The Truth About Syria and Obama

In case you were wondering, Trump is telling you lies.

Syria is run by a horrible dictator. He is the kind of dictator that makes you want to bring back assassination of foreign leaders. The idea of putting him down is hardly an extreme one, once you know what he does and has done.

There was a moment in time, in 2013, when Obama tried to stand up to Assad, but failed to push back when Assad pushed him. Assad read the US system better than most foreign dictators do, it seems. You see, in the United States, a president can't just go to war. Congress authorizes war. Once that authorization is done, it is quite possible for a president to abuse the authorization, sure. A president can send all sorts of troops around the world for purposes of security, sure. But you can't go and kick Assad's ass for using chemical weapons without an authorization form Congress.

So, Obama asked Congress to authorize going to Syria to kick Assad's ass. They declined to do so.

Meanwhile, at that time, Donald Trump made the following statements:

  • Obama wants to unilaterally put a no-fly zone in Syria to protect Al Qaeda Islamists Syria is NOT our problem.
  • We should stay the hell out of Syria, the "rebels" are just as bad as the current regime. WHAT WILL WE GET FOR OUR LIVES AND $ BILLIONS?ZERO
  • What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.
  • If Obama attacks Syria and innocent civilians are hurt and killed, he and the U.S. will look very bad!
  • How bad has our "leader" made us look on Syria. Stay out of Syria, we don't have the leadership to win wars or even strategize.
  • If the U.S. attacks Syria and hits the wrong targets, killing civilians, there will be worldwide hell to pay. Stay away and fix broken U.S.
  • " trump would attack Syria or no?" No, lets make our country great again as they fight their war!
  • What I am saying is stay out of Syria.
  • Russia is sending a fleet of ships to the Mediterranean. Obama’s war in Syria has the potential to widen into a worldwide conflict.
  • President Obama, do not attack Syria. There is no upside and tremendous downside. Save your "powder" for another (and more important) day!
  • Don't attack Syria - an attack that will bring nothing but trouble for the U.S. Focus on making our country strong and great again!
  • Obama must now start focusing on OUR COUNTRY, jobs, healthcare and all of our many problems. Forget Syria and make America great again!
  • We should stop talking, stay out of Syria and other countries that hate us, rebuild our own country and make it strong and great again-USA!
  • Those were tweets, so we know it is what he really meant.

    Trump does this thing that no president has ever done before. He obsesses on the fact that he won, as though it was the only thing he ever won in his entire life, and he blatantly and frequently blames things on President Obama, his predecessor. And, as far as I can tell, none of those accusations has been close to accurate. None of those accusations has even been in the general ballpark of reality. (Plus, of course, he takes credit for things his predecessor did, but that's a whole nuther story.)

    Now that Trump is president he is blaming President Obama for not invading Syria, but he should really be blaming Congress because it is Congress that made that decision, not President Obama.

    Those are the facts.

    What to do with Syria? I don't know. My immediate inclination is to go in there, blow Assad off the map, take over the country and install solar energy systems so that Syria can be a major supplier of electricity to nearby countries and SE Europe, make improvements to the agriculture, cut off a big chunk in the general vicinity of Israel and join that with part of Lebanon, part of Jordan, and part of Egypt, to make a large backwards C-shaped country into a weapons-free peaceful Palestinian state. Then, take another bit if Syria, a bit of Turkey and a bit of Iraq and make a peaceful weapon's free Kurdistan. Then world peace. But that's just me.

    By the way, the Trump administration is sending more and more troops into Syria. But, of course, the other guys in Syria are the Russians, and they support Assad. So, how is this going to work out, with a Putin puppet in the White House, and a killer madman in charge of Syria?

    Here is some interesting reporting and commentary from Rachel Maddow on this issue:

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    I am afraid that I largely disagree. Assad may be a ruthless dictator but we in the west have absolutely no moral authority whatsoever to lecture any nation about elusive concepts like human rights. Given that US history, in the words of historian Ward Churchill, is summed up as "over 200 years of senseless butchery and democracy deterred", I find it a bit rich for anyone living in the west to think they can lecture others. The crux is that western planners don't give a jot for human rights; Syria is simply seen as a stepping stone to gain access to the real prize: Iran. Moreover, given the carnage unleashed across the Middle East by the US in committing the 'supreme international crime' of aggression in Iraq (over a million dead) and regime change in Libya (tens of thousands dead), I find this talk of humanitarian imperialism nauseating, Whatever happens in Syria is up to the Syrian people. Period. As for blowing Assad off the map, this is childish typical imperial rhetoric. Doing so would also mean blowing thousands of innocent lives off the map as well. Shame on you Greg. Finally, Obama is no paragon of virtue but himself an unindicted war criminal. In his last year in office the US dropped over 26,000 bombs on 7 countries in the region. Abominable.

    By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 05 Apr 2017 #permalink

    In case you were wondering, Trump is telling you lies.

    Good snark (and I'm grinning while I type, not typing in anger) - intelligent people know he is, his supporters swear he isn't.

    Syria is run by a horrible dictator. He is the kind of dictator that makes you want to bring back assassination of foreign leaders.

    True - but we really need to tamp that desire down. Opening the door to this case, as much as a slam dunk as it seems to be, would be opening a door that this administration, and those in the future, would be unable/unwilling to close. It's bad enough that Trump has moved the decision making for drone strikes away from the military and into the hands of the CIA, removing most of the review process in the process.

    In his last year in office the US dropped over 26,000 bombs on 7 countries in the region.

    Close - statistically insignificant difference between your number and the number from the groups who worry about such things. I would point out that the distribution was not uniform: 24,287 were dropped in Syria and Iraq, 500 on Libya, and about 1400 in Afghanistan, under 40 in Yemen (there were 60 or so there the year before). Records indicate 14 dropped in Somalia and 3 in Pakistan.

    So yes, lots of bombs, and I agree that there is a very good question about whether they are needed at all, but implying that the rate was uniform throughout the region, as your message does, is simply wrong.

    > cut off a big chunk in the general vicinity of Israel ...into a weapons-free peaceful Palestinian state. Then, take another bit if Syria, a bit of Turkey and a bit of Iraq and make a peaceful weapon’s free Kurdistan. Then world peace.

    Before you get this world peace, you have to win a war against Russia, Turkey, and Iran(which has its own Kurdistan). You've also just removed Assad for likely Al Qaeda or ISIS groups ruling in Syria-Kurdistan, just as Mubarak was replaced by Muslim Brotherhood. A few dozen people in a chemical attack isn't different from what the Saudis do, what the Chinese do, what Iran does, what Cuba does, etc. Yet we are not as eager to wipe those leaders off the map.

    When did Congress vote for Obama's war with Libya?

    Jeff, you may well be right.

    The point of this post is to point out that Trump is full of shit. My commentary about what to do about Assad is just my unschooled opinion after watching video of several children die horrible deaths at his hands.

    Trump's instincts are to do things, in this case war, after spending a whole campaign and decade expressing the opposite.

    William Randolph Hearst said give me the pictures and I'll give you the war, and you have stepped right up. Russia has made it clear they support Assad, and while I don't know about Trump, it is clear that America is not willing to match them in brutality. They are leveling whole blocks in areas where the rebels are stronger. If we had cut a deal with Saddam, then there was a chance to get Syria away from Iran. At this point, Assad is the best bet to be in charge of Syria.

    Cut a deal with Saddam? When? He went into hiding shortly after the invasion and was caught and killed nine months later.

    You can certainly argue that the invasion was a bad move for all kinds of reasons, not least of which was that the Bush administration concocted the whole WMD thing as a pretext to magically transform the region (Gog and Magog, blah, blah, blah).

    It's also generally agreed that de-Ba'athification was a bad idea, and I'd add pretty much everything else that happened after the invasion.

    But cutting a deal for whatever reason wasn't an issue, because the whole thing was conceived as an insane, megalomaniacal sideshow to Afghanistan in the first place.

    By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 05 Apr 2017 #permalink

    Cut a deal sometime between the end of the Iraq War and the start of the second Iraq War. W claims they made an offer where he steps down and heads to the French Riviera, but that wouldn't have worked. You needed to let Saddam stay in power to have him fighting terrorists instead of making friends with them. They toasted Saddam in the late 80s. Our ambassador April Gillespie gave a greenlight to invade Kuwait thinking he would just take the oil field in dispute.
    Instead they decided on regime change, because he was a bad guy along with his sons Uday and Qusay who the media turned into martyrs because they hated George Bush.

    Greg, thanks for the reply. Don't for a second think that I support Trump - I loathe him and think that he and his band of Pavlovian kleptomaniacs a a profound threat to the future. What I have been saying is that he came to power largely because the DNC, Clinton and Obama were seen as an elitist, bank and corporate shilling party by many of the voters. This obsession with Russian involvement is a farce and shows how desperate this band of neoliberal worshipping plutocrats in the Democratic Party is to shift the blame away from anyone but themselves for this fiasco. Of course Trump is as beholden to this morally and politically bankrupt system as his predecessors, and on climate policy he represents a terrifying threat. Trust me, as a scientist working in the area I am well aware of that. On Syria, one must remember that the rise of ISIL/Daesh came about because of the Iraq war. Most are disaffected Baathists who were shunted from power and morphed into this wretched organisation. The US is often called the 'Empire of Chaos' for good reason. Divide and conquer. US planners loathe secular nationalists who they see as a threat to the ability of US multinationals to loot resources in countries whose resources they covet. As I said, the real prize for them, is Iran. Syria and its humanitarian catastrophe are moot. If Assad was a compliant butcher, they would embrace him, as they have across the globe as they have done for decades. Recall that Saddam was given full economic and diplomatic support until he slipped the leash. It doesn't matter who is in power: Obama was beholden to the military-industrial complex and Trump is as well. We urgently need a massive shift towards a more egalitarian system in the US if we are to rein in the current plutocracy that worships money.

    By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 05 Apr 2017 #permalink

    Jeff, thanks for the comment. I think your analysis of Syria isn't too far off, but your comments on the US election details are not on the mark. You have been reading too much of the Russian inspired propaganda.

    Redrawing the borders of the region by force is in my opinion part of the reason for the mess, for a lack of a better term, in the near/middle east (Sykes–Picot Agreement). Therefore I would be careful with that.
    I think that the situation in Syria is quite like the Thirty Years War, a series of wars in the Holy Roman Empire between 1618 and 1638, in which all german nations, Austia (the emperor), France, Sweden, Danmark and many others were directly or indirectly involved. About one third of the population of the empire was killed. There was rape, pillage, famine etc, also because the varios armies consisted of mercenaries and they extorted resources from the country they happened to be in.
    It was said that the war feeds the war.

    The war was finally ended in the Peace of Westfalia, a number of different treaties, which, and that is important, were able to consider all participants. The Thirty Years War was only one of a larger number of conflicts in Europe at that time, involving also Russia, Spain, England, the Polish-Lithuanian-Commonwealth.

    I think that to resolve the conflict in Syria, we are going to need to involve all participants, even Assad.


    I get what you're saying. What I'm saying is that you can imagine a world in which rational people can weigh options rationally. In other words there's a world in which we do the best we know how, though not necessarily the best we can. Then there's Dubya World.

    Under the circumstances, as bad as he was, Saddam's instincts for self-preservation may have forced him open to negotiation. But Bush! Bush was just crazy-pants for a number of reasons, some of which you almost managed to touch on. But overall he was predisposed to breeze through the strategic decision making process. He didn't even know the difference between Suni and Shia fer cryin' out loud.

    You would hope that your leaders develop a vision out of discipline and a breadth and depth of knowledge, understanding and insight. Instead ours dreamed up the kind fantasy you might expect from a hubris-filled weekend spent gorging on hash brownies.

    Given what was going on at the time, I'm saying there was no realistic possibility of a deal--good, bad, or indifferent. Because it was so desired, blood was going to be spilled, period.

    By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 06 Apr 2017 #permalink

    Jeff, I'm no fan of the Clinton team, and some of what I think you're saying about the state of our system is right. But if you don't like imperialism American style, you'll hate it Russian style. They've been playing nasty since before the U.S. was a nation.

    By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 06 Apr 2017 #permalink

    Greg Laden, Jeff's election analysis was spot on. Exit polls showed that of people who wanted the government to pursue policies in a more liberal direction(than Obama), 22% voted for Trump.

    Obs, there was no realistic possibility of a deal, but that is from the US side. Saddam would not need to be pushed towards a deal. He was not a jihadi. Iraq was one of the more advanced countries, as was Iran before the mullahs. However, the things he was doing make the news, and people say he is a tyrant, we have to get rid of him. Just as Greg does with Assad.

    "What to do with Syria? I don’t know. My immediate inclination..."
    ~ G. L.

    I prefer to read the emphasis on 'I don't know'. But that's just me.

    By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 06 Apr 2017 #permalink

    Obama when he asked Congress for approval emphasized that he didn't need it. He also waited ten days to ask. He was using them as an excuse for the inaction he had already decided. The Senate never voted on it, as they were able to reach a deal with Russia before the vote, but it appeared as if both parties were voting against.

    And trumpsicle was insistent that Obama do nothing since it was vastly more important to fix the jobs in the USA.

    Where can we see the end of the job problems in the USA posted, "mike"?

    " They’ve been playing nasty since before the U.S. was a nation."

    Uh, since the current Russia only existed in the last decade or so, this is incorrect. Before that, CCCP was a post-WWII nation, what with the annexation of, for example, Poland. Before that, it was still a different nation, being imperial.

    All this time the USA was fucking up other countries as the same USA as it currently is today....

    Oh good lord. Put it this way then, they've been playing nasty since the time of the tsars. I said "since before the U.S. was a nation." That's it.

    If you want to be pedantic though, you could simply notice that 'nation' is a broad enough term to cover the time Russians have seen themselves as Russians.

    And here's a news flash: the Chinese were Chinese before Mao.

    By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 07 Apr 2017 #permalink

    Russia started in 862. For a brief moment in its long history, it was part of the USSR, and for even briefer moment, the Russian Federation, and that is where it is now.

    In case you were wondering, Trump is telling you lies.

    "I would sooner believe that stones would fall from Heaven than that a Yankee professor president would lie."

    But there it is — and here we are.

    (Astute readers will note that I reversed the order of the two clauses in the quotation.)

    By Christopher Winter (not verified) on 08 Apr 2017 #permalink

    "Russia started in 862."

    Current Russia started post-perestroika.

    The point is it's rather dumb to go blathering about "oh, this named state that has been a named state for hundreds of years has done things for longer than this state which is only a couple hundred years old" because it's rather a stupid comparison to draw.

    Doubly so for European countries. The reason for the first world war being touted as the war to end all wars and the production of the EU and UN after WWII showed it was not the last war, was because each state had changed by nicking bits (or losing bits) of other countries for hundreds of years.

    "they’ve been playing nasty since the time of the tsars."

    And the USA have been playing nasty since they first landed in the country....

    Tsarist Russia is not the same country as current communist russia. And that's different from the cold war era russia, which was different from stalinist russia.

    It's only begging off to go "But they've been worse for longer" when the only "they" that continued is the name of the country.

    Amerindian society is the result of massive genocides and fucking about with others and nature. Indeed part of the reason why they now live in tune with nature is they've fucked it all up so badly that they had to learn to do that or die.

    Would it be fair to claim that the USA have been into mass extinction ever since the Mastodon was wiped out by the first human settlements?

    Indeed part of the reason why they now live in tune with nature is they’ve fucked it all up so badly that they had to learn to do that or die.

    This comment is worth repeating.

    Most long-term successful indigenous cultures were so because they learned the hard way, as Wow noted, and they remembered those lessons. And those lessons are encapsulated in their taboos, their totems, their wise lore and foklore and mythologies.

    Western culture is only now coming to terms with the facts of living in a world of finite resources, but the tragedy is that it's mostly the scientists and biophiles who grok it - business and olitics are still mired in the fairytale of boundless cornucopia.

    It won't end well.

    By Bernard J. (not verified) on 08 Apr 2017 #permalink

    As a coda, "the hard way" included the wiping out of a sizable proportion of the Pleistocene's terrestrial mammalian megafauna. Western society, not having understood the lessons, will probably see out in the near future most of the rest of that megafauna.

    For starters.

    By Bernard J. (not verified) on 08 Apr 2017 #permalink

    Wow, you're one manic vector of unbridled tedium, I'll give you that.

    By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 08 Apr 2017 #permalink

    Obstreperous, you're one moronic son-of-a-bitch.

    So you would accept that the USA has been fucking up the environment for the last several thousand years, then, hmm?

    Russia isn't the same, just the name carried on.

    Much like the USA.

    It's rather idiotic to claim as you did "Russia" has been tyrannical "since before the USA formed", because that claim is vapidly empty rubbish.

    For a start, the USA "formed" recently, but the russia then is not the russia now.

    Hell, many of the assholes who were buggering things up in Europe went to the USA to continue it. Do we blame the USA who now have their descendents, or do we blame Europe because everyone apart from the native indians came from there and started off, before it even formed, with genocide, racism and theft.

    At least "Russia" got going before it did that shit.

    Or is the chewing of old bones pointless because the country changes far too much to be considered the same country a century later?


    Back at you.

    First of all this thread is "The Truth about Syria and Obama" and my original comment was in response to Jeff Harvey. It has nothing to do with your diversionary tangent about the environment.

    If you've read my comments on other threads you know that I'm no apologist for the shit America perpetrates. That doesn't oblige me to turn around and pretend that Russia just magically appeared on the world stage riding a unicorn only to be victimized by a bunch of mean old Yankees.

    The Middle East is on the back doorstep of their empire. It's not as though they don't have historical, ongoing, and self-serving interests there. They've also been mucking around in our elections. I don't like that-- and no, that doesn't mean that I was particularly happy with the process to begin with.

    I've already given you more of a response than you deserve, but let me guess: you're going to foam at the mouth and say things like "The KGB may have been awful, but at least the FSB poops rose petals" and that after gazing into Putin's eyes you now feel secure in fondly refering to him as "Pootie-Poot."

    Great. Now go take your meds.

    By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 08 Apr 2017 #permalink

    "First of all this thread is “The Truth about Syria and Obama” and my original comment was in response to Jeff Harvey."

    Your comment was:

    you’ll hate it Russian style. They’ve been playing nasty since before the U.S. was a nation.

    That you made this fatuous statement to another does not preclude you being told you're being fatuous by anyone else, and by attempting to go "Oh, I wasn't talking to YOU" you merely prove you fail to think of an actual argument to support your assertion and cede the point of it being vacant idiocy.

    If you'd wanted to say "You'd hate russian with the likes of Putin in charge", that would have been a different matter, but you bleated out the red-under-the-bed scare story of how ebil the ruskies are because, well, they're russians, innit.

    going to foam at the mouth and say things like “The KGB may have been awful, but at least the FSB poops rose petals” and that after gazing into Putin’s eyes you now feel secure in fondly refering to him as “Pootie-Poot.”

    The only one foaming at the mouth and saying that is you, horse-apples.

    You could have TRIED not to be a moronic redneck mccarthy tit but you didn't. they're just bad people because they've been bad people for hundreds of years!!!!

    Which is bollocks. There's nobody there that old, so they were, at the very least, different people.

    But, hey, you're a bigot. Who coulda guessed, eh? Merkin hates russians. How tropey.