Forum Index » Chaff » Anyone else concerned about probable US-Syrian conflict?


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Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Anyone else concerned about probable US-Syrian conflict? on 09/07/2013 15:36:05 MDT Print View

"I might say that Moscow's foreign policy seems driven by fear"

Who can blame them? We have brought NATO to their doorstep, to countries that were a springboard for an invasion that cost them some 20 million dead and left their country devastated, installed anti missile systems on their doorstep, interfered in their internal affairs, and constantly berated them for their political system's shortcomings. No less an expert than George Kennan, the premier Sovietologist of his generation, remarked that bringing Poland and other Eastern European countries into NATO would turn out to be the most grievous strategic error the US ever made. To what end?


"Washington's seems characterized by disregard."

Yes, and it will come back to haunt us. It already has, in fact.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Re: Anyone else concerned about probable US-Syrian conflict? on 09/07/2013 17:16:42 MDT Print View

"The war is still in its early stages"

okay, the British and Russians had their turn, then us, and things will continue to be "unstable". At least we're not there making it any worse than we (and the Bititish and Russians and...) have already made it.


"Libya is in chaos, a hotbed of fundamentalism, and a recruiting ground for those who wish us ill."

again, at least we're not there making it worse. Not skillful in that we got involved in the first place, but at least skillful in that we got out quickly. It seems like the Libyans are not totally pissed at us.


The British especially, created all those country boundaries so there would be unstable proportions of Sunis, Shias, and Kurds so the region would be forever unstable, so that the British could control them easier and extract their resources. And they and the U.S. have meddled in the area in other ways. We should just let them alone to figure things out for themselves. We can help them build schools and hospitals. Trade with them, especially the countries that are more democratic and treat their people better. That could actually help stabilize the region.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Anyone else concerned about probable US-Syrian conflict? on 09/07/2013 17:19:12 MDT Print View

"Russian relations are dominated by the big ego of Putin. He wants to be perceived as a macho dude."

Do you seriously think this is what drives Putin's decision making process?


"If he can tweak the U.S. and Obama by preventing a Syria or Iran solution, it makes Putin look more important."

Same question. As if Russia has no interests in the region? Stability? Preventing Sunni fundamentalists from gaining control and being in a position to cause further
trouble for Russia in its Muslim regions? Preventing an aggressive, borderline hostile US from extending its hegemony, with accompanying military bases, into Central Asia, again right on Russia's doorstep? One need only go back to the Cold War era, beginning with Cuba and expanding into the vicious CIA directed shadow wars in Central America, to see how we reacted in somewhat similar circumstances. The after effects are with us in Central America to this day.

"Iraq and Afganistan - our troops are leaving, it's in their hands now, we have at least given them a chance."

A chance at what? Iraq has been devastated and is now consumed with savage internecine bloodletting that is spreading into Syria as Iraqi Sunnis and Shia' flock to the aid of their confessional brethren there. Chaos and bloodshed everywhere, and what have we gained? An opportunity to try our hand at shaping the fate of nations to our liking again, first in Syria, and soon thereafter in Iran. This will not end well for anyone, including us. Be sure of that. As for Afghanistan, we have made clear that not quite "all" the troops are leaving. Just a few "advisors" will remain, say 10,000 or so, to train the Afghans and hunt down unreconstructed "terrorists". Which means the conflict will go on. And on. As the Taliban are fond of saying: "You have the watches, we have the time." Meanwhile, a corrupt central government will continue to ferry the pallets of shrink wrapped $100 bills the CIA sends them to secret bank accounts overseas, and the long suffering Afghan people will continue as they have for centuries, patiently waiting until we are finally gone. Again, what will we have gained, and at what cost? To ourselves and them?

"Libya - conflict was short, no U.S. boots on ground, it seems much more stable now."

Much more stable? The government basically controls Tripoli, not much more, and the area is a fundamentalist hotbed. What did we gain? We promised the Russians there would be no regime change to get them to agree to UN approved intervention, and Qadhdhafi ended up executed in the street and put on display in a refrigerated meat locker. End result, we alienated the Russians even further and doomed any cooperation on issues like Syria. How do you think they view our assurances that we will not try to topple Assad after Libya? Yes, we handled it very well indeed.

Jeremy B.
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Re: Anyone else concerned about probable US-Syrian conflict? on 09/07/2013 17:30:25 MDT Print View

Definitely better than the "I don't have too much faith in the current administration's foreign policy skills" you said initially.

Ok, I'm happy to append that with "to manage a negotiated solution with minimal combat". And yes, the odds are against that, but I think the measure of success will be how much that is managed vs. being dragged in deeper than expected, or only adding a few missiles to the fray and claiming victory. So far, the "red line" messaging was poorly handled, as was telegraphing a "narrow strike". Obama should have reined in Kerry early on. (I do have to say, the red team seems to do a much better job keeping their people marching in lockstep.)

If the other side's #1 objective is to not reach any agreements just to make Obama look bad, it's hard to put blame on Obama for not reaching any agreements.

This is probably Putin's goal by now, which is why being careless with Russia in Libya, Kosovo, etc. may not have been the wisest plan. (Yes, I know Kosovo was a different administration, but Putin was still there.)

It will be another 10 to 20 years before anyone will be able to assess the merit of Bush's and Obama's foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I suspect Iraq was really an attempt at a grand strategy of encirclement, with the end goal to bring down Iran. If it had worked, Bush might have a very different reputation. Unfortunately, there seemed to be far too much ideology in the administration; planning and resourcing for the post-invasion environment was woefully nonexistent and any grand plan went down the toilet with it.

One of the main problems is that democracy in the middle east is unlikely to be very palatable to us in the West; we like to think that removing an oppressive government and giving the people the vote will result in a Western-style democracy, but sometimes it just means the oppression changes to align with "the will of the people". (Assuming you don't get complete anarchy.) Sometimes the most lives are saved by keeping the institutions of dictatorship in power and just pruning off the more bloodthirsty members of the regime. This also means some revolutionaries take a knife in the back, but it avoids years of civil war and countless deaths.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Anyone else concerned about probable US-Syrian conflict? on 09/07/2013 17:44:31 MDT Print View

"At least we're not there making it any worse than we (and the Bititish and Russians and...) have already made it."

To the contrary, we are making it much worse. The British created inherently unstable entities, to be sure, for exactly the reasons you mention. However, under a series of dictators going back to the overthrow of King Faisal by Qasim in 1958 and ending with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein bu the US, Iraq was stable and prospered. There was no democracy, to be sure, but people were well fed, healthy, and well educated. Our invasion and the preceding 12 years of sanctions destroyed all that and reduced Iraq to a chaotic basket case that will never be restored to its former prosperity and social order. In the process, we have started a war that has enormous potential for consuming the region before it burns itself out, and wounds us grievously in the process. and in the end, we will have gained nothing for our sacrifice of blood and treasure, while serious problems fester untended here at home. That is how great nations relegate themselves to the dustbin of history, and it breaks my heart to see it happening to my own.

"It seems like the Libyans are not totally pissed at us."

Depends on which Libyans you're referring to. Ben Ghazi is a good example.

" We should just let them alone to figure things out for themselves."

A huge +1

"We can help them build schools and hospitals. Trade with them, especially the countries that are more democratic and treat their people better. That could actually help stabilize the region."

Contrary to long held US assumptions that our values are universal, not all people share our emphasis on free speech, the Second Amendment, equal rights for women, etc.
Substantial segments of humanity place more emphasis on social order, full bellies, and a woman in the home raising the children than they do on saying whatever you please in public with a likely deterioration in public order, arming yourself to the teeth, and other staples of Western freedom.
Personally, I am very comfortable with our values in general, but I have seen enough of the world to realize that attempting to force them on other peoples who believe differently and deeply so is a fool's errand which will only result in enormous suffering both for them and us. With that caveat, I completely agree with your ideas about helping them to achieve a decent standard of living, in the belief/hope that their values will gradually come to approximate our own over time, and just out of basic human concern for our fellow man. In the meantime, I think we should be seriously evaluating where our own values have led us, both at home and abroad. We have much work to do in that regard, IMO.

Edited for content.

Edited by ouzel on 09/07/2013 18:05:06 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Anyone else concerned about probable US-Syrian conflict? on 09/07/2013 17:45:41 MDT Print View

I agree Tom, the middle East is totally messed up by our meddling including Iraq and Afganistan war.

I'm just saying that Obama pulling our troops out is better than leaving them in.

I wouldn't use "skillful" to describe it, just disagreeing with someone that worries that Obama is less skillful than previous presidents.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Recently declassified documents showing CIA helped overthrow Iran government in 1953 on 09/07/2013 18:01:29 MDT Print View

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/19/politics/cia-iran-1953-coup/

Recently declassified CIA documents:

Mossadegh was a somewhat deomocratic and popular leader of Iran

He wanted to nationalize Iranian oil which had, he thought, had illegitimately been given to BP (ARAMCO).

Britain didn'nt like having their oil taken away so they tried to overthrow Mossadegh so Britain was expelled from the country

Then Britain got the CIA to overthrow Mossadegh who was replaced by the Shah, who was a brutal dictator that sold us his oil cheaply

26 years later the Shah was overthrown by the current government

I can see why Iran is pissed at us

We should apologize to them

That's an example of why the region is so screwed up

My only point is that blaming Obama and criticizing him for removing troops from Iraq and Afganistan is not fair. He's better than all the presidents since 1953, based on the example of Iran

Now, imagine what the Middle East would be like today if we had not done that in 1953 and all the other meddling we've done since. It wouldn't be Nirvana but it would be hell of a lot better than it is today.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Anyone else concerned about probable US-Syrian conflict? on 09/07/2013 18:02:45 MDT Print View

"I'm just saying that Obama pulling our troops out is better than leaving them in."

I'll give him credit for Iraq. It had to be done, but many were lobbying against it, both publically and privately. I think he did the best he could in a very bad situation.

"I wouldn't use "skillful" to describe it, just disagreeing with someone that worries that Obama is less skillful than previous presidents."

I think he is constrained by the same forces that have constrained all presidents since Viet Nam. The president is surrounded by advisors, with varying agendas, a meddling ill informed Congress with a borderline disloyal opposition who oppose him reflexively at every turn, and a bureaucracy that frequently stonewalls and deceives him. I do not doubt for a minute that he had the best of intentions when he came into office, but he has gradually been dragged down by the abovementioned forces, not to mention some miscalculations on his part. I would definitely agree that he is not less skillful than his predecessors, and manifestly more intelligent than any president since Carter. Tragically, the two most intelligent presidents in recent memory are likely to be remembered as failures when it comes to foreign policy.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Anyone else concerned about probable US-Syrian conflict? on 09/07/2013 18:41:15 MDT Print View

Obama:
got us out of Iraq +1
out of Afganistan +1 (at least by the time his term is done?)
into Libya -1
out of Libya +1
total +2

Bush:
into Iraq and Afganistan -2

Clinton:
into and out of Bosnia - total 0

Bush father:
into and out of Kuwait - total 0

Based on that simple calculation - Obama skillful, Bush unskillful, Clinton and Bush father neutral

Jeremy B.
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Anyone else concerned about probable US-Syrian conflict? on 09/07/2013 20:42:40 MDT Print View

Then Britain got the CIA to overthrow Mossadegh who was replaced by the Shah, who was a brutal dictator that sold us his oil cheaply

Yeah, this was pretty much an open secret for the past few decades.

In terms of scoring, I'd rank both Bush I and Clinton as fairly capable*, Bush II certainly less so. (He might have been smarter than many gave him credit, if so he was doomed by his advisors.) I'd object to a simple "in/out" metric as much of that timing is largely pre-determined and the person in office has little to do with it. I.e. Obama only had to continue the Bush II-era plan. Looking back on the Obama terms I don't see him operating with much finesse; I know Congress has been in strong opposition but he still squandered a few key opportunities to make things easier.


*Perhaps better adjectives are needed. A president may be intelligent but politics requires a degree of pragmatism and deviousness; I think this is why Carter gets less credit**. Thus, a less intelligent pragmatist may be more effective than a genius with less street-smarts.

** With or without the truth of Reagan's arms-for-no-hostages deal with Khomeini.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Anyone else concerned about probable US-Syrian conflict? on 09/08/2013 16:54:23 MDT Print View

"*Perhaps better adjectives are needed. A president may be intelligent but politics requires a degree of pragmatism and deviousness; I think this is why Carter gets less credit**. Thus, a less intelligent pragmatist may be more effective than a genius with less street-smarts."

Well said.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Fortitude on 09/11/2013 07:28:58 MDT Print View

This member of the Irish Parliament shows it takes more than"testicular fortitude" to speak up.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_tWI5tPBFQQ&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D_tWI5tPBFQQ

Edited by Kat_P on 09/11/2013 07:31:49 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Fortitude on 09/11/2013 16:49:43 MDT Print View

"This member of the Irish Parliament shows it takes more than"testicular fortitude" to speak up."

You've got to love the rough and tumble of parliamentary debate, along with the penetrating questions that cut to the heart of the matter at hand. Would that our politicians had half the brains of The Honorable Clare Daly, and ovaries to match. It was delicious watching the PM squirm in his seat. It would be even more delicious to watch our own leader subjected to a similarly well informed hiding.

Great link, Katharina. Anyone following this thread would do well to watch it.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Fortitude on 09/11/2013 18:56:16 MDT Print View

Thanks Tom,
Unfortunately most will not get past the heading to the video.

just Justin Whitson
(ArcturusBear)
Re: Re: Re: Fortitude on 09/11/2013 19:15:58 MDT Print View

That was intense Kat.. (and refreshing!)


Generally speaking, i find myself most agreeing Tom Kirchner so far on a lot of the conversation.

I find it interesting that so many people still speak of Presidents and administrations in the sense that they do, as if these were independent and powerful entities unto themselves.

That use to be more true, but special interests are so enmeshed in politics now, any semblance of this is long gone. Bought and sold, mostly actors with a somewhat open ended script. Until those special interests (primarily international bankers and to a lesser degree corporations) are taken out of the picture, government at the higher levels will never be by the people and for the people. And boy do they love to polarize us, "its the damn liberals i tell you" "no, it's the damn right wingers" and all the while they laugh on the way to the bank.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Fortitude on 09/11/2013 21:05:34 MDT Print View

Enjoyed the video, Kat. If only we held all of our leaders to account.....

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Fortitude on 09/11/2013 22:36:11 MDT Print View

"...People in this country are very fond of our American brothers and sisters and I think we stand far more shoulder to shoulder with them by making valid criticisms of their president who has broken his election promises rather than just pimping this nation as a tax haven for their corporations- I'm sure that Americans would far prefer that their multinationals paid their taxes at home rather than offshore here so that they can develop their healthcare..."


Damn....

Thanks for the link Kat.