Going it Alone in Syria is the Wrong Way to Go
One person pushing back at skeptics on Trump’s action in Syria is Shadi Hamid.
“Military action does not equal regime change. The two, understandably, have become conflated because of the Iraq war. But military action can help, rather than undermine, diplomatic efforts. It is abundantly clear that the Assad regime will not negotiate in good faith or make any significant concessions on its own. We’ve hoped for that since the earliest Arab League efforts in 2011. The credible threat of force (or its use) is the only thing that is likely to change Assad’s calculus. If his survival isn’t at stake, he has little reason to negotiate much of anything.”
“Not everything is Iraq. There is the danger of seeing airstrikes as a low-risk catch-all solution, a kind of military pixie-dust. At the same time, though, not everything is an Iraq-style invasion. America has any number of choices in between these two models of engagement. In Bosnia, air power forced the Serbs to the negotiating table, eventually leading to the Dayton Accords (a key example of military action in the service of diplomacy). Similarly, Muammar al-Qaddafi’s regime showed an openness to talks only after the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, with Qaddafi envoys engaging in cease-fire talks within weeks.”
I actually appreciate that Hamid points out that Libya was not Iraq.
Ironically Trump himself falsely claimed they were the same. In fact, the Republicans are still offering up Libya as an example what not to do.
So I take Hamid’s point that Libya and Bosnia are examples of successful interventions. But do you really think that Trump is going to build that kind of coalition? He consulted with no allies prior to his Thursday strike.
One of the things that concerned Obama in 2013 was when Parliament refused to let David Cameron help in Syria. Trump has mostly alienated our allies.
But if Syria is going to be Libya or Bosnia, you need diplomacy. Yet Trump and Rex Tillerson have shrunk the State Department.
Everything about Trump’s go it alone tendencies tells you that it’s more likely to be Iraq than Libya.
So not only was Trump wrong in not getting Congressional approval on Thursday.
But Trump was also wrong not to consult with allies prior. Senator Coons:
“The U.S. cruise missile strike last week against a Syrian military air base was an “appropriate” response to the use of chemical weapons by dictator Bashar Assad, Sen. Chris Coons said Monday morning. But the next steps, he said, will be “extremely difficult” and will require undoing damage Coons said the president had caused with his campaign trail rhetoric.”
“If you’re going into a big fight, bring some big friends,” Coons (D-Del.) said on CNN’s “New Day” Monday morning. “So continuing to close the gaps created with our vital allies in NATO and across Europe by President Trump’s irresponsible statements as a candidate is urgent work to be done by members of congress, by members of the administration and by our senior diplomats.”
“That Trump was so willing to question decades of U.S. foreign and military policy, enacted by presidential administrations from both parties, sent shockwaves through the international community. The president has hewed more closely since taking office to the positions staked out by his predecessors, but Coons said Monday that there are fences that remain to be mended.”
“Trump’s budget proposal, released earlier this year, will also present challenges, Coons said. The so-called “skinny budget,” which was released last month and covers only discretionary spending, featured large cuts to the State Department and other agencies, that the Delaware lawmaker and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said would only hamper long-term efforts to find peace in Syria and Iraq, where a campaign to dislodge Islamic State militants is also ongoing.”
“This is not the time to significantly cut our investment in diplomacy and development and humanitarian aid. Because navigating through the very complex crises in Syria and Iraq is going to be difficult and expensive,” Coons said. “If we’re not prepared for a diplomatic solution and a development solution, once we retake this cities of Mosul and Raqqa, then we’re simply going to repeat some of the mistakes of the past.”
Agree with the proviso that I wouldn’t praise what he did as ‘appropriate.’ I prefer Tim Kaine’s response where he points out Trump should have gotten Congressional support.
There are just a lot of problems for Trump taking further action in Syria:
1. He has been cutting back at State and on diplomacy.
2. He needs Congressional approval and should not have done what he did on Thursday without approval.
3. He simply lacks credibility as he’s a pathological liar who the last five years has told us we shouldn’t fight Assad, that we should make common cause with Assad and Putin.
There is every reason to be highly skeptical of his ‘Road to Damascus’ conversion. I love that pun-Damascus, of course, is the Syrian capital.
P.S. As we saw in my poll out last week, the long awaited poll results are in, and right now I’m just 11 points down vs. Peter King (GOP-NY-District 2). And the voters don’t even know who I am yet.
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