Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Syria update...

The President is deliberating over his options. Below are my thoughts on some of the latest news.

  • Foreign Policy reports that US Intelligence acquired a signal intercept-high confidence assessment that Assad's regime was responsible for the chemical weapons attack. Last Friday, I outlined my suspicions that classified intelligence was focusing US govt. officials towards their increasingly strong declarations. If this reporting is true, it would represent a major success on the part of US intelligence (most likely the NSA - who desperately need some good news). However, in a somewhat ironic sense, this leak further illustrates the increasingly porous nature of the US national security apparatus - a realm where secrets find little comfort.

  • I disagree with Aaron Miller's argument that no particular actor is likely to be victorious in the conflict. If Assad continues to consolidate power, he'll be able to dominate the battlespace and dissipate the fractured resistance movements. In contrast, if Salafi jihadists are able to overwhelm his regime, the flowing outcome will be a regional political condition of unrestrained chaos- in essence, the situation that these terrorists desire as an interim end in itself (chaos= their victory).

  • Foreign Policy has also referenced this neat little map. It offers a basic operational frame for potential US retaliatory strikes inside Syria. I'm sure that the Pentagon's targeting officers will be grateful for this very public reporting! Just as an observation (not an endorsement), in the UK, this map would probably be pressure-restricted by a DA notice.

  • The ongoing legal debate over potential retaliation is absurd. President Obama is the Commander in Chief of US Military forces. Assad's use of chemical weapons (in breach of clearly articulated red lines) poses an obvious and present challenge to the national security interests of the United States (both in terms of deterrent posture and humanitarian values). Further, Obama does not require the approval of Congress (unless operations last more than sixty days). Those who say otherwise do not understand US/international law.

  • EU military forces are well trained but lack effective ISTAR/logistical power. Don't believe those who claim that any response will be 'international'. At face value it might well be, but just as with Libya, the US will have to carry the operational weight of any action.

  • I'm sorry, but at this point, the UN is little more than a farce. Sure, it has a role to play in facilitating international discussions. However, the organization's response to Assad has been the epitome of weakness.... 'register a complaint'? Give me a break. This is the 2013 actuality of the 2004 Team America parody. It's insane.

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