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Thursday, May 31, 2012
The Case for Obama, part 2: Foreign Policy
OK… First? The easy stuff:
Iraq War: Over. Mission Accomplished. Finally.
Bin Laden. Gone. Dead. Characterize it however you want, but Obama succeeded where Bush failed.
Gaddaffi. Gone. Dead. Characterize it however you want, but Obama succeeded where Reagan failed.
And as frustrating as Libya was, our involvement was precisely what it needed to be. Any MORE and the rebels would risk being seen as pro-West, and nothing would evaporate their support faster than that. And while everybody can Monday-morning quarterback it to death, the bottom line is: We had regime change their WITHOUT having to destroy the entire country, wreck their infrastructure, kill 100,000 people and then spend a trillion dollars to rebuild it. The rebels may have wanted more, in the immediate sense art various times, but they given exactly what they needed to succeed, and not a bit more. Libya serves as a SHINING EXAMPLE of how a popular rebellion should be supported, and how regime change should be brought about, absent a Liberal Democracy with free and open elections.
(For examples of how it SHOULD NOT be done, see Vietnam, Iraq.)
Now… The Romney campaign is hitting Obama hard for not being “tough enough” or showing “real leadership” with Syria. They’ve characterized his policies as “hiding” behind the Kofa Anan plan, and playing “mother may i?” with the Russian and the Chinese, who continue to support the Asad regime.
OK. First off, when it comes to invading Syria, I was making the case for that YEARS ago. So I’m certainly no dove when it comes to this horrible, oppressive regime. But What EXACTLY would a President Romney do differently? What is their BRILLIANT IDEA to solve this problem – namely to stop the bloodshed and slaughter of Syrian Protesters and Rebels.
Well… I heard the Romney campaign claim that Obama has shown “no leadership.” But absent any real ideas, coming from a Republican “real leadership” just means “arrogant swagger.” Basically they apparently want Obama to struck around like a Cowboy, reminding the world that America can do whatever the hell it wants, because we can kick more ass than anyone else. Because you know… that worked out pretty well for Bush, right?
And then... He really didn't seem to offer anything! Nothing! Nada. Zilch. Zero. Just that Obama should "lead more" with nary a though as to WHERE he should be leading people!
But let's humor the nay-sayers, and look at some of the "obvious solutions" Obama should be pursuing.
Maybe we should push for SANCTIONS. I’m not a huge fan of this. First of all, they basically NEVER WORK. (see Cuba.) Second, it is always the PEOPLE who end up suffering the most from this. And finally, since most of these Governments control the Media in their countries, the story that gets told always ends up being “look at what the West is doing to us!” And after eight years of George W. Bush, I’m tired of writing their propaganda for them. But perhaps most importantly, sanctions would depend entirely on the cooperation of… duh-da-daaaaaa: RUSSIA and CHINA! So without playing “mother may i?” with the Russian and the Chinese…” OK. You get the point.
Well, then… SCREW THE U.N.! Let’s get NATO to enforce a no-fly zone unilaterally then! Sure. Great. That actually DID work in both Iraq for many years and in Libya. But what would it accomplish in Syria? Syria is a TINY COUNTRY. You don’t need PLANES to cross it! And most of the killing has been by soldiers who WALKED there and TANKS that DROVE there. Syria has no NEED for planes within their borders. So a no-fly zone would be little more than a very expensive symbolic gesture.
Perhaps AIR STRIKES then! Yeah… Except that Syria is 1/10 the size of Libya, with three times the population. And the rebels hold exactly DICK in the form of territory. So what would you HIT? The rebels are all in the CITIES! There is not a single target in Syria that you could hit and NOT kill dozens of the very people who we’re trying to HELP! Who’s LIVES we want to SAVE!
INVADE! Um… No. (see, Iraq.) And to be fair, nobody on either side is really suggesting this.
OK, OK. What about the very simple measure of Arming the Rebels? Arm the populace, so that they have the tools to stand up to this oppressive regime.
Now… I could resort to satire and simply say, “Yeah – typical Republican answer: Try to solve the problem of violence by adding more guns to the equation.” But in my HEART? I would do this. I really would. My spirit? My sense of righteousness? My wrath? All tell me that this is a good idea, and what’s more: That it’s RIGHT.
But my HEAD? (You know… The part of the body that we SHOULD be using to make decisions with?) Tell me a different story. It tells me that the only possible outcome of doing this would be to increase the death toll by an order of magnitude, AT LEAST. Any last vestige of restraint being shown by the Syrian Army would be swept away and what is currently a huge travesty of human rights violations would be transformed into a wholesale slaughter the moment the first shot was fired. Dozens, even hundreds being killed in peaceful protests would become thousands, if not tens of thousands being killed in full scale battles.
If you are motivated to action by the LOSS of human life, you should not be so quick to take actions that would result in the FAR GREATER loss of human life, no matter how angry you are.
So if Obama is proceeding cautiously? Even tentatively perhaps?
I say that there is simply no better way to proceed.
Because Syria is, as I once heard North Korea described, “The Land of Lousy Options.”
As for Iran...?
This is actually fairly easy, because it's simply a question (once again) of the Right going apeshit over a non-existent threat without getting their facts strait. (See: Iraq.)
It comes down to this:
Iran has no nuclear weapons. The CIA, M-I5 and Mossad all agree on this point.
Iran has no actual nuclear weapons program. The CIA, M-I5 and Mossad all agree on this point.
Iran has no delivery system for a nuclear warhead: Their longest range missile with the potential to carry a nuclear warhead is the Shehab-3b with a range of only 2000 km. And the Zelzal and the Fateh missiles are only short range, 300km or less. And as small a threat as that represents, even THAT relies on the assumption that Iran would use a nuclear missile for ANYTHING other than a deterrent. (Kind of like EVERY SINGLE OTHER NUCLEAR ARMED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.)
On every front? I just don't see the problem.