Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Red Lines and Puppies

Regarding the possible massive chemical weapons attack in Syria, forget the fact our president pretended that such an attack would cause really really bad consequences.  The obvious question is why would Assad launch such an attack right after a UN inspection team had just arrived in his country to investigate previous attacks?

  That question was asked today by Jeffrey Goldberg:
The second question is, why would the Assad regime launch its biggest chemical attack on rebels and civilians precisely at the moment when a UN inspection team was parked in Damascus? The answer to that question is easy: Because Assad believes that no one -- not the UN, not President Obama, not other Western powers, not the Arab League -- will do a damn thing to stop him. There is a good chance he is correct.
Eh OK, but is even Assad that bold?   Maybe if he knew Iran and Russia squarely had his back?  Well, if so, that represents an even larger finger-sign shaped missile from Putin exploding on the White House lawn than was Snowden.  Picture a bully pushing the skinny kid from Chicago over each red line he keeps drawing. 

But let's assume even Assad and Putin aren't that bold.  That would mean the 'rebels' pulled off an attack, as Russia is now inferring, or it was faked. This actually makes more sense based on the arriving UN team. If the rebels pulled off an attack that's just as bad as Assad doing it, because it means we're giving weapons to people who are just as bad as the guy they are fighting.

It also means people aligned loosely with AQ now have WMDs.  Where would they get them?  It's tempting to suggest "from Saddam", since our current Director of National Intelligence once said, but a lot of factors really don't add up on it (even General Sada's far-fetched airborne transfer).  The Assads have maintained chem weapons for decades (they didn't get them from Rummy) so they didn't need any from Iraq anyway.  Besides, all indications are that the US/western intel keeps their eyes trained on Syria's stocks and they haven't indicated movement, which was another red line.  That would mean they came from somewhere else. Outside of Syria.  Where?  Here?
"The chemical weapons used in the attack on Khan al-Assal area had been prepared by former Iraqi Military Industries Brigadier General Adnan al-Dulaimi and supplied to Ba'ath-affiliated terrorists of the Nusra Front in Aleppo through Turkey's cooperation and via the Turkish town of Antakya in Hatay Province," an informed source, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of his life, told FNA on April 6.
The source who has been an aide to Izzat Ibrahim - the most senior member of Saddam Hussein's inner circle who is still on the run and heads the outlawed Ba'ath party after the apprehension and execution of Iraq's former Dictator Saddam Hussein - defected from the group a few months ago, but holds substantiating documents on Izzat Ibrahim's plans.
Far-fetched and rather delicious propaganda for Russia, but considering that the Maliki government is largely siding with Iran and Syria it's certainly plausible for the forgotten Ba'ath clown to be helping the other side.

Now then, if the rebels only faked the attack to gain international sympathy and trigger military involvement it certainly would be better--as in nobody actually dying, but it would mean they are pretty desperate.  None are real good options.  But did you hear the White House got another puppy?


Chris Cuomo did a sit-down with the prez this morning and asked some semi-tough questions about Syria..
CUOMO: The red line comment that you made was about a year ago this week.
OBAMA: Right.
CUOMO: We know since then there have been things that should qualify for crossing that red line.
OBAMA: Well, Chris, I've got to -- I've got to say this. The -- when we take action -- let's just take the example of Syria. There are rules of international law.
CUOMO: Uh-huh.
OBAMA: And, you know, if the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it, do we have the coalition to make it work, and, you know, those are considerations that we have to take into account.
CUOMO: You don't believe we've seen enough?
OBAMA: Now, this -- well, this latest event is something that we've got to take a look at. But keep in mind, also, Chris -- because I know the American people keep this in mind -- we've still got a war going on in Afghanistan.
CUOMO: True. True.
OBAMA: You know, we're still spending tens of billions of dollars in Afghanistan. I will be ending that war by the end of 2014, but every time I go to Walter Reed and visit wounded troops, and every time I sign a letter for a casualty of that war, I'm reminded that there are costs and we have to take those into account as we try to work within an international framework to do everything we can to see Assad ousted -- somebody who's lost credibility -- and to try to restore a sense of a democratic process and stability inside of Egypt.
A lot between the lines there. Syria: red line crossed but regardless of my cowboy talk the American people don't want an escalation so we are studying things, but we remain concerned. Hmm, what happened to the aid they've already provided when the red line was last crossed (that triggered the serious consequences)? It does not appear to be working so far, and this president does not appear to be serious about it.

Afghanistan: one does not simply 'end a war'. A war is either won or lost, or fought to a draw such as in Korea. So why won't journalists press the president on that characterization? It's clear that Americans don't want their loved ones being the last soldier to die for a lost cause, as Kerry once said, but isn't a war 'dumb' if not fought to be won?  Or is the main front in the GWoT, which the president once called Afghanistan, no longer a threat? If it's no longer worth winning, eg, no need for any further sacrifices from American military personnel fighting the enemy who attacked us on 9/11, then let's get the hell out yesterday.  Using it as a useful excuse not to provide the serious consequences over a red line drawn somewhere else is no reason to stay.

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