It's easier to get into a war than get out of one.
June 28, 2017 7:59 AM   Subscribe

US - led attacks in Syria 'kill 472 civilians in a month' The past month saw the highest civilian death toll in US-led coalition air raids since they began, says war monitor. the US enforces its No Fly Zone over Rojava. Just the continuation of six years of genocidal war as Assad, Russia and the US pulverize Syria.
Seven decades, seven facts: US policy on Syria in brief.
What Is Trump's Syria Policy?
posted by adamvasco (15 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Gee, I remember when "Hillary will enforce a no-fly zone and that will be bad" was an anti-Democratic talking point in my circles. Also she was going to start WWIII. So if we voted for Jill Stein and Trump was elected, then at least foreign policy would be isolationist and the world would get some breathing room.

"Why would you believe Trump bloviations on this issue," I said. "After all, you're always on about how Hillary lies. If a Democrat is going to lie, obviously a Republican is going to lie more. Plus, when have Republicans improved things abroad?"

But noooooo, no one would listen, I was drifting into liberalism, etc etc.

Because I am a nice person, I have not yet said "how's that non-Hillary utopia working out for you" to 2/3 of my friends when they are freaking out about stuff.
posted by Frowner at 8:19 AM on June 28, 2017 [15 favorites]

At a talk by a significant general at the Kennedy school the topic of no-fly was discussed, the one point that stood out was that enforcing no-fly was essentially declaring war on the country below the airspace. A limited no-fly over a city or smaller region was not considered, wish I'd thought to ask.

There almost needs to be an mathematical analysis of the situation, it's so incredibly complex with differing factions, sub-factions, proxy-factions, players playing off other players, it's really incomprehensible. How could there be any negotiations if no one (even themselves) can specify any rational goal?

But it does seem more and more it boils down to a proxy between Trump & Putin and each will happily move a pawn to be smashed, just for some obscure point of imaginary strategy. (Trump & Putin possibly being also pieces on the board rather than actual players) ((just like turtles all the way down, it's players all the way up))
posted by sammyo at 8:25 AM on June 28, 2017

Careful with the word genocide. Genocide would make the leaders punishable under international law. Wontonly slaughtering your own people without regard to race or creed is purely an internal matter.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:32 AM on June 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

On the topic of the Tangerine Golem and Syria, I found Seymour Hersh's article in Die Welt on the most recent casus belli interesting.
posted by the sobsister at 9:43 AM on June 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

We have always been at was in Syria.
posted by theora55 at 10:00 AM on June 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

We have to be at war with Syria, because people are tired of us being at war with Iraq, and Afghanistan is too hard to spell.
posted by mule98J at 12:23 PM on June 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

For some reason there's a line from Fred Thomson's character in Hunt for Red October that keeps going through my head "This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it."
posted by Ber at 1:07 PM on June 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

If there is a shooting war in the Middle East, Iran will just roll over the rest of the Gulf States: they're the only one with a serious, broad-based army, and their technology isn't that far behind everyone else's. The Saudis are playing with fire by supporting insurgents in the region, and I really don't know if the US will bail them out if/when it becomes necessary.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:13 PM on June 28, 2017

If there is a shooting war in the Middle East, Iran will just roll over the rest of the Gulf States

I'm not quite so sure of that.

If you take the official Saudi stance, that the missiles are not nuclear or readily made so, at face value, then they are essentially a regional version of Prompt Global Strike, and aside from the capability itself, indicate that the Saudis disagree that they are so outmatched and as to need nukes. That seems like a high-risk bluff, and probably reasonable to take at face value if you take the premise that way as well.

On the other hand, if you believe that the Saudis have or could rapidly acquire and fit nuclear weapons, then they have a direct deterrent against an invasion.

Either way, it doesn't look like it would be a particularly profitable move for Iran.

(Personally, I tend to suspect that there is some truth in both claims; the Saudi government probably has a contingency plan to obtain nuclear weapons in case the US ceases to look like a reliable ally sufficient to deter Iran, but would logically fit them only to its oldest and least-accurate MRBMs. The more accurate, solid-fueled weapons could be retained for precision strike. The combination of those two capabilities is a strong one: you can use conventional precision strike to remove an adversary's launch capability without actually going nuclear, and then retain a unilateral nuclear advantage sufficient to dissuade a conventional invasion.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:25 PM on June 28, 2017

Heaven help us all if it comes to that, Kadin2048. I would hope the major powers would come together to impose a peace under those circumstances, but who knows.

My main trouble with your scenario is that a war wouldn't be an all-or-nothing pitched battle: it would be an island seized here, a port blockaded there, an outlying province "in rebellion" and gone over to the other side. At what point would the Saudis use their nukes? And how long could they dangle the threat in front of their adversary before their neighbours and the great powers push for regime change?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:52 AM on June 29, 2017

Thanks for the Hersh link sobsister.. I see that the fpp about it has been nuked.
Hersh is not really as discredited as some like to claim because he has some very good sources cultivated over the years.
Scott Ritter posted an interesting take on this..
Meanwhile the USA military with no mandate from the US people continues to blow brown people to smithereens far away and over the horizon and no one really seems to gives a fuck.
Spending on Middle East wars, Homeland Security is projected to reach $4.79 trillion in 2017 as the politicians try to rob healthcare from your citizens and turn the US into the theocratical states of Jebus.
But I deviate. America in the Middle East can be pithily summed up as Delusional leadership, oblivious public and the greatest failure is that there is no endgame in sight.
It is very true that The foundational narrative is the problem.
What is equally true is that none of your politicians, the majority of which are right of centre wish to admit it.
posted by adamvasco at 6:48 AM on June 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Just saw a moment of the President on life tv, just a micro quote: "clean beautiful coal".
posted by sammyo at 12:44 PM on June 29, 2017

What Is Trump's Syria Policy?

Trump has no policies, no ideology, no framework for guiding others in their actions. People around him do, sure. And one or another of them will sway him or be given responsibility for a while until he decides to step back in. What Trump is is a malignant narcissist. The only thing he cares about is himself, his own image, grudges, graft. If he's the one driving it then he thinks he has something to be gained personally. Glory to be reflected onto him, a score to settle with an enemy, money to be made under the table.
posted by scalefree at 1:30 PM on June 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

After Sy Hersh's Bombshell Investigation, Why Won't Media Tell the Real Story of Trump's Military Strike in Syria?
Hersh’s version suggests that Trump acted against the intelligence advice he received from his own officials, in a highly dangerous move that not only grossly violated international law but might have dragged Assad’s main ally, Russia, into the fray.
posted by adamvasco at 11:33 AM on July 1, 2017

My main trouble with your scenario is that a war wouldn't be an all-or-nothing pitched battle

FWIW, I agree; I actually tend to side with the analysts who argue that we're looking at a Saudi / Iran war right now. In much the same way that 1945-1989 is viewed as a "war" between the US and USSR, I think we'll look back at the current period as one phase in a war between the Saudi and Iranian regimes that happened to take place through proxies and economic/geo-political maneuvering rather than a decisive battle in the desert.

Neither party wants, as far as I can see, to really escalate things into unlimited war (in part because I don't think either side's political goals really include the taking and holding of their adversary's territory and population), but there is absolutely the risk of organic escalation even though it's not rationally in either party's best interest, or in an outside party deciding to intervene and tilt the scales decisively one way or the other.

I don't see any straightforward solution.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:20 PM on July 11, 2017

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