To quote Donald Rumsfeld:
"There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know.
But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."
And that is exactly what will get the United States in deep trouble with Barack Obama's careless statements and even more careless decisions on the Middle East, most recently Syria.
... The problem is we really don't know what happened. The general consensus
is Syrian President Bashar Assad ordered the use of chemical weapons
against his enemies. The problem is trying to figure out why he would do
it. He was not losing the civil war. In fact, he had achieved some
limited military success recently. He knew that U.S. President Obama had
said the use of chemical weapons would cross a red line. Yet Assad did
Or did he? Could the rebels have staged the attack in order to draw in an attack on al-Assad? Could the pictures have been faked? Could a third party, hoping to bog the United States down in another war, have done it? The answers to these questions are important, because they guide the U.S. and its allies’ response. The official explanation could be absolutely true–or not. (Stratfor)
Images of multiple dead bodies emerged from Syria last week. It was asserted that poison gas killed the victims, who according to some numbered in the hundreds. Others claimed the photos were faked while others said the rebels were at fault. The dominant view, however, maintains that the al Assad regime carried out the attack. [snip]
This is no longer simply about Syria. The United States has stated a condition that commits it to an intervention. If it does not act when there is a clear violation of the condition, Obama increases the chance of war with other countries like North Korea and Iran. One of the tools the United States can use to shape the behavior of countries like these without going to war is stating conditions that will cause intervention, allowing the other side to avoid crossing the line. If these countries come to believe that the United States is actually bluffing, then the possibility of miscalculation soars. [snip]
When Obama proclaimed his red line on Syria and chemical weapons, he assumed the issue would not come up. (George Friedman)
The United States is engaged in a difficult balancing act, but so are
the jihadists. In theory they want the United States to engage in
military action against the regime and weaken it, but they can't appear
to support American intervention. This ambivalence is bound to create
internal divisions within the Islamist militant landscape and will
weaken the mainstream rebels openly working with Washington. (image)
In many ways the United States is about to complicate the rebellion. The more sophisticated and transnational jihadists such as the Iraq-based Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant will want to use the chaos to their advantage and try to draw in the United States even deeper. All will depend on how much damage the airstrikes do to the regime. [snip]
The Saudis don't share the jihadists' goals, but they do wish to see the United States topple the Syrian regime. It is a critical way to roll back the influence of Riyadh's main regional adversary, Tehran. For this reason, it too wants to see a spillover of the Syrian conflict into Lebanon and Iraq, the two states where Iran's Arab Shia allies enjoy a dominant position.
What this means is that there is a divergence in American and Saudi interests regarding Syria. While the Saudis are willing to roll back Iranian influence at any cost, the Americans want to undermine Iran's regional position without empowering jihadists in the process. In other words, U.S. and Iranian interests in Syria seem to converge rather awkwardly.
But for now, the United States is heading toward military action that could very well aid Saudi Arabia and worse, the jihadists. (Stratfor)
Loose Lips on Syria - U.S. leaks tell Assad he can relax. The bombing will be brief and limited.
An American military attack on Syria could begin as early as Thursday and will involve three days of missile strikes, according to "senior U.S. officials" talking to NBC News. The Washington Post has the bombing at "no more than two days," though long-range bombers could "possibly" join the missiles. "Factors weighing into the timing of any action include a desire to get it done before the president leaves for Russia next week," reports CNN, citing a "senior administration official."
The New York Times, quoting a Pentagon official, adds that "the initial target list has fewer than 50 sites, including air bases where Syria's Russian-made attack helicopters are deployed." The Times adds that "like several other military officials contacted for this report, the official agreed to discuss planning options only on condition of anonymity."
Thus do the legal and moral requirements of secret military operations lose out in this Administration to the imperatives of in-the-know spin and political gestures.
It's always possible that all of this leaking about when, how and for how long the U.S. will attack Syria is an elaborate head-fake, like Patton's ghost army on the eve of D-Day, poised for the assault on Calais. But based on this Administration's past behavior, such as the leaked bin Laden raid details, chances are most of this really is the war plan.
Which makes us wonder why the Administration even bothers to pursue the likes of Edward Snowden when it is giving away its plan of attack to anyone in Damascus with an Internet connection. The answer, it seems, is that the attack in Syria isn't really about damaging the Bashar Assad regime's capacity to murder its own people, much less about ending the Assad regime for good.
... the attacks are primarily about making a political statement, and vindicating President Obama's ill-considered promise of "consequences," (WSJ)
More via Drudge:
There are other ways to fight: New York Times Website Hacked, Syrian Electronic Army Appears to Take Credit
There are things we don't know we don't know --- And the United States under Barack Obama's Commander in Chief leadership may get us in one big heck of a mess.