A Few Friday Syria Links

Update:  Obama’s decided the U.S. should take military action in Syria, and will seek Congressional approval.

Adam Garfinkle at the American Interest: ‘Painted Into A Corner, Obama Ponders Cosmetic Strikes:’

‘If the Obama Administration really sees a need to degrade and deter the Syrian regime, if it’s not just mumbling speechwriter-quality bullshit for press consumption, it’s got to order up some really serious violence to bend the will of those who are consummate connoisseurs of it. If it’s not prepared to do that, and to risk the consequences that entails, it should shut up and stand down.’

These guys are ready to fight.

From a Ryan Crocker interview at Defense One:

“I was ambassador there for three years during the time when the old man [Hafez al Assad] died, Bashar took over. They have been getting ready for this type of thing for three decades, ever since the Hama massacre in February ’82,” Crocker said. He was in neighboring Lebanon during the massacre.

“They finished off the Muslim Brothers, maybe 100 of them and they killed up to 10,000-15,000 innocent city civilians in the process. It was pretty horrific,” he recalled. “So, they’ve known that the day of vengeance might come and they’re ready for it. They’ve built a security apparatus, an intelligence apparatus, a military just to be ready for what they’re facing now.  And they know they’re in a fight for their lives so they’re going to stick together and I’d say they have a better than even chance of prevailing.”

Many years ago, now, Charles Hill to some extent, and Fouad Ajami more so, argued for some action in Syria, as part of a larger strategic vision, a bolder, Trumanesque step that would define a new age of American influence (addition: or at least maintain our influence.  We are signaling to the world that we are no longer leading and pursuing our interests, supporting freedom as we understand and want to see it, and we probably won’t like the world we’ll see).  Agree or disagree, they’ve got some things right:

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A quote from Hill’s forward to Ajami’s new book on Syria as discussed in the video:

“[The] greatest strategic challenge of the twenty-first century is involves “reversing Islamic radicalism”‘

What is our mission here?  What is the larger strategy?

Related On This Site: …From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’James Kirchik At The American Interest: 

Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient:  “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”.  It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire

I just received a copy of Totten’s book, Where The West Ends, and it’s good reading.

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’

Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us, and the safety of even the liberal internationalist doctrine if America doesn’t lead…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Best Case Scenario in Syria’

Full piece here.

You know, there may have been a chance of avoiding such a region-destabilizing Civil War, but that moment, should there have been such a moment, has long passed:

‘As the White House repeated this Monday, the conflict in Syria will only end with a political solution. In other words, the United States should use the leverage it has, in the form of continued pressure and looming military strikes, to help get all sides to the table.’

Could a bomb Saddam-like campaign work?

Joshua Landis at Syria Comment disagrees:

The US, however, should avoid getting sucked into the Syrian Civil War. Thus, it should punish Assad with enough force to deter future use of chemical weapons, but without using so much force that it gets drawn into an open-ended conflict’

But his solution strikes me as the same kind of liberal internationalist, U.N. one worlderish-type thinking that helped get us to this point:

‘The US should strive to persuade all parties to reach a power-sharing agreement to end the war. This can only happen with the cooperation of Russia and other players, such as Iran.’

That’s good for a laugh.  We kept a lid on the region.  We were the muscle, and now the Saudis, partially due to fracking, partially due to our withdrawal from the region without plans for our replacement, are turning to Moscow.  With so many players, including Iran and Russia fighting a proxy war Syria, this sounds pretty unworkable.

This is also why John Kerry’s appeal as to the moral awfulness of chemical weapons, and the need to draw a ‘red line’ and call others to action, while reasonable and historically accurate, still rings so hollow.  Geneva conventions do not a peaceful world make:

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Are we still the world’s policeman?  Stay tuned.

Addition: Ramesh Ponnuru at the National Review, dissents:

‘This is not a military action that we are undertaking to defend ourselves from attack or to protect a core interest. The congressional power to declare war, if it is not to be a dead letter, has to apply here. And it seems to me exceedingly unlikely that Congress would vote to commit us in Syria, because the public manifestly opposes it. This is a war with no clear objective, thus no strategy to attain it, no legal basis, and no public support. I dissent.’

Related On This Site: …From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’James Kirchik At The American Interest: 

Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient:  “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”.  It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire

I just received a copy of Totten’s book, Where The West Ends, and it’s good reading.

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’

Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us, and the safety of even the liberal internationalist doctrine if America doesn’t lead…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Michael Totten At The City Journal: ‘The Friend Of My Enemy Is My Enemy’

Full piece here.

‘It’s hard enough for Americans to find goodwill in the Arab world, but it isn’t impossible.  None of the people I spoke to in Beirut who groused about Washington’s perceived support for Assad are anti-American.  I’ve known some of them for almost a decade.  All are political liberals who more or less share our values, which largely explains why they oppose the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis in the first place.  There is no upside to alienating these people.

Joshua Landis’ blog here.

Al Jazeera live blog on Syria here.

Interesting paper here.

Related On This SiteUpdate And Repost: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

Too late to act with lower risk and more gain? Ralph Peters At The NY Post: ‘Too Late For Syria’

From Michael Totten: ‘The Syrian War Gets Even Uglier’

Niall Ferguson At The Daily Beast: ‘China Should Intervene in Syria, Not America’

Full piece here.

Ferguson:

Under President Obama, U.S. grand strategy has been at best incoherent, at worst nonexistent. I can think of no better complement to the president’s recent “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region than to invite China to play a greater role in the Middle East—one that is commensurate with its newfound wealth and growing military capability

I can see a benefit in trying to entice China into international action, especially its military capabilities with regard to Syria, as there is wisdom in getting them to bear some cost of their heavy oil consumption and in getting them involved in a broader security partnership with international players.  However, I could also see danger as many interests in China don’t really see themselves aligned with Western interests at all (Russia’s pushing the envelope in Syria now).  The Western moral and/or human rights reasoning which favors Syrian intervention would probably not be primary for China, and such interaction could lead to power plays on a bigger chessboard, with Syria as a pawn, and a potential for greater conflict.

We might not like what we would get.

Related On This Site: Over a billion people and a culturally homogenous Han core.  Rapid industrialization atop an ancient civilization.  There is state-sponsored hacking and espionage, a good bit of corruption and a lot of young men floating around fast-growing cities.   There are people fighting for their freedoms, better laws, and making their way forward.  There is an often lawless, ruthless capitalism (and hefty State involvement and cronyism) and it will take smart leadership to maintain steady growth. Can they do it?  TED Via Youtube: Martin Jacques ‘Understanding The Rise Of China’From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Geography Of Chinese Power’From Via Media At The American Interest: ‘History Made; Media Blind’From The New Perspectives Quarterly: Francis Fukuyama’s ‘Is America Ready for a Post-American World?’Repost-From The American Interest Online: Niall Ferguson on ‘What Chimerica Hath Wrought’

Have you downloaded the apps…and the concepts of Enlightenment and post Enlightenment liberty that can lead to runtime errors and fiscal failure? Sachs and Niall Ferguson duke it out: CNN-Fareed Zakaria Via Youtube: ‘Jeff Sachs and Niall Ferguson’

Thursday Quotation: Jeane Kirkpatrick – J.S. MillFrom Foreign Affairs-’Former Syrian General Akil Hashem on the Uprising in Syria’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’

 Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are…upon a Kantian raft of perpetual peace?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

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