From Obama’s Syria ‘Red Line’ to the Covert Ops We Don’t Know About

John Glaser, August 22, 2012

President Obama this week defined his “red line” for the Syria conflict, warning that if the Syrian government’s chemical and biological weapons are moved around or utilized, this would “change” his “calculus,” which has so far been to abstain from any direct military intervention inside Syria. But the administration’s current interventions are already unwarranted…at least those we know about.

This “red line” announcement was probably more bluster than actual policy for two reasons. First, as the New York Times pointed out yesterday, “Obama did not explicitly threaten a military response in the event of a chemical weapons attack.” But also, the Assad regime is extremely unlikely to use any of these kind of WMD weapons: the Syrian Foreign Ministry vowed in late July that its stockpile of chemical weapons would only be used against armies attempting to invade or intervene to topple the regime. They said they would “never, never be used against the Syrian people or civilians during this crisis, under any circumstances.” Their word counts for something in this case, since the regime’s aim is to quell and mollify the conflict while retaining power, not to worsen it and broaden the international appeal for intervention and thereby undermine the regime’s hold on power.

But the same factors that have convinced the Obama administration to hold off on a bombing campaign or military invasion would still hold even in the unlikely event that Obama’s “red line” is crossed. New York Times:

Despite President Obama’s warning to Syria not to use its arsenal of chemical weapons or allow them to fall into the hands of extremists, the administration’s options for intervening remain limited by what its officials have described as a simple calculus: It would make the conflict even worse.

American military operations against Syria, officials reiterated on Tuesday, would risk drawing in Syria’s patrons, principally Iran and Russia, at a much greater level than they already are involved. It would allow Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, to rally popular sentiment against the West and embolden Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups now fighting the Assad government to turn their attention to what they would see as another American crusade in the Arab world.

…The administration has also ruled out providing arms to the rebels for broadly the same reason: more weapons, the officials say, would probably make the war only worse.

First of all, the Obama administration has sidestepped responsibility for arming the rebels by inducing weapons deliveries from client states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. This is an age-old trick. When the Reagan administration armed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in its 1980s conflict with Iran, they prevailed upon allies in France, Italy, and the Gulf Arab states to do the direct arming – even though it was mostly with American-made arms. It’s true that Obama has all but ruled out direct intervention with the US military – and everyone is better off because of it – but to say he isn’t arming the rebels is to ignore the obvious. For all the administration’s cautious reluctance for another US war in the Middle East, they’re actively engaging in behavior they themselves warn against in the pages of the New York Times.

Secondly, my own view is that the Obama administration probably has an expansive covert policy on Syria in place. Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, agrees that “Covert ops [are] ongoing.” This is one of the most secretive administrations in recent memory and the situation in Syria is extraordinarily sensitive and precarious. The notion that Obama is holding off in the clandestine realm of policy is not really credible. Again, this has all the reasons for not intervening attached to it, but if it’s done in secret, the administration can avoid taking responsibility for its actions.




16 Responses to “From Obama’s Syria ‘Red Line’ to the Covert Ops We Don’t Know About”

  1. http://press.org/events/syrian-support-group-pres

  2. Look: this man doesn't know what is going on in his own backyard, his just been informed by State department in what to say when say and what not say, I don’t think that he knows what his doing until he is been told what to do, which is one of the reasons for people to get to know what he knows later in time.

    The war show in Syria is orchestrated and managed by Hillary Clinton, NATO, Saudis and UAE and some other Liberal “Democrats” in Washington, those who make money out of the Syrian peoples misery , as they have and making money out of Libyan war. The secret of the matt is the US and EU Hypocrisy and he is one of those in charge and not in charge, depending on time and the value of the politics where he can gain to his benefit, at the same time just playing around living the problem at home for homies to solve, like Barbara Boxer or Senator Kerry who just increased his wealth to almost 200 million dollars by adding a 5 million last year, as a senator being able to ad 5 million dollars to your wealth….?

  3. Once again, Obama knows what he's doing. He's allowing the situation to deteriorate more and more until he and NATO and Turkey can justify a military intervention without a UNSC resolution authorizing it.

    There's also the rumor – impossible to confirm – that there is a "false flag" attack planned which will make it look like the Syrian government used "chemical weapons", thus justifying Obama's intervention.

    Look, we KNOW the insurgents can't overthrow Assad or defeat the Syrian military. And we KNOW that the Syrian government can't defeat the insurgents as long as they have "safe territory" in Turkey and elsewhere and money and weapons coming from Saudi Arabia and Qatar and support from the CIA, the British and French military and an influx of bodies from Libya, Chechnya, Iraq and elsewhere.

    So OBVIOUSLY the war will continue to get worse. There is no possible end game EXCEPT foreign military intervention. A diplomatic solution is impossible under these conditions.

    When you realize that the entire purpose of this exercise is to enable both Syrian and Hizballah missile arsenals to be degraded in order to allow Israel to attack Iran "on the cheap", it all makes perfect sense.

  4. [...] Glaser Antiwar (Traducido para Sleepwalkings por Ariel [...]

  5. The SFA is part of a new US and EU mafia supposed to help the Syrian people, now they have established themselves in USA where they are going to collect money for guns and other military arsenals to continue the Syrian war, they using the American people who don’t have any idea where even Syria located in this world or what is going on there, they are falsifying the matter to gain momentum to gain more money for other matters then helping the Syrian people.

    Look people if they were honest for their cause they would have started talking to the Syrian government and the Syrian people while it was voted by the Syrian people for the government to change the Syrian constitutions for social political reforms, the MAJORITY of the Syrian people have voted for this. These people along their Al Queda friends are the puppet of the US and EU militarism regime doing what US and EU incapable of, (due to the legal matters involved), giving these people money to buy US and EU guns, although US -, EU the Saudis – UAE and Turkey supporting these people with arsenals of all kind but they (FSA) are the only one capable to continue this war and thats what US and EU want using these people for that purpose and that reason only. Look: this and other fighting elements in Syria are not democratic nor they have any social political programs or agendas, they get paid by the Saudis to continue the war, they are here to collect more money for personal use, otherwise, they are on the payroll of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates dictatorial regimes.

    So don’t be fooled by this website, is a money making machine and thats all to it.

  6. Yes, US intervention would definitely makes things worse…way worse…with many, many unintended consequences. These are reportedly smart people so that raises the question…why would the US want to make things worse there – and here?

    And could someone please tell me why Syria's use of chemical weapons would REQUIRE the US to intervene? Humanitarian reasons? Really? This is a Syrian civil war. Besides, it's not like the US has a stellar historical reputation when one talks about "humanitarian" efforts around the world. The US's hisory is to do what the governing body at the time decides is in their best interest…and the best interest of the American people is rarely considered. But when the government says it's doing something for humanitarian purposes, one should always look under the sheets for the real story – a job real journalists used to do…

  7. [...] particular, that Syria ought to be invaded in order to secure these weapons. Barack Obama himself has stated the only way the US will intervene in Syria is if the government begins to use its WMD’s in [...]

  8. Former US Ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsberg says that top secret intelligence sources (codenamed "Curveball"?) have told him that Maher Asad – whose leg was blown off in the bombing of the Syrian security hq – has made a "shady WMD deal" to give chemical weapons to Hizb' Allah, or Iran, or Shabiha "storm troopers"…

    A misshapen villain is threatening to annihilate the homeland with secret weapons? Holy Uday Hussein, Batman! We gotta do sumpin fast!!!

  9. For years the Defense Department has been incinerating chemical weapons in Anniston, Alabama (upwind of my house). This is being done, not because the US is eliminating its chemical weapons, but because these particular parts of the stockpile are too old to be reliable. Presumably the US – just like Syria – would only use its chemical weapons in the event of a military invasion by a hostile foreign power. As usual, our Middle East policy is mired neck-deep in hypocrisy..

  10. So don’t be fooled by this website, is a money making machine and thats all to it.

  11. This is the classical Covert Operation or "Black Op" which hasbeen used many times since 1951 – see this link from elsewhwere on the Antiwar.com page;-
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nicolas-j-s-davies/

    This meant a "safe haven" for the paramilitaries across a border in another country and funding and arming covertly from the US. so whatever government it is can'twin and there is stalemate.

    This can only be resolved either in "Intervention" or the government concerned be obliged to hold one-sided "peace" negotiations.

    It is also true that the obama administration is once of the most secretive of modern times because of the need to promote the image of change you can beieve in, liberalism, and to hold the young and liberal Democrat core vote.

  12. It's called "Sinking the Maine Again" or a "False Flag Attack" – a ptrexext to justify attackinga country.

  13. Syria located in this world or what is going on there, they are falsifying the matter to gain momentum to gain more money for other matters then helping the Syrian people.

  14. Their word counts for something in this case, since the regime’s aim is to quell and mollify the conflict while retaining power, not to worsen it and broaden the international appeal for intervention and thereby undermine the regime’s hold on power.

  15. But the same factors that have convinced the Obama administration to hold off on a bombing campaign or military invasion would still hold even in the unlikely event that Obama’s “red line” is crossed. <a href="http://www.bringbutler.de” target=”_blank”>www.bringbutler.de

  16. Their word counts for something in this case, since the regime’s aim is to quell and mollify the conflict while retaining power, not to worsen it and broaden the international appeal for intervention and thereby undermine the regime’s hold on power. Afrikanischer Wein