10 Questions regarding Syria

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The following are some questions I hope congressional leaders ask the Obama administration regarding Syria: 

1. Wait--why is this a good idea again?

    This question always seems worth asking, especially when someone is     trying to convince you that we suddenly need to go to war. 

2. What, if any, idea do you have regarding how you want Syria to 
     look when this conflict is over?

If the Assad regime falls, there is potential for Syria breaking apart. 
      Does the Obama administration view the current borders of Syria as         sacred? What about the Kurdish region of northern Syria?

3.  Who, among the currently recognized factions, are you backing?

       This question and the previous one refer to the fact that a lot of the
       rebels in Syria don't seem to consider themselves allies of the United
       States. Is there a side among the warring parties that the Obama
       administration has identified as a potential partner? If so, who?

4. Why so fast?

        The Obama administration went from keeping Syria on the 
        back-burner to threatening an act of war in the span of just a few
        days. The vast majority of Americans know absolutely nothing or
        next to nothing about this country and why we are getting
        involved. This seems like a problem.    

5. Where have you been all this time?

         It seems problematic to me that a country that has not played a
         very active international role in peace efforts should suddenly
         become involved in this way. If, for example, Obama had been
         leading peace efforts regarding Syria over the past few years,
         perhaps he would have more credibility now. After ignoring the war
         for most of the last two years, however, what right does the
         United States have to suddenly start lobbing missiles?       

6. How does bombing help?

          Are we just trying to send a message? Does the Obama
          administration think American interests are better served by
          removing the Assad regime? If so, what do they propose to replace             this regime with and how does bombing Syria help to make that

7. What do people in Lebanon and Iraq think?

          Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, I remember how long the wars
          in Lebanon dragged on. What do people in Lebanon think of all of
          this taking place on their doorstep? There must be real concern in
          that country of the possibility of the war spreading. I wonder what
          attitudes are in Lebanon, as well as in Iraq, regarding what course
          of action would best be taken to avoid the spread of the war to
          neighboring countries.

8. Why can't we use this issue as an opportunity to engage Russia and

          Post-Snowden it is probably unrealistic to think that the US would
          show any interest in engaging Russia. Nevertheless, it's a lost
          opportunity. The US has no real interest in Syria, nor does the
          Obama administration seem to have identified an ally or partner
          among the warring sides. Russia and Iran do have a vested interest
          in keeping Assad afloat--for both countries, Syria is one of their few
          friends in the region. If the Obama administration is interested in
          brokering a cease-fire, Russia and Iran would be on board because
          they are looking to buy time for Assad. If the goal of the United
          States is regime change, then we're back to the questions regarding
          what to replace Assad with and whether or not bombing will help
          facilitate that change.    

9. Where's Dennis Rodman in all of this?

           In North Korea, of course, where he's undertaking another
           'basketball diplomacy' mission. This means that Obama is on his
           own on this one, unless the President can convince another Detroit
           Piston legend to step up to the plate and take on Syria.
A frightened world's eyes look to you, Rasheed


  10. Which model to point to?

           Everyone has their model here. Supporters of intervention point
           to Libya, as well as to Clinton's bombing campaigns in favor of the
           Bosnian Muslims and Kosovars in the late 1990s. In both of those
           cases, however, there were clearly identified parties that the US
           supported and wanted to see come to power.

           In Syria, by contrast, the Obama administration knows who they  
           want to get rid of  (Assad), but there doesn't seem to be much of an
           idea about what is supposed to happen next. Shoot first and ask
           questions later, in other words. 

I hope this works out for the best, mainly for people living in Syria. I can't, however,  say that I'm very optimistic about things right now. 


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