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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 31-Aug-2013
31-Aug-13 World View -- U.S. Administration lays out the case for Syria intervention

Web Log - August, 2013

31-Aug-13 World View -- U.S. Administration lays out the case for Syria intervention

Britain's leaders engage in soul-searching

This morning's key headlines from

U.S. Administration lays out the case for Syria intervention

President Barack Obama says that he has not yet made a decision. But he's set several "red lines," and failed to do anything when the red lines were breeched. He's flip-flopped on his own attitudes, as stated in 2007-08 when he criticized President George Bush for things that he's apparently about to do. Thus, many analysts believe Obama has no choice but to launch an American attack on Syria, and they expect an attack this weekend, possibly with some support from France and Turkey.

Secretary of State John Kerry gave a very strongly worded statement, apparently in preparation for an attack on Syria:

"Our intelligence community has carefully reviewed and re-reviewed information regarding this attack, and I will tell you it has done so more than mindful of the Iraq experience. We will not repeat that moment. ...

Well, we know that the Assad regime has the largest chemical weapons program in the entire Middle East. We know that the regime has used those weapons multiple times this year.... We know that the regime was specifically determined to rid the Damascus suburbs of the opposition, and it was frustrated that it hadn’t succeeded in doing so.

We know that for three days before the attack the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons personnel were on the ground in the area making preparations. And we know that the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons. We know that these were specific instructions. We know where the rockets were launched from and at what time. We know where they landed and when. We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods.

And we know, as does the world, that just 90 minutes later all hell broke loose in the social media. With our own eyes we have seen the thousands of reports from 11 separate sites in the Damascus suburbs. All of them show and report victims with breathing difficulties, people twitching with spasms, coughing, rapid heartbeats, foaming at the mouth, unconsciousness and death. ...

The United States Government now knows that at least 1,429 Syrians were killed in this attack, including at least 426 children. Even the first responders, the doctors, nurses, and medics who tried to save them, they became victims themselves. We saw them gasping for air, terrified that their own lives were in danger. ...

We also know many disturbing details about the aftermath. We know that a senior regime official who knew about the attack confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime, reviewed the impact, and actually was afraid that they would be discovered. We know this.

And we know what they did next. I personally called the Foreign Minister of Syria and I said to him, “If, as you say, your nation has nothing to hide, then let the United Nations in immediately and give the inspectors the unfettered access so they have the opportunity to tell your story.” Instead, for four days they shelled the neighborhood in order to destroy evidence, bombarding block after block at a rate four times higher than they had over the previous 10 days. And when the UN inspectors finally gained access, that access, as we now know, was restricted and controlled."

What form will the attack take? Almost all analysts say that there will be three days of cruise missile strikes, launched from five destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea.

According to one assessment from a U.S. official, the intensity of the attack will be "just muscular enough not to get mocked" but not so devastating that it would prompt a response from Syrian allies Iran and Russia. However, the attack may be mocked anyway.

Many analysts, both Republican and Democrat, are concerned that this will be a "pinprick" strike, allowed al-Assad to brag that he survived an attack by the Great Satan, and then will just go on killing his people, with and without chemical weapons. So the concern is that the attack will be worse than doing nothing. U.S. Dept. of State and LA Times

Britain's leaders engage in soul-searching

1782 - The Last Time This Happened (Daily Mail)
1782 - The Last Time This Happened (Daily Mail)

After Britain's prime minister David Cameron's shocking defeat on Thursday in the House of Commons, and his subsequent announcement that Britain will not be participating in any military action in Syria, many British politicians are going through some soul-searching.

The vote against Cameron was led by his opposition leader, David Miliband, leader of the Labor Party, who said:

"People are deeply concerned about the chemical weapons attacks in Syria, but they want us to learn the lessons of Iraq.

They don't want a rush to war. They want things done in the right way, working with the international community."

Miliband was branded a 'f****** c***' who was giving 'succour to" Assad', and on Friday he did a partial flip-flop, saying, "I don't think the Government should wash its hands of this issue."

According to Lord Hurd, foreign secretary from 1989-95:

"I cannot for the life of me see how dropping some bombs or firing some missiles in the direction of Syria, with targets probably some way removed from the weapons that we have been criticizing, will lessen the suffering of the Syrian people."

Many people pointed to the sense of déjà vu, as if the days leading up the 2003 Iraq invasion were being replayed, with the same kinds of intelligence reports talking about WMDs.

However, Lord Paddy Ashdown, born 1941, told the BBC (my transcription), referring to the 1938 Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia:

"I think the consequences for that [yesterday's vote] are that we are a diminished country this morning. The special relationship [with the United States] will certainly be damaged, maybe grievously so.

Speaking as somebody who spent nearly 50 years trying to serve our country one way or the other, I woke up this morning feeling depressed, and I must say, I'm somewhat ashamed, that now I must watch those people die in agony, in Syria, and including people, kids being napalmed yesterday, and say that the response of my country has nothing to do with me. ...

But I think there's a real danger that Britain certainly returns to isolationism. I think there's a real danger that the world will itself go into a period of isolationism, if something doesn't concern us, then we don't need to be bothered.

[In the 1930s, people said,] 'Czechoslovakia is far away country of which we need know little.' You remember the famous phrase from the 1930s, and how badly it turned out in the end. Of course I recognize that parliament yesterday was representing the national will. There's no mood for this. Strong mood against it in the country. But we should just remember that when Neville Chamberlain came back from Munich with the peace of paper that said 'Peace in our time,' he was the most popular prime minister before or since we've ever had. And Churchill was deeply unpopular. Which of these two proved to be right?"

Daily Mail (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Aug-13 World View -- U.S. Administration lays out the case for Syria intervention thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Aug-2013) Permanent Link
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