Wars and Rumors of Wars: Things are About to Come to a Dangerous Head in Syria and Iran
Events are beginning to rush downhill like crazy. You might remember that the U.S. administration stated that Syria may have used chemical weapons against the rebels and/or civilians. This stance continued even as France, others and even the U.N., I believe, said it happened as a matter of fact. The problem was that President Obama drew a line in the sand at the use of chemical weapons as a pretext for U.S. involvement. To admit that it has happened is either to back one’s words up with action or prove those words to be just rhetoric which would have ramifications in our dealings with North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear programs. So, what has changed? A few things, I believe.
Hezbollah, which was rumored to be backing the Syrian regime of Assad with its own fighters, went public and all in, helping to turn the tide in a key city in Syria which fell back into the hands of the regime. Russia is sending S-300 missiles to Assad in a bid, as they say, to help saner heads prevail. On the ground, the help of Russian arms sales already in country, Hezbollah’s troops and Iranian assistance have turned events totally in the direction of the regime of Assad. Without a heavyweight on the Syrian rebel side, foreign fighters and Sunni majority countries’ aid notwithstanding, the war is theirs to lose.
The American change of heart has been mushrooming. Senator McCain has been putting immense pressure on the administration and there are other advocates of intervention from within the Republican ranks. In addition, President Clinton just joined Sen. McCain in advocating for direct action short of boots on the ground. A clear signal on future intentions happened with a presidential announcement that two known humanitarian-interventionists (that means that they believe that action must be taken to prevent genocide and avoid future Rwandas and Bosnias) would be promoted within the Obama administration: Susan Rice to be the president’s National Security advisor and Samantha Power to be ambassador at the United Nations. Just today, the administration changed its tune and said definitively that the Syrian regime has repeatedly used chemical weapons on a small scale in its fight against the rebels.
Events are falling into place quickly. The question is who will move the quickest and farthest: Russia or the U.S. and its allies? Everything hinges on the answer to that question.
As for the United States, if President Obama plans on reversing the tide, he must act with deliberate speed. If he plans on airstrikes, he may feel compelled to do so before the Russian S300's arrive, are assembled and ready to take down planes. So, look for some pretty swift moving of events, in my opinion. Of course, he may seek to soften up their defenses with cruise missiles first, then the stealth attack craft and then our F-series fighters. That is, if he goes beyond arming the rebels on the ground. It sounds like it is a critical hour and the only real way to reverse the regime's momentum is to degrade Syria's ability to fight by U.S. led bombing runs.
The only one who can change this calculus is Russia. Netanyahu visited Auschwitz and it sounds like Israel is ready to attack Iran on its own. Russia could declare an attack on either Syria or Iran as an attack on them, make sure they have Russian military personnel in the danger zones, deliver and deploy the S-300's (especially if operated by Russian military personnel) and Israel and the US and/or its allies are stuck wringing their hands or risking taking on Russia too. Perhaps Putin is calculating that they already have enough of a presence to dissuade the U.S. and its allies from either a no-fly zone and/or air strikes by the moving of war ships to Syria not to mention their naval port at Tartus. To complicate things further, thousands of Russians live and work in Syria (see Tartus link). Let's continue to watch and pray.