Syria and WMDs

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Reminder that this is the person who took military action in Lybia without Congressional approval and has his finger resting on the "YOLO-SYRIA" button.

Looks like Syria has said they agree to surrendering chem weapons to an international body. The so called "Russian Initiative." This is excellent if it works out. The specifics are still TBD so it could all fall apart...

I have to give Russia credit for this one, they pulled the rug right out from underneath the US. They get to look like peaceful and intelligent solution seekers while the US government sits here looking like an aggressive a-hole that solves everything with force.

JC wrote:

Looks like Syria has said they agree to surrendering chem weapons to an international body. The so called "Russian Initiative." This is excellent if it works out. The specifics are still TBD so it could all fall apart...

I have to give Russia credit for this one, they pulled the rug right out from underneath the US. They get to look like peaceful and intelligent solution seekers while the US government sits here looking like an aggressive a-hole that solves everything with force.

Don't forget to give John Kerry credit where credit is due. His totally off the cuff response on how to avoid a conflict brought this all about!

Proof that reddit can sometimes be really great: one of the best, most cogent explanations I've ever seen of just why we're so very interested in attacking Syria.

Malor wrote:

Proof that reddit can sometimes be really great: one of the best, most cogent explanations I've ever seen of just why we're so very interested in attacking Syria.

...woah.

JC wrote:

Looks like Syria has said they agree to surrendering chem weapons to an international body. The so called "Russian Initiative." This is excellent if it works out. The specifics are still TBD so it could all fall apart...

I have to give Russia credit for this one, they pulled the rug right out from underneath the US. They get to look like peaceful and intelligent solution seekers while the US government sits here looking like an aggressive a-hole that solves everything with force.

I'm good with this. I think the sabre rattling was justifiable to some degree (even though it would've been pretty boneheaded to get involved in this conflict), but I'm glad that it sounds like we'll get this resolved diplomatically. I thought early on the administration was saying that they remained open to diplomatic alternatives to military action?

Demosthenes wrote:
Malor wrote:

Proof that reddit can sometimes be really great: one of the best, most cogent explanations I've ever seen of just why we're so very interested in attacking Syria.

...woah.

That's interesting stuff. Not surprised a good portion of the US interest in the conflict is either due to Russia or energy.

shoptroll wrote:

That's interesting stuff. Not surprised a good portion of the US interest in the conflict is either due to Russia or energy.

Speaking of Russia, guess who was in the Times today?

Sigh. It's a shame when the transparent attempt at manipulation by the other side makes more sense than the transparent attempt at manipulation by my side.

I know he's just arguing that stuff because he finds it convenient, not because he believes a word of it, but still.

Malor wrote:

Sigh. It's a shame when the transparent attempt at manipulation by the other side makes more sense than the transparent attempt at manipulation by my side.

I know he's just arguing that stuff because he finds it convenient, not because he believes a word of it, but still.

Every single angle of this conflict is infuriating. Just infuriating. From this...

Anti-Americanism Spreads in Syrian Refugee Camps

A strong undercurrent of anti-Americanism also is] shaping young minds within the camp. Uprooted and uneducated young men sit idle, spreading rumors and videos of violence back home via social media sites -- Zaatari has its own Facebook page -- often devoid of context. Boredom and lack of education make for a potent cocktail. Kids I interviewed play a version of war, where one team is the Assad regime and the other is the FSA.

Such populations may be nurturing a new generation of angry Muslim youths who view the United States, and especially its president, as hypocritical at best, and enablers of Assad’s war crimes at worst.

“Everybody is against the Syrian people,” said a former lieutenant in the Syrian military I met in Zaatari, who defected to the opposition. He was sitting on a cot in a prefab caravan, surrounded by other Syrian men wounded in the war. “We’re giving our blood but for Obama that is not enough.”

After cursing the American president in Arabic, he continued, “Obama is ‘Hussein’ – son of Muslims. If he were a Christian he would support us. But he’s a Muslim.” He shakes his head and his eyes tear up. “It’s always Muslims against Muslims.”

To this.

Elizabeth O’Bagy has been cited by the Obama administration, Senator John McCain, and John Kerry as a key resource for their claim that the Syrian rebel forces are mostly moderates and not Sunni extremists affiliated with al-Qaeda. They’re going to have to find another source for that argument after the think tank that employs O’Bagy abruptly fired her today for faking her doctorate.

Garry Kasparov[/url]]I hope Putin has taken adequate protections. Now that he is a Russian journalist his life may be in grave danger!

If the Russian initiative works to some degree it will be good. As far as I heard bombing a few tons of Sarin "gas" can create a deadly fume cloud that can kill huge populations. It's preferable that as much as this nasty stuff is neutralized before the international community decided to act militarily against Syria.

I've listened to the news a tad this morning and and the Syrian-American (I think) guy they interviewed on Galatz have agreed that the US's influence and deterrence have been weakened. The Israeli minister of Intelligence also reiterated that Netanyahu said that "We can only trust ourselves to defend our country".

I think that Obama's foreign policy is a disaster . My brother in law thinks that the Chines and Russians want the conflict in Syria to continue because Iran is funding the Syrian weapon acquisitions with "cheap oil" .

Our condition in Israel isn't too bad considering the fact the Egyptian military is fighting our enemies in Sinai and Gaza and downsizing the Syrian weapon arsenal is generally a good thing. The main problem is that if Assad tries to do all sort of tricks like moving the weapons around there is a likely outcome that it can find it's way to terrorist of all kinds.

As I said before this is a perfect time to pressure both sides to reach some kind of cease fire. Someone has to stop the bloodshed. I read(ynet) that a Syrian woman that her child is hospitalized in Israel said that that in here town thousands of children were killed. I debated this with my brother in law weather she's exaggerating or telling the truth. He thinks that it's true and assume that the death toll is somewhere around half a million . I still have some doubts because things have been exaggerated in the past. It's hard to imagine someone witnessing the killing of 1000 children . Maybe she saw many children getting killed and guesstimated it. I'm not sure if that woman said she lost 2 children in the conflict or was it another. Still even if the numbers aren't that high the active killing of children is a serious war crime that must be stopped.

Such populations may be nurturing a new generation of angry Muslim youths who view the United States, and especially its president, as hypocritical at best, and enablers of Assad’s war crimes at worst.

“Everybody is against the Syrian people,” said a former lieutenant in the Syrian military I met in Zaatari, who defected to the opposition. He was sitting on a cot in a prefab caravan, surrounded by other Syrian men wounded in the war. “We’re giving our blood but for Obama that is not enough.”

This is especially infuriating since the U.S. refuses to help Syrian refugees.

Aetius wrote:

This is especially infuriating since the U.S. refuses to help Syrian refugees.

While that article mentions several ways in which the US is falling to help Syrians, it is disingenuous to say that the country refuses to help refugees given that that very article says that we've given a billion dollars in aid.

"The US refuses to admit Syrian refugees" would be basically accurate given the numbers and time frame involved, but given that we have opened up 2000 slots "The US is dragging their feet incredibly slow to admit a very tiny number of refugees" would be even more accurate.

Aetius wrote:

This is especially infuriating since the U.S. refuses to help Syrian refugees.

We are the single largest donor of humanitarian aid to the Syrians. As of last week, we've donated more than $1 billion to ease the humanitarian crisis and Obama just announced another $195 million of additional aid last month.

We didn't throw open the doors of America for the 2.2 million Iraqi refugees we created when we invaded, so it's not surprising that we're not doing the same for Syrians. In the ten and a half years since we broke their country, we've allowed less than 85,000 Iraqi refugees in the US.

We simply can't relocate the tens or hundreds of thousands of Syrians that would be required to ease local pressures. There would be a host of issues associated with transplanting that many Syrians to the US, not to mention the tiny security problem letting thousands and thousands of people largely bypass the traditional screening process we have immigrants go through.

It makes much more sense for us to continue what we're doing. If we really wanted to ease the humanitarian crisis, then we should put diplomatic pressure on the EU to increase the amount of aid they're providing as well as single out France--who were clamoring for military strikes--to donate a hell of a lot more than $25 million they've given so far.

Hell, Syria was a former French colony and they (along with the Brits) were the f*cking idiots who redrew the maps after the Ottoman Empire fell and helped to create this mess. They should be ponying up the bulk of the cost of humanitarian operations.

OG_slinger wrote:

If we really wanted to ease the humanitarian crisis, then we should put diplomatic pressure on the EU to increase the amount of aid they're providing as well as single out France--who were clamoring for military strikes--to donate a hell of a lot more than $25 million they've given so far.
Hell, Syria was a former French colony and they (along with the Brits) were the f*cking idiots who redrew the maps after the Ottoman Empire fell and helped to create this mess. They should be ponying up the bulk of the cost of humanitarian operations.

I take issue with that. Syria was only administered by France under a mandate for 26 years. And putting the entire conflict on our heads is really unfair. This conflict is a lot more complicated than maps being redrawn, it's a civil war.
As you pointed out, we did donate, and 25 million is quite a bit. France is a small country, the economy isn't as verdant as you might think. Picking on France seems really, really unfair. And as I'd already stated in my previous post in this thread, the only ones clamoring for a military intervention are the President and his party. The rest of us aren't so keen on intervening, and it's becoming increasingly clear that that's the majority of us.

Eleima wrote:

I take issue with that. Syria was only administered by France under a mandate for 26 years. And putting the entire conflict on our heads is really unfair. This conflict is a lot more complicated than maps being redrawn, it's a civil war.
As you pointed out, we did donate, and 25 million is quite a bit. France is a small country, the economy isn't as verdant as you might think. Picking on France seems really, really unfair. And as I'd already stated in my previous post in this thread, the only ones clamoring for a military intervention are the President and his party. The rest of us aren't so keen on intervening, and it's becoming increasingly clear that that's the majority of us.

It wasn't just the maps, Eleima.

During those 26 years the French administrators encouraged the Alawites, who were mistreated by the Ottoman Empire and the majority Sunni Muslims, to join their occupying force because they had problems pacifying the rest of the Syrian population. That predominantly Alawite paramilitary force became the Syrian Army when Syria broke free from France's control after World War II. And it was through a series of military coups in the 60s that the Assad family--also Alawite--gained control of Syria.

That means there's a pretty danged straight line from the Syrian civil war to France.

And $25 million is an absolute joke. The Brits have a slightly smaller economy ($2.4 trillion vs $2.6 trillion for France) and they've donated more than $200 million.

Niseg wrote:

We have quiet a few Eritrean and Sudanese "refuges" in Israel but they have problems getting a legal status from the government which generally tries to get them back to their countries. Some of them say "if my government find out I lived in Israel they'll kill me" - so why did they got in in the first place?!

I'm guessing they got in because they were desperate to grasp at any chance to get away from the fighting, and were hoping against hope that they wouldn't be thrown out until their government was overthrown.

Eleima wrote:

That's seems pretty unfair and a partial truth at best. It's like saying the problems Afghanistan is facing taking are entirely the US' fault, because they armed the Talibans against the Soviets and then the Iranians. It may be a factor, but it's a lot more complicated than that.

The problems of Afghanistan (and now Iraq) are the largely the fault of the US. It's more than that. Our actions in Afghanistan in the 70s and 80s flow directly to 9/11 and the war on terror. A very good argument could be made that America helped to cause 9/11.

We didn't arm the Taliban. We armed the Mujahideen, the very first modern extreme Islamist group. It is almost certain that the Mujahideen would have been wiped out by the Soviets had we not armed them, meaning the idea that there was a global struggle of Muslims against non-Muslims would have largely died out in Afghanistan. At the very least, it would not have risen to prominence.

Instead, arming the Mujahideen gave them a victory and a rallying point.

Booting out the Soviets also caused a massive power vacuum in Afghanistan. But we didn't give a sh*t. We got what we wanted: a public humiliation for the Soviets. So the result of American completely abandoning a bunch of warlords who we had just armed to the teeth was about a decade of civil war.

Making things even worse, America had channeled all the arms, money, and training it gave the Mujahideen through the Pakistani intelligence service. After we left, the Pakistanis kept things going as a way to have some level of influence over the chaos that was happening inside Afghanistan. That Pakistani support lead to the Taliban, that lead to the Taliban taking over all of Afghanistan, and that lead to the Taliban letting in their partners in the global jihad--AQ-- and setting up some training camps.

From there it's a straight line to 9/11.

This is why the best bet is almost always to never get involved in someone else's conflict. You don't know the players. You don't know their history. You're viewing the situation through your own biases and with only your own political desires in mind.

And you always make some decision that seems makes perfect sense at the time--completely abandoning the mujahideen after the Soviets left or tapping the Alawites to supplement the strength of your occupying army--that comes back to bite you in the ass years later.

Eleima wrote:

As for the 25 million number you cite, that's exclusively the amount that has been donate via the EU. I wonder how much has been donated unilaterally? Do all the efforts put in by Médecins Sans Frontières, a French humanitarian-aid non-governmental organization count? I admit I don't have the answers, I'm searching for numbers, but coming up short.

I'm not usually one to be chauvinistic, be it for France or the US, but it seems rather unfair to have an country's entire population bear the entire responsibility for this terrible situation.

I've yet to find any evidence that France has donated any money to Syria outside what it gave through the European Commission. In fact, I doubt there is any because the entire idea behind the aid was to pool it together so it could be used most effectively.

No, the efforts of MSF doesn't count because all the money collected is being channelled through aid groups and NGOs like them. Hell, part of my monthly donation to Doctors Without Borders is likely ending up in some Syrian refugee camp.

And I never said that France bear the entire responsibility for Syria. A lot, to be sure, but not all. Certainly way, way more than what it has given so far.

And yet, I need to ask (because I honestly don't know) would the American Revolution had succeeded without French support? Based on simple google-fu, my knee-jerk answer is "no, we would not have defeated the British". I wonder how much that influences American thinking in dealing with international situations.

I take that hypothetical one further, what if some power gave military support to help the South escape from "Northern oppression"?

That's seems pretty unfair and a partial truth at best. It's like saying the problems Afghanistan is facing taking are entirely the US' fault, because they armed the Talibans against the Soviets and then the Iranians. It may be a factor, but it's a lot more complicated than that.
As for the 25 million number you cite, that's exclusively the amount that has been donate via the EU. I wonder how much has been donated unilaterally? Do all the efforts put in by Médecins Sans Frontières, a French humanitarian-aid non-governmental organization count? I admit I don't have the answers, I'm searching for numbers, but coming up short.
I'm not usually one to be chauvinistic, be it for France or the US, but it seems rather unfair to have an country's entire population bear the entire responsibility for this terrible situation.

Yonder wrote:

I take that hypothetical one further, what if some power gave military support to help the South escape from "Northern oppression"?

= End of the American Democratic Experiment.

Nevin73 wrote:

And yet, I need to ask (because I honestly don't know) would the American Revolution had succeeded without French support? Based on simple google-fu, my knee-jerk answer is "no, we would not have defeated the British". I wonder how much that influences American thinking in dealing with international situations.

How many Tea Partiers in Congress do you think actually know that the French were even involved the American Revolution? It's exceptionally difficult to believe that the little-known French support during the Revolution would have that much impact on our foreign policy more than 200 years later.

Also, the British weren't exactly in peak fighting condition at the time. The country was essentially broke from the Seven Years' War and you're talking about them successfully prosecuting a war with a 3,500 mile long supply and communication line that took a minimum of three months to travel one way.

Given that the Brits have only been able to hang on to a tiny bit of their once massive empire, I'd say the odds were exceptionally poor that the American Revolution would have failed. It might not have happened in 1776, but it would have happened at some point.

And while we're asking hypothetical questions, here's one for the law of unintended consequences file: would we have even rebelled then if the Crown hadn't taxed us to help pay down the massive debt it racked up during the Seven Years' War?

OG_Slinger wrote:

And while we're asking hypothetical questions, here's one for the law of unintended consequences file: would we have even rebelled then if the Crown hadn't taxed us to help pay down the massive debt it racked up during the Seven Years' War?

I think they eventually would have begun taxing the colonies regardless. That was just the backdrop. As the colonies became more economically viable, they resorted more to smuggling to lower the cost of goods, and since the British trade was controlled largely by quasi-government companies, that smuggling hit the Crown in it's purse. It was a huge problem in Britain, and it spread to the colonies, and if the Seven Years War had not happened, something else eventually would have kicked off protectionism and thus colonial taxation.

What's interesting is that they dropped colonial taxation with the Conciliatory Acts and yet the revolution continued. In a lot of ways, the American Revolution was organized and led by business leaders who had a lot to lose if the Crown started to extract serious cash from the colonies. Many of them went on to extract serious cash from the new government themselves...

Paleocon wrote:

= End of the American Democratic Experiment.

You're talking like that didn't already happen. A new civil war would just be formalizing a defacto truth.

Admitting refugees is always a problem. some claim that a refugee can be considered a refugee if they cross over into a bordering country but not 2. We have quiet a few Eritrean and Sudanese "refuges" in Israel but they have problems getting a legal status from the government which generally tries to get them back to their countries. Some of them say "if my government find out I lived in Israel they'll kill me" - so why did they got in in the first place?!

Israel generally doesn't accept many Syrian refugees I only heard about Druze from southern who wanted to move to the Israeli side of the Gollan Heights . It's only about a thousand or two. Israel also treat people who were moderately or seriously wounded in the war. They Syrians are not thrilled to come to Israel because they were educated we are "evil". After the wounded are treated they are generally sent back into Syria. They might not want to leave but that's the current policy.

I heard figures of 1/6 of the Syrian population are refuges - that's about 3 million people. I'm not sure what the "per refugee" cost. I've read in Ynet(original source CNN) that the Refugees in Syria pay 100$ per month for a 3x3m tent and they fund it by sending their children to work in agriculture for 1$ per day. I'm not sure how well the ones in Turkey or Jordan are doing.

The problem these days is that most western governments are in serious debt and their ability to fund all sort of refugee funds is more limited than in the past. The Syrian are fairly skilled and educated as far as I understood so they can probably do well in western countries. Syria is also considered a secular state but its regime supports terrorism. Admitting Syrian refugees might be a security risk but the general population is probably not too hostile to the west.

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