of them work for the Harvard Law review? Huh?

    What part of ours is not to reason why don’t they understand?

  7. This article actually reassures me that not everyone in the Pentagon is a political toady. This shit makes absolutely no sense.

    1. Not really sure what you mean. In general, our military is quite good at being publicly apolitical. They’re also quite good at following orders, even very stupid ones. It’s not their job to raise political questions, just questions of achievability.

      1. I worry that the Pentagon is detached from the real military (the Fleet, Army and Marine divisions, etc..). And the Pentagon is packed with politically connected officers.

  8. This is why the White House prefers drone warfare. The CIA operators don’t push back.

    1. Until they dump it all into finger drive and hand it to Grenwald.

      1. Now, that was an NSA contractor. The CIA is better than that.

        1. The CIA is better than that.

          Yeah, they just sell it to the Chinese or the Israelis.

  9. Somewhere E. J. Dionne is weeping…….

  10. But they also warn that Syria is not Libya or Serbia. Perhaps the United States has become too used to fighting third-rate armies. As the Israelis learned in 1973, the Syrians are tough and mean-spirited killers with nothing to lose.

    The Serbs are about as tough as they come when it is down to boots on the ground. The US simply bombed Yugoslavia (as it was technically known at the time) and they did manage to take out a Stealth Bomber. They’ve been fighting there for a long time and aren’t exactly famous for their lack of atrocities.

    1. The military is always whining about how the next fight is going to be too hard. It is the culture. The Syrians are a third rate Army. The US has equipment that is a generation beyond what the Syrians have.

      And we have spent the last 12 years murdering by the tens of thousands tough mean-spirited fighters who have nothing to loose. Our ordinance goes through their flesh no matter tough they are. I can’t see t he Syrians being any different than the various people we fought in places like Fallujah.

    2. As the Israelis learned in 1973, the Syrians are tough and mean-spirited killers with nothing to lose.

      What the fuck is it with the prevalent thinking that the Israeli military is operationally analogous to the US military? The Israelis are, and always have been, third rate. They only look reasonably competent because the morons they face are never better than 5th rate. The one time they went to war with a first-rate power they weren’t capable of sinking a poorly armed refitted freighter, even after multiple bombing runs and throwing some torpedoes (wildly) at it.

      Even granting the SAA non-third-rate status (which is a huge stretch) they still aren’t as well-equipped as the Iraqis were in 1991, just after the tough and mean-spirited Iraqi Army came off a ten-year-long war with Iran. And we kicked the ever-loving shit out of the Iraqis. Most of them were blown apart running away, including the vaunted (but entirely overrated) Republican Guard.

      Were we to actually go to war with Syria they’d fold faster than the Iraqis did in 1991 or 2003.

      1. Were we to actually go to war with Syria they’d fold faster than the Iraqis did in 1991 or 2003.

        Which should be in no way be construed to be an invitation for us to try.


    Biden accused Romney of wanting to go to war with Syria. The entire year of 2013 is one big proof that God has a wicked sense of humor.

    1. Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday that Republican rival Mitt Romney is “ready to go to war in Syria and Iran” while hurting the middle class.

      Project much, Joe?

      1. Every single thing Romney said and was ridiculed for in 2012 is turning out to be true. It is just bizarre.

        1. Well, not entirely. Many things that Romney said and was ridiculous for by Biden and Obama in 2012 are still stupid and ridiculous, however, Biden and Obama have adopted them as their own policy.

  12. None of the White House staff has any experience in war or understands it.

    Au contraire mon frere. John the American Gigolo Ketchup Bottle was a Vietnam war hero (the only one, every other Vietnam veteran was of course a war criminal), and he was for war before he was against it before he was for it before he was against it before he was for it once again.

  13. So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective.

    This is another aspect of it that is just so damn unbelievable. It is so amateur that the approach to war alone demonstrates that the White House doesn’t comprehend the seriousness of what they are proposing.

  14. One of the universal attributes of a good manager is a willingness to find smart, knowledgeable experienced people to run operational divisions, and let them do what they are good at.

    This guy is not qualified to run a hot dog cart.

    1. Face it, his voter appeal is in his promise to give everybody free hotdogs.

    2. Throw a banana out, take a dollar, is about as good a description of his economic policy, too. Hey, look you, Mr. Manager!

      1. I’d hire Maeby Funke before I’d hire Obama.

  15. “He describes as the “overwhelming opinion” of those currently serving in the military. According to Scales, they are not at all enthusiastic about the administration’s plans for going to war.”

    I can’t wait for Obama’s cheerleaders (who were ostensibly against the Iraq War) to tell us that we have to support Obama’s war in Syria because we have to support the troops.

    1. Then the transformation into the Bush Administration will be complete.

  16. We would have to retrain for a conventional war.”

    WTF? I thought conventional war is what we have a military for to begin with. Why are we spending so much on a military if we can’t even fight a regular war with it? I have a hard time believing that an organization as large and bureaucratic as our armed forces has changed so completely in such a relatively short time.

    I’m completely against intervention, but this statement is odd.

    1. That statement is horseshit. We are still trained for a conventional war. The skills we used fighting the insurgency will translate to a conventional war. Conventional wars are actually easier to fight. The danger of fighting just insurgency is that you let your military get too small and you no longer have enough big units to fight a conventional war, the way the British were going into World War I. We don’t have that problem. Our military is plenty big.

      1. Remember, the military is always about to implode. . .send more money.

        1. Generals are always broke. And the last thing they want to do is use this military they have spent so much time building. That might break it.

          One of the great myths is that generals want to go to war. Generals want a big military because it makes them important. But generals do not want to go to war.

  17. The only thing I can think of is maybe he meant “mobilize”, as in it takes time to mobilize for a conventional war.

  18. My impression is that the attack is generally expected to be via ship-launched missiles. If by some turn of fate, the Syrians are able to sink the ship and take prisoners (a VERY unlikely eventuality), what would the status of the prisoners be? Does anyone know? Would they legally be prisoners of war? Or could they be tried for an act of terrorism?

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