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Sicarii

Syria's War Nearing Resolution?

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Latest news from Trump administration on Syria:

 

 

Trump Ends Covert Aid to Syrian Rebels Trying to Topple Assad

 

President Trump has ended the clandestine American program to provide arms and supplies to Syrian rebel groups, American officials said, a recognition that the effort was failing and that the administration has given up hope of helping to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The decision came more than a month ago, the officials said, by which time the effort to deliver the arms had slowed to a trickle.
It was never publicly announced, just as the beginnings of the program four years ago were officially a secret, authorized by President Barack Obama through a “finding” that permitted the C.I.A. to conduct a deniable program. News of the troublesome program soon leaked out.
It joins similar failed efforts to deliver arms and money to groups seeking to overthrow governments that Washington found noxious, most famously the Kennedy administration’s disastrous effort to do away with the government of Fidel Castro in Cuba.
The White House had no comment. But the decision is bound to be welcomed by the Russians, whose military has backed Mr. Assad’s government and relentlessly attacked some of the rebel groups that the United States was supplying, under the guise of helping to eradicate terrorists.
[...]

 

Cutting aid off to the rebels will heavily skew the balance of power in Syria towards the regime forces and their Russian/Iranian backers.
Syrian regime forces have been making headway into vast swaths of land controlled by ISIL, but virtually have only devoted just enough manpower to force a standstill at rebel frontlines. This action will heavily reduce capabilities of rebels in such areas. This purports to be a live map of Syrian war: http://syria.liveuamap.com/en/time/20.07.2017. Not sure of how credible it is (have not done independent investigation to verify it with other sources, so use it at your own discretion). However, it does show what I have said previously, if you compare map situation between January and July for example; rebels have gained territory from ISIL and even expanded into some regime-controlled areas, if anything.
The US still supports the Kurds in Northern Syria, with training, weapons, and air support. I believe we have several US bases there as well.
In my opinion, the Trump administration has not established a clear strategy in the Syrian theater beyond 'defeating ISIL'. But that is not a strategy per se; it's a tactical objective. It says nothing about who we want to rule in Syria in the aftermath of the Syrian war, which normally would have to be US-friendly government; and, more importantly, it says nothing about how we are going to achieve that.
The Syrian war itself is part ideological and part strategic. The pawns fight the ideological fight, but the geopolitical actors exploit them and use them for their own strategic interests. Qatar has a vested interest in constructing a natural gas pipeline extending to Europe, and Russia, which is top supplier of natural gas to Europe, has a vested interest in stopping that from happening. Iran has a vested interest in creating a Shiite crescent encompassing Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon in order to advance its regional interests, and Saudi Arabia has a vested interest in preventing that from happening (also to export Wahhabi ideology to Islamic and Western countries). Israel has a vested interest in preventing the Iranian Shiite crescent, in preventing arms shipments to Iranian proxies in Lebanon and Gaza, and preventing war from erupting at its borders near the Golan Heights, in Lebanon, and in Gaza. The US has a vested interest in preventing Iranian Shiite crescent, preventing or minimizing Russia's presence on the Mediterranean, and promoting an alternative supplier of natural gas to Europe. Knowing that natural gas requires pipelines for economical transport, a Qatar-Turkey pipeline (with connections into Europe) works in favor of US interests (we cannot expect to compete with Russia by selling liquefied natural gas to Europe).
Absent a clear strategy that promotes US interests in Syria, Trump is handing Syria to Russia and Iran without receiving anything in return, neither in Syria nor in Ukraine.
Overall, what do you think of this action, and how will this lead to a resolution of the Syrian conflict?
What does this action mean with respect to the overall US strategy in Syria?
How does this action advance US interests, or vice versa?
What went wrong in US strategy (or lack thereof, perhaps) that led to such action?
Edited by Sicarii

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1 - Overall, what do you think of this action, and how will this lead to a resolution of the Syrian conflict?

2 - What does this action mean with respect to the overall US strategy in Syria?
3 - How does this action advance US interests, or vice versa?
4 - What went wrong in US strategy (or lack thereof, perhaps) that led to such action?

 

1 - It will worsen the refugee crisis as Assad with Russia's backing push for a climax to end the war. I think many anti Assad force probably just move bacck down into Iraq and escalate fighting there.

 

2 - We are abandoning containment on the false premise that stateless rebels can be beaten by singular actions on traditional battlefields.

 

3 - Trump has already indicated his interest is to find ways to get along with Russia. Congress won't allow the sanctions tobe lifted so Trump is attempt to hand over Syria as a token of friendship.

 

4 - It is a quasi civil war designed to remove Assad. The The U.K., France, Turkey, Russia, U.S. and others are all involved at various levels. It isn't a matter of The U.S. independently failing or succeeding.

 

 

Ultimately this will not end matters in Syria. Thesystemic issues which have perpetuated conflict in the region have not changed and are not addressed by this.

Beep+beep+you+hear+that+it+s+_7b31e2d1ce

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Thanks for itemizing the 'vested interests' of various groups/governments.

But you left out one very important group.

 

What does the Syrian population want ?

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Thanks for itemizing the 'vested interests' of various groups/governments.

But you left out one very important group.

 

What does the Syrian population want ?

 

This is a terrific question which unfortunately may not have an answer. For starters who are the legit Syrian population; anyone raised in Syria, only those with official citizenship, nationality (by law defined by the male paternity line), those who have already been displaced, or something else? It would be awesome if there was some magical singular group in Syria with which the world community could just consult. I would 100% support whatever majority position they took provided it didn't include violence towards their neighbors or elsewhere in the world. Edited by Ten oz

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On 7/21/2017 at 4:39 AM, Ten oz said:

1 - It will worsen the refugee crisis as Assad with Russia's backing push for a climax to end the war. I think many anti Assad force probably just move bacck down into Iraq and escalate fighting there.

 

2 - We are abandoning containment on the false premise that stateless rebels can be beaten by singular actions on traditional battlefields.

 

3 - Trump has already indicated his interest is to find ways to get along with Russia. Congress won't allow the sanctions tobe lifted so Trump is attempt to hand over Syria as a token of friendship.

 

4 - It is a quasi civil war designed to remove Assad. The The U.K., France, Turkey, Russia, U.S. and others are all involved at various levels. It isn't a matter of The U.S. independently failing or succeeding.

 

 

Ultimately this will not end matters in Syria. Thesystemic issues which have perpetuated conflict in the region have not changed and are not addressed by this.

Beep+beep+you+hear+that+it+s+_7b31e2d1ce

To respond to your points,

1 - The refugee crisis seems to have peaked. I would argue that this action would facilitate return of refugees to areas controlled by Syrian regime, especially those far away from the front lines.

2 - The decentralized nature of the rebels in Syria makes it harder to defeat them. They are comprised of many localized groups. Without US help, they will not be able to mount successful offensives to overthrow Assad, nor will they be able to influence the future of Syria. If the Syrian regime decides to uphold a US-Russia brokered cease fire in the southwest and north, then these areas will effectively become 'stateless'.

3 - At the risk of sounding arrogant, it is Russia who should be showing us a token of friendship, considering we are the superpower. Last time the US took a step to improve relations with Russia, Putin responded by invading Ukraine.

4 - France, UK, and US all seem to have dropped the "Assad must go" mantra. The entire Syria policy has been a mess from the start. None of these countries were committed to disposing of Assad, unlike what happened in Libya, and one reason for that is Russia's veto in UNSC. Nevertheless, Russia interfered without a UN mandate and so could these three, had they been committed to do so. Direct engagement with Russia is not necessary, but targeting regime forces would no doubt have helped the rebels. I think part of the reason why there was no commitment was due to the nature of the rebels. Let's face it, there's no such thing as "moderate" rebels -- they are mostly extremist, or are being led by extremists, and supporting them is barely different from supporting ISIL.

Lastly, one thing is for sure: Syria will never be the same as prewar Syria. Its map is forever changed -- the Kurds won't surrender, the rebels won't surrender, Turkey won't withdraw if the Kurds do not surrender (they won't risk a continuous Kurdish de facto state on the Turkish borders). How the Syrian regime responds to all three remains to be seen. The underlying grievances that ignited the Syrian revolution and later civil war have not been addressed in the fighting, and they likely won't be addressed in a final ceasefire agreement. The fighting should decrease significantly after ISIL is routed from Raqqa. The militants will continue their insurgency, but it will be small-scale and limited in extent, geography, and impact.

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On 7/21/2017 at 1:27 PM, MigL said:

Thanks for itemizing the 'vested interests' of various groups/governments.

But you left out one very important group.

 

What does the Syrian population want ?

Good question, but I am afraid there is no simple answer. There are two "official" representatives of the Syrian people -- the Syrian regime and the Syrian National Council (SNC, based in Turkey). Neither draw their legitimacy from the people, but they are the decision makers. Well, Syrian regime is the decision maker, and SNC pretends to make decisions.

So, what does the Syrian population want? The answer is: Whatever the Syrian regime decides.

The international community needs to call for elections in the immediate aftermath of a ceasefire agreement. In fact, that should be a clause inserted into the agreement. But knowing the history of the Syrian regime, agreements or clauses mean nothing to them.

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18 hours ago, Sicarii said:

To respond to your points,

1 - The refugee crisis seems to have peaked. I would argue that this action would facilitate return of refugees to areas controlled by Syrian regime, especially those far away from the front lines.

2 - The decentralized nature of the rebels in Syria makes it harder to defeat them. They are comprised of many localized groups. Without US help, they will not be able to mount successful offensives to overthrow Assad, nor will they be able to influence the future of Syria. If the Syrian regime decides to uphold a US-Russia brokered cease fire in the southwest and north, then these areas will effectively become 'stateless'.

3 - At the risk of sounding arrogant, it is Russia who should be showing us a token of friendship, considering we are the superpower. Last time the US took a step to improve relations with Russia, Putin responded by invading Ukraine.

4 - France, UK, and US all seem to have dropped the "Assad must go" mantra. The entire Syria policy has been a mess from the start. None of these countries were committed to disposing of Assad, unlike what happened in Libya, and one reason for that is Russia's veto in UNSC. Nevertheless, Russia interfered without a UN mandate and so could these three, had they been committed to do so. Direct engagement with Russia is not necessary, but targeting regime forces would no doubt have helped the rebels. I think part of the reason why there was no commitment was due to the nature of the rebels. Let's face it, there's no such thing as "moderate" rebels -- they are mostly extremist, or are being led by extremists, and supporting them is barely different from supporting ISIL.

Lastly, one thing is for sure: Syria will never be the same as prewar Syria. Its map is forever changed -- the Kurds won't surrender, the rebels won't surrender, Turkey won't withdraw if the Kurds do not surrender (they won't risk a continuous Kurdish de facto state on the Turkish borders). How the Syrian regime responds to all three remains to be seen. The underlying grievances that ignited the Syrian revolution and later civil war have not been addressed in the fighting, and they likely won't be addressed in a final ceasefire agreement. The fighting should decrease significantly after ISIL is routed from Raqqa. The militants will continue their insurgency, but it will be small-scale and limited in extent, geography, and impact.

1 - It has peaked?No, it continues to worsen.

According to the UN, 83,650 people have reached Italy by sea since the beginning of the year - a 20% increase on the same period in 2016.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-40470102

 

"The flow of refugees is steadily increasing, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR). As of mid-2016, there were 16.5 million refugees globally, 5 million more than in mid-2013. More than 30 percent of all refugees as of mid-2016 came from Syria, the largest source of global refugees."

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/03/27/518217052/chart-where-the-worlds-refugees-are

 

2 - Again, we are abandoning containment. Those stateless rebels won't just sit in place and wait tobe detained or killed by Assad. Where they go next matters.

 

3 - POTUS is the one tweeting and giving interviews saying he want to get along with Russia. Meanwhile Putin is decrying U.S. policy regarding sanctions and strongly defending Assad. Perhap you feel that it should be Russia who reaches out to the U.S. but that is not what is currently happening.

 

4 - We (U.S.) just bombed Assad facilities in April following gas attacks which Assad and Russia deny Assad was responsible for. Our policy is currently mottled and unclear. We have gone from hot to cold a couple times over in just a matter of several months.

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April 4th :

Quote

 

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is dramatically scaling back U.S. goals in Syria as he pushes for a quick military withdrawal, Trump administration officials said Wednesday, abandoning plans to stay long-term to stabilize the country and prevent the Islamic State group from re-emerging.

Trump has given no formal order to pull out the 2,000 U.S. troops currently in Syria, nor offered a public timetable, other than to say the United States will pull out just as soon as the last remaining IS fighters can be vanquished. But Trump has signaled to his advisers that ideally, he wants all troops out within six months, according to three U.S. officials — a finale that would come shortly before the U.S. midterm elections.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-to-decide-very-quickly-on-us-pullout-from-syria/2018/04/03/f882fdba-37af-11e8-af3c-2123715f78df_story.html?utm_term=.fae60226b3c6

 

April 8th:

Quote

 

WASHINGTON -- President Trump responded Sunday to reports of a suspected chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma, blaming Syrian President Bashar Assad and his international allies for the apparent attack that left dozens dead and hundreds injured. In some of his most critical comments directed at Russian President Vladimir Putin to date, Mr. Trump threatened that there's a "big price ... to pay" for those backing the Assad regime.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/syria-chemical-attack-trump-threatens-bashar-animal-assad-putin-chemical-weapons-strike-2018-04-08/

 

After spending the last few month content with allowing Assad to stay in power until the next election in 2021 and even a sense that thing were going well enough to leave (U.S. Troop withdraw) it seems conditions are ratcheting up again is Syria. 

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I am led to believe that the solution for Syria is diplomatic. Removing Assad from power seems out of question. 

 

 

Putin, Erdogan, Rouhani extend circle of trust in Syria

Quote

With regard to what the Trump administration may do next, James Dobbins and Jeffrey Martini of RAND suggest that “the United States could offer to fully withdraw its forces from Syria and normalize relations with the government in Damascus once all foreign militias have also left the country. Assad has won the civil war. If he wants to keep Russian and Iranian advisers, there is little to stop him. But Hezbollah fighters should return to Lebanon, and the thousands of other Shiite militias should return to Afghanistan and the other lands from whence they came. If they do not and instead they remain and bring their families, the ethnic makeup of the country will be permanently altered and Israel will permanently face an Iranian proxy on a second front.”

 

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/04/trump-syria-withdrawal-iran-turkey-russia.html#ixzz5C6sblxcu

What can the US administration do? Launch rockets again? 

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55 minutes ago, tuco said:

I am led to believe that the solution for Syria is diplomatic. Removing Assad from power seems out of question. 

 

 

Putin, Erdogan, Rouhani extend circle of trust in Syria

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/04/trump-syria-withdrawal-iran-turkey-russia.html#ixzz5C6sblxcu

What can the US administration do? Launch rockets again? 

As Assad continues to use Chemical Weapons on civilian populations it is difficult to imagine a tenable way things get resolved with Assad staying in power. Part of the problem I see with U.S. policy since the beginning is it has overly relied of covert military action. Rather than making our intentions and goals crystal clear we covertly funded groups on various sides in hopes of a Libya styled removal of Assad which didn't overly empower ISIS. It has only made things worse. It has protracted combat and forced ever deepening investments in equipment, logistics, personnel, and money. 

 I am under the impression Trump wanted to just quietly end our (U.S.) involvement in Syria and just let Assad back by Russia steam roll his opposition assuming that it would equal a quicker and more distinct end to the Civil War. However Trump's intentions are next to impossible to know for sure as he refuses to outlines his position,  is a known liar, and changes his mind all the time. As U.S. Sen. John McCain stated I do think Trump's inaction towards Assad has emboldened Assad. I think Trump needs to work with Germany, France, Italy, and Turkey, to hammer out an agreement they can take to the U.N. formally outlining consequences for future chemical attacks. I do not think unilateral action would be wise. 

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Regardless of what anyone can imagine, realities seem to be that Assad will stay in power. And I ask again, what will the US do, realistically? 

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31 minutes ago, tuco said:

Regardless of what anyone can imagine, realities seem to be that Assad will stay in power. And I ask again, what will the US do, realistically? 

 

40 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

However Trump's intentions are next to impossible to know for sure as he refuses to outlines his position,  is a known liar, and changes his mind all the time.

 

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I was not asking what Mr. Trump, amazing how one man determines for 300mil, I was asking what the US can realistically do? Where realistically means: In a way that demonstrates a sensible and practical idea of what can be achieved or expected. I would say nothing.  

In my opinion, sensible would be to work with the others - Putin, Erdogan, Rouhani - to end the civil war as quickly as possible and go from there. What can the UN, as you suggested, realistically do? 

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12 hours ago, tuco said:

I was not asking what Mr. Trump, amazing how one man determines for 300mil, I was asking what the US can realistically do? Where realistically means: In a way that demonstrates a sensible and practical idea of what can be achieved or expected. I would say nothing.  

In my opinion, sensible would be to work with the others - Putin, Erdogan, Rouhani - to end the civil war as quickly as possible and go from there. What can the UN, as you suggested, realistically do? 

In my mind what might happen is more relevant if the word realistically is attached. Considering the current administrations posture toward Iran I can't picture an agreement on Syria involving them. In the past Russia has denied Assad is using chemical weapons and is also Assad's primary source of such weapons. They (Russia) are not honest brokers in this. The more natural current allies of the U.S. are Germany, France, and Italy as those countries have been taking in refugees and have a desire to see an end to war. What the U.N. can do is act as a notary so that clear position is acknowledged. The U.S. with the support of Germany and etc clearly outline a course of action if and when chemical weapons are used again. It seems ridiculously simple but at present time,at least here in the U.S., there simply isn't a clear position known as it relates to Syria and Assad. First step is to develop a position. 

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7 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

In my mind what might happen is more relevant if the word realistically is attached. Considering the current administrations posture toward Iran I can't picture an agreement on Syria involving them. In the past Russia has denied Assad is using chemical weapons and is also Assad's primary source of such weapons. They (Russia) are not honest brokers in this. The more natural current allies of the U.S. are Germany, France, and Italy as those countries have been taking in refugees and have a desire to see an end to war. What the U.N. can do is act as a notary so that clear position is acknowledged. The U.S. with the support of Germany and etc clearly outline a course of action if and when chemical weapons are used again. It seems ridiculously simple but at present time,at least here in the U.S., there simply isn't a clear position known as it relates to Syria and Assad. First step is to develop a position. 

Israel seems to be taking the initiative on a military  response to the chemical attack yesterday. 

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1 hour ago, StringJunky said:

Israel seems to be taking the initiative on a military  response to the chemical attack yesterday. 

Yeah, and reports are that the U.S. is considering strike on Syrian govt targets as well. Not sure I understand the point of strikes if the broader policy is allowing Assad to stay in power. That isn't to say I believe the U.S. should forcefully remove Assad. Rather I am just frustrated no clarity exists from my govt yet we continue to supply weapons and deploy our men and women to the region. 

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1 minute ago, Ten oz said:

Yeah, and reports are that the U.S. is considering strike on Syrian govt targets as well. Not sure I understand the point of strikes if the broader policy is allowing Assad to stay in power. That isn't to say I believe the U.S. should forcefully remove Assad. Rather I am just frustrated no clarity exists from my govt yet we continue to supply weapons and deploy our men and women to the region. 

I think it's better to leave it to Israel to give them a whack as it seems rather complicated for NATO at this point. I will say that I was pretty pissed off to read that chemical weapons are being used blatantly and probably with Russian support when you consider what they've just done in the UK.  I was happy to read about the Israeli missile response anyway.

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2 hours ago, Ten oz said:

In my mind what might happen is more relevant if the word realistically is attached. Considering the current administrations posture toward Iran I can't picture an agreement on Syria involving them. In the past Russia has denied Assad is using chemical weapons and is also Assad's primary source of such weapons. They (Russia) are not honest brokers in this. The more natural current allies of the U.S. are Germany, France, and Italy as those countries have been taking in refugees and have a desire to see an end to war. What the U.N. can do is act as a notary so that clear position is acknowledged. The U.S. with the support of Germany and etc clearly outline a course of action if and when chemical weapons are used again. It seems ridiculously simple but at present time,at least here in the U.S., there simply isn't a clear position known as it relates to Syria and Assad. First step is to develop a position. 

5

As the article I linked mentioned Geneva, under the auspices of the UN, is in comatose. The Astana process seems to be the realistic way forward at the moment. 

I cannot comment on the US position though, with regards to peace in Syria, I do not think its determinant. My personal observation is that the US, populace, is not interested in Syria until chemical weapons are used and then there is short and loud outrage followed by disinterest again. 

My position, which is pretty much irrelevant, is as follows. To find out what Syrians want would be best determined in free elections, which cannot happen while there is a civil war. Thus end the violence asap and go from there. There are many issues to solve and war crimes by Assad are just one of them. There is Kurdish interest, there is reconciliation of various parties involved in the civil war, there are foreign militants etc.

Edited by tuco

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12 minutes ago, tuco said:

cannot comment on the US position though, with regards to peace in Syria, I do not think its determinant. My personal observation is that the US, populace, is not interested in Syria until chemical weapons are used and then there is short and loud outrage followed by disinterest again. 

This is highly accurate unfortunately.

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2 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

This is highly accurate unfortunately.

It's not cricket... they are overstepping what is acceptable, hence the outrage.

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3 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

It's not cricket... they are overstepping what is acceptable, hence the outrage.

Unfortunately, despots don't respond to the carrot (they don't understand what a carrot even is) the only thing they recognise is who has the biggest, usable, stick. Even a pacifist can understand that sometimes a bully needs a good kick in the balls. 

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10 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

It's not cricket... they are overstepping what is acceptable, hence the outrage.

Sure but the inability to care for love get than a week is troubling. Politicians in the U.S. lack a clear position because they don't need one, this isn't something voters will hold them to. 

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1 minute ago, Ten oz said:

Sure but the inability to care for love get than a week is troubling. Politicians in the U.S. lack a clear position because they don't need one, this isn't something voters will hold them to. 

"longer"? Damn these dumb phones:rolleyes:

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2 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Unfortunately, despots don't respond to the carrot (they don't understand what a carrot even is) the only thing they recognise is who has the biggest, usable, stick. Even a pacifist can understand that sometimes a bully needs a good kick in the balls. 

That's it.

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13 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

That's it.

Right, but what does in mean, in realpolitik terms?

I can understand the outrage. I can even agree that violence against a tyrant is justified. But how does outrage or kick in the balls help to end the violence in Syria? Let's not forget, this is not about us, what we feel or think, this is about millions of Syrians in the first place.

In other words, what you gonna do about the despot? Seriously, I am all ears. 

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