Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

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Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Marcuse » Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:38 pm

It's probably not escaped anyone's notice that last weekend there was a suspected chemical weapons attack in Douma in Syria which hit a lot of people, including (from the videos) children. Normally I wouldn't make a thread about something tragic like that because the potential for discussion is limited and honestly it feels a bit weird to make jokes about.

But this time the West appears to have woken up and decided something has to be done. Following the poisoning of the Skripals in the UK and the united diplomatic pressure on Russia, the international mood seems to have turned against Putin and it seems to have affected their ability to shield Assad from the political consequences of his behaviour. Right now the US, UK and France seem to have become convinced that the attack was a legitimate chemical weapons attack and seem to have resolved to militarily intervene in Syria with the objective of removing Assad's chemical weapons. Russia predictably calls the whole thing a "false flag" operation conducted by "one country's secret service". They have also threatened to act if their personnel are affected by any Western strike.

I'm in two minds about this. On one hand I'm not sure what our endgame or clear objective would be in Syria. Disarming chemical weapons is a great aim, but when it's backed by Russia who clearly don't give a crap about using chemical weapons themselves, why wouldn't they just hand Assad more to use the moment we leave? So do we end up in conflict with Russia over this? Do we topple Assad completely? What then to rebuild a country riddled with militias and regional tensions?
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Doodle Dee. Snickers » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:02 pm

Personally, it may sound strange, but I would focus on punishing Russia by keeping the heat of sanctions on, attacking suspected chemical weapon stockpiles with forcs we have in the region, but most importantly, try to pry China away from Russia. I suspect some of the reason Putin (and by extension, Assad) feels so emboldened is that China increasingly has their backs. Coupled with sanctions, it could leave Putin feeling isolated and willing to go along with a solution where Syrian military wins but Assad is removed internally while we decline to challenge Russian bases there. It'll win Putin some influence, but not as much and we get to punish Assad/pry two threatening powers apart.

It's an "everybody wins some and loses some" solution.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby cmsellers » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:55 pm

After Iraq and Libya, and especially with Trump at the helm and the likely victors being a Turkish-backed group full of Islamists, I cannot imagine the result of removing Assad being a net positive for us, for Syria, or for the world.

Erdogan and his pet rebels have already ethnically cleansed the Kurds from Afrin and there are rumors that ISIS is regrouping in Turkish-occupied territory. If we remove Assad and either don't pick winners or install Reggie's Choice™, the Kurds, Alawites, and Christians of Syria are all at risk of genocide, while a civil war and the resurgence of ISIS becomes likely.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby SandTea » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:14 pm

just want to make a quick prediction based on previous history. donny and his boys will 180 on their "hillary will get us into a war with russia" stance and actually declare a no fly zone.

But yeah, apparantly this is an old game for russia.

“What’s perhaps interesting in this one is the way that Russian officialdom started building the narrative on a false flag a month ago,” Ben Nimmo, a researcher at Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab who studies disinformation campaigns, told The Daily Beast. “There’s a measure of foresight and forethought there which is quite interesting.”

Beginning in early March, Russia’s ministry of defense began to claim that it had picked up intelligence about “provocations” planned by Islamist militant groups outside Damascus designed “to accuse government troops of using chemical weapons in the Eastern Ghouta against civilians.” Defense ministry officials later elaborated that the conspiracy to mount false-flag chemical attacks involved a whole cast of characters ranging from U.S. special operations forces operating in the Syrian desert to Free Syrian Army members in the south of the country to al Qaeda members in Idlib Province.


Yup, russia blames Britain now Sorta thought they would go with "rebels" to be honest.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Crimson847 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:51 pm

My prediction is another missile strike, just bigger and with more accompanying theatrics. The basic calculus here hasn't changed: the US cannot topple or cripple Assad without severe Russian opposition, and our interest in Syria isn't sufficient to justify a war with Russia over it as far as most folks are concerned. That was true in 2013, when Assad first used chemical weapons against civilians, and it's true now. So the president has to figure out a way to save face and look like he's doing something about Assad's use of chemical weapons against civilians, without seriously threatening Assad's strategic position and likely crossing Putin's red line.

The strategy the administration used last year was consistent with that: after warning the Russians (and by extension the Syrians) well in advance, they fired off a volley of Tomahawks at a couple of Syrian air bases, which let them look like tough guys to Trump's voters while inflicting only superficial damage on Assad. They seem to be gearing up to employ the same strategy again: Trump has warned of a missile attack on Twitter, spurring the Russians and Syrians to prepare for an air attack and secure their most important goodies at the Russian base in Latakia.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Doodle Dee. Snickers » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:06 am

cmsellers wrote:After Iraq and Libya, and especially with Trump at the helm and the likely victors being a Turkish-backed group full of Islamists, I cannot imagine the result of removing Assad being a net positive for us, for Syria, or for the world.

Erdogan and his pet rebels have already ethnically cleansed the Kurds from Afrin and there are rumors that ISIS is regrouping in Turkish-occupied territory. If we remove Assad and either don't pick winners or install Reggie's Choice™, the Kurds, Alawites, and Christians of Syria are all at risk of genocide, while a civil war and the resurgence of ISIS becomes likely.


Mmm, true, the last things we would want in Syria are terrorists, genocide, or a civil war. Worst case scenario, there could even be chemical weapons used!
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby cmsellers » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:23 am

Doodle Dee. Snickers wrote:Mmm, true, the last things we would want in Syria are terrorists, genocide, or a civil war.

There hasn't been large-scale genocide in Syria yet, ISIS are a particularly evil and insidious group of terrorists whom we've almost defeated, and the civil war is winding down with a government victory.

Your reaction is a bit like saying "robbers ransacked my house, might as well burn it down."

Once the original FSA fell apart and its US-provided weapons ended up in the hands of ISIS and Al-Qaeda, the best outcome would probably have been an SDF victory. They're somewhat authoritarian and dogmatic, but not as bad as Assad, and they're secular and fairly pluralistic. However Reggie took that off the table as well, and now the most likely non-Assad options are looking worse than the murderous dictator himself.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Tesseracts » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:30 am

There was a big bombing today. It's also Friday the 13th. Coincidence?
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Marcuse » Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:13 am

Well it happened. Overnight, US, UK and French forces engaged in a strike on what they call Syrian chemical weapons capability. Explosions have been reported in Damascus and in Homs. The Syrian media claims to have suffered little damage, presenting a picture of Bashar Al-Assad walking into his office with the caption "day of steadfastness". Russia is predictably furious and promising consequences. The NATO secretary general has tweeted his support, as has Justin Trudeau of Canada. The UN secretary general has reminded all parties of their international obligations. John McCain has finally found something he can agree with Trump on.

To me this seems like a repeat of the last strikes Trump ordered on Syrian targets following a chemical weapons attack. It's a positive thing that he appears to have sought and gotten some international backing before doing this, this time, but overall I'm unsure how much effect this is going to have. At base, everyone knows that Syria is in the back pocket of Russia and they're going to do everything they can to thwart our interests while maintaining a public face of being participating members of the international community. Until something there changes, I don't see how Syria is going to see less of these attacks.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Aquila89 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:53 am

I still don't see what's the big fuss over chemical weapons. How is it any worse than the killing of civilians with conventional weapons, which happens constantly in the Syrian war? How is it any worse than the Saudis bombing and starving Yemeni civilians? The USA and the UK support Saudi Arabia in that war.

Sometimes the war in Yemen kills very visibly. Over 5,000 children have lost their lives or have been wounded by military action since 2015. Some have been the victims of bombs, some of which were manufactured in the UK, that have hit schools, homes and public places. Others have been caught in indiscriminate crossfire across the jigsaw of frontlines that define Yemen’s war. That war pitches the Houthis, who control the capital, Sana’a, against groups backed by a Saudi-led coalition of nations.

It’s not just bombs, bullets and artillery shells that threaten Yemen’s children. This is a conflict that also kills by stealth. Economic strangulation is being used by the Saudi-led coalition as a weapon of war, targeting jobs, infrastructure, food markets and the provision of basic services. Nobody is there to count the bodies of the victims. But for every child buried beneath the rubble of a building hit by a “smart bomb”, there are dozens of children threatened by the starvation that has accompanied the economic assault.


If the British and the American government really cared about civilian suffering in the Middle East, they'd stop supporting Saudi Arabia in this. The intervention is Syria is purely strategical.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby random_nerd » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:21 am

I just really hope this doesn't lead to a Cold War 2, or god forbid World War 3.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby DoglovingJim » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:13 pm

Warning: Oncoming personal opinion
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I'm going to go on the record here simply to say that I am one of those that view this whole "Syrian Chemical Weapons" thing as a false flag and a pitiful excuse for the US to try and interfere with another democratically elected government within the Middle East. I have been shaking my head regarding events in Syria since day one and its certainly made me more cynical regarding the West.


Now I will sit back and watch the chaos continue to unfold, waiting to see what history makes of it.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Aquila89 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:19 pm

Assad was never democratically elected. In the first two elections (2000 and 2007) he allowed no opposition. The third (2014) was held in the middle of a civil war and thus cannot have any legitimacy.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby DoglovingJim » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:17 pm

Aquila89 wrote:Assad was never democratically elected. In the first two elections (2000 and 2007) he allowed no opposition. The third (2014) was held in the middle of a civil war and thus cannot have any legitimacy.

And yet in those first two elections the turnout for voters was above 90%, and the vote was for whether or not he should be president. Now considering the turnout was above 90% and the majority of voters said yes that is democratic, might not be Western democracy but it's democracy nonetheless. That election held during the civil war was also democratic, and any illegitimacy would be for the rebels who decided to bomb polling stations instead of voting for the other guy. It is because of events like that in which I find the whole basis of the civil war to be because of a violent and vocal minority, and therefore illegitimate.

Finally with those standards of not allowing "opposition" I contend that Donald Trump wasn't democratically elected either, as his opponent was the epitome of someone you shouldn't vote for. So the leader of the so called "free world" is simply someone who got into the role not because the masses wanted him but because his 'opponent' was more closely akin to Satan than he was, how many Americans chose to vote in that election anyway?
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Last edited by DoglovingJim on Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Aquila89 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:33 pm

DoglovingJim wrote:And yet in those first two elections the turnout for voters was above 90%, and the vote was for whether or not he should be president. Now considering the turnout was above 90% and the majority of voters said yes that is democratic, might not be Western democracy but it's democracy nonetheless.


No, it isn't. When only one candidate is allowed to run, that's not democracy by any definition. Citing the turnout is meaningless. North Korean elections have a turnout of over 99%; are you going to argue that Kim Jong-un was democratically elected too?

DoglovingJim wrote:Finally with those standards of not allowing "opposition" I contend that Donald Trump wasn't democratically elected either, as his opponent was the epitome of someone you shouldn't vote for. So the leader of the so called "free world" is simply someone who got into the role not because the masses wanted him but because his 'opponent' was more closely akin to Satan than he was.


That's based on two subjective opinions, one is that Hillary Clinton was "the epitome of someone you shouldn't vote for" (I would say that is Trump) two is that Trump's voters voted for him because of that and not because they supported him. Both of these claims are highly debatable.

I am not saying that Assad should be removed, I think it would only make things worse. Neither am I saying that the rebels have democratic legitimacy. But I also think that it's ludicrous to say that he was democratically elected. He inherited the office from his father. He has as much democratic legitimacy as Kim Jong-un.
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Last edited by Aquila89 on Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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