Friday, August 30, 2013

British Parliament Acts

American Middle East Policy?

This week the Russian Deputy Prime Minister accused the Americans of "acting alike a monkey with a hand grenade" in the Middle East.

Richard I, Houses of Parliament, London
Britain does not feel "Lion-hearted" now
Yesterday the British Parliament, the oldest deliberative body in the world, respectfully asked the American monkey to please re-insert the pin on the hand grenade we are currently waving about over Syria (  The last time a British Parliament rejected a Prime Minister's call to war was in 1782.  Would we Americans be wise to listen to our "cousins" across the pond on this issue?  The last significant conflict that the United States fought without our closest ally was...Vietnam.

The venerable Peter O'Toole will not, therefore, be coming out of retirement to lead a march on Damascus (See...

London theatre-goers in the West end might have received this insertion into their playbills: "We apologise for the inconvenience, but due to a fit of Democracy, the role of Obama's poodle will be played tonight by Fran├žois Hollande."

I have been a long-term and consistent supporter of American and Western intervention in Syria (see... and  I believe that both Presidential candidates last year displayed an unsurprising moral and intellectual cowardice in dodging the issue of Syria.  A vast humanitarian crisis is engulfing Syria and its neighbouring countries.  Over 100,000 people have been killed and a million have been made refugees.  Assad is a brutal dictator who has crossed the line with his recent use of chemical weapons agaisnt his own people.  He has perpetrated crimes against humanity which are far worse than the "moral obscenity" decried by Secretary of State Kerry
Some in the Obama administration argue that American Tomahawk cruise missiles fired on Syria will represent "a shot fired a cross the bow that will deter future Syrian use of chemical weapons".  I find this view dangerously naive.  All historical evidence suggests that the use of cruise missiles in isolation will have a minimal effect on the Assad regime in Syria.  The use of cruise missiles is certain to cause property destruction and loss of life, which will be fully exploited by the SEA (Syrian Electronic Army) for propaganda benefit.  Make no mistake about it, the use of cruise missiles would be an act of war and would have serious consequences.  Assad's Russian allies have already deployed naval surface ships to the Eastern Mediterranean.  Assad's Iranian allies may also move against Israel in retaliation.

Ryan Crocker, the former American ambassador to Syria, commenting on the limited military actions now being contemplated by the U.S. administration said, "We've done that before in Sudan in retaliation for bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.  In Sudan, we hit the wrong place.  We did it twice in Iraq to no effect and we did it in Afghanistan to little effect...So he (Assad) continues on in defiance, maybe even launches another chemical attack to put a stick in our eye -- and then what?"  Source: IHT 8/31/13

Commander K. and his buddies, London
Meanwhile we seem to have informed our potential enemies about the exact nature and limitations of our contemplated strike against them.  I don't recall reading about FDR and IKE employing a similar strategy before D-day...?

An effective intervention in the Syrian Civil war must be preceded by 1) the creation of a coherent strategic plan for victory in Syria and 2) the presentation of this plan to A) the U.S. congress, B) Our regional and NATO allies and, most of all, C) the American people.  If the American administration wants to be taken seriously in the world it will carefully, deliberately and patiently build its case for a coordinated intervention.  This would be my blueprint...

Most Americans are currently focused on 1) getting their children back to school, 2) the MLB play-off season 3) the start of the NFL regular season and 4) the antics of Miley Cyrus.  Unlike their British counterparts, they have given little consideration to the tempests brewing in the Middle East aside from perhaps wondering "how might this affect gas prices at the pump?"  To all of my American friends I would suggest that now would be an excellent time to begin worrying, thinking and speaking out on the dire situation now confronting us in the Middle East.  Let the national debate begin.

Churchill, Parliament Square, London
Assad is a brutal dictator.  Churchill said, "Dictators ride to and fro on tigers from which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry."  The key question we must ask is ""What can be done by the West to loosen Assad's saddle?  The ideal endgame in Syria would be for Assad to be devoured by Syrian tigers -- a fate which he has richly earned.


P Scott Cummins said...

Does Parliament's vote officially make Britain an EU colony? Would Obama's going alone further make him the neocon hawk-in-chief insomuch as it continues the pattern of using the military in a variety of ways (special forces, drones) in other countries in the middle east? Only the Commander knows...

Commander Kelly said...

Thanks Stanley for sharing another example of hate speech from the "tolerant" left.

Unknown said...

Two things make me feel a bit skeptical about this whole intervention business:

1) So far, no credible evidence linking Assad to this chemical attack were released. This and the fact that three Al Qaeda chemical weapon labs were busted in Iraq three months ago (reported by BBC on June 1st) makes me believe that the ones behind the attack were in fact the rebels.
2) So far, the United States and its allies have a rather poor record of R2P military interventions. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya - neither of these countries' lot was improved by them. And besides, if they are so concerned with brutal dictators, why aren't they doing anything about Bahrain or the Egyptian military junta?