BLOGGER’S NOTE: Just a reminder in case anyone might forget, humanitarian and altruistic concerns aside or notwithstanding, the main interest in the Middle East is commercial, primarily oil, and the fact that it is a world trade route. I believe I am correct here and that what I just wrote in the previous sentence is a rather obvious statement, but sometimes the point gets lost in the rhetoric.
So this morning I read that Russia is offering to persuade its client Syria to give up (in some manner) its chemical weapons with the involvement of UN inspectors if it would avert a U.S. strike.
That would indicate that all the bluster from President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry may have had some effect. Or not.
But that little glimmer of hope notwithstanding, it seems to me that actions speak louder than words, and that we (the U.S.) have talked way too much. We’ve even given the enemy our possible target list.
And this really bothers me: Sen. John McCain, the biggest hawk around on us striking Syria — I mean he wants us to not only punish its government for using chemical weapons, he wants us to side with and assist the rebel forces — says that if the president were to commit ground troops he would or should face impeachment. How idiotic is that? On the one hand you want him to take military action and on the other hand you want to tie his hands behind his back so we have no chance of prevailing. I don’t mean I want boots on the ground. I don’t. I doubt we even should strike Syria at this time. But McCain of all people should know that our unwillingness to use all the means we have available to achieve victory in military action is what has led us to defeat or stalemate in the past. McCain, while serving as a Navy jet pilot, was shot down over North Vietnam and spent many years in a hole in a prison camp. All his misery, all the American lives lost and all the American lives otherwise adversely affected, were in vain because we tried to keep a handle on things and not escalate, even though we did escalate, but not enough or at the right time or whatever.
No we should not put boots on the ground in Syria if we do not have to or perhaps we should just not do it period. But once we commit ourselves to action we have to have the stomach for going all the way if necessary. And it would help if we did not leak our battle plans and if we kept our enemies guessing.
So what I am saying is that we might get away with limited action in Syria but we are making a mistake by tying our hands behind our backs.
An alternative approach might be to do whatever we can to cut off the finances to the Bashar al-Assad regime (and this is the first time I have spelled out the dictator’s name in this blog because I was too lazy to look it up), and to use covert means to go after the guy himself, and maybe to assist forces friendly to us (although with the fragmented nature of the rebels and the fact that some of them are avowed enemies of the U.S., that last one is problematic to say the least).
And I know I have written previously that we would do well to not meddle in the affairs of other nations and take care of our own nation. But I also know that we have to at times eliminate “existential threats” to our own safety (I wanted to use that term “existential”).
And finally, here’s a problem. Public opinion polls indicate that a majority of us here in the U.S. are opposed to a strike on Syria.
You know, maybe they think that a country that is having a hard time taking care of itself should not engage in foreign adventures and they may not see Syria crisis as an existential threat.
The president is going to be on CNN today as I understand it and then is going to address the public Tuesday as well (I guess on all networks) to try to sell his case to a skeptical public and congress.
He’s good at talk. But is he good at action?