Outcome of military
The UK is helping aid agencies working inside Syria by providing eight armoured cars, so they can more safely deliver aid in conflict areas. Photo credit: DFID – UK Department for International Development. Click image to enlarge.
AS THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION weighs its options for military intervention in Syria, it is becoming increasingly clear that there are no good choices.
Three major newspapers – the Guardian, The Washington Post and the New York Times – this morning took three widely divergent approaches on the story, indicating the dilemmas facing U.S. Policy makers.
In “US military intervention in Syria would create ‘unintended consequences” the Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman provides the key issue: any intervention would be unpredictable, and none of the outcomes are likely to be good for the U.S., the Syrians or the world.
“General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, [told Senators] that once the US got involved militarily in the Syrian civil war, which the UN estimates to have killed about 93,000 people, ‘deeper involvement is hard to avoid’,” Ackerman wrote.
Watch video below the fold.
THE HUMANITARIAN TOLL in the three-year-old Syrian conflict is horrendous. Not only have almost 100,000 perished, but millions more have been displaced from their homes; the U.N. High Commission for Refugees estimates the number at 1.5 to 2.5 million.
The UNHCR refugee camp for Syrians in Jordan is said to have over 100,000 residents. Click image to enlarge.
Many have fled to neighboring countries which themselves are straining to cope with the flood of refugees.
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has dug in his heels and vowed to fight to the death. His disregard for the human consequences of his intransigence is deplorable.
Meanwhile, Mark Landler and Thomas Shanker report in The New York Times this morning in Pentagon Lays Out Options for U.S. Military Effort in Syria that the Pentagon has drawn up a detailed list of military options for intervention.
“The list of options … was the first time the military has explicitly described what it sees as the formidable challenge of intervening in the war,” they write.
Last month, President Obama announced he would provide light weapons and ammunition to Syrian opposition fighters after concluding that Assad had used chemical weapons against his own countrymen.
Furthering the story, the Washington Post reports this morning that intelligence committees in both the House and Senate have approved CIA weapons shipments to opposition fighters in Syria.
In “Congressional panels approve arms aid to Syrian opposition” Karen de Young writes that the panels approved a plan to reallocate money in the CIA budget for covert operations in the strife torn country.
“The agreement allows money already in the CIA’s budget to be reprogrammed for the Syria operation, a covert action …
The infrastructure for the program, which also includes training, logistics and intelligence assistance — most of it based in Jordan — is already in place and the arms would begin to flow within the next several weeks.”
The web version of the story on U.S. military intervention in Syria pubished this morning in The Guardian. Click image to enlarge.
ONE CANNOT VIEW the headlines today and make any sense of the situation without considering recent U.S. history of military involvements in the region, and the ancient origins of the conflict.
Ten years ago, George Bush invaded – and destroyed – Iraq under false pretenses.
His real goal was to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and the “Cheney administration” invented all sorts of spurious reasons to sell the plan to the American public.
Trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives having been lost on both sides, and Iraq is still in ruins, torn by seemingly irreconcilable differences between Shiite and Sunni factions.
The story in Afghanistan is not dissimilar. As the US gradually proceeds to withdraw by the end of next year, the Taliban is resurgent. The corrupt government of Hamid Karzai – seen as a US stooge installed by the Cheney administration – has little control outside of the capital Kabul.
The Taliban have clearly realized time is on their side; all they have to do is wait out the withdrawal. American taxpayers should rightly question what we have achieved with the trillions spent and thousands of lives lost.
We were not the first to be defeated in Afghanistan; it is widely accepted that its disastrous foray into the region was one of the main reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Both “superpowers” of the 1980s and 1990s have been forced to leave that “country” with their tails between their legs.
But for a further understanding of why, one must look back a hundred years, as I did on this blog on June 18 in “Are Ottoman empire remnants imploding”
Not one of the three territories where the U.S. has tried – or soon will try – to be the “policeman of the world” can truly be called a nation-state as it is defined in the modern era.
The boundaries of Iraq, Syria and many of their neighbors were arbitrarily imposed by bureaucrats of colonial era Britain and France, both of which were also forced ignominiously from the region in the late 19th century.
The political borders cross tribal, religious and ethnic divisions as if they did not exist.
Shiite versus Sunni (Iraq); Alawites versus Hashemites (Syria); and Kurds versus Turks (Turkey) were left within the same political boundaries but straddling the borders of each “country.”
The clearest example of the folly is the Kurds, a sect with large minorities in Turkey, Iraq and Iran, and smaller populations elsewhere.
Then there is Al Qeada, the militant Islamic radical group whose tentacles spread from the Horn of Africa to the Boshphorus, and whose armed militias have penetrated deep into every country in the region.
One can sympathize with officials in the Obama administration who are forced to wrestle with this problem. There are no good solutions.
Perhaps this is a case for us to decide on the least bad course of action. What is likely to cause the minimum amount of harm at the lowest cost?
Standing by idly watching a genocide is definitely not an option.
Watch the July 9 video below by UNHCR titled: “Turkey: Supporting Syrian Refugees”
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