Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Senator John McCain was on Morning Joe (MSNBC) making pronouncements as if he were an expert in world policy issues and military strategy but especially on the opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. His credentials for his in depth analysis; he visited the country and even had his picture taken while talking to “real” rebels.

McNasty demonstrated his lack of understanding of the situation in that country by accusing President Obama of going back on a statement made two years ago about changing regimes in Syria, which in McCain’s mind should be the objective of the pending military strike. Changing regimes is not the objective, punishment is. The objective is to punish al-Assad for poisonous gas attacks. The objective of punishment of any kind is to prevent that kind of activity from happening again.  Like spanking a child for some wrongdoing; the event happened, the punishment happens, and then we wait to see if the punishment was effective. In contrast, regime change is a major undertaking; we have been trying in Afghanistan for 10 years and still it is not happening. We know from experience in the Middle East that political factions in Syria would turn the situation into a power struggle between Islamic sects, as well as divisions within those sects, and between democracy and a caliphate; we saw happen it in Iran, we saw it happen in Iraq, and we are seeing it happening in Afghanistan. The ‘we’ in the last sentence was an editorial use of the pronoun implying that everyone but McCain sees it. Regime change is something that is not possible to accomplish in a short period and with limited missile strikes.

Although speculation about the objective of the pending action if narrowed by the political situation in Syria and in America, the form of the attack is not open to speculation; the reality of countermeasures on the ground controls that. Keep in mind that Russia has armed Syria with ground to air strike capabilities but not anti missile capabilities. Sorry John, that means military experts, not amateurs like you, will eschew your beloved fighter planes and replace them with missiles and rockets.

A bigger McCain error is that he freely uses the expression “the right people” when talking about who to help in Syria. He can make up some fanciful group that has the best interest of the United States and democracy in mind, which is something President Obama cannot do. The President has to know “who the right people” are before he gives them modern arms and ammunition—the equivalent of a background check when we sell arms in the Untied States. I think his conclusion is that there are no “right people”. If there were a clearly define group we would have armed them long ago.

Sometimes I wonder if this Arizona cowboy knows which way to face when setting on a horse. 

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