The Only Way to Win Is Not to Play

Writing at Defense One Stephanie Gaskell makes the point that Bashar al-Assad may already have a won a strategic victory against the United States:

If President Obama doesn’t launch a limited military strike against Syria for using chemical weapons against its people, President Bashar al-Assad will be able to claim victory over the United States. If he does order a strike against Assad, the U.S. has made clear that it won’t remove Assad from power — another reason for the Syrian dictator to boast that he stood up to the powerful United States.

Additionally, if Syrian civilians are killed by any bombing that might take place there will be an endless parade of Youtube videos showing innocent victims of American aggression.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. Fog says:

    Yes, I suppose if a fire ant bites my ankle while I’m mowing the lawn next Saturday, the ant could claim he’s won a victory over me. But he would be very stupid to do so.

  2. JKB says:

    Hey, knock it off. He’s trying his best.

    On the upside, Democrats have given up that whole anti-war thing. It’s so, last presidency.

  3. Gustopher says:

    Lobbing a few cruise missiles sends exactly one message: we don’t care enough to do anything effective.

    An effective deterrent for future dictators contemplating chemical weapons would be to remove Assad from power, or at least hit hard enough that he suffers some real losses far greater than any gains he might have made with the chemical weapons.

    But, that would be difficult, and the rebels are a horrible alternative.

    We should either do nothing, or do something effective. Alas, neither of those two options seems to be on the table.

  4. Gromitt Gunn says:
  5. Donald Sensing says:

    ” … if Syrian civilians are killed by any bombing that might take place there will be an endless parade of Youtube videos showing innocent victims of American aggression.”

    Not “if” but “after,” and it won’t just be YouTube. It will be carried by al-Jazeera and other Arab broadcast media and no few European outlets as well.

    Get ready, too, for Pallywood, Syria edition.

  6. Scott says:

    I’m sure Assad was not looking for a strategic win against the United States. He is not fighting the United States. They are engaged in a civil war and we are meddlling like all Great Powers before us. We’re the ones who made the whole thing an issue. Once again, like Vietnam, Iraq, and others we take an internal, local, or regional conflict and make it about us.

    “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess? “

  7. Steve V says:

    The American pundit class’s obsession with appearing weak is pathological.

  8. Mikey says:

    One question I’ve yet to see answered (and hardly asked):

    What happens if we do our “limited military strike” and a week later another thousand Syrians die from sarin gas?

    Must we then escalate? And if so, how far? What if we escalate and yet another gas attack happens?

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    @Mikey:

    Actually, it’s answer handily by the draft authorization request the White House has submitted to Congress: whatever the president cares to. Under that authorization regardless of who used the chemical weapons the president would have authorization to attack targets as he sees fit by whatever means he cares to. That includes “boots on the ground”, bombing Iran, bombing Lebanon, etc.

  10. Mikey says:

    @Dave Schuler: In other words, big potential for yet another open-ended, pointless exercise in getting fine young Americans killed.

  11. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Mikey: Shut up, you racist.

    That’s about the best answer you’ll get.

    And here’s an even more likely scenario than yours: immediately after the attack, Assad launches another chemical attack and says that they were released by the US bombs and missiles. So we’re gassing the people we’re supposed to be protecting.

    It’ll be a lie, of course, but it’ll still sell around the world.

  12. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Actually, I’ve hardly gotten an answer that disagreed with me.

    At the risk of pulling a Pauline Kael…nobody I know supports attacking Syria. None of my conservative friends, none of my liberal friends, none of my libertarian friends, none of my co-workers, nobody in my family.

    It’s uncanny how much agreement their is between so many people who would normally agree on next to nothing, politically speaking.

  13. Grewgills says:

    @Gustopher:

    An effective deterrent for future dictators contemplating chemical weapons would be to remove Assad from power, or at least hit hard enough that he suffers some real losses far greater than any gains he might have made with the chemical weapons.

    Do you really think that we can’t hit him hard enough with missile and other air strikes to make any gains he made with his use of chemical weapons militarily not worth it by a fair margin? We have destroyers in the area with over 300 tomahawks. That is a fair bit of destruction relative to any gains he may have made by his use of chemical weapons.

  14. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @mikey:

    None of my conservative friends, none of my liberal friends, none of my libertarian friends, none of my co-workers, nobody in my family.

    Interesting that your associates apparently do not have much diversity of opinion on this subject.

    Among my associates, I have found a lot of diversity about how the US should react to the Syrian government inhumanity. Yesterday’s senate committee vote reflects that diversity, and I suspect when the full Senate and House votes it will also be a close vote.

  15. Mikey says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    Interesting that your associates apparently do not have much diversity of opinion on this subject.

    It’s not just interesting to me, it’s shocking.