Beltway Confidential

The unwisdom of attacking Syria, in five links

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Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney,Syria

From an anti-war conservative: Will war on Syria promote WMD proliferation? Dan McCarthy asks that question at the American Conservative.

Obama’s punitive strike won’t deprive Assad of his weapon or change his survival calculus. What the attack will do is change the calculus for rebel groups everywhere that would like to enlist U.S. cruise missiles in their cause. All they’ll have to do in the future is stage an Aum Shinrikyo-style gas attack and blame it on whatever government they’re attempting to overthrow. What’s more, each time a dictator like Gaddafi or Assad falls, his chemical weapons don’t just disappear—they wind up in the hands of a new, equally untrustworthy regime, and amid the chaos of a regime’s collapse they have the potential to find their way into the arsenals of non-state actors.

From a hawk: Marc Thiessen calls Obama's strategy feckless:

In Syria, administration officials say their goal is to strike the regime without dramatically altering the country’s balance of power. This is nonsensical. The very purpose of military action is to “alter the balance of power” in a conflict. If that is not your objective, you should not use military power.

From a pro-rebel Syria expert: Elizabeth O'Bagy writes that we should help the rebels, but that:

The Obama administration has emphasized that regime change is not its goal. But a punitive measure undertaken just to send a message would likely produce more harm than good. If the Syrian government is not significantly degraded, a U.S. strike could very well bolster Assad's position and highlight American weakness, paving the way for continued atrocities.

From a libertarian: Here are three things an attack on Syria won't accomplish, according to Peter Suderman:

1. It won’t stop the killing of Syrian civilians.

2. It won’t disarm or destroy Assad’s chemical arsenal.

3. It won’t tip the balance of the war against the Assad regime.

From three defense experts: "eliminating [Syria's] chemical weapon arsenal would require a large ground operation," concludes a report from RAND Institute.

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