We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Intervention in Syria…

Some people wants to intervene in Syria to stop Al Qaeda backed people and Hezbollah backed people killing each other.

Really?

I have a better idea… sell ammunition to both sides.

38 comments to Intervention in Syria…

  • llamas

    I have an even-better idea – give ammunition to both sides. That way, neither side will be restricted in their activities by temporary weaknesses in their exchequers.

    It is quite amazing to me that President Obama, who is so skilled at choosing both sides in domestic matters, as the transitory needs of party and electoral politics dictate, can’t seem to get beyond the compulsion to choose one side over another when it comes to foreign matters. His imperialist slip is showing.

    And so we will go to war again, based on claims of WMD usage in a country far away, whose internal conflict has no impact whatever on US interests. Tell me why that’s such a good idea now, when it was such a bad idea only recently?

    llater,

    llamas

  • Paul Marks

    As you know Perry – both sides use AK47s.

    We do not make this ammunition – so we can not really sell it to them.

  • Mr Ed

    How about a cruise missile strike on the NHS, as they appear to be finding out that they are killing between 12,000 and 42,000 people a year by dehydration?

    It might actually save lives in the long run, just wanting to be sure that there is a humanitarian consistency of approach and if you are going to stop socialists killing people, you should start at home.

    I think that today’s Matt is more accurate than any missile.

  • Andrew Duffin

    Paul, we do not make any ammunition; we import it all from (iirc) Belgium.

  • Small arms are easy to feed, Paul, the world is awash with that stuff.

    But most of the daily tonnage of any serious war is made up of shifting artillery rounds. To really make the world a better place we need to keep those mortar and artillery tubes bleaching around the clock.

  • Mr Ed

    My usual rule of thumb is that the guys with the beards are the baddies, but with Hizbollah on one side and whatever the main Syrian opposition call themselves both appearing to be unfamiliar with Merkur razors, I rather feel that the side that is less interested in my part of the world would be the one to prefer, but not to back.

    It was in 1985 that Assad Snr appeared to have had an agent attempt to blow up an El Al flight from London to Israel.

    But should Assad Scud the British Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus (assuming that he can, that he would and they actually land where intended), or should any Russian assets be struck, things might get very nasty indeed. A silver lining might be that no British politician would use the Blairmacht in foreign adventurism, saving lives in the long run.

  • Alex

    I suspect that 99% of people in Syria are decent, innocent people who just want to get on with their lives.
    I fail to see how giving even more guns to the other 1% would help.
    We should do what we can to help the non-combatants; so essentially humanitarian aid. We have no stake in which faction of gunmen win.
    IMHO.

  • Oh I suspect it is a great deal larger than 1% Alex, but the Shiite and Sunni Fascists there are not just going to mind their own business and so the more of them that kill each other the better. We have a ‘stake’ in them both losing with as high a body count of each other as possible. But help the non-combatants who are flooding out of Syria by all means, as by their actions they are opting out.

  • Mr Ed

    There’s nothing stopping Messrs Cameron and Hague from resigning their positions (Cameron in particular as PM, needs the Sovereign’s permission to go overseas) and then joining up with the good guys and paying with their blood and sweat. Cameron might make a useful kinetic weapon given the pictures of him on holiday.

    Other than that, what goes on in Syria is grim, and I would find it hard to believe that there is more than about 10% of the population who are actively murderous, but sorting the wheat from the chaff is impossible. One is morally entitled to leave them alone, there is no point helping them if they end the war with the same ideological mindsets that led to this situation.

  • Chip

    My uncle comes from the Maronite Christian community in Syria. They’re no friend if Assad – he lived next to a surgeon murdered by one of Assad’s generals – but they’re terrified of the jihadists.

  • Uriel N

    I agree that we should not intervene in Syria and, by the by, I suspect the percentage of decent people in Syria is a lot lower than 99%.

    Nevertheless, there are two traps that opponents of intervention must avoid falling into, both because they are wrong and because they can be legitimately seized upon by advocates of intervention.

    1) Apologetic for the murderous behaviour of the Assad coalition (see LewRockwell.com’s latest effluent)
    2) Callous disregard for the tens of thousands of dead. The fact that many of those dead, perhaps most, probably fervently support the murder of Israeli and western civilians is not relevant. Being a bad person is not a capital offense.

    The truth is that Assad is very bad and that the suffering is also, but it is also true that no intervention in Syria will solve the fundamental problem: large amounts of low IQ men aged 15-30 with a very strong desire to act violently. You can’t polish a turd and you certainly can’t polish it by dropping bombs on it. But that doesn’t make it any less awful.

  • Me, I’m praying for an asteroid.

  • the other rob

    Paul – we do make 7.62x39mm ammo in the USA, but it’s very expensive brass-cased, Boxer primed stuff. Russian steel-cased, Berdan primed ammo is widely available, however and is an order of magnitude cheaper.

  • Pardone

    How’s about we mind our own business.

    Why should we give humanitarian aid? We can’t afford to splash freebies around to people.

    Judging by how rich Mr. Blair has become we can clearly see what is really motivating Cameron. Lots of people do very nicely out of wars, while the taxpayer is made to pick up the tab.

  • Jacob

    I would like to compare the case of Gaddafi in Lybia and Assad in Syria.
    I favored the removal of Gaddafi and the NATO intervention there. Gaddafi was a crazy mad dog, that needed killing. Removing him was the moral thing to do. It was also in the interest of “the West” to show that it is capable of doing some harm, so that potential mad rulers all over the world will have some incentive to refrain from the worst outrages.
    It didn’t turn out so good for Lybia, they have chaos, a powerless central government, and are prey to stray warlords. But that’s their problem.

    It was different with Assad. As I had no illusion that any replacement regime would be any better than Assad’s, I tended to favor the known evil over the unknown ones. I hoped the conflict would drag on, inconclusively, or that Syria would be divided into tribal mini-states. I never understood people who professed to be outraged by Assad “killing his own people” and favored the rebels doing exactly the same thing.
    But the use of the chemical weapons changed my position. It showed that the Assad clan, which behaved relatively sanely for some 50 years had lost their head, and therefore turned into dangerous, cornered, mad dogs.
    So, I’m in no way opposed to a NATO punitive strike agains Assad, but I’m not as strongly in favor of it as I was with the Lybia campaign. If some stray bomb were to kill Assad, it would be a good way of warning future madmen agains the use of WMD.

  • Jacob

    Alisa, you can’t rely on asteroids, they might stray from course and hit some neighbour country. Smart bombs are more reliable.

  • Mr Ed

    Jacob, I don’t think that this is a NATO matter. NATO requires unanimity before action, and that might not be forthcoming. It is simply an Anglo-US expedition at the moment with possible other tag-alongs.

    NATO was a defensive alliance, and it should be limited to defending its members within area from military incursions or attacks. It has become aggressive like the Warsaw Pact, which had a track record of invading its own members.

    The time to remove Gaddafi was in 1986 or thereabouts. He simply seems to have become inconvenient and a useful whipping boy.

    If a stray Syrian Scud lands on your house, would you regard that as a good way of taking collateral?

  • Regional

    Don’t fuck around, give them hand held nookular devices, and
    Mister Ed,
    I think you wouldn’t be worried about it as you’d be elsewhere i.e. Smithereens.

  • Mr Ed

    Regional, I was not eliminating the possibility that he might have popped down the shops for a pint of milk and come back to a surprise.

    The thing with Assad is although his regime hates Israel, if his lot were rational and enlightened (and the Mediterranean were to become Cabernet Sauvignon), they would realise that they could co-exist with Israel in the face of a common enemy, a militant Sunni population (if Syria has got to that stage yet) which would be hell-bent on destroying Israel, Christians, Alawites and Shia in whatever order was most convenient.

    However, they are probably too dumb and/or vicious to realise that siding against the Sunni extremists with Israel (and allies/supporters) would hamper their unrelenting enemy. Perhaps Iran’s support for the Ba’athists in Syria (‘good socialists‘) makes this not feasible.

    Overall, neither participant in the Syrian war is worth a jerry can of Avtur.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I recently posted in another forum the perfect solution to this problem:

    A suggestion: bomb everyone, take over the country and install an occupation government until the Syrians have learned how to handle democracy by themselves. The logical leader for the occupation government, by virtue of his Nobel Peace Prize, international reputation as an enlightened human being and the fact that he got us into this mess, would be The Lightbringer himself, who would resign the presidency in order to become available.

    This would solve a number of problems most satisfactorily.

    Lose-lose becomes win-win in one fell swoop.

  • OK Jacob, I’ll settle for a small asteroid:-)

    I see absolutely no difference between baby Assad and Gaddafi of last year (or whenever that was – time flies when you’re having fun). In both cases the West should have just shrugged its shoulders.

  • Dave Walker

    Hang on a minute, I thought the stated intention was “sending a message that use of chemical weapons is unacceptable”?

    According to PM on Radio 4 this evening, Mossad have a fair idea who gave the order to deploy chemical weapons. “Sending a message” to this guy in a manner he can’t ignore (and which is unlikely to go unnoticed by Assad, either) requires the services of one good man with a Parker-Hale.

  • Regional

    Mister Ed,
    ‘Overall, neither participant in the Syrian war is worth a jerry can of Avtur’ exactly.

  • Ellen

    Whatever we do, the international community will scream in rage at us. They may scream because we did nothing, or because we did something. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper to be screamed at for doing nothing, fewer of us will be killed, and it gives the screamers fewer photo opportunities.

    Now if they [insert current massacre] start bothering us, that’s a different matter.

  • Rich Rostrom

    When the anti-Assad insurrection began, over two years ago, the war could have been ended quickly by Western intervention. Say, a barrage of cruise missiles eliminating the regime’s airpower. (Even with airpower the regime has not defeated the insurrection; without it…) At that time, secularist and reformist elements had a significant position in the insurrection.

    But the West would not act, allowing Assad to rally support from Iran and Russia. For want of other aid, the insurgents became dependent on jihadists. (Obama exacerbated this problem by routing support through the crypto-Islamist Erdogan government in Turkey.)

    With this policy, we have already “sent a message” to all the decent people in the Middle East. That message is: attach yourself to the strongest gangsters around, regardless of how corrupt and murderous they are. No one else can help you or protect you.

    This of course means that otherwise decent people become complicit in the crimes of their gangster overlords, and liable to the vengeful hostility of their overlords’ enemies. It creates a cycle of atrocity and revenge. Then comes the flood of refugees fleeing the violence – among whom will be defeated gangsters.

    A policy more likely to result in further destruction, corruption, and terrorist violence around the world (not just in the Middle East) is hard for me to imagine.

    It is too late to achieve anything like a good result in Syria.

    The best that can be done now is to act vigorously and publicly against the Assad regime, gaining at least some credit for its fall, and removing Iran and Russia from the area.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    I heard that one British Arms merchant used to sell British weapons to the side that seemed likely to win, and German arms to the side likely to lose, thus giving German weapons an undeserved bad reputation! Since Assad seems likely to lose with the US reacting badly to chemical weapon usage, perhaps we could do the same here!

  • Mr Ed

    @ RIch R I do not see why it should be any business of ours who is winning in Syria, and the ‘reformists/secular’ elements never stood a chance as Qatari and Saudi funding would not have gone to them had they prevailed over the Islamists, never mind the Ba’athist régime. To raise and maintain an insurrection in Syria was an incredible feat of logistics, requiring vast amounts of money.

    And to launch cruise missiles against Assad on the basis of an insurrection is plainly waging aggressive war, inviting reprisals, be it from Syria or Russia. If that had happened and Putin had decided to eliminate a bit of the Royal Navy to make the world safe from random do-gooders, I would have said that he had right on his side. And could you imagine Cameron’s response?

    I just do not see a good outcome in Syria unless it fractures into the old Alawite state with various minorities tagging along in a secular state and leaving the Sunni majority to the rest.

  • Antoine Clarke

    I disagree.

    First, I support tyrannicide.

    Second, we’re talking about people being gassed.

    To take a WW2 analogy, just because Hitler was killing lots of Communists and half of Europe ended up under Soviet rule for 44 years, didn’t make toppling the Nazis wrong.

  • I very much concur with Rich’s analysis, but strongly disagree with his operative conclusion. It is too late to do anything, and so nothing should be done.

    Antoine, how is gassing several hundreds of victims worse than bombing, shooting and butchering thousands? Obama and his cohorts can draw all kinds of lines in all kinds of colors – does not mean they have any moral bearing on decent people anywhere.

  • Bruce

    The “sunni / shia” thing keeps getting a mention.

    What seems to fall off the radar is that the ruling Junta in Syria, (as well as a lot of other folks in those parts) are technically Allawites.

    This means that they are into the same apocalyptic “twelfth imam” sub-branch of Shia as the nice chaps in Teheran.

    So, sort-of co-religionists in Iran are helping Assad etc. on one hand, but who knows what they are doing on the other. Part of the gig is that those who help the etwelfth imam,(as opposed to the flanneled twelfth man),to return and establish the global caliphate, will be given first pick of the spoils and a seat at the top end of Big Mo’s table.

    Sunni Muslims regard Shia as barely tolerable at best; Allawites are just downright heretics.

    And what is it all about? Basically whether the Scimitar of Big Mo is handed on by inheritance or election by the ummah. As they say in the classics; “Same S**t, different flies”.

    And then there is the parallel desire to do a Xerxes on the whole planet; a global PERSIAN caliphate.

  • Jacob

    As I said, I was against any Western intervention, and for leaving the Arabs and Persians and Turks to sort out their mess by themselves.

    But, since they used chemical weapons, I think a message needs to be send, to convey our dislike of this procedure. A salvo of well targeted cruise missiles would be appropiate. After which – back to the spectator role.

  • Mr Ed

    Antoine, there is nothing inherently wrong with tyrannicide, but what if the tyrant or heirs fire back? Why should I be in the firing line?

    I recall that the Egyptian police gassed to death 36 or so Muslim Brotherhood members the other day, by apparently lobbing CS gas into their prison bus when they got a bit uppity (we are told). That was a fatal chemical attack, and Egypt is ruled by usurpers, so why no attack on them? The outcome was the same for the dead, it’s just that the LD-50 of CS gas (or whatever) is much higher than whatever was used by whoever used it in Syria. CS gas is probably as unpleasant as neurotoxic gas as a way to die. The intent might not quite have been there in Egypt, but who knows what the intent was in Syria, as we don’t know who did it, but we do in Egypt.

  • Laird

    I agree with Antoine Clarke about supporting tyrannicide as a theoretical matter (and more than once I have commended the method of waging war practiced in Thomas More’s Utopia), but I have two issues in this particular instance: (1) Why is it my country’s responsibility to do the job when there are plenty of other actors who actually have a dog in that fight? Whether Assad is a tyrant, or remains in power, isn’t my concern and doesn’t affect me. I’m happy to cheer from the sidelines if he gets his just desserts, but don’t need or want to be involved in it. (2) Obama has made it clear that killing Assad is not the objective, so there is no “tyrannicide” component here anyway. That’s a straw man argument.

  • Subotai Bahadur

    “It is quite amazing to me that President Obama, who is so skilled at choosing both sides in domestic matters, as the transitory needs of party and electoral politics dictate, can’t seem to get beyond the compulsion to choose one side over another when it comes to foreign matters. His imperialist slip is showing.”

    Actually, he has a pretty consistent record of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, and opposing both American allies and those who while not allies can at least be worked with.

    Noting that nerve agents were apparently used, there is considerable question as to who used them. Which may have a reasonable bearing on any subsequent targeting decisions. If the Jihadi rebels used them and the end result is that the Assad regime gets hit by the US and the “Coalition of the Emo Europeans”; what incentive structure does that create?

    The main point I am appreciating is, of all things, the reaction of the British Parliament. From our side of the Atlantic, it looks like your Cameron wanted to puppy-dog behind Obama wherever he wanted to go. And your Parliament grabbed him by the short and curlies, sat him down, and told him, “Not without our approval.”. And they are actually debating the matter publicly. [UPDATE- Just found out that Parliament just told Cameron he could not tag along with Obama. BRAVO ZULU!]

    Both wings of our “Governing Party” are doing their best to pretend that Congress has no role in the declaration of war if the Allehöchstekriegsherr so decrees.

  • Julie near Chicago

    The Sith helped take down Khadaffi precisely BECAUSE he had grown relatively docile with respect to the U.S. and Britain.

    I’m not sure I’d characterize Mubarak as “docile,” but at least he wasn’t the MB and his first priority was not to destroy the U.S. and Israel. So naturally he had to go also.

    Subotai is dead right. (And it’s great to see you back, Subotai!)

    I just heard Rand Paul saying that at the least Dear and Maximum Leader ought to be making his case re Syria to Congress.

    The thinking on Hannity’s show seems to be that It is going to “lob in a few cruise missiles” á la Clinton, in order to save face. Sen. Paul (and others) think this really might incite drastic reprisals against Israel. Somebody–Mike Lee?–said the IDF is passing out gas masks and otherwise preparing the Israeli civilians for such an attack. Alisa?

    . . .

    On an entirely different note and completely O/T, Ann Coulter was talking out the back of her neck about Obamacare. (Pubs s/not be trying to defund it at this point. Pubs s/b concentrating on getting elected and “taking the government” in 2014, and O-Care is a distraction and if defunding it brings on a government shut-down, that will make them look bad. Good grief!!!!)

  • Antoine Clarke

    Alisa, I agree that to murder people indiscriminately using gas is not better than to do the same with bullets. But there may be an assumption that a sniper, for instance, will aim at what might be termed “military targets” ahead of obvious non-combatants (such as children). Dropping gas bombs on a town is a step up, Pol Pot rather than Pinochet.

    My view is that all tyrants should end up dangling from lamp posts, unless like Pinochet, they voluntarily step down. Even then, they should face an account for their actions, which might end up the same.

    To those who would point out US President Truman’s use of atom bombs in 1945, I have two responses. One is that a very clear warning was given before the first attack, a second warning was given and then a third after Nagasaki, with a cleat and acceptable alternative (the eventual surrender and peace). Second that President Truman faced an election, in which his actions would face public scrutiny. Not sufficient perhaps, but he’s way further down the list than Assad Jnr.

    I know people in Israel and Lebanon are anxious about the whole Arab Spring process, but I’m optimistic. A system that depended on the continued sanity of tyrants, of preferring the devil one knows, was always going to end badly, because the thing democracy does well is answer the questions “who comes next?” and “who gave you the rght to…” There was never going to be a credible answer for Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad perhaps even Mubarak.

    Note that in Egypt there is a clear degree of public support for removing tyrants, but not at the cost of getting something worse. That’s a lot more solid basis for peace and less-bad government in the long term. Of course extremists are doing the fighting. Who else but a fanatic would take on the Baathist regime with its Russian weaponry? Doesn’t mean they’ll win the peace. Warriors rarely do.

    Truman, like any democratic leader facing re-election, had to offer something more than national pride in smoking enemy cities. For one thing, what to do about relations with the USSR, Germany and Japan after the war. For another, how to get world trade back on track and wind down the war economy. Morsi doesn’t seem to many Egyptians to have grasped this, or had credible answers. His eventual successor will have to.

    I look at the Palestinian territories and see a giant welfare state propped up by Israel and foreign aid (Israel supplies electricity for instance). Palestinian politics are as irresponsible as they would be in the circumstances. The only strategic answer I can see is to cut of all aid (but offer free trade) so Palestinians focus on how to earn a living. This would immediately shift the balance of political power from a warlord to a businessman. It would give people something else to choose in their leaders than who will be more effective at killing Jews and do they pretend to be nice or not.

  • […] still think selling both sides ammo would be a really great idea as it would be hard to overstate the need to keep this on the boil as long as possible. Perhaps now […]

  • Kirk Parker

    Andrew,

    “We do not make any ammunition…”

    Wow, the folks here, here, here, here, and (just in case I’m confused about who ‘we’ refers to), here are gonna be pretty surprised when they find out.