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  1. #1 What To Do About Syria 
    LTC Member Odysseus's Avatar
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    While reading a column on the hopelessness of the Syrian situation, I had a bit of an epiphany, which I'll get to in a moment. The article pointed out that there were no good options for us, as Assad is an Iranian proxy, and the rebels are proxies for the Muslim Brotherhood. Neither of them is going to do anything in our interest, and supporting one against the other does us very little good. However, that doesn't mean that we should simply throw up our hands. It is an ill wind that blows no good, and while there are few winds of any other kind in the Arab world, there are still opportunities. Ours demands that we look at Syria and ask some basic questions. First, why is Syria a problem to the US? The answer is that it harbors and foments terrorists who target us and our allies. As an Iranian proxy, it supports Shiite terror groups in Lebanon and provides a conduit to the Mediterranean for Iran. These are all bad things, but sometimes, you can alleviate the symptoms of a disease, even if the cause is beyond your power to control.

    With Assad focused on eliminating his domestic opposition, and secure in the knowledge that he may act with impunity, it's only a matter of time before he eventually defeats them and reconsolidates his power. However, that also means that Assad cannot spend as much time and effort as he'd like on keeping Lebanon under his thumb. The various anti-Syrian elements in Lebanon have knuckled under, but this is as good a time as any to support them and foment a repeat of the Cedar Revolution. Hezbollah is dependent on arms from Iran that are delivered through Syria, and a concerted effort during this window of vulnerability could cause them serious harm. It could even drive them out of power.

    The window is short, and we'd have to move quickly to provide the anti-Syrian elements with the arms and materiale support that they would need to topple Hezbollah, but the rewards would be terrific. A competent and committed Commander in Chief would take the opportunity. Obama won't, for that very reason, but it had to be suggested.
    --Odysseus
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  2. #2  
    Senior Ape Articulate_Ape's Avatar
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    If Libya and Egypt are any indication, are we sure we are ready for the outcome should the opposition prevail?
    Last edited by Articulate_Ape; 03-15-2012 at 03:57 PM.
    "The efforts of the government alone will never be enough. In the end the people must choose and the people must help themselves" ~ JFK; from his famous inauguration speech (What Democrats sounded like before today's neo-Liberals hijacked that party)
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  3. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Articulate_Ape View Post
    If Libya and Egypt are any indication, are we sure will are ready for the outcome should the opposition prevail?
    And Iran, before 1979.


    Leave it alone. Maybe the rebels will prevail and view Russia as the enemy.

    As it is, I would be afraid to provide arms for the rebels for fear that (A) the Russians will dig in and our weapons would be fighting their weapons until later when (B) our weapons will be used to kill us.
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  4. #4  
    LTC Member Odysseus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Articulate_Ape View Post
    If Libya and Egypt are any indication, are we sure will are ready for the outcome should the opposition prevail?
    Lebanon has a significant Christian population, roughly 40% of the country. The various Christian groups have their own militias and only require arms and training. If they lose, they will still complicate the Syrian and Iranian efforts to establish regional hegemony. If they win, then we get another ally in the region, one with a strategic location that denies Syria access to the Bekaa Valley (whose drug trade is a major source of income for Syria). And, we wouldn't have to put any boots on the ground. The Christians have taken tremendous abuse from the Muslims, and the even population split between Sunni and Shia (27% each) guarantees at least some infighting on the Muslim side, especially if the Sunni decide to ally themselves with the Sunni resistance in Syria. If the Sunni end up on top, then it still weakens Iran and Syria, and Lebanon lacks WMDs, so while a Muslim Brotherhood state there would be a problem, it would also be a weaker enemy than Hezbollah.
    --Odysseus
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  5. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Odysseus View Post
    Lebanon has a significant Christian population, roughly 40% of the country. The various Christian groups have their own militias and only require arms and training. If they lose, they will still complicate the Syrian and Iranian efforts to establish regional hegemony. If they win, then we get another ally in the region, one with a strategic location that denies Syria access to the Bekaa Valley (whose drug trade is a major source of income for Syria). And, we wouldn't have to put any boots on the ground. The Christians have taken tremendous abuse from the Muslims, and the even population split between Sunni and Shia (27% each) guarantees at least some infighting on the Muslim side, especially if the Sunni decide to ally themselves with the Sunni resistance in Syria. If the Sunni end up on top, then it still weakens Iran and Syria, and Lebanon lacks WMDs, so while a Muslim Brotherhood state there would be a problem, it would also be a weaker enemy than Hezbollah.
    I am inclined to defer to your knowledge in this area, Ody, but you appear to be speaking more about Lebanon than Syria in this post. Are you suggesting that the same religious makeup that exists in Lebanon exists in Syria? If so, that's news to me. Could you elaborate?
    "The efforts of the government alone will never be enough. In the end the people must choose and the people must help themselves" ~ JFK; from his famous inauguration speech (What Democrats sounded like before today's neo-Liberals hijacked that party)
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  6. #6  
    LTC Member Odysseus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Articulate_Ape View Post
    I am inclined to defer to your knowledge in this area, Ody, but you appear to be speaking more about Lebanon than Syria in this post. Are you suggesting that the same religious makeup that exists in Lebanon exists in Syria? If so, that's news to me. Could you elaborate?
    Sure. Lebanon has three major religious groups, Christians, Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims. The largest Christian group is the Maronites, which are basically Middle Eastern Catholics. The breakdown is as follows:

    Christian 40% (28% Maronite)
    Sunni 29%
    Shia 29%
    Other 2%

    Lebanon used to divide its government along sectarian lines, guaranteeing specific positions to each group, so that nobody got too much power. All of the religious groups had armed militias, which maintained the peace through a balance of power. No one faction could overthrow the others, and at the time, the Christians were the majority. This held until the Lebanese Civil War, when the PLO was expelled from Jordan and infiltrated Lebanon, first as a sanctuary, then as a base of operations. In order to do this, they had to neutralize any opposition, so they backed the Sunni faction, and began conducting operations against the Christians. After the Iranian revolution, Iran began backing Hezbollah, the main Shiite militia, and turned them into an effective fighting force. Things came to a head in the early 80s, with Israel intervening in order to stabilize the situation on the border. This led to direct combat with Syria, which resulted in the complete destruction of the Syrian air force. The US and a few other nations sent contingents to restore order, which wasn't in Syria's interest, so they turned to terrorism as a means to force the western nations to withdraw. Since then, Lebanon has been an anarchic hellhole with pockets of civilization, in which the various Islamic militias launch periodic jihads. Since the Shia are trained and armed by Iran (via Syria), they have the edge over everybody else, but a US effort to arm the Christians would result in, at the absolute worst, parity with the Muslims and an overall reduction in Hezbollah's freedom to operate, and at best, a Christian overthrow of Hezbollah and a pro-western government.
    --Odysseus
    Sic Hacer Pace, Para Bellum.

    Before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the people!
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member namvet's Avatar
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    nothin' stay the hell out of it. not our affair
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  8. #8  
    Senior Member TVDOC's Avatar
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    IMO....there are no "good" options in the Middle East short of military intervention in selected cases. Iraq needed to be dealt with, and the next target should have been Iran.......bomb the crap out of their nuclear facilities, and reduce their military to dust. After that leave them alone, if some pro-western group emerges, support them with arms covertly, but always bearing mind that allegances with these people can change in a heartbeat, so always keep our options open. Eliminating Iran as a military (and economic) force in the area, also eliminates their ability to wage war with the west through their proxies, let them decend into chaos, and many of the problems (including Syria) in the region will take care of themselves.

    Maintain a strong military presence in the Gulf (at least two carrier battle groups at all times), as well as a modicum of SPECOPS and other ground forces in friendly states like Kuwait and UAE, just enough rapid-response capability to keep the oil flowing, and crush immediately any threat to that supply. Make it abundantly clear that so long as the oil keeps flowing, they can do whatever they want, however threaten that flow, and fire and death will rain from the sky in a matter of hours, without a long protracted debate in the UN.....action wil come mercilessly and with extreme haste.

    Regarding the oil......it's ours (and the Brits), let us not forget that American and British interests discovered it in the early 20th century, and Anerican and British interests developed it, and built the infrastructure......prior to that these people were herding goats and living in tents (with minor exceptions).......we were benevolent enough to turn the wealth over to the indigenous peoples, and not just assume ownership......we pay a fair market price for it, but let us not lose sight of the fact that were it not for our involvement it wouldn't exist as a resource for them. They have conveniently short memories.....this is the thanks we receive for making these countries an economic force.

    Iraq and Iran have reasonably well-educated populations (by ME standards), and therefore have some long-term potential, the rest are essentially 7th century savages,that no westerner should lose any sleep over. Assuming that ANY of these countries will ever evolve into a western-style democracy is sheer folly, they will never grasp the concept.....with the possible exception of Iran.......Iranians ARE NOT ARABS, they are decendant from southeastern European roots, and have far less tribal mentality than the other peoples of the region.

    Having lived and worked in the Middle East for a number of years, I can state unequivacably that for the most part, conditions there are not going to change due to outside efforts, if they are not making war on each other for religious, political, or tribal reasons, they will pick the next convenient target which, in this era, happens to be us and the rest of the west. I still have Arab friends living there, and they will almost universally agree with my rather cynical view........true people are dying in Syria under a tyrant, however this is nothing new.......its been happening there for thousands of years, and it's not going to stop.

    Attempting to utilize "diplomacy" as a tool with peoples that view diplomacy as a show of weakness is a waste of time and effort........sheer and unrestrained force is all that they understand......

    doc
    Last edited by TVDOC; 03-16-2012 at 01:49 PM.
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  9. #9  
    Senior Ape Articulate_Ape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Odysseus View Post
    Sure. Lebanon has three major religious groups, Christians, Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims. The largest Christian group is the Maronites, which are basically Middle Eastern Catholics. The breakdown is as follows:

    Christian 40% (28% Maronite)
    Sunni 29%
    Shia 29%
    Other 2%

    Lebanon used to divide its government along sectarian lines, guaranteeing specific positions to each group, so that nobody got too much power. All of the religious groups had armed militias, which maintained the peace through a balance of power. No one faction could overthrow the others, and at the time, the Christians were the majority. This held until the Lebanese Civil War, when the PLO was expelled from Jordan and infiltrated Lebanon, first as a sanctuary, then as a base of operations. In order to do this, they had to neutralize any opposition, so they backed the Sunni faction, and began conducting operations against the Christians. After the Iranian revolution, Iran began backing Hezbollah, the main Shiite militia, and turned them into an effective fighting force. Things came to a head in the early 80s, with Israel intervening in order to stabilize the situation on the border. This led to direct combat with Syria, which resulted in the complete destruction of the Syrian air force. The US and a few other nations sent contingents to restore order, which wasn't in Syria's interest, so they turned to terrorism as a means to force the western nations to withdraw. Since then, Lebanon has been an anarchic hellhole with pockets of civilization, in which the various Islamic militias launch periodic jihads. Since the Shia are trained and armed by Iran (via Syria), they have the edge over everybody else, but a US effort to arm the Christians would result in, at the absolute worst, parity with the Muslims and an overall reduction in Hezbollah's freedom to operate, and at best, a Christian overthrow of Hezbollah and a pro-western government.
    Interesting stuff, Ody, thanks. However, I am still not clear how all that relates to Syria proper and what is happening there now, let alone what will occur later. Are you suggesting that Syria has a similar religious demographic to Lebanon? Again, if that is so, I comes as a surprise to me.
    "The efforts of the government alone will never be enough. In the end the people must choose and the people must help themselves" ~ JFK; from his famous inauguration speech (What Democrats sounded like before today's neo-Liberals hijacked that party)
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  10. #10  
    Senior Member namvet's Avatar
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    hopefully the revolution there will cut off the war supplies from Iran to Hezbolla and Hamas
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