Be Careful What You Wish For...

by: Shaun Appleby

Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 20:32:48 PM EDT

About an hour after the vote which defeats the proposed Authorisation for Use of Military Force in response to the chemical weapons attack in Syria we will probably begin to realise that the world as we know it has been irrevocably changed; and probably not for the better.

The inevitable decline of American power precipitated by the disastrous Bush administration will enter its terminal phase as the American public withdraws into an insular shell of isolationism and denial of collective responsibility in spite of having enjoyed for decades the relative security and prosperity that engaged American power has provided.

The performance of the American Left since 21 August has been an utter embarrassment; exposing the vaunted activist Internet as little more than a breeding place for fatuous conspiracy theories, misdirection, unreasonable and stubborn scepticism, selfishness, wilful ignorance and misplaced moral outrage. A complete and utter shambles. Shameful.

Courageous activists and diplomats campaigned for decades to implement the hard-won provisions of an almost unanimous prohibition of chemical weapons only to have it thoughtlessly repudiated with the ridiculous argument that 'people are just as dead' by other means. Or compared incessantly, in ignorance of what nerve agents are capable of or intended to do, to the use of white phosphorous at Fallujah. All in support of a knee-jerk response to a proposed military action in the face of a truly inhumane war crime.

Shaun Appleby :: Be Careful What You Wish For...
Nowhere has anyone written an expose of Russian complicity in the regime's chemical weapons program nor provision of their strategic delivery system. Nobody has pointed out that European corporations supplied essential technology directly to Syria's nerve agent program or that their leadership is diplomatically neutered by dependence on Russian natural gas. No campaign has begun to expose Putin's Russia and China as enablers of this crime or question their motives; no boycotts declared or protests at the Russian embassy announced. There have been no declarations of support for a determined effort to track the perpetrators down to the ends of the Earth like Nazi war criminals.

No, nothing but criticism for a Democratic president and administration trying to thread the needle of the nation's interests and long-term security within the realm of what is politically achievable domestically and internationally; a headwind of open antagonism, churlish dishonesty and outright deceit which the Left cheer-leads incessantly.

Opposition to military force is not unreasonable but there are few with the courage to look at the scores of horrible videos of dead and dying civilians and admit they simply choose to do nothing. No, it was faked or a 'false flag;' a hundred prevaricating arguments arise in the face of common sense and significant evidence because of the moral cowardice not to simply say, "It's none of our business and we don't care." But apparently we don't. So be it; but let there be no dissembling after the fact on the inevitable consequences.  

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It is a moral and a political dilemma. (2.00 / 15)
The vote has created some strange bedfellows and certainly the motives of many are questionable. I am pretty sure that many of those who will vote no are not anti-war but anti-Obama.

Are there any diplomatic solutions, Shaun, or has the Russian support of Assad made that impossible?

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

To Be Honest... (2.00 / 12)
It seems unlikely, however there are opportunities. I personally would prefer to see the administration wait until the UN inspection samples are analysed and the results published. My concern is that there seems no context in which a prudent but deliberate diplomatic effort would be supported domestically by either the obstructionist Right or the obsessive Left.

The Russian response has been particularly corrosive; Putin, it seems to me, is responding aggressively like a cornered animal to a crisis which under normal circumstances would threaten his relationship with the regime. His repeated denials of the regime's responsibility have seemed to have deflated what little public will remained in Britain and now the United States. Russia knows better but is making a desperate gamble; Iran is clearly divided as well. But these opportunities will be missed entirely and our opponents probably emboldened when the vote fails in Congress.

It is interesting to note that a failure of the US to act will probably make an eventual pre-emptive Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear infrastructure more likely rather than less; an idea one assumes has occurred to some decision makers there.

[ Parent ]
The irony is that Israel is okay with the current situation... (2.00 / 7)
and has no particular interest in regime change in Syria, despite what some think.  Hezbollah is focused on helping Assad, rather than causing trouble in northern Israel and Assad is focused on killing his own people rather than helping Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies cause trouble for Israel.

If I had to guess why AIPAC is on board with the strike, I think it's related to the possibility of an attack on Iran.  That's how the political game is played and if going all in for President Obama now makes it more likely for there to be US cooperation, or US participation, then it's worth expending the effort now (from that perspective).

I'm a Democrat.  Yellow.  New.  Progressive.  Blue.  Liberal.  Centrist.  We need them all in our big tent.

[ Parent ]
I Agree (2.00 / 6)
Israel's position has been surprisingly ambivalent. In some respects they share a motivation with Assad which doesn't exactly welcome Iran's nascent overtures to the West regarding negotiating limits to their enrichment program in exchange for lifting of sanctions.

This, in the context of a possible overstatement of Assad's tactical successes recently, always struck me as a possible motive for the regime to make the attack in the first place; that a predictable US military response would necessarily polarise their wavering allies back into an anti-Western stance.

[ Parent ]
I am neither anti-Obama not anti-war - (2.00 / 2)
but I am anti-stupid war.  There are things we can do - file charges against Assad for whatever category of crime using nerve gas falls under for example - but killing his people for him is only going to make him snicker, not make him stop.  Yes we must respond, but bombing is basically like trying to stop a headache by hitting the person who has it in the head with a hammer.  Counter-productive at best and more likely to make the situation worse for the very people we are supposedly concerned about.

[ Parent ]
Most of the anti-war people on the left are not anti-Obama. (2.00 / 3)
But, sadly, some of them are.

On the right, most of the anti-war people are anti-Obama ... they would consider it treason to not support a Republican president seeking authorization for the use of military force.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
re: anti-war on the right - yeah, I remember. (2.00 / 2)
They're only anti-war because they're anti-Obama - otherwise "bombs away" is their slogan.

[ Parent ]
There is no easy answer to this question... (2.00 / 13)
and those that believe there are, whether they are for, or against, intervention, are absolute fools.

Intervention opens up a whole can of worms that is messy and can lead to expanded war.  On the other hand, non-intervention sanctions the use of chemical weapons.

I'm beginning to think the limited resolution, which would be designed to attack chemical weapons facilities and provide sufficient deterrent to Assad to prevent him from such behavior in the future, might be the least worst of the answers.

I'm a Democrat.  Yellow.  New.  Progressive.  Blue.  Liberal.  Centrist.  We need them all in our big tent.

I'm Inclined to Agree (2.00 / 10)
Though the attack of chemical weapons facilities is probably unwise; relevant infrastructure perhaps. But I agree only reluctantly.

It is the reaction of the public which has constrained our choices and has me supporting a limited strike. Originally I thought the American and European public would be engaged with this incident; now I see that they are more inclined to be in denial. If there was a surge of support for a strong, multilateral diplomatic effort I would not support a unilateral military response. If there were street marches against chemical weapons and protests at Russian embassies around the world I would assume that we had the will to prosecute a long campaign of diplomatic attrition.

But to my amazement our own, usually well-informed, Left curled up in a ball of denial and accusations. Imagine; it is more likely to them that the US or some unnamed Western intelligence agency provided these lethal agents to the rebels, among groups we can't keep track of truckloads of arms falling into the wrong hands, than that they were simply used by the desperate and murderous regime which has been documented as developing exactly these weapons for decades. It absolutely defies credibility and considerably narrows the range of possible options; both for the administration and the rest of us. Look what happened in Britain. It is appalling.

[ Parent ]
I frankly think the Snowden affair (2.00 / 7)
has a great deal to do with the Left's complete abrogation of thought in this instance. Enough of them have been shouting that Obama is worse than Bush for so long that the NSA revelations convinced the rest. Ergo, in their minds Obama has to be lying about this because Bush lied.

More and more are becoming like Teabaggers, not only devoid of thought but actively resisting it.

The hysteria simply takes my breath away. They didn't care all that much when Clinton lobbed cruise missiles into Iraq on three separate occasions. They didn't go this crazy over what Obama did in Libya. None of those instances got us involved in wars. Why do they think this one will?

Gotta be the NSA stuff. That sent 'em over the cliff, and they aren't going to climb back anytime soon.

Every successful revolution puts on in time the robes of the tyrant it has deposed.--Barbara Tuchman  

[ Parent ]
Any attack will have consequences (2.00 / 1)
Nothing happens in a vacuum... We will get hit back, somehow, somewhere.

I love my country, but I think we should start seeing other people.

[ Parent ]
From Timothy Egan, NY Times (h/t princesspat) (2.00 / 12)
The Bush Burden
        Until the Syrian crises came to a head, we had yet to see just how much the Bush fiasco in Iraq would sway world opinion. We know now that his war will haunt the globe for decades to come. Future presidents who were in diapers when the United States said with doubtless authority that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction will face critics quoting Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney with never-again scorn.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

One more bit of that ... (2.00 / 13)
Egan on Bush:

The voice that stands out most by his silence, the one that grates with its public coyness, is Bush himself. He has refused to take a side in the Syrian conflict. The president, he said, "has a tough choice to make." Beyond that, "I refuse to be roped in."

This is cowardice on a grand scale. Having set in motion a doctrine that touches all corners of the earth and influences every leader with a say in how to approach tyrants who slaughter innocents, Bush retreats to his bathtub to paint.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
I agree with most of what you say, Shaun. (2.00 / 10)
Query: Is there a way to punish the Assad regime without killing civilians? The gassed children haunt me; I don't want more children to die.

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." ~ Desmond Tutu

Probably Not (2.00 / 10)
Though with time one assumes a concerted diplomatic campaign against Putin's intransigence and China's cynicism could prevail; but ironically only if we relinquished regime change as part of our negotiation strategy for a political solution.

The irony is that, now a war criminal, Assad is ineligible to remain in leadership; even of a rump, partitioned Alawite Syria. This is what makes Russia's current position untenable; sooner or later they will have to admit that the regime perpetrated this incident or no political settlement is possible.

My concern is that it is Putin's calculation to take this opportunity to prevent such a resolution and marginalise the UN entirely, as was done with the League of Nations, and take on his opponents piecemeal. The collapse of "collective security" would only encourage him.

I think we are getting an undisguised glimpse of Putin's intentions and naked ambition. That this is not anywhere noted in our media or activist community speaks to me of an insularity and lack of experience internationally which does not bode well for our security in coming years.

[ Parent ]
Let's See What Happens (2.00 / 8)
After the vote fails. History is replete with unintended consequences and we have no idea what Russia and China might do; at the moment they can't see past the chance of diminishing Obama's authority. I wonder how long it will take them to consider they may end up with a Republican as a consequence; one is tempted to remind them of the madman theory:

In October 1969, the Nixon administration indicated to the Soviet Union that "the madman was loose" when the United States military was ordered to full global war readiness alert (unbeknownst to the majority of the American population), and bombers armed with thermonuclear weapons flew patterns near the Soviet border for three consecutive days.

I'm thinking, of course, of 'Tailgunner' Ted Cruz.

[ Parent ]
Thanks for the Ted Cruz reference (2.00 / 7)
I've been looking for any excuse to lay down a marker for 2016. Here goes:

Cruz/Walker '16

The caveats on Walker is that he doesn't get indicted and does get reelected.

Okay, done with my threadjack.

There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

[ Parent ]
Sorry... (2.00 / 5)
I already had Cruz. Totally agree. And he's going to win the general election too.

[ Parent ]
Well now I'm seriously depressed..... (2.00 / 4)
Please tell me you don't really believe that could happen.

Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

[ Parent ]
Well... (2.00 / 6)
It's three years out but... Hillary, barring health issues, seems a shoe-in for the nomination. But any close reading of the economy shows sluggish growth if not another recessionary slump. We're at the end of our tether. I see no obstacle to Cruz winning the Republican nomination and if he's as smart as they say he is he will polish up a 'cross of gold' speech and hit the hustings as the champion of the common man.

I have maintained for years that the next economic populist who comes along is going to get a tailwind; we are really hurting and no real sign of relief. The Clintons just don't roll that way; Chelsea is married to an investment banker. Toxic.

[ Parent ]
I can't imagine any Republican (2.00 / 6)
becoming the champion of the common man right now, least of all is Cruz.

If he does, it's because America has turned back to the Tea Party, at which point any Democrat will lose.  

[ Parent ]
If the Economy Tanks... (2.00 / 1)
Or even continues to struggle, anything is possible, it seems to me. These past years have not been an economic miracle and we are pumping $80B a month into the market.

[ Parent ]
If the economy tanks (0.00 / 0)
I'm not sure what would take it down at this point.

Treading water, yes, and we'll probably do that for a decade or so.

Simply because there's no political appetite to grow the economy. Ted Cruz doesn't change that.

[ Parent ]
If the economy tanks (0.00 / 0)
I'm not sure what would take it down at this point.

Treading water, yes, and we'll probably do that for a decade or so.

Simply because there's no political appetite to grow the economy. Ted Cruz doesn't change that.

[ Parent ]
Disagree about the economy in 2016 (2.00 / 3)
I think the U3 rate will be below 6% and the deficit below 3.5% of GDP. This would be a winner for almost any Democratic nominee.

Tell you what, how about we add a six pack of beverages to our bet below? Over/under U3 of 6% at 11/2016.

There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

[ Parent ]
You Still in the Pacific? (2.00 / 2)
Postage. I'm more concerned with declining GDP than U3. And we seem to like to cook that metric. How about the interest rate on 10yr T-bills?

[ Parent ]
I'm in Seattle now (2.00 / 3)
but will be traveling to Thailand annually by '16. T-bills are something I will have to look at. I'm thinking over 4% by 11/16 but need to look at it more.

There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

[ Parent ]
Heh (2.00 / 3)
I readily admit to being an economic neophyte but global growth is in decline and we've managed to place ourselves in a position where rising interest rates, arguably a natural sign of an improving and healthy economy, are prohibitively toxic to both the Reserve and institutional investors. I frankly don't see how we safely unwind these multi-billion dollar positions which rely on extensive borrowings at low interest rates to make slender margins.

BRIC nations are stalling, global GDP is in decline, industry has made about every economy imaginable including pushing the middle-class to the threshold of insolvency. Pump-priming the US economy is eroding foreign currencies. About the only thing going for us is that business is lean and fairly well cashed up. But our entire global economy is waiting for the next big wave of consumer demand and I'm wondering if it is ever coming.

[ Parent ]
It's late so I'll give a longer answer tomorrow (2.00 / 3)
A way to look at it is in sequence like this:
Deep Recession->Long, slow recovery->Expansion
The US has been through the worst of the Great Recession. We are now on the verge of expansion, post-sequester.

It's a good thing that we are going through this in sequence rather than all at the same time. Remember, the US has always been considered the economic locomotive for the rest of the world.

As to the 'multi-billion dollar positions' due to the yen and dollar carry trades, their calamitous unwinding will mainly affect the wealth of the hedgies, not the 99%. It's their turn in the barrel.

There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

[ Parent ]
So You're Saying... (2.00 / 2)
That the US recovery will lift the others in sequence? We'll see. I've been looking for green shoots for a while but it seems we are just above stall speed; maybe Q4 and beyond will bring sunshine but it seems to me we've revised a lot of growth estimates lately, and always down.

The jobs in China are headed to Timbuktu eventually as business chases cheap labour; I am having trouble seeing how a middle-class with less disposable income than ever before is going to drive the recovery this time. And interest rates are as low as they can go; I think we're becoming Japan.

[ Parent ]
Let me address those in sequence (2.00 / 5)
One of my goto guys for economics is Bonddad. Yeah, the guy bobswern and his gang of Doom & Gloomers ran off of DK. Here are a couple things he writes about the economy now and going forward:

Putting the picture together, the economy may have nearly stalled in the last few months, but looks like it is ready to pick up steam again for the rest of the year, Washington willing. As we look further forward into 2014, much more caution is warranted.
With the recent marked deceleration in the economy as shown by the last three quarters of GDP reports, with the long leading indicators of interest rates and housing turning negative, the ongoing Sequester that was so awful that it was never supposed to happen, and the approaching debt ceiling debate in Congress, this report, while positive for now, and consistent with continued expansion for the rest of this year, maintains the hoisting of a yellow flag for 2014.
The Bonddad Blog

Bold added for emphasis.

So we do have some cautions for 2014, mainly due to the political factors of the sequester and debt ceiling. If those get resolved by the end of this year, and I think they will, then the path turns positive onward to 2016.

2. The jobs are not headed to Timbuktu. China was the 800 pound gorilla of cheap labor. Other low-wage countries are way smaller, have huge infrastructure problems, low educations, poor health, undeveloped financial institutions and little rule of law.

Where the jobs are going is, suprisingly, back to the US via reshoring. Some of the past offshoring was nothing more than a management fad that (at least in software) did not deliver the promised profits and has run its course.

3. Disposable income is a trailing factor in the recovery. Here in Seattle, the U3 is below 6% and employers will soon need to offer better wages and benefits in order to compete.

Anecdotal story: Our neighbor attended a health professional CPR cert class recently. The instructor asked for a show of hands of those who presently had jobs. 100% raised their hands. Two years ago, the same exercise resulted in only 75% with jobs.

Two other factors affect disposable income, interest payments and health insurance costs.

More Bonddad:

The trend that has had me the most worried since even before the onset of the 2008-09 severe recession has been the likelihood that households would run out of room to refinance debt at lower interest rates even as their wages languished.

While interest rates declined further with that recession and afterward until a year ago, average wage growth continued to decelerate until it was under +1.5% YoY. That kind of paltry growth left almost no room for consumers to improve their savings and spending. Then, at the end of last year, I noticed that it looked like the trend in wage growth had turned. Today's jobs report shows that that trend has continued and solidified:

On health insurance, there is anecdotal reports of savings of $4000 a year coming with Obamacare. For my family of 3, we are looking at $145 per month premium. These huge drops in health costs go straight into the workers pocket and available for spending and savings.

I don't think we are becoming Japan. They kicked the can down the road by not taking their loan losses in the 90s. We took ours after 2008 and I expect interest rates to ramp up steadily starting in 2014 until we are back to "normal" in 2017.

There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

[ Parent ]
Very Encouraging (2.00 / 5)
That is a very reasonable and persuasive case; thanks. I hope the job situation is improving as you suggest. I see an equity market that is way overvalued on a price to earnings basis and three successive quarters of downward revisions of forward estimates.

But as I said, I'm a neophyte at this, and so far all I've learned is that nobody really knows. Economics and sediment mechanics seem inscrutable even to experts.

What nags at me is the downward GDP trend; capitalism loves growth. Looking at the chart we seem to be in a genuine decline since 2010. Structurally this makes a bit of sense; the Chinese and Indians can only buy so many fridges and TVs.

When you consider that we are approaching, by 2050, what population theorists have predicted as our upper global limit of, say, 10B it is tempting to assume we are starting to see decelerating growth, not just in developed countries.

Has anyone yet proposed a model for capitalism which isn't based on growth? We are about to find out what that might look like. Your comment could have been a very worthwhile diary, by the way.

[ Parent ]
Exactly, virginislandsguy! (2.00 / 3)
These huge drops in health costs go straight into the workers pocket and available for spending and savings.

Like the FICA deduction "holiday" which left an extra 2% on working people's paychecks ... and then sent straight into the economy, the health insurance premium savings, albeit for a smaller group of Americans (the 45% who don't have insurance through their employers) will likely go straight into the economy. I don't know what my savings will be yet because our overlord Gov. Scott Walker (R) has refused to release much. Wisconsin opted out of the setting up a state exchange but for some reason they get to choose what is in the federal exchanges for Wisconsin. I guess I will know in about 23 days.

By the way, I agree with Shaun: I would love to see your comment as a diary. I don't mind hopeful economic news ... if I want to wallow in doom-and-gloom, I know exactly where to go. ;)

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
Cool, but I think he will lose to Hillary (2.00 / 5)
And I'm liking Julian Castro as her running mate.

There will be must-see TV when Christie and Cruz go at it in the Primary debates.

There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

[ Parent ]
Yeah... (2.00 / 5)
Looking for the Christie-Cruz cage matches. But I'll take that Hillary v Cruz wager. Loser writes a diary celebrating the omniscience and all around superior wisdom of the winner?

[ Parent ]
You're on but I must warn you (2.00 / 9)
that praising my modesty will run to many pages.

There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

[ Parent ]
Fierced to offset ... WTH??? (2.00 / 5)
You're on but I must warn you
that praising my modesty will run to many pages.

There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

by: virginislandsguy @ Sat Sep 07, 2013 at 00:03:29 AM CDT

Others have rated this comment as follows:
Shaun Appleby 2
Kysen 1
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Kysen 0
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Kysen clones???????? :::runs screaming laughing:::

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
We Are Legion (2.00 / 5)
We are Kysen.

[ Parent ]
/grin (2.00 / 3)
I have no clue.

It showed as a 'Meh' to me (the result of scrolling down, I'm sure, was intended at a 'Fierce')...beyond that, I've not seen that particular glitch before.



[ Parent ]
An image from the 2007 presidential campaign keeps coming to mind..... (2.00 / 9)
President (then candidate) Obama was in silhouette on the ramp to his plane, looking starkly and completely alone. I don't know what the answer Syria's actions should be, but I do know that President Obama is attempting to lead the national and international conversation in a wise, honest and moral way, and he seems once again singularly alone.

Thank you for writing tonight. This is the discussion the country should be having.

Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

i hated agreeing with my house rep (2.00 / 7)
because we only agree for all the wrong and opposite reasons.  like kelley said, what can we do to punish assad without harming even more civilians?

have we-all really exhausted all the diplo and trade routes?  can we punish the weapons manufacturers and deliverers?  

the FSA is making Afghanistan's northern alliance look organized.  

i am leaning more and more toward pacifism in general.  the military/industrial complex will benefit from a strike.  putin will benefit from a strike, or not.  

Sadly (2.00 / 8)
There seems only the choices before us; it seems the public has no stomach for a serious diplomatic effort here or abroad. We will end up sending a sternly worded letter, I'm sure. All I ask is that we be honest with ourselves about the decision.

I thought the proposed amendment to insist that Syria sign and comply with the chemical weapons convention within forty-five days had considerable merit. That would be my formal preferred option at this time. I could confidently back that and it puts Putin in a box.

But it seems to me that the Left has worked itself up into such a state over this that any concerted effort to support an amendment which even includes unilateral military force as a possible consequential outcome is beyond reach. We are too busy alternately running around with our hair on fire and congratulating each other on our moral superiority to seriously consider it.

[ Parent ]
That amendment seems sensible. (2.00 / 7)
Senate bill would give Syria 45 days to sign chemical weapons ban
The United States would give Syria 45 days to sign an international chemical weapons ban or face the wrath of American military might, under a draft resolution being circulated by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).

"The failure by the government of Bashar al-Assad to sign and comply with the [Chemical Weapons] Convention clearly demonstrates a disregard of international norms on the use of chemical weapons," reads a draft of the resolution obtained by POLITICO. "If the Government of Syria does not sign the Convention within 45 after the date of the enactment of this resolution, all elements of national power will be considered by the United States government."

That would also give the United Nations time to complete their assessment and report to the world community.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
Exactly (2.00 / 5)
And Putin would have some explaining to do; as he will anyhow if the UN finds that sophisticated nerve agents were used.

I'm convinced that Syria has used a version of sarin specifically intended to defy chemical analysis and confound medical diagnosis. We'll see.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is arguing publicly that U.S. evidence of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime is flimsy, and many Americans believe him.

Ian Swanson and Jeremy Herb - Obama needs game-changer to win House vote on Syria The Hill 9 Sep 13

Imagine that. The US is taking the word of the Russian President, a former KGB officer and authoritarian tyrant, over their own elected leader. Putin's apparent confidence that the forensic false trail Russia has promoted since March will withstand scrutiny convinces me personally that his role in this incident is potentially diabolical; I am reserving judgement for now.

We've been told that the Syrians have been working on nerve agents adulterated with other chemicals since earlier this year; we know they've received technical support and materials from Russia in the past.

[ Parent ]
Well, for Republicans and the ODS left, the end justifies the means. (2.00 / 7)
So this is not surprising:
The US is taking the word of the Russian President, a former KGB officer and authoritarian tyrant, over their own elected leader.

The left-of-the-left embrace Rand Paul over drones and the NSA, for crying out loud. A man who stands squarely against everything that people who care about the plight of the downtrodden hold dear.

The enemy of our enemy is our friend ... writ large.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
It Was Always Thus... (2.00 / 3)
Politics is politics and I'm not blaming them for it; just noting whom they are aligned with on this issue. My estimation of Putin is that he is a callous manipulator who is playing them, as he has Europe, like a fiddle; he is encouraging them in an argument they would be making anyhow. That it undermines the immediate obstacle to his ambitions, in this case our president, doesn't seem to occur to them. Or if it does if is discounted as collateral damage for a higher moral purpose.

The Europeans, on the other hand, know what it is like to shiver in the cold when he turns off the gas. I notice they are content to stay out of this.

[ Parent ]
putin in a box (2.00 / 4)
would be a good place for putin to be.  

look, i trust obama.  more than i trust anyone else in this scenario.  

will probably write my rep again after obama talks . . .

[ Parent ]
Maybe, just maybe a House defeat of the AUMF (2.00 / 8)
and Pres. Obama acceding to no military action would not be a harbinger of American decline. Perhaps a pause for reflection, time for the international community to step up to the plate, and, after staring into the abyss, American power players and institutions getting their act together, would result in a reasoned debate and passage of a new AUMF.

My own take of Putin's actions is that he is trying to arrest the decline of Russia in all spheres, not trying to restore them to superpower status.

One thing I am sure of, if the Left succeeds in defeating the AUMF, they will, as usual, overplay their hand going forward. I've got a feeling I'm going to spend way less time at that other blog.

There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

Yeah... (2.00 / 7)
Maybe you are right. As noted above history is replete with unintended consequences. Ironically the Syrians are probably safer today from a chemical attack than before, at least for as long as the world holds its breath.

As for Putin, nothing has reminded me what an evil, grasping, tyrannical putz he is like the past two weeks. He's a ruthless snake and he's already got most of the former republics and half of Europe by the balls. As an 'ally' and business partner all I can say is the Chinese thoroughly deserve him.

I would be a good time to point out that Europe, China and Russia share the same land mass; China and Russia with the world's first and second longest international borders respectively. A cruel irony of history, for them, to be sure, but we should always bear that in mind.

[ Parent ]
This on Putin: (2.00 / 6)
... trying to arrest the decline of Russia in all spheres

We have seen what happens when people and entities grasp for relevance as their influence wanes. Putin could have taken Russia into the 21st century as a solid partner in the global economy and, by extension, the world community. Instead he chose to rattle sabers and show that he can control puppet states. I guess old habits die hard.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
I say we act (2.00 / 9)
I cannot abide the use of chemical weapons against civilians.  I also think that many of the anti-war folks here on the left side of the aisle are stuck in 2002/2003.  This isn't Iraq.

I, uh, kind of started a bit of a fight over at DailyKos.  I saw a lot of dumb and angry posting and I decided to share my thoughts.

For the record, sorry I post here so rarely.  I'm fond of the Moose.  I just only seem to want to blog, to feel compelled to do it, when I'm angry.  Anyway, good to see the Moose marches on.

Well... (2.00 / 5)
You can't say you didn't get a few comments, LOL.

[ Parent ]
It topped the rec list for much of the day (2.00 / 7)
and it's held in second place for awhile now.  I seem to be good at clarion calls to sanity and a lack of bullshit.

Support an intervention or don't.  Let's just not pretend that two weeks of airstrikes = a land war with the goal of regime change and resource looting to pay for it all.

[ Parent ]
I wish I could bronze your last paragraph (2.00 / 6)
It expresses my thoughts exactly.

There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

[ Parent ]
Or... (2.00 / 9)
That Obama's a James Bond cinema villain who conspires to murder foreign civilians in their sleep. Well done, you've inspired me to post this rant over there as well. Serves them right.

[ Parent ]
this (2.00 / 7)
The performance of the American Left since 21 August has been an utter embarrassment; exposing the vaunted activist Internet as little more than a breeding place for fatuous conspiracy theories, misdirection, unreasonable and stubborn scepticism, selfishness, wilful ignorance and misplaced moral outrage. A complete and utter shambles. Shameful.

I agree, but with a proviso - there are people on the left, who are hard at work doing movement building, fighting for change in places like North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin..New York...who are not engaged in the puerile stuff I've seen all over certain segments of the blogosphere.

Don't write us all off.


"If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition"

Bernice Johnson Reagon

No... (2.00 / 6)
I'm sorry. It was clearly a rant directed at the blogosphere. On the other hand our progressive leadership on this particular issue is MIA. I notice with satisfaction that Durbin voted for the motion but he didn't say much and who could blame him?

[ Parent ]
There is a lot of angst over this vote. (2.00 / 6)
If you have deeply held beliefs about the use of force in any circumstance and you also have deeply held beliefs that it is a mistake to throw in your lot with the teaparty right, whose only intent is to bloody the president of your party and diminish his stature, I am not sure what you do.

Here is the latest whip count from Think Progress:

A vote in the House is not expected until next week at the earliest. 151 members have publicly said they are undecided and the positions of 20 members are unknown. All told, 324 members either have not decided, or indicated they are willing to consider changing their position.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
God bless you Shaun (2.00 / 8)
I have been in an almost white hot rage, I can't write.

See when Saddam gassed the Iranians I was a liberal, one of the few the proud that didn't get cowed by peace through strength who didn't look around for something else to call myself, and I was ashamed to the bottom of my soul.  Half the reason I went into life long battle against the GOP is I saw real time the open hypocrisy of a man who cynically used American hate of Iranians after the crisis to justify allowing the use of Raid on people.  

World's policeman?  Thankless job, but you know what moral fair lawful policing yields?  Safe neighborhoods.

Let me share Alan Grayson

That's right the "progressive" choice wants Allah to sort them out just like Palin.

I would cross the street before I stood with him or anyone with him.  Coalition my ass, I will never stand with that.

"I honor the place in you where Spirit lives
I honor the place in you which is
of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace,
when you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,
then we are One."  Namaste Friends!

The blog Left will rue the day (2.00 / 5)
that they aligned with Grayson. It's tough to figure his game. He's 55 years old so his window for the Presidency probably closes in 10 years. The road to the nomination is not as a Rep, but as either a Governor or Senator.

I think he is gunning for Bill Nelson's seat in 2018. Nelson would be 76 and Grayson would primary him from the left if need be.

There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

[ Parent ]
I Like Grayson (2.00 / 4)
On domestic politics I think he is refreshingly theatrical. But on this issue he is completely out of his depth:

Grayson, however, says "the claim has been made that that information was completely mischaracterized."

He points to an article published by The Daily Caller that alleges the communications actually showed Syrian officers were surprised by the alleged chemical weapon attack. The communications, according to unnamed sources paraphrased in article, were intercepted by Israeli intelligence and "doctored so that it leads a reader to just the opposite conclusion."

Steven Nelson - Rep. Alan Grayson: Syria Intelligence Manipulated US News and World Report 5 Sep 13

Look at the headline. "Grayson: Syria Intelligence Manipulated." This from a guy who has seen the classified material, right? But he's talking about a Daily Caller piece which is classic agitprop with no citations which in turn is referencing, and completely inverting, a DEBKAfile article which appeared two weeks ago. Now DEBKAfile is as dubious a source as you will find, interesting but dubious. And the Daily Caller piece just takes the cake, here's the lede:

The Obama administration has selectively used intelligence to justify military strikes on Syria, former military officers with access to the original intelligence reports say, in a manner that goes far beyond what critics charged the Bush administration of doing in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war.

According to these officers, who served in top positions in the United States, Britain, France, Israel, and Jordan, a Syrian military communication intercepted by Israel's famed Unit 8200 electronic intelligence outfit has been doctored so that it leads a reader to just the opposite conclusion reached by the original report.

Kenneth Timmerman - Verify chemical weapons use before unleashing the dogs of war Daily Caller 29 Aug 13

Unpacking that first sentence reveals how thin this gruel might be and we suspect the author would disown his grandmother to incite a nuclear conflagration that brought us two steps closer to Rapture. Anonymous sources citing unreferenced evidence. Yet it's good enough for Alan, who goes on to say, "I don't know if it's right or wrong..." No, but we have our suspicions, don't we?

But the average American at the start of the football season doesn't likely get past "Syria intelligence manipulated claims congressman!" This, this is the depth of thinking and quality of analysis on which the United States with be tethered to inevitable decline like a donkey. I could just spit.

[ Parent ]
Sadly, headlines are all that many people read, if they are even reading. (2.00 / 5)
It doesn't even matter what sports season it is ... there is always one that is more important than foreign policy and global concerns.

After the military draft was disbanded, all wars are "someone else's concern" and what is happening outside of their narrow focus only catches their attention if they pay 10 cents more at the pump for gasoline.  

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
Yes (2.00 / 5)
A familiar complaint:

... Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions - everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.

Juvenal, Satire 10.77-81 circa 100AD

We will have cause to regret our lack of attention but by then have convinced ourselves it was all someone else's fault.

[ Parent ]
"Bread and Circuses" (2.00 / 4)
That would be a great title for a blog post. Stored away for future reference.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
thank you for this... (2.00 / 3)
I pretty much agree with all you've written.

I don't know what has caused all of this myopia.  It takes more to plan for the distant future and I do think that most nations are looking for long standing solutions.

This ^^^ (2.00 / 4)
The performance of the American Left since 21 August has been an utter embarrassment; exposing the vaunted activist Internet as little more than a breeding place for fatuous conspiracy theories, misdirection, unreasonable and stubborn scepticism, selfishness, wilful ignorance and misplaced moral outrage. A complete and utter shambles. Shameful.


Just For the Record (2.00 / 4)
The argument that chemical weapons are ineffective battlefield weapons or that they are no different from conventional weapons has been heard a lot lately:

A tyrant willing to use chemical weapons in range of civilians is probably willing to kill civilians directly - and in that case, conventional weapons are perfectly effective.

Ezra Klein - Why Do We Even Care About Syria's Chemical Weapons? Bloomberg 5 Sep 13

This completely misses an important point; chemical weapons like sarin have an extremely high lethality. The payload of a single intermediate range ballistic missile could plausibly carry tens of thousands of lethal doses into a distant population centre. I fail to understand why this point is overlooked; it seems wilful and disingenuous. I don't see this omission being made in Israel where the gas masks are being distributed.

asdf (2.00 / 5)
 photo MiddleEast-NickAnderson_zps5c12c2c1.jpg

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

Ha! (2.00 / 2)
Except, of course, Fear of Iraqilike Quagmires is real but Fear of Benghaziiiiiii!!1!! is only a Fox Fear.

Or does that statement make me a leftie? :)

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
Hilarious (2.00 / 5)
But not really funny when you think about it. I thought things were bad when I wrote the diary but watching Twitter today is just mind-numbingly bad. If this was an IQ test for finding reliable sources of information we would be failing; abysmally.

Turns out the average American hasn't the remotest clue whom to believe; Alex Jones, Putin, any one of a number of 'free lance' journalists or some anonymous blogger. It is a perfect storm of bullsh*t.

[ Parent ]
ayup. it's funny 'cause it's true. (2.00 / 4)
...and depressing because it's true.

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
Ted Cruz to gives us his take on it (NOT The Onion) (2.00 / 5)
Cruz: Deaths In Syria Are A Distraction From Benghazi Scandal
On ABC's This Week Sunday morning, Cruz argued that the attention being paid to Syria's humanitarian crisis is distracting from counter-terrorism efforts. Though Cruz himself acknowledged earlier in the interview that Syria's civil war is creating a global al-Qaeda hub, the Senator suggested that a renewed focus on terrorism would demand more investigation into the Benghazi attack that that took place on September 11, 2012.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
Please let him be the GOP candidate in 2016. (2.00 / 2)
Maybe he can get Palin to campaign for him.

[ Parent ]
Something else to consider. (2.00 / 4)

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

interesting. (2.00 / 3)

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
We May Need a Refresher Course... (2.00 / 2)
In "collective security." It's ironic that things which have worked reasonably well are taken for granted as a consequence of their effectiveness.

[ Parent ]
so tired of us killing people.... (2.00 / 2)
I understand all the arguments being made for a punitive strike. I even agree with many of them. That being said, my gut reaction wrestle's with anger and revulsion of what is Syria, versus the world watching us dropping bombs and killing people. Many of those dead will be those that where just born in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  I'm hoping the vote might allow a way out. Would Putin allow a security council vote in exchange for no bombs and an Assad assurance of no more chemicals?

There's this (2.00 / 4)
MOSCOW - Russia proposed on Monday that Syria hand over its chemical weapons to international control in an attempt to avert a U.S. military attack.

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, told reporters that he had conveyed the idea to Syria at talks in Moscow and expected "a quick and, I hope, a positive answer." Syria publicly welcomed the idea, but a senior White House official told NBC News that it was no more than a delay tactic.

I would look for every opportunity to not launch.

Exactly. (2.00 / 5)
Is the threat of bombing more effective than an actual bombing? I think so ... being bombed kind of ticks peeople off and makes them more likely to dig in their heels.

I hope the "senior White House official" naysaying that is the same one who told the network news channels that President Obama was going to unilaterally choose to bomb last week and got depantsed.  

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
From Former Secretary Hillary Clinton (2.00 / 4)
Hillary Clinton: Russian Proposal On Syrian Weapons 'An Important Step'
Clinton then addressed comments made by current Secretary of State John Kerry, who suggested Monday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avoid a military strike if he surrenders his chemical weapons. Russia subsequently endorsed the idea, which the State Department initially said was merely a hypothetical posed by Kerry. But by Monday afternoon, the State Department said it will take a "hard look" at the Russian proposal.

"Now, if the regime immediately surrendered its stockpiles to international control, as was suggested by Secretary Kerry and the Russians, that would be an important step," Clinton said.

Looks like "unnamed senior White House official" got it wrong again.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
You know that if it goes this way, McCain will go bannana's. n/t (2.00 / 3)

[ Parent ]
...which makes me like the plan immediately. (2.00 / 5)

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
Great (2.00 / 4)
We've actually been waiting for this proposal for quite some time since something like it was mooted a week ago:

The Iranian parliamentary delegation visiting Damascus Sunday, Sept. 1, advised Bashar Assad to move his chemical stockpile out of Syria and deposit it in Tehran under Iranian and Russian military supervision, to save himself from an American military strike, debkafile's exclusive military and Iranian sources reveal.

Iran, Russia advise Assad to transfer chemical stockpile to Tehran - to avert US attack DEBKAfile 2 Sep 12

You can bet Iran was in on this decision too. I fail to see why the administration wouldn't leap for this opportunity.

[ Parent ]
Apparently the administration is walking back their originally scoffing at the notion. (2.00 / 3)
Public opinion is running about 68% against bombing so finding a non-bombing solution is imperative.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
It Seems to Me... (2.00 / 3)
That most Left reaction to this rather misses the point that without a "big stick" no amount of "soft talking" is likely to be effective.

I totally support this resolution; however it should be accompanied by 1) the Syrian regime signing and complying with the convention, while navigating the subtle problem of not consequently further legitimising the regime as the sovereign leadership of Syria, and 2) pursuing the prosecution of the guilty for the attack in criminal proceedings as crimes against humanity. If Assad is not responsible he should give up those who are and the evidence against them.

Then we can get on with the business of negotiating a political settlement. I don't see a problem with the Ba'ath party retaining leadership of a rump Syria, as long as they aren't clearly a cabal of war criminals. But it seems to me that Alawite and Christian Syria would be better off as part of a Greater Lebanon.

[ Parent ]
The Left, alas (2.00 / 2)
Or at least some of the more vocal segments thereof, is just as kneejerk and blinkered on certain issues as the Tea Party Right is on their pet bete noirs.  Use of force = BAD! so therefore threats of force = BAD! and that's that.

There's always, of course, the dread of another Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the fact that Libya didn't go there appears to be irrelevant to the Chicken Littles of the Left.

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done subjunctively.

[ Parent ]
AP reporting suggests that this... (2.00 / 2)
...'turn over chemweaps to intl crtl' plan was prolly hatched initially between O and Putin during their g20 talks.

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
I'm not sure that treating those opposed to missiles as mistaken or (2.00 / 1)
irresponsible is fair. In Syria there are more bad player's than good. I love Obama. He played this badly. I really hope he can put together a coalition to authorize force and play that into your scenario Shaun.  

[ Parent ]
Well... (2.00 / 3)
I just posted a diary saying it is, to be honest. But my frustration is having a nuanced argument about any of this. We would have to discuss "opposed to missiles" in perhaps greater detail.

My position is that the appearance of a British or French battle squadron in the Red Sea in 1935 would have been all it would have likely taken to stop Mussolini in his tracks, for example. And that would have potentially changed a great many things. But they would have needed live ammunition and the political will to use it. It's a tough neighbourhood out there.

I notice with bemusement also the infatuation of the Left with Godwin's Law at this juncture; as if forbidding discussion of the well-known lessons of the corrosive influence of pacifist and weary public opinion at that time was a necessity to their tendentious arguments. Seriously, these are exactly the lessons that history has given us as poor compensation for all the misery we endured.

[ Parent ]
I'm not sure Syria/Iran rises to the level of Italy/Germany of the 30's. (0.00 / 0)
We are being told by the administration that it's
a small limited strike. McCain want' s to help the rebels win, inspite of the makeup of that group.Neither option seems like it will accomplish anything constructive.
  Will Hezbollah attack Israel? Will we wake up to pictures of more dead children? If Assad just goes back to killing with napalm, phosphorous and high explosives do we just shrug? Is their a calculation that while extremists are fighting Assad they can't fight us?
  There seems to be lots of reasons to pause. I'm glad Obama did.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps Not... (2.00 / 1)
But the point is we are, hopefully, noting the moment then, as now, when we are departing from the convention of "collective security." It is only in that particular that the analogy has strength, but it is also that point which is not only being misunderstood but derided and trivialised by most of the rhetoric against action.

The analogy is not in the disposition of the respective aggressors nor their aspirations but in the lack of appetite for action of the public which, in the historical case, arguably was an ill-judged bargain for very short-term relief.

[ Parent ]
Will Hezbollah Attack Israel? (2.00 / 1)
Sooner or later perhaps it shall. We may be forgetting the pre-emptive strike by Israel earlier this year:

Over the past few months foreign reports have attributed several airstrikes inside Syria to Israel, which allegedly targeted and destroyed advanced weaponry slated to be delivered to Hezbollah.

Reports: Israel attacked another weapons convoy in Syria Israel Hayom 28 Jul 13

This is all very real stuff. Assad's attacks with conventional weapons don't provide us with anything like the leverage we have against the use of sarin and VX; these are lethal and largely illegal weapons which collective global action can be mobilised to oppose. As for the motivation and strategy for dealing with opposition extremists why confound the argument regarding chemical weapons?

This seems a rather ludicrous argument for the Left to make. If was Leftist activism that put the chemical weapons ban in place in the first instance, not to mention argued international intervention to support it. If the Left doesn't want to support that policy now, let them just say so. But it seems disrespectful to past generations to claim it is merely a worthless distinction.  

[ Parent ]
Absolutely! (2.00 / 3)
If Congress takes away the big stick they will be making it harder to negotiate a non-military solution.

I hope they don't.  

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
Wait, we're letting them send chemical weapons (0.00 / 0)
to IRAN!?!?!

[ Parent ]
No (0.00 / 0)
The citation was of an earlier rumour.

[ Parent ]

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