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Why the 51 US State Dept. officals are wrong to bomb Syria

June 23, 2016

This is a follow up to my previous post on this subject. That link  contains links to the original sources including the text of the actual “dissent-channel” letter from US State Dept. officials, urging direct attack of the Assad government/regime of Syria by the US.

The argument of why this group of analysts is dead wrong is below:

1. To begin with, the exact nature of the so-called moderate anti-regime forces in Syria is an uncertain matter. The one shining example are the Kurds, but they have no interest in going past their geographic limits, as stated by the letter itself (p.3). As the letter makes explicit and clear, the moderates who are to receive the benefit of proposed US action here are NOT the Kurds, but instead the motley crew consisting of a more dubious mix of backgrounds. Although not ISIS, these are far from being proponents of european style democracy. There have been repeated attempts to pass AQ affiliates such as Nusra off as part of the “moderate” group over the past few years as well, and the official narrative from the State Dept. on this subject has often left out inconvenient details. It is with very shaky credibility (trustworthiness) that this group of analysts in the State Dept. makes claims about the good nature of the anti-regime forces they support.

In the remainder of this post, I will give the authors of the letter the benefit of the doubt, that the moderates really are moderate in terms of the future outcome they want to bring about.

But first a quick final word on the subject of moderates. One would expect that some of them are mercenaries, as they are almost certainly employed in significant numbers by all sides. Insofar as the group referred to as the moderates contains mercenaries, they could reasonably be expected to behave themselves, and perhaps even restrain their less disciplined native comrades. However consider the situation once their task is complete: The well behaved professional members of the group depart, leaving who, exactly? Keep this in mind for section 7 below.

2. Syrian moderates have in the past made alliances of convenience with extremists, or been readily subjugated by extremists when moderates and extremists have come in direct contact.

3. Syrian moderates had as their goal the overthrow of Assad, hence the armed conflict. More recently some attempts at compromise were forced on both sides, with imperfect results.

4. Syrian moderates had the backing of other regional powers who have also, in the recent past, unequivocally called for the overthrow of Assad. Hence the conflict. More recently some attempts at compromise were forced on both sides, with imperfect results.

5. In addition to the moderates, extremists are also unquestionably present. Although ISIS is on the back foot, it seems foolish to assume they are on the way to being defeated – the same was said of AQ, various Iraqi and Afghan forces, etc.

6. Disarming the government with the putative reason of helping the moderates will also, at the same time, disarm the government in its ability to fight extremists.

7. Therefore support for the moderates can be expected to have the immediate result, by default, of shifting balance of power in favor of extremists. A vision of a Syria controlled by moderates raises some major doubts.

8. This would make sense if and only if the US were willing to then step in and take the place of the Syrians and the Russians etc on the ground and fight the extremists who would be empowered once the Regime is weakened. Going in on the ground to fight extremists is something the US and its european allies proved we have no appetite for in Libya, nor even in Iraq. It is important to remember that the moderates have not had good success fighting the extremists, again with the exception of the Kurds forces, who are not the subject of this discussion as explained earlier.

9. Moreover, if the the US disarms Assad, rather than a neatly executed balance of power and even handed peace negotiation, the current enforcers of the balance, Russia, would most likely simply leave, to hang the resulting mess around the necks of the US planners. It is truly astounding that the authors of the letter do not forsee this.

10. All of this, excluding Russia and the Kurds, is quite similar to happened in Libya. There the UN mandate was NOT the overthrow of Quadaffi, but rather to bring about conditions for a negotiated settlement (as proposed by the letter). The result bore absolutely no similarity to what was proposed.

11. In Libya, by disarming Qadaffi, the extremists were positively empowered to take over the country. Neither Peace nor Stability, nor the reduction of the influence of armed groups was achieved.

12. In Libya, the cure was far worse than the disease.

13. In terms of the legality of US action specifically, in Libya, there was at least some mandate by the UNSC (UNSC 1973), though insofar as the US made an active effort at regime change by arming the opposition, that mandate was exceeded.

14. In Syria, there is no such mandate for anti-regime forces to intervene at all, and there is not likely to be one. So, in addition to being hopelessly counterproductive, US Actions would also be somewhat illegal.

15. In light of the lessons learned from Iraq and Libya, the proposed US action of the type described can only be described as either extremely ignorant, or is being put forward in bad faith.

16. We have learned from the Iraq experience that the stupid-or-evil question does not really need to be answered. what we need to do is refrain from carrying out the actions in question.


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