War on Syria: Twenty Pounds of Stupid in a Ten-Pound Bag

27/08/2013 15:35

Source TruthOut

A front line, where rebels have made slow gains against the entrenched Syrian Army, in Aleppo, Syria, Dec. 12, 2012. (Photo: Tyler Hicks / The New York Times)

I'm just going to throw this out on the stoop and see if the cat licks it up: instead of attacking Syria, how about we don't attack Syria?

Crazy, I know; this is America, after all, and our presidents like nothing more than to flip a few cruise missiles at other countries, combined with a few bombing sorties for good measure, because it's a hell of a lot easier than actual statecraft. Besides, it looks good on television, and all those meanies in Congress can't accuse the Commander in Chief of not doing anything. Oh, also, cruise missiles and bombs cost a lot, so if we pull the trigger on Syria, someone will get paid handsomely.

What ho, this we call "diplomacy," right? Flatten a few buildings, blow some children sideways out of their kitchens during breakfast, take a victory lap on the Sunday morning talk shows...what could possibly go wrong?

Quite a bit, as it turns out.

Once again, it is weapons of mass destruction at the crux of the matter. Unlike our Iraq debacle, however, there seems to be a fairly impressive body of evidence to suggest that chemical weapons were used in Syria. Doctors Without Borders seems pretty convinced it happened, despite the fact that the use of such weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense, given the fickle nature of chemical weapons and how closely concentrated his own forces were near the area of the attack. A rogue military commander, perhaps? The rebels themselves?

The answer to whether or not a chemical attack took place will soon be forthcoming, as UN inspectors have arrived at the scene to investigate after being greeted with sniper fire. If it is established that the Syrian government did this, enormous pressure will be brought to bear on President Obama to "punish" the Assad regime with a military attack of some kind.

The short version of why such a course of action is an invitation to catastrophe: Syria is no paper tiger, and is very much capable of both defending itself as well as attacking American interests in the region if provoked. Syria and Iran are strategic allies and are pledged to each other's mutual defense, which means all the Iranian missile sites in the mountains above the Persian Gulf coast could launch their missiles in retaliation...and those Iranian missiles, by the by, are advanced enough to spoof Aegis radar systems, which means thousands of American service members currently manning our warships in the Gulf could very quickly be delivered into a watery grave. Russia is also a staunch ally of Syria, and could also be provoked into getting involved by backing Assad even more forcefully than they have to date.

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