Friday, September 7, 2012


Direct hit!! Fire for effect!!
Arming the Syrian opposition would only make the conflict bloodier and give the Iranians cause to commit to force. Well, the civil war has grown bloodier, and the Iranians have joined in—not because of what 44 did but because of what he didn’t do.

Ah, the heavy burden of a Bystander In Chief perhaps - alas, fully crunk w/funintended consequences 
For Tehran, Assad’s survival is a vital national interest. That in itself should be reason enough for the White House to seize an opportunity to weaken Iran by helping remove Assad. With the Assad regime’s troops steadily depleted by defections, the White House might have moved in for the kill. Instead, the Iranians are stepping in to protect Assad. And from Tehran’s perspective, the American president virtually held the door open for them
 See, an indepth heavy petting exercise makes the case that the six caveats thusly caveated about doing Syria 
don't hold much water, and instead suggests that Western inaction is likely to hasten the very scenario that opponents of military intervention seek to avoid. 

First, Syria need not become "another Iraq". Those who resist intervention warn that military intervention might end in the West becoming mired in another m"Hammedist country (Yay), on the heels of the unsuccessful Afghan and Iraqi experiences. This argument belittles the West's successful experience in Kosovo 20 years ago and in Libya in 2011, where intensive airpower removed Gaddafi, stopped the bloodbath, and enabled democratic elections.

Moreover, a military intervention need not involve a ground invasion or even peacekeeping forces – which, in any case, would have little influence on Assad. The recommended model, built on the lessons of Iraq, is a Western aerial campaign that paves the way for regime change, as it did in Kosovo and in Libya. There are no "boots on the ground", at least initially (and should that become necessary, Turkish forces should be assigned to this mission).

The suggested strategy in Syria is to use gradual steps to convince Assad that an international campaign is a credible option: from moving aircraft carriers to the region and Turkish ground forces to the border, to reconnaissance sorties, no-fly zones, and humanitarian corridors.
Second, the Syrian military challenge can be met. Another argument postulates that the Syrian military presents a bigger threat to Western militaries than those confronted in Iraq and Libya.

 The Syrian defensive capability is not dramatically greater than Iraq's of 1991 or 2003, which already included advanced Russian systems. As the Syrian military has been preoccupied with internal uprisings over the past year and a half, it is likely that its capabilities have even eroded. Therefore, those who doubt the West's capacity to face the current Syrian defence ignore the fact that Western power was built to cope with much greater challenges.

Third, the lack of international consensus cannot justify passivity. Those who call for passivity in Syria claim that since there is no consensus among members of the UN Security Council and no explicit Arab League request, there is no legitimacy for foreign military intervention. These arguments ignore the moral obligation − the "Responsibility to Protect" principle − endorsed by the West.

This principle, formally adopted by the UN in 2005, declared the international community's obligation to halt and prevent mass atrocity crimes. In today's situation, it compels Western leaders to act with the Arab League to stop the massacre of Syrian civilians by the regime. It also obliges the Western powers to promote this campaign with their allies if Russia and China obstruct any broad endeavour under the UN framework. In any case, no Russian, Chinese, or Arab opposition justifies passivity while Assad's regime continues to slaughter the Syrian people.

Fourth, deterioration is not a risk of intervention, rather a result of non-intervention. Some contend that military intervention would result in social chaos and escalation of violence, as there is, thus far, no apparent force or future administration that could restore peace to the country. 

However, since events in Syria have already created the threat of full-scale civil war, this is not a risk of intervention, but of doing nothing. Every day that passes deepens the hatred between Syria's different ethnic groups and increases the challenge of restoring public order. As the ethnic issue is a regional ticking bomb, the deterioration in Syria might easily spill over its borders, with region-wide consequences. On a related note, military intervention also enables Western powers to cope with the potential use of chemical weapons – by the regime against the rebels, or by terror organisations against Western targets.

Fifth, the Syrian opposition presents an opportunity for cooperation. Another instance of faulty logic is that the West should avoid military intervention since there is no emerging leadership to leverage international support to exile Assad's regime and effectively manage the country "the day after" his fall. The Syrian opposition coalition, however, has scored both military and territorial achievements over the past months. Recent events indicate that the opposition has generated enough momentum to significantly challenge one of the strongest armies in the region. Accordingly, current conditions favour more successful cooperation between the West and the regime's opposition than those who oppose military intervention suggest.

Finally, action in Syria might support the international campaign against Iran. Those who oppose intervening contend that it would increase Middle East tensions, move Iran out of the international focus, and sharpen the rift between Russia and China and the other members of the P5+1 who lead the negotiations with Tehran.

Acting in Syria however, could weaken, if not break, the nexus between Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Palestinian terror organisations, and therefore likely contain Iranian influence in the Levant. This would have a dramatic impact on the balance of power between radical and pragmatic forces in the region. And it would signal to Iran the West's resolve to back up its interests and threats with force. When the US used force in Iraq in 2003, Iran suspended its nuclear programme. This time, force might put additional pressure on Ayatollah Khamenei. A "Syria first" approach might complement international efforts and undermine Tehran's recalcitrance vis-à-vis the West.

A gradual military intervention along the lines of the Libyan model of a Western aerial campaign seems the most effective response to the Syrian crisis. Only if Assad assesses that Western intervention is a real threat might he abdicate and make room for leadership with better prospects for halting the violence. The West must not let unfounded fears guide its policy while atrocities in Syria continue

 Pic - "Currently, there are 131 activeSAM sites inside of Syria"


Michal said...

I think the article very much skews a lot of the facts to get a desired result it wants. But such a result is only possible on the basis of skewed or ignored facts, ie. not in reality.

Take for example the successful intervention in Kosovo. It has only been successful because it has militarily separated Serbia and its army from Kosovo Albanians, enthusiastic for independence and their cohesive military and governmental presence that has already been in place.

How would such a thing be possible in Syria? The opposition does not have a cohesive military or governmental presence. It is thousands of militias that are force unto themselves, and will not be capable of forming a cohesive government. Sort of like in Libya, but in Libya, there has been at least a political arm of uprising that could at least somewhat influence the going-ons. This is something Syria lacks on top.

Opposition also needs to go on offensive, thereby capturing even areas of people that disagree with it (ie. it needs to do exactly what NATO was trying to prevent the Serbs from doing in Kosovo). Given the sectarian and violent dimension of the conflict, this won't happen without some serious atrocities taking place, just like in Kosovo or Bosnia, or even Iraq.

So if a foreign military intervention occurs, the only central authority quickly collapses, with nothing but armed violent anarchy and revenge killings to fill the void. And of course, the west will then bear the responsibility for what has been created, including sectarian killings of the advancing opposition and can no longer reasonably claim that it's all doing of the local actors.

The core problems are something that can't really be solved and I don't think a direct military intervention should be undertaken, because it runs at a risk of causing more damage than the present conflict has so far.

I hope my argument is at least somewhat reasonable. When I think about these issues, they are so complex that I find myself articulating merely a fraction of the problems and factors that I actually calculate with.