War in Syria: Wading Into Chaos But What Happens After?

— By Domani Spero

A few days ago, in a letter to a member of Congress, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President Obama’s chief military adviser reportedly writes that “Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides,” he said. “It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favour. Today, they are not.”

Today, unnamed US officials told reporters military strikes on Syria could come “as early as Thursday.”  Syrians must appreciate the 48-hour heads up announced via unofficial press statements, and without a formal declaration of war.  Because we don’t do that anymore.  The last time we have formally declared war was World War II.

In this brave new world, warning now comes in a newsflash.  And the ‘we’re going to war’ news is on a furious march today. We we’re going to say this is not a matter of “if” but “when.” Oops, we’ve already been told the when — “as early as Thursday.”

McClatchy’s Michael Doyle explains Why the US won’t declare war on Syria.

Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic writes in A Brief Argument Against War in Syria:

Hawks are most interested in humanitarian causes that can be carried out by force. There is no reason the rest of us should share their world view, given how many times it has resulted in needless slaughter on a massive scale. It’s impossible to know for certain what war would bring. That is the strongest case against going to war.

Franklin C. Spinney in Counterpunch writes in Syria in the Crosshairs that the political marriage between coercive diplomacy and limited precision bombardment is a loser, and a lesson not learned:

However, instead of leading to a divorce, subsequent events in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia have reinforced Kosovo’s lesson not learned, and the result is what is now a clear psychopathic marriage of two fatally-flawed ideas.

1. Coercive diplomacy assumes that carefully calibrated doses of punishment will persuade any adversary, whether an individual  terrorist or a national government, to act in a way that we would define as acceptable.

2. Limited precision bombardment assumes we can administer those doses precisely on selected “high-value” targets using guided weapons, fired from a safe distance, with no friendly casualties, and little unintended damage.

This marriage of pop psychology and bombing lionizes war on the cheap, and it increases our country’s  addiction to strategically counterproductive drive-by shootings with cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs.

Oh, and we’d love James Fallows more if he stop resisting the “double the proof” threshold from certain quarters.

[T]here should be a very strong burden of proof on people calling for strikes, to show that this is the only answer (not just the easiest one), and that it will do more good than harm. I will resist proposing that the burden of proof be doubled for people who recommended war in Iraq. 

Meanwhile, WH spokesman Jay Carney said this week via CNN that “…. the use of these weapons on a mass scale and a threat of proliferation is a threat to our national interests and a concern to the entire world.” 

Whatever happened to “… You don’t roll out new products in August?

Waiting for experts to tell us this is a “slam-dunk” case. Still waiting.

And — how do we get out, again?

We haven’t heard that one.

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Brazilian Diplomat Smuggles Bolivian Opposition Senator Out of La Paz, Big Boss Loses Job

— By Domani Spero

This weekend Brazilian diplomat Eduardo Saboia, the charge d’affaires of the Brazilian Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia reportedly smuggled Roger Pinto, a Bolivian senator and opponent of President Evo Morales out of the country using an embassy car escorted by Brazilian Marines.  According to Al Jazeera, the escorted embassy car traveled from La Paz to the southwestern Brazilian city of Corumba, a drive of some 22 hours.   Today, UK’s Independent newspaper reported  the resignation of Brazil’s Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota.  Apparently, the smuggling of the senator from La Paz to Brasilia was not approved by either country.  It also reported that Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has accepted Mr Patriota’s resignation but immediately appointed him as head of Brazil’s UN delegation.  The head of Brazil’s UN delegation Luiz Alberto Figueiredo has now been appointed the new foreign minister.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota share a toast before a working lunch in Brasilia, Brazil, on August 13, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota share a toast before a working lunch in Brasilia, Brazil, on August 13, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

 Via Al Jazeera:

Eduardo Saboia, the Brazilian charge d’affaires in La Paz, revealed earlier on Monday that he helped Roger Pinto, a Bolivian senator, escape to Brazil after he was holed up for 15 months in Brasilia’s embassy in the Bolivian capital despite having been granted asylum.

Pinto, an opponent of Bolivian President Evo Morales, made his escape Friday in an embassy car escorted by Brazilian marines, driving 22 hours to the southwestern Brazilian city of Corumba, 1,600km from La Paz.

“I chose life. I chose to protect a person, a persecuted politician, like [Brazilian] President Dilma [Rousseff] was persecuted,” Saboia told Globo television on his arrival in Brasilia, where he was recalled for consultations.

He said he made the personal decision to help Pinto escape “because there was an imminent threat to the life and dignity of the senator.”

Saboia said Pinto was suffering from depression and was contemplating suicide.

The Bolivian government views Pinto as a fugitive from justice after he was accused of corruption, for which he was sentenced to a year in prison.

He sought refuge at the Brazilian embassy last year, claiming to be a victim of political persecution after he denounced alleged cases of corruption and alleged links between authorities and drug traffickers.

His case strained relations between La Paz and Brasilia. Morales last year said Brazil’s decision to grant Pinto asylum was “a mistake”.

In La Paz, David Choquehuanca, Bolivian foreign minister, expressed “deep concern over the transgression of the principle of reciprocity and international courtesy”.

Read in full:   Brazil’s top diplomat quits over Bolivia row.

Also this:  Diplomatic war erupts after Bolivian senator flees to Brazil.

We’re waiting for Bolivian President Morales to announce soon that he will close the Brazilian embassy in La Paz. Because of the yanquis. Wait, wait — still trying to connect the dots; it’s there somewhere.  It looks like diplomat Eduardo Saboia shared a toast with Secretary Kerry. Oh, my lord, what were they whispering about?

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