Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category
If any more massacres like the one in Houla occur in the near future, the United States will feel a lot of pressure to use military force, and Russia will feel more pressure to allow the US to do so.
Syria’s Assad is betting that he can crush the revolution before the West loses its tolerance for such bloodshed. He wants to crush the spirit of the Syrian rebels quickly. But almost nothing makes people in civilized societies more disgusted than murdering children. Assad is taking a major gamble. Perhaps he fears that unless he finished off the rebels quickly, he can’t last much longer. But if he takes more such gambles, Western populations, namely Americans, will want to see some type of military action.
After 14 months of no overt foreign intervention, one would think that Assad could simply bleed the rebels as he has been doing. Short of shocking bloodshed, such as in Houla, President Obama and British PM David Cameron will mostly only feel pressure from Syrians in the US and Britain, a relatively weak political contingent. After Houla, an utterly desperate act, one wonders how much longer Assad thinks he can cling to power.
Obama’s refusal to impose a no-fly zone or to arm the rebels is not exactly a head scratcher for the following reasons:
1) The NATO/American intervention in Libya ticked off Vladimir Putin. One of Obama’s second-term foreign policy planks will be the “reset” of relations with Russia. When a policy has gone against the official wishes of the Russians, Obama has tended to back down (missile defenses in E. Europe). NATO/America would not have imposed a no-fly-zone in Libya had Russia not abstained from the Security Council’s vote. The US will not intervene unless Russia affirms or abstains such an action in the UN.
2) Obama still believes that Iran can be subdued diplomatically. Fighting a proxy war against the Iranians in Syria would all but establish that using the military to weaken Iran (which arms Hezbollah via Syria) is more effective than using diplomats.
3) Just over five months from elections, initiating even a no-fly-zone against a weak military is risky. Polls in the US show that the public is split over use of the Air Force in Syria. But even if polls were strongly in favor, any outcome is unpredictable, and if multiple jets go down over Syria, Obama’s reelection chances could go down with them.
This blogger is betting that Assad will stay in power. The US should intervene because it has the power to alleviate mass murder at a relatively low cost and because it would topple Iran’s biggest ally in the region. But unless more Houlas occur in the near future, such intervention is unlikely.