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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Hey, President Obama? The 1980s just called. (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Hey, President Obama? The 1980s just called.
EDanaII
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The Soviets just TOOK their foreign policy back.

Discuss.

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Fenring
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?
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Wayward Son
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That's because Putin has no memory.

Remember the U.S. taking over Iraq?

Remember the Soviets taking over Afghanistan?

Does anyone think Syria will be any different if the Russians go in?

The 1980's called, all right, but not for Obama.

They called for Putin. [Smile]

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AI Wessex
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Not that big a surprise. They have an irresistible need to re-legitimize their position as a determining factor in global strategy and policy. They also like losers, in this case Assad, that can be moved around like a pawn.

Obama may not have seen Putin's move as an inevitable attempt to thwart US objectives, but he couldn't have stopped Putin from acting out in any case.

It is pretty astonishing to see Putin's bald-faced lies about what he's doing. Has he yet admitted that Russian troops are fighting in the Ukraine? In Syria he's bombing anti-Assad rebels and claiming he's wiping out ISIS enclaves.

Next I expect to see even greater economic and military collaboration between Iran and Russia. That will include Iran purchasing increasing amounts of military hardware from Russia. It's not clear to me how they deal with each of their domestic oil sales on the international market, since they are competitors there. Probably a joint cartel-like agreement to share the European and Asian markets. That will increase tensions between Iraq and Iran and with Iraq's attention divided by ISIS will likely hasten its split into 3 separate political entities.

It never was going to go well in that region no matter what we tried to do. Obama's inability to control events is yet another wave of fallout from the US destabilization of the region with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It would have fallen apart eventually even without those wars, but not as quickly and perhaps more gracefully.

[ October 01, 2015, 03:29 AM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
That's because Putin has no memory.

Remember the U.S. taking over Iraq?

Remember the Soviets taking over Afghanistan?

Does anyone think Syria will be any different if the Russians go in?

The 1980's called, all right, but not for Obama.

They called for Putin. [Smile]

Ah, the old "I know your are but what am I?" defense. [DOH]

Putin trolled Obama with Snowden's Twitter account this week and literally made a fool of Obama. Then, Putin takes out US allied fighters in Syria and shortly thereafter had an apparently oblivious Kerry making nice-nice at the UN.

Putin, and anyone opposed to America, is laughing at Obama as Putin runs circles around him. It's a historical low point for the United States.

But it gets worse, we could go back to the 1970's:
quote:
The typical man with a full-time job–the one at the statistical middle of the middle–earned $50,383 last year, the Census Bureau reported this week.

The typical man with a full-time job in 1973 earned $53,294, measured in 2014 dollars to adjust for inflation.

So domestically and internationally, America is in retrograde under Obama.
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TomDavidson
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Rafi, should I take this post to mean that you're now going to pretend to care about middle-class wages? Because that's a conversation I'd love to have with you. [Smile]
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Fenring
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I'd like to say that I enjoy watching people fall for anti-Russian propaganda...but I don't.
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jasonr
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Putin is the only one that seems to be making sense in this debate. I know it's wrong to think so because Putin I'm told is BAD, but it's hard to put out the eyes of my reason as much as I try.

It seems self-evident to me that Assad is far better in every way to the alternative, and seems to be the only one capable of imposing a semblance of order on Syria. A return to the pre-war situation would seem to be the best case scenario here.

In related news, I read a headline this morning that Russian airstrikes may have targeted U.S. supported rebels in addition to ISIL. My automatic follow-up question was: which of our twenty allies in Syria was killed?

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
In related news, I read a headline this morning that Russian airstrikes may have targeted U.S. supported rebels in addition to ISIL. My automatic follow-up question was: which of our twenty allies in Syria was killed?

The short answer is that Putin targeted anti-Assad insurgents other than ISIS that were threatening the government; it wasn't anti-ISIS insurgents. In essence the suggestion is that these insurgents were proxy U.S. forces sent there to take down Assad while at the same time the U.S. claimed to be fighting ISIS. By attacking those insurgents Russia was legitimately defending Syrian sovereignty by undermining American assets there in such a way that they couldn't actually complain about it openly.
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cherrypoptart
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It's sad when the Russians come out looking like the good guys. It's silly to fight a two front, or two enemy war, when you don't have to so Russia is making the logical, strategically sound move of weakening the rebels first, and the U.S. position along with them. But I have little doubt that this is just a precursor to really taking the fight to ISIS.

And why would all the liberals who say deposing Saddam was such a big mistake not see the same mistake being made with our fight to depose Assad. The rebels are probably infiltrated with ISIS and even if they are not they are too weak to stop an ISIS takeover if we ever do manage to oust Assad from power. There really isn't a good option here besides supporting Assad, maybe even making our support a bargaining point for some expressions of goodwill on his part eventually, for instance by his agreement to ratchet down Syria's international terrorism. Of course this is something Obama can't do now with all that's been said or done but perhaps his replacement can. Maybe the Syrian reset button can be pressed, though obviously that didn't work out so well with Russia...

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Greg Davidson
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It's sad when you define the good guys as those helping a ruler who has killed 200,000 people. True, the ISIS deaths included beheadings, but how many of the 200,000 people killed by the Syria regime were thinking in their last moments "I feel so much better knowing I am not being killed via decapitation"?

I don't believe that there are any good guys here. And there are few good options. Dictatorial order imposed by Assad might result in net fewer casualties, but this Assad has never successfully ruled anything, and so there's a great deal of speculation in asserting that military aid to Assad will result even in that outcome.

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jasonr
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Greg, ISIL is committing genocide on Christian minorities in Syria and Iraq. Actual genocide like in a holocaust. They are burning these countries to the ground, literally and figuratively.

Assad is a brutal but secular dictator. He is objectively preferable to the alternative. Moreover, since the USA has now admitted its impotence conceding that they failed to produce more than a handful of "moderate" rebels despite vast resources it appears Assad is the only game in town who can actually fight these guys for real.

Assad is the lesser evil.

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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
Greg, ISIL is committing genocide on Christian minorities in Syria and Iraq. Actual genocide like in a holocaust. They are burning these countries to the ground, literally and figuratively.

Assad is a brutal but secular dictator. He is objectively preferable to the alternative. Moreover, since the USA has now admitted its impotence conceding that they failed to produce more than a handful of "moderate" rebels despite vast resources it appears Assad is the only game in town who can actually fight these guys for real.

Assad is the lesser evil.

Not that I disagree with your analysis per se, but the Russians didn't attack ISIS. It's not clear to me whom they attacked (as in, whether they are moderate or not). It's also worth remembering that at one time the Taliban were the lesser evil too.

Basically the only actors with my support in this situation are the people who want to leave Syria and those who would help them do so.

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Fenring
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How about Putin's claim that an attempt to overthrow a foreign government (even if they are all bad, as Arnie put it) is a violation of international law? It seems like both the more prudent and also more legal course is to support Assad. And by the way the U.S. has already rejected a deal Russia offered to broker in 2012 where Assad would peacefully have gone into retirement. The U.S. rejected it because they assumed Assad would be overthrown during Arab Spring anyhow, so why agree to a deal. And now they want to take down his government militarily, which previously already agreed to step down!

[ October 02, 2015, 08:53 AM: Message edited by: Fenring ]

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NobleHunter
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The trick with supporting Assad is we don't know what he'll do if he wins. Back before ISIS, it was suggested that Assad might use ethnic cleansing to prevent further challenges to his rule. A lot of people, me included, were against getting involved because all sides are at risk for engaging in indiscriminate slaughter.

I wouldn't say the US admitted impotence, either. They just don't want to get involved. That's been clear since they refused the opportunity to pound Assad flat over chemical weapons. ISIS is splashy enough that they have to do something but the US doesn't want to be associated with how the civil war shakes out anymore than they have to.

It's also worth pointing out that Putin's latest adventure is in a civil war so toxic he can be pretty sure the US won't be able to decide how to intervene. Not exactly Ukraine, round 2.
quote:
How about Putin's claim that an attempt to overthrow a foreign government (even if they are all bad, as Arnie put it) is a violation of international law?
Great. I assume he'll be turning himself in at the Hague any day now.
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Greg Davidson
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Jasonr, if Assad kills as many people as ISIS (and in fact he has killed many more), do his killings count for less because they are political rather than religious? Again, do you believe Assad's victims felt any better when dying because they were not killed in an act of genocide?

[ October 02, 2015, 09:30 AM: Message edited by: Greg Davidson ]

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AI Wessex
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quote:
Fenring: The short answer is that Putin targeted anti-Assad insurgents other than ISIS that were threatening the government; it wasn't anti-ISIS insurgents.
I heard a report on the radio yesterday that Assad is helping to identify the targets for the Russians.
quote:
Cherry: It's sad when the Russians come out looking like the good guys.
They have a different agenda than we do. Why do you think they have to be either good or bad?
quote:
Cherry: And why would all the liberals who say deposing Saddam was such a big mistake not see the same mistake being made with our fight to depose Assad. The rebels are probably infiltrated with ISIS and even if they are not they are too weak to stop an ISIS takeover if we ever do manage to oust Assad from power. There really isn't a good option here besides supporting Assad, maybe even making our support a bargaining point for some expressions of goodwill on his part eventually, for instance by his agreement to ratchet down Syria's international terrorism.
Military problems anywhere in the world are always due to liberal partisan stupidity in the US, aren't they? Remember that Assad has been slaughtering his own people to the tune of at least 70,000 so far and over one million have been displaced, creating a major immigration crisis in Europe. Is Assad a "good guy"? Although you like what was done to Iraq, remember that our efforts led to the killing and displacement of more than a million innocent civilians and the country will never turn into a safe place for democracy.
quote:
JasonR: Assad is a brutal but secular dictator. He is objectively preferable to the alternative.
...
Assad is the lesser evil.

Is that always the way you choose? If Assad would kill a million people to stay in power and ISIS would kill a million + one, would you still back Assad?

FWIW, I think Assad is quite ok with ISIS, since they are attacking the Syrian rebels, too. It's a game of attrition where Assad only cares about staying in power, and who he has to fight against can shift over time. That's what the Russians are doing for him by becoming the Syrian air force.

[ October 02, 2015, 09:51 AM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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TomDavidson
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It is really very interesting to me how much respect certain hard-core conservatives have for Putin. They really should consider moving to Russia if they love it so much. [Wink]
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AI Wessex
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The rabbit hole of the enemy of my enemy of my enemy of my enemy...
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TomDavidson
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I dunno. I think it's more than that. They liked Putin even when Bush was president. I think there's something oddly compelling about him that must be even more compelling to right-wingers. He's kind of the political equivalent of Troll-Face.
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jasonr
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
Jasonr, if Assad kills as many people as ISIS (and in fact he has killed many more), do his killings count for less because they are political rather than religious? Again, do you believe Assad's victims felt any better when dying because they were not killed in an act of genocide?

I'm sure there are car accident victims who felt worse when they died compared with ISIL victims. So?

The only relevent question is what will Syria look like with Assad victorious versus ISIL victorious? And how does either outcome compare with the status quo.

We already know what Syria looked like under Assad before the war. It looked like paradise in retrospect, didn't it?

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TomDavidson
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No, not really. Nor are our only options to support Assad or support ISIS.
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AI Wessex
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quote:
We already know what Syria looked like under Assad before the war. It looked like paradise in retrospect, didn't it?
And the US colonies looked pretty placid with the benign and benevolent Founders watching over things, and biblical times looked pretty idyllic if you get the right version of the stories told by the right people.

Every damned thread right now divides things up into two camps at every opportunity. It's pretty frustrating.

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NobleHunter
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I'm not sure if I'm in Pyr's camp or not on the other thread. I just can't be bothered to parse what he's saying closely enough.
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EDanaII
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quote:
Not that I disagree with your analysis per se, but the Russians didn't attack ISIS. It's not clear to me whom they attacked (as in, whether they are moderate or not). It's also worth remembering that at one time the Taliban were the lesser evil too.
Reports are that they are attacking the rebels. The ones who want Assad out of power; our allies...
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AI Wessex
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quote:
Reports are that they are attacking the rebels. The ones who want Assad out of power; our allies...
It's not clear which groups, if any, are our allies. We share an objective with them to remove Assad from power.
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jasonr
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quote:
No, not really. Nor are our only options to support Assad or support ISIS.
Really? Because according to latest reports, there at present Only 4 or 5 U.S. trained rebels still fighting

The choice appears to be between Assad and ISIL. There's nobody else to choose from.

I guess the U.S. could invade Syria and topple Assad and destroy ISIL. There's your plan C.

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jasonr
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quote:
And the US colonies looked pretty placid with the benign and benevolent Founders watching over things, and biblical times looked pretty idyllic if you get the right version of the stories told by the right people.

Every damned thread right now divides things up into two camps at every opportunity. It's pretty frustrating.

Well what do you actually propose we do? ISIL and Assad are the two powers vying for control of Syria right now. That's it. There is no "free Syrian army". It's Assad or ISIL. I count two.

Unless you propose the USA invade Syria, what is the third option?

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AI Wessex
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quote:
Unless you propose the USA invade Syria, what is the third option?
There are a few, but I'll be clear that it's not up to us and we can't fix the situation no matter what we do.

Most importantly, we can't keep repeating the mistakes the US has made over past decades, where we decide to give carte blanche to regimes who oppress their people because we get an economic benefit from it. That has always turned out badly, and there's no reason to think it won't happen again. So, we need to think and act differently. IMO, we need to think globally, rather than parochially about our immediate interests.

Our military solution in Iraq had exactly the outcome that so many people who were shouted down predicted, and yet the same military hard-liners in our country insist we just didn't keep at it long enough or hard enough.

We have to completely isolate Assad economically, even though that would have limited effect. We should impose a aircraft ban with real teeth for non-civilian aircraft through a coalition, which also would have an attritive impact.

But let there be no doubt that we have to wait it out, punish countries that help them militarily or economically with diplomatic and economic sanctions. These things could and should have greater impact than direct involvement, because no country can exist without an international market to buy and sell.

I think we came out the winner in Iran, not because we were right and they were wrong, but because they were utterly frustrated by their inability to get spare parts for their washing machines and other non-military appliances. A wise man once said that the fastest route to peace with military minded men is through their wives.

And although I hate military solutions, we should target ISIS centers and leaders, which would also be attritive, and also similarly target other groups with similar methods and intent. This is a tactical move while strategic efforts are taken on the wider stage.

Ultimately, however, as with ISIS in Iraq, isn't it the responsibility of the countries that are most directly impacted or vulnerable to deal with these problems?

I firmly believe that Assad is a destabilizing element in the Mideast and is now more of a threat to regional peace than the leaders of any other country.

But unless and until Syria and other countries fix their own social and cultural problems themselves, these kinds of scenarios will plague the region without any hope of stopping them.

The bottom line is there is no sure path to a happy outcome, only steps we can take to help shape events that move in that direction.

[ October 02, 2015, 06:19 PM: Message edited by: AI Wessex ]

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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
quote:
And the US colonies looked pretty placid with the benign and benevolent Founders watching over things, and biblical times looked pretty idyllic if you get the right version of the stories told by the right people.

Every damned thread right now divides things up into two camps at every opportunity. It's pretty frustrating.

Well what do you actually propose we do? ISIL and Assad are the two powers vying for control of Syria right now. That's it. There is no "free Syrian army". It's Assad or ISIL. I count two.

Unless you propose the USA invade Syria, what is the third option?

We can let Russia take the place over. What could go wrong with that? [Eek!]
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jasonr
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quote:
The bottom line is there is no sure path to a happy outcome, only steps we can take to help shape events that move in that direction.
It sounds like you advocate the status quo, which is just puttering around with irrelevant airstrikes that do nothing really and leave Assad and his enemies locked in endless war.

You said it was a mistake for the USA to give carte blanche to dictators to oppress their people, but it seems to me that's the wrong lesson to take. If the Arab Spring taught us anything, it's that things can always get worse. In the Middle East, the only thing worse than a dictator is the will of the people.

Saddam, Assad and Ghadafi are easily and objectively better than what has supplanted them.

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jasonr
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quote:
We can let Russia take the place over. What could go wrong with that? [Eek!]
Well if you're truly an enemy of Russia then you should be cheering the idea of Putin getting his troops embroiled in Syria. It'll be Afghanistan Part 2.
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AI Wessex
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
quote:
The bottom line is there is no sure path to a happy outcome, only steps we can take to help shape events that move in that direction.
It sounds like you advocate the status quo, which is just puttering around with irrelevant airstrikes that do nothing really and leave Assad and his enemies locked in endless war.
If you ignore everything else I wrote...
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jasonr
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Al, to reiterate, what exactly do you want the USA to do *DO* that it hasn't done already. Recognizing the fact that there are no "moderate" rebels in Syria. There aren't. Sorry. So what do you want to do given the facts as they stand?
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AI Wessex
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Reread my post. I put forward a number of options. I think your problem is that I didn't say unleash our military. Sorry, that's been tried elsewhere and it hasn't worked.
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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
quote:
We can let Russia take the place over. What could go wrong with that? [Eek!]
Well if you're truly an enemy of Russia then you should be cheering the idea of Putin getting his troops embroiled in Syria. It'll be Afghanistan Part 2.
Maybe, maybe not. No guarantees.
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jasonr
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Al, we agree that we shouldn't unleash our military. 100% agreed with extreme prejudice!

I re-read your post.

quote:
We have to completely isolate Assad economically, even though that would have limited effect.
Isn't he already isolated economically?

quote:
We should impose a aircraft ban with real teeth for non-civilian aircraft through a coalition, which also would have an attritive impact.
On Assad. ISIL and friends don't use aircraft.

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But let there be no doubt that we have to wait it out, punish countries that help them militarily or economically with diplomatic and economic sanctions.
By "them" you mean who? Assad? ISIL? And how do you "punish" them?

quote:
I think we came out the winner in Iran, not because we were right and they were wrong, but because they were utterly frustrated by their inability to get spare parts for their washing machines and other non-military appliances. A wise man once said that the fastest route to peace with military minded men is through their wives.
You're suggesting that if we deny the Russians washing machines they'll stop supporting Assad.

By the way, are we going to get to ISIL?

quote:
And although I hate military solutions, we should target ISIS centers and leaders, which would also be attritive, and also similarly target other groups with similar methods and intent. This is a tactical move while strategic efforts are taken on the wider stage.
Ahh here we go. Target how? With drones? Pretty sure we are already doing that. With airstrikes? Check. How's the working for us?

quote:
Ultimately, however, as with ISIS in Iraq, isn't it the responsibility of the countries that are most directly impacted or vulnerable to deal with these problems?
100% agreed. Although as far as solutions go, letting someone else fix things isn't terribly proactive. It seems you don't want Russia to fix it, but I guess Turkey and Saudi Arabia should?

quote:
I firmly believe that Assad is a destabilizing element in the Mideast and is now more of a threat to regional peace than the leaders of any other country.
The Assad's ruled a stable government in Syria since 1970, didn't they? So for 40+ years they kept Syria together, but now they are the ones responsible for tearing it apart? You buy that?

quote:
But unless and until Syria and other countries fix their own social and cultural problems themselves, these kinds of scenarios will plague the region without any hope of stopping them.

The bottom line is there is no sure path to a happy outcome, only steps we can take to help shape events that move in that direction.

Yes yes. But let's get back to your original point, which I wholeheartedly agreed with:

quote:
Most importantly, we can't keep repeating the mistakes the US has made over past decades
Indeed. Stop toppling secular dictators so that religious lunatics can swarm in to take their place.

The Arab Spring failed. The Iraq invasion failed. Toppling Ghadafi in Lybia failed. Trying to topple Assad is another mistake. There is a lesser of two evils here, and it's Assad.

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AI Wessex
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Jason, there are too many comments to respond to individually. I'll just reiterate the larger points.

** Assad is killing his own people. He doesn't differentiate between the various groups that are beyond his control and is bombing them. He has now invited Russia in to assist in the slaughter. That must stop.

** We have to stop believing that there is a good side and a bad side in every conflict. The Mideast is overwhelmed with out-of-control minority groups fueled by hatred based on either/both of ethnic tribalism and religious extremism. No matter which side of a dispute we align with, they are not our allies.

** Assad has consistently refused to negotate with internal groups to address grievances, and instead appears to be willing to kill as many of his country's citizens as he has to in order to hold onto power. Since he has the superior military infrastructure, he can keep going until he almost depopulates the country. The destabilization that is already apparent is giving outside groups opportunities to look toward establishing beachheads, if not outright dominion, across portions of the country.

** Economic sanctions can be extended. The washing machines I referred to aren't those of Russians. If you thought that is what I meant, that was a sloppy reading.

** This is the most important point: We can't fix it, and it isn't going to "fix itself" quickly. This conflict is a reflection of the social and religious unrest throughout the region, and has to be addressed by the people involved and affected. We can help, but only so much.

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jasonr
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quote:
** We have to stop believing that there is a good side and a bad side in every conflict. The Mideast is overwhelmed with out-of-control minority groups fueled by hatred based on either/both of ethnic tribalism and religious extremism. No matter which side of a dispute we align with, they are not our allies.
100% agreed. Now do you agree with me that Assad is the lesser of two evils?

Or put it another way: would you rather live under Assad or under ISIL (or some variation thereof)

For me it's not even a shadow of a doubt which I choose.

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AI Wessex
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That's what I mean, you think you have to choose one side or the other. A phrase I first heard on a TV political series applies here, "See the whole board before you make that move".
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