Skip to comments.Mark Steyn Correctly Worries about Obama’s Looming Syrian Adventure
Posted on 09/01/2013 6:32:17 AM PDT by Kaslin
Ive already shared some analysis of Mark Steyns libertarian-leaning views on foreign policy, so its very timely to see what he just wrote about Syria.
Heres some of his new article in National Review. His humor is sharp, but he makes a very important point.
The administrations ingenious plan is to lose this war in far less time than we usually take. In the unimprovable formulation of an unnamed official speaking to the Los Angeles Times, the White House is carefully calibrating a military action just muscular enough not to get mocked. That would make a great caption for a Vanity Fair photo shoot of Obama gamboling in the surf at Marthas Vineyard, but as a military strategy its not exactly Alexander the Great or the Duke of Wellington. From the New York Times: A wide range of officials characterize the action under consideration as limited, perhaps lasting no more than a day or two. Yeah, I know, thats what Edward III said about the Hundred Years War. But Obama seems to mean it
Steyn notes that British voters already have said no to ineffectual warmongering.
This week, David Cameron recalled Parliament from its summer recess to permit the peoples representatives to express their support for the impending attack. Instead, for the first time since the British defeat at Yorktown in 1782, the House of Commons voted to deny Her Majestys Government the use of force. Under the Obama reset, even the Coalition of the Willing is unwilling. This House will not fight for king and country? Not exactly. What the British people are sick of, quite reasonably enough, is ineffectual warmongering.
For what its worth, Obama doesnt think he should be bound by that silly little clause in the Constitution about only Congress having the power to declare war. Which at least makes his consistent, since he doesnt feel bound by the fact that Article I, Section 8, doesnt authorize the federal government to be involved in health care.
But Im digressing. Lets look at what Steyn identifies as the real problem. We account for a huge share of the globes military spending, yet we dont get much bang for the buck.
The problem with the American way of war is that, technologically, it cant lose, but, in every other sense, it cant win. No one in his right mind wants to get into a tank battle or a naval bombardment with the guys responsible for over 40 percent of the planets military expenditures. Which is why these days there arent a lot of tank battles. The consummate interventionist Robert Kagan wrote in his recent book that the American military remains unmatched. Its unmatched in the sense that the only guy in town with a tennis racket isnt going to be playing a lot of tennis matches. Americas inability to win ought to be a burning national question, but its not even being asked.
Particularly since there are no real friends competing to rule Syria.
For a quarter-century, from Kuwait to Kosovo to Kandahar, the civilized world has gone to war only in order to save or liberate Muslims. The Pentagon is little more than central dispatch for the U.S. militarys Muslim Fast Squad. And what do we have to show for it? Liberating Syria isnt like liberating the Netherlands: In the Middle East, the enemy of our enemy is also our enemy. So well get rid of Assad and install the local branch of al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood or whatever plucky neophyte democrat makes it to the presidential palace first and then, instead of napalmed schoolyards, there will be, as in Egypt, burning Christian churches and women raped for going uncovered.
Steyn then summarizes whats at stake.
the hyperpower is going to war because Obama wandered off prompter and accidentally made a threat. So he has to make good on it, or America will lose its credibility. But he only wants to make good on it in a perfunctory and ineffectual way. So America will lose its credibility anyway.
Its unfortunate that politicians misallocate military spending for parochial reasons, but its equally worrisome that they risk blood and treasure in ways that dont make sense.
Syrian intervention, however, would take foolishness to an entire new level.
Brilliant quote, “The enemy of our enemy is also our enemy.”
Does Mitchell actually get paid to reprint Steyn’s work and add a few comments? What a gig.
We’ve been doing this gratis on FR for a decade. I demand my back pay.
My news tagline.
Trying that again.
First, and foremost, you have to have the will to win.
We go into these 3-rate hellholes and handicap our military in countless ways so that we don't appear to be "bullies", inhumane or culturally-insensitive.
It's like showing up at the ballpark with the Home Run Derby lineup and sending the batgirl to the plate.
Fight to win, or get out. Better yet, don't go in in the first place.
Syria is a fools errand. So is the entire Muslim World.
Isn't that what HuffPost bloggers said when they figured out HF was making money off their efforts? :-)
The correct strategy is to encourage the developmen of our domestic energy sources in every way possible. Deprived of oil money, the muslim world will collapse quickly. Wall them off economically and let them massacre each other.
It absolutely sickens me that I have lived long enough to see 60,000 American soldiers killed, hundreds of thousands maimed physically and emotionally through strategic, political, and military ineptness on the part of the federal government in Washington in Vietnam. And, now, we’ve seen it repeated in Iraq, Afghanistan, in Libya, Egypt, and apparently will also in Syria.
The older I get, the more I see that it is impossible to transfer our values of human life (when we believed in the value of human life), the values of human liberty and political/economic freedom, and the willingness to fight for it, to people of world views completely different from our own.
The Middle East will never embrace our views of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness because their world view prohibits such ideas. Their religion is squarely against it. Until that changes, nothing will improve there.
I admit, after 9/11 I was in favor of military action against those who perpetrated that heinous attack against us. I was also in favor of removing Saddam Hussein because he was blatantly funding and providing aid and support to terror activities/groups against Israel and the United States. In addition, he had flaunted every UN resolution that he supposedly agreed to at the end of the first Gulf War. Plus, everyone’s intelligence services - everyone’s - said he was developing WMD, and following 9/11, we could not take the chance that this was just a rumor.
Having said that. Though I think most Americans favored getting those who hurt us, and removing Saddam - I don’t think we were all for this “nation-building” thing that GW Bush wanted to do. That was one of the things that bothered me when we went into Iraq.
Though I can’t stand him now, I even credit Colin Powell telling W that if we invade Iraq, we’re going to “own it” for the next decade or so - he was absolutely correct.
We all saw that once the military victory was won, that the post-war period was completely bungled (it seemed there wasn’t a “post-war” plan in mind at all). But, even had that gone better, would things have turned out with a more positive result? I’m not sure that it would.
I know this is nothing new, but I think we should have just destroyed as much of the Taliban as possible, keep special forces on hand to eventually get Osama bin Laden, destroy Saddam Hussein’s regime, build up our intelligence assets in these countries, then get the heck out of there - with the clear understanding that if there were any further attacks on American Embassies or on the American homeland - we would blow to kingdom come whoever and wherever those responsible were.
Nation building was Bush’s big strategic mistake. It made victory near impossible.
Even worse still, Obama’s strategy seems to be, allow our worst enemies to get control in the Middle East, to reduce American credibility in the world, to reduce America’s moral credibility, reduce our military might, turn the CIA and NSA into masters of surveillance on American citizens rather than against our enemies, and to destroy Israel at the same time if possible.
As Mark Steyn said, the problem with attempting to establish some kind of victory in the Middle East is that “the enemy of my enemy is also my enemy”.
VERY well said, Rusty!
That’s a nice, thoughtful response.
Amen and very well stated.
To expand on the ‘wall them off’ component of that strategy, we should also stop all Muslim immigration, including those who gain admittance as refugees or asylum seekers.
All of the terrorist attacks carried out by followers of the Religion of Peace in the Western world could have been prevented by simply not allowing those murdering savages admittance in the first place. It’s such a frustrating and depressing fact that (a) they are allowed in at all, and (b) when they do what they do, there is virtually no national discussion about why they were allowed in, and under what programs they were allowed in.
In a sane society the actions of the 9-11 hijackers, the Boston marathon bombers, the D.C. Sniper, the Wisconsin Hmong mass murderer, and the Fort Hood shooter would have sparked discussion about the policies that allow them in. And if we had a decent Congress and President, actions would have been taken to prevent future perpetrators from being admitted.
Of course, in a sane society we would have more restrictive immigration policies that don’t allow them in at all. It’s not like the consequences of letting them in aren’t entirely predictable.
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