War With Syria (5): Blow Back

2013 09 03_4073The Congressional calendar notes that Congress does not come back to Washington until September 9, 2013.  It also shows that on September 13 Yom Kippur begins at sundown. Therefore I have to figure Obama will be given the go ahead for the attack at the latest on the 13th. We won’t go to war with Syria until the Ides of September.

The Syrians will have a couple of weeks to disburse its forces but as retired Marine four star general James Cartwright said on television Sunday: “most of the targets associated with the limited strike are fixed. Buildings, facilities, areas, so they’re going to be there. . . . We’re not going to strike the stockpiles of chemical weapons. . . . because the dispersal of the gases and chemicals would affect large areas around that activity. . . .  You want to go at the facilities. Go at the places where production is done. Go at the places where potentially they would move across channels of communication, bridges, things like that, that would allow them to move it. They’re looking at the command and control in this area. . . . They’re not going to move.”

On the 15th or shortly thereafter Obama will launch this attack that will do what General Cartwright has spelled out. The Syrian government and its allies may or may not hunker down until the attack ends. What about blow back?

Hezbollah has already mobilized its forces. It has threatened to launch missiles from Syria against Israel when the US attacks claiming it does not want to embroil Lebanon in the crisis. I’m not sure that is feasible because Hezbollah forces in Syria are north of Lebanon while Israel sits to the south so the likelihood of an effective attack are near zero.

If Israel were attacked it is not going to stay its hand from attacking Hezbollah in Lebanon just because that is Hezbollah’s desire. I’d assume Hezbollah may not want to fight Israel over this matter. It knows it would face an overwhelming retaliatory force looking for a little revenge after the last war.

This also seems to be the common belief. Hezbollah’s saying it will is just more of its bluster. The same is being said of Iran. But one source suggests that the extent of the attack will determine the response.

There are two other parties that are of concern: Iran and Russia. Russia is making noises but at the same time pulling its naval personnel out of its Syrian base at Tartus. That’s a sign it won’t do much more than complain; Iran seems to be in no mood for a fight even though the attack may squash the beginning of a rapprochement between the US and Iran.

My estimate is we are planning a long and sustained attack with our cruise missiles like we did in Baghdad to take out its bridges, electricity plants and communications centers. It will last for one to two weeks and cause major damage to Syrian infrastructure. No one will come to Syria’s aid.

But that doesn’t mean there will be any blow back. Like with Afghanistan it may not come immediately or in a form we can anticipate but it seems to me that history teaches you can’t launch a war on another country without suffering for doing it.

After we severely diminish Syria’s war fighting capabilities, we leave it pretty much in the same situation with an ongoing civil war. Some have suggested that we are very happy with this.

Trying to understand whats afoot, here’s what a person from the Middle East says about us“Washington does not really care about those children killed last week in a chemical attack, just as it didn’t care about the Iranians or Kurds killed in previous ones. Consequently, my feeling is that a vicious, and viciously short-sighted, realpolitik in Washington would probably like nothing better than to let its enemies fight indefinitely in Syria, burning the country to the ground as they do so.”

General Dempsey of the Joint Chief of Staff pretty much agrees with that observer“The use of U.S. military force can change the military balance. But it cannot resolve the underlying and historic ethnic, religious and tribal issues that are fueling this conflict.”

Those with an interest in the Syrian battleground, the civil war among many different people with shifting alliances, know that in recent months the tide has shifted in favor of Assad. What we will do is to destroy some military assets of the Syrian government in order to diminish its ability to fight. In effect, leveling out the battlefield so that the brutal fighting in Syria like the Energizer Bunny keep chugging along.

There are already over two million people who have fled Syria and four million displaced in Syria. The UN has characterized the refugee crisis as one of the greatest tragedies of this century. Is our attack on Syria going to help any of those people? If not, why are we doing it? Haven’t they suffered enough with the 100,000 already killed, their ancient cities destroyed, and the utilization of poison gas.

And how is it we show any resolve or courage by launching missiles from far off locations killing others while at the same time expressing a great fear of putting our own men and women at risk. Is this an act that will add to our prestige or glory? Or is it the action of a man boxed in a corner who hopes the war card will let him out?

 

14 thoughts on “War With Syria (5): Blow Back

  1. Iranian commentary and warnings:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323893004579057271019210230.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories

    +++++

    http://dailycaller.com/2013/09/05/iran-threatens-brutal-attacks-on-americans-obama-family-if-us-hits-syria/

    “And in an unprecedented statement, a former Iranian official has warned of mass abductions and brutal killings of American citizens around the world and the rape and killing of one of Obama’s daughters should the United States attack Syria.”

    1. Henry:

      My money is on Iran staying out of it. Iran is prone to bluster.

      But here’s a hint, to find out what we are up to, that is are we preparing for a larger war you have to “Watch the Carriers.” I do this by going to the site “Status of the Navy.” It tells what carriers are at sea although their location is somewhat vague. The USS George Washington is at sea out of Japan; the Nimitz which was due to come home is stopping in the Red Sea, the Harry S. Truman is in the Persian Gulf or Arabian Sea. We’ll want to put two more carriers on station or going there before we hit.

      1. The US just intercepted a message from the Iranian regime ordering attacks against US interests in Iraq if there are strikes in Syria.

        Anyway, I am growing less and less comfortable with the possibility of strikes. This does not seem like a good idea at all.

        1. Jon:

          The main reason it seems to me for this strike is that the president has become convinced that his statement that the use of chemical weapons crosses a red line means we have to take some type of action to preserve his credibility. So he came up with this half baked idea of a limited strike. He thinks that way an naively figures those people being attacked are just going to smile and let us bomb their country. I’m reminded by William that is what happened in Kosovo and other places that we have attacked, or are attacking today with our drones. Except for the Al Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Towers and in Africa, we’ve not suffered many consequences and acted as we’ve wanted. I don’t think the strikes are wise since we have no long term policies we are trying to stick to.

          I noted the other day that the goal of this strike if everyone agrees to keep it limited is not to diminish the suffering of the Syrian people but to continue it. A New York Times article today shows that to be the case. Israel want the Syrian war to go on endlessly. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/06/world/middleeast/israel-backs-limited-strike-against-syria.html?hp Therefore the idea we are upset at the loss of Syrian lives as a result of the gas attack seems to lack poignancy when we are engaged in endeavors that will bring about many more such deaths, only these will be from our weapons and our indifference to the 2 million refugees and 4 million internally displaced Syrians.

          The basis for the action the president’s pique on being called out, the lack of an overall plan, the failure of any leadership, the ever increasing suffering of the Syrians (or whatever group we are killing to save them from being killed by others) that few care about, and our continuing resort to military force can only lead to our ruin.

          We’ve been running in circles in the Middle East for decades; it is not just now. We must make a policy that is in the best interests of our country which we have failed to do. Dropping bombs and sending cruise missiles is not a policy.

          By the way, I still don’t think the Iranians will do anything. If it does then we better invade Syria because those chemical weapons will be flying over Israel which will mean a major Middle East war.

          1. A nicely articulated reply Matt. I agree with much of it. The only thing I would say is that Iran is never going to confront America directly. It does not have the means. But the proxy war is ever ongoing. And if it gets the bomb, everything changes.

          2. Matt,

            The economic blogs are postulating that US actions are all about oil/gas. I am shocked! No, really, they are saying its all about a natural gas pipeline that is hoped for, but must go through Syria. And, if it is laid then there are severe economic consequence for Gazprom. So, Syria becomes the battle ground. If the pipeline were to be completed, it is reported that France and EU would benefit. Perhaps this is why France is actively on US side. Again, if true, it would appear that the over all winners would be BIG OIL and GAS. If this is the case and boots on the ground are needed perhaps their sons and daughters will sign up as the ‘boots on the ground’.

        2. Jon- Will Assad really care if we strike at this point? It won’t kill him or probably even deter him from doing it again, I know it is against international law to assassinate dictators, I think it is anyway?, If we do strike why not go for the real problem instead of dicking around with it? I have fallen out of love with Obama about 2 years ago, He needs more attitude and urgency when he speaks, I am tired of the casual matter o fact easy going Obama. P.s, Donald Rumsfeld and his criticism of Kerry is really outrageous, It would be like Michael Spinks criticizing Peter Mcneeley for not moving his head against TYSON … what a crock this has turned out to be.

  2. A reporter states that his sources at the Pentagon indicated that it would take 75 thousand troops to secure all the chemical weapons in Syria. If we attack and leave Assad with huge stockpiles of wmd what assurances can we have that he won’t use them. Would he use them against an invading force? If he was desperate and saw a Quadaffi style outcome maybe. Do the Iranians through proxies shut down the Straights of Hormuz? Is oil $200 a barrel? Are there thousands of Kytusha rockets in southern Iraq under the control of the Mardi Army capable of attacking US forces in Kuwait? 2. Saw two Congressmen say at their town meetings in their districts they saw strong opposition to military action. One said the vote was 59 to one against. Most repubs feel burnt by the wmd claims in Iraq and are pretty war weary.. With Boehner and Canter out front supporting BHO are their leadership positions in play?

    1. N:

      1. Multiply the 75,000 by 4; in Iraq we had the majority Shiites with us, in Syria we’ll have the minority alawite and Christians as well as the Sunni insurgents trying to take us down. Assad has seen what has happened to Gadaffi when his rule collapsed and to Saddam when we took over. I don’t think he’s in the mood for anything but a fight to the end. The chemical weapons are at his disposal and he’ll use them, especially if he feel cornered. Iran will stay out of it overtly. US guys in Kuwait will be in Syria so they won’t have to worry about Mardi Army rockets.

      What’ll be good about getting into Syria is we can give another trillion dollars to American companies to rebuild Syria. It’ll cut down the increasing unemployment rate and add another 100,000 people to the Washington, DC area. It’s getting like the early days of our Republic when people flooded Washington at the change of an administration looking for jobs.

      2. Congress will talk big but the idea that others are “laughing at us” will carry the day. You have to understand America is still mesmerized by the old ABC sports slogan:“the thrill of war and the agony of paying for it.”

      Kerry said if we don’t take any action that will cause us to live in infamy; is that what happened when Saddam gassed the Kurds? Maybe that explains why things have fallen down so badly that we end up with Kerry as Secretary of War.

  3. Meanwhile, Whitey stil gets into the newspapers:

    http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-whitey-bulger-prison-letter-20130905,0,7812598.story

    The trial of James “Whitey” Bulger may have ended, but the Boston mobster hasn’t stopped trying to portray himself as a caring man who was betrayed by colleagues and the FBI.

    In a letter purportedly written by Bulger from prison to someone named Eric Morrison and posted on Radar Online, Bulger in cursive handwriting defends himself and says he’s getting together information for an appeal.

    MORE

    1. Henry:

      He’s like the urge to smoke – he’ll keep reminding us of himself. I hear his letters are being bought for $400 a pop by thoe he writes them to. He’ll soon wear out his welcome. It almost looks like he’s feeling sorry for himself being confined to his cell like he is. Wait until he gets to Colorado and hell hole the federals have planned for him.

        1. Doubting:

          I never spoke to Cullen. He and I avoided talking during the trial.

          I spoke to Shelley. She told me it would be unethical for her to pay Sunday. I respect Shelley and do not believe she would lie about it. So I have to say I believe her.

  4. MATT, N et al: Incisive Commentary all around; We are unleashing missiles and bombs with faint knowledge of the long term negative impacts on our country’s health, safety and reputation. There will be blowback from our continual militaristic imperialism. We are the World’s Biggest Bully. (2) Add up the human beings killed, wounded, psychologically impaired, dislocated, left homeless, terrorized and otherwise traumatized worldwide by the Politicians’ (President and Congress) use of the American Military since Vietnam–the numbers exceed three or four million human beings (2 million dead in Vietnam alone as I recall; subtract maybe 500,000 if we didn’t intervene and North fought South Vietnam)—and you’ll come to understand that it is America that will Live in Infamy in History due to our becoming a rapacious, imperialistic, oil-grubbing. drug-trafficking BULLY. Now, if you include our own losses US deaths (58,000 in Vietnam), non-fatal casualties and PTSD victims and the stress American military families suffer while their men and women, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, are willy-nilly sent into combat around the World, you may be approaching another One Million victims of the U.S. War Machine since Vietnam. Now add in the number of VETS and their family members and friends whose drug addiction and alcoholism may be linked, in whole or in part, to their participation in the world’s killing fields from Hue to Belgrade to Baghdad to Benghazi to now Damascus, and you will be hard pressed to deny that it is America’s killing machine which history will record as infamous, from JFK to LBJ to Nixon to Bush to Clinton to Obama our FEDs have dragged us into NEEDLESS, SENSELESS WARS. (2) Remember as we bomb those SYRIAN BUILDINGS that innocent human beings work there, and remember as we knock out INFRASTRUCTURE, BRIDGES, POWER PLANTS, that we are cutting off power and access to HOSPITALS, medical supplies, ambulances, food suppliers, and perhaps even clean water. Innocent civilians will suffer and die aplenty at America’s hands, and we trigger untold future enmity worldwide and untold hateful-vengeful-killing acts against our citizens. (3) Who praises our Imperialism? War Mongers and Imperialists here at home and in other countries! (4) As stated, who benefits from our Militaristic Imperialism: first THE FEDS, which will grow larger, more monstrous, more bellicose, more intrusive into our personal lives and more rapacious; second THE MEDIA: war is good for TV, Radio and Newspapers; third the Military-Industrial Complex which Ike warned us about; fourth BIG OIL and Big Narco-Traffickers who get more pipelines, literal and figurative, for their products’ distribution systems; fifth International Banking Systems which always skim $$$ from the top of trafficking rackets in drugs or oil. Sixth: Wall Street: War, they say, is good for business. “It’s just business!” Killing is! Killing is just business as usual! (7) God Save America from its Imperialistic Militaristic and Money Grubbing Demons!

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