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28 April 2013

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MartinJ

I agree wholeheartedly. The only possible reason Assad is hanging on to his tactically useless stocks of chemical weapons is his last bargaining chip with the West, should he need one.

mbrenner

Washington's temporizing about what to do or not do in Syria, even while dedicated to making empty gestures from the sidelines routinely, strikes me as self-defeating. In a sense, the worst among bad choices. I see it as a matter of situatioonal logic. What are the alternaives as of today? One, the status quo ante. Impossible. Two, a megotiated modus vivendi? Perhaps a small chance yesterday; not today. Too much blood spilled, too much radicalization, too much sectarianism, too much outside intervention. Three, the current non-policy. Make believe that you can influence the political dynamic among the opposition hroupings through reiterated statements of how the world Should work and keep sticking you political oar in the waters. Major drawbacks: this approach increases the odds on the most radical of the Islamist elements coming out on top because they have the arms, the money, and because a civil war always radicalizes the longer it goes on.

That leaves two alternatives. One is to back the opposition fully in the hope of toppling the Assad regime sooner rather than later. Try, to the extent you can, to differentiate among opposition groups but don't count on being very successful. Stop worrying about arms getting into the hands of "al-Qaeda" - whatever that means these days. The local al-Qaeda sub-groups in the regime already have all the arms they may wish. Two is to take a hands-off approach and deal with whatever situation emerges whenever the dust clears. Do contingency planning only. problem is that the United States places such importance on being omni-present that we will still be blamed for bad things happening - and everyone will wonder whether Uncle Sam has developed early-onset Alzheimer's (of course, others now worry about ADDS). My preference? - available to the highest bidder along with all the inside dope I have on doings and thinking inside Syria.

The beaver

The best line today:
{Syrians will ‘take revenge’ on the U.S. for not attacking}

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/28/mccain-syrians-will-take-revenge-on-the-u-s-for-not-attacking/

One would think that he knows better BUT ......
"bomb bomb bomb Iran"

Tyler

Man, the members of the Chosen are really pushing for us to do their dirty work yet again.

Our 'elites' learn nothing from history, from training AQ to trying to revisit the disastrous 1986 amnesty. No wonder our country is so wrecked.

The Twisted Genius

I wish we would adopt the following COA:

1. STFU.

2. Secretly do what we can to cut off or curtail the flow of Saudi and Qatari funding to the jihadis.

3. Nothing else.

I have no idea if we have the capability to do 2, but it's worth a try. If nothing else, it would send a silent message to the Saudis and Qataris that we don't approve... although I doubt they would care at this point. The most difficult part is asking our foreign policy establishment and politicians to STFU. I fear just the thought of that would give them the vapors.

confusedponderer

An early morning pre-coffee theory:

The business of attack ads makes sure that admitting a mistake is a dangerous proposition in US politics. So nobody has ever made mistakes. Instead, they are all doubling down to not lose face, or they are beyond the line of ideological zealotry anyway and cannot see errors anymore.

As a result the political landscape has become so polarised.

I blame the R's a tad more on this than the D's, but the difference is gradual.

Also, in particular in foreign policy and national security but also on some economic issues, there is a considerable degree of elite consensus that usually goes unmentioned because it is not controversial politically. It would be quite interesting to map that field.

b

@mbrenner

The choices you present are not the only ones.

The U.S. could stop working with/for the insurgents.
The U.S. could stop the arms delivery.
The U.S. could stop the media campaign.
The U.S. could tell Syria's neighbors to close their borders to Syria.
The U.S. could tell Qatar and SA to stop the money flow ... or else.

The U.S. could simply take (silently) the side of Assad, close down the logistics for the insurgency and let him clean up the mess the U.S. created in Syria.

That is choice the U.S. could well take. It doesn't even cost anything significant.

It would be the best for the well being of Syria and the Syrians. It would also be the best to stop the further proliferation of takfiri nuts.

Why did you leave that obvious choice out?

Babak Makkinejad

On number 2, I thought what they were doing was part if US plans. The Saudis are just too cautious to do otherwise.

turcopolier

Babak

The Saudis have been acting out a long term project for the re-assertion of Sunni control in Syria and Lebanon. this has nothing to do with US plans. In fact the Saudis are almost as good at manipulating gullible and naïve American officials as the Israelis. pl

Babak Makkinejad

OK thank you for clarifications.

I do not think, however, that there are enough Sunni Arabs in Lebanon to accomplish and maintain Sunni domination there.

Edward Amame

The Assad story gets rolled out by an Israeli military intelligence official the day after the U.S. Secretary of State leaves Tel Aviv to return to Washington. Iraq's made up stuff got premiered by respected reporters in the NYTimes and then cited on MTP by the VP. They're not even trying this time!

robt willmann

If the present action by the U.S. to overthrow the Syrian government is successful, the tapped out taxpayer can look forward to more of this--

http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2013/04/the-cia-gave-millions-in-cash-to-afghan.html

A New York Times article is referenced that describes the millions of dollars in cash handed out to the Karzai group and its cronies. And the Afghan "warlord" and probable heroin producer Rashid Dostum is getting (at least) $80,000 per month of your money.

Of course, this could be a "modified limited hangout" by the CIA and the real amount of U.S. taxpayer money given to Karzai and related folks might be much more than tens of millions.

How much of your money, in cash of course, will be going to the thieves in any new "Syrian government" if the regime change succeeds?

This will not be easy to know, since Hamid Karzai, the CIA, and any new Syrian group will not be filing any of these, the friendly Form 8300--

http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Workbook-on-Reporting-Cash-Payments-of-Over-$10,000

Nor will they be filing any SARs, the "suspicious activity reports" here--

http://www.treasury.gov/about/history/Pages/fincen.aspx

And the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act? Sorry, that applies only to private persons and companies.

http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa/

There is the Rule of Politics and its Sidekick Money. Below that is the Rule of Law.

Medicine Man

I would pay good money to see point number 1 realized -- both in government and the courtier press.

Matthew

b: We could?

The US couldn't stop the money flow from Saudi Arabia even when our soldiers were dying or being maimed in Iraq. But nobody talks about that.

It's always amazed me that we are force-fed the lie that the Iranians are the world's foremost state sponsors of terrorism with the mandatory references to Khobar Towers and the Argentine Jewish Community Center, but the literally thousands--yes, thousands--of acts of Sunni terrorism in Iraq (and elsewhere) are ignored.

Color me cynical.

Thomas

And Martin Dempsey was on a reciprocal visit to China at the time.

The Club's Spring Info Offensive 2013 commenced with this story.

Tyler

Well look at Romney - unwilling to take a firm stance on conservative principals such as immigration, firearm rights, & abortion for fear of offending some imaginary moderates, but tripled down on tax cuts for the ultra wealthy. Also, look at the RNC support for a northeastern liberal candidate to the point where they actively sabotaged Ron Paul across various primaries.

When Bush II decided to go all in on Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind, you'd have to have been a fool to really believe the Republicans were about 'small government'. Right now both parties feed from the trough, and the perversity of it all on immigration is that the republican traitors in the 'gang of 8' have attempted to push out the electoral effects of their bill until after they've retired.

MartinJ

I think its more there isnt enough organised, motivated and trained Sunni Arabs to maintain domination. Certainly not outside of Sunni majority areas such as Tripoli.

kao_hsien_chih

Hasn't domination (potential or actually) by Syria been a sort of running theme wrt Lebanon, though, basically from the beginning of its existence, though? It would be funny, though, if SA and others want to press for a Syrian domination of Lebanon over the objection of a large majority of its people, Christian, Shia, and Druze, should their proteges in the former ever succeed, considering how long they'd been complaining about the Assads' involvement in the latter...

confusedponderer

And then there's the people like Mika Brezinski who proclaim on TV that you're 'middle class' when you make a million dollars a year, and really need a tax break, too. Ludicrous.

These folks are worlds apart from the rest of the country, and mingle only among their peers, to an extent that they don't even notice how distorted their perception is.

A tax break that benefits people who make a million dollars a year is a tax break for the rich, period. To call that 'middle class' is hogwash.

William R. Cumming

A fascinating turn of events as the President discovers few of his staff have his interests at heart [meaning his post-employment opportunities] and all have agendas. So now his lack of competency is really starting to show as he turns on his staff and ponders what to do next.

The lame duck will soon be plucked IMO!

turcopolier

WRC

It is definitely not the case that German knights led the crusades. The crusader armies and the states themselves were francophone. from north to south, the principality of Antioch was ruled by Normans, the county of Tripoli by Provencals. and the Kingdom of Jerusalem by northeaster French. the Hospitallers and Templars were predominately french speakers. it is only the Teutonic Knights who were German dominated. pl

William R. Cumming

Thanks PL!

William R. Cumming

Is Syria a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention?

Tyler

To be honest, one of the silver linings of this divided house collapsing would be Mika and her ilk rushing for the helicopters as the flyover country they dismissed floods the fantasy islands to settle accounts.

robt willmann

WRC

From what I can tell, Syria and Israel are not signatories to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

http://www.un.org/disarmament/WMD/Chemical/

http://www.opcw.org/

Just about everybody else is, including the U.S., Iran, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Russia, Viet Nam, Iraq (since 12 February 2009), and, as the UN calls it, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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