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Syria Intervention

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It looks like the US will soon attack Syria. The rationale is that Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people. Spectacularly, the UK Parliament has voted against intervention, and the French are with the USA. As a Brit, I can see why it is in our interest to support our ally. I can also see why it is in our interest to punish regimes which use indiscriminate killing weapons like the nerve gases they have used. The world is a less safe place for all of us if these chemical weapons are used without punishment. However I don't see why we should risk our blood and treasure to weaken Assad when a lot of the rebels are Al-Qaeda and could gain power and influence.

 

What do you think? Is intervention in Syria justified?

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No, the US has nothing to gain from this. Neither side is our ally, and no vital US interest is at stake. Best to let them go at it, save our money, and stay out of it. We should avoid the potential unintended consequences of an attack, which the US's foreign policy constantly ignores.

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An attack would be justified in the sense that any criminal Government has no claim to have a right to exist. 

 

That being said there is no rational reason for us to do so since neither side is actually dedicated to liberty.  One is a dictatorship and the other is looking like it is not being supported by terrorists.  It would be like invading Vietnam in the respect that we are simply fighting to give a country the right to vote itself into slavery.  It is not in our rational best interests to do so.

 

If we can insure a good Government would replace it, a case can be made that Syria and Iran are currently an axis of everything that is wrong in the Middle-East and a threat to American security.  Such a case has a lot of merit and is worth considering.  Unfortunately the minds running our military are not qualified to clean George Patton’s jockstrap so such a purposeful operation is not going to happen. There would be no defined purpose, no entry and exit strategy, no definition of victory, no long range region goals, or any planning at all.  It will be strategy of tactics, a mind numbing collection of disconnected military strikes that will be held up as if that was a campaign strategy.  Attacking Syria will be empiricism with guided missiles. 

 

I think it is a very bad idea and is going to make things worse.     

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Spiral Architect said:
 

 

 

An attack would be justified in the sense that any criminal Government has no claim to have a right to exist. 

 
That being said there is no rational reason for us to do so since neither side is actually dedicated to liberty.  One is a dictatorship and the other is looking like it is not being supported by terrorists.  It would be like invading Vietnam in the respect that we are simply fighting to give a country the right to vote itself into slavery.  It is not in our rational best interests to do so.

 
 
If it is not rational, then how is it justified in any sense?

 

 

Edited by thenelli01

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I can also see why it is in our interest to punish regimes which use indiscriminate killing weapons like the nerve gases they have used. The world is a less safe place for all of us if these chemical weapons are used without punishment. However I don't see why we should risk our blood and treasure to weaken Assad when a lot of the rebels are Al-Qaeda and could gain power and influence.

 

What do you think? Is intervention in Syria justified?

 

The world, the world of the United States' people, is more directly and immediately threatened by a country that is waging proxy wars, funding terrorist movements which have resulted in thousands of American lives, violating the property rights of oil producers, and is attempting to become a nuclear power, than it is by a non-ally country that is engulfed in a civil war. So, if it is in the United State's interest to dismantle a regime that is using chemical weapons against its own people (Note: not the U.S.'s people), then it better had already eliminated any more direct and immediate threat to the U.S. first, i.e. Iran. Syria is merely a scapegoat to avoid attacking the real threat.

 

 

Edited by thenelli01

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The world, the world of the United States' people, is more directly and immediately threatened by a country that is waging proxy wars, funding terrorist movements which have resulted in thousands of American lives, violating the property rights of oil producers, and is attempting to become a nuclear power, than it is by a non-ally country that is engulfed in a civil war. So, if it is in the United State's interest to dismantle a regime that is using chemical weapons against its own people (Note: not the U.S.'s people), then it better had already eliminated any more direct and immediate threat to the U.S. first, i.e. Iran. Syria is merely a scapegoat to avoid attacking the real threat.

 

I don't follow. Iran and Syria are allies. Iran is a direct threat, Syria is merely a proxy of Iran. Why would the US only be justified in attacking Syria after it first eliminates Iran? 

 

Attacking either is justified. Attacking Syria is the more practical move in the short term, because in Syria we already have allies on the ground.

Edited by Nicky

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I don't follow. Iran and Syria are allies. Iran is a direct threat, Syria is merely a proxy of Iran. Why would the US only be justified in attacking Syria after it first eliminates Iran? 

 

Attacking either is justified. Attacking Syria is the more practical move in the short term, because in Syria we already have allies on the ground.

 

Before I respond fully, what exactly does the U.S. accomplish with a military intervention in Syria? If Iran is the direct threat, as we agree, what is the point of dealing with Asaad? What interest does removing Asaad satisfy?

 

 

 

Edited by thenelli01

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For almost a century since WWI the use of chemical weapons was a taboo. People knew that such a use will lead to the terrible and unavoidable punishment from the international community. Even Hitler didn't dare to use it for the military purposes against Russians or Allies. Not anymore. The taboo has been broken, first by Saddam Hussein and know by Assad. If he could escape a punishment, in the future conflicts everybody will use it, and there are plenty of conflicts around the globe. Unlike nuclear weapons, chemical weapons could be produced and deployed easily with devastating effect. The action against Syria is an action of self-defense and self-preservation not only to America or Europe but to our civilization as we know it. It is true that America is not a world policeman and it is not its duties to maintain the world's order. In fact it is a duty of UN, which had been created for this very purpose. But UN is a toothless organization, dealing mainly with condemnation of Israel. Therefore Western powers have to take the action. They simply have no choice in the matter. 

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Before I respond fully, what exactly does the U.S. accomplish with a military intervention in Syria? If Iran is the direct threat, as we agree, what is the point of dealing with Asaad? What interest does removing Asaad satisfy?

 

It isolates Iran, and removes most of their influence from the entire region (including Lebanon and Israel).

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If it is not rational, then how is it justified in any sense?

 

 

Context. 

 

Syria is a criminal Government and cannot claim rights, so it is justified.  Putting the current Government down would be an act if justice. 

 

In the current context there is no rational reason for us to do so since it not will advance our interests and as a detailed later in my post will likely hurt them since we cannot trust the minds in charge of our military.   There is a big difference between "can I do it" and "should I do it".   

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For almost a century since WWI the use of chemical weapons was a taboo. People knew that such a use will lead to the terrible and unavoidable punishment from the international community. Even Hitler didn't dare to use it for the military purposes against Russians or Allies. Not anymore. The taboo has been broken, first by Saddam Hussein and know by Assad. If he could escape a punishment, in the future conflicts everybody will use it, and there are plenty of conflicts around the globe. Unlike nuclear weapons, chemical weapons could be produced and deployed easily with devastating effect. The action against Syria is an action of self-defense and self-preservation not only to America or Europe but to our civilization as we know it. It is true that America is not a world policeman and it is not its duties to maintain the world's order. In fact it is a duty of UN, which had been created for this very purpose. But UN is a toothless organization, dealing mainly with condemnation of Israel. Therefore Western powers have to take the action. They simply have no choice in the matter. 

 

I think this is persuasive. The more I read about this, the more I am changing my mind that it is in fact in the West's interest to punish Syria.

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For almost a century since WWI the use of chemical weapons was a taboo. People knew that such a use will lead to the terrible and unavoidable punishment from the international community. Even Hitler didn't dare to use it for the military purposes against Russians or Allies. Not anymore. The taboo has been broken, first by Saddam Hussein and know by Assad. If he could escape a punishment, in the future conflicts everybody will use it, and there are plenty of conflicts around the globe. Unlike nuclear weapons, chemical weapons could be produced and deployed easily with devastating effect. The action against Syria is an action of self-defense and self-preservation not only to America or Europe but to our civilization as we know it. It is true that America is not a world policeman and it is not its duties to maintain the world's order. In fact it is a duty of UN, which had been created for this very purpose. But UN is a toothless organization, dealing mainly with condemnation of Israel. Therefore Western powers have to take the action. They simply have no choice in the matter.

We do not ascribe to a duty ethic.

It is not so much that the Assad regime is killing indiscriminantly. They and others have done so before and we have countenanced that without a twitch. It is not how many were killed. Many more have died in this conflict and in others. It is only how tbey died that raises our collective hackles. The president of the US speaks of an obligation (duty) to act, kind of how we are obliged to return social niceties in polite company. We are obliged to kill regardless of the outcome and interest. The Syrians killed other Syrians and so we are obliged to teach them a moral lesson by killing other Syrians, regardless of whether Al Qaeda types claim power as a result. After all, we have to keep up appearances with the neighbors, like Iran.

When will the sickness stop?

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The United States should not intervene in Syria (even though it looks like President Obama is about to announce it.

Assad's use of chemical weapons is bad. It's more than bad, it's evil. Assad is an evil man and his government is a force of evil.

But if we remove him from power, we clear the way for a radical Islamist group to take power in Syria. Radical Islamists, of course, are also evil.

But which is a greater threat to the security of free states around the world, particularly Israel? Obviously the radical Islamists, who are hellbent on the removal of the Israeli state from its control of Jerusalem.

If we knew for sure that the dominant group of anti-Assad Syrians supported a free, secular state (or at least supported more of one than Assad does), then intervention would be justified. In fact, it might even be an action in defense of our ally, because Assad is a threat to Israel, too, just not as much as an Islamist regime would be.

But as it stands today, intervention would be at the detriment to the security of Israel and the rest of the free world.

Actually, Dr. Yaron Brook put it better than I did: http://www.peikoff.com/2013/08/19/ybrook-do-you-think-islamic-forces-are-going-to-take-over-syria-if-so-should-the-united-states-avoid-helping-to-remove-assad/

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We do not ascribe to a duty ethic.

It is not so much that the Assad regime is killing indiscriminantly. They and others have done so before and we have countenanced that without a twitch. It is not how many were killed. Many more have died in this conflict and in others. It is only how tbey died that raises our collective hackles. The president of the US speaks of an obligation (duty) to act, kind of how we are obliged to return social niceties in polite company. We are obliged to kill regardless of the outcome and interest. The Syrians killed other Syrians and so we are obliged to teach them a moral lesson by killing other Syrians, regardless of whether Al Qaeda types claim power as a result. After all, we have to keep up appearances with the neighbors, like Iran.

When will the sickness stop?

 

You never addressed the issue at hand, namely Assad's use of chemical weapons.

 

 

The United States should not intervene in Syria (even though it looks like President Obama is about to announce it.

Assad's use of chemical weapons is bad. It's more than bad, it's evil. Assad is an evil man and his government is a force of evil.

But if we remove him from power, we clear the way for a radical Islamist group to take power in Syria. Radical Islamists, of course, are also evil.

But which is a greater threat to the security of free states around the world, particularly Israel? Obviously the radical Islamists, who are hellbent on the removal of the Israeli state from its control of Jerusalem.

If we knew for sure that the dominant group of anti-Assad Syrians supported a free, secular state (or at least supported more of one than Assad does), then intervention would be justified. In fact, it might even be an action in defense of our ally, because Assad is a threat to Israel, too, just not as much as an Islamist regime would be.

But as it stands today, intervention would be at the detriment to the security of Israel and the rest of the free world.

Actually, Dr. Yaron Brook put it better than I did: http://www.peikoff.com/2013/08/19/ybrook-do-you-think-islamic-forces-are-going-to-take-over-syria-if-so-should-the-united-states-avoid-helping-to-remove-assad/

 

I agree with Yaron Brook's points, but he obviously doesn't mention chemical weapons because this is a recent event. Also, regime change isn't on the table. Obama is about to talk as I type this, but it's clear that military action would be limited to cruise missiles and no "boots on the ground".

 

Here is a mild video of the gas attacks:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2GPTqxf8rE

 

If the use of these gas attacks goes unpunished, then their use will become more prevalent in the world, which weakens our security. This is the best argument imho for intervention in Syria.

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The problem with using cruise missiles is that the outcome of their use will be regime change. Obviously it's better that there won't be American soldiers on the ground because that makes it highly unlikely that there will be US casualties, but the outcome will be the same. If the US uses missiles against, say, Syrian military targets, that will weaken Assad and embolden the revolutionaries, and will probably be enough to tip the balance of power. Obama knows this, or at least he has advisors that know this. So he either doesn't care that regime change will be the result or he wants to enact regime change without coming right out and saying it.

I agree that Assad's use of chemical weapons is bad, and I also have concerns that lack of foreign intervention could embolden other dictators in this regard. I don't like what's going on in Syria any more than anyone else, and I hate that innocent civilians are being harmed in the struggle between these two evil forces. This is overall a very bad situation. But what I think we need to look at before rushing in is whether or not our involvement will help anything. I.e., what is the likely impact of our intervention? So we weaken Assad and the revolutionaries manage to remove him from power, then what? Well, there will either be an election that is won by the Islamists or a direct Islamist takeover. Either way, the Islamists will have control. And who are public enemies number one and two for the Islamists? Israel and the United States. The way it is now is bad for the Syrian people, no question about it. But at least right now Syria is focused in its civil war. If the Islamists consolidate power in Syria, what you're going to see is a country very close to Israel becoming a state that will strongly support al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and all the other Islamist terrorist groups. You're going to see more violence against Israel, and you're going to see al-Qaeda grow stronger and sponsor more acts of global terrorism.

I hate what the Syrian civilians are having to endure right now. I hate that there's no way for the US to put a stop to the oppression in that country. But I take a long range view and I look at the consequences of intervention. It's obvious that what's at stake is a choice between the possibility of more chemical weapons use worldwide or the safety of American, European and Israeli citizens and interests (the Syrian civilians would be slightly worse off in the former situation, but there really isn't a good outcome for them right now). I reject, as Objectivism does, the idea that one group of people ought to be sacrificed for another. But when a group of madmen is holding the detonator of bombs strapped to both innocent groups, you have to make the choice that 1) harms the fewest people and 2) includes the best possibility to get rid of the madmen down the road.

To sum this up, I would love to take out Assad. But we mustn't do that because more madmen will rise to take his place, these ones with the destruction of America and Israel as stated goals and top priorities. And America is the last chance to save the world and Israel the last chance to save the Middle East, so our first priority in foreign policy must be protection of these countries.

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While I agree that U.S. military action is probably ill-advised, I don't think this part of your post is accurate:

The problem with using cruise missiles is that the outcome of their use will be regime change.
... ... Obama knows this,
... ... he wants to enact regime change without coming right out and saying it.

There is no evidence that Obama want regime change. In fact, that seems to be part of the hesitation from everyone in the west. Obama's thinking would more probably be summed up thus: "We should raise the cost to Assad, of using chemical weapons. The cost should be high enough that the next time he wants to kill a thousand people he will choose conventional means, or choose control versus annihilation. However, in doing so we must not make Assad pay so much that the Shia are toppled."

 

There are some good arguments for intervention, but I think history shows that when the U.S. gets involved, with all the mix of push and hesitation of a democracy, the actual way things play out is messy and leaves things worse off.

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It isolates Iran, and removes most of their influence from the entire region (including Lebanon and Israel).

 

Right, so you want to bomb Syria to weaken Iran? You know what will actually do that and more? Targeting Iran and taking out its nuclear facilities, military institutions, and dismantling their regime. There is no need to fight a proxy war. Stand up for what is right, make the principles clear behind the attack, and use the full effective force of the United States military. The Syrian regime falls when Iran falls - they would have already fallen without Iranian support... The Iranian regime doesn't fall when Syria falls. But, no keep living in this fantasy world where bombing Syria will accomplish anything meaningful in removing the Iranian threat. 

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Obama voiced his intentions for a "limited response." This is being widely interpreted by those in the media the way SoftwareNerd interpreted it. The end result, it seems to me, is this: Syria gets a limited pass, this time. The broader issue of chemical weapons in war is punted to the next psycho regime, but mass proliferation is mildly deterred. Meanwhile, the scenario plays out as Yaron Brook prescribed. I'm undecided on this issue, but that could be the best response that has a chance of actually happening in the real world.

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While I agree that U.S. military action is probably ill-advised, I don't think this part of your post is accurate:

There is no evidence that Obama want regime change. In fact, that seems to be part of the hesitation from everyone in the west. Obama's thinking would more probably be summed up thus: "We should raise the cost to Assad, of using chemical weapons. The cost should be high enough that the next time he wants to kill a thousand people he will choose conventional means, or choose control versus annihilation. However, in doing so we must not make Assad pay so much that the Shia are toppled."

I may be splitting hairs here, but you are taking my remark a bit out of context. The way you cut my sentence, it seems like I'm accusing Obama of trying to enact regime change without saying so. In the context of the sentence, I'm saying that either his only concern is punishing chemical weapons and he doesn't care about the impacts of US military action (which would not be unprecedented behavior for the US government - look at the brilliant plan to let Islamist Pakistan distribute US aid to the anti-Soviet groups in Afghanistan), or he is trying to enact regime change without saying so.

My statement was not a bold accusation about Obama's motives, it was a conclusion based on the following premises: 1) Attacks on the Assad government will serve to weaken said government. This government is fighting a civil war against a group of insurrectionists who seem to have popular support. Therefore, any act to weaken the government will tip the scales in favor of the insurrection and likely lead to its success. 2) Given that I understand this and I am not an expert in military planning, it is likely that all of the President's many advisors, who are experts in military planning (and who include but are not limited to the Secretaries of Defense and State and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), also understand this. The conclusion must then be that either Obama does not care about these outcomes (i.e., that he considers the benefits of military action to be worth it) or that he considers them desirable. Or, I suppose, that Obama made the decision to request military action without listening to his foreign policy advisors, but that is unlikely.

If the Obama Administration is actually thinking the way you guess they are, then I would have to judge that, unless they have information that I don't know about to the effect that the insurrection is weaker than it appears, they are incorrect about the impacts of US military attack on the Assad government. The impacts should not be judged based only on military implications but on things like popular opinion and morale (of both Assad's forces and insurgency forces).

There are some good arguments for intervention, but I think history shows that when the U.S. gets involved, with all the mix of push and hesitation of a democracy, the actual way things play out is messy and leaves things worse off.

I don't think there's a good argument for intervention in this particular scenario, at least from a perspective that an Islamist government, even if popularly elected, is a highly undesirable outcome (there are people in this country and in Europe who disagree with this; they interpret the Declaration of Independence to mean that any popularly elected government is good. I need not explain why they are wrong because I'm speaking to Objectivists and students of Objectivism). Intervention would lead to Islamist control unless the US placed a pro-West dictator in power (like Mohamed Reza Shah Pahlavi in Iran), which is a tactic that, historically, when implemented in a Muslim country, has led to popular backlash in support of a more fundamentalist form of Islam. Dr. Brook is unfortunately right; the best option is for the US to stay out of Syria and the best outcome currently is for the civil war to continue.

I do agree that in other scenarios, intervention can be good. I think it was a good idea in Grenada, for example, where a despotic regime was overthrown via US intervention and replaced with a freely elected pro-West government (and done so with minimum bloodshed). I think it wouldn't necessarily be a bad idea in North Korea if China continued to dissociate itself from it and so long as there was a means to connect the South and North with the landmines in the demilitarized zone as an impediment. I think this would work better than anything in the Middle East because once the communist government was removed from power, it would be relatively obvious to the North Koreans that the quality of life in capitalist-leaning South Korea is far better and they would quickly assimilate into a Korea under a government in Seoul. I would support such an overthrow so long as there was no threat of retaliation from China.

But yeah, it's often messy the way these things work out, particularly in countries like Vietnam with communist leanings or like Iraq with Islamic leanings that are generally just unresponsive to western-style capitalism and republican government. And particularly in Syria right now, intervention is a very bad idea due to the political environment there.

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Right, so you want to bomb Syria to weaken Iran? You know what will actually do that and more? Targeting Iran and taking out its nuclear facilities, military institutions, and dismantling their regime. There is no need to fight a proxy war. Stand up for what is right, make the principles clear behind the attack, and use the full effective force of the United States military. The Syrian regime falls when Iran falls - they would have already fallen without Iranian support... The Iranian regime doesn't fall when Syria falls. But, no keep living in this fantasy world where bombing Syria will accomplish anything meaningful in removing the Iranian threat. 

 

Straw man. I said removing Assad will weaken Iran, not remove the threat.

 

And if you think waging a war against Iran is politically feasible right now, you're the one living in a fantasy world. In the real world, the options are dealing with Syria or doing nothing. I'd rather the US helped deal with Syria than do nothing.

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I.e., what is the likely impact of our intervention? So we weaken Assad and the revolutionaries manage to remove him from power, then what? Well, there will either be an election that is won by the Islamists or a direct Islamist takeover.

And you're basing this prediction about the future on?

Edited by Nicky

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Straw man. I said removing Assad will weaken Iran, not remove the threat.

 

And if you think waging a war against Iran is politically feasible right now, you're the one living in a fantasy world. In the real world, the options are dealing with Syria or doing nothing. I'd rather the US helped deal with Syria than do nothing.

 

Actually, you have it all wrong. It is wars like these that make waging a war against Iran politically unfeasible. The US loses its credibility, domestically and internationally, due to these irrational, unfocused wars and as a result, these wars/military interventions make it hard for the US to garner support for rational military objectives. So the solution is not to continue the wars that make attacking the real threat politically unfeasible, but to have and exhibit a rational foreign policy with clear principles and objectives.

Edited by thenelli01

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There is no need to bomb Syria. All the Western powers have to do is to made crystal clear that they hold Assad personally responsible for the use of chemical weapons and will punish him personally. One drone could do the job. He cannot hide for ever.That would be a lesson for the future poisoners and much better one than indiscriminate barrage of poorly aimed missiles which would kill thousands of innocent people. The question of regime change in Syria is not of concern of the West. America should stop to export its revolution in the typical Trotskyist fashion.

Edited by Leonid

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these irrational, unfocused wars

Your argument is that attacking Assad would be wrong because it would make Americans weary of war because attacking Assad is irrational. That's a circular argument.

 

Prove that attacking Assad is irrational. Prove that Assad is not an enemy of the United States. For that matter, prove that a single one of America's wars in the past 12 years hasn't been against an enemy of the United States. 

Edited by Nicky

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