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April 8, 2017

Though President Trump initiated the violence, he does not get to call it war or not-war.

Bashar Assad does. To expect that Assad sees the strikes as anything other than war is fantasy thinking.
This doesn't mean that Assad won't be cowed away from using chemical weapons again. My point is that no matter how the strikes are spun by the administration or others, they opened an actual war against Syria. The war may be brief, it may not. Syria may respond, it might not. But war it is. And we must remember that it takes both sides to end a war. The United States unilaterally began it, but we cannot unilaterally end it. This war will not be ended until Assad either says so or is removed from power. And even then his successor may choose to continue it. - - Sense of Events: Just War and Syria Strikes

Posted by gerardvanderleun at April 8, 2017 11:29 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

There really is n end of the barking mad neo-con murderous filth is there?

Posted by: Bill Jones at April 8, 2017 6:15 PM

Good article, Don. Very thorough and I'd like to write more but will give some fragments first.

If the West, especially the US, wishes to say that chemical weapons attacks are unacceptable, then there has got to be a response. Commentators have described the response as measured.

On the question of starting a war, my observation is that we are in a state of war inside Syria already, and this includes ground troops (my personal definition of frank war). You could argue that we are not at war with Assad, at least openly (Obama's treachery notwithstanding). We are at war with ISIS. I would argue that the war is a complex of belligerents, but the objectives must be formed not around segregating which bad guy is which, as much as how to achieve the objectives. Certainly, after ISIS is (inevitably) gone, what happens then? We are unwilling to conduct regime change ops kinetically, but the alternative of abandoning or creating a vacuum in Syria is probably worse than an objective of redirecting Syria.

My opinion: notice has been delivered that Russia is not in charge in Syria, and that the use of chem weapons is punishable. Great, and good. Syria will be, in the long run, a refugee producing territory, and this has global consequences. Our interests lie in forcing Syria to do several things, and the path to that end is war.

Did I tell you what my son said when Obama was elected, Don? He was only about 7 or 8 at the time, and I remarked that with Obama's election we had just conceded defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan. My son's retort: "Never mind, dad. After Obama is out of office,we'll just have to go back, and next time we'll bring artillery!"

Those of you in the general readership too conservative for a war in Syria, please illuminate me on what we're going to do with the Syrian diaspora in Europe and also in the US. You all good with chemical weapons use in warfare, now?

Posted by: Casey Klahn at April 8, 2017 9:36 PM

Casey, thank you for your kind words.And please send your son to DC to straighten them out - he obviously has brains and insight!

"Which bad guy is which" -- and remember there are no good guys. Back in 2013's contretemps over Assad's chem weapons use, I wrote that the Syrian "resistance" was (at the time) entirely dominated by al Qaeda and that supplying weapons to anti-Assad militias of whatever stripe "would be like helping Frank fight Jesse over who would run the James gang."

In 2015, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported that while ISIS was particularly genocidal, every militia group was simply murderous: "While their military campaign against the group gained ground, the militias seem to operate with total impunity, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake."

The tribes who live in modern Syria (which will never be restored as an intact nation state) have been killing each other for 1,000 years or more. We, the Russians, the Arab League, Iran, anyone else are not going to change that; this is simply how they roll there. Assad and his ruthless father, Hafez, put a lid on it through strategic alliances among the tribal groups and religious sects, but Bashar lost control of it. Hafez, however, simply annihilated opposition at its inception, including whole small cities if he thought it necessary.

However, back to my point: even stipulating that you are right - we will have to go big or go home in Syria, and going home is not a real option, what exactly is the reason that Congressional and public debate must be ruled out?

That is my point. Going to war against Syria proper may be the right thing to do (or maybe the least-bad option) but it has been initiated the wrong way, politically, strategically, and tactically.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at April 9, 2017 4:50 AM

This appears to me to be more game-show or sportsball foreign policy. It is all the U.S. establishment is capable of now. I wish someone would shoot this foolish country and put it out of its misery. Possibly some of us might be able to salvage something from the carcass.

Posted by: Quent at April 9, 2017 6:58 AM

Assad will stop his rampaging just as soon as someone puts a bullet in his head or, more preferably, a cruise missile into his bedroom.

Until then, he will do whatever he pleases.

Posted by: Jack at April 9, 2017 7:56 AM

HI, Don.

Your salient point, about running up the war, has merit. Be advised (here is my overwrought parenthetic statement: I know you know this) that POTUS is using Surprise in a classic way. A way that contemporary politicians have forgotten. He is not flagging our moves. The advent of even 1,000 grunts in Syria is not without intent, but I am not in the loop on the strategy for defeating ISIS. The only insight I can make out is that there are 2 hubs in the Northern portion of ISIS' battlespace, and they remind me of the anchors of a suspension bridge. Heavy fighting is happening there, and this is classic maneuver stuff.

Yes to public debate. Congress is persona non grata to me, but they will get to meet in their smoke-filled, fevered rooms. However, the way it looks to me, a war with ISIS could be over before Schumer gets to the camera if we invest in the right way and win decisively against ISIS.

idk the way forward with the rest of Syria, but my intent would be to get it done. Notes: we have taken the initiative away from Russia (Assad). Putin will roll Assad at the slightest friction, because as I've said elsewhere he only wants to increase his hand in the Mid East. Supporting Assad was a pretext because no one in their right mind would bet on that horse. What I love @ the Tomahawk strike is that it covers multiple strategic bases at a time. Classic Trump. Great strategic work.

So, if the Presidential War Powers kicks in, I'd say by that time the structure for a win may be in place. I know I'm being optimistic, but I see movement and it is refreshing for a change.

So, politically, strategically and tactically I see progress. Ball in your court.

Per topic: Tomahawks, by my info, have 1,000 warheads. The damage in the Russian drone vid does not look consistent with 1k bombing. Those are big freaking bombs, contra to what some are hearing in the public. I smell a fish. Are there Tomahawks with 200# payloads?

Posted by: Casey Klahn at April 9, 2017 8:00 AM

Jack, as I wrote in my post, "Assad, not concrete and dirt, should have been the target."

Posted by: Donald Sensing at April 9, 2017 8:01 AM

"....he will do whatever he pleases."

As he should.
Don't fall for the gov't-media lies.

Posted by: ghostsniper at April 9, 2017 8:35 AM

I meant 1,000 pound warheads. Those drone pics don't show that kind of damage, in my estimate. I don't know for sure, as I'm not an engineer, but those plane revetments should have been either flattened, or they should look real, real ugly on top.

Posted by: Casey Klahn at April 9, 2017 3:42 PM

if government & mainstream media say the same thing, they are both lying.

To you.

Posted by: itor at April 9, 2017 10:02 PM

"Going to war against Syria proper may be the right thing to do (or maybe the least-bad option) but it has been initiated the wrong way, politically, strategically, and tactically."

Folks, we did not go to war with Syria!

Trump gave Assad a LESSON: Using poison gas is wrong. Especially when it's used on civilians, including women and children.

Will Assad learn his lesson? Time will tell. But if he doesn't, he should expect another painful lesson from the Big Dog. The U.S. President certainly has the means—and as he's demonstrated, Trump has the will to b!tch-slap a pissant bully like Assad.

And regarding the current "false flag" narrative/talking point: if ISIS (or Assad's enemies; same-same) have Sarin gas... why haven't they used it on Assad himself?? Or on Assad's troops? Or on Assad's Russian allies? Why haven't they used their Sarin gas in cities like Paris, Stockholm, London, Rome... or in LA, Chicago, New York, SF, Dallas, etc., etc?

Does the "false flag" narrative pass the smell test?

No; "false flag" is just a false flag talking point.

Folks, we can't trust anything that public officials or Big Media tells us. But we CAN trust our own common sense—and it doesn't make sense that if ISIS has poison gas they would only use it on themselves, when there are so many juicy targets around.

*Sheesh*, we're being told what to think again! So let's confound 'em with our critical thinking skillz.

Posted by: Smokey at April 10, 2017 11:30 AM

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