Sunday, September 8, 2013

Is This About "Punishing" Assad Or Feeling Good About Ourselves?

Writing in Daily Kos, Laurence Lewis questions the rationale of a "limited strike" on Syria and considers the possibility of an expanded war leading to U.S. troops on the ground. He concludes by considering the folly of the rush to "do something":

From day one, it was clear that the chemical stockpiles wouldn't be targeted by air strikes, because that could loose those chemicals into civilian populations. So the idea of taking out the chemical stockpiles was moot to begin with. From day one, it also was claimed that the entire operation would be limited and targeted. But what would that accomplish?

A limited strike leaves Assad in power, leaves his military largely intact, doesn't take out the chemical weapons, and of course almost certainly kills more civilians. So Assad is "punished" how? The administration seems to have figured that out, and now we are hearing of expanded target lists, and possibly even military "trainers."

The rush to war was short on details and goals, which are evolving. As in expanding.

If the expanding details and goals include destabilizing Assad, or full regime change, a Pandora's Box quickly spirals out of U.S. control, leading to a deeper and wider civil war, with even more civilian suffering, while the chemical weapons are left unsecured, for anyone to take.

Unless there is a large U.S. troop presence on the ground.

The only way to secure the chemical weapons is a large U.S. troop presence on the ground.

The only way destabilization of Assad doesn't lead to a deeper and wider civil war is a large U.S. troop presence on the ground.

Everyone wants to Do Something. But wanting to Do Something doesn't mean there is anything practical that can be done, militarily. The rush to war has been extremely poorly thought out, and the urgency raises many questions.

Is this really about "punishing" Assad and protecting civilians, or is it about feeling good about ourselves?

Photo attribution: Reuters

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