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Obama Edging Towards Intervention In Syria


It’s looking less and less likely that Obama can stay out of Syria.


“The UN Security Council has called for immediate access for UN investigators on the ground in Damascus,” Downing Street said in a statement.

“The fact that President Assad has failed to co-operate with the UN suggests that the regime has something to hide.”

It said Mr Cameron and Mr Obama had “reiterated that significant use of chemical weapons would merit a serious response from the international community and both have tasked officials to examine all the options”.

The statement said the two men had agreed it was “vital that the world upholds the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons and deters further outrages”.

The Telegraph:

After days of delay, the Syrian government finally offered yesterday to allow a team of UN inspectors access to the area. However, Mr Hague suggested that this offer of access four days after the attack had come too late.

“We cannot in the 21st century allow the idea that chemical weapons can be used with impunity, that people can be killed in this way and that there are no consequences for it,” he said.

The Foreign Secretary said all the evidence “points in one direction”, to the use of illegal chemical agents by Assad regime forces.

A Government source added that even if UN inspectors visited the site of the attack, “we would need convincing by the UN team that this was not the regime’s attack because we believe everything points to the fact that it was”.

It’s still not clear whether Obama leans toward a moralistic spasm—dropping a few bombs to demonstrate to the world how righteous we are—or an intervention that would help grease the skids for Assad’s exit.

Unfortunately, the policy of delay has made all the options worse without, it now appears, succeeding in keeping the US out of war. Instead of the choice we had at one time between American intervention and a humanitarian disaster, we now have American intervention AND a humanitarian nightmare, with a revival of a serious Al Qaeda presence in the heart of the Middle East thrown in for good measure.

Intervention is dangerous and, as George W. Bush can tell us, it can go badly wrong. But nonintervention also has risks, and there are times when staying out costs even more than getting in.

[Obama photo courtesy Getty Images.]

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  • Pete

    America should stay out!

  • bpuharic

    WRM continues to insist that we put boots on the ground to engineer nation building and regime change

    Good luck with that.

    • Bob

      Intervention like the air war in Kosovo does not require boots on the ground.

      • bpuharic

        Except that’s not what WRM is recommending. Read his last paragraph

        And air power alone in Syria will have little effect. The Syria isn’t Kosovo.

  • ljgude

    Neither action, nor inaction…off the top of my head I think this is from a famous book about war. Having supported Dubya’s intervention in Iraq, I have grown more skeptical of intervention. A lot more. My preferred end game is a stalemate with Syria partitioned. That is the only way I can see to avoid the slaughter that will result from either side winning outright.

    • LivingRock

      “My preferred end game is a stalemate with Syria partitioned.”

      From my arm chair position, this seems like a possible outcome. But what would this really look like, whom would control what in a partitioned failed state of Syria? And would this possible fallout actually happen in a somewhat clear and organized fashion? And would that outcome be safe for the Middle East and the U.S.?

  • rheddles

    Luttwak is correct: America loses if either side wins. This is red on red and it is our interest to have them grind each other down indefinitely. Whenever necessary to prevent defeat, supply whomever the Russians and Iranians don’t.

    WRM is correct: Obama should have intervened at the beginning. But there is nothing to be gained by intervening now. They all hate us.

  • Hubbub

    The Syrian conflict is a fight among Muslims about Muslims and for Muslim territory and rule. The United States is not Muslim – yet. We have nothing to gain and a good deal to lose in terms of people and treasure. We should not become embroiled in another military venture of no great consequence to us. If Allah wishes to intervene for one side or the other, then let it be so. We are not Allah!

  • Anthony

    Former Secretary of State Colin Powell: civil war, prevailing party remains to be seen; America must be more sagacious and not think we can change things. These are internal struggles and when issues have been resolved we may be able to influence things. Who are rebels and my experience Assad is pathological liar.

  • James

    The President should probably have avoided drawing any lines to begin with and probably should have just said that intervention is not in our interest at this time. But since he did draw lines in the sand we might not have a choice now.

    • rheddles

      “But since he did draw lines in the sand we might not have a choice now.”

      Is that your son you’re volunteering to go over and risk his life for a line drawn in the sand by an idiot?

      • Tom

        The problem is that the resultant loss of respect might result in more dead Americans in the long run than intervention.

  • LivingRock

    The chemical weapons “red line” demarcation seems a little arbitrary to me. There is a massive humanitarian crisis in Syria in regards to civilians refugees and Assad’s willingness butcher his own countrymen regardless of another hundred people killed by chemical weapons. I suppose there are certain international legalities that are specifically triggered by use of chemical weapons, but it still seems like an arbitrary facade unless there’s a will by the U.S. or a coalition to actually go in and secure the weapons.

  • gvanderleun

    Obama knows all about “edging” that’s for sure.

  • avery12

    Going in means war with Iran and Russia, to ultimately empower al qaeda. Imagine the slaughter that will ensue should al qaeda have its way with the entirety of Syria.

    There are times when going in costs much, much more than staying out.

  • Andrew Allison
  • foobarista

    I’m guessing a few “send a message” cruise missiles of the Clinton aspirin-factory variety. For some reason, too many politicians can’t figure out that with dictators of this sort, you have two choices: leave them alone militarily and let locals deal with them, or kill them.

    “Send a message” bombing doesn’t do squat other than get the locals upset (those who aren’t dead), and gets them to rally ’round the leader.

    • bpuharic

      The right’s at least consistent

      Obama stays out of it; he’s a coward

      He intervenes; he’s ineffective.

      Darned if you do….

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    America should only go to war as a last resort, in order to protect over-riding American interests, and not because a weak president has had his ego tweaked and is now trying to Butch up.
    War for Humanitarian reasons is never a good motive, and any war without Jacksonian support, is hamstrung from the very beginning. War on the cheap is never the Jacksonian way, if it’s worth fighting a war over, it’s worth using the maximum over powering force possible, so that victory comes as swiftly as possible, and lives and treasure are saved on both sides.
    Do we even know what victory would look like in Syria? Al-Qaeda in charge in Syria is what defeating Assad means, do we really want to give Al-Qaeda a state in the middle of Arabia? Didn’t Obama already give Al-Qaeda a state in Benghazi, Libya?

    • bpuharic

      A weak president would have cried “Mission Accomplished” and put boots on the ground like conservatives wanted

      war on the cheap? That was Rumsfeld’s solution in Iraq. How’d that work out for the manly testosterone soaked conservatives?

  • lukelea

    I vote for humanitarian disaster. Theirs, not ours. The moment we intervene it becomes “our” humanitarian disaster.

  • Jim__L

    There’s an internet meme that involves the captions, “how I see what I do, how others see what I do, what I really do” or similar. I can’t find a link just offhand, but there’s a very funny one for Obama…

    How Obama sees himself: Superman
    How Republicans see Obama: Hitler
    How Democrats see Obama: Jesus

    What Obama is really like: George W Bush

    If anyone could link the original, it would be much appreciated.

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