Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Syria: The Congressional Gambit

I Choose ... 'Presidential Palace!'
Some people thought the long weekend would be a great time for Obama to start a domestically unpopular bombing campaign that was, officially, intended to do "almost nothing." After all, with Americans out there barbecuing, who would be paying attention?

Instead the "Imperial presidency" pulled a double-reverse and threw the issue to Congress. Here are some of the reactions (from comments and blog posts)

From Hot Air (comments): HOW DARE HE ASK CONGRESS!?
Obama wants to shift the responsibility back to Congress. Guess he is going to vote “Present’ again.
A Daily Caller poster has a theory that it'll start WWIII or at least result in martial law (or, at least, Marshall Law which probably isn't quite as bad).
Idiot and Chief strikes again with more BS than can be found in a stockyard. I guess none of these idiots in DC have figured out that it is highly likely that the type action our Nit-Wit has been proposing will set off a series of terrorist attacks right here in the good old U.S.A. Of course that may be exactly what this moron wants so he can declare Marshall Law and in fact become "Dictator and Chief."
Tenther Blog Truth Before Dishonor has an interesting idea:
This is simple, before any authorization VOTE, President Obama must fully explain in writing where he was the night of Benghazi, and what was going on at the mission there. It appears Benghazi and Syria are joined at the hip issues. Anything less than that, no vote will be taken, or a vote of “NO” if taken. (Can this message be sent to the Appropriate Chair on Benghazi and/or the Syrian Attack Authorization).
(If I thought any human being on the planet would be satisfied with ANY outcome other than the highly unlikely Obama-admits-he-personally-fired-mortar-shells-at-the-consulate I'd be okay with this!).

Conservative Daily News really hates Obama--but it sounds like asking for permission is WORSE than overriding the constitution yet again ...
Obama said he was prepared to go it alone. All the countries except France backed out. He was prepared to overide the constituition again like he has done so many times, but the outcry to go before congress was so great he decided to go before them to get permission. Assad in the mneantime has Iran,Russia and North Korea backing him.
 Obama got support from McCain and Graham--two noted RINOS. VodkaPundit weighs in:
Winning support from McCain and Graham for bombing somebody is like winning support from small children for Kit Kat bars. I mean, I know I’m a hawk, but I bet those two would rubber stamp a counterinsurgency campaign against New Hampshire, if you just spelled all the place names wrong enough that they thought it was somewhere in the Middle East or something.
So what's this mean?

What Does This Mean?
The first thing it means is that, yeah, it kinda looks like Obama chickened out. After all, he did make noises like he was about to go it alone--and then dialed it back. Whether you believe he did so because he was up late re-reading the Constitution (Ohh! I'm supposed to ask Congress! Okay--make a note!) ... or polling numbers ... will depend on what you think of him in general--but it sure doesn't look like asking Congress was his plan all along.

On the other hand, this is some fairly brutal bare-knuckle politics. The GOP will now have to decide if they are pro-chemical weapon attacks or pro-Obama. Neither is a good position to be in and this will further split the GOP Establishment from the base--especially the isolationist Rand Paul part of the base (but also part of the Hates-Obama-Base).

From a long time back the Republicans have been the party of foreign policy hawks--under Clinton a little of that slipped away. Under Bush II, it hemorrhaged. That isn't to say there still aren't Republican party hawks but rather that their stature in their party and with the American people is greatly reduced. The Bush wars are now so unpopular that unless someone nukes Los Angeles we aren't happily putting boots on the ground any time soon. If Obama manages to go to Congress and get an authorization for military power he may retire as a re-born foreign-policy president and who wants that (consider that Romney's whole campaign had no foreign policy component ... practically by design).

There's another possible issue: England got through the decision making process in a day and came out looking great--but can you imagine what a real on-the-floor would make our elected officials look like? The Parliament guys practice for that debating shit. Our representatives would need a crash refresher course on things like where the Middle East is, what country Assad rules, and which countries involved are not Israel. A televised debate on Congress would be hideous.

Well, the Omnivore hopes it'll happen and be public and hideous anyway: this popcorn won't eat itself. The key thing here to note, though, is that other than the French, no one else on the globe seems to want this.

Which Raises A Good Question
The people who benefit most from Assad going down are his neighbors--the Saudis, anyone who hates Iran (which is everyone but Iran and Russia), and so on. Why not ask, like, Saudi Arabia to contribute some troops or something? Can't they attack?

The Economic Collapse Blog (there's a name that inspires confidence) actually has a modestly decent article and comes to the conclusion that not only does Saudi want a war--their plan is to make the US Attack (so they are threatening Russia to get them out of the way). Read here (he links to some questionable sources--including one that claims it's SA that's supplying chemical weapons to Syria!):
Are you starting to get the picture?
The Saudis are absolutely determined to make this war happen, and they expect us to do the fighting.
And Barack Obama plans to go ahead and attack Syria without the support of the American people or the approval of Congress.
Oops. Well, part of being a conspiracy theorist is changing your thesis to conform to new events without ever changing the eventual conclusions. If Obama is now asking Congress it must be because it's part of the plan.

Still, they have a point: regional players stand the most to benefit.

I'm going to speculate as to why Assad's neighbors aren't being asked to commit forces. Here's my guess: most of the regional standing forces--with the exception of very few elite troops--will not integrate successfully with Western military units.

The short answer is: we don't want their help--it wouldn't be helpful. 

Why is that? Here's a lengthy article called Why Arabs Lose Wars. I'm certain it has its biases (and, for all I know, may come from a hugely biased source). The author cites lack of Combined Arms (integrated unit) training as one of the key weaknesses in regional forces. Here are some of their points

  1. The way regional forces are structured they avoid combined arms training. Part of this is because of factionalism. Part of this is by design (the rulers actually don't want a completely unified military and play one side against the other)
  2. They don't have anywhere near the same safety standards as western armies and sometimes treat troops under them horrifically.
  3. Because of social stratification and rules about honor there are problems integrating forces.
  4. For most of their unit's training is nowhere near the west's standards.

While these might not make it impossible to synch their units with foreign forces, they are certainly a hindrance to it.

Why not ask them to just "go it alone?" The same problems: who attacks first (and takes most of the losses?). Who trust whom to provide air-cover? Logistics? Etc.

1 comment:

  1. History's easily-learned lessons are being ignored here. a) Western intervention in that region is an unqualified failure on every level and 2) the venue negates military strategic and tactical superiority. Hopefully, Congress will try and tie this to a de-funding of Obamacare and the whole thing will caramelize into the bitter sauce of current politics, instead of the harsh realities of planned military failure. Less lives lost = good, when the ROI is intangible and symbolic.