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Syria Intervention

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I would be far more concerned of the revolutionaries likely to take over Syria. "Meet the new boss, worse than the old boss." Sure, every rational person can agree that Assad is an A******. Nonetheless, he reigns in a neighborhood so completely irrational, Byzantine in the nearly literal sense, and utterly unmanagable by any other means than dicatorial power. Can we realistically expect any form of leadership to emerge from this mess that won't be a threat to its own people? And what of international law, or the power of collective security? There is some useless international agreement, signed in the '90s, that "obligates" nations to stop chemical warfare. When enforcement of these laws presents the problems such as the present Syrian Crisis, selective enforcement usually becomes the option, and Assad gets a pass. The same applies with collective security. Governments tried to outlaw war in the 1920s; how did that work out? We are rational people talking about a region of extremely irrational populations, tribal in nature. It will be generations before they abandon the tribalism, and the religious fananticism, so common to people of this unfortunate region. If change is to happen there, let them save themselves, take pride in it, and our "moral obligations" of protection should be reserved for those societies who deserve it.

Edited by Repairman

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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. 

 

That is not why attacking Assad is wrong and that is not my argument. I was explaining why it is politically infeasible to attack Iran right now. It is because our foreign policy is irrational and we lose credibility as a result. Our foreign policy is irrational because it ignores the facts of reality and it isn't based on America's rational self interest (i.e. protecting ourselves against any nation or person, any group or individual, that dare to threaten our lives, while engaging in free trade with any non-enemy territory). It is irrational because we are apologetic and because we are afraid to stand up for what is right. It is precisely this foreign policy that is the reason why we are attacking the Syria's of the world, while ignoring the Iran's.

 

Attacking Assad is irrational because it is not our responsibility, nor is it in our interest in this context, to save the Syrians (who are not for individual rights, might I add) from any oppression (nor does it make sense to, it is better to let both sides kill each other off). You might respond that we should attack Assad because the world is safer when evil men of power do not have chemical weapons. I would respond that Assad's regime would have fallen already without the funding and support of the Iranians, and Iran is the one that is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon, which has far worse consequences than chemical weapons, and is a greater threat to this country. So to put all of the focus and attention on Assad, while refusing to take meaningful action on Iran is greatly immoral. Then you might respond that attacking Assad will weaken Iran (which you already have). I'd respond that if our goal is to weaken Iran, why fight a proxy war, why not attack Iran directly and eliminate the threat instead of just weakening it? You might say that it is politically infeasible and that I'm living in a fantasy world. I would respond that first, I think that it is more politically feasible than attacking Syria (79% of Americans don't want to get involved in Syria). And that it is politically infeasible because of America's irrational foreign policy over the past 50+ years, which results in loss of credibility domestically and internationally. The solution is to change the foreign policy - we need to focus on the direct threats to this country and stop military interventions that are not necessary for our national security. Explain why Iran is a threat, how Iran violated on our rights, and why we cannot allow this country to gain a nuclear weapon. Tell Iran: Surrender, dismantle your nuclear, military, and government institutions, and make a public apology by a certain deadline. When they don't, we follow through with our threats and eliminate the problem. That is how you gain credibility back, though that is not our primary goal.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by thenelli01

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 I would respond that Assad's regime would have fallen already without the funding and support of the Iranians, and Iran is the one that is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon

In other words, you would respond by changing the subject.

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I couldn't think of a better way to create more animosity toward the US than a pre-emptive war on Iran. Or maybe we should start a war with Pakistan for their support of the Taliban, while we're at it.

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The ban on one modality of mass death IS the problem. An even greater mode of mass death, nuclear weapons and the doctrine of mutually assured destruction, prevented horrific wars after WWII. One can argue that Hitler's wars were made possible by the ban on chemical weapons.

Instead of initiating force against Assad and Syria, why not just refuse to deal with those whom we condemn? Why be sucked into a conflict by supporting conventions that make no sense?

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I realize that my position as presented isn't very logical.

 

It still stands that it is a contradiction in our FP to attack Assad after he uses chemical weapons, while ignoring the fact that Iran is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. 

 

However, that doesn't mean that we should not attack Assad if it is determined to be our self interest. I think Nicky and others have made a good case (e.g. it will weaken Iran at little cost to US, and it will remove chemical weapons). It is something I am still thinking about - I will post later.

 

 

Edited by thenelli01

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Last night on C-SPAN I watched the Senate foreign relations committee question John Kerry, Chuck Hegel, and Martin Dempsey about possible military action in Syria. Here's what I took away from the session:

1) Obama has already decided that the U.S. will attack Syria whether or not Congress votes to support such action.

2) Obama and Kerry either believe, or want the citizens of the U.S. to believe, that the President has the Constitutional power to go to war.

3) Those who favor attacking Syria either believe, or want the citizens of the U.S. to believe, that attacking Syria is not going to war.

4) Those who favor attacking Syria either believe, or want the citizens of the U.S. to believe, that it is possible to put a limit on how long the military engagement with Syria will last.

Haven't we learned ANYTHING from our experience that includes both Viet Nam and Iraq?

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I watched part of the committee too and I walked away reaffirmed about my original post at the beginning of this thread – This will be empiricism with guided missiles.  They do not have a clue of what they are trying to accomplish, and admitted as much in the Congressional dog and pony show.  Any attack will be the same “Strategy of tactics” that has mindlessly accomplished nothing previously.  As Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might not get there.”  The leaders of the military don't know where they are going let alone how to get there. In the long run, this will not accomplish anything and make matters worse.  

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Last night on C-SPAN I watched the Senate foreign relations committee question John Kerry, Chuck Hegel, and Martin Dempsey about possible military action in Syria. Here's what I took away from the session:

 

Oops! That should be "Hagel", not "Hegel".

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Instead of initiating force against Assad and Syria, why not just refuse to deal with those whom we condemn? Why be sucked into a conflict by supporting conventions that make no sense?

 

There have been sanctions against Syria since 2004. Here is one of the more popularly cited executive orders written in 2011, which pretty much bans all business with Syria. The reason these executive orders were written are clear: Syria supports terrorists, is inhumane towards its people, and the US will not deal with such a regime. 9 years have passed since the first sanction against Syria was put into place, but Syria is still up to no good. If the goal is to hurt Syria, these sanctions don't seem to be doing it.

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Robert Tracinski, an Objectivist political columnist over at RealClearPolitics, has just written a defense of intervention in Syria.  Personally, I think we should not intervene, but I respect Tracinski's views, and I think he makes a strong case for intervention (one that would be of interest to this thread).  The link to his article is above, key excerpt here:

 

 

...

The only answer to this dilemma is to recognize that this is a war with two enemies. Our choice isn't which one we should oppose. Our only choice is which enemy we should oppose first. If we allow the Assad regime to remain, it should only be so that we can take them out later. And if we back the rebels, it should only be on the proviso that we prepare for a second stage in the Syrian civil war, in which we support secular opponents in a battle against Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

 

The question, then, is which of these strategies is more likely to lead to a result we like. I would argue that we're better off toppling Assad first. If Assad were able to suppress the al-Qaeda wing of the insurgency, he would be able to suppress the entire insurgency. The moment would be over, and we would have to give up on removing his regime. So there's no such thing as backing Assad now only to turn against him later. But if we take down Assad now, we have reason to expect that we might then be able to support better elements against the Islamists in the nine-way free-for-all that is likely follow. Even the al-Qaeda-allied factions in Syria are falling out with each other, and al-Qaeda always has a tendency to lose friends and alienate people wherever it goes, because they always replace a vicious dictatorship with an even more vicious dictatorship. Plus, toppling Assad has direct benefits outside of Syria. It would be a crushing blow to Hezbollah, which would help our friends in both Israel and Lebanon. And it would deal a big loss to the Iranian regime, reducing its power and possibly undermining its stability at home, where it is widely and deeply hated by its own people.

...

Edited by Dante

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I would argue that we're better off toppling Assad first.

 

Toppling Assad is not a goal I heard expressed by anyone in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Instead the goal is to degrade (not eliminate) Assad's ability to deploy chemical weapons.

http://www.debka.com/newsupdatepopup/5597/

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Toppling Assad is not a goal I heard expressed by anyone in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Instead the goal is to degrade (not eliminate) Assad's ability to deploy chemical weapons.

http://www.debka.com/newsupdatepopup/5597/

That might be because no one in government believes that it's a good idea to express your honest intentions at a Senate hearing these days. Suggesting that the end goal is to help the opposition win would be misinterpreted both at the hearing and in the media, either by claiming, backed by out of context snippets of video, that the administration intends to commit to a lengthy war until Assad is defeated, or that the administration wants to help Al Qaeda win.

That doesn't mean that, behind closed doors, administration and military strategists aren't hoping that even a limited strike, coupled with arming the FSA, will level the playing field, and allow the opposition to eventually win.

This isn't just some random idea to bomb some random tyrant for some random act. The US has been moving towards backing the FSA militarily for months, long before the chemical attack. And it comes on the heels of a similar intervention, in Libya, which resulted in the toppling of another regime.

Edited by Nicky

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And you're betting that the replacement who takes his place will be a bit better? If so, how?

No, I'm not. He could be even worse and then should be dealt with as well. However this is not a question of regime change but administration of justice. Whoever uses chemical weapons should be punished. 

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No, I'm not. He could be even worse and then should be dealt with as well. However this is not a question of regime change but administration of justice. Whoever uses chemical weapons should be punished.

Even though Syria is relatively secular by middle-eastern standards, it is a pretty good possibility that Islamic groups might dominate in the end. It is also fairly likely that such groups will kill just as many Alawites, even if they do not use so-called chemical weapons to do so. I see no rational concept of justice in your approach.

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The rational concept is a total prohibition of the use of chemical weapons. There is not by chance or by whim these weapons have been banned internationally almost for 100 years and even Hitler didn't dare to use them for the fear of massive retaliation. Chemical weapons are tools of mass destruction. Unlike nuclear weapons, there are cheap and easy to produce. If we allow now its use to go unpunished, it will be used in any military conflict with devastating results. 

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But UN is a toothless organization, dealing mainly with condemnation of Israel.

Well, I wouldn't say toothless. . . But that appendage isn't exactly PG so yeah, sure; toothless.

 

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

They are a means to an evil end; aside from that I'm sure they're chemicals.

On the scale of evil ends (like mass murder) or on the capacity to achieve them, there are far larger and more blatant atrocities happening every day in other countries.

 

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.

Why?

 

I'm sorry; I do actually think it's feasible to invade Iran, right now, with the full and unbridled force of our military.  We're still the (one of the?) strongest superpower in the world.

If we went at Iran in a full-scale, all-out assault to destroy them as quickly and efficiently as possible, we would succeed.  The only thing that stands in the way is public opinion.

 

And I'm sorry, but any "public" of the opinion that Iran doesn't deserve oblivion can kindly remove itself from the gene pool.

 

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.

I like this suggestion very, very much.

 

 

Prove that attacking Assad is irrational.

Barack Houssein Obama seems really eager to do it.  This is just cause for suspicion.

---

 

Yes, we could go into Syria and kill a bunch of bad guys.  We could make it clear that we're still the good guys and continue pouring billions after billions of dollars and countless lives into foriegn wars while the REAL bad guys sit right nextdoor, in their house made of bricks, and get slowly closer and closer to slaughtering whole bunches of us.

Or we could learn to freaking prioritize.

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I'm sorry; I do actually think it's feasible to invade Iran, right now

When I said it's not feasible, I meant that there is nothing we (Objectivists, classical liberals, non-religious conservatives, in general people who share a pro-American view of international affairs) can do to make it happen. The people who can make that decision currently, aren't in that camp, and aren't interested in hearing our suggestions, let alone acting on them. There is no chance in Hell any Democratic president will invade Iran right now, no matter what thinking, America loving people say or do. And the President is Democratic. So that makes it about as unfeasible as it gets.

On the other hand, rational voices supporting an intervention in Syria would probably make it happen in the coming weeks.

That's why the options for us, or any rational voice in the US, are "a Syrian intervention" or "nothing".

Yes, we could go into Syria and kill a bunch of bad guys.  We could make it clear that we're still the good guys and continue pouring billions after billions of dollars and countless lives into foriegn wars while the REAL bad guys sit right nextdoor, in their house made of bricks, and get slowly closer and closer to slaughtering whole bunches of us.

Or we could learn to freaking prioritize.

If you really believe there's someone in a brick house next door waiting to slaughter you, you should either run or kill him.

Otherwise, add some [hyperbole] tags around your posts, so they don't show up on my browser anymore.

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Alright, Nicky; obama and his ilk aren't going to touch the real problems anytime soon. Conceded.

But that is what should be done, isn't it?

If Syria is allied with Iran and if the alternative is Syria or nothing then the logical choice is to invade. So under the circumstances that may be preferable.

But if intelligent and eloquent people support this we should make our reasoning very clear, especially that it isn't the RIGHT choice; only the least wrong one.

---

And all of this is also assuming that Syria can be fixed with minimal expense. A fair bet to make (this is a comparitively pacifistic administration; probably isn't willing to exert too much effort) but still important to note.

---

As for the three little pigs comparison, i think it's exceptionally apt. Hyperbole my chinny-chin-chin; that's an appropriate metaphor.

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The rational concept is a total prohibition of the use of chemical weapons.

 

What's so rational about a ban on the use of chemical weapons? Does it really matter whether one is killed by a chemical weapon or a bullet? I find the entire idea of banning any sort of weapons to be completely absurd. "It's ok to wage ware with each other but only with certain sorts of weapons."

Here's a link to an article by Gavin de Becker: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gavin-de-becker/syria-fooling-ourselves-into-war_b_3874266.html "The act of identifying one type of lethal weapon as being unacceptable carries with it the implicit endorsement of the other lethal weapons as acceptable."

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What's so rational about a ban on the use of chemical weapons?

As Leonid explained in one of his first posts in this thread, chemical weapons are more destructive than conventional weapons, and relatively easy to produce. They are therefor a greater threat to us, if they become anywhere near as widespread as conventional weapons.

The only thing keeping them from being widely produced is the near-universal agreement to ban them. Unless that is maintained, they will be disseminated by third world countries, on the black market, and they will become a huge threat. Much greater than IEDs or firearms.

That's why it's rational to enforce the ban. And it's why it's so stupid of Russia to stay loyal to someone who, through using chemical weapons, significantly weakened the power of a ban Russia is a self interested party to, and has thereby exposed Russians at least as much as westerners to the specter of chemical weapons attacks by terrorists.

Does it really matter whether one is killed by a chemical weapon or a bullet? I find the entire idea of banning any sort of weapons to be completely absurd.

Do you find the idea of prohibiting the civilian ownership of chemical or nuclear weapons absurd too? If so, we have threads about that, with very solid arguments against your position, and explaining why owning a firearm is a right but owning a chemical or nuclear weapon isn't.

The inter-governmental agreement on not producing chemical weapons, and of trying to restrict the proliferation of nuclear weapons, is aimed mainly at preventing the private ownership of these weapons. It's the only realistic way to prevent that. Having 200 governments around the world free to make them, and expecting that none of them sells it to private individuals, would be naive.

Edited by Nicky

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