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Obama and Syria
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subego
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Dec 1, 2017, 01:07 PM
 
Heard the following argument yesterday from a pro-Islam lefty.

She claimed, for all the good things one can say about Obama, he dealt with Syria and Putin so weakly, it gave Putin the idea he could dick with us and face no consequences.

Discuss.
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 1, 2017, 04:12 PM
 
Did Syria happen before Ukraine? After reset?

What was the alternative on Syria not taken?
     
Paco500
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Dec 1, 2017, 05:09 PM
 
When measuring Obama's performance in the Middle East, what do we compare it to? Which administration did a better job? Any positive outcomes from the past had a pretty short shelf life and the situation always got worse.

Obama did very little to make the situation any better, but not sure what he could or should have done.

Everyone screws up in the Middle East.
     
OAW
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Dec 1, 2017, 05:34 PM
 
Setting aside the entire "red line" blunder, Obama's policy in Syria was fundamentally in line with the national security interests of the United States. The bottom line is that the US has no strategic national security interests in the Syrian conflict. Quite unlike Russia and Iran for which Syria was critical to their ability to project power in the region. For Russia the Tartus naval facility is the only access the Russian navy has to the Mediterranean. And for Iran the Assad regime is the conduit for arms shipments to its Shiite proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon. For the United States government OTOH ... it opposed the Assad regime on humanitarian grounds ... but it fundamentally did not want to see it fall militarily lest an even worse force in Daesh (aka Islamic State) took over the government. The best the US government could hope for was for Daesh and other jihadist forces to put enough pressure on the Syrian regime to get it sideline Assad personally and enter into some sort of power-sharing agreement with the non-jihadist opposition. But to thread a needle like that in the Middle East is practically impossible. Especially with Russian and Iranian military forces in the theater with a clear and focused mandate to support the Assad regime at all costs. So it's not that Obama dealt with Putin "weakly". It was just that Putin (and Khamenei) needed Assad to stay in power a helluva lot more than Obama needed him gone. So he wisely didn't allow the US to get drawn into a direct military conflict with Russia and/or Iran in the Middle East over what would have ultimately amounted to a "d*ck measuring" contest for him as POTUS.

OAW
     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 1, 2017, 07:45 PM
 
The US, UK and allies spent so much time and money in Afghanistan and Iraq that when Libya happened they weren't prepared to get as involved and then with Syria there was no appetite amongst western voters to spend money and lives invading and occupying more countries that were only going to generate more terrorists and generally not appreciate our intervention. In short, we spent too much on wars and our populations were feeling a bit skint so they lost all desire for more wars. Putin spotted this and realised that if he invaded Crimea he'd more than likely get away with it so he did.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
subego  (op)
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Dec 1, 2017, 09:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
Did Syria happen before Ukraine? After reset?

What was the alternative on Syria not taken?
As is implied by the OP, literally anything which kept Russia out of our shit.
     
subego  (op)
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Dec 1, 2017, 10:07 PM
 
@alia,

This really has very little to do with the Middle East proper. Russia’s the problem.
     
Chongo
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Dec 3, 2017, 10:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
@alia,

This really has very little to do with the Middle East proper. Russia’s the problem.
But but but...
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 4, 2017, 01:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
As is implied by the OP, literally anything which kept Russia out of our shit.
The question was asked because I don't have the imagination to think up ways that could have happened.
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 4, 2017, 02:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chongo View Post
But but but...
Do you agree with Romney here?
     
subego  (op)
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Dec 4, 2017, 02:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
The question was asked because I don't have the imagination to think up ways that could have happened.
“My, my... what big ‘splodey shit we have. Let’s talk detente, сука блять.”
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 4, 2017, 02:27 PM
 
Threatening war? Your alternative is risking WWIII?
     
subego  (op)
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Dec 4, 2017, 02:34 PM
 
Well, you don’t actually threaten war. It’s the implication.
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 4, 2017, 03:38 PM
 
Spare me the semantics. Is that the only option? Because if that was Obama's only option his hands were tied by any sane analysis.
     
Laminar
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Dec 4, 2017, 04:04 PM
 
I'll contend that foreign policy discussions not privy to confidential intelligence are pointless conjecture and whether or not you find the administration's actions to be the correct actions depends mostly on the (D) or (R) after your and the president's names.
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 4, 2017, 05:31 PM
 
A lot of the threads in this forum are pointless conjecture. I think it goes with the territory.

OP was looking to see if current members found any merit in his friends argument, I think.
     
subego  (op)
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Dec 4, 2017, 08:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
Spare me the semantics. Is that the only option? Because if that was Obama's only option his hands were tied by any sane analysis.
We can’t swing a troop buildup without ending the world?
     
subego  (op)
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Dec 4, 2017, 08:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
I'll contend that foreign policy discussions not privy to confidential intelligence are pointless conjecture and whether or not you find the administration's actions to be the correct actions depends mostly on the (D) or (R) after your and the president's names.
Honestly, the reason I found it interesting is because it was from my go-to anti-Trump person on Twitter. I’m sure she has limited intelligence resources, but the ME is her normal beat.

For the curious... https://twitter.com/lrozen
     
OreoCookie
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Dec 4, 2017, 10:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Well, you don’t actually threaten war. It’s the implication.
That's a distinction without a difference. Why would we want to threaten Russia over Syria? That's stupid and reckless. Even if Russia weren't an issue, I think you can make a very good argument that involving yourself in this conflict will have a net negative effect — on local people on the ground and Americans alike.

Do you remember the $100 million fireworks Trump set off? Can you tell me what effect it had? Do most people have an idea what event I am referring to?
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Waragainstsleep
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Dec 4, 2017, 11:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Why would we want to threaten Russia over Syria?
I think the idea is that we want to get rid of Assad because its the right thing to do but if we do, he gets replaced by someone who isn't a friend of Russia so while we gain little, Russia has something to lose. Hence our appetite to take meaningful action and risk WW3 by picking a fight with Russia is minimal.
Same thing in Crimea. Russia knows we are tired of spending money policing the rest of the world so they are pushing and testing limits to see what they can get away with. Putin looks like a tough guy to his voters, they love that.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 4, 2017, 11:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
We can’t swing a troop buildup without ending the world?
I mean, that's an amazingly aggressive stance. I see a few problems here:

1. The aforementioned inciting WWIII
2. Russia knows its a bluff and acts accordingly
3. Congress goes apeshit because Obama trying to start a war with Russia is batshit and out of the powers he has in the AUMF.

I might note, a lot of people criticized the notion of just a no-fly zone in Syria as the consequences of good-faith enforcement if Russia violated it opened the door to... WWIII
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 4, 2017, 11:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I think the idea is that we want to get rid of Assad because its the right thing to do but if we do, he gets replaced by someone who isn't a friend of Russia so while we gain little.
We already did this in Libya with Quaddafi. That didn't work out too well. The conclusion I've come to is unless we want to start occupying these countries and rebuilding them, we're can't predict/control the outcome.

Very likely, we're damned if we do or don't. If we didn't intervene in Libya and Quaddafi is still overthrown, doesn't ISIS still get a foothold there? What's the logical conclusion then; That if we'd had helped the rebels they wouldn't have been as easy picking for ISIS?
     
OreoCookie
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Dec 5, 2017, 12:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I think the idea is that we want to get rid of Assad because its the right thing to do but if we do, he gets replaced by someone who isn't a friend of Russia so while we gain little, Russia has something to lose. Hence our appetite to take meaningful action and risk WW3 by picking a fight with Russia is minimal.
I do believe I have a grasp on the chess game that is being played here. The US has anchored itself to Saudi Arabia and Russia has picked Saudi Arabia's natural enemy, Iran. And the world powers are fighting over influence. But we should neither forget the suffering that this game of chess causes, nor the significance of Syria as a piece on the chess board.
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Same thing in Crimea. Russia knows we are tired of spending money policing the rest of the world so they are pushing and testing limits to see what they can get away with. Putin looks like a tough guy to his voters, they love that.
Look at the state of the US, it is no longer willing and able to fulfill this role. And I would say it isn't worth spending as much as the next 7+ countries on the military, and feeling the need to intervene everywhere — usually, just focussing on short-term gains rather than the long game. With the US receding, other powers will fill that vacuum.
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Waragainstsleep
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Dec 5, 2017, 06:34 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I do believe I have a grasp on the chess game that is being played here. The US has anchored itself to Saudi Arabia and Russia has picked Saudi Arabia's natural enemy, Iran. And the world powers are fighting over influence. But we should neither forget the suffering that this game of chess causes, nor the significance of Syria as a piece on the chess board.
Syria is of tactical importance to Russia and the only gain in occupying and changing regime would be to deny it to Russia. Theres no oil to be had and these wars have never been about terrorists, notwithstanding that occupation just creates more of them. Its not enough to justify the cost even without the prospect of actually picking a fight with the Russians.

Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Look at the state of the US, it is no longer willing and able to fulfill this role. And I would say it isn't worth spending as much as the next 7+ countries on the military, and feeling the need to intervene everywhere — usually, just focussing on short-term gains rather than the long game. With the US receding, other powers will fill that vacuum.
Its able to fill that role but its no longer willing after securing the oil you need for now, a huge bill for two other ongoing wars and a procession of citizens coming back in flag adorned boxes the US population and government has lost interest in war for now. Its likely a down cycle. If they can stem the flow of money and lives spent for the next couple of years then no doubt another little war will be a nice boost to Trump's re-election campaign.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 5, 2017, 06:36 AM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
We already did this in Libya with Quaddafi. That didn't work out too well. The conclusion I've come to is unless we want to start occupying these countries and rebuilding them, we're can't predict/control the outcome.

Very likely, we're damned if we do or don't. If we didn't intervene in Libya and Quaddafi is still overthrown, doesn't ISIS still get a foothold there? What's the logical conclusion then; That if we'd had helped the rebels they wouldn't have been as easy picking for ISIS?
As I recall we backed the rebels with weapons and training and airstrikes enough to secure the port refineries. The rest was too expensive at the time.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
OreoCookie
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Dec 5, 2017, 07:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Its able to fill that role but its no longer willing after securing the oil you need for now, a huge bill for two other ongoing wars and a procession of citizens coming back in flag adorned boxes the US population and government has lost interest in war for now. Its likely a down cycle. If they can stem the flow of money and lives spent for the next couple of years then no doubt another little war will be a nice boost to Trump's re-election campaign.
The US might be able, but it doesn't seem willing. Plus, given the long-term costs to others and itself, is it desirable? When the US took the mantle of world police man in the post-WW2 era, it started to be led more and more by short-term gains where it supported dictators, actively helped topple democratically elected regimes, and a lot of the political problems are aftershocks of that. One of the most immediate ones is Iran, but I have friends and colleagues from Chile who can teach Americans a thing or two about the effects of “election meddling”. A more recent example is how drones are used: America set the standard here, and it is not one that I hope others will emulate.

Lastly, the instinct to measure the costs by American lives lost already shows how far we have gone in the wrong direction. How little we care about the suffering of others. And that we forget that America bears the responsibility for sending their soldiers in harms way in the first place.
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OreoCookie
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Dec 5, 2017, 07:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
As I recall we backed the rebels with weapons and training and airstrikes enough to secure the port refineries. The rest was too expensive at the time.
It was not just about expenses, there were tons of different rebel groups (> 20, I think) with shifting allegiances. There was a high risk that just like in other places, US equipment would end up being used by other groups with US equipment.
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subego  (op)
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Dec 5, 2017, 08:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
I mean, that's an amazingly aggressive stance. I see a few problems here:

1. The aforementioned inciting WWIII
2. Russia knows its a bluff and acts accordingly
3. Congress goes apeshit because Obama trying to start a war with Russia is batshit and out of the powers he has in the AUMF.

I might note, a lot of people criticized the notion of just a no-fly zone in Syria as the consequences of good-faith enforcement if Russia violated it opened the door to... WWIII
No one would have started WWIII. Putin and Obama are rational actors.

The objective was to remind Putin who’s boss, which we should have been able to do because at least at the time, we were.

We didn’t need to slap anyone with our dick, just swing it around.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 5, 2017, 10:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
It was not just about expenses, there were tons of different rebel groups (> 20, I think) with shifting allegiances. There was a high risk that just like in other places, US equipment would end up being used by other groups with US equipment.
Either they learned from past mistakes or they didn't want to spend the cash. The skeptic in me says its the latter and that if they wanted to pick a horse, they would have regardless of how many they had to choose from.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 5, 2017, 10:50 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
The US might be able, but it doesn't seem willing.
Thats exactly what I said.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 5, 2017, 11:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
As I recall we backed the rebels with weapons and training and airstrikes enough to secure the port refineries. The rest was too expensive at the time.
It had nothing to do with money. No one wanted to put US Troops back in the mid-east for another 'liberation'
     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 6, 2017, 07:12 AM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
It had nothing to do with money. No one wanted to put US Troops back in the mid-east for another 'liberation'
I think the cost was a factor. There was a lot of talk about the trillions being spent on the last two at the time.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 6, 2017, 11:22 AM
 
You are wrong
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 6, 2017, 01:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
No one would have started WWIII. Putin and Obama are rational actors.

The objective was to remind Putin who’s boss, which we should have been able to do because at least at the time, we were.

We didn’t need to slap anyone with our dick, just swing it around.
I think I'll just have to say I don't get it and stop there. Unless you have some kind of historical example.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Dec 6, 2017, 02:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
You are wrong
Well reasoned.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
The Final Dakar
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Dec 6, 2017, 02:56 PM
 
I gave the reason before. You ignored it.
     
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Dec 6, 2017, 06:07 PM
 
That wasn't a reason, it was a re-phrasing of what happened.

Perhaps you meant that the lack of will to send more troops to the middle east was due to America becoming less tolerant of the stream of dead soldiers coming home on the news?
Whether you meant that or not, there was a lot of talk at the time about the deficit, the trillion dollar cost of war, and of course Obama was still trying to repair the economy after the credit crunch debacle so spending another fortune on a war that had no other upside was easy to render unpalatable among enough of the voting public.
It was probably a combination of both of those factors but to dismiss the economic motivations out of hand is a bit naive.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
   
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