Saturday, August 31, 2013

Second Guessing Syria

(Updated below)

Putting aside the question of whether it's possible to believe anything the US government says about Syria -- after several months of the daily outpouring of lies about NSA spying, after the lies about weapons of mass destruction, after the Gulf of Tonken, after all of it -- what if the US attack on Syria is followed by a massive chemical attack on rebel held areas by the Assad regime? What would President Obama do then?
Syrian refugees (Gallo/Getty)

That's one of many unintended consequences an attack on Syria could have, as outlined by the New York Times.

Others the Times mentions: A takeover of Syria by al Quaida-backed rebels. An attack on Israel from Iran, through Hezzbolah, that will draw an already-promised Israeli counterattack, drawing Lebanon into the conflict. Civilian victims of the attack will bolster support for the Assad regime. The Syrian refugee crises will be worsen. The already deepening regional conflict between Sunnis and Shiites will spiral out of control.

Besides all that, there are about 80 different armed militias fighting the Syrian government, most of whom don't agree with each other. A post Assad Syria would be unstable at best. Think about the almost daily mass killings by suicide and roadside bombings in Iraq. Or just think, Iraq. Afghanistan. Think Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, where stable secular states became unstable regimes in the control of Islamic fundamentalists or jihadist militias after US meddling.

It's impossible to point to a single positive outcome of US intervention in the Middle East.

The UK parliament's rejection of military action has acted like a speed bump in the rush to war as it's been conducted by our government through the compliant US media, which dutifully buries reports of polls showing that the US population is overwhelmingly against military action. The shock and awe of the rejection of violence by the UK, until now the US ruling elite's most loyal mascot when it comes to killing people, is probably what led to the story in today's Times.

But the media isn't mentioning the elephant in the room, that President Obama's decision to attack Syria now is a sign of his weakness in the face of Republican criticism. If this attack only causes things to unravel, what will the Republicans make Obama do then?

Update: Now comes word that President Obama will put the ball in congress' court by asking them for a resolution authorizing him to bomb Syria - when they return from recess in nine days. (New Mexico's delegation, all now in classic 'hide under your desk until it's all over' mode, will have to take a position!)

To his credit, Obama always understood the dangers of US involvement in the Syria, and managed the political fallout for not doing more there until the recent chemical attacks, at which point he caved.

The British, and the round of second guessing they set off, provided an opportunity that he's taken. Now that the congress has to share the consequences of involvement in Syria, the political rhetoric will be tempered by caution. A lot can change in nine days, and will. If Miley Cyrus twerks the president in the next nine days we'll never hear about Syria again.


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