Hell Is Other Countries: Sarin In Syria, A New Man In Iran
Our ten-foot pole has arrived, which means we are finally ready to touch the dual shitstorms of Syria and Iran! The latest news on Syria is that our duly-elected warlord, Field Marshal B. Barry Bamz, has decided to steer a middle course ofmoar gunz, but not-too-big gunz, for the Free Syrian Army. This decision comes partly in response to recent confirmation that the Assad regime used chemical weapons, including sarin gas, against rebels. That means Assad crossed a "red line" without even buying a home in a white neighborhood, so we pretty much had to do guns on Syria, because "Superpowers don't bluff" is a thing that Tony Blinken, some kinda war dude, reportedly said to Obama. No word on whether Winken and Nod concurred, nor whether they were actually just acting out a scene from The West Wing, because how pithy!
The widening scope of the Syrian civil war, in particular Hezbollah's expanding role in support of Assad's forces, was reportedly another factor in Obama's decision, of course, because Americans can get behind killing the Hezzies; they are bad men for real. Not cited as a reason in the reports we're cribbing, but probably one too, is this, reported May 22:
In a letter obtained by The Cable, Gen. Salim Idris, the commander of the rebels' Supreme Military Council, says that the United States must establish "strategic military balance" between the rebels and Assad as a precondition to any peace talks.
In other words, the rebels will not walk softly until they get bigger sticks. Kind of sucks, but that's how this shit works, we guess; you don't bring a knife to negotiate the end of a gun fight.
But what does former mid-tier beauty queen Sarah Palin think of all this? "Let Allah sort it out," is a thing she said. Meanwhile The RINO With Two Heads Lindsey McCain thinks this is great, only they wish the gunz were moar biggerer, and they want a no-fly zone, but the administration doesn't seem ready to take that step. Said chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey:
“About 10 percent of the casualties that are being imposed on the Syrian opposition are occurring through the use of air power ... The other 90 percent are by direct fire or by artillery ... So, the question then becomes, if you eliminate one capability of a potential adversary, will you be inclined to find yourself in a position to be asked to do more against the rest?"
Ah yes, the slippery slope argument, so beloved of -- depending on your perspective -- "cautious pragmatists" or "do-nothing weasels." (There always seems to be a "quagmire" at the bottom of these slippery slopes, possibly because of all the runoff.) The real reasons, one of which the General touched on in his remarks and one which he didn't, are that 1) Syria's air defenses systems are actually pretty good, so we'd be facing the tough question of how many Syrians is a downed US aviator worth (more than 10% of them, obviously), and 2) Russia really doesn't want a no-fly zone: "You don't have to be a great expert to understand that this will violate international law," said Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister. Oh Sergei, that's so cute.
Somehow, opinions are mixed on what Russia's true motives might be: Theories include Russian profits from selling arms to Syria, the Russian Navy's use of a deep-water port at Tartus, and even just plain old nostalgia for Soviet-era dick-swinging. But the real reason is, duh, why the hell would Russia give an inch here if there's nothing in it for Russia? That's the true strategic importance of the "strategically insignificant" port and the arms sales: Russia wants to trade them for something better. Like some fancy man jewelry, maybe.
But what about Assad's chief bro, Iran? They just had an election, kind of, and apparently our sanctions are working because they can no longer afford all the letters needed to spell "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad," so the new president will be Hassan Rouhani, a "moderate." Which of course translates to "Rouhani has neither asked Assad to step down from power nor pressed to halt the Islamic Republic of Iran's military, intelligence, financial, and advisory support to Damascus."
That is probably because Iran's Leader Supreme, Ayatollah Whichever One, "has been very clear about his political stance on Syria, stating that Assad's regime is targeted by Israeli and U.S.-backed groups, foreign conspirators and terrorists." Right, then, endless war it shall be!
In an election in which no true opponents of Iran's real, autocratic rulers were permitted on the ballot, Rouhani was the default choice of Iran's "fuck all this shit" voting bloc. That he ended up winning was probably the best possible outcome in terms of America's interests, but as Karim Sadjadpour told CNN's Fareed Zakaria:
"in 1979, Iranians experienced a revolution without democracy. And I think today, they aspire for a democracy without a revolution. And so I think the society has reached an impasse and that they don't have revolutionary ends. They would like to see fundamental change in the same way that much of the Middle East would like to see fundamental change. But they don’t have the stomach to pursue revolutionary means."
Hey Ayatollah Whatsyername, here's an idea: Just start giving away iPads and your people will forget about this revolution nonsense in no time. Meanwhile, we thought this was appropriate: