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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 3-Sep-2013
3-Sep-13 World View -- France promises a military response to Syria's chemical weapons attack

Web Log - September, 2013

3-Sep-13 World View -- France promises a military response to Syria's chemical weapons attack

Drone strikes decreasing sharply in Pakistan

This morning's key headlines from

France promises a military response to Syria's chemical weapons attack

Bashar al-Assad smiles on Monday at a meeting where he's presumably celebrating the number of Sunni women and children civilians he's torturing and killing (Reuters)
Bashar al-Assad smiles on Monday at a meeting where he's presumably celebrating the number of Sunni women and children civilians he's torturing and killing (Reuters)

It was just a week ago when it was thought that Britain, France, and the United States would form a coalition for military action against the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad in response to the regime's use of chemical weapons. But then Britain's parliament rejected any involvement, and President Barack Obama reversed his position, delaying any strike and leaving the decision to Congress, putting American foreign policy into chaos.

This week, it appears that France is leading the effort. France says it is building a coalition to back military action against the regime. According to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Monday:

"This act cannot be left without a response. It's not for France to act alone. The president is continuing his work of persuasion to bring together a coalition without delay.

France is determined to penalize the use of chemical weapons by (President Bashar al-)Assad's regime and to dissuade with a forceful and firm response. The objective is neither to topple the regime or liberate the country."

On Monday, France issued a nine-page report on Syria's chemical arsenal:

"The Syrian chemical program began in the 1970s with import of chemical munitions. Since the 1980s, Damascus undertaken to procure the materials, products and know-how the establishment of an independent national production capacity and mass in this area.

The nature of the Syrian chemical arsenal With more than a thousand tons of chemical warfare agents and precursors Damascus has one of the world's largest operational stocks without perspective programmed destruction."

Syria for years has been intensively developing chemical weapons and delivery technology. The report details hundreds of tons of mustard gas, VX gas and sarin gas, and a wide range of artillery and missiles, with a range up to 500 kilometers, capable of accurately delivering hundreds of toxic agents.

The report confirms "a massive and coordinated use of chemical agents against civilians on August 21," with half the victims being women and children. The attack could only have been made by the regime itself, because of the quantity and sophistication of the weaponry required to carry off this massive attack.

The Russians have said that al-Assad would have to be "crazy" to launch such an attack, because they were already winning the war. This assessment is contested by many analysts, but the report makes al-Assad's motives quite clear:

"Our information confirms that the regime feared a large scale attack on Damascus by the opposition during this period. Our assessment is that the regime sought to loosen the grip of the opposition, and to regain strategic control of the capital. ...

Finally, we believe that the Syrian opposition does not have the capacity to lead a chemical weapons operation of such magnitude. No group belonging to the Syrian insurrection has, at this stage, the ability to store and use these agents, let alone deploy them in a size similar to that used on the night of August 21, 2013 in Damascus. These groups have neither the experience nor the know-how to implement them, in particular by the means used in the attack on 21 August."

Reuters and France 24 and France declassified National Intelligence (Translation)

President Obama continues full-scale Syria sales campaign

President Obama met with two Republican Senators, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have repeatedly urged military action in Syria. The meeting is part of Obama's full-scale sales campaign to get an affirmative vote from Congress on military action in Syria. The Senators are complaining that the president has no coherent policy, but is just reacting to one crisis after another with no strategy.

After the meeting, Lindsey said:

"The President really has no one to blame in many way but himself, about the lack of public understanding of what's at stake in Syria. We talked about the past, the present and future. Twoyears ago, we had an opportunity to get Assad out, when there were dozens of al-Qaeda only in Syria. Now there's thousands, a year from now there are going to be tens of thousands. Two years ago, there were not 600,000 refugees in Jordan, compromising the Kingdom of Jordan. Time is not on our side, so we urge the president to up his game."

Lindsey was responding to a threat by Bashar al-Assad that any military action could cause the region to "explode." Lindsey's point is that inaction is already causing the region to explode. As I've written in the past from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the region is going to "explode" with or without military action. Military Times and TV transcription.

China fears destabilization of Afghanistan, as NATO pulls out

On Monday, Taliban suicide bombers and gunmen dressed as Afghan police attacked a U.S. base near the Pakistan border, setting dozens of parked NATO supply vehicles on fire. Reports indicate that the vehicles were to be transported across the Pakistan border overland to the sea port of Karachi, as part of the massive logistics effort required to remove ten years worth of military equipment from Afghanistan before NATO's final departure next year. Taliban suicide attacks have been on the increase as NATO forces have been leaving.

China's president Xi Jinping is visiting Afghanistan on Tuesday, at a time when China is concerned that Nato's withdrawal will free up jihadists to head elsewhere, including China itself. "The worry is the withdrawal of US troops will have a spillover effect," according to a Chinese analyst. Arab News

Drone strikes decreasing sharply in Pakistan

Drone strikes in Pakistan, 2005-2013 (SATP)
Drone strikes in Pakistan, 2005-2013 (SATP)

Despite increasing terrorist attacks near the Afghan-Pakistan border, American drone strikes in Pakistan have been sharply decreasing since they reached a peak in 2010. Although the drone strikes have been extremely effective in eliminating terrorist leadership from al-Qaeda and the Taliban, they've experienced increasing public opposition because of collateral damage. In May, a court ordered drones entering Pakistani airspace to be shot down, calling them a war crime, a violation of international law, basic human rights, and the territorial sovereignty of Pakistan. The US worry over safe and secure withdrawal from Afghanistan has forced it to bend before Pakistani pressure and the steep decline in drone attacks is the natural fallout. South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP)

Never smile at a crocodile


A tourist visiting an island in Australia was unable to leave the island because a monster 20 foot crocodile kept stalking him every time he tried to leave the island in his small canoe. He was trapped on the island for two weeks and was running out of supplies when a local man going by in a boat spotted him by chance and saved him.

There's no word on whether the tourist tried to coax the crocodile into swallowing an alarm clock so that he could listen for the ticking of the clock to know whether the croc was getting close. Daily Mail and Related YouTube video

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Sep-13 World View -- France promises a military response to Syria's chemical weapons attack thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Sep-2013) Permanent Link
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