Via John Kerry, "O" commits to intervene....
At last! SecState Kerry called Bashar Assad's hideous Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons "undeniable." Chemical weapons have long represented in public consciousness a Rubicon crossing into barbarism.
But what will "O" do? What should he do?
Start with what our shockingly naive charlatan-in-chief should not do: execute a spasmodic air strike & declare victory. Alas, that seems the most likely course the president will take. He likely will pass up the option Gen. Jack Keane suggested on Fox News (no link available): a chance to obliterate Syria's six airfields & risibly weak air force.
Add a second thing we should avoid--but are in fact doing: telegraph our punch in advance. Surprise sharply increases the chance of military success.
Barry Rubin, ever acute, recounts how Syria's policy of behaving badly to secure benefits & fomenting crisis in the Mideast kept the ruling elite in power & the public in thrall to dictatorial power. This, BR writes, mirrors the serial Arab tyrannical disasters of the past six decades that have imprisoned & impoverished many of their subjects, thus destroying any real chance for genuine peace & prosperity in the region.
Destroying or securing Syria's chemical weapons depots requires either a massive air-strike (destroy) or boots on the ground (secure). Israel, for its part, warned Syria against retaliation against Israel, given allied action. The WSJ editors argue that while targeting Syria's chemical weapons beats a cosmetic strike, regime change is the better option. WSJ pundit Bret Stephens argues that targeting Assad & his leadership cadre is the best option:
Should President Obama decide to order a military strike against Syria, his main order of business must be to kill Bashar Assad.... The use of chemical weapons against one's own citizens plumbs depths of barbarity matched in recent history only by Saddam Hussein. A civilized world cannot tolerate it. It must demonstrate that the penalty for it will be acutely personal and inescapably fatal.
As it is, a strike directed straight at the Syrian dictator and his family is the only military option that will not run afoul of the only red line Mr. Obama is adamant about: not getting drawn into a protracted Syrian conflict. And it is the one option that has a chance to pay strategic dividends from what will inevitably be a symbolic action.
The temptation here is to follow the Clinton administration’s course — a futile salvo of cruise missiles, followed by self-congratulation and an attempt to change the topic. It would not work here. A minority regime fighting for its life, as Bashar al-Assad’s is, can weather a couple of dozen big bangs. More important, no one — friends, enemies or neutrals — would be fooled. As weak as the United States now appears in the region and beyond, we would look weaker yet if we chose to act ineffectively. A bout of therapeutic bombing is an even more feckless course of action than a principled refusal to act altogether....
No less important, U.S. prestige is on the line. Why should anyone, anywhere, take Obama’s threats (or for that matter, his promises) seriously if he does nothing here? Not to act is to decide, and to decide for an even worse outcome than the one that awaits us.
Syria analyst Elizabeth O'Bagy argues that moderate rebels are doing most of the fighting (7:56) against the regime, and that the US should back them. Her visits to Syria convince her that moderates comprise most of the rank-and-file, while Islamists are stronger among the leaders; the US must step in decisively to pre-empt the ranks being converted to Islamism. Assad, she says, is losing--hence his use of chemical weapons.
Michael Ledeen sees "'Groundhog Day' all over again"--the road to Damascus leading straight to the mullahs in Tehran:
Here we go. Again. We are still the main target of the terror war, of which the leading sponsor is Iran. The Assad regime in Damascus is a satrapy of Iran, as we are publicly told by both the Syrian insurrectionaries and the Iranian leaders, including The Great Moderate, President Rouhani.... [A]nd if the Syrians have indeed used chemical weapons, you can be sure the Iranians approved it, and were probably involved in the operations.
So, as in Iraq, if you want to win this battle in the terror war, you must defeat the Iranian regime. And, as in the early years of this bloody century, you can do it without dropping bombs or sending Americans to fight on the ground, because the overwhelming majority of Iranians want to rid themselves of Khamenei and Rouhani and all the rest of their tyrannical oppressors. They can do it, with a bit of political, technological and economic support. They could have done it in 2003, when they were on the verge of declaring a general strike against the regime. Colin Powell and W abandoned them, and it never happened. They could have done it in 2009, when millions of them took to the streets in demonstrations larger than those that led to the downfall of the shah. Hillary Clinton and O abandoned them, and a brutal repression ensued.
ML argues that opportunity knocks, if the West will simply go for it:
How can so many policy makers, pundits, scribblers and babblers overlook Iran’s centrality? And how can so many of them fail to recognize the enormous power of the ongoing revolt against the theological fascists who hold power in Tehran and who have just lost power in Cairo? The uprising that defenestrated the Muslim Brothers in Egypt was the biggest mass demonstration in the history of the world, but the self-proclaimed deep thinkers debate whether it qualifies for “coup,” and suggest that the fascists should be given a share of power.
As the immortal Orwell reminds us, Winston Smith finally proclaimed “I love Big Brother.” All too many of our corrupt elite are headed down that path. Enough, already. Don’t go to war against Eurasia yet again. Fight the real war against the real enemy, with the lethal weapons our history has bequeathed us. No more Newspeak, tell it like it is:
Win in Damascus by supporting freedom in Tehran.
So many choices, all dicey.
Bottom Line. Team Obama must decide between: (a) a tactical stroke, to make a punitive, but ultimately ineffective point; (b) a stand-off position leaving the parties to slug it out; (c) a bolder strategic option aimed at ending the chemical and/or air threat; (d) toppling the regime. At this juncture, option A seems his most likely choice, in a regime notably devoid of credible strategies. It is, alas, the worst choice.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, National Security, Foreign Policy, WMD, Conservative Politics