Sunday, September 8, 2013

Some Thoughts on Syria

I sent the following to my Senator and Congressman. Some thoughts: 

Dear Congressman/Senator, 

I am writing to indicate my disapproval of any and all U.S. military actions in or around Syria by the United States at the current time. I strongly hope that you can concur in this opinion. My reasons are as follows: 

American Interests: One can understand generally an American interest of peace in the region. However this has always seemed to be thwarted by the very nature of the peoples, tribal in construction, and conflict has been a way to negotiate and achieve their tribal goals. Thus an American interest should and must be more than just the reduction of internal conflict, which frankly may be an impossibility. As for establishing democracy this too is at best wishful thinking. Democracy may very well work at this time in civilization only those regions which are capable of working within its confines. Finally there is an argued putative threat to the United States and its people. Frankly the threat is real but not confided to Syria, it is a pandemic Islamic threat to our very existence and to date the current regime in Syria has been the least of the purports of such a threat whereas many of those opposing the regime are at the heart of those making and carrying out the threat. Threats always exist but in this case the threat level post regime overthrow may be higher as we have clearly seen in Egypt. Humanitarian interests are always of concern, but that we can handle by supporting the millions of refugees. 

Unintended Consequences: The list of possible unintended consequences is minion. First there are the almost predictable and then there are the deadly unpredictable. One merely understand WW I to see how Governments can incrementally proceed to global war. On the almost predictable side are; explosion of Islamic terrorist activity, Iranian intervention, Israel attacks, Russian intervention, and the list goes on. 

End Game: The current Administration appears to be clueless as how best to execute what they want to do and also have failed to express any end game. As we have clearly seen in so many prior conflicts the articulation of what constitutes success and what constitutes failure are never a priori stated and adhered to. Thus we seem to just plod along in a senseless manner justifying incremental changes. One needs look no further than Iraq or Afghanistan. In Afghanistan we clearly should have had a single goal; exterminate with extreme prejudice any and all perpetrators of the attacks on the U.S. We should not have sought to democratize the country, one which is at best a warring tribal culture and at worst a petri dish for future attacks. One should just have destroyed the attackers and their allies and moved on. 

Acting Alone: Acting alone is foolhardy. If this is so critical it is demanded that world support should be involved. It is not. Russia does not want an enemy it does not know. It had several 911 events from Pushkin Square to the ever deadly Islamic Fundamentalist attacks throughout Russia. We seem to have neglected that. Thus for Putin, a man I know, he wants the devil he knows to those he does not. China also sees this globally as an economic drag that it cannot afford, nor should we. The Brits clearly said no. We also should do so. 

Expenditure or Resources: Our military is not equipped after more than a decade of war to enter into a massive engagement with disparate players in undefined territory. This would make Vietnam look like child’s play. In addition the costs would explode exponentially. There is the classic step to one more try and then another. It would costs hundreds of billions we do not want to take from an already weak economy. 

Very truly yours,

As the witch from the East states:

the smooth consensus builder and community organizer, the former constitutional professor and the drive-by senator who must stand by the argument he made when he ran for president excoriating W.’s and Dick Cheney’s highhandedness: checks and balances must be observed. As he told Charlie Savage, then reporting for The Boston Globe, in 2007, “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” 

Now first, the current President was not a Professor, he was a Lecturer, one of those fill-in individuals to teach a class that no one on the faculty can do at the time. He was not Professor Tribe at Harvard. Second, words mean something, even if you were the one to utter them. This would be a reckless action with unlimited unintended consequences. Now that we approach the 100th anniversary of WW-I we should remember that some tens of millions of dead resulting from one small misstep after another. So do not take the first one.