June 19, 2013

Are you ready for another Vietnam?

I don’t know about you, but I’m very nervous about the White House’s announcement that we’re going to be sending in military support to the Syrian rebels now that the Bashar al-Assad regime has crossed the red line of attacking with chemical weapons.  With Russia, Lebanon, and Iran supporting al-Assad, and US, UK, France, and Turkey supporting the rebels, aren’t we looking at another proxy war?  Another Vietnam?  World War III?

This is huge.  Here we are on the cusp of getting pulled into yet ANOTHER war in the Middle East, the impact of which will be deep and wide.  I bet the military-industrial-complex is salivating now.  Some might be saying that Obama has been dragging his feet, and it’s too little too late, but I’m certainly okay that he’s taking his time to get it right.

The last time we rushed into a war it didn’t work out well, and that’s putting it mildly.  In reality, it was a disaster.  I don’t need to quantify the cost of blood and treasure we’ve lost in Iraq, for BOTH the United States AND Iraq.  I believe the count of casualties of Iraqi civilians is well into the hundreds of thousands.  But I’m very concerned about the decision being made based on “intelligence”.  That was the case for going into Iraq as well, except the “intelligence” then was all fabricated.  At least this time, I have some trust and confidence that the “intelligence” is reliable.  This is not a decision that is made lightly or abruptly.   So here are my thoughts, as well as my advice to President Obama. 

Get the intelligence right.  When we look back at this months and years from now, the justification for entering into this war will be based on this.  If you got it wrong, you will fry.

Build the coalition.  Not only do we need solid justification, but we’ll also need a hell of a lot of partners in this venture.  And, we’ll need them to carry a huge portion of the load.  Along these lines you’ll absolutely have to get Putin and Russia on your side.  If they don’t back off from supporting and supplying al-Assad, then this will be disastrous – it will escalate the existing civil/revolutionary war, and this conflict will drag on for years with no chance of success.

Have an end game.  Of course this was one of the biggest failures of the Bush Administration. They had no end game because they wanted no end game.  As key members of the Military-Industrial-Complex, their objective was always perpetual conflict.  That’s what’s profitable.  President Obama, if there’s a perception that you’re looking to fuel the M-I-C, or trying to pillage Syria’s oil, you’ll certainly lose support from the masses.  That leads me to my next point…

Clear communication.  You have always been a master communicator and you’ll need every bit of your skills and talents to ensure the messaging is on point.  Your decision is made reluctantly and your mission is about the protection of the Syrian people.  If we’re seen as greedy war-mongers, we’ll lose support.  But, if we’re seen as coming to the rescue, we’ll gain/increase support from the Muslim world.

Organize the Syrian rebels.  You’ll build a forceful case against the al-Assad regime, but one thing that you’ll need to acknowledge, is that they’re organized.  After all, it’s a government – of course they’re organized by definition.  I’m not that convinced with respect to the Syrian rebels.  Do we really know who they are?  Are there extremists who will turn around and use these weapons against our interests?  Our military aid should not be given without strings.  There should be clear & distinct rules & expectations for all parties to abide by in order for this aid to go through.  When the rebels finally win this war, what will Syria look like?  How will they be governed?  Will they abide by international standards of human/equal rights?

There are many considerations before we embark down this road.  President Obama, I believe you’ve always been a forward thinker.  Please make sure you’ve thought this thing through.  A great deal of blood and treasure depends on it.


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