Someone (we’re not sure who, Obama and Kerry say Assad, the UN says the rebel—I don’t trust either, so who knows) used chemical weapons in Syria.
Some might argue that we should punish those who have done so. That we need to go in to save lives.
But they’re looking at it wrong. While we do as decent people have a responsibility to stop genocide, that isn’t enough, we have to make sure we can actually improve the situation. The question shouldn’t necessarily be is Assad (or the rebels) killing people, it should be, can we stop the killing? In Germany, Iraq, and Afghanistan there were either prodemocracy forces (and in those last two I will fully admit we botched any attempt to rally those forces and form a real government)…and in Japan we had the wherewith-all to stay in charge for over a decade to ensure a stable government was left in place. The problem with Syria is that it’s a choice between Assad and his Iran/Hamas terrorists backers and the Rebels (read Al-Qaeda)…if either side wins, they’ll use the chemical weapons and kill the people of Syria and probably other nations…and America at this point (even if we had a leader and not an idiot in charge) doesn’t have the resolve to stay the time needed and spend the money required to take over Syria and build a system that will end the killing of people. The fact is that no matter what we do, people are going to die. If we help people die, if we don’t help people die. There is no way out of this that can stop the killing.
Now some people, whose opinions I respect, suggest we should go in and just bomb Assad’s ability for air dominance, level the playing field and let the rebels and Assad fight it out on equal terms. I can see the wisdom in this…but this assumes a leader who knows what do to and how to handle such a campaign. And here’s the problem if you had such a leader my NeoCon side might just say, why half-ass it?, go in occupy the nation and set up a democracy…but lacking such a leader I don’t know if I can even trust the idiot we have now to level the playing field…honestly has he done anything else right in foreign policy? Which again leads me back to it’s best to stay out of this mess.
The silver lining to not doing anything at the moment is that this is Hamas and Al-Qaeda killing each other…which saves us the time and trouble of doing it.
But let’s talk about what we should do if reality had no bearing on this (or, say, if we had done the intelligent thing and elected a leader and good man and not a buffoon and corrupt hack). Now Syria would present it’s own challenges but I think the best way we should do with Syria, if we were going to get involved is to look at our two most recent mistakes, Iraq and Afghanistan, and see where we screwed up there.
Now let’s first deal with some of the points of why we went. We went to take out terrorist threats (and both nations did present such a threat), we went to do the ethical thing and stop genocide, and we went to spread democracy. All could have been accomplished if Bush and/or Obama had had even half a brain between them…but Obama likes to grovel and apologize for America’s virtue and Bush was an isolationist (just look at his debate with Gore where he said he didn’t want to engage in nation building…so stop blaming NeoConservatives for Bush’s idiocy, he was never one of us and never will be). It was the right war to fight.
It was also fought well. The military is not the part to blame, it is the diplomats and politicians who screwed the occupation up, not the war itself.
Now let’s review what we should have done but didn’t. And, in terms of full disclosure, I honestly thought we would have been bright enough to do these things when I gave my support for these wars…I thought that even if Bush was dumb enough to not know to do these, his advisors would at least be bright enough…boy was I wrong.
The first thing we should not have done was turn over Iraq and Afghanistan to Iraqi and Afghani control so soon. We were in control of Germany for year (and only gave them independence to gain their alliance in the Cold War) and were in complete control of Japan for nearly a decade. We should have remained in political and military control of Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly a decade as well. It takes time to rebuild the infrastructure of a nation, it takes time to get the culture used to the principles of rule of law and a democratic-Republic, it takes time to properly write a Constitution. All of these were rushed for political convenience. And that is partly what ultimately made these situations so terrible.
Someone should have gone to Congress to first get an act of war declared and second to get Congress to lay out in writing and law what defines success and when we can legally leave. Right now we can leave whenever, whether we’ve finished the job or not, and it is largely up to the president and the president only. These are powers that Congress should have, and they should not have been given up, nor should any president have grabbed them.
The nations should have been broken up. Their current borders are arbitrary creations of colonialism and forced numerous ethnic and religious groups that loathe each other. Pluralism is also superior, but it grows best naturally when two group both doing well see each other as equals that both can grow and learn from, not from being forced together. Iraq, should have been three nations (Kurds, Sunni, Shia)…Afghanistan should have likely been broken into a Southern and Northern part (although I’ll admit my knowledge of the breakdown of clans, ethnicities and religious divisions in Afghanistan is not as deep as it could be). My point here being that smaller less diverse areas are easier to administrate, easier to work with, easier to maintain stability it…and if there is terrorist activity in one it does not mean that destabilizes the whole operation (for instance Kurdistan would have likely been stable, and possibly even economically prosperous very quickly which would have led to more stability in the whole area and an ally we can count on).
We should have never let the armies disband as quickly as we did. We should have kept them as POWs vetting every single one of them before releasing them. This would have delayed the terrorists attacks.
I agree completely with the surges, only disagreeing that they should have been done earlier and probably to an even greater degree.
We should have burned each and every poppy field in all of Afghanistan to the ground and shot any drug lord who complained. The terrorists live off the funds of the drug trade and one of our first goals should have been to deny them any and all funds.
The Peace Corp should have been recalled for training in Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, Dari, (and anything else we needed) and then sent to Afghanistan and Iraq. There is no point in having a Peace Corp in helping in social and economic development if you’re not going to use it where it was needed most.
Border walls. As we have learned in the US, there is nothing so important as a border wall…more so when dealing with terrorists. We should have been building walls on the border of every single nation, starting with the borders of Iran, Pakistan, Syria. If we had done this the terrorist activity would have been drastically reduced (as most of it came from Iran, Pakistan and Syria)…and if there had been a division of the nations we should have had walls between them as well to help stop the spread of terrorism.
With staying longer, our first responsibility should have been building up roads, water, electricity, schools, hospitals and the basic of industry…the infrastructure needed to support a republic of law. Training the military and police should have been a distant second (because when you rush that, you let the terrorist infiltrate easily and attack us from within, as we’ve seen all too well) as the military can handle that for a longer period as we’ll be there for a while.
There is no way we should have ever left Iraq without gaining a permanent military base and the same goes for Afghanistan. One of the only reasons why these invasions made sense in the long run from a tactical stand point was gaining foot holds to ensure stability in the area (would Syria be as violent as it is right now if there was a permanent US base with missile launch capability just a few minutes from it’s borders?)
Among stronger women’s right pushes than we made, we should have made it a requirement that both nations add full rights to women and some version of our burning bed justifications (which more or less makes it justifiable for a woman who is afraid of her husband beating or murdering her to kill her husband…and then we should have probably armed every woman as we could have). This would hopefully have cleared out a lot of the worst bastards we would have to worry about, and the scum who objected should have just been summarily shot as well because you know they’re shit who would be nothing but a blight on humanity. (And I can hear some liberal whiny about it’s their culture who are you to judge. I’m a human being with a brain, that’s who. Any man, any law, any religion that says women are inferior to men is shit and deserves to be wiped off the Earth with extreme prejudice.) We should probably also have installed a lot of women in positions of power, those who objected can be shot. (This is more to quickly identify the terrorist scum and quickly eliminate them).
We should never have stopped it being a major function of the military and CIA to gather intelligence. We should be capturing terrorists leaders and water-boarding every last piece of information out of them. The problem with drones isn’t their use or their death toll…it’s that they’re being used in lieu of gathering intelligence which actually (causes more death in the long run) kills even more people in the long run.
(On a side note) We should have backed, supported and armed the revolution that started in Iran. Conversely we should not have given moral support to the largely terrorist led Arab Spring.
We should have gone in and still should be going in with the mentality that first and foremost this is a war. If you are dealing with rational people then negotiate with them, but otherwise there is no retreat, no fallback, no quarter and all that is acceptable is either complete and unconditional surrender or every member of your opposition dead. No negotiations with the Taliban, no playing nice for Iran and Pakistan. This is a war, we are in the right (or at least we could have been) and we will not stop until every tyrant is dead or in jail and every innocent citizen enjoys full human rights.
Now, while Syria presents it’s own challenges and idiosyncrasies, but it is these general principals that should guide the occupation and rebuilding of any nation. And the question you need to ask is, do you think Obama has the spine and intelligence to do any of this? Do you think he even has the brains to carry out attacks on Assad’s military targets?
For me the answer is simple. No. I would love to spread liberty and end genocide everywhere…but from what I have seen of this nation, and especially Obama, we don’t know how to do it, we don’t have the patience it takes to do it, and right now we certainly aren’t in an economic position to do it. In an ideal world intervention is what we should do, but the realities of the present state that our current situation will only lead to making things worse.