Sunday, September 1, 2013

Syriana Part III: So Now What?

So, the question naturally arises "So Larry What do we do?"

Well as I said before its naturally not relevant in the discussion of political policy

(link here)

I don't usually post the Guardian but occasionally have a good starting point for a discussion.

Syria, Lebanon, "Palestine", Israel, and Jordan are ideas invented by men in Paris and London. The three Islamic states lack any natural unity other then the idea of "Oh well, I guess we are a country now"

In the 1990s we saw (Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia) some of the collapse of the same artificial nations.

These collapses occurred after the end of a strong autocratic regime and the rise of Democratic Forces

Does that sound familiar? This combined with economic reforms in Syria leads to political instability. The economic declines also lead to Assad having less ability to offer price subsidies to his people (something that we are seeing in Iran and Egypt and related political instability.)

We have peoples united in a country lacking a charismatic political cult leader, lacking economic means to hold the country together, and lacking common cultural, political or religious ties we have the baking for a civil war. We have networks in Syria designed to destroy Iraq's government, now being turned on Syria. We have other networks in Syria designed to destroy the governments of Lebanon and Israel acting to preserve Syria by any means necessary (at the behest of their Iranian Masters).

Order needs to be restored to Syria. And I don't mean just a new government. If we look at Afghanistan we see a fundamentally disordered country. A country where town to town or region to region the enforcement of law and public safety may be radically different.

Trade, Civil Society, and the basic functions of a state are impossible without that level of order. So any action that does not promote order merely exacerbates the existing problems in Syria.

And their is only one actor (The US) who can play that role without causing problems in the region. But that would mean the President would have to affirm the power of the US state abroad to do good in all of its "Terrible Swift Sword" Glory. He would have to acknowledge that when one is President you need to play a game of decades.

So the moral political action is to Occupy Syria: because anything else will only continue the progression of violence. While occupying Syria is not a guarantee to end the violence and implosion of the Syrian regime (and its destabilizing their neighbors) but the alternative only guarantees implosion.

If we can stop Syria from leading to a war across Kurdistan (and a war to create an independent Kurdish State) we will be doing ourselves and our children a service.

If we can stop Syria from making Jordan (one of the most western like states in the region) a failed state we will be doing ourselves and our children a service.

But lets not have a false moral bravado "We blew up some facilities that the Assad Regime moved their weapons out of. That sure showed them."

If you want to use statecraft to promote morality, then by all means do it. Just don't lie to us.

Syriana Part II

In Part I I concluded that it was not only unreasonable but unlikely to assume anyone other then Assad gassed these people: So now what?

Well The Assad Regime has been an international criminal since the beginning of Papa Hafez's rule. Obama won't get the UN to approve a use of force against Syria (because of protection of Syria by China and Russia and the Bejing-Moscow consensus allied states). Key allies are backing out (so use of force by Nato is out)and there is no footing in US Law for the President to act. The President will wait for Congress to vote, but if Congress denies him he has expressed his desire to act without Congressional Approval.

Obama has a much simpler way to accomplish his goals The International Criminal Court. Syria like the US signed the treaty but never ratified it. And while that sets a very dangerous precedent lets pause for a moment and look at the broader issues.

Here is a taste of some of his crimes in Lebanon, which Pre-Date the Syrian Civil War. Rumors of the Assad regime assasinating Prime Minister Hariri are others. If the President places before the bar of the International Criminal Court these and other crimes of the Assad Regime he builds the political base of support to use force to Stabilize Syria (which I will be getting into in my third post).

We have a series of crimes against humanity, crimes against other countries, but the President does not make the case for them. Why?

The answer is very simple: The rebels winning leads to a furthering of a civil war (like their neighbor Lebanon). If Assad wins it leads to a Somalia like collapse and a civil war like Somalia/Lebanon. Thats because Syria is a actively failing state, the Civil War is only speeding that process along. Removing Assad or keeping Assad leads to no positive policy outcome for Syria or the United States. Removing Assad or Keeping Assad will not lead to a more stable Syrian regime which will be better for the Syrian people.

The truth is a force needs to occupy Lebanon to solve the problems and put the country back on the straight and narrow. But Obama ended the US Occupation of two countries (for Valid US Policy reasons), Removed a regime in another country (for invalid US policy reasons) and refused to occupy it (which has lead to further instability in Libya.). So the US Policy of Obama is a policy that's Anti-Imperial and Anti-Occupation, even if Occupation is the only way to achieve coherent and valid policy goals. But Obama feels a political need to do something.

So because we must do something, we will do something ineffective and inefficent. What should we do? That will be in Part III

Syriana Part I

A lot of talk has been going on about the events of the Syrian Civil War, and the problem is that its -Talk-. But when policy comes before the American People to a certain extent what talk came before is irrelevant to the bigger point: "What do we do now?"

So I want to start with my thoughts on the current mess in Syria and the approach of American Government Policy.

Who Gassed Who

The United States government lacks the Humanint to give us a good picture on whats going on in the Syrian Regime, and we don't have the humanint to give us a good picture of whats happening in the Syrian Polity. What we can do is take readily available facts and make reasonable deductions.


NTI: Chemical Weapons Profile, Syria

NTI: Biological Weapons Profile, Syria

NTI: Nuclear Weapons Profile, Syria

NTI is a very good resource on publicly available data on Non-conventional weapons. I highly recommend looking at it.

Syria has used brutal means against Islamists in the past

While I mock the Mustache of Understanding, Thomas Friedman, he did a great job in detailing a fact of the prior Assad Regime.

In February 1982," Friedman wrote in his book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, "President Assad decided to end his Hama problem once and for all. With his sad eyes and ironic grin, Assad always looked to me like a man who had long ago been stripped of any illusions about human nature. Since fully taking power in 1970, he has managed to rule Syria longer than any man in the post-World War II era. He has done so by always playing by his own rules. His own rules, I discovered, were Hama Rules."

On Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 1 a.m., the assault on Hama, a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold, began. It was a cold, drizzly night. The city turned into a scene of civil war as Muslim Brotherhood gunmen immediately responded to the attack. When close-quarter combat looked to disadvantage the Syrian forces of Rifaat Assad, he turned tanks loose on Hama, and over the next several weeks, large parts of the city were demolished and thousands executed or killed in the battles. "When I drove into Hama at the end of May," Friedman wrote, "I found three areas of the city that had been totally flattened--each the size of four football fields and covered with the yellowish tint of crushed concrete."

In the Hama Massacre some 20,000 people were brutally murdered by the Syrian government. The young officers in the Syrian Military who took part in this crime against humanity are now the Generals and Colonels in the Syrian Army. These are men who understand that "total war" is the only way to preserve Arab Socialism from Islamism. The younger President Assad transitioned into power on the backs of the support of these very loyalists of his father. And when the Muslim Brotherhood takes down Egypt and their ideological Kin are there... these are men who would give the order to gas their own people based on prior conduct.

If the Rebels did the gassing we have much more troubling questions we need to ask ourselves.

If the rebels got the gas that means they got it from a formerly loyal member of the Assad Regime, or the Assad Regime is hiding the extent of its powerlessness. If they stole the Gas who educated them on how to use it? Any other means for the rebels to get the gas is suggestive of a conspiracy that is to silly to contemplate in a serious discussion. And the fact the rebels would not only have to seize the gas they would also have to have proper training in its use. While it is POSSIBLE they have the gas, here is a better question: Why would they gas civilians in areas loyal to them? While a rifle bullet has less probability of killing then Sarin, it has the ability to kill exactly who you want it to kill. Killing their own people to make Assad look bad is a Xanatos Gambit that has a POSSIBILITY of working but a probability of making you look foolish.

So: While we do not have Assad going to a General saying "Its Sarin time" we know that his officers are men who will go to any extent to preserve their power, and they do have the weapons. And the only other possible party to have the gas may lack means and lacks reasonable motive.

So Syria and the Assad Regime Gassed people: So now what? (*continued in Part II)