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Friday, August 30, 2013

Will Obama go it alone in Syria?

In a close vote on Thursday night, Britain's parliament rejected participation in an attack on Syria.
After a marathon eight-hour debate, Cameron lost a vote that was initially seen as a symbolic motion setting up a final vote in the days ahead authorizing force against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime for allegedly using chemical weapons. But the surprise loss of even the weaker piece of legislation — by a vote of 285 to 272, including a group of rebels from Cameron’s Conservative Party in opposition — appeared to cost the United States its centerpiece ally in a still-forming coalition. The rejection additionally signaled what analysts called the biggest rupture in the U.S.-British “special relationship” since the 1982 Falklands war.
Technically, Cameron could still authorize military strikes over the objection of Parliament, but top government officials — including the prime minister himself — indicated that was not an option following Thursday’s defeat.
“It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action,” Cameron said after losing the vote. “I get that, and the government will act accordingly.”
The Brits are gun-shy after Iraq. For now, at least, the Americans are saying that the operation is still on.
The outcome of the U.K. vote could make it more difficult for President Barack Obama and other Western allies—already weary from years of difficult military intervention in the Middle East—to convince their own publics of the need for intervention in Syria.
Mr. Cameron's defense secretary, Philip Hammond, said the U.S. "will be disappointed that Britain won't be involved." Mr. Hammond, speaking in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp., said he still expected other countries to continue to look at a response.
The setback also raises questions about Mr. Cameron's authority. The prime minister, who wasn't required to hold a parliamentary vote but chose to, had personally laid out his case at length to parliament earlier in the day about why military action was needed and why it would be justified, citing humanitarian grounds and the need to prevent the use of chemical weapons in the future.
U.S. officials said Mr. Obama is prepared to act in coming days without Britain. They added that unlike U.S. involvement in the 2011 military operations in Libya, the options being considered in Syria are on a smaller scale and wouldn't require a coalition to be effective.
But the US security establishment is getting cold feet as well. 
Former and current officers, many with the painful lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan on their minds, said the main reservations concern the potential unintended consequences of launching cruise missiles against Syria.
Some questioned the use of military force as a punitive measure and suggested that the White House lacks a coherent strategy. If the administration is ambivalent about the wisdom of defeating or crippling the Syrian leader, possibly setting the stage for Damascus to fall to fundamentalist rebels, they said, the military objective of strikes on Assad’s military targets is at best ambiguous.
“There’s a broad naivete in the political class about America’s obligations in foreign policy issues, and scary simplicity about the effects that employing American military power can achieve,” said retired Lt. Gen. Gregory S. Newbold, who served as director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the run-up to the Iraq war, noting that many of his contemporaries are alarmed by the plan. 
The potential consequences of a U.S. strike include a retaliatory attack by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah — which supports Assad — on Israel, as well as cyberattacks on U.S. targets and infrastructure, U.S. military officials said.
“What is the political end state we’re trying to achieve?” said a retired senior officer involved in Middle East operational planning who said his concerns are widely shared by active-duty military leaders. “I don’t know what it is. We say it’s not regime change. If it’s punishment, there are other ways to punish.” The former senior officer said that those who are expressing alarm at the risks inherent in the plan “are not being heard other than in a pro-forma manner.”
The problem is that given Obama's foolish statement about 'red lines' - not to mention the ongoing discussion of this action for the past week, backing off now could erode whatever credibility Obama (and the United States) have left in the Middle East.
An Army lieutenant colonel said the White House has only bad options but should resist the urge to abort the plan now.
“When a president draws a red line, for better or worse, it’s policy,” he said, referring to Obama’s declaration last year about Syria’s potential use of chemical weapons. “It cannot appear to be scared or tepid. Remember, with respect to policy choices concerning Syria, we are discussing degrees of bad and worse.”
That's because America has a President who's a fool, particularly when it comes to foreign policy.

What could go wrong? 

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At 12:07 PM, Blogger Smijj said...

Democracy at work for you.

With the Argentines crying about the Falklands again and the Spanish crying over Gibraltar again, they possiblely don't dont want to spread our forces too thin.

More probable is that, as you said, Iraq has made us wary of a prolonged conflict. But with a smaller defense budget do we run the risk of being caught out in defending British overseas territorys.

Sad as it sounds, the longer this plays out their are fewer extremists targeting Israel. And you seem to be informed on possible Hezbollah weapons shipments so you can take the out before they come your way. Problem is the cost is paid by the Syrian people.

At 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm worried about Obama making this decision. Where are the psychiatrists on this? The man has evinced quite a bizarre psychological profile, demonstrated by many of his statements and actions since taking office.


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