— 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.”
- NYT Momentum Builds for Military Strike in Syria
- WSJ: Syria Defiant as US Allies Lay Ground for Strike
- NBC: Military strikes on Syria ‘as early as Thursday,’ US officials say
- CNN: Hagel: ‘We’re ready to go’ if ordered on Syria chemical weapons …
- The Guardian: Syria crisis: warplanes spotted in Cyprus as tensions rise in Damascus
- Weekly Standard: Experts to Obama: Here Is What to Do in Syria
- Reuters Wall St. drops on possible action against Syria
- CNN: Oil jumps as Syria conflict heats up
- CBS: Fearing a US strike, Syria warns of global “chaos”
- Miami Herald: Europe prepares for military intervention in Syria
- BBC Syria: Cameron says use of chemical weapons ‘cannot stand’
- Reuters: Italy says Syria has passed ‘point of no-return’ with chemical weapons
- FP: Architect of Syria War Plan Doubts Surgical Strikes Will Work
- WaPo: Syrian war leaves no easy choices
- WSJ: Why Obama Is Being Pulled Into Syrian Conflict
- Businessweek: Punishing Assad Won’t End the War in Syria
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.