Although it is Sunday, there will be no cartoons today. Sorry. Instead, time to eat our vegetables and prepare for tonight’s second Presidential Debate.
Wrongo thinks Syria should be a featured topic, since it lays bare our conflict with Russia, which has steadily grown since their annexation of Crimea. But, the debate is in a town hall format, with half of the questions coming from the audience, so it is difficult to say if Syria and Russia will make it to the table.
Certainly they should be discussed. On October 3, the Obama Administration walked away from the Geneva negotiations with Russia, aimed at ending the war in Syria. On October 5, the Principals Committee met at the White House to consider four options for Syria:
- Create a no-fly zone over Syria;
- Create safe zones along the Turkish and Jordanian borders inside Syrian territory;
- Bomb the entire Syrian Air Force;
- Arm the Syrian rebels (jihadists) with anti-aircraft weapons (MANPADS) as part of a prolonged insurgency directed against the Assad government, which are increasingly dominated by the very terrorist forces that the US and Russia were jointly targeting up until last week.
The first three options require the imposition of a no fly zone over Syria. There are big risks with a no fly zone, if the US imposes it without Russian cooperation. The Russians might refuse to respect it. If they defy the no fly zone and we shoot down Russian planes, it could lead to war. The Russians categorically oppose a Syrian no fly zone, because they believe it will weaken Assad.
Option four means the US aligns with our former jihadi terrorist enemies against Assad, in a semi-permanent war in the Middle East. So, consider these statements:
- Last week, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said while touring US nuclear weapons facilities that the US was prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend against the emerging Russian threat in Europe.
- John McCain said in an op-ed last week in the Wall Street Journal, “Stop Assad Now—Or Expect Years of War”:
Any alternative approach must begin with grounding Mr. Assad’s air power…If Russia continues its indiscriminate bombing, we should make clear that we will take steps to hold its aircraft at greater risk.
- On Oct. 6, Russia warned the US not to intervene in Syria. Major-General Igor Konashenkov, the Russian defense ministry spokesman, threatened that it may shoot down any aircraft attempting to launch strikes:
I would recommend our colleagues in Washington to thoroughly consider the possible consequences of the realization of such plans…
That’s the current geopolitical landscape. What do the candidates think?
The Pant Suit wants to remove Assad and defeat ISIS simultaneously. She supports a no-fly zone. Clinton does not support an American troop commitment. Instead, she wants to arm and supply Syrian and Kurdish rebel groups. Her plan is to replace both Assad and ISIS with another group to be named later. It’s a weak plan, but it appeals to Americans because Clinton’s plan doesn’t require more American troops on the ground.
Trump has no plan, but during the primaries, he said: (brackets by the Wrongologist)
So, I don’t like Assad. Who’s going to like Assad? But, we have no idea who these people [Assad replacements], and what they’re going to be, and what they’re going to represent. They may be far worse than Assad. Look at Libya. Look at Iraq. Look at the mess we have after spending $2 trillion dollars, thousands of lives, wounded warriors all over the place–we have nothing.
But during the VP debate, Pence adopted Clinton’s position. Pence said:
The United States of America needs to be prepared to work with our allies in the region to create a route for safe passage and then to protect people in those areas, including with a no-fly zone.
Obama has repeatedly refused to impose a no-fly zone.
Here is some context: Arming terrorists in a sovereign nation is an act of war. Bombing and attacking targets in a sovereign nation is an act of war. Establishing no fly zones without permission in a sovereign nation is an act of war. Stationing troops or Special Forces in a sovereign nation without permission is an act of war.
We have no UN mandate to be in Syria. Congress has not given its approval to be in Syria.
It’s a big fat mess, with no good solution in sight, made worse by the scale of the Syrian humanitarian crisis. And marked by Congress’ lack of courage.
It would be nice if at least ONE candidate would recall that during the Cold War, the number one goal was not to provoke a war between the US and Russia, but to find ways to de-escalate the situation.
Perhaps this is too much to expect, given the temperament of both candidates.