What Should The US Do About Syria?


Posted: September 8, 2013 at 2:12 a.m.

Strong voices call for war against Syria.

This story is only available from our archives.

Opinion, Pages 13 on 09/08/2013

Absolutely. International criminal courts, not bombs, should be the international response.

I agree with the professor's assessment of religious fundamentalism being the backdrop for the violence.

Another backdrop, from the perspective of US policy makers, is the lucrative money making opportunity that US military adventure affords. Every dollar spent for bombs represents a nice healthy profit for a smiling munitions contractor.

Posted by: FrankLloydLeft

September 8, 2013 at 6:32 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

A war tribunal is a great idea. The guy isn't just going to give himself up though. It will take some bombs to get to him.

Posted by: Tankersley101

September 8, 2013 at 9 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

I agree with Hobson, except on the religious fundamentals being dangerous. It depends on the religion - Christian's die themselves to spread the love of Jesus Christ and the message of salvation to others.

I just wonder what Obama's agenda is. I don't see much difference in Iraq and Syria.

Posted by: mycent

September 8, 2013 at 10:06 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

If it'd bring gasoline prices down to where they oughta be, I'd say "send the Marines, kill 'em all, and let Allah sort it out."

Otherwise, let them gas themselves to death and let Allah sort it out, without any further expenditure of my tax money.

Posted by: CaptainQuint

September 8, 2013 at 12:31 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

mycent says "I don't see much difference in Iraq and Syria."
One difference is that the intelligence on Iraq was very much trumped up. Those of us who opposed the war from 2002 knew that most of what was being claimed about Iraq's WMD had to be false.
Also Obama is talking about air strikes, not an invasion.
That said, one thing can lead to another.

Posted by: Coralie

September 8, 2013 at 2:01 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Art Hobson and others may be oversimplilfying the Syrian conflict by assuming most or all Syrian rebels are religious extremists. It seems there are a lot of separate rebel groups, some of them moderates and others fundamentalist.
The moderate opposition appears to be greater in numbers, but the Islamists are better organized and trained.

Posted by: Coralie

September 8, 2013 at 2:11 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

GenBuck, I always hope you are writing parody.

Posted by: Coralie

September 8, 2013 at 2:51 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Coralie -" Those of us who opposed the war from 2002 knew that most of what was being claimed about Iraq's WMD had to be false."

Then why did Congress vote for the war? They were no better than Bush - if the info was false, they fell for it also. Whether it was false info is questionable considering all the time they gave Iraq to move the WMD's before they went in to investigate. Dems are just as guilty and people were being murdered by Hussein also.

Besides, we did get rid of an evil dictator, which in Syria, we would not. It just changes hands into another bad situation.

Posted by: mycent

September 8, 2013 at 3:01 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

"Then why did Congress vote for the war?"
A good question.
"we did get rid of an evil dictator, which in Syria, we would not."
Huh? You don't know much about Assad.

Posted by: Coralie

September 8, 2013 at 4:26 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Hobson gives an excellent overview of a terrible mess of a situation and one which doesn't appear to have any options likely to give a desirable outcome.

I'm entirely flummoxed on this situation. I was leaning a little, 60/40, for the US taking action via targeted strikes, and mostly for the reason given at number 8 here:

"9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask"

That is, breach of international law on chemical weapons should have repercussions.

But Art's article has switched me to about 60/40 against. I don't think at this point any action is likely to have a good outcome and that Syria will probably be (see #6 in the above list, copied below) a worsening disaster for many years to come.

6. Why hasn’t the United States fixed this yet?

"Because it can’t. There are no viable options. Sorry.
The military options are all bad. Shipping arms to rebels, even if it helps them topple Assad, would ultimately empower jihadists and worsen rebel in-fighting, probably leading to lots of chaos and possibly a second civil war (the United States made this mistake during Afghanistan’s early 1990s civil war, which helped the Taliban take power in 1996). Taking out Assad somehow would probably do the same, opening up a dangerous power vacuum. Launching airstrikes or a “no-fly zone” could suck us in, possibly for years, and probably wouldn’t make much difference on the ground. An Iraq-style ground invasion would, in the very best outcome, accelerate the killing, cost a lot of U.S. lives, wildly exacerbate anti-Americanism in a boon to jihadists and nationalist dictators alike, and would require the United States to impose order for years across a country full of people trying to kill each other. Nope.
The one political option, which the Obama administration has been pushing for, would be for the Assad regime and the rebels to strike a peace deal. But there’s no indication that either side is interested in that, or that there’s even a viable unified rebel movement with which to negotiate." --ibid

Posted by: fayfreethinker

September 8, 2013 at 4:49 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Myc: "Then why did Congress vote for the war?">>

Actually no. This has been dealt with many times but I do believe Barbara F. has penned the best explanation of the nuance here:

“The point is we went to war - and Congress never voted to declare war, they voted the president powers to deal with a threatening situation, up to, as a last resort, war - based on assurances of WMDs by the administration.

….there is a difference between a declaration of war and granting of powers that could ultimately lead to war. In 1941 Congress, at the request of FDR, declared war on Japan. What Bush II got was not the same at all. The war powers requires first going through all channels short of war, including UN, NATO, and other treaty allies. Bush I went through the UN, put together a coalition, and had the obvious act of aggression from Saddam (invading Kuwait) - with the added benefit that 90% of that war was paid out of international funds. Bush II lied to the UN, ignored our treaty allies, and refused to accept any evidence against his pet project. If he'd asked for a declaration of war, he wouldn't have gotten it. He pulled a sneaky end run by calling war powers the same as a declaration of war. He was not given authority to go to war. He was given the authority to go to all ends short of war, and prepare for war if war was indeed necessary.” --Barbara Fitzpatrick

We trusted Bush to, as he said, only go to war as a last resort. That was a mistake.

"In fairness, Bush has been candid about why he enlisted in the Air National Guard. Like many young men of his generation, he wanted to avoid Vietnam. He told one reporter, "I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."

Posted by: fayfreethinker

September 8, 2013 at 4:55 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Coralie - Correction: Yes, Assad is a horrible dictator, but the military is just as bad. I saw a clip of one of them cutting the heart out of a person and eating it. They are evil and are worse than animals - satan himself, I would say.

Posted by: mycent

September 8, 2013 at 5:31 p.m. ( | suggest removal )


The clip you saw was probably a member of the rebel militia, not the military.

For the record, I think we need to do something about Assad AND the al Qaeda elements ( I prefer GBU-31s and GBU-38s) in Syria and around the world. There is no reason not to actively target them except for when intelligence gathering is more prudent.

Posted by: Tankersley101

September 8, 2013 at 6:23 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

I will go ahead and put out what I have asserted before:

There are three types of people in this world: sheep, sheepdogs, and wolves. America is and should be a sheepdog.

Posted by: Tankersley101

September 8, 2013 at 6:59 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Tank: Correction noted - the "rebel militia" -would be the ones to take over if Assad were eliminated.

I don't know how we can afford to go into another war. We shouldn't weaken our defense - we may need it to protect ourselves one of these days. If you asked the families of those lost or served over there, you'd mostly get a definite - NO, I believe. Probably would have a lot of Canada bound young men, like the Vietnam war.

Posted by: mycent

September 8, 2013 at 7:52 p.m. ( | suggest removal )



"If you asked the families of those lost or served over there, you'd mostly get a definite - NO"

As one who has done 6 combat tours and currently leads 42 "battlefield Airmen" today, I respectfully disagree. Sometimes the hard choice is the right one.


TSgt Tank

Posted by: Tankersley101

September 8, 2013 at 8:14 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Tank: I do respect your service and opinion. I just hope our country is worthy of your commitment. It has changed so much from when I was young.

Posted by: mycent

September 8, 2013 at 9:33 p.m. ( | suggest removal )


I am privileged to served folks like you.

Posted by: Tankersley101

September 8, 2013 at 10:05 p.m. ( | suggest removal )


Posted by: Tankersley101

September 8, 2013 at 10:06 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

By the way, I have mixed feelings about those that went to Canada during the Vietnam war. Not all bad, but certainly not all good. I side with Waylon when it comes those that did so based on based there actual convictions. I'm now ready to get beat up by my Conservative friends. For the record, I think we were right in the Vietnam War.


Posted by: Tankersley101

September 8, 2013 at 10:14 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

I know several that served in Vietnam, and it wasn't a good war. One won't even talk about it to this day. My neighbor went to Canada - then I did not agree, now I don't want to judge any of them. They are all good Americans.

I still don't completely understand that war.

However, sometimes it is a necessity. God Bless you and all those protecting our country.

Posted by: mycent

September 9, 2013 at 7:43 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

mycent: "the "rebel militia" -would be the ones to take over if Assad were eliminated."
As I have previously said--with sources--there is no ONE rebel militia but hundreds of them. Some are moderate (insofar as anybody can be moderate in a civil war), some are jihadists, and some are criminals.
Most informed opinion suggests that the moderates outnumber the Islamic extremists, maybe 3 to 1, but the latter are better organized and trained.
There are also quite a few (the number I saw is 70,000) defectors from the Syrian Army.
Repeat, rinse, dry: The Syrian rebels are not all alike.

Posted by: Coralie

September 9, 2013 at 12:47 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

re the Vietnam War--see the documentary "Winter Soldiers" available to see free online here:

or buy the dvd here: http://www.wintersoldierfilm.com/

Posted by: Coralie

September 9, 2013 at 1:49 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

This afternoon on NPR I heard of a new plan for Syria. Putin suggested that Syria's chemical weapons be placed under international control.
Hillary Clinton came out in favor.
The head of the UN also.
Now all they have to do is get Assad to agree.
Then there would be no need for a missile strike, If the threat of war led to this new plan--which could set a good precedent--than it was helpful.

Posted by: Coralie

September 9, 2013 at 6:07 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Cor: "Vietnam War--see the documentary "Winter Soldiers">>

Also: "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara"

McNamara is usually referred to as the architect of the war. It won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Documentary. It can be watched online here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkQk50...

Posted by: fayfreethinker

September 9, 2013 at 9:01 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Assad has agreed--in principle.
Now they need to work out the details.

IF they can pull this one off, the next project would be to put everybody's nuclear stockpiles under international control leading to their dismantlement/destruction.
Here's a map of the nuclear-armed countries and the number of warheads. Russia and U.S. have the most by far.

Posted by: Coralie

September 11, 2013 at 5:13 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Let Putin handle it, Oh he is. Why didn't Putin address the nation last night, as he certainly is the leader of this nation. Obama is a poop-house joke as is all who defend the incompetent piece of dog squeeze. Understand that, freeby?

Posted by: JailBird

September 11, 2013 at 7:23 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

The troll: "Let Putin handle it, Oh he is.... he certainly is the leader of this nation.">>

Poor dumb MM. As was covered in today's New York Times, that very issue has been part of behind the scenes negotiations for weeks. Not all of these things are meant for public consumption, and in your case, aren't even on par with your comprehension skills anyway.

One can only feel pity for the honest and forthright conservatives who have to suffer the embarrassment of someone of the character of Moneymyst, who only soils their brand every time he opens his mouth.

"I use MJ and vodka every night." --MM, August 10, 2013, http://www.nwaonline.com/news/2013/au...

Posted by: fayfreethinker

September 12, 2013 at 12:18 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Given Putin's reputation, anyone who believes that he's doing this as a peace gesture and doesn't have an agenda is either naive or just plain clueless.
He's dangerous.
But on the bright side he just shoved Obama out as a world leader.

Posted by: P5harri

September 12, 2013 at 6:18 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

P5: "But on the bright side he just shoved Obama out as a world leader.">>

This is what ideology can do. It can make you hate a person so much you irrationally cheerlead for countries you really don't like.
P5 is exceedingly righteous religious and superstitious (but I repeat myself), so he may like this story:

I've mentioned to him before that we have had a prophecy challenge for many years now. It's posted here: http://fayfreethinkers.com/tracts/bib...

I had a dear sweet Jehovah's Witness lady put together her very best example and present it to me. Her example of supernatural prophecy fulfillment was thus:

For decades the JW's had predicted in their literature that the Soviet Union ('King of the North" in the book of revelation) would defeat the US ("King of the South'). (Incidentally, this happened to coincide nicely with the Cold War, so was very useful for scaring the kiddies). Anyway, her claim was that the US had spent so much wealth on Vietnam that it had crippled them and thus, the Soviet Union, now Russia, had "won the war." This was her best, strongest, example of supernatural Bible prophecy fulfillment.

I pointed out that not too much earlier there had been a news report about a Russian ship that had run out of gas and the some US ship had made a trip to save it. I noted (this was about 15 years ago) that Russia's tax collection and government function was such a mess that the state of New York (or perhaps it was the city) was collecting about the same tax revenue as Russia in total. I pointed out that it was the Soviet Union that had actually... *collapsed.* She said she really hadn't expected me to be persuaded by her case, me being such a skeptic after all.

It seems to me that the mental function, horsepower if you will, that could say something as stupid as Putin has "shoved Obama out as world leader" seems to be of a similar caliber to that of the colossal ignorance of a person who could bring themselves to believe that the (former) Soviet Union won the cold war.

Posted by: fayfreethinker

September 12, 2013 at 9:54 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Noam Chomsky says that Obama could go further:
"This would be a perfect opportunity to ban chemical weapons, to impose the chemical weapons convention on the Middle East. The convention, contrary to what Obama said, does not specifically refer just to use of chemical weapons; it refers to production, storage or use of chemical weapons. That's banned by the international norm that Obama likes to preach about. Well, there is a country which happens to be - happens to have illegally annexed part of Syrian territory, which has chemical weapons and is in violation of the chemical weapons convention and has refused even to ratify it - namely, Israel. So here's an opportunity to eliminate chemical weapons from the region, to impose the chemical weapons convention as it's actually formulated."

Posted by: Coralie

September 12, 2013 at 12:47 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

It's apparently a lot easier to make chemical weapons than to destroy them.
"The US vowed to destroy its cache of chemical weapons by 2012. But tons of nerve agents remain in Colorado and Kentucky - reflecting how complicated the process could prove in Syria."

Posted by: Coralie

September 12, 2013 at 12:57 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

"The US calls on other nations to abide by the treaties it violates.
"The US used millions of gallons of chemical weapons in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. It also used them during its destruction of Falluja in 2004, then lied about it(15,16). The Reagan government helped Saddam Hussein to wage war with Iran in the 1980s, while aware that he was using nerve and mustard gas(17). (The Bush administration then cited this deployment as an excuse to attack Iraq, 15 years later)."

Posted by: Coralie

September 13, 2013 at 1:17 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

No, Obama, the stupid has defaulted on his position as world leader. Putin was just there waiting for a fumble and the worst president in our history upchucked it right in his lap.

Posted by: JailBird

September 14, 2013 at 3:25 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

There is no competition for who will be world leader and no Oscar for the winning performer.
The survival of the human race or any significant portion of it is not about the partisan politics of the United States.
In fact the partisan politics of the USA is not about much of anything.
It's just the latest manifestation of Borderer love of contention and verbal combat.

Posted by: Coralie

September 15, 2013 at 3:48 p.m. ( | suggest removal )