UPDATE: Watch President Obama speak to the nation as well as more detailed remarks from Ambassadors Power and Rice on Syria
(69% of Americans view speech positively: http://www.mediaite.com/online/poll-69-of-americans-viewed-obamas-syria-speech-positively-61-favor-his-approach)
The bottom line is the military threat as well as mounting evidence from Human Rights Watch and others seems to have worked (good article by Nicholas Kristof about it) as Russia and Syria are now offering a deal to sign the UN treaty on chemical weapons and give them up even though they didn’t admit having them days ago: http://nbcnews.to/13GPD6Q
Granted, the tactic of a public ultimatum calling for Assad to give up his WMDs should have been part of Obama’s pitch the same way Bill Clinton and of course George Bush called for Iraq to give up their WMDs with the verification of UN inspectors but apparently it had been discussed previously. Ironically, maybe it wasn’t tried because it sounded too much like the Iraq scenario.
But to review the debate so far…the “experts” on both sides have truly trivialized the debate on Syria argument with posts like about how Obama said he was against “dumb wars” , so here’s a quick reminder of what a “Red Line” looks like….because its definitely not some arbitrary thing Obama dreamed up:
Only Nasser in Egypt and Hussein in Iraq crossed it since WWII and both were dangerous aggressors who invaded our allies like the Axis Powers did.
The fact is the U.S. is the only country on Earth truly willing and able to ensure #neveragain. It is the price of leadership….if we don’t want to lead then we can sit back and let countries like Russia help spread genocide and anti-gay sentiment around the world instead.
To clarify, the President is NOT proposing that we intervene in a very complicated civil war…even if our missions might overlap. That’s because this kind of destruction is not the result of weapons of WAR…it is a result of weapons of GENOCIDE.
Hence, everyone can be “anti-war” but are they also “anti-genocide?” And if so, does that mean doing nothing about an active campaign of murder or can it also mean a “pro-peacemaking” position to stop it by any means necessary after all other alternatives have been exausted.
So, with relatively low cost to U.S. blood and treasure via air strikes that are separate from the civil war, we can probably deter further acts of genocide already banned by international law….regardless of what the UN votes on in 2013.
It might take more than a few days to stop it, but to say that this deterrent won’t affect anything or save lives is ignoring how it ended the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo (total of 0 allied casualties)…remember that bullies don’t handle getting punched back very well.
This is the exact OPPOSITE of the Iraq War. Instead of using a fake reason to wage a real war, this is a real reason to wage a military action to deter weapons of genocide.
If every military action was a WAR then Israel would be at “war” with Syria based on their own strike recently….but Syria and Russia didn’t lift a finger in response because they know it isn’t worth it.
Unfortunately, our politics are not grown up enough to realize the world is not black-and-white so we compare everything to other things we heard of without discussing the details of a policy instead.
For example, it is easy to criticize the fact that the Obama administration rejected supplying the opposition with gas masks because they thought they might actually somehow be used by either side against the other, but apparently sarin gas only needs to touch the human body to kill so they wouldn’t have helped anyway.
But regardless, Syrian Dictator Bashar Assad killed 1,400+ civilians (including 400+ children) on 8/21/13 via a sarin gas-launched missle attack…that is about 3000% more deadly than the typical daily civilian casualty rate and an unacceptable genocidal tactic.
Yes, 100,000 people have already died during the Syrian civil war since March 2011, but if you consider that approximately 36,000 were civilians that breaks down to about 40+ per day for even the most recent violent months of the war. So, if the chemical attacks continue, Assad could double the total of civilian casualties in less than a month.
I agree with John Kerry’s powerful case (Video & Transcript) and the President’s statement (Video & Transcript) for taking action on Syria now regardless of the split in a mostly uninformed public on what the war is all about. Here’s a primer and some additional bullet points so you have some background.
The good news is Obama is asking for congressional authorization for a limited military response to degrade Assad’s ability to massacre his people. Yet that’s also the bad news as many politicians, like the experts, are playing armchair general during a complicated military effort or are parroting their ideological bases right now who have collectively decided against intervention “Because Bush” or “Because Obama.”
Of course, any Republican who voted for the Iraq War who doesn’t support this resolution is a total hypocrite, especially because these are the same geniuses who claimed Clinton’s strikes on Kosovo and Afghanistan to punish Bin Laden for the embassy bombings before 9/11 were part of some “Wag The Dog” diversion from the Lewinsky scandal.
But progressives who supported intervention in Darfur and even Rwanda should be thinking twice too. Aside from the usual suspects regurgitating their typical “anti-war” talking points, even the more sober critiques of The Daily Show have become surprisingly flippant with segments that even compare American involvement in the Middle East to British imperialism despite the fact that I see faint economic advantage in getting involved.
And hence, Democratic elected officials or former elected officials who understand our responsibility in the world are lining up behind the President in the House (Nancy Pelosi), Senate (Elizabeth Warren), Policy (Tom Perriello), Grassroots (Howard Dean) and future Presidential candidate (Hillary Clinton) communities.
Meanwhile, there are already reportedly two million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey and other countries, with five million displaced people within the country’s borders….so the emerging threat of a massive WMD campaign would force millions more to try to escape the blanket use of terror anywhere and everywhere in their country. The costs of an increased refugee migration will fall upon the shoulders of the U.S. and its allies who already are supplying billions in aid.
Even if Assad takes further action against civilians, further U.S. involvement will have to be re-authorized but the world community will become more and more united so the “slippery slope” will be mitigated…but is Assad really so dumb that he would risk his regime further after possibly losing his much of air force and command & control abilities?
WHY IT MATTERS:
This course is a minimal approach that keeps in mind that due to the divided nature of the international community, partly because of Russia’s funding of Assad and typically anti-humanitarian vote on the UN Security Council, as well as the reflexive rejection of a anti-WMD campaign by the UK Parliament, the “coalition of the willing” might only include France and few other nations.
But frankly, the lack of sufficient American intervention earlier might have led to the situation we’re in now….an Appeasement 2.0 strategy where we allowed an aggressor to use WMDs on a small scale several times and finally have no choice but to act under less favorable conditions.
If a two-bit dictator can use these weapons now and not be punished then the biggest problem is not even what he did but what does he and other world leaders could do next as a result.
The U.S. announced in June that it would arm the rebels as a result of the less clear reports of WMDs being used but that support never really came and it definitely wasn’t a big fat Stop sign regardless so now Assad is ramping it up beyond debatable levels. So, maybe it’s 14,000 dead next time or maybe neighboring allies like Turkey, Jordan or Israel become affected.
Meanwhile, other rogue states like Iran will be emboldened to kill opponents and go nuclear while nuclear states like North Korea will be further strengthened by their cloak of WMD protection.
Some are reminding us that we didn’t do anything to Iraq after they killed tens of thousands with chemical weapons on the Kurds and Iran in the 80s…well, look how that turned out! We later fought two wars because of Saddam Hussein after he emerged as a wider threat to the region.
So, we might resent serving as the “World Police” is the price we pay if we want to live in a secure world, because when we don’t intervene (Pearl Harbor, 9/11) these things have a habit of approaching our shores eventually.
This was the work of the Greatest Generation that we must continue.
A world at the mercy of these kinds of tyrants is a world of further danger and poverty that affects us all.
FWDPROGRESS ARGUMENT SUMMARY:
“Support for a resolution to respond military to the use of WMDs in Syria”
-> “Heart” Talking Points (how the policy reflects our liberal democratic values)
* Why the “Red Line”: Using chemical weapons and genocide acts are banned under international law as a result of the devastating effects of such warfare during World War I and World War II
* The result of such an attack is an exponential increase in civilian casualties that increased the rate of civilian deaths by about 3000% because of ONE attack and are well beyond the parameters of acceptable war violence that could grow if unchecked
* Limited military action has no relation to a pre-emptive war or strike, or even a direct engagement in the civil war conflict, because it is a focused act of self-defense against the genocidal acts against the civilian population of Syria
-> “Head” Talking Points (how the policy reflects our national and socio-economic interests)
* Due to the lack of international will or capability, the U.S. is the only nation on Earth that can stem the crisis, which already surpassed the use of conventional weapons several times prior to this incident due to the lack of a global response
* As in the cases of Bosnia and Kosovo where there were 0 allied casualties, U.S. military intervention can utilize cruise missles and stealth or unmanned aircraft to damage Assad’s war-making capability at little risk to American soldiers or civilian lives in comparison to allowing the attacks to continue.
* Even with a sustained campaign, air strikes will require a relatively low economic cost compared to the current investments of billions of dollars in arms and non-lethal aid that have already been expensed and will most likely break the Assad regime’s commitment to further war crimes in favor of self-preservation
* Growing violence destabilizes the region and could affect Israel, Turkey Jordan or other allies that the U.S. is pledged to defend
* Rejecting the role of “World Police” and ignoring war crime violations could inspire Assad or other rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea to further pursue the acquisition and use of WMDs that could create a worldwide crisis, and like with Pearl Harbor or 9/11, some day could return to our shores
I also was concerned over his treatment in solitary confinement but I hope most civil libertarians are happy with the Bradley Manning sentencing yesterday.
At 35 years, he only received 30 minutes in prison for each of the 700,000 documents he published on Wikileaks and according to Ezra Klein he is eligible for parole after eight years in prison…that is just SIX MINUTES in prison per document.
Considering that some progressive-leaning news sources I trust have only shared one item he leaked that would qualify as “whistle blowing” so I think that’s a pretty positive outcome.
In the video, an Apache helicopter kills 11 Iraqi men because they thought they were part of an armed gang they were tracking with an RPG and AK-47s but it turns out only one man was armed. Then when a van comes to pick up a wounded man who the helicopters were holding off on firing upon, they fire again and kill the driver. A Reuters journalist was also killed but its unclear in the article whether he was in the van.
So, this leak to bypass Pentagon stonewalling of the Freedom Of Information Act request for the video from Reuters is understandable even though the information might have been eventually released.
Yet this is ONE incident and I’m not aware of any other evidence that would totally reframe the case. Regardless of our personal opinion on whether they should have been classified, were the remaining 699,999 documents critical to sharing further “whistle blowing” incidents?
It seems Manning didn’t share too many new facts and mostly just de-classified tons of information to get revenge on the Defense Department….and in the process committed de-facto espionage because he gave secret information to ALL our enemies (not just one) via the web.
I don’t think that is a protected right that many Americans are familiar with and cheering on this kind of cyber-vigilante behavior is not going to build the credibility of crusading activists and reporters like Glenn Greenwald who called the sentence: “Sick, sad, pathetic, and disgusting.”
Regardless of the mistakes of the United States, no citizen deserves a blank check to reveal details of our country’s national security apparatus and the “heroism” of a Manning or Snowden is tarnished when they act like they have one….and as a result help Russia and other countries or factions who are a much greater threat to human rights.
That is the problem with the “libertarian” ideology…when you migrate from the cause of Liberty to Hypocrisy.
Besides already having a Democratic President to support while her condoned Super PAC is over-zealously asking for money from random people on facebook, I think Hillary Clinton’s fatal flaw is that I don’t think I have seen her fight for anything that wasn’t a slam dunk….since Health Care Reform in 1993 at least.
I’m not sure if that experience was a good learning experience or not. Did it make her gun shy, and regardless, will she be a better collaborator in the future on a big issue?
I feel like Hillary is partly a victim of the more difficult struggles her generation faced to break the “Glass Ceiling” and her style of leadership reflects it as her main focus has been being as tough as a Man and what seems to work is by thinking like a Man to not buck the system much.
Other than supporting generic “women’s rights” I think the reality remains that Hillary hasn’t stepped out of her comfort zone lately, and therefore, her compatriots have been better at her prior roles then she was.
First, despite the polls that probably are caused by the GOP Congress dragging him down with them, you can still see Obama’s ability to engage the public as a Presidential figure that won in 2008 and he still uses today despite the obstacles to his agenda: http://www.whitehouse.gov/a-better-bargain
Now, it could be easy to write off that comparison, but look at her successors and you realize its a pattern:
“For now, Middle East peace push is John Kerry’s show”
“Gillibrand: Military commanders are ‘failing’ on sexual assault”
Over the last couple of years, I went along with the Pro-Hillary Conventional Wisdom as she served admirably as Secretary of State after her bitter primary defeat, but the fact remains, her leadership is locked in the past and might be more about Hillary than anything else.
In light of the talk this week about the rumored “Business Arrangement” that is the marriage of Hillary’s top aide Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner, which reminds us of some similarities in their story with the Clintons, you’ve got to wonder what the priorities are.
Despite Bill’s great talent for engagement and work with the Clinton Global Initiative, I think Hillary in particular might have more of a Passion for Politics than a Passion for People.
So, despite the adoration right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if a “Not Hillary” candidate emerges again in 2012…unless that Passion for People truly emerges.
Otherwise, she risks the downfall of Tracy Flick in “Election” who forgot that elections ARE popularity contests…and some people do have inherited advantages but you don’t become as popular as them by simply working hard and playing it safe with who you talk to and what you say:
“You see, I believe in the voters. They understand that elections aren’t just popularity contests. They know this country was built by people just like me who work very hard and don’t have everything handed to them on a silver spoon.”
–IS THIS FWDPROGRESS? Let me know what you think!
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
These words are truly a North Star that continues to guide us…remind people of that when being faced with the spin and the hate of those who would restrict those rights.
WATCH: CNN & Rebuild The Dream’s Van Jones shares why truly believing in these values is what makes us Patriotic…because loving America = loving Liberty & Justice for ALL!
WATCH: President Obama’s “Independence Day” Weekly Address