Escalation in Syria

CBS News has the details – the State Department is now urging all Americans to leave Syria while they can, following the US Ambassador being pulled over concerns for his safety. I’ll get back to this in more detail when I have more time to write (I should reach the other end of a particularly intense hearing after next Tuesday), but while it may not be the largest threat to the US (those would be Iran and, in its own ways, Pakistan), the Assad regime in Syria is now atop the list of threats we should be dealing with in the short term; the regime cannot be moderated in its current form, and can be brought down with the application of sufficient pressure. Even the current Administration seems to be coming to accept that the decades-old status quo in Syria is no longer sustainable.
The Assads are a nasty piece of work; the old man was vicious, and his son is too cowardly to stray from his father’s path. I’ve recently been reading Don Rumsfeld’s autobiography, and he actually starts the book not with either of his stormy tenures as Defense Sectretary, nor his time as a Congressman or White House Chief of Staff, but with his experience as Middle East envoy for President Reagan during the Lebanon crisis of 1983-84. Rumsfeld notes rather ruefully that when the US was leaning towards its ultimate decision to withdraw from Lebanon, he had to sit through having Saddam Hussein tell him that this would only encourage Syrian aggression, and that it was – as Rumsfeld puts it – quite an experience to be lectured by Saddam Hussein, much less when Saddam was probably right. A quarter century after Syrian aggression drew us into Lebanon at the cost of more than 200 US Marines, our business with the Assad regime remains unfinished. It’s time to close that chapter.

4 thoughts on “Escalation in Syria”

  1. This is a bit scarier as Syria is a nice little client for the Russians. The Russians have already responded by repositioning forces.

  2. Remember being off the coast of Lebanon in early 80’s and we were called to fire supposedly at Syrian tanks. We were later told that we actually took out a herd of sheep. Oh well.
    As far as the current situation goes, tell all Americans to get the heck out of there. Then we need to honestly answer the question of whether we have any vital national interests at stake in that country. There may be humanitarian concerns, but are they reason enough to spend money we don’t have and risk U.S. lives? If we decide removing Assad is a necessary course of action we need to understand that (like in Egypt, Libya, etc) we have no control over what rises to fill the power vacuum.

  3. Larbebill, I think we agree. Syria, controlling much of the water supply headed down, towards Israel and Jordan ) makes it a regional issue of great import, and almost not an American issue. Oil diplomacy might be rude, but we do need oil, we don’t need Syria, or the small amounts of lubricants and fruits it exports.

  4. I have the same concerns largebill has. Don’t know what the Russians are doing, but that makes it worth keeping an eye on, at least.

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