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February 19, 2005


"Since removing Assad militarily is not a viable option"

Umm, not that I am advocating it, but why not? We certainly thru air power alone could do a lot of damage to the leadership, command & control, and internal security structures. Unless they have an air defense network beyond our reasonable capabilities.

And of course, assuming we would not occupy Syria in any way, or replace the regime in any fashion.

Are the objections political, diplomatic, or actually military?

Who would take over in Syria if Assad's cell phone exploded, or better yet, if his council chamber exploded?

which I ask in a posting-rules-consistent way.

ps Ns don't justify neans.

bob: Umm, not that I am advocating it, but why not?

Because Bird knows that Bush & Co are hopeless at it? *offered tongue-in-cheek*

After all, the result of removing the Taliban militarily without planning or investing in a rebuilding of Afghanistan has led to chaos - the same chaos that enabled the Taliban to come to power in the first place.

The result of removing Saddam Hussein militarily without planning for anything after doing so has led to... chaos, and a new defeat for the US to set alongside their defeat in Vietnam.

It wouldn't be surprising (said *extremely* tongue-in-cheek) if Bird has noticed that Bush & Co have managed to fail twice, and therefore thinks it not possible for them to try again.

I have no idea what new disaster Bush & Co will lead the US into over the next four years. One can only be certain that whatever they do, it will be disastrous: operating from ideology rather than reality, refusal to plan, and refusal to acknowledge mistakes and thus learn from them, will always lead to disaster.

It is therefore impossible to predict what they will decide to do with Syria, since whatever they decide, reality will have nothing to do with it.

Are the objections political, diplomatic, or actually military?

All three. We're overstretched politically, diplomatically and militarily as it is. If we do something big, we risk pushing our resources to the breaking point if it doesn't turn out as planned. Targeted strikes, talking softly, carrying big sticks and pushing for democratic reforms seems like the best avenue for now.

Because Bird knows that Bush & Co are hopeless at it? *offered tongue-in-cheek*

Come now, you sell America short. We have a long, long history of helping get rid of truly bad guys (or just those who were opposed to America's interests) who we have intentionally or inadvertently replaced with far worse people. Adding to that, we also have a history of chosing to support somewhat-evil dictators who should have been overthrown early on, but, because we supported them, they were not overthrown until they ended up being overthrown by even greater evils and/or people who hated America because we were the supporters of oppression.

I have no idea

Jes, you should have stopped right there, as you don't patch up a thirty year civil war in a short time frame.

As others have pointed out in other places, Friedman's beloved term "Hama rules" can now be updated by "Fallujah rules", in which yet another town in the hands of Sunni Muslim fanatics is destroyed in the name of secularism. One could also have said "Beirut rules", speaking either of what the Lebanese did to themselves or about what the Israelis did in subjecting the city to heavy bombing in the summer of 1982.

But of course Friedman only meant to talk about the barbarism of our enemies, not of the Americans or the Israelis, so the term "Hama rules" conveys what he meant to convey.

I really loved the meat of Friedman's article, in which he said that Lebanon's problem is that the people are wusses for not revolting and demanding freedom, like the Iraqis did in the 90's. I'm not sure if Friedman is forgetting how well that exercise went, or if he's just advocating mass suicide.

Either way, Friedman's article struck me as marvelously crack-addled. "To beat a bad man, you have to be worse" works well for movies, but in the real world it has the unfortunate side effect of producing lots of bad men to replace the first one.

Timmy: you don't patch up a thirty year civil war in a short time frame.

And Bush & Co's plan seems to be to start a new one! ;-)

in which yet another town in the hands of Sunni Muslim fanatics is destroyed in the name of secularism.

First, Fallujah wasn't destroyed. Second, it was done in the name of defeating "insurgents" and terrorists, not secularism. Third, how is it barbaric when the U.S. warns Fallujah residents in advance that they're going to go in and clean it out? Barbarians don't adhere to rules of engagement.

I thought that the government of Syria was our friend?
After all, if you're in the custody of the US government, and you really, really need to be tortured, Syria was one of the stops of 'Air Torture'.

First, Fallujah wasn't destroyed.

Hmmm. Perhaps we should begin by defining "destroyed?" Second, while I'm not going to comment on whether the attack on Fallujah was or wasn't barbaric, simply warning targets in advance doesn't make everything morally and ethically defensible. Terrorists, after all, have warned us that they plan to kill us if we don't satisfy their demands. I'm not claiming moral parity, just pointing out that "Warning" has little bearing on the ethical acceptability of an action.


"The result of removing Saddam Hussein militarily without planning for anything after doing so has led to... chaos, and a new defeat for the US to set alongside their defeat in Vietnam."

This comment is pretty funny. How pathetic? Give me your address and I will send you .50 so you can buy a newspaper.

Head in sand... Afghan elections...
Head in sand... Iraq elections.
Head in sand... Hussein out of power.
Head in sand... Taliban out of power.

Keep lieing to yourself... it's quite entertaining.

Westone: Give me your address and I will send you .50 so you can buy a newspaper.

I live in the UK, and 26p won't buy you a newspaper worth reading. But thanks for the offer.

Head in sand...

That does seem to pretty much describe your world view, yes. ;-)


I didn´t read Friedman´s book "From Beirut to Jerusalem" from 1989 but if this is an exact quote out of the book....

Hama Rules

"From the book (emphasis poster): "They (Assad and Saddam) always know that when push comes to shove, when the modern veneer of nation-statehood is stripped away, it all still comes down to Hama Rules. Rule or die. The rest is just commentary. One man triumphs, the others weep. I am convinced that there is only one man in Israel Hafez Assad ever feared and that is Ariel Sharon because Assad knew that Sharon, too, was ready to play by Hama Rules. Assad knew Sharon well; he saw him every morning when he looked in the mirror".

If this is really (a not misleading) quote out of the book then I have to assume that Friedman´s opinion of Ariel Sharon has changed dramatically!
While the son of Hafez Assad, Bashar Assad, in his opinion still follows that rule.

And an excerpt from his 2001 article:

Hama Rules

This was "Hama Rules" — the real rules of Middle East politics — and Hama Rules are no rules at all. I tell this story not to suggest this should be America's approach. We can't go around leveling cities. We need to be much more focused, selective and smart in uprooting the terrorists.

Pretty good idea!
Not doing Returning back to Falluja.
Arresting or killing Osama Bin Laden for example.

No, I tell this story because it's important that we understand that Syria, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia have all faced Islamist threats and crushed them without mercy or Miranda rights. Part of the problem America now faces is actually the fallout from these crackdowns. Three things happened:

While the USA after 9/11 of course respected those Miranda rights, right? :)
Now I seem to remember some posts here - Katherine? - that somehow seem to indicate that "Miranda Rules" or the "Geneva Conventions" were considered "quaint" by some people in the US administration...

First, once the fundamentalists were crushed by the Arab states they fled to the last wild, uncontrolled places in the region — Lebanon's Bekaa Valley and Afghanistan — or to the freedom of America and Europe.

Partial disagreement here.
I don´t know enough about it but it would seem slightly unbelievable that fundamentalists would flee to Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
After experiencing the "Hama Rules" Islamic fundamentalists (in large numbers) would flee to a region under the control of Syria?
A small group, easily controlled, now that is plausible.
A large group might have been a danger to the secular dictator of Syria too, so that´s somehow "unbelievable".
All other regions sound okay.

Second, some Arab regimes, most of which are corrupt dictatorships afraid of their own people, made a devil's pact with the fundamentalists. They allowed the Islamists' domestic supporters to continue raising money, ostensibly for Muslim welfare groups, and to funnel it to the Osama bin Ladens — on the condition that the Islamic extremists not attack these regimes. The Saudis in particular struck that bargain.

That´s why the US administration really hammered the Saudis after 9/11, right? :)
How many 9/11 terrorists were Saudi citizens?

Third, these Arab regimes, feeling defensive about their Islamic crackdowns, allowed their own press and intellectuals total freedom to attack America and Israel, as a way of deflecting criticism from themselves.

Probably true, once again.

I´m just waiting when we tell (besides Syria) "Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia" that the "Hama Rules" are no longer valid!


Maybe we can replace Assad with one of our great democratic leaders.

Why isn't Bush as tough on people who actually kill Americans?

Isn't Bin-Ladden still playing golf in Pakistan and getting paid by the Saudis to do it?


"Why isn't Bush as tough on people who actually kill Americans?"

Please see Iraq... AQ... Afghanistan... AQ.

It looks alot like Bush is actually doing what you accuse him of not doing.


Damn those Bush policies in Afghanistan...

Rocket man gives up rebellion to put the Taliban on road to peace


You sure you don't need the money for a newspaper?

Westone, if you think one positive story out of Afghanistan changes anything about a country ruled by warlords, I think you need help. ;-) But I'm sorry, I can't spare the cash to give it to you.


I guess as long as you are willing to ignore the election, womens rights, reconstruction and so forth you can get to your one positive story.

But, then one would have to put to keep their head in the sand to accomplish that.

the election in Afghanistan:

According to official tallies, 41 percent of 10.5 million registered voters in Afghanistan were women. But closer examination revealed that multiple registrations inflated voter registration figures. In some areas, fear of attacks prevented mobile registration teams from going door-to-door prior to the election, a critical method for reaching out to women in rural or conservative areas. These factors contributed to appallingly low female registration rates in the south (Uruzgan province: 9 percent; Zabul: 10 percent; Helmand: 16 percent).cite

Women's rights in Afghanistan:

Select personal accounts featured in the report:
• “So many women wanted to make organizations for women’s rights. When they saw the threats, they left the work.” — a women’s rights activist in Mazar-e Sharif.
• “Women cannot present themselves as candidates. In Kabul it is OK, but in other provinces, security is not good. If there are security problems, maybe armed men will come to their houses, and maybe they will be killed.” — a potential parliamentary candidate
• A local armed militia sent us “warnings and threats, they said they would kill us. The health educator and literary teacher faced many threats, and they decided not to come to the center. The governor promised to do his best to reopen the center and to talk to the mullahs. He could not give us any guarantees for our safety. We are still waiting for the security situation to improve.”— an aid worker who was involved in a women’s rights center closed due to threats cite

As for reconstruction: Check out this paper from June 2004 (pdf file): Minimal Investments, Minimal Results: the failure of security policy in Afghanistan.

I don't have my head in the sand about Afghanistan. But it appears you do.

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