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Syria: a scenario of awesome splendiferousness?

Fortunately Obama and assorted hard-of-thinking folks across the political spectrum in the USA seem to have backed away from becoming allies of Al Qaeda in Syria. But that means it looks like a fascinating lose-lose-win scenario is coming to pass: Al Qaeda and its allies lose, Hezbullah and its Iranian and Ba’athist allies lose, everyone else wins.

Syria’s deputy prime minister says the civil war has reached stalemate with neither side strong enough to win.

So Hezbullah and Al Qaeda are bleeding each other white in Syria in an attrition war that shows no sign of ending, and moreover this state of affairs costs us in the West not a penny.


I 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 is a good time to urge the UN to remain fixated on vital issues such as ‘climate change’ in Kazakhstan or ‘gender inequality’ in Nicaragua or ‘indigenous rights’ in Mordor or whatever, so they do not make any meaningful attempts to broker any unhelpful ceasefires.

43 comments to Syria: a scenario of awesome splendiferousness?

  • George Atkisson

    There is no need for other distractions. The UN will quite cheerfully play the Worm Ouroborous and issue statements of concern, calls for restraint, establish working groups and committees, and form expert commissions to study, evaluate, and issue recommendations for the formation of additional expert commissions. If done right, this will provide employment for a multitude of bureaucrats and high minded demonstrations of moral preening.

    Meanwhile our enemies will continue to bleed each other of manpower and resources. Sun Tzu would be proud.

  • Regional

    This summary was posted in the FT:
    “Iran is backing Assad. Gulf states are against Assad”, its brisk summary begins, before detailing the myriad and contradictory alliances which make this place the bewildering tinderbox it is (“Turkey is with Gulf states against Assad; yet Turkey is pro Muslim Brotherhood against General Sisi. And General Sisi is being backed by the Gulf states!”).
    Stand back and let ’em get on with it.

  • Dom

    “I 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”.

    I understand the strategy, but it’s incredibly cruel, and we would call it that if a western nation were involved.

  • Laird

    Works for me.

  • Ed Snack

    Incredibly cruel though for all those unfortunates (and there are many, the combatants are still a minority). Would you really sacrifice the lives of all those in Syria for this end, all the domestic Christians for example, on such a simplistic bit of reasoning ?

    Semi amusing sound bite comment, yes. Serious suggestion , fuck you.

  • Vinegar Joe

    We in the West have forgotten that wars need to be settled on the battlefield then at the surrender table……..not in endless peace conferences in the UN, Paris or Washington.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    If we could lock em in a jar I’d be all for letting them fight it out. Unfortunately Syria isn’t a jar. It is a country full of innocent people who want nothing to do with either homicidal group, and who are caught in the middle. This includes women and children.

    Now I’m not advocating intervention, but I don’t think witnessing the endgame of authoritarianism being visited on the helpless is cause for celebration.

  • Frederick Davies

    Mr Snack,

    “Every nation gets the government it deserves.”
    -Joseph de Maistre

    Enough said!


  • “Would you really sacrifice the lives of all those in Syria for this end, all the domestic Christians for example, on such a simplistic bit of reasoning ?”

    I’m unconvinced that Perry, or any western mind, is morally responsible for the “sacrifices” forcibly applied to civilians in Syria. The people responsible are easy to identify, they are the ones with fingers on triggers.

    Actually being the one to sell the bullets? Not for me.

    Sending aid? The same thing. Money (as Perry reminds us regularly) is fungible. If you send in food or medicine they have more money for bullets.

  • I understand the strategy, but it’s incredibly cruel, and we would call it that if a western nation were involved.

    But it is not a western nation involved, it is Al Qaeda vs. Hezbullah/Ba’athists/Iran. I was all for intervention in the Balkans because all the players were *not* as bad as each other. In Syria on the other hand…

  • Stuck-Record

    It’ll continue in stalemate until one of the sides plays the ‘Israel’ card.

    Nerve gas attack into Tel Aviv and suddenly they’ll all be friends again and march against their traditional distraction enemy. Or maybe they actually hate each other more than they hate Jews?

  • What JV said. Selling arms is intervention, and that is the objectionable part in Perry’s post.

    Frederick Davies: does that mean that you deserve the government you have?

  • Laird

    Selling arms to one side is intervention. Selling arms equally to both sides is not. (And BTW, Perry advocated selling ammo, not “arms”.)

  • Dom

    Laird, of course it is intervention. The strategy is to make more people die than otherwise, exactly the strategy we would use if we had boots on the ground.

  • No Dom, if we had boots on the ground, we would likely side with one of the warring parties.


    (And BTW, Perry advocated selling ammo, not “arms”.)

    You are being humorous, right?

  • Aiisa, to be honest so was I, I don’t really think we need to sell ammo to the fuckers as they seem to be doing just fine as it is. But it is the thought that counts.

  • I figured that much, Perry – it’s just that some here seemed to have taken it seriously, and so I felt the need to address it seriously myself.

  • CaptDMO

    Oddly, an astonishing amount of ammunition-coincidently suitable for “full auto” machine pistols, was bought up in bulk by several of
    the current US administration’s not-even-close-to-justifying-it Departments.
    Strangely, there seems to be an accounting error in the inventory, and much of it has simply up and disappeared, in bulk.

  • llamas

    Look, the calculus is simple – so simple, even I can figure it out.

    There is only one thing that may temporarily suspend the suffering of the innocents stuck in Syria. One thing only. And that is massive US military intervention, complete with large numbers of ACBHWs on dirt.

    Nothing else will have the slightest impact of the death and suffering of innocents in Syria. Least of all the useless posturings of President Obama and the blithering fool who passes for a Secretary of State. The tinpot leader of the world’s largest corruptocracy has swept the floor with the pair of them – as Sarah Palin tweeted today, from her house, she can see the print of Putin’s boot on Obama’s ass.

    Bashar al-Assad has done a superb head-fake on President Obama, committing him to a mass of useless, community-organizer-style make-work (on the dime of the US taxpayer), chasing after chimeras of WMDs. Meanwhile, the killing continues, the tribal jealousies and the corrupt and criminal conflicts are extended and strengthened. And nothing the US has done, or will do, will make the slightest bit of difference to any of it – except a vast military take-over.

    Even if the US decides on military intervention – and that’s a mighty big ‘if’ – Assad knows that he can so-effectively muddy the waters, Hamid Karzai-style, that he may come out the other end – when the US taxpayer tires of it – still in power, the recipient of vast US largesse, and free to resume the struggle. It worked in Afghanistan, didn’t it?

    So the question is – is the US prepared to take that step? Another massive military venture in the Middle East? Where the issue is (once again) a conflict between a half-a-hundred different factions, each worse than the last (but all united in a common hatred of the US) and all killing innocents by the millions while they fight each other over oil, treasure, religion and who insulted whose second-favourite camel in 927 CE?

    The US public won’t stand for it. And the current US president isn’t capable of doing it.

    What can’t happen – won’t. If we’re not prepared to go all-in, we should leave well-enough alone.



  • Zarba

    Llamas pretty much covered it, but my acronym-o-matic is broken. What is “ACBHW”?

  • Laird

    “as Sarah Palin tweeted today, from her house, she can see the print of Putin’s boot on Obama’s ass.”

    Did she really tweet that? If she did, my hat’s off to her and it should get much wider distribution. If not, you should take credit for a really clever line!

  • llamas

    Yes, she really tweeted that. Credits the line to her Aunt Billie in Texas.

    ACBHW = Army Combat Boot, Hot Weather



  • Julie near Chicago

    llamas absolutely nails it.

    And yet again, as I was re-reading one of the books in my all-time favorite thriller series (the Karp-Ciampi books, by Robert K. Tannenbaum), the author remarks that while war is only for when all else has failed, it must be quick, overwhelming, and fought till one side or the other surrenders utterly. Otherwise it is just an exercise in long-drawn-out agony…and accomplishes nothing but increased misery for all, and repeat matches when the enemy has recuperated.

    (Lest I be misunderstood, I’m not advocating targetting civilians. The point would be to save the civilians by taking out the bad guys.)

    And then, the ME being the ME, the place would have to be occupied. For a very long time. And the Europeans, at least, would have to be willing to go along with the program.

    And good for Sarah’s Aunt Billie! I wonder if we get her for Prexy next time around.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Oops. Correction, “Robert K. Tanenbaum.”

    O/T: Try ’em, you’ll love ’em! (He began publishing the series with the second book, on the theory that the first, No Lesser Plea, was strictly a learning piece. Maybe so, but it was a good one.) Anyhow, the first 12 or 13 in the series are terrific. *standing ovation*

  • Jacob

    “it must be quick, overwhelming, and fought till one side or the other surrenders utterly”

    This is like the advice Idi Amin Dada gave to boxers: “Since referees are not always impartial, and cannot be relied on, it is best to win by KO, preferably a fast one.”

  • Jacob

    As for the people of Syria, and many others – weren’t they better off under colonial rule?
    Imperialism has it’s advantages…

  • John Bull

    But what’s the upside for the “lucky” imperial power who gets to rule Syria?

  • Jacob

    “But what’s the upside for the “lucky” imperial power who gets to rule Syria?”

    Good question.
    Still, there was a time when there was stiff competition between the Powers for this dubious privilege.

  • Jacob

    Turkey, for example, who ruled over Syria for several centuries, would be more than happy to do so again. And, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea…

  • Regional

    Time to restore the Ottoman Empire even into southern Europe.

  • Jacob

    “Time to restore the Ottoman Empire even into southern Europe.”
    Into the failed state of Greece…

  • Well that is an idea of epic badness, particularly as Turkey is heading in a less secular, more Islamic direction.

  • Pardone

    Its a mystery why US politicians are so keen on millitary intervention…

    Mike Rogers-Michigan (R) (Chairman) $13,000 Mantech International/$11,250 BAE Systems/ $10,250 Boeing Co./ $10,250 General Dynamics /$10,000 SAIC Inc./$10,000 Northrop Grumman / $10,000 Honeywell International/ $10,000 Lockheed Martin/ Raytheon $10,000

    Mac Thornberry-Texas (R) $18,000 Northrop Grumman/$10,250 General Dynamics/$10,000 Boeing Co/$10,000 General Atomics/$10,000 Lockheed Martin/$10,000 Honeywell International/$10,000 Raytheon

    Jeff Miller-Florida (R) $15,000 Northrop Grumman/$11,000 BAE Systems/$10,500 Lockheed Martin/$10,000 European Aeronautic Defence & Space/$9,000 General Atomics/$8,000 General Dynamic

    Mike Conaway-Texas (R) $15,000 Northrop Grumman/$10,000 General Dynamics/$10,000 Raytheon Co/$9,000 Lockheed Martin

    Peter King-New York (R) $13,500 Northrop Grumman/$13,000 General Dynamics/$11,000 Raytheon Co/$10,00 Boeing Co/$10,000 Honeywell International/$10,000 Lockheed Martin/$6,000 BAE Systems

    Frank A. LoBiondo- New Jersey (R) $12,000 Northrop Grumman/$10,000 Boeing Co/$10,000 Honeywell International/$10,000 Raytheon Co/$9,000 General Dynamics/$8,000 BAE Systems/$8,000 Lockheed Martin

    Devin Nunes- California (R) $8,000 Honeywell International/$7,500 Lockheed Martin/$7,000 Northrop Grumman

    Lynn Westmoreland- Georgia (R) $10,000 General Dynamics/$7,000 Raytheon Co/$6,000 Lockheed Martin/$5,500 Honeywell International

    Michele Bachmann- Minnesota (R) $6,150 Northrop Grumman

    Tom Rooney- Florida (R) $6,000 Northrop Grumman

    Joe Heck- Nevada (R) $12,000 Northrop Grumman/$10,000 Boeing Co/$9,999 Honeywell International/$8,000 Lockheed Martin/$5,000 General Atomics

    Mike Pompeo- Kansas (R) $3,000 Lockheed Martin/$2,500 Honeywell International

    Dutch Ruppersberger- Maryland (D) (Ranking Member) $38,400 Northrop Grumman/$15,000 Mantech International/$10,750 Raytheon Co/$10,500 Boeing Co/$10,500 SAIC Inc/$10,000 General Dynamics/$10,000 Honeywell International/$10,000 Lockheed Martin/$8,000 BAE Systems/$5,000 General Atomics

    Mike Thompson- Californa (D) $7,500 Raytheon Co/$7,000 Lockheed Martin

    Jan Schakowsky- Illinois (D) $4,000 Lockheed Martin

    James Langevin- Rhode Island (D) $24,850 General Dynamics/$15,150 Raytheon Co/$15,000 Northrop Grumman/$10,000 Boeing Co/$10,000 Honeywell International/$10,000 SAIC Inc/$8,000 Lockheed Martin

    Adam Schiff- California (D) $12,000 Northrop Grumman/$10,000 Raytheon Co/$8,000 Boeing Co/$7,500 Honeywell International/$7,000 Lockheed Martin

    Luis Gutiérrez- Illinois (D) $2,000 Lockheed Martin

    Ed Pastor – Arizona (D) $12,500 General Dynamics/$10,000 BAE Systems/$10,000 Boeing/$10,000 Lockheed Martin/$10,000 Raytheon Co

    Jim Himes- Connecticut (D) $10,000 Honeywell International

    Terri Sewell- Alabama (D) $2,00 0 Lockheed Martin

  • Pardone

    I’m sure our upstanding, moral elected representatives are not at all influenced by personal financial gain from millitary adventures…yes, they are fine public servants who are totally principled…

    Dianne Feinstein (Chair) California (D)
    $56,750 General Atomics/$43,500 General Dynamics/$40,000 BAE Systems/$30,800 Northrop Grumman/$10,000 Boeing Co/$10,000 Honeywell International/$10,000 Lockheed Martin/$10,000 Raytheon Co

    Ron Wyden – Oregon (D)
    $14,500 Honeywell International/$12,000 Boeing Co/$10,000 Lockheed Martin/$10,000 Raytheon

    Barbara Mikulski – Maryland (D)
    $47,400 Northrop Grumman/$19,500 SAIC Inc/$16,500 Raytheon Co/$15,000 Lockheed Martin/$13,500 European Aeronautic Defence & Space /$11,000 Boeing Co

    Mark Udall – Colorado (D)
    $19,000 Lockheed Martin/$18,000 Honeywell International/$15,750 Northrop Grumman/$14,000 Raytheon Co

    Mark Warner – Virgina (D)
    $64,150 Northrop Grumman/$28,600 SAIC Inc/$20,800 Boeing Co/$16,000 Honeywell International

    Martin Heinrich – New Mexico (D)
    $23,000 Lockheed Martin/$10,000 Honeywell International/$7,250 Boeing Co

    Angus King – Maine (I)
    $6,000 Raytheon Co/$5,250 Lockheed Martin/$5,000 Boeing Co/$5,000 Honeywell International

    Saxby Chambliss (Vice Chair) Georgia (R)
    $59,600 Lockheed Martin/$25,000 Northrop Grumman/$19,750 Honeywell International/$19,300 Raytheon Co/$16,500 Boeing Co/$15,000 General Dynamics

    Jim Risch – Idaho (R) $10,000 Honeywell International/$5,000 Boeing Co

    Dan Coats – Indiana (R)
    $13,500 SAIC Inc/$13,00 Raytheon Co/$12,500 Lockheed Martin/$12,000 Boeing Co/$11,000 Northrop Grumman/$8,000 European Aeronautic Defence & Space/$7,000 BAE Systems/$6,550 Honeywell International

    Marco Rubio – Florida (R)
    $11,500 Honeywell International

    Susan Collins – Maine (R)
    $59,750 General Dynamics/$35,801 Raytheon Co/$18,500 Northrop Grumman/$18,000 Boeing Co/$16,750 Lockheed Martin/$15,550 Honeywell International/$14,500 BAE Systems/$14,000 SAIC Inc

    Tom Coburn – Oklahoma (R)
    $10,000 Honeywell International/$10,000 Lockheed Martin

  • Tarrou

    @ Ed Snack,

    Embedded in your question is the assumption that western governments are responsible for the behavior of both the rebels and Assad. This is false. We can benefit from their barbarity without incurring moral risk, because they are not our problem. And trust me, every hezbollah or IJ, Hamas, Al Nusra fighter that takes the 72 Virgins Express makes the world a better place. We can whinge about the “innocents”, but they are the society of all these various violent factions, their brothers, fathers, cousins and neighbors. Syrian christians support Assad because he’s the only thing between them and genocide. That should tell you a bit about how fucked up and violent the area is. I say we have no responsibility to stop our enemies from killing each other, and may do what we can to prolong the conflict without any moral compunction about the realpolitik.

  • Jacob

    “Well that is an idea of epic badness, particularly as Turkey is heading in a less secular, more Islamic direction.”

    Taking over Greece isn’t a good idea, of course, I was joking. But taking over Syria? Restoring order there? Why not? It won’t be any worse than what is there now.

  • Regional

    Taking over Greece and Syria would be like deliberately getting cancer.

  • Jacob

    Which is what I wish the Turks

  • Mr Ed

    @ Tarrou. I nominate the ’72 Virgins Express’ for euphemism of the decade, and as the ‘Paul Marks Organisation’ – as one here has called him- might ask ‘What would they do differently?’. Not to justify death but to point out that there might be limits to what one can hope for, and make resignation more sufferable.

    I personally find, from my safe distance (at present) the various minor peoples of the Fertile Crescent, be they Alawites, Druze, Samaritans etc. fascinating in abstract, anthropological terms. However, from the Good Samaritan fable, I queried whether the greater point was to remember that he was not the rule, but the exception, albeit on what might have been unreliale testimony. I also look around and find where religious intolerance is absent, any ‘void’ appears to be filled with socialist savagery in one form or another, as the driving force.

    If only one could change the ideas in more than a few heads.

  • Rich Rostrom

    What about refugees?

    The result of allowing murderous gangsters to rule over countries (or to fight each for control) is that many of the people in those countries will seek safety elsewhere.

    Many of those refugees will not be seeking a place where they can live under rule of law in a sound civil order. They have never experienced such a condition and are not even aware it is possible.

    Rather, they will assume that all government authority is corrupt and all wealth is gained by theft, and will engage in corruption and cheating.

    Furthermore, those fleeing conflict will include gangsters who are losers in the conflict.

    Many western nations have already experienced these problems. The less we do to prevent tyranny and anarchy elsewhere, the worse they will get.

    Unless the West adopts a policy of refusing admission to refugees – which means handing over innocents to gangsters that will kill them.

  • Mr Ed

    @ Rich, might be an alternative? To supply refugees with the means to stand and fight those who would do them ill, let them be 21st Century Clubmen, by public subscription, of course.

  • Mr Ed

    Turn your back for a minute, and whoosh, £100,000,000 in aid to Syria.

  • Julie near Chicago

    With refugees, the problem is separating the sheep from the goats. Refugees from Cuba, the USSR, Jewish refugees from anywhere, the Boat People, … historically have not been interested in, literally, killing or enslaving the people of the (free, more-or-less) country in which they have sought refuge.

    Oh, there are exceptions and always have been. But nothing on the order of the current influx of free-world-destroyer wannabes.

    I do think Rich has stated the underlying problem with these particular refugees very well.