Streams

Iran and Syria

Friday, September 06, 2013

iran, pollution, tehran, skyline A bird flying in front of buildings in the Iranian capital Tehran. (Atta Kenare/Getty)

What's the ripple effect of US action in Syria? Kenneth Pollack is Director of Research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, and the author of the new book Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb and American Strategy. After arguing in favor of the Iraq invasion, he now urges caution in the case of military action in Syria to avoid disrupting negotiations with Iran.

Guests:

Kenneth Pollack

The Morning Brief

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Comments [27]

petals from bkln

Mr. Bad NYC
I want you to have the last word so i'm reposting your well articulated comment and I hope people read it and understand (and read up on) what is REALLY going on. (hope you don't mind)

"Keep in mind that all of the "moral" arguments made by the earnest, honorable callers are totally bullsh*t AIPAC trolls. The Syrian Civil War was started with Saudi and Qatari $ over a gas pipeline. They started the killing of women and children, they are the ones paying Al Nusra cannibals and Sharia nuts who execute children for joking about Mohammed and you know what? If we bomb Assad's military into the dust and the SNA takes over it will be Allawhite children and women and men being tortured and murdered and there will not be an end to this in our lifetime. But yes, the spice will flow, that's what we're supporting. Just be honest. Stop all this cr*p about chemical weapons and the horrors of war as if we all aren't dripping with the blood of innocent Afghani's and Iraqi's from head to toe already. It's just too much. It's too phony and nothing is lower and ore despicable than a sane person prescribing war as an antidote to human suffering. What did the poet say about history? It's all written on the same page? Something like that? Athens' democracy was once the envy of the world but they fell into tyranny too, it's just an endless regression into more mindless, pointless stupidity ..."

Sep. 06 2013 03:56 PM
larry

ps Thank you mary from scranton penn,

I would have appreciated a chance to debate Ken, but brian doesn't really have that format. I was against the Iraq invasion while ken supported it--it seems he is as war weary as the rest of us, and wary of the kind of lies that Dick Chaney put over the congress. It's funny how the hawks are now tired of war and want to isolate after creating a mess in afganistan and Iraq.

I will not respond to conspiricy nuts and speculate about taking over the world. This will be a congressionally authorized measured response from the only military power capable of action while the securty council is stalemated. We maintain 12 operational carrier attack groups with three in reserve. At least we can use them to punish those who would use terror weapons on civilians.

After 100,000 casualties and a third of country on the run the rebels are still fighting. If the air force and missiles are destroyed on the ground then the chemical weapons stay in their bunkers.

There will be some american casualties--they happen even in exercises. I wanted to ask Ken if he were the president and commander and chief of our military could he look at the pictures and read the reports and then roll over and go to sleep. Sorry but my approval rating will go down and I need to save my political capital for the next fight with a Republican hostile congress.

Sep. 06 2013 02:12 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ jgarbuz from Queens

Oh really yeah the Jordanian massacre... when was that again? And who is this "we", white man? Am I to understand Jordan is next on the list? Hey Jordan protesters did you hear that? Better tone down the civil disobedience or we'll march in and free the sh*t out of you!

Sep. 06 2013 01:47 PM
larry

I would point out to those who suspect the administration of attempting to effect a regime change under the guise of responding to this chemical attack that it would have been very easy to supply the insurrgents with shoulder mounted anti-air and tank weapons. Obama has taken a lot of heat for letting the rebels fight tanks and figther bombers with AK-47s.

Our policy might agree with a regime change but we don't want this to be a American covert operation using local forces. Obama is not Reagan.

Sep. 06 2013 01:45 PM
Jasper from Brooklyn

jgarbuz

From what I understand, you cannot simply strike a chemical depot without releasing the chemical agents into the atmosphere. Also chemical stockpiles are easily hidden and transported unlike large conventional weapons. A barrel of something is easy to move, bury, split into smaller containers, etc. And again, I don't see how backing Assad into a corner would help the situation, unless there are other objectives at play beyond the convenient smoke screen of chemical attacks on children.

Sep. 06 2013 12:02 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Mr. Bad

Jordan is a 70% Palestinian Arab population ruled by a Hashemite king whose family originated in Mecca, claiming descent from the Prophet. Almost everyone in the Middle East is being ruled by someone else. That is why we had the "Arab Spring."

Sep. 06 2013 12:00 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Jasper

Everything you say is possible. Assad does not want to end up in a spider hole and on the end of a rope like Saddam, nor as Khaddafi killed inside a big pipe. Therefore a strike on his chemical depots or on the rockets to deliver them might be the best thing to do. But not to get directly involved with boots on the ground, and let the civil war play out.

Sep. 06 2013 11:53 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

If you ever need a clear cut example of the utter and complete moral bankruptcy of our foreign policy just look at Bahrain. Bahrain is a 80% Shia country ruled by a Saudi puppet government (Sunni) where the people have been in open revolt since 2011 and were brutally put down. (Pretty much the mirror image of Syria.) But ya' know, we have a naval base there so...

*crickets*

Americans who mix up their morality with their politics with a straight face, especially foreign policy, should shut up. You aren't a realist, a pragmatist or an idealist you're a moron.

Sep. 06 2013 11:45 AM
Jasper from Brooklyn

jgarbuz

If we intervene to reduce his ability to use conventional means, why would he not use chemical weaponry to an even greater degree as you imply he has no logic. What does he have to lose in this case? Why would he not attack Israel in a final gasp (going by your assumptions). This war has to be about far more than we are being led to believe and wasting time discussing.

Sep. 06 2013 11:42 AM
linda turillo

Your previous guest, Representative Jeffreys, seems as uninformed as this guy:

A good corrective provided here:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/09/06/manufacturing-consent-on-syria/

Sep. 06 2013 11:38 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I support Obama in whatever decision he finally makes. He says, and I agree, that a limited spanking of Assad is necessary for breaking the chemical ban and murdering 1400 civilians with a chemical gas attack. He has to pay a price for that. Beyond that, we should not intervene in the civil war itself. There are no "good guys" in this civil war. No matter who wins, they will not be our friends. The principle here is the treaty to ban deadly gas from being used on civilians in particular.

Sep. 06 2013 11:37 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Keep in mind that all of the "moral" arguments made by the earnest, honorable callers are totally bullsh*t AIPAC trolls. The Syrian Civil War was started with Saudi and Qatari $ over a gas pipeline. They started the killing of women and children, they are the ones paying Al Nusra cannibals and Sharia nuts who execute children for joking about Mohammed and you know what? If we bomb Assad's military into the dust and the SNA takes over it will be Allawhite children and women and men being tortured and murdered and there will not be an end to this in our lifetime. But yes, the spice will flow, that's what we're supporting. Just be honest. Stop all this cr*p about chemical weapons and the horrors of war as if we all aren't dripping with the blood of innocent Afghani's and Iraqi's from head to toe already. It's just too much. It's too phony and nothing is lower and ore despicable than a sane person prescribing war as an antidote to human suffering. What did the poet say about history? It's all written on the same page? Something like that? Athens' democracy was once the envy of the world but they fell into tyranny too, it's just an endless regression into more mindless, pointless stupidity ...

Sep. 06 2013 11:33 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Betty

Israel never used poisonous gas that kills.

Sep. 06 2013 11:30 AM
betty

@ NICK from UWS
Cheers! Well put!

Sep. 06 2013 11:29 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Christine

Only 1/3rd of the colonists initially were in favor of rebellion against the British crown. About 1/3rd were neutral, and 1/3rd were in favor of staying attached to England. The American Revolution started as a minority rebellion. So the majority does not always rule.

Sep. 06 2013 11:28 AM
Mary from Scranton, Pa.

Thank you, Larry from Bayside, for articulating the ideas about Syrian intervention. "... his Rwanda..." Wow.

Sep. 06 2013 11:28 AM
betty

I love the way Bryan allows pro-attack callers on air for a while, but anti-attack callers he'll challenge with a bunch of questions. WNYC (public radio) is sooo bias.

1. There is no proof that assad is the one that used the weapons.
2. Israel used chem weapons back in 2006. Bryan, why aren't you bringing this up?
3. Syrians don't need our help. Also, Assad supporters are secular! that means they are normal, cool people like us. They are not the crazies. The rebels are the crazies.
4. Our gov is going there to secure resources and to weaken the Syrian army. Check who has the biggest armies in the middleeast and what a coincidence taht those are also the countries we keep messing with.

Sep. 06 2013 11:27 AM
Christine from Westchester

The citizens of the US don't want this. Our politicians need to stop and let the UN handle this. It's not our job to wade into their civil war. Further, the rebels ARE terrorist group members. Separate the moderates? Are you nuts?

Sep. 06 2013 11:25 AM
Christine from Westchester

The citizens of the US don't want this. Our politicians need to stop and let the UN handle this. It's not our job to wade into their civil war. Further, the rebels ARE terrorist group members. Separate the moderates? Are you nuts?

Sep. 06 2013 11:25 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Edith

Why did Assad use chemical weapons? Makes no sense? Because it makes it easier to terrorize and clear out a neighborhood full of rebels without having to take casualties of your own army. His own army is scared to attack these neighborhoods, so he uses gas to kill the whole neighborhood, and that is it.
With dictators there is no normal logic, only brutality. Why was Hitler so intent on killing Jews? What was the logic? He lost his top scientists as a result. He could have gotten atomic bombs with Jewish scientists. But killing Jews was more important than anything to him. That was his "logic." Not everything in life is logical.

Sep. 06 2013 11:21 AM
Edith from Manhattan

I asked this in the last segment, but this one is probably more appropriate:

This whole situation just seems to make no sense. Syria is not a completely backward country. They have a military stocked with jet fighters, bombers, tanks, Russian military tech, etc. Why would the leader decide to use chemical weapons of all things in an area with barely armed rebels which would in all probability cause outside forces to come in an quite possible make him lose control of the country?! It doesn't make sense, given all the other capabilities at his control. Something is not right here. The story is simply not believable.

What are some real concrete reasons we might be being led into war?

Sep. 06 2013 11:17 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

So what if Rouhani sent New Years greeting to Jews? So what? He also said that Israel is a "wound on Islam." So he has no problem with Jews as long as there is no Jewish state living on Jewish land. All the Muslim states say the same thing, that they have no problem with Jews as long as Jews don't have their own country and cannot defend themselves.

Sep. 06 2013 11:16 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I posted this in Rep. Jeffries' segment, but Mr. Pollack might be in a better position to answer it:

"I've been wondering if it would be possible to destroy the routes from the weapons depots (chemical & other) & the sites the weapons would be launched from. Do we have enough info on their locations? Could this be done accurately enough from offshore? Could it be done in a way & at a time that would minimize the risk of killing people?"

Basically, I'm thinking in terms of keeping the Assad regime from being able to use both types of weapons, chemical & conventional, as much as possible.

Sep. 06 2013 11:15 AM
Nick from UWS

What a deeply deeply stupid thing to do, start yet another war. What a deeply deeply stupid country we are. How deeply deeply stupid, to think that we can do a "limited" strike and expect there to be no ongoing conflict. How deeply deeply stupid. We deserve what we get for being this stupid after so long.

Sep. 06 2013 11:13 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Nonsense. Israel carried out two strikes on Syria, and Assad stopped transferring missiles to Hezbollah. If our own military has the same capability of Israel, we can carry out a limited strike to spank Assad and see to it he does not repeat the use of chemical weapons. But if we haven't got the same capability or determination as does Israel, we are really in bad shape for a nation of 300 million that the whole world counts on to uphold international norms.

Sep. 06 2013 11:12 AM
Sandra from UWS

Bombs and guns do not select between the guilty and the innocent. Do we need to kill more non-combantants to punish the leader. Bring on the SEALS and take al-Assad to The Hague.

Sep. 06 2013 10:57 AM

IF it can be shown that Syrian government originated the 8/21 attacks, our Congress should vote yes to a military response. If it can't be proven, we should keep them aware that we are watching them closely.

It is not yet clear - even though Obama and Kerry's *think* it is clear - that this gas attack was originated by the government.

There is still some doubt if this was the Syrians or the rebels. Erase the doubt and we'll all feel better making a choice.

Sep. 06 2013 10:55 AM

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