The Video may seem a little off topic but that’s because Trump was completely off topic, raving about how unfair it was that his Button Man who happens to be a member of the Bar (but probably not for long) Michael Cohen got served with a Search Warrant, at least 3 of them as a matter of fact. It’s not at all true FBI Agents busted down his door, he rents office space from another firm and his Landlords, when presented with the proper papers, opened the door and let them in as they are legally compelled to do.
The significance of the pictures however, is the reaction of all that Pentagon Brass being used as props for bad, and spittle flecked, Reality TV. They came to talk about our response to the latest Syrian Chemical Strike and are not amused.
Nor should they be because there is in fact very little we can do about it from a Military standpoint as was pointed out in a piece from Max Fischer titled America’s Three Bad Options in Syria published by The New York Times on Wednesday, April 10th, 2018.
In a general way Fischer categorizes our choices as-
- Limited Punitive Strikes
- Arming Anti-Government Forces
- Massive Ground and Air Intervention
As defined by Fischer Limited Punitive Strikes include all the conventional options that have been generally discussed, symbolic Missile Strikes, attacks on Command and Control facilities that might kill a few Syrian Colonels, and direct Anti-Personnel Strikes against Syrian and Iranian Troop Concentrations (as far as I know Iran has nothing to do with the Chemical Attacks but we hate them and they helped the Syrians who we also hate and we hate them and think we can push them around and by the way we hate them).
The problem with that as Fischer points out is-
Such action is meant to impose a modest cost on Mr. Assad or to send a message that future chemical weapons use will not be tolerated. At the same time, it is meant to avoid any risk of changing the course of the war, which could lead in unanticipated directions — like embroiling the United States in a larger conflict, or collapsing the Syrian government, which could, in turn, spread chaos that would risk millions of lives.
But past efforts at these kind of strikes have failed for two reasons. First, they do not change Mr. Assad’s calculus because, to Mr. Assad, this war is a matter of personal and national survival. If he believes chemical weapons are necessary to his survival, he will abandon them only in the face of some threat to his survival greater than the benefit he thinks they offer him. That requires an existential threat, which the United States is unwilling to impose because of the risks.
Second, Mr. Assad’s Russian and Iranian allies can easily help him absorb the costs imposed by such strikes. If the United States bombs another Syrian runway, Russian contractors can simply pave Mr. Assad a new one. It’s not exactly a game-changer for him.
I’ve seen suggestions from other sources that the Iranians on their own could indeed escalate the conflict in ways the United States might find undesirable such as unleashing a Hezbollah/Hamas attack on Israel (and their IRBMs which don’t have to have nuclear ordinance to be effective can target every square inch with great accuracy), close the Straights of Hormuz, make the positions of U.S. Troops in Iraq undefendable, little things.
Fischer describes Arming Anti-Government Forces as the Obama Policy which is already a deal breaker as far as Trump is concerned. It also has several drawbacks-
The problem with this strategy is that Mr. Assad’s Russian and Iranian allies are able to escalate in turn, matching and exceeding any American bid. The Americans send guns; the Iranians send a combat brigade. The Americans send missiles; the Russians install an artillery unit. Russia and Iran can simply do more, giving them control over what military planners call “the escalation ladder.”
One that he doesn’t mention is that advanced weapons systems given or sold to militant groups of dubious allegiance more frequently that not end up being used against U.S. Troops in the field, not against Washington’s desired targets. It’s easy to forget (though I haven’t) that Daesh had operational M1A1 Abrams Tanks straight from Iraqi armories.
Finally there is Massive Ground and Air Intervention. Fischer thinks it highly likely this will have very negative Regional and International effects, up to and including armed conflict in Europe between the U.S. and Russia.
These strikes would only be enough to work if they deliberately create one of two risks that the United States has strained to avoid. The first risk is that of collapsing the Syrian government, which would exacerbate Syrian suffering by throwing millions more lives into chaos and most likely prolong the war. The second risk is of a direct military confrontation with Russia, a nuclear-armed power with the ability to escalate hostilities rapidly in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, putting millions of non-Syrians at risk.
Such action would severely strain the Military capability of the U.S. which has degraded considerably in the 16 years of the endless, undefined, illegal, and unwinnable War of Terror. It is by no means a sure thing that we would win.
But I have a modest proposal!
Why don’t we get out? Completely. Now.
In the 70+ years we’ve been mucking around the Middle East we’ve never, ever won (except Desert Storm and that was a special case, with limited aims, and it could be argued that we didn’t even win that one). In fact, we’ve made things worse.
Oil isn’t what it once was and our strategic interest in the territory is considerably diminished.
Why don’t we just leave and let them duke it out themselves? Oh sure, it would be bloody and chaotic, but we’ve had 70 years of bloody and chaotic with no end in sight.