Senior Airman Brian Kolfage
TROOP MOVEMENT: US Warplanes and military transporters have begun arriving at Britain’s Akrotiri airbase on Cyprus, less than 100 miles from the Syrian coast.
The British press has it as well.
Warplanes and military transporters have begun arriving at Britain’s Akrotiri airbase on Cyprus, less than 100 miles from the Syrian coast, in a sign of increasing preparations for a military strike against the Assad regime in Syria.
Two commercial pilots who regularly fly from Larnaca on Monday told the Guardian that they had seen C-130 transport planes from their cockpit windows as well as small formations of fighter jets on their radar screens, which they believe had flown from Europe.
Residents near the British airfield, a sovereign base since 1960, also say activity there has been much higher than normal over the past 48 hours.
If an order to attack targets in Syria is given, Cyprus is likely to be a hub of the air campaign. The arrival of warplanes suggests that advanced readiness – at the very least – has been ordered by Whitehall as David Cameron, Barack Obama and European leaders step up their rhetoric against Bashar al-Assad, whose armed forces they accuse of carrying out the chemical weapons attack last Wednesday that killed many hundreds in eastern Damascus.
We already know about the five U.S. destroyers closing in on Syria. It looks like a missile attack-and-airstrike campaign is in the works.
The unmitigated stupidity of a U.S. air attack on Syria – stupidity in that missiles and bombs at this point have value in neither putting an end to the Syrian civil war nor furthering American interests in the region – can’t be overstated.
And the fact that Obama appears to be committing America to military action there without so much as a by-your-leave to Congress, after doing the exact same thing to Libya with even less justification where American interests were concerned, cements the perception – at least from this quarter – that we have a president who couldn’t care less about either the law or the limits on his power.
He’s just going to embroil us in a civil war between two factions who are avowed enemies of the United States of America, the Iranians and Al-Qaeda, and in the process inflame our relations with the Russians at a time when those relations need repair rather than further destruction. Russia might not confront us in Syria, but they have lots of other pressure points to exploit. Like the Caucasus, for example. Or Eastern Europe.
There is no value in American involvement in this war. None. We are about to attack the Syrian government on behalf of rebels who are actively slaughtering Christians there. And should those rebels win that civil war, they’ll surely embark on wholesale genocide against the coalition of minority groups – Alawites, Shiites, Kurds, Christians – who have been the Assad regime’s base of support over the years. In other words, there is no reason to believe the violence will end if we took out the Assad regime with those missiles and bombs.
And the American people are well aware of this. How much support does Obama have for his Syrian adventure?
Nine percent. He has nine percent support for attacking Assad. Some 60 percent say outright that they oppose going in. That score again: No, by a 60-9 count.
What was the support level going into Libya? Iraq? Afghanistan? Vietnam?
It was never 60-9 against in advance of any of those adventures.
Nothing good will come of this, and the risks are sizable. Risks this administration has shown it has little appreciation for (as Libya begat Benghazi, for example).
Walter Russell Mead, who actually decries not going into Syria a long time ago when he thinks an intervention would have led to an easy win (meaning a replacement for Assad which was not essentially the local Al Qaeda affiliate; something we’re not convinced was ever truly likely), says this is the playing out of a strategy that is an abject failure…
The Obama administration had a grand strategy in the Middle East. It was well intentioned, carefully crafted and consistently pursued.
Unfortunately, it failed.
The plan was simple but elegant: The U.S. would work with moderate Islamist groups like Turkey’s AK Party and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to make the Middle East more democratic. This would kill three birds with one stone. First, by aligning itself with these parties, the Obama administration would narrow the gap between the ‘moderate middle’ of the Muslim world and the U.S. Second, by showing Muslims that peaceful, moderate parties could achieve beneficial results, it would isolate the terrorists and radicals, further marginalizing them in the Islamic world. Finally, these groups with American support could bring democracy to more Middle Eastern countries, leading to improved economic and social conditions, gradually eradicating the ills and grievances that drove some people to fanatical and terroristic groups.
President Obama (whom I voted for in 2008) and his team hoped that the success of the new grand strategy would demonstrate once and for all that liberal Democrats were capable stewards of American foreign policy. The bad memories of the Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter presidencies would at last be laid to rest; with the public still unhappy with George W. Bush’s foreign policy troubles, Democrats would enjoy a long-term advantage as the party most trusted by voters to steer the country through stormy times.
That failure, and those misjudgements, will put sizable numbers of Americans in jeopardy this week. We’re struggling to see to what benefit.