AMITIAE - Saturday 31 August 2013

Cassandra: An Impending US Attack on Syria (Updated)

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By Graham K. Rogers

Once again we appear to be on the brink of another military action by the world's self-elected police force, with this time the despicable regime in Syria as the intended target. With France said to be willing to join the operation and an embarrassing defeat for the British Prime Minister in the elected House of Commons, the true motivations and outcomes are under some scrutiny.

Despite what some may say, old Europe seems to be using the benefit of hindsight, although we are surprised at the decision of the French President to join this party. Perhaps he is taking the same line as a former British Prime Minister with the last unfortunate overseas venture that was orchestrated by the United States: join or forever be left on the sidelines. It didn't actually work out like that in the end.

Apart from a few isolated incidents, the United States has not experiences an invasion since Antonio López de Santa Anna knocked on the doors of the Alamo. The attack that traumatized the USA most, of course, was 9/11, but there have been many other terrorist attacks: most born of internal dissent. While these vicious attacks are deplorable (e.g Oklahoma), the fears about an all-controlling federal government - like Cheneys, Rumsfelds or Hoovers - may have some substance to them.

Despite the opinions of many in America, the actions of the government seem to be directed by a few chosen individuals: not the elected representatives, not the President, but the long term bureaucrats, such as the NSA, whose reports - on which major decisions are made - cherry-pick the evidence, to make the case for action.

The USA works within the framework of the United Nations, but only apparently when convenient. As Russia will veto any punitive action against Syria, that is what America should accept for now. Unilaterally taking military action - when not even régime change is being put forward - will be no more than a slap on the wrist, but one that will have far-reaching consequences.

With the suggestion that ground forces will not be deployed (even as an assault craft has moved to the area), the options would seem to be aerial bombardment from the sea using cruise missiles, bombing using aircraft, or the deployment of drones. These all will invade Syrian airspace and thus be an act of war. Midnight Saturday in Syria is a probable time for the start of such actions.

There are sure to be reactions from Russia and from within the Arab world, as has already been experienced from the earlier use of remote controlled devices in Pakistan: a country that does not condone or authorise such attacks, so is invaded each time one occurs.

This time, if the proposed strikes go ahead, the United States will not get off so easily as it has in the past. No one will be surprised the next time US assets or persons are attacked, because the reason will be that the United States attacked first.


Overnight news: The President has said that he has decided the United States should take military action against Syrian regime military targets, adding that he will seek approval from Congress.

Let us hope that a sensible debate - devoid of the jingoism when the US was headed for the Iraq War - takes place. Without the broad support of other nations - and the UN - this is still not justifiable.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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