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Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category

Syrian Carnage Continues With Fall of Aleppo

Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 15, 2016

It is reported that over 400,000 civilians have died during Syrian conflict in the past five years.  This week it culminated in the refugee stampede out of Aleppo, as the Syrian government with assistance of Russia, basically bombed that city into the Stone Age.

In the early stages of the Syrian conflict the Obama Administration threatened “redlines” that the Syrian government then crossed without consequence.  The Administration also boldly announced on various occasions that the regime of Bashar alAssad’s days were numbered.  Yet the tyrant remains in power years later.

While the situation in Syria is complex, it is clear that the United States and its allies have failed to stem the carnage.  This has not only led to misery for the Syrian people, but also a strengthening of the positions of Russia and Iran in that part of the world.

Irrespective of history or the facts, the Obama Administration refuses to knowledge the shortcomings of its policies relating to Syria.  This was exemplified this week by an exchange between Associated Press correspondent Brad Klapper and State Department spokesman John Kirby.  During that exchange included in the video below, Klapper asked what changes the State Department would make to its failed Syrian policies:

BRAD KLAPPER: You failed repeatedly doing the same thing over and over again, which is a combination of trying to bring together people in some sort of talks with an imperfect ceasefire.  Then when things go badly you get really angry and accuse them of war crimes or crimes against humanity and then nothing ever changes.

You haven’t succeeded once.  You’ve talked about successes sometimes with Russia which looks to everyone like tactical retreats and momentary pauses.  So what are you doing differently to prevent more of the same?

After significant obfuscation, Kirby then rejected any US culpability in the Syrian carnage stating:

KIRBY: What I disagree with is where the failure lies.  The failure lies on the part of the regime and its backers to act with any sense of moral standards for human behavior.

Kirby’s diplomatic two-step would be comical if the resulting policies were not so devastating for the Syrian people.  While the options available to the US may have been limited, it is clear that those implemented by the Obama Administration failed.  The government’s unwillingness to admit to this obvious reality demeans its credibility.  This obfuscation is repeated on a daily basis by governments worldwide, which has led to a growing chorus of discontent by the People.  This discontent was exhibited in the UK’s vote for Brexit, Italy’s recent referendum that led to its prime minister resigning, and the election of Donald Trump in the United States.  The ruling class worldwide is tone-deaf to those that they are supposed to serve.  We can expect more of the political elites to be thrown out of office at the People’s discontent rose.  Less certain is the quality of the replacements.

 

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ISIS – JV to Dangerous American Enemy in One Year

Posted by Steve Markowitz on February 12, 2015

Yesterday President Obama sent a request to Congress to authorize the use of military force against ISIS who has created a country in parts of Syria and Iraq.  During their land grab ISIS has murdered American, British and Japanese hostages and killed many civilians.

The debate on Obama’s request to Congress is in full swing.  Some suggest that he should have requested the authorization when he initiated the current limited bombing campaign against ISIS.  Others are concerned about mission creep that often accompanies authorizations.  Still others feel that the authorization is not broad enough or that the President has not come up with a goal and/or strategy for the military campaign.

While the above debate is necessary, it masks a more serious issue concerning President Obama’s exhibited skills as Commander-in-Chief of the military.  In January 2014, only 13 months ago, Obama showed a total lack of understanding of ISIS, its ability, or threats.  When asked about ISIS’s and its gains Obama compared them to the JVs stating: ‘The analogy we use around here sometimes and is accurate is if a JV team puts on Laker uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”

How do they go from being JV to one of the most dangerous terrorist forces in the world in less than a year?  The answer is that they were not JV when Obama made the inappropriate comparison.  It was obvious than that ISIS was a much greater threat.  Since then Obama has been slowly ramping up not only his perception of the ISIS threat, as well as increasing the use of military force against them.  This has culminated in his current request to Congress.

Why did the President get the ISIS threat so wrong?  It could not have been lack of intelligence given the gains they already made in Syria and Iraq.  It is likely that Obama did what he so often does; ignore reality and dither.

This is not the first time the President made the wrong call on Iraq.  His miscues include:

Opposing Iraqi Surge – As a senator, Obama opposed President Bush’s surge stating:  “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there.  In fact, I think it will do the reverse.  I think it takes pressure off the Iraqis to arrive at the sort of political accommodation that every observer believes is the ultimate solution to the problems we face there.  So I am going to actively oppose the president’s proposal.”  History proved Obama wrong.  The surge worked.

Withdrawing all Troops from Iraq – Since before being elected president, Obama made a commitment to withdraw all American troops from Iraq quickly.  This has been a cornerstone to his policies and politics since, ignoring potential consequences.  His statements include:

  • “….. with the goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008.”
  • If we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am President, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home.  We will bring an end to this war.  You can take that to the bank.”
  • Let me say this as plainly as I can: By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.”
  • Today I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.”

Adding an explanation point to his promise to get out of Iraq, Obama said in the fall of 2012:  “I said I’d end the war in Iraq,  I ended it”.  It is evident that Obama did not end the war in Iraq.  Instead, by withdrawing all assets he left a power vacuum that has been filled by Islamic terrorists.  Now he is forced to reintroduce assets from a degraded strategic position and at greater cost.  The request for authorization to use military force in Iraq includes:

“The President is authorized, subject to the limitations in subsection (c), to use the Armed Forces of the United States as the President determines to be necessary and appropriate against ISIL or associated persons or forces as defined in section.” … This is a broad authorization.  The request proves that Obama’s decision to withdraw from Iraq was premature and led to increased violence in that country, as well as the greater region, and now requires that the United States go back in to clean up the mess.

Obama’s naïve view of America’s role in the world, foreign policy and the Middle East is now apparent.  He came into office believing that by merely changing the way we project power will improve not only America’s worldwide stature, but are security.  These conclusions have been proven fallacious.  The Middle East is more dangerous to American interests than it has been in modern history.  In addition, America has thrown so many allies under the bus in the past six years that are stature worldwide has declined.  Incredibly, President Obama continues to maintain that his policies have been successful.  This is either an indication of delusionary thinking or blatant misrepresentation.

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Obama to Conduct Bombing of ISIS as Johnson did in Vietnam

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 17, 2014

The Wall Street Journal issued a disturbing report that President Barack Obama will “exert a high degree of personal control over the campaign” for any US air strike within Syrian territory. The Journal reported that this direct authority is attempt limit the expansion of United States involvement with the military campaign in Syria.

It is the height of gall and audacity for a president with no military experience to believe that he has the knowledge to properly determine targets for air strikes. The last president to exert such control was Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War who attempted to limit US involvement to certain thresholds.  The results were disastrous with not only the war dragging on for years with many additional American deaths, but with the ultimate victory by the North Vietnamese.

Any military action on foreign soil is risky and costly. It should only be taken if America or Americans are directly at risk by inaction.  However, once the decision is made to go to war it should first be approved by Congress, as required under the U.S. Constitution.  In addition it should be executed with the utmost aggression to ensure victory as quickly as possible and the least amount of American casualties.  It seems evident that this President is not up to the task.

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Stephen Colbert on Guns

Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 27, 2014

It is Hard to argue with Mr. Colbert’s logic.

Cobert

 

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Garry Kasparov Schools Lawrence O’Donnell on Obama’s Syrian Policies

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 18, 2013

Early this week former world chess champion, Russian Gary Kasparov, was interviewed by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell.  Part of discussion revolved around President Obama’s Syrian policies with specific reference to his proclaimed “red line” that he then did not act upon.

O’Donnell, like the rest of the Leftists mainstream media, fawns over every Obama decision, even those that are dismal failures.  Kasparov proffered the opinion that Obama was wrong when he did not act on his proclaimed read line, the use of chemical weapons.  In response, O’Donnell tried to convince Kasparov that Obama actually gained a victory by stopping Syria from using chemical gas in the future.

For his dribble, Kasparov took O’Donnell to school correctly stating that Russia’s Vladimir Putin spanked Obama in the negotiations by making Syria’s Bashar al-Assad a partner in the supposed solution, rather than the war criminal he actually is.  “Putin got everything he wanted, I think even beyond his wildest expectations and Obama who once said ‘red line’ he just, in my view, is just blowing up the reputation of his office”.  Kasparov further went on to correctly state: “’Red line,’ whether it’s in Russian or English or any other language, it means that you act.  Barack Obama is the president of America and if he says ‘red line,’ he should, you know, put face value on his words.”

Gary Kasparov is not only a champion chess player.  He is also Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and was jailed in Russia for opposing governmental policies.  As seen in the video below, he makes more sense than many of our politicians in Washington.

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CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Emotionally Demands the US bomb Syria

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 14, 2013

When George W. Bush announced his decision to invade Iraq, he justified it based on Iraq having weapons of mass destruction.  A decade later we have a Progressive Democrat in the White House using a similar justification; gassing (WMDs) on his own people, to bomb Syria.  Missing from both presidents’ decisions were/are a strategic goal and endgame for the United States.

In hindsight the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a mistake.  Iraq remains today a violent country with its leadership now more closely aligned with Iran, its Persian Shiite cousins.  It is likely that should the United States get entangled in Syria’s civil war, it too would go badly.  First and foremost is the likelihood that should Assad be overthrown, the regime that replaces him would be at least as antagonistic to US interests.  In addition, replacing Assad or even destabilizing him does not remove the WMDs from Syria.  It merely changes who controls them.  Some of the Syrian rebels are aligned with radical Sunni groups who are related to the same terrorists that attacked America on 9/11.

There is a significant difference today on the political front.  George W. Bush had a skeptical press.  Many in the mainstream media today are so invested in Barack Obama that they are emotionally attached to any of his decision, even to bomb another country.  The video below shows CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour having emotional breakdown on air when discussing this issue.

Americans should be disgusted by the carnage in Syria, an extension of the larger Sunni-Shiite worldwide struggle.  However, civil wars are rarely resolved by foreign invaders.  Many more died in America’s Civil War than have been killed in Syria.  It was only when one side was beaten into submission did our war end.  The same is required in Syria.  The US’s involvement in the Syrian war will ultimately prolong it.

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Left Starting to Blame Syrian Crisis on Global Warming

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 9, 2013

The crisis in Syria is indeed complex.  Depending on who is pontificating, the blame lies in various circles.  Some blame Obama’s handling of the Middle East, others blame Obama so-called red line, still others blame the Israelis, etc.

The causes behind the current Syrian strife are much deeper and go far beyond the butchery of dictator Bashar al-Assad.  It involves a centuries old conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims.  This conflict will ultimately play out and unfortunately will likely require much bloodshed before being resolved.  It also involves the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire and the resulting actions of the colonial powers that created new countries in the Middle East that have no logical reasons to exist as sovereign entities.

As complex as the Middle East problems are, some on the Left have come up with a simplistic and novel cause of the Syrian mess; Global Warming.  One related comment came from Bill Moyers of PBS fame who said:

“One way the changing climate has already made itself known is through a devastating drought – and ensuing food shortage – in Syria; it created a powder keg, and played a significant role in sparking the country’s civil war.  We can expect to see similar scenarios unfold in the future.”

Another example of this Leftist drivel is included in the video clip below.  If one wants to start placing blame on the current Middle East crisis on hunger, then they might instead start by blaming the Progressive governments worldwide that have manipulated interest rates to historic low levels causing currencies in developing countries to plummet.  This has resulted in significant price increases of basic staples including food in those countries.

Okay, if the current Middle East turmoil is a result of Global Warming as proffered by these wackos, was it the absence of Global Warming that caused the turmoil in the Middle East in the previous 2,000 years?  How about the century long wars that engulfed Europe from the time of Henry VIII?  You can’t make this stuff up!

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Obama, Rumsfeld and the Redline

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 8, 2013

Since before his first election, it became evident that Barack Obama has a different “calculus” when it comes to straight talk and honesty.  Before the election there was the of Rev. Wright issue.  Obama sat in the pews listening to this racist preacher for years, but stood in front of the cameras and told the American people he didn’t hear any racist rants.

Since his first election Obama has broken too many promises to list in this short posting.  Examples include the promise that if the Congress passed his Stimulus Spending Program, the unemployment rate would not exceed 8% and the spending would go to shovel ready projects.  Not only did the unemployment rate significantly exceed 8% after the spending, but the President glibly blamed this increase on shovel ready projects that were not ready.

Another example involves Obama’s signature legislation, Obamacare.  One of its promises included that millions would be added the roles of those with medical insurance, but not increase overall costs.  Preposterous!  The program is barely getting started and the cost for medical insurance is skyrocketing.

Last week President Obama took the misrepresentations to a new level concerning a most serious matter, taken the Country into battle in Syria.  In a Stockholm, Sweden news conference, Obama incredibly stated that he did not one year earlier draw a redline concerning Syria’s use of chemical weapons stating (emphasis added):

First of all, I didn’t set a red line.  The world set a red line.  The world set a red line when governments representing 98% of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are [inaudble] and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are engaged in war.

Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty.  Congress set a red line when it indicated that in a piece of legislation entitled the Syria Accountability  Act that some of the horrendous things happening on the ground there need to be answered for.

So, when I said in a press conference that my calculus about what’s happening in Syria would be altered by the use of chemical weapons, which the overwhelming consensus of humanity says is wrong, that wasn’t something I just kind of made up.  I didn’t pluck it out of thin air.  There’s a reason for it.”

Fortunately for the American people, today when important politicians make important statements they are generally videotaped and become a record that is unalterable.  The video below shows Obama’s exact comments in context that include the following statements (emphasis added): “A redline for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.  That would change my calculusThat would change my equation.”

In the President’s comments one year ago he used the word “my” twice in three short sentences.  The meaning is clear, it is his calculus, his redline, not the world’s nor the Congress’s.  The question as to whether Obama’s redline was appropriate is a subject for another discussion.  However, the President’s unwillingness to man up and take responsibility for his own statements and policies is yet another sign of the office being too big for the man.

Over the weekend former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was interviewed by Greta Van Susteren on Syria and the red line.  Whether or not you like Rumsfeld or his policies, you have to admire him for his willingness for straight talk and to take responsibility for what he says.

 

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Obama, Syria and the Current Dilemma

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 3, 2013

The US Congress is debating whether to support a motion to back President Obama’s request to authorize a US attack on Syria for Assad’s use of chemical weapons.  The issue Congress faces is a dilemma without any good options.

Should the US not act it is likely that Assad will use the chemical weapons again in its war against the rebels.  In addition, US enemies including Iran and North Korea, not to mention Russia and China, will be emboldened and may act in more belligerent ways against US interests.

Alternatively, should the US respond it is difficult to foresee the consequences.  Will Iran and Hezbollah attack US or Israeli interests in retaliation?  Will the US be drawn into a conflict with Russia?  Will the US attack lead to the Assad government falling and Syria falling into more chaos or under the control of radical Islamists?  There are no guarantees.

There are currently no good options when it comes to Syria.  The United States finds itself in this untenable position because of Obama’s incoherent Syrian/Middle East policies of the past five years.  This issue is discussed in detail by Middle East expert George Friedman of Startfor.com in an article titled Obama’s Tightrope Walk.  Highlights are included below.  The bottom line is that Barrack Obama has proven inept when it comes to the Middle East and foreign policy in general.

“Last week began with certainty that an attack on Syria was inevitable and even imminent.  It ended with the coalition supporting the attack somewhere between falling apart and not coming together, and with U.S. President Barack Obama making it clear that an attack was inevitable, maybe in a month or so, if Congress approves, after Sept. 9 when it reconvenes.  This is a comedy in three parts: the reluctant warrior turning into the raging general and finding his followers drifting away, becoming the reluctant warrior again.”

“The United States did not have any overriding national interest in Syria.  It has been hostile for a long time to Assad’s regime.  It has sympathy for the Sunni insurgents but has drawn the conclusion that the collapse of Assad is not likely to lead to a democratic regime respecting human rights, but to an Islamist regime with links to al Qaeda.”

“What started to draw the United States into the matter was a statement made by the president in 2012, when he said that the use of chemical weapons would be a red line.  He didn’t mean he wanted to intervene.  He set the red line because he figured that it was the one thing Assad wouldn’t try.  It was an attempt to stay out, not an announcement of interest.  In fact, there had been previous evidence of small-scale chemical attacks, and the president had dodged commitment.”

“There were those, like National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who favored the use of military force in the events of war crimes and human rights violations on a major scale.  One would have thought that she would have supported the war in Iraq against Saddam Hussein, the epitome of war crimes and human rights violations, but she didn’t, and that’s another matter.”

“For them, the suffering in the Syrian civil war was the result of the repressiveness of the Assad regime.  This faction had an interesting perspective.  It focused on the current injustice, not always aware, interested or believing that what came later would be worse.  I remember arguing with academic colleagues before the fall of the Shah that while he was certainly a thug, we and the Iranian people would regret what came next.  There was a romantic belief that the crowd in the street was always more virtuous than the tyrant in his palace.  Sometimes they were right.  It is not clear that the fall of the Shah reduced the sum total of human suffering.”

“The real problem is this: After the Islamist wars, the United States has, as happened before, sought to minimize its presence in the world and while enjoying the benefits of being the world’s leading economy, not pay any political or military price for it.  It is a strategy that is impossible to maintain, as the United States learned after World War I, Vietnam and Desert Storm.  It is a seductive vision but a fantasy.  The world comes visiting.”

It is not easy to be president, nor is it easy to be the world’s leading power.  It is nice to be able to sit in moral judgment of men like Assad, but sadly not have the power to do anything.  Where life gets hard is when sitting in moral judgment forces you to do something because you can.  It teaches you to be careful in judging, as the world will both demand that you do something and condemn you for doing it.

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British Snub Obama on Syria

Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 30, 2013

In a surprise move the British Parliament yesterday voted to not join America on any military strike on Syria in response to its use of chemical weapons on civilians.  This is the first time in three decades that the British government has failed to join United States on such a mission.  While there are legitimate policy concerns relating to the strategic value of an attack, this Blog wonders whether the British Parliament decided to embarrass President Obama in response to his not attending the funeral earlier this year a former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Irrespective of the UK’s reasons, its decision to snub Obama on the potential attack on Syria is a huge embarrassment to the President.  During the campaign for his first term Obama accused his predecessor, President George W. Bush, of being a cowboy on foreign policy.  Obama proffered the view that with his charisma this go alone policy will no longer be needed as other countries will cooperate with the United States and Obama’s kumbaya approach to foreign relations.  Obama’s general failure on the foreign policy front and embarrassing vote by the UK Parliament demonstrates how naïve the President is on foreign policy.  For all of his flaws, George W. Bush was able to put together large coalitions backing American policies.  Obama does not even have the ability to get our closest allies on board.

Even with the lack of support from other countries the Administration has said it will continue down the path of preparing for a military strike on Syria.  It has also refused to bring Congress into the debate before making a decision.  This is a remarkable position for Obama given a 2007 statement he made to the Boston Globe: “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”. He also added that the president can only act unilaterally in “instances of self-defense,” which is clearly not the case with the current situation in Syria.

The Constitution has not changed since 2007.   However, Obama is now the president.  His changing position the power to make war matches other actions that he is taken since becoming president that have ignored the Constitution.

In another example of an Obama flip-flop, before being elected he chided the Bush administration for not using the United Nations as the global police force.  However, since becoming president he has bypassed the UN, most recently on the issue of Syria.

President Obama boxed himself into a corner one year ago when he publicly announced a redline to Syria.  He stated that if chemical weapons were used it would demand American intervention/retaliation.  That threat should have been made through private channels instead of the President pounding his chest in public.  Now he is left with two bad choices.  Intervene in Syria and the consequences are unknown.  Past history has shown such interventions to be ineffective.  Should Obama not respond to the challenge to his redline, the Country can expect further, possibly more serious challenges, from other adversaries including Iran, North Korea, Russia or China.

Before being elected to his first term, Joe Biden once infamously said that Obama would be tested.  On the foreign policy front he is failing that test.

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