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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:40 pm 
 

Well, thanks to the Washington Post's latest document expose on the sources and methods of the intel community, I think we can probably surmise why they have lost track of the chemical weapons. We've been hearing for years now that the focus on technical prowess has accompanied a severe drop in the amount of HUMINT---that is, intelligence collected by traditional human spy-craft rather than satellites and technology. I didn't think this was possible but apparently one of the ways the intel community tracks chemical weapons is by "ground sensors" placed near suspected chemical sites which beam information up to satellites (National Reconnaissance Office). I guess it must be some sort of advanced gas spectrometer/gas chromatography.

Recent leaks indicate we "lost track" of some or most of the chemical weapons. It would seem Syria moved them around to locations which didn't have any of these ground sensors. This is why you need traditional spies embedded in enemy ranks.

Also, the Washington Post documents indicate that not even the mighty NSA was able to decrypt the Syrian military's communications, at least as of last year.
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OneSizeFitzpatrick
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:43 pm 
 

Also of note regarding these separatist factions, the Chechen fighters are some of the most capable and skilled fighters over there, they've apparently been fighting mainly in the north near Aleppo and helped the FSA seize an air field and acquire some anti-aircraft weapons which have greatly aided their ability to shoot down Assad's HIND gunships which have been terrorizing the rebels and civilians, in short, the Chechen Mujahideen are like the special forces of the Arab insurgency, some of them have decades of combat experience and from that link droneriot posted earlier, it looks like their presence there might fuck up Russia's already unstable relation with the Saudis and undermine the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Also, not all of these factions are hard line Wahhabist fundamentalists like al-Nusra and alot of the groups we hear about winning the most battles. The Kurdish population also nestled in northern Syria is kinda kicking out the various Saudi backed jihadi groups in what seems like an effort to establish an autonomous region where Kurds are an ethnic majority (kinda like what happened in northern Iraq after 2003 when the U.S. invaded) pending Assad's government is at some point ousted from power. Kurds aren't exactly hardcore Islamists and may be the only group that ends up being sympathetic to western powers after this powder keg goes off (assuming the worst is still yet to happen)
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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:57 pm 
 

RonimuZ wrote:
inhumanist wrote:
Also keep in mind that a large part of the Syrian population still seems to support Assad because to them the rebels are worse, no matter how despotic he is. Since Al Quaida, Hezbollah and similarly trustworthy groups are involved in the alliance this should hardly surprise anyone. If Assad is overthrown we can probably look forward to a Syria under Sharia law.

Ah, I haven't actually paid much attention to who fights on which side, other than reading that a few Chechens fight for the rebels, which is something Russia isn't fond of. So it indeed probably is a bloodshed after bloodshed in any case.



Hezbollah does not fight for the rebel alliance, they fight for Assad (and Iran). Al-Qaeda and associated groups (al-Nusra) are however fighting on behalf of the rebels. Which is funny, because Al-Qaeda previously had loose ties to Hezbollah, though they now appear to be distancing themselves from them. Also funny is that Al-Qaeda gets or has gotten protection simultaneously from Iran and Saudi Arabia despite both of these countries disliking each other immensely* and who are funding different sides in the Syrian conflict.


*Fun fact: U.S. intelligence once caught the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the act of trying to terrorize Mecca with hundreds of gunmen.

OneSizeFitzpatrick wrote:
Also of note regarding these separatist factions, the Chechen fighters are some of the most capable and skilled fighters over there, they've apparently been fighting mainly in the north near Aleppo and helped the FSA seize an air field and acquire some anti-aircraft weapons which have greatly aided their ability to shoot down Assad's HIND gunships which have been terrorizing the rebels and civilians, in short, the Chechen Mujahideen are like the special forces of the Arab insurgency, some of them have decades of combat experience and from that link droneriot posted earlier, it looks like their presence there might fuck up Russia's already unstable relation with the Saudis and undermine the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.


Fighters from Chechnya were also present in Iraq fighting against U.S. troops (and probably Iranian agents/Shi'a groups as well). So not only will we be helping AL-Qaeda operatives if we attack Assad, we will also be helping other groups who fought against us in Iraq. Then again, some of the insurgents who fought us in Iraq originated in Syria and may have worked for Assad, there really is nothing black and white about this.
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inhumanist
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:14 pm 
 

Earthcubed wrote:
Hezbollah does not fight for the rebel alliance, they fight for Assad (and Iran).

Apologies for mixing that up then.
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Subrick
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:00 pm 
 

inhumanist wrote:
Assad is a smart man, indeed. That's why I don't think he ordered or even approved of the chemical Attack because it would be an incredibly stupid move, provoking NATO and/or US military involvement.


http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStor ... k-20102965

Relevant link to the quote. The AP is reporting that Assad might not have ordered the attack. This is even worse since if that turns out to be true and it was one of the generals that ordered it, then his own military is going rogue.
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Oxenkiller
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:15 pm 
 

...or, either Israili Mosad agents, or the rebels themselves did it in order to goad the US into responding on their behalf.
Not saying that is true, but it is certainly possible.

There are no good guys in this war. Nothing good will come of any US military action. The Chinese, Russians, and everyone else know this and are right to criticize. US Foreign policy has been broken for far too long because of their stubbornness for involving themselves in other countries business, with never a good outcome at all. Even if it is proven that it was an inside job by the rebel forces or the Mosad, I would cynically expect that our government would simply surpress that fact and order the attack anyway.

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Subrick
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:23 pm 
 

They're going to regardless of who committed the attack. They're too far into it at this point not to.
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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:59 am 
 

Anyone that thinks Israel wants the U.S. anywhere near Syria is completely asinine. They would vastly prefer Assad remain in power rather than be ousted and replaced by an unpredictably messy Sunni-on-Shiite-on-Alawite-on-Christian war taking place within earshot of the largest chemical weapons stockpile known to exist. They know very well any U.S. intervention there could blow everything up, them included.
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false_icon
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 7:10 am 
 

OneSizeFitzpatrick wrote:
The Kurdish population also nestled in northern Syria is kinda kicking out the various Saudi backed jihadi groups in what seems like an effort to establish an autonomous region where Kurds are an ethnic majority (kinda like what happened in northern Iraq after 2003 when the U.S. invaded) pending Assad's government is at some point ousted from power. Kurds aren't exactly hardcore Islamists and may be the only group that ends up being sympathetic to western powers after this powder keg goes off (assuming the worst is still yet to happen)

It won't please the Turks.
I'm quite sure that the main condition for them to help any US intervention is that there is no autonomous kurd region in the end.
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kingnuuuur
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 7:13 am 
 

Earthcubed wrote:
Anyone that thinks Israel wants the U.S. anywhere near Syria is completely asinine. They would vastly prefer Assad remain in power rather than be ousted and replaced by an unpredictably messy Sunni-on-Shiite-on-Alawite-on-Christian war taking place within earshot of the largest chemical weapons stockpile known to exist. They know very well any U.S. intervention there could blow everything up, them included.

Quite the contrary. They'd much rather have Assad removed, since he forms a critical bridge between Hezbollah and Iran. To them the Syrian civil war is a godsend, and I guarantee you that they don't really give a fuck about anything else.

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elf48687789
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:28 am 
 

RonimuZ wrote:
I just stumbled upon this, didn't check the facts but kind of demonstrates my point, in case it's still unclear to someone:

Spoiler: show


Also, well played Syria, well played; @ NATO not being able to bomb the shit out of them because of their chemical weapons.
There were earlier reports of chemical weapons too.

But really, it just seems like too little, too late. In the Libyan conflict the air support helped the rebels, I'm not sure what good it can do here now. Plus the Syrian military now has advanced anti-aircraft equipment from Russia.

From what I've read though, I doubt anyone other than the Syrian military carried out the attack. It was in an area that was being bombed by the Syrian army and one of the few pockets of resistance around Damascus.

inhumanist wrote:
My adventurous guess is that this is the Obama government trying to distract from domestic issues (NSA). Oldest trick in the world.
Perhaps, but so is Putin.

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TheLiberation
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:42 am 
 

Subrick wrote:
The AP is reporting that Assad might not have ordered the attack. This is even worse since if that turns out to be true and it was one of the generals that ordered it, then his own military is going rogue.

Well, from what I've been reading on the war, my general impression is that while some of the rebels go out of control and also commit war crimes, the government troops are actually freely allowed by Assad to murder and torture as much as they like, and I don't think there's anything suggesting the contrary. This is why I feel I can't agree with the idea the rebels are as bad as Assad - some of the rebels are nutcases, some allowed the worst instincts of revenge to take over, but that's not what their command (or anything resembling one) wants, and I'm sure there's a fair number left that actually wants to fight for freedom. Assad's troops are meant to cause maximum terror and violence. And they do.

I honestly don't know what to think of this now, though. If nobody does anything, this war may be many more years of bloodshed. If they get an "intervention" from the West, this could be another Iraq. This is just depressing.
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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 12:23 pm 
 

kingnuuuur wrote:
Earthcubed wrote:
Anyone that thinks Israel wants the U.S. anywhere near Syria is completely asinine. They would vastly prefer Assad remain in power rather than be ousted and replaced by an unpredictably messy Sunni-on-Shiite-on-Alawite-on-Christian war taking place within earshot of the largest chemical weapons stockpile known to exist. They know very well any U.S. intervention there could blow everything up, them included.

Quite the contrary. They'd much rather have Assad removed, since he forms a critical bridge between Hezbollah and Iran. To them the Syrian civil war is a godsend, and I guarantee you that they don't really give a fuck about anything else.



Nonsense. Assad gave Hezbollah relatively advanced missiles but seemingly refused to give them WMD's, and he kept border incursions relatively low. Assad getting booted gives Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda affiliates access to WMD's which Assad kept under lock and key. Hezbollah controls a large portion of Lebanon and I will remind you that the last time Israel fought Hezbollah in 2006, Israel lost---and that was a much weaker Hezbollah, with fewer conventional missiles and no chemical weapons. The calculation is one of a stability.

Also worth reading: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/08/i ... 95964.html
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RainbowPrius19
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:48 am 
 

The US needs to stay the hell away from Syria the only thing that will come of it is wasted money and probably more dead innocents
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AcidWorm
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:18 pm 
 

A cousin of mine whom is a professor of Political Science at Stanford wrote this article.
http://themonkeycage.org/2013/08/29/thr ... -in-syria/

Essentially he is saying that if the US does bomb Syria then we have to be neutral in our intervention meaning we do not side with the rebels or Assad's regime. We also need an appropriate amount of destruction. If we do too much damage and kill too many civilians we will essentially be just as bad as Assad and if we don't do enough damage then we won't make an impact. He emphasizes the importance of finding this fine line and I completely agree with him.

Historically America has not been particularly successful with intervention in the problems within and between foreign nations. It never seems to accomplish what we wish and ends up being far more complicated than we initially expect. I don't see how this will be any different. We have been making large budget cutbacks of the military during the Obama administration and are still trying to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan so it will be more of a strain on us. The country is still struggling economically and we need to focus on our own domestic problems right now and get more people employed earning a 'livable' wage. Just bombing Syria would not be any real strain on our resources and laser guided bombs are very precise but America always seems to kill innocent civilians who get mistaken for a military structure or just caught in the crossfire and the media will eat it up. I also don't see how just bombing them would be particularly effective. This is not Afghanistan where using Military force was unquestionably justified and things are not looking great with the public support for Obama so I only see this hurting his standing with the American people, particularly since the majority seems to want to not get involved.

Obama has left himself in a difficult situation. In the past he has said the red line is the chemical weapons and backing down would be seen as 'weak' perhaps to the Assad regime, and the Republicans as they love to find anything they can to discredit Obama no matter how hypocritical it makes them. I don't see it as weak personally and it makes perfect sense he is being very indecisive about it.

Imposing sanctions on Syria won't do a great deal of good as well since Russia and Libya have been backing them. I know America feels a duty to be essentially the 'world police' but I think this is one fight we just should not get involved in.
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soul_schizm
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:43 am 
 

Finding that fine line is the real trick, isn't it.

Nearly impossible to do. Especially when they've had plenty of time to take measures to ensure that a smaller attack will have almost no effect.

The more I look at this, the more I think the USA should just take a bow and not conduct bombings. This is a classic quagmire -- might even be worse than Iraq in the final analysis, because Assad has well-defined allies like Russia, China, and Hezbollah. Hussein, if you'll recall, had become almost entirely isolated by the time the 2nd gulf war started.

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iamntbatman
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:57 am 
 

Man, the press coverage about the US congressional vote on whether or not to take action is really pretty disgusting. Everywhere I look, people are saying shit like, "if Congress votes no, Obama will look like a jackass". Basically all of the attention has shifted toward maintaining our country's reputation (i.e. bombing the shit out of everyone, all the time) being the number one priority and away from whether or not military intervention in Syria is a) justified, b) our business at all or c) even likely to be effective in its goals. This ain't just American media, either; the BBC has adopted this warmongery stance on the issue even though the UK voted not to intervene. Kind of aggravates me a bit - it's like they wanted to feel like they had the moral high ground by voting not to get militarily involved but at the same time are pro-intervention, just sort of assuming we'd do the dirty work while they got to keep their hands clean. Very nasty business.
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Bezerko
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:28 am 
 

Look at it from another angle batman. The administration backed themselves into a corner with their rhetoric. Obama defined a "red line" with Syria. That line was crossed. It's not so much about Obama looking like a jackass, it's about the most powerful nation in the world backing down. It makes the United States look weak, which is generally not you want when you're the world's most powerful nation. Whether Americans and the rest of the world like it or not, the US has it's nose everywhere and a heap of countries take a lot of comfort in knowing that if somebody decides to beat on them, the US isn't going to be far away.

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kingnuuuur
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:41 am 
 

Earthcubed wrote:
Nonsense. Assad gave Hezbollah relatively advanced missiles but seemingly refused to give them WMD's

Assad didn't "give" Hezbollah those missiles, simply because they technically weren't his missiles to give away. Ferried would be a more appropriate term, and I'll let you guess from where.

Earthcubed wrote:
Assad getting booted gives Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda affiliates access to WMD's which Assad kept under lock and key.

Assad getting booted means that Israel has one less enemy in the region, and a great opportunity to weaken yet another. Nonsense? I don't think so. Also, not only does the Israeli military/intelligence know exactly where the WMDs are, chances are they very much plan to steal them. A little smokescreen would help of course, and what better smokescreen can they get other than US aerial intervention.

Earthcubed wrote:
Hezbollah controls a large portion of Lebanon and I will remind you that the last time Israel fought Hezbollah in 2006, Israel lost---and that was a much weaker Hezbollah, with fewer conventional missiles and no chemical weapons. The calculation is one of a stability.

I wouldn't say Israel lost, nor that Hezbollah won for that matter. It's a little bit more complicated than that. I'll grant you that Hezbollah have since fully recovered and gotten stronger, but I'll also remind you that Israel succeeded in torching the living fuck out of Lebanon, and that the country has been plunging deeper and deeper into instability ever since. As one minister famously said, Lebanon has become like a powder keg, and you only need a spark to fuck it all up and Hezbollah along with it.

I'll repeat my point that the Syrian civil war is like a godsend to Israel, and now with a potential US intervention it's turning up even better for them. They can just sit back, relax and let others do their dirty work and take blame for any massacres of civilians.

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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:06 am 
 

:roll:


You're assuming Israel is calculating this as a zero-sum game, where Assad=bad and Assad Gone=Good. Israel has always preferred, and will always prefer, a stable neighborhood of uneasy but sovereign nation-states to an unstable one in which non-state actors have state weapons and there are no clear targets. Especially when there is such a clear and obvious threat that not one, but at least two highly organized terrorist groups will get chemical weapons. Israel has never had to deal with an asymmetric enemy armed with WMD's. I don't think anyone has. It's considered a worst case scenario by pretty much everyone, as there's few ways to defend against it. By contrast, if Assad is in power, nothing today is any different than any day of the last 30 years from Israel's perspective; they simply handle Syria the same way they've been handling Syria since the Yom Kippur war.

So if you were going to simplify it into easier terms, this is Israel's calculation: Assad=manageable disaster, Hezbollah/Nusra Front armed with WMD's=worst case scenario disaster. And this doesn't even take into account the very real possibility of a three-pronged retaliation or counterattack by Iranian proxies, in which case Israel would have to simultaneously defend its borders with Gaza, Lebanon and the Golan Heights, while Israeli overseas diplomatic posts get hit by terrorists. There won't be any sitting back and relaxing.

Something else to consider is the readiness of Israel's military and what their war orientation is. The above scenario would involve fighting symmetric and asymmetric wars at the same time. Israel's ground forces have been geared primarily towards asymmetric war ever since the Lebanon invasion, it's why Operation Cast Lead was so much more successful; they spent years re-training after learning their lessons. If you've been watching any of the military leaks on the U.S. side, one of the primary concerns the American military has about any potential attack is that we've been training for counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism for the past ten years, and our forces would have to spend months re-training for a conventional ground invasion in Syria if it comes to that. Israel's ground forces probably have a similar dilemma.

You are also assuming an awful lot about how much Mossad knows about the chems. The American IC lost track of some or all of those six months ago. We're not talking about something radioactive that can be tracked easily via remote MASINT sensors or satellites. There's pretty much no way to remotely detect the presence of chemical weapons until after they have been dispersed (detonated) in the air. They also can be loaded onto multiple different conventional delivery systems and their precursors are often kept in different locations. You need to simultaneously know where every conventional weapon in Syria is and maintain eyes-on with chemical precursors. Not possible. Not even plausible, especially in a situation as chaotic as the Syrian civil war. If anyone on the news is saying otherwise, I don't care what their credentials are, they don't know what they're talking about or if they do they're just trying to comfort you by saying this will be a piece of cake. The U.S. military and IC has spent (adjusted for inflation) trillions of dollars in the past thirty years to develop highly advanced ways to track nukes, yet we can't even find the half-dozen or so nukes we ourselves have lost---and chemical weapons are harder to track.

As for Israel's opportunity to weaken another: are you referring to Iran? Because unless the IDF launches nuclear strikes on Iran, there is very little they can do from a conventional operations standpoint. They have relatively few long-range bombing capabilities compared to the overall size of their military, and few airborne refueling capabilities. And any refueling capacities they have will still be limited by the airspace they can go in. Before it got leaked to the press back in 2012, their plan of attack for neutralizing Iran's nuclear program involved a complex political agreement whereby Azerbaijan would turn a blind eye to Israeli planes landing on their runways to refuel. That's the only way Israel can do it while maintaining maximum lethality; they have to land somewhere to refuel. Otherwise, they have to weigh their fighters down with extra fuel and reduce the amount of bombs they can carry. And since that Azerbaijan plan was exposed, where else do you think they would land? In Iraq, Iran's newest client state? Do you think Turkey is going to let them land there? I'll allow that Saudi Arabia might permit the use of their airfields, but that's not certain (and given all the political hell they took for letting American troops there, can you imagine what would happen if people found out they let Jews in?). Israel's military strategy for enemies far from their border is based around nuclear deterrence, not sustaining a conventional offensive a thousand miles from home.

The amount of complicating factors a U.S. strike against Assad brings to the table is not worth it in Israel's mind. If it was, they would have openly asked us to intervene two years ago.
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elf48687789
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:12 am 
 

Assad is a real bastard, and his military has done horrible things, but Obama is not even giving good reasons for attacking.

He is just spreading pure propaganda, like the chemical attacks in Syria are a danger to people in the US. I'm really curious as to how. Then he is saying how the US is the oldest democracy in the Western World. He makes it seem like he has never heard of slavery, or the massacres of the Native populations. I am curious if he actually believes all that pseudo-religious patriotic stuff, he was also spewing out tons of propaganda the first time he was sworn in.

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John_Sunlight
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:18 am 
 

He doesn't believe it at all, it's just part of his job to say that stuff.
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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:46 pm 
 

:ugh:

"The Republican foreign policy hawks also hinted that the president could be seeking a more ambitious military plan than the two- or three- day limited bombing campaign reportedly under consideration......The suggestion that the administration was developing a broader strategy for Syria clearly appealed to the lawmakers, who both have pushed for more aggressive American intervention in that country's bloody civil war."

http://thehill.com/homenews/news/319909 ... with-obama

In fairness, I never understood the rationale for a limited cruise missile strike that "sends a message" but doesn't actually change the tide of war on the ground; if you're going to intervene in a war that doesn't directly involve a threat to the homeland you might as well do something big enough to make a difference. But there's few good things that can come out of any U.S. involvement big or small, and a whole lot of things can go wrong. It's possible we might be doing a larger air war, Kosovo style. I just hope that C130 is only there for worst-case scenario planning and not a first-strike mission.

Also, AP and Reuters are reporting that the Nimitz carrier group is newly positioned in the Red Sea. By my count, that's one frigate, four fighter squadrons, and six destroyers within some sort of fighting range via the Red Sea. That's in addition to five destroyers and one amphibious landing ship in the Med. There's one reported submarine as well but the Navy never talks about submarines. Not including submarines, that's over 400 cruise missiles within striking range of Damascus, plus around 50 attack jets within range of southern Syria, maybe a bit further. Eleven destroyers and one frigate. Just for comparison, the NATO operation in Libya involved 2 destroyers, 2 frigates, and 3 attack subs, for a total of about 150 cruise missiles fired (it did involve much heavier use of bomber and fighter aircraft, however).

The Truman carrier group is somewhere in the Arabian Sea (presumably near the Persian Gulf).
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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 4:42 pm 
 

Obama's people are really pushing hard on this.


http://thehill.com/video/in-the-news/31 ... ary-strike
http://thehill.com/video/senate/319919- ... far-enough


EDIT: I'm watching the Kerry hearing now and he basically just gave away that Hezbollah already has chemical weapons. He won't comment on it in a non-classified setting. That makes the entire thing pointless in my mind.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:04 pm 
 

There i footage of one the Syrian leaders(?) with a dead militant, proceeding to cut open the soldiers chest removing the heart and liver.. and takes a bite out of the dudes liver! Absolutely barbaric.
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OneSizeFitzpatrick
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:26 pm 
 

niix wrote:
There i footage of one the Syrian leaders(?) with a dead militant, proceeding to cut open the soldiers chest removing the heart and liver.. and takes a bite out of the dudes liver! Absolutely barbaric.

yeah I saw that too, and the moment I realized Glenn "Ralphie from a Christmas Story" Beck was the guy who "uncovered" it I figured it was gonna be a pile of hardcore bullshit. that video is so grainy it's hard to tell what's going on, and where. that coulda been footage from the 80's for all I know. Just more fuel for the right-wing opposition as far as I'm concerned. It's hard to tell which side is worse at this point, we're really damned if we do or don't at this point. Syria is a loaded topic and no matter what path we take (though i'd bet every last cent I own that it's gonna end in some surgical strikes), it's gonna backfire.
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Marag
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:33 pm 
 

niix wrote:
There i footage of one the Syrian leaders(?) with a dead militant, proceeding to cut open the soldiers chest removing the heart and liver.. and takes a bite out of the dudes liver! Absolutely barbaric.

It's actually a rebel who killed one of Assad's soldiers as far as I know. The soldier in supposedly had pics and videos of him killing and raping woman and young girls and bragged about it. The guy who killed him turned into some sort of symbol to the rebels. I wish I could remember the dude's name.

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Subrick
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:39 pm 
 

His name was Abu Sakkar. He's a commander in the Farouq Brigades, a faction of the Free Syrian Army.
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droneriot
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 7:19 am 
 

I don't get why people in this thread talk about Israel or Iran. I have not studied political science and I don't even read to much, but even at a casual glance it seems obvious that this is about limiting Russia's growing influence. American right-wingers, of which Obama and friends are obviously a part, are scared shitless of Russia, because, unlike China, which goes "yeah, we disagree about pretty much everything and occasionally throw fiery rhetoric at each other to appear tough to our populations, but we set that aside to trade the shit out of each other and both make a shit-ton of money", Russia does not really care to be the United States' plaything or money machine. It has aspirations of its own, it is historically embedded in the minds of their leaderships, particularly the current one.
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soul_schizm
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:13 pm 
 

Obama's a right-winger, now?

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henkkjelle
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:22 pm 
 

No, he's a liberal anarcho-communist.

Ofcourse he's a right winger, both parties are right wing right now. Only the one is more insane than the other one so they can keep up the illusion of choice.
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droneriot
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:32 pm 
 

The Obama of the 2008 election campaign was pretty left-wing by American mainstream political standards, but everyone who has followed his shenanigans of the last four-and-a-half years knows that he was a wolf in sheep's clothing.
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soul_schizm
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:40 pm 
 

It's awesome to hear that perspective.

Needless to say, he's definitely not considered a right-winger here in the US. But I understand that the whole of the US is considered more right-wing than some other places.

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henkkjelle
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:51 pm 
 

soul_schizm wrote:
It's awesome to hear that perspective.

Needless to say, he's definitely not considered a right-winger here in the US. But I understand that the whole of the US is considered more right-wing than some other places.


Well that's only because the top of the republican party now exists of grade A insane asylum inmates. The paradigm has shifted immensely. the only reason a lot of americans see Obama as a moderate/leftist is because of the media propaganda on the television and the complete insanity of right wingers like Palin and Santorum. Obama might not be considered a right winger, but he certainly is.
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iamntbatman
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 2:26 pm 
 

Bah. He may be a lot further to the right by European standards but he's still further left than most US presidents in recent history. Sure, lots of his ideas got wrecked and neutered by congress, but Obamacare passed, he's pushed hard for a more progressive tax system, he's the first US president to openly support gay marriage rights, he's actually put Syrian intervention to congress instead of just acting, etc etc. Compare him to Clinton, who these days is sort of held in the same regard by many Democrats as Reagan is by Republicans, and you'll see that he stands more clearly to the left. Even in terms of foreign policy, people are quick to attack Obama's drone strikes, Libyan intervention and recent pushes for Syrian intervention as being part of Bushist warmongering, but we've been doing that same shit *forever*. Clinton air-striked the shit out of stuff all the time.

Of course, it is disappointing that some of his domestic reforms fell short of what we were hoping for, and it's more disappointing to hear him spew the same kinds of tiresome warmongering rhetoric that we had to sit through during Bush's two terms, but that he even put the question to congress is a huge step forward as far as I'm concerned. I honestly hope congress shoots down intervention, as that will be the ultimate test of my faith in the man as a diplomat. He has a chance to let the American public's reluctance to continue our supposed role as world police affect an actual, meaningful paradigm shift in US foreign policy.
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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 2:34 pm 
 

droneriot wrote:
I don't get why people in this thread talk about Israel or Iran. I have not studied political science and I don't even read to much, but even at a casual glance it seems obvious that this is about limiting Russia's growing influence. American right-wingers, of which Obama and friends are obviously a part, are scared shitless of Russia, because, unlike China, which goes "yeah, we disagree about pretty much everything and occasionally throw fiery rhetoric at each other to appear tough to our populations, but we set that aside to trade the shit out of each other and both make a shit-ton of money", Russia does not really care to be the United States' plaything or money machine. It has aspirations of its own, it is historically embedded in the minds of their leaderships, particularly the current one.



It is about both Iran and Russia. Yes, Russia might be looked at as a major geopolitical foe for the U.S. and Syria as a useful foil, but Iran has been increasingly viewed as a major geopolitical foe as well, not just a regional one and not just a pet for China and/or Russia. And Russia's regional influence has generally been declining (Syria is pretty much their last port in the region) so I don't think that is as huge a concern as people make it out to be. Iran's leaders have historically embedded aspirations of their own, to include the formation of a "Shiite Crescent" running all the way to the Mediterranean and ultimately subjecting Jerusalem. Their alliance with Hezbollah was the primary cause of American deaths via terrorism until the embassy bombings in Africa put al-Qaeda on the map; Iran's ambassador to Syria in the early 80's was the one who masterminded the Beirut barracks bombings. I would not be surprised if the number of Americans kidnapped (and sometimes executed) overseas by Hezbollah in the 80's and early 90's still exceeds the number kidnapped by al-Qaeda; one of the reasons for the Iran-Contra scandal was that Reagan hoped selling weapons to Iran would be a useful way to convince Iran to force Hezbollah to release hostages. Iran was also suspected for a time to have attempted at least one car bombing in the U.S. targeting the wife of a Navy captain. Hezbollah has also conducted operations in South America and Iran's materiel alliance with Venezuela is widely suspected to have included funneling Hezbollah and/or Hamas operatives into South America. There are some intelligence analysts and a few senators who believe Iran may have provided support to a few of the 9/11 hijackers, and there is at least one commander in the Revolutionary Guard that the State Department has listed as a financier for al-Qaeda (I was amazed that this didn't generate headlines when it was announced a few years ago). And there is still a lot of bitterness in the American military over Iran's alleged role in the Iraq War.

Given Syria's alliance with both Iran and Hezbollah, the dominant view is that the U.S. has an interest in making sure Hezbollah doesn't get Assad's chemical stockpile, in trying to put a wedge between Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah, and sending a deterrent message to Iran about their nuclear program. I'm not a military expert or anything but it seems to me the risks in bombing Syria far outweigh whatever potential deterrent effect they might have, which is pretty minimal. Iran has yet to be deterred, despite being the subject of joint U.S.-Israeli black ops including multiple assassinations of Iran's top nuclear scientists, the most destructive computer virus in the history of computing, one possible instance of sabotage at Fordow, and also having two of their neighbors invaded less than five years apart (there is also a view not universal but common among some U.S. foreign policy analysts that the religious nature of the Iranian regime is such that deterrence is impossible). And if the end goal is to try and prevent Hezbollah from getting chemical weapons, airstrikes are pretty much worthless unless you don't care about collateral damage. You will have to put ground troops in anyway. And I still think Kerry accidentally gave away that he thinks Hezbollah already has some of Assad's stockpile anyway, which truly makes this pointless.


Fun fact: at least one Israeli insider in the U.S. has said that if Assad launches gas attacks on the nation founded by survivors of the Holocaust, Israel will "respond in a way the world has never seen before." Make of that what you will.
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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 3:10 pm 
 

With regards to Obama's political compass, I don't usually care for simplistic binary right-left rankings of politics, but.....how anyone can argue Obama is generally right wing in his preferences is beyond me. His openly stated preference for economic egalitarianism at the expense of what he himself knows 90% of economists think will actually work is well-documented. When he was told by an interviewer that the history of raising capital gains taxes has little benefit and sometimes actually brings in less revenue, it was as if he didn't understand why this matters; he said he wanted to raise capital gains taxes because it is fair, not because it works. When most Keynesian economists were calling for dramatic spending stimulus and dramatic tax cuts---which is exactly what Keynes argued for in a crisis time, contrary to popular belief---Obama still argued for fairness in raising taxes on high earners. He has long been a critic of workfare, preferring welfare. Most people's idea of tax reform means closing loopholes and tax credits while lowering rates; his is closing loopholes while raising rates. He apparently does not understand the Laffler Curve or does not want to understand it. There are plenty of examples.

Most of his alleged right-wingedness stems from compromises necessary to work with Congress; policies and laws written during the last presidency he nonetheless had to implement; and the inevitable fact that someone charged with protecting the American people from foreign attacks will probably do whatever his advisers suggest he do to protect the country. Someone who---due to previous laws and policies---has access to trillions of correspondences will obviously see enough to make their hair stand on end, so even if 99% of the "threats" are just people talking, the appearance of widespread threats will nonetheless perpetuate the perceived need for the programs. In general, regardless of someone's political ideology, people tend to enjoy power and presidents in particular rarely give up power once it is bestowed upon the office, either by Congress or itself without Congressional disapproval. Someone whose professed ideology is of an actively benevolent state requiring expansive government power is going to be naturally less inclined to give up government power anyway.

People who expected him to undo all examples of right-wing policy in the U.S. in two terms, let alone one term, simply don't understand how the American government is supposed to work, let alone how it actually works. The constitution was clearly written to make sure changes to the law were slow and preceded by lots of deliberation; things are supposed to move slowly.

And quite frankly, anyone who desires a large government---whether for social issues or economic issues or security issues---gets put on the leftist spectrum for me. Hence why I think right-left thinking is useless, there are people labelled extreme right wingers who support universal drug legalization and gay marriage, "leftist" civil libertarians who think people should be banned from defending themselves even with kitchen knives, and people all over who talk about rights and privacy who nonetheless will defend to death the NSA watching your porn downloading habits. Shorthand descriptions of politics are usually useless.
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Motorpriest
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2013 12:46 pm 
 

droneriot wrote:
I don't get why people in this thread talk about Israel or Iran. I have not studied political science and I don't even read to much, but even at a casual glance it seems obvious that this is about limiting Russia's growing influence.


Russia's only naval port in the Middle East is in Syria (Tartus, specifically) as well. Gotta love that it feels like the Cold War never ended.

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Earthcubed
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2013 2:19 pm 
 

Motorpriest wrote:
droneriot wrote:
I don't get why people in this thread talk about Israel or Iran. I have not studied political science and I don't even read to much, but even at a casual glance it seems obvious that this is about limiting Russia's growing influence.


Russia's only naval port in the Middle East is in Syria (Tartus, specifically) as well. Gotta love that it feels like the Cold War never ended.



Not surprising really. Putin is ex-KGB, one of the largest Russian spying rings ever operating in the U.S. was uncovered not even five years ago, and Russian influence operations in the U.S. are believed to be at a 30-year high.
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droneriot
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:33 pm 
 

Haha, when asked if Syria could do anything to avoid a U.S. military strike, Kerry said yeah, they could give up and destroy all their chemical weapons. He later clarified that it was a hypothetical scenario, but it was too late: Russia and Syria simply said "sure, let's do that" and essentially fucked Obama's plans in the arse. I love it.
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