Monday, August 29, 2016


Oh, Syria!

I've been restrained in my comments on Syria for a very good reason: I have no ideas for how the Syrian civil war can be resolved.  We see the dreadful video, the death and suffering, and we want something to be done.  Anything we do, though, is likely to make matters worse.

Syria's is a civil war with too many sides and too many outside interests, all with too many divergent objectives.  As long as Russia, the United States, Iran, the Gulf States and Turkey, each pursuing different objectives, continue to arm and support their favored factions, the war won't end for lack of cash and munitions -- and since it's really not especially expensive to continue financing the carnage, there's no great pressure to stop.

The bombing runs by Assad and the Russians have been especially devastating.  Hillary Clinton has suggested creating a no-fly zone, but it's too late.  We can't have American planes shooting down Russian planes.  The only thing I can think of to reduce the bombing of civilian areas and food distribution centers and hospitals is a further escalation: providing shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles to selected rebel forces, to stop the helicopters dropping barrel bombs, at least, and to inhibit air strikes by plane.

A big problem with that is that the most dependable US allies are the Kurds, who would use their new weapons defensively against our NATO allies, the Turks.  Anyway, escalation rarely serves to reduce hostilities.  Our only available moral response is to accept and shelter far greater numbers of noncombatant refugees, with special emphasis on families with children.  That won't happen, though — too many paranoid xenophobes out there, and too many pandering politicians kissing their asses.

I wouldn't want to be Hillary Clinton come January.  She'll be expected to do something — and there's nothing to do.

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