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With more than 100, 000 dead.

With 2 million refugees

With 5 million internally displaced.

With more evidence being presented of the use of chemical weapons [France and the USA]

The UN report is still pending.

What are the options

One is to strike now
but the outcome is less than certain

There are three main strategic objectives an aerial intervention in Syria could include:

    protecting civilians
    limiting or containing the conflict
    changing the course of the war.

In pursuit of these strategic objectives, there are five principal missions the U.S. and partner air forces might be called on to carry out, each of which would present certain challenges and benefits.

    Destroying the Syrian air force or grounding it through intimidation is operationally feasible but would have only marginal benefits for protecting Syrian civilians.
    Neutralizing the Syrian air defense system would be challenging but manageable; however, it would not be an end in itself.
    Making safe areas in Syria reasonably secure would depend primarily on the presence of ground forces able and willing to fend off attacks, and defending safe areas in Syria's interior would resemble intervention on the side of the opposition.
    An air campaign against the Syrian army could do more to help ensure the Assad regime would fall than to determine what would replace it.
    Airpower could be used to reduce the Assad regime's ability or desire to launch large-scale chemical attacks, but eliminating its chemical weapon arsenal would require a large ground operation.

The bolding is mine.

So any air strike would be punitive rather than curative without ground troops. Just who would die is another question with so much chaos already on the ground.

The second option is for a both air and ground operations but who would be willing to proceed down this route, again.

The third option is to try and contain the chaos and let the civil war run its course.

The final option

Is to wait for all the evidence to be presented, to try and move both China and Russia to "our" side of the divide and to put pressure on all parties to come to the table and negotiate; at first a cease fire then a stabilization of the country.

If a case for war crimes can be made then those accused of such crimes should have a fair trial.

Personally I cannot see the point in just adding to the carnage.

I have real concerns about aiding some of the opposition groups who have committed atrocities themselves.

I can only see a diplomatic solution bringing an eventual end to the pain and death.

I know the use of military power is wanted by quite a few, but from the attached report it would take boots on the ground and another American adventure would only inflame the region further.

No matter how hardhearted it may seem to some the only hope is for a negotiated peace,  bombing someone/something just to satisfy our own conscience by punishing the wicked seems of scant solace and pointless.

If the only object is to bring down the regime as fast as possible, bomb away; the result however will be anyone's guess.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar. I'm just wondering when we strike just (34+ / 0-)

    who will "we" have punished.

    "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

    by LaFeminista on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 11:09:11 AM PDT

    •  Well: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LaFeminista

      "There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns - there are things we do not know we don't know."

      Sound familiar?

  •  some historical factors (13+ / 0-)

    Syrian historical drought

    http://www.pecad.fas.usda.gov/...

    Syrian historical collapse in wheat production in 2009

    http://www.indexmundi.com/...

    that was the what

    this is the why

    IN her introduction to a compelling new study, “The Arab Spring and Climate Change,” released Thursday, the Princeton scholar Anne-Marie Slaughter notes that crime shows often rely on the concept of a “stressor.” A stressor, she explains, is a “sudden change in circumstances or environment that interacts with a complicated psychological profile in a way that leads a previously quiescent person to become violent.” The stressor is never the only explanation for the crime, but it is inevitably an important factor in a complex set of variables that lead to a disaster. “The Arab Spring and Climate Change” doesn’t claim that climate change caused the recent wave of Arab revolutions, but, taken together, the essays make a strong case that the interplay between climate change, food prices (particularly wheat) and politics is a hidden stressor that helped to fuel the revolutions and will continue to make consolidating them into stable democracies much more difficult.
    http://www.nytimes.com/...
  •  "this will hurt me more than it'll hurt you...." (5+ / 0-)
    who will "we" have punished.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 11:22:57 AM PDT

  •  The Rand summary (9+ / 0-)

    is a good starting outline for thinking about this. And the points raised here are by no means generally appreciated even in the debate here at dkos. I have been in exchanges here where several folks insist that the goal is to bring the Assad regime down, even though the President has strongly signaled that is not the case.

    However, I don't know that diplomacy has much of a chance either. Sometimes problems do not HAVE a solution. Absent a forceful intervention taking the side of the rebels, the most likely scenario in my mind is a long, grinding attritional victory by the Assad regime, with the war lasting perhaps two more years.

    Assad will not live forever, and demographics are against his ethnic coalition remaining dominant in the long run. Sooner or later there will be another war, if he does not find some way to accommodate a large segment of his population in the meantime.

    Probably the two most likely outcomes of our intervention would be either an Islamic Republic of Syria, or a failed state infested with al Queda.

    Mark E. Miller // Kalamazoo Township Trustee // MI 6th District Democratic Chair

    by memiller on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 11:33:12 AM PDT

  •  My problem (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaFeminista, Wee Mama

    is that it took more than 60 years to bring Israel to the negotiating table - precisely because of the repeated vetos by the USA at the UNSC. There is a similar comment to be made about the ICC - the US will not ratify because in part of its effect on Israeli ambitions to annexe the OPTs.

    If you are serious about the UN route, there are a couple of options if Russia or China vetoes a Chapter 7 motion.

    First is to go to the General Assembly for approval - a very unusual move but within the rules.

    The second is to go for reformation of the UNSC itself to abolish the Permanent Members' veto which has resulted in it failing to fulfill the mission set for it in the Charter. Perhaps a rule to allow a resolution to go through only with a supermajority of permanent members as well as rotating members. That might also allow for an increase in the number of permanent members to include, for example, Brazil, India and Germany

    As I understand it, a signatory to the ICC can refer a case to the ICC if one of its own citizens has been affected by a War Crime or CAH.  This is another institution which the USA should both join and press to be strengthened ideally so that it has its own investigative and arrest arm.

    We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 11:33:51 AM PDT

  •  option 4 is wishful thinking (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lilnev, FG, HeyMikey

    The rest of the diary is sensible, but the hope for a diplomatic solution isn't plausible.

    Diplomacy only is an option when both sides can benefit from a negotiated solution. It also requires someone with authority from each side to make an agreement (and the various rebels have nothing like a single authority.)

    Is diplomacy good for Assad? No. He wants all of Syria back under his control, and there's no indication he's interested in either a partition of Syria or resigning and/or holding elections.

    Is diplomacy good for the rebels? No. Leaving Assad in power is certain to lead to brutal retaliation. Partitioning along the current divide isn't in their interest either. (I'm leaving aside the issue that the rebels are really five or so separate organizations, none of which seem to have any coherent leadership.)

    It's nice to think that diplomacy is the easy answer, and that everyone is stupid for not seeing the obvious solution, but Syria today has nothing resembling a diplomatic solution. At least not now.

    •  Diplomacy is the hardest course of action (11+ / 0-)

      bomb throwing is easy.

      "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

      by LaFeminista on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 11:36:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  diplomacy has been ongoing for 2.5 years. (0+ / 0-)

        Sometimes it is a road to nowhere.  Say the diplomacy continues 5 years down the road, when a milliion are dead.

        Then what?

        (note this isn't advocating intervention--but what indications have you seen to suggest that there is hope for a diplomatic solution?)

        •  Not really more like trying to avoid it (5+ / 0-)

          Now what is your solution bomb a little to help?

          "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

          by LaFeminista on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 12:01:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think I proposed one. (0+ / 0-)

            I've been thinking for a year what I would do.  I don't know.  If I felt that there were a tight, strategic military plan to eliminate chem. weapons launching facilities, limit civilian casualties as much as humanly possible, and stand a reasonable (say, more than 75% shot) of stabilizing the region and lessening the body count, with a reasonable end-game (that may involve some level of post-war administrative transfer to the Russians)

            then I could perhaps back it.

            But Obama never once laid out any sort of plan.   So like Obama, Syria and everyone else, I'm stuck too.

    •  it isn't about Dimplomacy with Assad (9+ / 0-)

      it is about diplomacy with Russia and China

      Both russia and china have vested interests in Syria - they are far more vested in syria than the US (other than 'saving face')

      the path to any successful outcome on syria is clearly through moscow

      "I want to keep them alive long enough that I can win them to Christ," - Rick Warren, Professional Greed Driven Scumbag

      by josephk on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 11:47:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        YucatanMan

        "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

        by LaFeminista on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 12:06:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Moscow analogous to GOP. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Deep Texan

          The GOP has been against whatever Obama was for, regardless of any damage to the American people. This has unfortunately been a political success for the GOP.

          Similarly, Moscow has much incentive to be opposed to whatever America is for, regardless of any proposal's instrinsic worth. And Moscow and China will certainly oppose any proposal to interfere in any country's "internal affairs," as that might raise uncomfortable questions about the legitimacy of the Putin and Chinese Communist dictatorships.

          I don't know what the USA should do about Syria. But I know we should not let Moscow's opinion determine our course of action.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 01:37:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  We have no attractive options (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LWelsch, HeyMikey, Deep Texan

    We're left with just the choices between the least onerous options.

    Almost every interview I see of Syrian refugees has them expressing their dismay that the international community has stood by and done so little to stop the slaughter of civilians by their government.  

    Our own inaction has helped opened the door to Salafist fighters to step into the vacuum IMHO.  Syrians are desperate to stop the killing and will accept help from any quarter with gratitude.

    The possibility of Obama taking action against Assad is making for some really odd coalitions in opposition.

    Will Russia lobby Congress against Syria strike?

    Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed sending a delegation of Russian lawmakers to lobby the U.S. Congress against a military strike on Syria.

    It took the massacre of 7,000 men and boys before the International Community took action against Serbia to stop the ongoing slaughter. I just hope we don't put off acting now just to confront a larger and more repugnant massacre down the road.  

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 11:36:00 AM PDT

  •  The best option is to call off the dogs and (9+ / 0-)

    use diplomacy and sanity to resolve it.  That can only be done if the countries that instigated this proxy/sectarian war own up to what they did, stop flooding Syria with arms and mercenaries, and work to reduce the sectarian divide and terroristic atmosphere that has been purposely fueled.  But they aren't going to do that.  The goal of all involved is to neuter Syria, weaken it, reduce it's power and keep it in a constant state of turmoil like Iraq and Libya.

  •  It will take boots on the ground (5+ / 0-)

    Any half measure that does not bring Assad down will embolden him. And I do believe he has chemical weapons and has used them (I am not convinced that some of the rebels haven't used chemical weapons too).

    But whose boots on the ground?

    The only ones that make sense are Turkish troops.  But Turkey, a member of NATO, has other issues relating to the Kurds also in the Syrian internal war.

    The Civil War Within Syria's Civil War

    As if Syria does not have enough war already, fighting recently broke out in the northeast of the country between Kurdish forces and radical Islamists -- both of whom are no friends of President Bashar al-Assad's regime. In Ras al-Ayn, all the country's problems come together: The town not only sits on the front lines of fighting between Kurds and Arabs, it is also located right on the edge of the Syrian-Turkish border. The Kurdish fighters in Syria are separated from Turkey's border troops -- traditionally the implacable enemies of any form of Kurdish separatism -- by only a 5-centimeter-thick iron gate.
    The Russians have 30,000 people in Syria..  It would make sense to somehow involve the Russians however bad our relations with them are.

    I am very disappointed with Obama's build up to this situation.  His entourage seems unable to see the tools other than the proverbial hammer.   Syria is an 11 dimension Rubik cube and a roll of the dice.

    When people like Gen. Hayden, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Bill Kristol are some of the biggest defenders of Obama's strategy and, specially McCain and Graham, they seem to want more than just a show of force, I become very disgusted.

    Here is McCain explaining why a few cruise missiles won't be enough;

    http://www.cnn.com/...

    How I wish we used our money to help the 2 million plus Syrian refugees instead of shooting cruise missiles or dropping bombs.  This would help us make friends in the region and improve our warmonger image worldwide.  This is my preferred option.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 11:40:59 AM PDT

  •  while here at home, a book is published. (0+ / 0-)

    Enemies Within.

    ... the interactive document map, and info on the book:

    Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD's Secret Spying Unit and Bin Laden's Final Plot Against America by Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman

    link borrowed from emptywheel.

    @Hugh: There is no Article II power which says the Executive can violate the Constitution. * Addington's perpwalk? TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes.

    by greenbird on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 11:49:40 AM PDT

  •  Strikes punish and kill civilians (3+ / 0-)

    Attacking Syria means that more innocent civilians will be killed.   You dont protect civilians by killing them.

  •  ok--serious question. I"m not in favor of this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, HeyMikey, Deep Texan

    either--but what evidence--not even evidence--indications--

    have remotely appeared in the past 2.5 years that give any inkling AT ALL that there is a diplomatic solution?  It's a civil war, resistant to any diplomacy, and Russia and China pretty much shot in the foot any potential international operation early on that could have contained things while, perhaps, getting Assad out of the country.

    And as for war crimes--what could the ICC possibly DO?  Who's going to bring Assad or anyone else to trial?

    Option 4, in my opinion, doesn't exist.  It's a myth.

    Option 3--containment--well, that seems to me to be the best option available--but how do we 'contain'?  By not striking, maybe--

    But how is 'waiting for diplomacy' any different than 'waiting for Godot' in this case?

  •  The first fact is the one that's missing. (4+ / 0-)

    The US believes Assad is winning and does not want to allow it.

    The least casualty inflicting option that will stop Assad's victory is imposing a no fly zone.  The problem with a no fly zone is it requires ongoing presence, though not necessarily boots on the ground.

    He who would trade liberty for security deserves great customer service.

    by Publius2008 on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 12:06:57 PM PDT

    •  I'm not sure what the end game is. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey, Dianna

      "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

      by LaFeminista on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 12:14:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Obama administration doesn't know either (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maryabein

        The situation in Syria was clearly going to be difficult from the start, but the Obama administration has clearly screwed up repeatedly. They are not looking ahead and understanding the consequences of their actions.  They are merely reacting to events and, probably, being manipulated by the Saudis and Israelis.  It really looks like amateur hour to me.

        I'm truly sorry Man's dominion Has broken Nature's social union--Robert Burns

        by Eric Blair on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 12:37:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The end game (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maryabein

        is to keep the civil war going.  In the best scenario/fantasy, both sides will take such losses that attrition will cause a rational peace and create a society that values peace.  All sides in Syria have shown very little interest in peace, however.

        He who would trade liberty for security deserves great customer service.

        by Publius2008 on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 12:39:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I doubt it. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Deep Texan, YucatanMan
          In the best scenario/fantasy, both sides will take such losses that attrition will cause a rational peace

          The problem is that any rational peace implies a functioning justice system, and any functioning justice system ends with Assad on a meat hook or at the end of a rope, like Mussolini or Saddam Hussein. Assad thus cannot agree to any rational peace.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 01:45:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Same as it always, force the adoption of (0+ / 0-)

        predatory capitalism open to all comers and install some sort of US friendly puppet. When have we ever had a different goal?

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 01:08:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  A no fly zone would be very costly. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dharmafarmer

      Syria is not Libya. We'd have to maintain air cover over wide areas. Lots more logistics and support than most people think.

      Libya was supposed to be just a little lark that turned into months and months of US bombing (technically NATO bombing, but...).   Syria would be much worse. And it would divert resources from other areas, much like Iraq diverted resources from Afghanistan.

      We really don't have any option other than to stay out. Anything else makes it all worse.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 03:12:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Quote from Rand Corp - priceless! (4+ / 0-)

    There it is, all laid out in just a few sentences, from THE authoritative source for military decision-making.

    And your alternative is entirely correct.

    Can I vote for you?  Right now?

    Thanks for writing this.

  •  You forgot "Nuke the place & let God sort 'em (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaFeminista, BigAlinWashSt

    out."

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 12:50:09 PM PDT

  •  You need to view the options in terms of the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaFeminista

    overall purpose and goal, to install predatory capitalism, open to all outsiders, as the economic system and some sort of US friendly ruling elitet, be it murderous tyrant or not, as the governmen.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 01:02:09 PM PDT

  •  Why not a land/sea/air blockade? (0+ / 0-)

    The Assad regime can't stand on its own without the help of its political "big brother:" Russia.  Make this a three-pronged offensive, thus:

    1.)  Pound Syria's airfields into dust.  Not the terminals where all the people are --- the runways themselves.  Huge Russian cargo aircraft --- the kind used for bringing in tanks, artillery pieces, and large quantities of munitions/ordnance --- require heavy-duty runways (the kind that you can't build in a day or two with a couple of bulldozers and a bunch of sweaty John-Wayne-Seabee look-alikes).

    2.)  Eliminate Syria's ability to import/export via road and rail.  Bombing cities is passé --- it smacks of "Dresden-ism."  There's a huge difference between the type of road network needed for food and medicine --- and the road network needed to keep Assad's military machine in good working order.

    Shut down Syria's coastline --- ports, beach-heads, everything.  You don't even need to lay mines to do this.  With all the derelict and unwanted shipping on the planet today, just start towing in abandoned ships and sinking them in shallow waters everywhere.  It'll cost Putin more money to clear even a serviceable channel through those shallow waters than "all the Assads on Earth" are worth --- and then we just plug it with another scrap-ready supertanker.  Much, much cheaper than fragging urban targets with Tomahawks....

    Assad can hide his soldiers anywhere he wants, but they're not worth a rotted fig if they're unarmed.  Syria's army effectively becomes about as dangerous as a toothless dog.  What's it gonna do --- slobber on people and gum them to death?

    Proponents of gun violence own guns. Opponents of gun violence do not own guns. What part of this do you not understand?

    by Liberal Panzer on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 01:38:20 PM PDT

    •  So, you're in favor of USA declaring war on Syria? (4+ / 0-)

      Because that's what all those acts you describe are:  Acts of war.

      Not to mention that the cost to do any of them is sky high. And this coming after a decade of wars in two countries -- start another one?

      It's just insane. The USA has no right nor reason to attack Syria and declare war upon it. If we do, then there are literally dozens of places around the world where we "must" do the same thing!

      The only reason people are fired up about Syria is that the media is hyping it up right now. There are lots of countries with horrific dictators and murderers running loose. Should we attack all those?  Where does it end?

      Once the USA is at war with a few dozen countries, would that be enough?

      Gee-whiz, check your signature line.....

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 03:17:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  OK, so then.... (0+ / 0-)

      Ignore for a moment all of YucatanMan's quite accurate criticisms of your plan. Consider that by carrying out your plan, all movement of goods by air, rail, road, or ship would be essentially impossible in Syria. First of all, this would leave whatever civilian population is left facing an impossible situation. Without transportation, people are reduced to scavengers, hunting in the rubble for scraps. Secondly, this would penalize the rebels more than the Assad regime. There is every reason to think that the regime is in possession of more weapon stockpiles than the rebels, and the side with the last bullet will win. Third, with the U.S. already carrying out all this bombing, Assad might well decide to just go ahead and use all the chemical weapons he has. He knows his only chance for survival is if he wins, so he has no reason to pull any punches. Up to this point he could reasonably believe he was winning, but if that changes......

      "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

      by Reston history guy on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 07:31:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So we occupy Iraq again? (0+ / 0-)

      "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

      by LaFeminista on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 01:00:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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