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Author Topic: US warships near Syrian waters  (Read 8991 times)

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Offline SkynetTopic starter

US warships near Syrian waters
« on: August 26, 2013, 10:02:34 PM »
News article.

In recent days the Obama administration has been deliberating on action to take towards Syria.  Reason for involvement indicates that the Assad-led government is using chemical weapons in the civil war.

I'm personally apprehensive about getting involved in yet another war.  We pulled out of Iraq recently, and we still have troops in Afghanistan.  In Iraq we were led to war under similar reasoning: that Saddam was a tyrant who was unchecked, that he had dangerous weapons of mass destruction.  The latter was untrue, and we ended up with a costly 10 year battle with nothing to show for it but billions of dollars wasted away and too many dead soldiers.

I think that Assad is a terrible person and that the rebels have just reasons for opposing him, but I'm very wary of my country rushing in full-bore into what may yet be another disaster for both us and them.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2013, 11:23:49 PM »
Realistically..

We don't have the manpower to do it long term alone.

We go in as part of a nato and/or UN group, it's doable. We've screwed ourselves with BRAC and downsizing.

Personally? I don't think we should do it alone. Coalition or stay the fuck out. We need to rebuild our standing with our allies and rivals.

Offline Florence

Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2013, 11:27:47 PM »
I'm still heavily on the fence. I don't claim to be a military, strategic or diplomatic expert, so I can't really say I understand all the ins and outs of this.

What I do know is that its never good to think we're going into another combat situation, especially as it simply seems like they've never ending.

I also don't like the idea that my government genuinely seems to view itself as the world police.

But on the other hand, I don't like the idea of standing by doing nothing as civilians are murdered with chemical weapons.

This is definitely a very gray area in my mind. I do agree though, if we do this, we should bring help. We've been in virtually constant war for about a decade it seems, and I don't think we should be jumping into every confrontation out there.

There are human rights violations going on in almost every corner of the world, and realistically, if we're going to fight for justice all over the world, we're going to be at it for a long, long, long time. Even if that is the path we go down, it may be wise to pick our battles more carefully.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2013, 11:41:52 PM »
Well if it was JUST the Assad issue.. it would be clearer.

He sponsors terror in Isreal and Lebanon, and has interferred and condoned actions with pretty much every other neighbor he has, but that has been the outlook of Syria since way back when. Like my teacher in PoliSci 540 back in the day said it.. 'The Syrians were willing to fight Isreal to the last Egyptian.' They sponsor criminal and terror acts throughout the region, keeping other nations off balance. There is more than a little evidence that they have conducted assassination tactics in Lebanon more than once to keep the government there to their liking. And they participate in the ever popular 'Kill the Kurds' actions that goes over many countries in that region.

So, do I think he and his government used Chemical Weapons? Yeah. I'm sure he did.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2013, 11:47:45 PM »
Anyone can see the shadow of Iraq is hanging heavily over the question of what to do about Syria, just as the shadow of Vietnam has been hanging over much discussion about the Iraq war, right from the beginning. I don't know...I'm not a big fan of "regime change" by force, but if it turns out the gas attack was made by Assad's forces (which doesn't have to mean that he personally ordered it, or okayed it - but it's still his weapons and his army!) then it's really blatant, and in any case he's been slaughtering the people of his own country for two years now. And there's a really serious risk of this spilling over into fresh conflicts involving Israel, Lebanon or even Iran.

The guy looks like a seriously bigger threat to peace than Saddam was a dozen years ago, and something needs to be done to clear up the situation. And if it's to happen in any kind of conclusive fashion, someone is going to have to put boots on the ground in not too long, I think. And well, the U.S. is the obvious candidate to take on the job, at least lead it. Though it will have to be with real cooperation from the Syrian opposition, at least some of those groups - they're divided apparently, which makes it trickier.

There's also the risk that an involvement in Syria merges with an upcoming conflict with Iran, if there would be a showdown series of strikes against the Iranian nuclear programme. That one wouldn't be over in a fortnight either, and an open-ended war with Iran isn't going to be what anyone wants, especially not Obama...

It comes at a really bad time and of course it's a war nobody wanted, but there are some really valid reasons to take it on I think.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 11:49:55 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2013, 11:52:36 PM »
Unfortunately gL there are people who want it. There are (idiots) who have been screaming for it since Saddam got hung.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2013, 11:57:19 PM »
Unfortunately gL there are people who want it. There are (idiots) who have been screaming for it since Saddam got hung.

I was thinking of ordinary people like you and me, and even (I think) most military, senior political and diplomatic people. Not the think-tank crowd or Fox News. No sensible person wishes to have a war like this, and at this time.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 11:59:36 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2013, 12:17:02 AM »
I was thinking of ordinary people like you and me, and even (I think) most military, senior political and diplomatic people. Not the think-tank crowd or Fox News. No sensible person wishes to have a war like this, and at this time.

Unfortunately you can't include some portions of congress in that statement.

Offline Oniya

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Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2013, 12:18:13 AM »
Unfortunately you can't include some

disturbingly large

 
portions of congress in that statement.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2013, 02:25:29 AM »
Realistically, the US is still expected by many countries to act as a hegemon: particularly when there's a government in power that they can count on to do this professionally. Any international crisis automatically begets two contradictory cries: "Why do you think you're the world's police?" and "How can you stand idly by and watch this happen?" It's obvious which one of those is going to lose for as long as America has the military might to make either question relevant.

But acting as a hegemon rarely means escalating insane wars. Obama is not Bush and AFAIK has explicitly ruled out invasion. The closest analogy I've heard for what's likely to happen is Clinton's actions in Kosovo in '99 (e.g. a campaign mainly of deterrent air-strikes).

Not that this is great or anything: I think what Iraq should have taught anyone who was paying attention above all else is that we in the West basically know absolutely SFA about the intricacies of Middle Eastern ethnic politics and how military actions in the region will play out. It would actually be nice to see the US take the position, for once, of "don't just do something... stand there!" But the President and party that did so would be in mortal terror of being permanently branded weak and cowardly and savaged at the next major election... and the next... and the next... and the next.

Offline ShadowFox89

Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2013, 02:52:21 AM »
But acting as a hegemon rarely means escalating insane wars. Obama is not Bush and AFAIK has explicitly ruled out invasion. The closest analogy I've heard for what's likely to happen is Clinton's actions in Kosovo in '99 (e.g. a campaign mainly of deterrent air-strikes).

 From what I've heard, the nearest quote is "US soldiers will not be sent to fight in Syria, period."

Offline Dashenka

Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2013, 03:56:43 AM »
I think something should be done about Assad, but I don't think the US should go at it alone. And getting the EU to join in will take several months of debating in very single country with one side saying yes and one side saying hell no.

So realisticly, I'm afraid nothing will happen.

Also I'm not sure if Assad is really impressed with the American warship near the Syrian waters. He knows he got backup from Iran should it come to that.

Offline ShadowFox89

Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2013, 04:14:32 AM »
 It's not Iran he's got backup from. It's from Putin specifically. Which is also why the UN won't get involved, because he won't sign off on it and China won't either.

Offline Dashenka

Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2013, 06:10:07 AM »
It's not Iran he's got backup from. It's from Putin specifically. Which is also why the UN won't get involved, because he won't sign off on it and China won't either.

Russia has publicly declared that it will not tolerate any attacks against innocent. I guess using the chemical weapons was the last straw for Russia as well. They won't immediately send MiG's and tanks and will still debate against military intervention but that backup isn't as strong as it was. Not sure about China but Iran certainly backs up Assad.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2013, 06:21:07 AM »
I think something should be done about Assad, but I don't think the US should go at it alone. And getting the EU to join in will take several months of debating in very single country with one side saying yes and one side saying hell no.

So realisticly, I'm afraid nothing will happen.

Also I'm not sure if Assad is really impressed with the American warship near the Syrian waters. He knows he got backup from Iran should it come to that.


One thing that's sure is, when the real military preparations get going you won't be hearing much about those in the media - not until the point when the first bombs actually hit Syria. And that could happen soon. It was the same with the build-up on Afghanistan back in 2001.

Online ThePrince

Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2013, 07:30:47 AM »
It will probably just be air strikes on military targets like in Libya.

The obvious difference between Syria and Iraq/Afghanistan is that Syria is already in a civil war. Hopefully this will even things out and help topple Assads regime.

Offline Neysha

Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2013, 08:06:43 AM »
It seems, at this juncture, that the deployment of ground troops in any meaningful way, is unlikely. The intervention here, as others have remarked, should superficially resemble that of Kosovo or Libya and thus be very classic post Cold War military adventurism as opposed to out and out nation building.

Still I have to wonder what our purpose is to get more actively engaged in Syria. I'm not sure what strategic or other objectives they find worth the cost to investing in direct military action against the Assad government.

I mean until IIRC, the beginning of 2013, the West and at the very least the US's position has been... disappointing. After implicitly choosing a side in the conflict, that of the Rebels (which has plenty of merit to it, don't get me wrong. Probably more merit then supporting Assad) the West, out of fear of supporting Islamists, has decided the best thing to do is next to nothing. Which sounds like a valid strategy. After all you don't want to get in bed with ISLAMISTS and AL QAEDA and help create an ISLAMIST state in Syria. However, by doing next to nothing, the West has basically allowed the noble paragons of virtue known as the Arab Gulf States and Saudi Arabia to directly finance said Islamists in the Free Syrian rebel forces, thus making them more powerful in the Rebel movement then most of the other factions which might be more moderate in their behavior when it comes to various political and social issues.

Even now we have some Westerners pointing to stories of Rebel barbarities and say "Wow, I'm glad we didn't support those guys," when in fact, by alienating Assad and by not supporting any of the Rebel factions to any real degree, the West has implicitly supported the Islamist flavored Rebels by default because two of the main foreign powers sending tangible aid all this time to the Rebels, the Saudis and other Gulf States, have allegedly been supplying the Islamists almost exclusively. Maybe twenty years from now we can discuss the problem of the intractable Islamic state of Syria, and opine why they 'hate us' despite the fact we were supporting their side in the Civil War. I hope not, because the discussion of that problem will likely involve the mention of investing ground troops.

Even if whatever military operation we engage in does successfully remove Assad, we're going to see firsthand the type of sectarian violence that can occur in a Middle East nation that doesn't have tens of thousands of Coalition soldiers trying to keep people from killing each other. The main thing is, we'll be seeing the slow Alawites hanging from street lamps, while the fast ones will be busy running out of their burning neighborhoods and begging the last Russian helicopter out of Tartus to take them out of the country. And thanks to America, we can allow that kind of grassroots democracy occur.

But it's also "possible" that if we invest ourselves into the conflict in a "responsible" fashion, it might just be possible that we in the West can help broker a peace deal which might not necessarily result in death squads and ethnic cleansing. That window, AFAIK, is fading the longer the conflict goes on. The only way a situation resembling peace can be attained following the Civil War is if the Syrian Rebels seize power, but also (Allah willing) try and set up a political reconciliation or peace deal that gives every major faction and ethnic group a slice of the pie like in Iraq or Lebanon. This'll mean a chaotic parliament, this will mean politically motivated selection of Governors and police chiefs and judges, this will mean a dozen different TV stations and private militias maintaining status quo for decades after and thus there'll be lots of corruption and nepotism and politically motivated criminal behavior and strife, but it won't mean endless Civil War like experienced in godawful Somalia or Afghanistan.

That's what 'victory' in Syria will look like. Every other option looks far worse.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2013, 09:20:10 AM »
Okay.. first off.

Ethnic politics in Syria are confusing. Period. That being said, I disagree that the military doesn't' know what quagmire that they will be headed into. They knew about Afghanistan and Iraq a lot better than the leadership that sent them in. Knowing doesn't mean being able to avoid. The problem that this one has is several different factors. France and Germany were against the US going into Iraq for similar reasons that the Russians are against us going into Syria. There is something there they don't want coming to light (observe that Germany and France didn't really get involved till AFTER the bombing of certain facilities/buildings occurred.)

The difference? Russia is perfectly willing to strike at anyone that attacks 'THEIR' ally Assad. If a certain Iranian nutjob had remained in office, we might have Iran to deal with as well. My take on Iran today? They will try to come out ahead on this. Most assuredly in a way that earns them diplomatic capital with the region/world, and if they can get a 'bite' of Syria in the process. Definitely.

My concern is that we're looking at a very nasty sea change in the political dynamics of the Middle East that is only just getting started. Thanks to George Bush's vendetta against Saddam we're seeing a new era in the region's dynamic. At the turn of the century there were four strong non-Islamist religious dominated states in the region. That was four secular nations in a region where Islam wasn't the center defining element of the government. That was Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Turkey. Care to guess which one is still stable? That's right.. there is ONE left that hasn't been 'liberated' or currently in some form of massive civil disorder.

Egypt is hovering. And if I was someone in the State Department, I would be looking for another job.. because there is NO way to tell how that is going to going. Geeze. Iraq is hovering on the edge of Civil War.. all it takes is one very very nasty event and the current government will fold like a castle of cards. Syria is a mess. You got NUMEROUS factions on the rebel side that are so interlinked it's hard to see where one begins and the other ends. You got Islamists, Kurds, other ethnic groups, pro-democracy and so on. EVERYONE in the Middle East is invovled already.

I can tell you how things will go if we do a 'Iraq Liberation' move. The Iranians will ship arms to their factions, along with money. The US, and any allies, will have to spend a LOT of political capital to keep the Israelis from taking more strikes. As Assad's folks lose hold, they will strike back. And with Chemical Weapons it will be nasty. You can expect hits on Israel and Turkey as they go down if those facilities aren't taken out. And just like Iraq, there will be goods and money sneaking across the borders as anyone with cash and manpower on the ground gets their piece of the pie.

It is a mess. It will continue to be. I don't blame the President in not wanting to put men on the ground. The folks we are going in to 'help' are a mix of groups. Some of them don't like us. At all. Would you trust them to NOT shoot us in the back? Hell some of the groups are already taking the aid we send in for their benefit and not the civilians.

I do NOT envy the President and ANYONE that has a role in suggesting actions in that mess. My take? Get together with Nato and go in as a coalition, provide logistal support (which we can do very well with what we have), Intelligence support (I know folks who most likely are already doing that.. I was doing similar work once upon a time), and air/artillery work from the Navy.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2013, 10:46:56 AM »
Total waste of money in my book.

If our government is intent on wasting money, I would rather see them bail out consumer debt and federal student loans to jump start our economy (not that I fully support this use of funds either).

And secondly, we are in debt, how are we going to afford another war?  More debt, and probably tax hikes in the future.

Offline Hades

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Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2013, 10:49:06 AM »
I personally doubt that we will send soldiers into the country (the oft-repeated "boots on the ground" approach) when the US acts.  And I do believe that it is a matter of when whether than if, at this point.

Last year around this time, President Obama said that the use of chemical weapons was a red line that the US would not tolerate.  There is shaky evidence for the first attack several months ago, but the most rescent attack has been verified by not just our intelligence agencies (who still have a large black eye thanks to the Iraq debacle) but international sources as well.  So in that regard, it's a bit clearer than it was when President Bush decided to invade Iraq.  But as others have pointed out, what to do now that it has been verified isn't a straight-foward solution.

Going to the UN is the most reasonable approach, and yet with Russia and China both holding veto power in the Security Council the prospects there are dubious at best.  Russia has been a long-time supporter for Syria, and coupled with the near Cold War level of rivalry the US and Russia are not, it wouldn't surprise me if Russia did veto any sort of resolution regardless of whether they condone the actions or not.  And China seems to always be dragging its feet on any sort of military action, or even strong condemnation whether the situation is halfway around the world from them or on their doorsteps as in the case of North Korea.

Personally, I suspect that the most likely avenue of action that our military will take is to try and find wiggle room in current international treaties against the use of chemical weapons as justification for a cruise missile strike.  Either targetting the stockpiles themselves, or going after the military units that deliever the weapons, but that to me seems the motivation behind moving more naval units into the region.

Offline Dashenka

Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #20 on: August 27, 2013, 10:59:20 AM »
Total waste of money in my book.

If our government is intent on wasting money, I would rather see them bail out consumer debt and federal student loans to jump start our economy (not that I fully support this use of funds either).

And secondly, we are in debt, how are we going to afford another war?  More debt, and probably tax hikes in the future.

Can the US Government file for Chapter 11? Seems a (too) popular bail out by every US airline :)

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #21 on: August 27, 2013, 11:01:10 AM »
Total waste of money in my book.

If our government is intent on wasting money, I would rather see them bail out consumer debt and federal student loans to jump start our economy (not that I fully support this use of funds either).

And secondly, we are in debt, how are we going to afford another war?  More debt, and probably tax hikes in the future.

Sadly the warhawks are also anti-tax.

And to be honest.. we need taxes to go up in some segments of the population. Unfortunately those sections won't get it.. so we'll continue to stagger along.

As for foots on the ground.. we dont' have the manpower.

Syria needs to be stabilized though. If it isn't it could daisy chain into a really big mess. Both Turkey and Lebanon aren't too healthy as it is.. and a civil war next door won't help them. particularly given that it wont' STAY next door. Hammas and the Kurds will see to that. One because Abbas paid them off for so long they are staying bought.. the other because as a group they have been taking a kicking for decades in something like FOUR countries.. now two of them are unstable.


Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #22 on: August 27, 2013, 01:55:56 PM »
I hope Douglas Macgregor's interview on CBC today becomes available online. He covered all the bases, including:

1. Civil wars are brutal by nature, and if they're going to horrify you then you probably shouldn't watch.
2. The Syrian rebels are not necessarily the West's friends and will not themselves shrink from using chemical weapons if they can get at them.
3. The posture of moral superiority from outside Syria is hypocritical.
4. Air strikes will probably resolve nothing and make the situation worse.
5. Air strikes will probably happen anyway.

Sounds about right.

Offline Retribution

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Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #23 on: August 27, 2013, 02:25:13 PM »
I hope Douglas Macgregor's interview on CBC today becomes available online. He covered all the bases, including:

1. Civil wars are brutal by nature, and if they're going to horrify you then you probably shouldn't watch.
2. The Syrian rebels are not necessarily the West's friends and will not themselves shrink from using chemical weapons if they can get at them.
3. The posture of moral superiority from outside Syria is hypocritical.
4. Air strikes will probably resolve nothing and make the situation worse.
5. Air strikes will probably happen anyway.

Sounds about right.

Agreed!

The lead up to WW2 showed that well sticking your head in the sand does not make things go away. The 60 years of non military action and subsequent waste of money on places like Cuba and North Korea show that method is not exactly effective also. So I am kind of at a loss, the UN is useless and talk big with US military power which I think is part of the reason the US finds its self playing policeman. When intervention happens it is doomed to failure nearly from the start because of tangled situations on the ground. Hell, when no intervention happens often the US gets beat up for not "doing something." I would love to know how to fix situations like this.

My general knee jerk is if it is inside of country X's boarders let them slug it out on their own because intervention is not going to fix anything it has been shown time and time again. Or if there is instability let a neighbor deal with it since it is their neighborhood. With the case in point Turkey comes to mind for example. If it gets outside country X's boarders then recalling the lessons of the lead up to WW2 I say well kind of obliged to do something. If that doing something actually has plausible results. The finger shaking at say North Korea has resulted in nothing more than them threatening when they want to shake down the outside world for more aid. Their people keep starving and the fat cat dictators get fatter. So the doing something should have some real results.

But with Syria when I look at it I do not really see anyway this turns out well. So my general inclination is grit your teeth and watch and see what happens. It is ugly right now and going to get uglier, but that is to be expected because Assad is a reflection of his dear old pop.

Offline ShadowFox89

Re: US warships near Syrian waters
« Reply #24 on: August 27, 2013, 04:16:55 PM »
Russia has publicly declared that it will not tolerate any attacks against innocent. I guess using the chemical weapons was the last straw for Russia as well. They won't immediately send MiG's and tanks and will still debate against military intervention but that backup isn't as strong as it was. Not sure about China but Iran certainly backs up Assad.

 Putin has made it his agenda since being re-elected to piss off the US at every chance he's gotten, especially if it means screwing over his own people.