Who cares about results, people are in trouble!
Posted by aogTuesday, 10 September 2013 at 14:34 TrackBack Ping URL

Let me state up front that I oppose intervention by the USA in the Syrian civil war. Both sides are strongly anti-American and, as far as I can tell, equally uncivilized. With regard to the alleged chemical weapon attack, I would not be surprised to find out any of three different things —

  • The Ba’athists did it to terrorize the population and opponents.
  • The rebels did it to get the USA to intervene against the Ba’athists
  • It was faked ala Pallywood.

How can we know? Our government seems remarkably uninterested in actually finding out. Presumably they’ll find some online video that was the real cause.

There are so many things wrong about this it’s difficult to know where to start, but certainly the blatant lying about Benghazi, the support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Eqypt, the deteriorating situation in Libya, and the abandonment of Iraq count for much. The fact that the “plan”, as such, is to be just muscular enough to not be mocked with an unbelievably small attack, in the hope that Iran will abandon Syria in favor of the USA, makes it hard to take any bit of it seriously. After all, it’s already failed because it is being soundly mocked around the world.

Then there is the idea of shooting at chemical weapons — not usually the smarted move, really. And if you don’t do that, what exactly is to be accomplished?

Some argue; that if President Obama doesn’t get Congressional approval, he will lose credibility on the world stage and our enemies will be emboldened. I just have to laugh — that horse is already out of the barn and over the next valley. Our enemies have already taken Obama’s measure and no longer pay much attention to anything he says, unless it provides an opportunity to mock him or score points (which seems to be a favored past time for Russian President Vladimir Putin). I think, at this point, the USA will be less damaged by limiting the damage Obama’s foreign policy is doing.

What this reminds me so much of is the standard tranzi response to problems, which is to do something regardless whether there is any evidence or even a plan indicating these actions would improve the situation. The claim is that if you oppose doing something, regardless of the expected results, you favor whatever suffering is happening. We have simply moved from “we have no evidence this helps” to “we have no plan or expectation this will help”.

P.S. According to Secretary of State Kerry, lobbing cruise missiles at a country isn’t really an act of war, and he was OK with putting troops in Syria before he wasn’t. Before I can support a policy, I have to insist on having an actual policy.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Jeff Guinn Wednesday, 11 September 2013 at 23:08

I guess I disagree.


I take it as an entering argument that a) a nerve agent was used and b) only the Assad regime had the means with which to carry out such an attack.

I don’t think this is a problem that should be decided upon Obama’s, or the US’s credibility, or on which party to that civil war an attack might strengthen.

So, if I was President, I would mount an attack on airfields and aircraft for as long as required in order to eliminate them. More importantly, I would specifically target all significant members of his regime. Up until fairly recently, political elites have viewed themselves as immune from the laws that govern the behavior of the rest of us. Presuming Assad’s regime used sarin, they did it thinking they had impunity. IMHO, nerve agent weapons are so unique that our interest in severely punishing those who used them, or remain in a regime that did, outweighs everything else.

BTW, if I was the HDWIC, I’d be parading the Navy back and forth, then use B-2s. Cruise missiles are not very effective weapons against the most important targets. Gravity propelled, hardened weapons are.

Bret Wednesday, 11 September 2013 at 23:47


I’m wondering if your “entering argument” is true? My understanding is that Sarin is pretty easy to manufacture, and a significant rebel organization could pull it off.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 12 September 2013 at 08:43

I’m with Bret - I think it invalid to presume that (1) an actual chemical weapon attack occurred and (2) if it did, the Syrian Ba’ath were responsible. Therefore I consider not at all “undeniable” that Assad’s regime used Sarin.


I have no sympathy for the Obama Administration on this - they failed epically and repeatedly. The biggest failure was to set out the “red line” and then make absolutely no effort to prepare for someone crossing it. Build no alliances, make no plans, gather no support in Congress.

Finally, I judge policies based on the expected outcome, not the intended or desired outcome and the idea that the Obama Administration would have the skill or the will power to follow through enough to make your case is, frankly, laughable. I think a weak attack that accomplishes nothing would be even worse than doing nothing.

Finally, I think the report by the Obama Administration was yet another political miscalculation. I think they expected everyone to just fall in line, because Obama, and he’d get some cheap street credibility and distract from his manifold domestic failures. Now they’re in a hole they’ve dug.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 13 September 2013 at 00:04

A more verbose version of one of my points — that the MAL will throw away any advantage we get from intervention, so better to do nothing. That’s a bad place to be stuck, but until the MAL fades away or grows up, it’s the best we can do.

Jeff Guinn Friday, 13 September 2013 at 02:23

I think it invalid to presume that (1) an actual chemical weapon attack occurred and (2) if it did, the Syrian Ba’ath were responsible.

By now there have been so many admissions against interest that the certainty it (1) occurred and (2) the Assad regime did it are only slightly less certain than which direction you should look for sunrises.

And it wouldn’t be the first time that a Ba’ath regime pulled this trick. But it is the first time his Obamaness thinks it is worth doing something about. There’s not enough limburger cheese in the world to mask the stench of that hypocrisy.

I have no sympathy for the Obama Administration on this - they failed epically and repeatedly.

Granted. Some things are bigger than the Obama administration.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 13 September 2013 at 08:37


Even so, it still comes down to the efficacy of the response. Better none than one bungled as epically as the lead in.

P.S. I remain unconvinced of the obviousness of the charge. Admission against interest is indicative but not conclusive, and it presumes the admitters actually know what their interest is.

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