Skip to comments.Intervene? Or End Syrian War?
Posted on 02/28/2014 10:05:11 AM PST by Mount Athos
Whether saber rattling or not, word is out that the White House is "rethinking its options" on intervening in the Syrian war.
The collapse of John Kerry's Geneva 2 talks between the rebels and regime, the lengthening casualty lists from barrel-bomb attacks, and a death toll approaching 150,000, are apparently causing second thoughts.
All the usual suspects are prodding Obama to plunge in, if not with troops, at least with a no-fly zone to prevent Bashar Assad from using his air power.
Our frustration is understandable. Yet it does not change the reality. This is not America's war. Never was. As Obama said, it is "somebody else's civil war."
Still, the case against intervention needs to be restated.
First and foremost, Obama has no authority to go to war in Syria, for Congress has never voted to authorize such a war.
An unprovoked attack on Syria would be an impeachable act.
Last August, the American people were almost unanimously opposed to intervention. The firestorm they created was why Congress ran away from the Obama-Kerry plan for missile strikes.
So if Obama has no authority to attack Syria, and America does not want a war, why, after Iraq and Afghanistan, would Obama divide his nation and plunge his country into that civil war?
What are the arguments for intervention? Same old, same old.
America has a moral obligation to end the barbarism. At the time of Rwanda we said, "Never again!" Yet it is happening again. And we have a "Responsibility to Protect" Syrians from a dictator slaughtering his own people.
But while what is happening in Syria is horrible, all Middle East ethnic-civil-sectarian wars tend to unfold this way.
And if there is a "moral" obligation to intervene, why does it not apply to Israel and Turkey, Syria's nearest neighbors? Why does that moral duty not apply to the European Union, upon whose doorstep Syria sits? Why is it America's moral obligation, 5,000 miles away?
It is not. The Turks, Israelis, EU and Gulf Arabs who hate Assad would simply like for us to come and fight their war for them.
The Washington Post says we must address not only the moral "nightmare," but also the "growing threat ... to vital U.S. interests."
Exactly what "vital interests" is the Post talking about? Syria has been ruled by the Assads for 40 years. And how have our vital interests been imperiled?
And if our vital interests are imperiled, how much more so are those of Israel and Turkey? Yet neither has chosen to invest the blood of their sons in bringing Assad down.
If we have an enemy in this fight, it is al-Qaida, the al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, all of which are terrorist and implacably anti-American.
And who is keeping these enemies of ours out of Damascus?
Assad, Hezbollah, Iran and our old friend Vladimir Putin.
And who has been supplying the terrorists? Our friends in the Gulf, with weapons funneled through Turkey, our NATO ally.
Have the interventionists who are beside themselves watching all these insurrections and wars breaking out thought through what is likely to happen if we intervene?
The Syrian war would become a more savage affair, as Assad would know he was now in a fight to the finish. As U.S. air power was committed to the defeat of Assad, his allies would likely provide more weapons for his defense. Casualties could soar and the probability of a wider war would increase geometrically.
Should Assad fall, his routed soldiers and Alawaites and Christians would face reprisals for which we would be morally responsible, as it was our intervention that brought this about. We might have to intervene with troops to stop a massacre by jihadists.
And if Assad fell, pro-Western rebels would likely have to fight the al-Qaida rebels for power. Syria could come apart, and we would own it.
Obama's frustration is understandable. He said two years ago Assad must go. Assad flipped him off. Obama said use of chemical weapons would be a "red line" which, if crossed, would bring serious consequences. Assad's troops apparently crossed that line.
What did we do? Worked with Russia to remove the weapons.
Washington is enraged that Putin continues to support Assad.
But Assad's regime is the recognized and legal government of Syria. Russia has a naval base in Latakia, is owed billions by Damascus, and has been Syria's ally for decades.
Why should Putin abandon Assad at our request?
What have we done for him lately? Besides send Billy Jean King to his Olympics? Why, Putin might ask, should he abandon his Syrian allies rather than us, the Turks, and Gulf Arabs abandoning ours?
There is a grave moral issue here -- for us.
How, under just war theory, can we continue to sustain a conflict that is killing thousands every month with no end in sight? Are we not morally obliged to try to stop such a war?
The USA cannot handle its own business much less anyone else’s.
Not our problem.
How can a President who plans gutting the military initiate ANY kind of action like this?
How can a President who plans gutting the military presume to ANY sort of diplomacy or statecraft about anything at all?
“O” has made himself a political eunuch and still wants to act like a super power... HOW?
Exactly, but further, how can a government which has shown that it has no stomach for war, no balls for war, no idea how to win or what effective strategy and tactics to defeat enemies are even engage in this.
The only faith that I have in my government is that it lies 100% of the time and does the wrong thing 100% of the time.
I am I am at a loss to think of even a single that this country stands for anymore that I support.
I don’t even know what it stands for outside of communism, homosexuality, glowbull warming and lies.
“I dont even know what it stands for outside of communism, homosexuality, glowbull warming and lies.”
You left out one absolute certainty of what the US stands for .... the THEFT of YOUR money (to squander) and then screaming themselves red in the face if you ask for the least accountability!
A Just War analysis of a proposed attack on Syria.
There are eight specific criteria for judging the justice of a war, and the justice of actions within a war. Six of these deal with the justice of going to war (waging a just war); the other two deal with the justice of actions within a war (waging war justly).
The first criterion is just cause. There are three classic just causes: to repel an attack, to retake what was taken unjustly, and to come to the aid of the victim of an unjust attack. Clearly the first two do not apply. We werent attacked, and we have nothing in Syria to take back. What about the third? Use of poison gas is an unjust attack, under international treaties going back to the 1920s. But who used that gas? Was it Assad? Was it the rebels? We need to know who committed the unjust attack before deciding it was a just cause for war.
The second criterion is comparative justice. This doesnt mean that one side must be perfect, or the other side completely evil. It means only that one side must be more just than the other, and the degree of comparative justice limits the amount of force that may be used. If we intervene, we place ourselves in the shoes of the side we support. Which side in the Syrian civil war is more just? Assad? Al Qaeda? And whichever it is, by how much? Which side should we support?
The third criterion is victory. There are no guarantees in war, but there must be a reasonable chance of victory before engaging in war. Well, what is victory in this case? How will we define it? How will we know when its achieved? Until victory is defined satisfactorily, and we have a reasonable chance of obtaining it, we shouldnt get involved. Limited strikes on selected objectives dont define victory. We need to define what objective is to be achieved, not simply what targets are to be hit, and with what weapons.
The fourth criterion is right intention. As St. Augustine put it, just wars are not engaged in for greed or cruelty, but to obtain a just peace, to restrain evil, and to assist the good. What are our intentions with regard to the Syrian civil war? Would deposing Assad constitute a just peace, or would it be simply revenge on the part of the rebels? Without defining our intentions, the justice of this proposed intervention cannot be determined.
The fifth criterion is last resort. Every REASONABLE alternative must have been tried first, before resorting to war. Have the less than war alternatives have been exhausted? Have they even been tried? Jumping to war without trying less-lethal alternatives first would be unjust.
The sixth criterion is competent authority. The person making the decision to go to war must have the authority to do so. Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress is the competent authority to declare war. The President does not have the authority to commit the country to a war. Even under the War Powers Act, the President must consult with Congress within sixty days after initiating hostile actions, and then only when the situation will not allow of a delay (i.e. repelling an attack). Just who is making this decision to go to war? And does that person or entity have the Constitutional authority to do so?
The seventh criterion is discrimination. Within a war, legitimate attacks must be against enemy military targets only. Intentionally attacking noncombatants violates discrimination. Just who or what are we proposing to attack in Syria? Would those targets satisfy discrimination? Until that is answered, we shouldnt be supporting an intervention.
The eighth criterion is proportion. It applies in two ways.
First, it applies to the decision to go to war. Will the harm done by NOT GOING to war exceed the harm done by GOING to war? An aggressive tyranny can do a great deal of harm. Even a very costly war (in both treasure and lives) may be better than allowing the tyranny to continue its operations. Would our intervening in Syria be proportionate? How would the damage we do compare with the damage that would occur if we didnt intervene? This includes not only physical damage and deaths, but the moral damage from allowing tyranny to continue its operations.
Second, proportion applies to actions within a war. Despite attempts to be discriminating in attacking military targets only, there is often some collateral damage to noncombatants. If the attack was genuinely discriminating, this collateral damage was unintended. The requirement of proportion means that the good accomplished by the attack on a legitimate target must not be outweighed by the collateral damage done to noncombatants or nonmilitary facilities. Just what targets are we proposing to attack? What good will be accomplished by striking them? How much collateral damage to noncombatants and nonmilitary facilities will occur? We need to resolve this before selecting targets and weapons.
Finally, I keep hearing that a limited and selective strike is intended to send a message to Assad. I served in-theater during the Vietnam War. I recall how Defense Secretary McNamara and President Johnson tried to send a message to the North Vietnamese with limited attacks and bombing pauses. It didnt work. It merely proved that we werent serious. If we want to send a message, use Western Union. If were going to blow things up and kill people, it ought to be for some better reason than sending a message.
Even if intervention was something I thought to be necessary or just, there is no way I would trust our current Administration to achieve a positive end.
I’d probably just refer to that as America’s stand for tyranny.
You know, quite frankly, if I lived in another country, I do not think I would want this country, which is severely mentally ill, sticking its nose in my business.
In the past when other countries opposed our views, they still respected us.
Not they don’t agree with us and they DON’T respect us, either.
Thanks Bill, Obama, Hillary, Joe, Holder, etc.
There is very sadly one other thank you that must go out.
Thank you, brainwashed morons of America who willingly elected these destroyers of our country.
May you suffer before and more than anyone else on the coming fall, because you have certainly earned it.
Well, if ignorance IS bliss... they’ll never know how bad off they are and that they are responsible, themselves.
Hah, ignorance is definitely bliss, however, starvation may be something else altogether.
They will find out what happens to the useful idiot who no longer has any use.
I would add, why go to war when the rebels at this point may not want total victory. The current state is the Sunni's are establishing a trans-Sunni state in Western Iraq and Eastern Syria. They are too small to hold key cities in Shiite and Kurd areas. There area of control contains the key water ways through Syria and Iraq. They are calling themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
It makes no sense to oppose this group in Iraq but support it in Syria.
The only reason to intervene is we hurt Iran by overthrowing its stooge, Assad. That’s hurt, not kill or seriously impair. If we want to impair iran, then we should use the AF and Navy to eliminate its nuclear program, a thing the Mahdi would never do or, if he tried, he’d hopelessly mess it up. Indeed, absent Assad’s relationship with Iran, he’s the least bad person to have in power in Syria, the alternative being our sworn enemy, Al Quaeda. Him being no worse than they are, it’s massively to our advantage that they be killing each other and the more, the better. That way some of our nastiest enemies are distracted from us and bleed each other to death.