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Thread: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    I doubt it. Khamenei isn't looking to get bogged down in a Syrian conflict any more than Obama is looking to get bogged down in a Libyan conflict.
    um. are you kidding?

    Iran owns Hezbollah; the Quds Force trains, funds, equips, and sometimes leads Hezbollah. Iran put a nuclear test facility in Syria a couple years back. Iran calls the tune, Hezbollah dances. Iran is knee deep in Syria and Lebanon and has been in for decades. Saying that Khameini doesn't want to get bogged down in Syria is like saying that the US doesn't want to get bogged down in Puerto Rico.

    In any case, there's really not much that can be done about it.
    actually there are quite a large range of actions that we can take. declaring Assad to be a "reformer" is admittedly one of them.... it's just a pathetically stupid one...

    Syria is the biggest piece now on the table for this Arab Spring. If we could aid the overthrow of the current regime there and help to free Lebanon from Hezbollah's grip, we could break a significant part of Iran's alliance to become a regional hegemon. Choosing to pursue Libya and ignore Syria is an insane set of priorities.

    I propose that the US stay out of it entirely, as we have no idea what the consequences would be.
    yes... that will work out well.... wait, no, the default right now is that it goes horribly, horribly, badly. short of Iran somehow bringing out (and using) a surprise nuclear weapon, interaction can only improve matters.

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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill View Post
    um. are you kidding?

    Iran owns Hezbollah; the Quds Force trains, funds, equips, and sometimes leads Hezbollah. Iran put a nuclear test facility in Syria a couple years back. Iran calls the tune, Hezbollah dances. Iran is knee deep in Syria and Lebanon and has been in for decades. Saying that Khameini doesn't want to get bogged down in Syria is like saying that the US doesn't want to get bogged down in Puerto Rico.
    Nah, it's more like saying that the US doesn't want to get bogged down in Egypt, where the US called the tune and Mubarak danced for decades. Yet when the **** hit the fan, Obama didn't intervene to prop him up, to his credit.

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill
    actually there are quite a large range of actions that we can take. declaring Assad to be a "reformer" is admittedly one of them.... it's just a pathetically stupid one...

    Syria is the biggest piece now on the table for this Arab Spring. If we could aid the overthrow of the current regime there and help to free Lebanon from Hezbollah's grip, we could break a significant part of Iran's alliance to become a regional hegemon. Choosing to pursue Libya and ignore Syria is an insane set of priorities.
    I agree we shouldn't be involved in Libya. And I agree that it would be nice if Syria overthrew Assad and became a liberal democracy...but that's not necessarily the default result of Assad's fall from power. I'm not sure why Assad's fall from power (even if we go with the assumption that it would be a good thing) compels us to do anything more than root for the protesters.

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill
    yes... that will work out well.... wait, no, the default right now is that it goes horribly, horribly, badly. short of Iran somehow bringing out (and using) a surprise nuclear weapon, interaction can only improve matters.
    As of late I've been less sympathetic to arguments along the lines of "we don't want Iran to become the predominant power in the region." Given that our own hegemony in the region hasn't exactly produced stellar results for the people living there, I'm no longer especially inclined to care as much.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 04-26-11 at 07:25 AM.
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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Nah, it's more like saying that the US doesn't want to get bogged down in Egypt, where the US called the tune and Mubarak danced for decades. Yet when the **** hit the fan, Obama didn't intervene to prop him up, to his credit.
    um. actually it's completely unlike that if for nothing else than the simple reason that the Iranians already have boots on the ground in Syria.

    I agree we shouldn't be involved in Libya. And I agree that it would be nice if Syria overthrew Assad and became a liberal democracy...but that's not necessarily the default result of Assad's fall from power
    correct. that is why we should be involved, to see to it that it does.

    I'm not sure why Assad's fall from power (even if we go with the assumption that it would be a good thing) compels us to do anything more than root for the protesters.
    ....because we do not want the collapse of the West?

    As of late I've been less sympathetic to arguments along the lines of "we don't want Iran to become the predominant power in the region."
    we don't. that would be very, very bad.

    Given that our own hegemony in the region hasn't exactly produced stellar results for the people living there, I'm no longer especially inclined to care as much.
    actually our hegemony in the region has produced relative stability and the possibility for self-government. Iran's hegemony in the region is more likely than not to produce genocidal war.

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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill View Post
    um. actually it's completely unlike that if for nothing else than the simple reason that the Iranians already have boots on the ground in Syria.
    I meant that I don't think Iran is itching to get involved in Syria any more than they already are. They have enough problems of their own to worry about.

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill
    correct. that is why we should be involved, to see to it that it does.
    What in our experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan would cause you to believe that the US is capable of imposing liberal democracy?

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill
    ....because we do not want the collapse of the West?
    So Assad hanging on to power will lead to the "collapse of the West"? Hyperbole much? Perhaps you can walk me through the logical chain of events that lead from Assad hanging on to power to the collapse of the West.

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill
    we don't. that would be very, very bad.
    Why? And bad for whom?

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill
    actually our hegemony in the region has produced relative stability and the possibility for self-government. Iran's hegemony in the region is more likely than not to produce genocidal war.
    "Stability" is nothing more than a buzzword used as an excuse to prop up friendly dictators. After all, you certainly don't seem to be advocating "stability" in Syria or Iran. As for producing a genocidal war...I think if you asked a lot of Arabs living in the Middle East, they'd liken *our* involvement to a "genocidal war." Your perceptions may be different than theirs, but ultimately it should be up to the people living there to determine their form of government and their foreign relations. We need not impose any government on them, whether it be a dictator in the name of "stability" or the removal of a dictator in the name of "democracy."
    Last edited by Kandahar; 04-26-11 at 08:34 AM.
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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    I meant that I don't think Iran is itching to get involved in Syria any more than they already are. They have enough problems of their own to worry about.
    you realize that 'not more than they already are' is still a pretty damn high level of involvement?

    What in our experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan would cause you to believe that the US is capable of imposing liberal democracy?
    I wouldn't say "liberal" democracy - that will take more time. I would say representative government with decent limitations. (though who knows what that is anymore, perhaps they like our own court system will claim the right to regulate "mental" activity)

    So Assad hanging on to power will lead to the "collapse of the West"?
    no. but the devolution of events in the Middle East that would accompany the kind of withdrawal you are suggesting would.

    Hyperbole much? Perhaps you can walk me through the logical chain of events that lead from Assad hanging on to power to the collapse of the West.
    I'm not going to retype the dang thing. I'll copy/paste it from another thread in the next reply box.

    [quote]Why? And bad for whom?[/url]

    the answer to that question depends entirely on whether or not you believe in the 13th Imam is destined to arrive within the next decade or so and complete in the Final Conquest.

    "Stability" is nothing more than a buzzword used as an excuse to prop up friendly dictators.
    it is often abused that way; but here it means something much different. the most stable forms of government are ones that are representative - as they allow the pressure of public opinion a forum and a government responsive to their demands. the trick is getting from where we are here to there without tipping over the apple cart. It reminds me of Deng Xiaopings' motto of "crossing a river by stepping on stones".

    As for producing a genocidal war...I think if you asked a lot of Arabs living in the Middle East, they'd liken *our* involvement to a "genocidal war."
    i think that this means that you have little background in the recent history of the region. Saddam wiping out the Marsh Shia? that was a genocidal war. so was gassing the kurds and the early Turkish campaigns against Armenians and (again) the kurds. our involvement in that region has been the opposite of genocidal in nature, and the people of that region know the difference because they've seen both.

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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    1. the Middle East remains a strategic center of gravity in the world for two major reasons: the oil and the canal, and huge chunks of the world economy are dependent on both of those. instability in the region threatens those two facets, thus threatening the world (and our) economy.

    2. the Middle East is inherently unstable, as demonstrated by nothing better than recent events. Tyrannical governments keep their populace in line with the stick of the mukhaberat and the carrot of the welfare state based on revenues generated from nationalized resources (read: oil and the Suez). But that rentier state carrot is intensely vulnerable to falling revenues and - as the Iranian Shah and Mubarak learned to their chagrin - can rapidly inspire revolution followed by replacement by radical (and themselves inherently destabilizing) elements. Internally, the Middle East is a bubbling cauldron, and the resources upon which much of the worlds' economy is based right there in the middle.

    Internationally, among the Sunnis, Egypt and Saudi Arabia both consider themselves the natural leaders, and have already proven willing in Yemen to shoot at each other over that disagreement. The Iraqi's also consider themselves the natural leader of the Arab world, but lately they haven't been a serious contender. The Saudis are currently attempting to take control over the region through the exportation of Wahabism, which is itself inherently destabilizing, as it preaches the overthrow of the National-Socialist model governments left over from the 60's and 70's in Egypt (check) and Pakistan, (as well, obviously, as the democracy - as much as it exists - in Lebanon and in Israel) followed by the violent unification of the region under a single banner, followed by an invasion of the rest of the world. They aren't kidding about that part, and we are idiots if we fail to take them at their word, especially as they seem to have just succeeded in part A of step 1, the removal of the Mubarak regime.

    The Iranians are the largest terror-exporting nation in the world, and they are very, very good at it. The IRGC, and in particular the Quds forces, have fostered the growth of Hezbollah (the real deadliest terrorist network in the world - Al Quada was their student, not the other way around), Hamas, and even (through proxies) Al Quada. They are currently waging a campaign to destroy the Lebanese government, and are strengthening ties with Syria and Turkey in an attempt to build a base with which to challenge the US and Saudi Arabia for dominance of the region, part of that struggle (they assume) including the destruction of Israel. The leadership of that nation Really Believes that the 13th Imam is coming soon, and that they must kick off international Jihad in order for him to arrive and bring about the End Times - and again, we are fools if we fail to take them at their word on that.

    3. the region, thus, needs an overpowering, hegemon if it is to remain stable enough to ensure the non-collapse of the world economy. Someone has to impose order and keep these nutjobs from destroying the ability of the world to access the oil and the suez. There is only one nation currently on the planet with the capacity to perform this task: the US. The US Fifth Fleet, currently headuquartered in Bahrain, is the major (and perhaps only realistic) force for stability in that region, contending with numerous, powerful forces for instability.

    4. Withdrawal or severe downdrawl of US Forces would create a power vacuum and kick off fights within the sunni community and between Iran and Saudi Arabia for regional dominance. Shiite Iran is seeking to get nukes. Syria has had a nuclear facility already destroyed by the Israelis. Sunni Pakistan (see: Wahhabi plans for governments, the overthrow and replacement of) already has them. In the face of a US Withdrawal, Saudi Arabia certainly would start developing her own.

    Imagine a Mexican standoff, except that 3 of the 4 players are A) paranoid schizophrenics facing opponents they violently hate, B) convinced that death will be a net benefit for them, C) convinced that their souls are in peril if they don't shoot, and D) potentially armed with nukes (the 4th Player is the unfortunately-located Israel). I think everyone here can agree that that is not a "stable" situation, particularly when you add in E) these countries are not internally stable, but may feel forced into an external war in order to solidify internal support and F) at least two of the players (Iran and Saudi Arabia) are held hostage by their own extremists, who feel free to act without permission, are nearly impossible to stop, and are most desirous of the conflict. And I feel that A) deserves rementioning.

    FUN FACTS WORTH NOTING: China (also nuclear) is rapidly becoming a good, good friend of Iran, and is distancing itself from Pakistan. China is also heavily invested in East Africa. It is possible that China would seek to intervene in the region to tilt the balance in Iran's favor as the US did in Saudi Arabia's. If that happens, then the newly Taliban (and nuclear!) Pakistan - which is deeply paranoid, xenophobic, and a wierd mixture of Wahhabist and neo-Deobandi - becomes an ally of Saudi Arabia, and our players are all now holding two pistols even as their inner demons scream at them to shoot first. BEST CASE SCENARIO here is that China is able to stabilize (kinda) the region, and merely takes all the oil for itself - only partially collapsing the world economy. but that's the "best" case, not the "most likely" one. it's not even really a "sorta likely" or a "semi likely" one.

    5. The West is dying. Literally - our creation of an entitlement culture and our devotion to materialism have left us with birthrates below replacement level. In both Europe and America the solution has been mass immigration - but both have had issues with assimilation. America here is comparatively lucky, her immigrants share many of her cultural assumptions. But Europe is not - the West in Europe is being replaced by a high-birthrate Islamic culture which does not accept the Enlightenment. As the immigrant populations threaten to break the local safety nets and culture, the backlash they provoke isn't what we would recognize as classic liberalism, but rather classic fascism. Nationalist groups are springing up all over Europe, though they are doomed by their own inability to breed to dying out after sparking conflict. All those aspects of the West that we consider dear ; the rights of the individaul, limited, secular government, free markets, they are doomed to wither and die as the culture that upholds them does.



    The situation at current cannot sustain indefinitely - eventually the destabilizing elements that are currently inherent in the Middle East will win, and the price of loss is not just a world wide economic collapse, but the slide, decline, and perhaps fall of the West. The long-term solution is therefore to change the rules of the game. The destabilizing elements in the Middle East must be replaced with stabilizing ones. Tyrannies must (carefully) be replaced with representative governments that give public pressure an outlet other than violent overthrow. Rentier societies that encourage stagnation, revolution, and hostility abroad must be replaced with market economies that encourage trade, growth, and a politically active middle class with a vested interest in stability. Radical Islam must be replaced with a new ideology that allows Muslims to recoup their pride and independence without striking at others. In short, we need to allow the Enlightenment to do to Islam what it has done to Christianity.

    Even with our presence, US pursual of that strategy (again, as we see today) is not guaranteed, and even with US pursual of that strategy, sucess is not any kind of certain.... but if the US withdraws before these things are accomplished (or, at least, accomplished enough to become self-feeding cycles), then the game is up. the match is struck. Europe falls, China moves to become hegemon, nukes possibly fly, and back to the Dark Ages we go, but this time with much, much better weapons with which to massacre each other in the name of God.

    THAT's why i would suggest that "oh well let's just leave and let em fight it out amongst themselves" is a bad idea.

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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Further highlighting the ruthlessness of the Assad dictatorship, a Syrian human rights group stated that the regime had now killed more than 400 civilians.

    The BBC reported:

    Syria's security forces have shot dead more than 400 civilians in their campaign to crush the month-long pro-democracy protests, according to Sawasiah, a Syrian human rights organisation.

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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill View Post
    I wouldn't say "liberal" democracy - that will take more time. I would say representative government with decent limitations. (though who knows what that is anymore, perhaps they like our own court system will claim the right to regulate "mental" activity)
    The US can't even impose representative government with limitations. Look at Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan. In Iraq, we have a sectarian government with sympathies to our greatest regional enemy, led by a powerless prime minister. In Afghanistan, we have a brutal dictatorship which is among the most corrupt regimes in the world, led by a thug who despises us. In Pakistan, we have an incompetent pseudo-democracy pseudo-junta which is more interested in fighting India than fighting the Taliban. None of these regimes are democracies, or even representative of the people.

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill
    no. but the devolution of events in the Middle East that would accompany the kind of withdrawal you are suggesting would.
    Nah. Our interests in the Middle East are not always what we think they are. And in many cases, some of the problems in the region (e.g. political extremism and Israeli-Palestinian violence) are partially our own doing. Furthermore, we are perceived as occupiers by the people who actually live there. They aren't interested in what form of government WE have at home, or whether we "intended" to kill civilians with the invasion of Iraq or the drone strikes in Yemen. They take our actions at face value and see a foreign power that is indiscriminately killing civilians in order to pursue its own interests. Which, the more I think about it, is a pretty accurate description.

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill
    the answer to that question depends entirely on whether or not you believe in the 13th Imam is destined to arrive within the next decade or so and complete in the Final Conquest.
    Most Iranians, including most of the political leadership, do not have such apocalyptic beliefs.

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill
    it is often abused that way; but here it means something much different. the most stable forms of government are ones that are representative - as they allow the pressure of public opinion a forum and a government responsive to their demands. the trick is getting from where we are here to there without tipping over the apple cart. It reminds me of Deng Xiaopings' motto of "crossing a river by stepping on stones".
    Except the Arab states are not China. China has had political leadership that has allowed for the evolution of civil institutions while pursuing economic liberalization, governs more or less with the consent of its population, and is even (slowly) pursuing democratization by holding multi-candidate elections at the local level. The Arab states, in contrast, have few civil institutions, have been propped up for decades by foreign regimes despite being despised by their own people, are balls-deep in oil funds which their leaders spread around to buy political/military support, and are corroded from the inside out.

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill
    i think that this means that you have little background in the recent history of the region. Saddam wiping out the Marsh Shia? that was a genocidal war. so was gassing the kurds and the early Turkish campaigns against Armenians and (again) the kurds. our involvement in that region has been the opposite of genocidal in nature, and the people of that region know the difference because they've seen both.
    Most Arabs were not fans of Saddam Hussein, but they are able to perceive our removal of him for what it was: a self-serving effort to remove a dictator we didn't like. People tend to not like being the victims of what they perceive to be indiscriminate violence, whether the perpetrator is an Iraqi dictator with some mustard gas or an American president with an occupying force.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 04-26-11 at 12:50 PM.
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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Maybe we should ask the UN to step in ......

    Nevermind, they already did...

    The brutal crackdown by Syrian President Bashar Assad may finally be getting the attention of world leaders -- but apparently not enough to stop Syria from becoming the newest member of the U.N. Human Rights Council.
    Despite Reports of Brutality Toward Civilians, Syria to Join U.N.'s Human Rights Council - FoxNews.com
    The national security of the United States can never be left in the hands of liberals.

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    Re: Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Mars View Post
    Maybe we should ask the UN to step in ......

    Nevermind, they already did...

    The brutal crackdown by Syrian President Bashar Assad may finally be getting the attention of world leaders -- but apparently not enough to stop Syria from becoming the newest member of the U.N. Human Rights Council.
    Despite Reports of Brutality Toward Civilians, Syria to Join U.N.'s Human Rights Council - FoxNews.com
    I remember once being in a debate when I asked about this sort of tendency, and I was told it was part of the UN's pro-human rights mandate because the regimes on the council would feel embarrassed about committing human rights abuses while on the council, and so they would stop.

    : some people really live in a soft fluffy la la land.

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