Friday, September 13, 2013

Invasion and Occupation or Ignoring and Hoping Are Not the Only U.S. Middle East Options

UPDATE V:  Republi-cons incoherent Syria policy: 'we don't want to take out the guy who gasses children because someone bad might take over.  "So, just to recap, Rand Paul says no diplomacy, but we can’t do nothing, but no to the president’s plan and no to regime change."  Watch the Colbert Report, America's Got Serious Reservations About This - Syria - Rand Paul.    

UPDATE IV:  "I keep reading about how Iraq was the bad war and Libya was the good war and Afghanistan was the necessary war and Bosnia was the moral war and Syria is now another necessary war. Guess what! They are all the same war.

They are all the story of what happens when multisectarian societies, most of them Muslim or Arab, are held together for decades by dictators ruling vertically, from the top down, with iron fists and then have their dictators toppled, either by internal or external forces. And they are all the story of how the people in these countries respond to the fact that with the dictator gone they can only be governed horizontally — by the constituent communities themselves writing their own social contracts for how to live together as equal citizens, without an iron fist from above. . .

In short, the problem now across the Arab East is not just poison gas, but poisoned hearts. Each tribe or sect believes it is in a rule-or-die struggle against the next, and when everyone believes this, it becomes self-fulfilling. . .

But, please do spare me the lecture that America’s credibility is at stake here. Really? Sunnis and Shiites have been fighting since the 7th century over who is the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad’s spiritual and political leadership, and our credibility is on the line? Really? Their civilization has missed every big modern global trend — the religious Reformation, democratization, feminism and entrepreneurial and innovative capitalism — and our credibility is on the line? I don’t think so.

We’ve struggled for a long time, and still are, learning to tolerate 'the other.' That struggle has to happen in the Arab/Muslim world, otherwise nothing we do matters."

Read The New York Times, Same War, Different Country

UPDATE III:  "President Obama’s anticipated strikes against Syria have some on the Christian right proclaiming Biblical prophecy and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Easy there, writes scholar Candida Moss, we’ve been here before."

Read The Daily Beast, Sorry, Evangelicals, Syria Will Not Spur the Second Coming, which explains "some problems with the theory" and notes that "[t]he conquest of Damascus already happened. At least seven times," and "Christians have been predicting the Second Coming and end of the world since the Apostle Paul."

UPDATE II:  And don't forget to study up on those end time delusions.

Read Mother Jones, Oh Magog! Why End-Times Buffs Are Freaking Out About Syria.  

UPDATE:  Forget 'shock and awe.  "The right strategy is 'arm and shame.'"

Read The New York Times, Arm and Shame.

"Iraq was unquestionably costly and painful to the United States — in dollars, in political comity and, above all, in lives, both of Iraqis and Americans. It hasn’t turned out, so far, as we war supporters hoped. Yet in the absence of U.S. intervention, Syria is looking like it could produce a much worse humanitarian disaster and a far more serious strategic reverse for the United States. . .

The tragedy of the post-Iraq logic embraced by President Obama is that it has ruled out not just George W. Bush-style invasions but also the more modest intervention used by the Clinton administration to prevent humanitarian catastrophes and protect U.S. interests in the 1990s. As in the Balkans — or Libya — the limited use of U.S. airpower and collaboration with forces on the ground could have quickly put an end to the Assad regime 18 months ago, preventing 60,000 deaths and rise of al-Qaeda. It could still save the larger region from ruin.

The problem here is not that advocates of the Iraq invasion have failed to learn its lessons. It is that opponents of that war, starting with Obama, have learned the wrong ones."

Read the Washington Post, What the Iraq war taught me about Syria