The thing that really bothers me in all the back and forth surrounding the American strike on the Assad Regime debate, and the Democratic Party aligned media spin of what the meaning of words “Red Line” mean, is how off-point from the interests of the American people it all is. The Assad regime’s use of Nerve Gas isn’t the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Deploying those Clinton era spin techniques over the definition of “Red Line” is the political equivalent of pointing and yelling “_Squirrel_!”
The bottom line is that if the Assad regime of Syria survives on the strength of chemical weapons of mass destruction, an incredibly dangerous to American national security situation will come to pass. The Chemical Weapons Convention will be dead, publicly murdered and discredited similar to the way the Kellogg-Briant Pact against war was in the face of Nazi rearmament. There will be an arms race for chemical weapons of mass destruction in the Mid-East & elsewhere. That will require the US military to rearm with either lethal chemicals or with tactical nukes — with all the costs that requires both financial and moral — in order to maintain a credible deterrent for future conventional military operations.
The issue with the Assad Regime’s use of chemical weapons of mass destruction is the Assad regime . The only fit punishment, one that will prevent catalytic proliferation of chemical and other weapons of mass destruction around the world, is the Assad Regime’s over throw. That overthrow is readily obtainable by American military forces and can be achieved without a single boot on the ground, nor a single foreign ally.
The fact that the Obama Administration is unwilling use grasp those means, and to politically justify their use with the same sort of weapons of mass destruction argument that Pres. George W. Bush deployed to justify regime change in Iraq, is the real strategic “Red Line” for Syria. It is a Red Line that the American people chose in electing a Democratic Senate in 2006 and in both electing and reelecting Pres. Obama (and a Democratic Senate) in 2008 and 2012.
It is a “Red Line” that has to be erased by competent and principled Presidential leadership that forthrightly explains the threat, continually over time, if Americans are to continue enjoying — its admittedly rapidly declining — freedom from police state surveillance at home.
Defining a Military Campaign
When you are looking at a military campaign, you need to define who your enemy is, what his weaknesses are, what means you have to address those weaknesses and what the “desired end state” is versus the expected reality of not acting to understand why you are doing it. And most importantly, competent Presidential leadership would then communicate that to the American people.
To start with definitions, the Assad Regime is a terrorist supporting, minority population controlling, failed, 3rd world state that has just used a chemical weapon of mass destruction — nerve gas tipped artillery rockets — to murder a Sunni neighborhood of Damascus in order to terrorize a Sunni Muslim majority tribal revolt. The Assad Regime is supported militarily by Iran and politically in the UN Security council by Russia and China for reasons which I will touch on later. The 2.5 year and counting Sunni Tribal Revolt has been infiltrated and taken over by al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist organization for reasons mainly due to the culture of the Syrian people and slightly due to the Obama Administration’s unwillingness to support non-al-Qaeda tribal factions. Whatever footprint we have in Jordan. The Obama Administration decision honor it’s campaign pledge to the American people and withdraw from Iraq was far more important. It removed the CIA’s ability to affect events over wide areas in Syria directly.
In terms of military & economic weakness, the Assad regime is incredibly vulnerable to American sea and air power in the face of the Sunni revolt. A serious American military blockade of Syrian air and sea ports will kill the Assad Army, Air Force and Regime Protective Force’s mobility and deny Assad’s faction the ability to meet payroll. This is underlined by understanding two geo-political facts:
1) The predominant foreign petroleum, oil and lubricant (POL) source for the Assad Regime is Iranian foreign aide through Syria’s one sea port.
2) The predominant foreign currency income stream (after air-lifted fake Iranian US $100 bills) for the Assad regime is drugs — opium poppies — out of the Bekaa Valley.
Air-laid Destructor sea mines off Syrian and Lebanese ports plus a no-fly zone — enforced with cruise missile cratered and air-laid Gator scatterable mines on Syrian runways and over watched by drones to tell us when we need to re-strike — will see the Assad Regime lose it’s air power and run out of POL for its combat vehicles.
Then, with fuel-less heavy weapons like tanks and aircraft, the Sunnis majority uprising will eat the Alwite minority Assad Regime. Game Over for both Assad Regime and the advantages of WMD proliferation for terrorist supporting regimes.
This military course of action also happens to be something Pres. Obama can do without Congress while following the strict letter of the War Powers Act. All Pres. Obama has to do is periodically “withdraw the fleet” and “Stop flying the Heavy Bombers” to restart the 60-day clock. The President has both the constitutional and military power to win in Syria, what he lacks is the will. And the reason he lacks the will is that it would require the Obama Administration to admit Pres. George W. Bush was right on weapons of mass destruction.
SYRIAN COUNTER MOVES & THE END STATE
In the face of an American military blockade, the options of the Assad Regime to break it or endure it are limited. A Russian IL76 airlift of aid into Damascus cannot replace the lost POL. Nor can a truck route from Iran through Iraq/Turkey replace the sea delivered POL, as 300 miles truck travel on bad roads requires more than the truck’s payload in burnt fuel to deliver it. Iran would have to double it’s oil shipments just to stay even, and run it through Sunni Revolt controlled territory.
More likely the Russians will fly to Beirut and have whatever trucked from there to and from Syria. Not because they want to, but because they won’t have the fuel at Damascus international airport from the damage we will do to Assad’s POL storage & pumping facilities, plus the irregular mining of Syrian runways there in the event of a serious American no-fly zone.
IL76s can deliver a lot, but not if they have to carry the gas to get back to either Beirut or Cyprus from Damascus, and have to operate on a rough strip at Damascus to boot.
As for what the Russians will do in the event of American sea mining, please see the precedent Operation Linebacker and the mining of Haiphong Harbor in North Vietnam. Neither Russia or China on Syria’s side, nor America on our own, can move a resolution through the UN Security Council veto that all three nations possess.
Russian and Chinese interests are not served by a war with the USA for Syria. What they are trying to create in their support of Syria is a post “PAX AMERICANA” world. A multi-polar world where the Russians and Chinese will have room to maneuver without American predominance.
Proliferation of WMD will do that, as the precedent of successful Syrian weapons of mass destruction use means that reasonably responsible and reasonably fearful states like the Turks, Saudis, Egyptians, Jordanians, Taiwanese and Japanese will go there too. Japan going nuclear is not something I want to see in my lifetime.
And again, it is a measure of relative competence that the Obama Administration hasn’t made this argument. This strategic policy quagmire is the price Pres. Obama is paying as President for the Democratic Party’s Bush Derangement Syndrome politics that got him into office.
Pres. Obama and the Democrats would rather a lot of Americans die from weapons of mass destruction than admit that Bush was right. And all elected Republicans in D.C. would rather hold on to their scraps of power than follow Winston Churchill’s path into the political wilderness for speaking rhetorical truth to the real power — the American people.
The choice that the Obama Administration faces is that nothing America does or doesn’t do will change Syria from being a terrorist supporting, failed, 3rd world state. The choice at hand is what kind of terrorist supporting state our inaction or intervention will create, and the wider consequences of that choice, especially for American freedom at home.
Doing nothing means we will have a Iranian/Russian/Chinese supported WMD using Syrian terror state that harbors Iranian Nuclear, Chemical and Bioweapons production facilities.
Acting to depose Assad means we will have an ethnic cleansing, al-Qaeda supporting, economically & politically irrational terrorist state that hates Iran and the Syrian Alwites who staffed Iran’s WMD facilities.
The first is an existential threat to American freedom, the second is a manageable local problem for Israel and the Turks.
A wide ranging break-out of WMD across the world means they will be much more readily available to terrorist organizations. The tighter surveillance and security steps the American state will need to implement in order to address that threat at home will reduce the economic vitality of the American people as the national security state crowds out more and more freedom as the cost of “security.” Leaving us all very much where Benjamin Franklin predicted…neither having or deserving either.
It will take principled and competent American political leadership to persuade the American people to face these facts.
I don’t expect it to happen.
Our current American political elites won’t cross the “BDS Red Line” that American public elected Pres. Obama for anytime soon. Obama’s election and actions since were in accordance with the expressed will of the American people. Only horrible events, like British Prime Minister Nevile Chamberlain’s “Peace in our time” conference selling out Czechoslovakia swiftly followed by Hitler’s repudiation of it, will let the American people hear and see reality on the other side of the “Red Line.”
However, the first step down the road of invoking competent & principled American leadership is laying down a rhetorical marker against the day that WMD proliferation forces the American public to listen
This is the marker:
“It’s American Freedom at Home, STUPID!”