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Days after President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton warned that the use of chemical weapons by Bashar Al-Assad against his own people would cross a red line, NBC News reports that Assad's forces have loaded bombs with the deadly nerve agent Sarin, and are awaiting final orders from Assad.

Already 40,000 Syrians have been killed in the almost two year civil war, and as rebels close in on Syria's capital, Damascus, the fear is that the increasingly desperate Assad would deploy chemical weapons against the rebels. According to NBC News, the US government is preparing to recognize the opposition in Syria as the legitimate government next week. If Assad does cross the red line, what would the US government's response be? President Obama promised on Monday

The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable
Based on his track record, Obama does not make idle threats and he likes to build a multi-national regional coalition before making a military intervention. Would Assad's use of chemical weapons prompt the President to decide to intervene? Would chemical weapons use change the way Russia (which, fearing Islamist rule in Syria, has been against any military intervention) views what's happening in Syria?  

In either case, it seems that the final days of Bashar Al-Assad's regime are drawing near. Does he go quietly, or does he slaughter more of his own people and risk a US led military intervention?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Only thing worth saying right now: (10+ / 0-)

    Fuck fuckity fuck fuck fuck.

    Follow Me on Twitter! https://twitter.com/#!/ZeddRebel

    by TarantinoDork on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:34:33 PM PST

  •  Air Strikes (9+ / 0-)

    I would bet that most of those bombs will be taken out before they are even moved.  My guess those sites have been under constant surveillance since the rebels started fighting.  In my estimation the cruise missiles are already programmed.  The B2's are already in the air.

    I'm just here for the Mojo!

    by Gator on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:36:43 PM PST

    •  It seems that the US is already in position.. (10+ / 0-)

      According to this NEWS

      "The USS Eisenhower group joins the USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group which carries 2,500 Marines.  

      Facing Syria now are 10,000 US fighting men, 70 fighter-bombers and at least 17 warships, including the three Iwo Jima amphibious craft, a guided missile cruiser and 10 destroyers and frigates.
      Four of these vessels are armed with Aegis missile interceptors."

      Let's hope they are not needed !

      "The real difference between democracy and oligarchy is poverty and wealth. Wherever men rule by reason of their wealth, whether they be few or many, that is an oligarchy, and where the poor rule, that is democracy". Aristotle

      by MuskokaGord on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:46:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I heard on NPR There Are Rumors Assad is... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Hamlet

        looking for a way out of Syria so... I agree, let's hope those Marines are not needed.

        Let's hope for an end to the bloodshed.

        I'm just here for the Mojo!

        by Gator on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 05:55:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  If Syria isn't attacking us, (5+ / 0-)

        or at least Turkey (with which we have a mutual defense agreement, thanks to NATO), I don't see why they'd be needed at all.

        •  If Syria USES Chemical weapons (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          snowman3

          And I doubt they will by the way, but if they do, them I support a massive US airstrike to cripple their ability to fly the planes necessary to deliver the weapons.

          Chemical weapons are fuckimg evil, a blight agaimst humanity.

          The world must act against those that commit genocide or use WMDs...it is the moral act and will serve to stop others from using them in the future. Among the things that pisses me off about Bush, is that through his actions we can never again trust our government when they say WMDs were about to be used...we must now wait before we act.  

          But to be clear, if Assad uses sarin...I say send in the Air Force and blow his planes, missiles, command centers and the rest to bits.

          "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

          by Empty Vessel on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 08:21:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The only country that I know that did (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            protectspice

            ...both of those things in recent history is the United States.

            The world must act against those that commit genocide or use WMDs.


            A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

            by Pluto on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 09:25:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, we did (0+ / 0-)

              And,it was wrong...but that does make anyone else who does it right.  And as point of fact, all the European countries in   WWI used chemical weapons...leading to the Geneva,conventions.  Many have committed genocide moremrecentlymthan the US.

              Just because we did wrong in the past should not be used to argue against doing what is right in the present.

              "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

              by Empty Vessel on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 10:13:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Your source is Debka (6+ / 0-)

        I'd like to see another source that doesn't have quite as close a link to the Mossad.  

        (They do some useful translations from Arabic into English, but they are not an unbiased source.)

        "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

        by Yamaneko2 on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 07:00:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think (0+ / 0-)

      we'd want to be delivering air strikes in this case.

      Being the single intellectual in a village of 1,100 souls ain't much fun, especially when 1,099 of those don't think you're all that smart.--Lucy Marsden

      by Miniaussiefan on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 06:58:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  perhaps if this were illustrated with cartoons... (7+ / 0-)

    of a cartoon-y truck with a cartoon-y load of cartoon-y sarin this would be something we could present to the United Nations as proof.

  •  How exactly does one employ Sarin gas (8+ / 0-)

    in street-by-street combat again?

  •  What is Sarin? What does it do? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    renzo capetti, kurious, Smoh, FistJab

    This is such madness. I can't believe what we are seeing happen, and yet what can we do?

    I love Syrians deeply and am tremendously sorry for what's happening. A friend of mine is Syrian and lately just looks like she's shell-shocked all the time.

    This is abominable.

    Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

    by mahakali overdrive on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:49:37 PM PST

  •  Could these weapons be used against Israel? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, LLPete

    Could these weapons be used against Israel?
    That's the big question...
     

    The U.S. and Israel are closely monitoring Syria's suspected cache of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), fearing that terror groups could take advantage of the revolt against President Bashar al Assad to obtain blistering agents, nerve gas and long-range missiles, according to officials from both countries.
    that’s just one scenario
    I hate Fox also…
    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/...

    Love Me, I'm a Liberal!

    by simplesiemon on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:52:48 PM PST

  •  sweet merciful crap (4+ / 0-)

    these are actions of a desperate despot who knows he is otherwise in a corner, and out of options.

    this is indeed a grim turn.

    "everybody's got something to hide except for me and my monkey." -john lennon

    by homo neurotic on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 04:56:32 PM PST

  •  What is NBC's source? (10+ / 0-)

    Most analysts say that Syria doesn't need to prep most of its weapons because they are binary chemical weapons.  And analysts also say that this report comes from Israeli intelligence.

    Also, Syria's chemical weapons are primarily artillery shells and the populations where the battles are taking place are mixtures of pro- and anti-Assad groups and government soldiers.  The probability of Assad killing his own supporters with chemical weapons is very high and argues that this concern is mostly bogus.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 05:01:27 PM PST

    •  I don't know what's NBC's source (0+ / 0-)

      but the US government has reported activity in the preceding days around Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.

      http://www.usatoday.com/...

      •  Anonymous source... (6+ / 0-)
        A senior defense official said intelligence officials have detected activity around more than one of Syria's chemical weapons sites in the last week.
        The most prudent thing that the Assad government should be doing ins reinforcing the guards around these sites so that they do not come into play in the conflict.  That prudent action would constitute "activity".

        Unless someone is doing some WMD-type hyping to get US involvement in this mess.

        50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

        by TarheelDem on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 05:39:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bush destroyed more than the economy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LLPete

          He destroyed the confidence in government. Assad may very well be prepared to use sarin gas, but after the Bush/Cheney lies about WMD, people have this almost pavlovian reaction the minute the government talks about some threat.

          I'm absolutely confident that President Obama doesn't lie. But there is a little part of me that wonders if he is being lied to. I keep reassuring myself with the thought that President Obama is very well aware of the shenanigans leading to the Iraq war, and has surely put some effort into making sure the intelligence apparatus isn't feeding him bogus information.

          •  umm, Pluto is arguing (5+ / 0-)

            that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was a good time to lose confidence in a government when warfare is involved.

            I think I'll go with Pluto.

            •  Good move. (4+ / 0-)

              I happen to be right about this one.

              But we have the same oafs and orcs populating America -- the same ones who fell for the Afghanistan and Iraq idiocy.

              The US is desperate for a boots-on-the-ground war. Any goddamn war will do. Syria is a bullshit proxy war armed and fought by outsiders -- but we already blew it there.

              But perhaps this fresh Syria horseshit is a distraction for our brand new war taking place right now:

              Pentagon planning for multinational military operation in Mali
              U.S. military planners have begun to help organize a multinational proxy force to intervene next year in Mali, the famine-stricken, coup-wracked African country that has become a magnet for Islamist extremists, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

              The international force would be led on the ground by several thousand Malian and West African troops but would receive extensive support from the Pentagon and the State Department, which would help train, equip and transport the troops, Obama administration officials said.

              The disclosure that U.S. military planners have started to prepare for the intervention was made by officials from the State Department and Pentagon at a Senate hearing Wednesday. It was the clearest sign yet that the administration has decided to take a more aggressive stance against al-Qaeda’s growing affiliate in North Africa and to try to restore order in Mali, a Saharan country on the verge of collapse.

              A military operation in Mali, however, will inevitably be messy and unpredictable. The chronic instability in the country, one of the world’s poorest and riven by tribal divisions and corruption, has rapidly worsened since Islamist extremists took control of northern Mali — a chunk of territory the size of Texas — this year.

              Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Africa, called northern Mali “the largest territory controlled by Islamic extremists in the world.”

              Other U.S. officials said al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate, which for years attracted limited global attention, poses an increasing threat. The group has become well-stocked with weapons smuggled out of Libya after the NATO-led war there last year. It finances its operations by smuggling rackets and by kidnapping foreigners for ransom.

              At the same time, U.S. officials acknowledged that the group has not demonstrated an ability to launch terrorist attacks outside the region. Some independent analysts have questioned whether the administration’s strategy could backfire by embroiling the United States in an in­trac­table local conflict.

              http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

              This is a marriage made in heave for Our corrupt Defense Overlords and totally depraved State Department.

              Watch the American people become suckers one more time on the international stage.


              A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

              by Pluto on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 07:06:27 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Obama made a pro forma statement (0+ / 0-)

            ...likely to quiet Israel down to the effect that the actual use of chemical weapons crossing a red line as far as the US is concerned.  That statement is intended to also deter Assad.

            But as I said above, Assad's use of chemical weapons against the FSA or other opposition risks also affecting supporters of the regime.  They are not segregated by politics in the cities.

            My sense is that the President is handling this with a great deal of restraint and letting events unfold without the usual practice of bigfooting US power.

            50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

            by TarheelDem on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 06:54:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Here's the Pentagon source (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        protectspice

        http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/...

        This is bullshit.  

        This place needs a PVP server.

        by JesseCW on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 07:20:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Let's recall NBC, circa 2002 (4+ / 0-)

      Circular references are a no/no in financial modeling, but they're a must in galvanizing support for a cause.....

      Bush's War

      http://www.pbs.org/...

      NEWSCASTER: From NBC News in Washington, this is Meet the Press.

      NEWSCASTER: Today on Face the Nation, Condoleezza Rice on Iraq and Iran and-

      NEWSCASTER: From Washington, This Week with ABC News chief-

      NARRATOR: The administration would also use the media to promote its case. September 8, 2002, was the kickoff. It began with a New York Times story.

      ["Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium."]

      NARRATOR: The source of the story had been the administration itself.

      TOM ROSENSTIEL, Dir., Project for Excellence in Journalism: We now know that you had people on the vice president's staff talking to key reporters doing these stories for The Times.

      NARRATOR: The same day the story broke in the newspaper, the vice president and others referenced it on television.

      CONDOLEEZA RICE, National Security Adviser: [CNN "Late Edition," September 8, 2002] Iraq- for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only-

      TOM ROSENSTIEL: Those stories would appear, and then they would reference the very material that they'd given them and say, "See? This is coming from The New York Times, not just us."

      Vice Pres. DICK CHENEY: ["Meet the Press," September 8, 2002] -tubes. There's a story in The New York Times this morning- this is- and I want to attribute The Times. I don't want to talk about-

      TOM ROSENSTIEL: It had an echo effect. It had an echo effect that the administration was conscious of, and employed.

      NARRATOR: The allegation that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear program would become a part of the public debate.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

      by PatriciaVa on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 06:44:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Seconding Tarheel---story of this size needs more (6+ / 0-)

    confirmation.

  •  Waiting For Reports (11+ / 0-)

    Of purchases of aluminum tubes.  Seen this before.

    -approaching Curmudgeonry with pleasure

    by Calfacon on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 05:14:29 PM PST

    •  Sometimes bad stuff is real (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Hamlet, FistJab

      Not everything bad is a Ct from the government. Sometimes war actually can be the right think, look at Kosovo. Clinton helped stop genocide....

      Iraq was not the right thing, but stopping the use of chemical weapons on people we should have been helping already is the right thing to do.

      •  Sometimes it's bullshit catapulted by chickenhawks (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto

        This place needs a PVP server.

        by JesseCW on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 07:23:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There they go again. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW, blueness


          A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

          by Pluto on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 07:27:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  That link is older than the link in the diary (0+ / 0-)

          so while the report linked to in the diary may ultimately not be true, your link does not show that at all.

        •  ok, you have posted this same link (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          snowman3, mahakali overdrive

          Like a dozen time.  As has been noted, its from yesterday, the article the diarist linked to is today,from the sme source...NBC.

          This link just isn't a refutation of the first link...they coulda started today or last night.

          As I have said elsewhere, I really doubt that Assad would use chemical weapons.  So my comment is Not because I beleive this article.  Skepticism is very, very warranted here.

          Just sayin that your link is not a valid refutation of the current story.

          "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

          by Empty Vessel on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 07:32:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  it's the extreme antiwar position: (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            snowman3, Empty Vessel, killjoy

            All war is evil  and a product of nefarious M.I.C. intentions.  Therefore everything is a conspiracy -- and even if we have to dig up an outdated news report to bolster our case, we will do so and hope no one catches it.

            I'm with you on the skepticism aspect.  We need local sources' confirmation--not just 'unnamed defense/intelligence' sources.

            •  Sadly (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bevenro, LLPete, mahakali overdrive

              As someone else said, given the history of bogus claims for war by the US, there is no way many folks will beleive the US if we act premptively and stop Assad.  Before the US can act, Assad has to actually do it...if Obama is concerned with people actually believing it was justified.

              Like I said, I am very skeptical.  But assuming for the moment it's real, and that Obama could actually prevent it...I would hope that he would and accept the disbelief and scorn that will come his way and stop it.  And to be clear, that disbelief and scorn would be coming from me as well.

              This is why a nation should never lie its way into war. Cause once they do, they can never be trusted, even when the threat is real.

              "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

              by Empty Vessel on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 08:00:17 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Bush would have preemptively attacked (8+ / 0-)

    Cuba by now.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 05:20:28 PM PST

    •  Anyone want to hazard a guess on how many (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love

      times the word "Libya" has come up in diplomatic channels with Assad? I don't like it but watching Obama for the past 4 years I know he gets how to use threats. And what happened to Ghadaffi has got to be in the talks with Assad. If you want to see the stark contrast between cowboy diplomacy and the real thing you need look no further than what's happening right now in Syria.

      To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

      by ontheleftcoast on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 06:03:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What if Assad does have "stockpiles" (5+ / 0-)

    of such weapons about to fall into the hands of one of the various opposition groups. Should he simply abandon them to whomever, endeavor to protect them, or move them to a more secure location? If he goes with the last option, would that be considered deployment and prompt a U.S./Israeli attack?

    Would we want such weapons to fall into the hands of one of the factions that posts boastful videos of the executions of unarmed prisoners on youtube? The Assad regime has had such weapons for decades as a deterrent against Israel, and Israel has the largest stockpiles of WMD in the region.

    The internationally induced chaos in Syria will have all sorts of unintended consequences that we will be living with for many years to come.



    Those who do not move, do not notice their chains. Rosa Luxemburg

    by chuckvw on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 05:50:16 PM PST

    •  The U.S. holds the largest stocks of WMD (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, JesseCW, protectspice

      on the planet, of course.



      Those who do not move, do not notice their chains. Rosa Luxemburg

      by chuckvw on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 05:56:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, we've been watching him move the... (4+ / 0-)

      weapons around for a while now, and have made it clear that our government has no problem with attempts to further secure them. In fact, the security of those weapons has likely been a primary reason for deciding not to further escalate our involvement in the conflict.

      "The Democratic Party is not our friend: it is the only party we can negotiate with."

      by 2020adam on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 06:02:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Assad could simply have underlings separately (0+ / 0-)

      blow up and/or ignite the stores of the component chemicals that need to be mixed to generate the nerve gas.  Assad's chemical weapons component stocks are said to amount to a few hundred tons and this procedure is effective enough.

      If the U.S. had to deal with Syria militarily, one of the first American moves would be blow up all the nerve gas chemical storage containers that can be found from the air and ignite whatever volatile gases emerge with napalm or gas-air explosives.  Same result.

      Sure, that still makes an environmental mess of toxic chemicals- but these would be an awful lot less lethal than nerve gas, probably toxic mostly in the sense of noxious and carcinogenic.  Everyone keeps stores of nerve gas stuff in depots far away and definitely downwind from population centers, usually in deserts or on faraway islands.

      The U.S. destroyed all its nerve gas component stocks- (and the residual ones of several other countries, presumably)- tens of thousands of tons of nasty chemicals- by incineration on very remote Johnson Island in the Pacific in the 1990s.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      There will be 'chaos' in Syria if Assad falls, no matter who causes it. It's in the nature of dictatorships that when they fall, practically all the institutions supporting them fall too.  People start off with close to nothing and have to reinvent their government, laws, and standards when dictators topple.  But there is no other way.

      •  They won't start with nothing, unfortunately (0+ / 0-)

        There will be well-organized cadres of foreign fighters, salafists and other fundamentalists, not to mention the agents, spooks and mercenaries of several foreign powers. The idea that this war is simply between evil Assad and noble freedom fighters is nonsense. In "liberated" parts of Aleppo, it seems, women are already forbidden to drive and appear in public unaccompanied... in order "to protect their modesty" (although it is difficult to know what's actually happening given the fact that all sides lie)...

        Assad can't "simply" do anything. You know, what with the civil war and all.

        The U.S. has the largest nuclear arsenal and the most sophisticated multi-tiered array of "conventional" weaponry in the world. (Depleted uranium, for example, has lingering, severely toxic effects beyond its immediate lethality.) The U.S. simply didn't need its collection of decaying, 50-year-old chemical agents. They have a huge redundancy in mass destructive power without them.



        Those who do not move, do not notice their chains. Rosa Luxemburg

        by chuckvw on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 12:48:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  We've let instability rage on for long enough. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw

    Feeding the opposition small arms and nothing more has simply made for an even more unstable situation. At this point, the possibilities for death and destruction inside Syria and across the region are limitless. Tens of thousands more could easily die at the hands of these weapons.

    The Islamist infiltrators have used the time and the power vacuum to gain military and popular strength. They may be able to leverage it to play too large a role in the government that will follow.

    Having overplayed our hand in Libya, using the 'no fly zone' to instead destroy the government as a whole, it seems we've boxed ourselves in and made it impossible to simply knock out the Syrian government's murderous air power. I don't know what options that leaves us with, beside watching this conflagration grow larger and more brutal.

    "The Democratic Party is not our friend: it is the only party we can negotiate with."

    by 2020adam on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 05:58:20 PM PST

  •  I'm not convinced. (3+ / 0-)

    It would go completely against the psychological profile we have of Assad (based, unlike most profiles of tyrants, on extensive knowledge since he lived in the UK for years) as a person who doesn't want to die.  I could (remotely) imagine a situation in which some of his allies, who know they wouldn't get to retire to Russia like Assad and his family, might do this against his wishes to force him to assume a dead-ender position, but in that case why don't they just kill him and pretend the revolution has triumphed?

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 06:08:37 PM PST

    •  And I'd be willing to be that if it were a GOPer.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rich in PA, JesseCW

      ...at 1600, 95% of Kossacks would agree with you.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

      by PatriciaVa on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 06:46:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Assad's situation is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rich in PA

      that after two years of war his conventional military is close to spent.  The equipment's been run down to crap from all the use and there isn't much in the way of replacements or spare parts.  Average soldiers are good for stalemate-y campaigns of maybe six months in a row if that and then they lose motivation and efficiency as infantry and such.  

      When the infantry and infantry logistics and tank corps are degraded in effectiveness to the point the Syrian Army's must be now, army commanders tend to go over to cruder tactics of artillery and bombers flattening the opponent (and plenty of civilians).  When that goes to crap too- artillery pieces and airplanes do crap out pretty fast, ammo runs out/low, pilots and gunners become gun shy and miss targets and stop caring- then Assad has to look around in his armaments and personnel for whoever/whatever isn't spent yet and has some promise of military effects.  After artillery and bombers are spent that's usually specialized stuff like SCUD rockets.  Assad supposedly has some SCUDs, but their real military value is low against a very diffuse opponent, with no opponent cities or assembled major armies to attack.  So, finally , nerve gas.

      Politically Assad is undefeated- domestically the Alawite and Christians are with him still, so is the 30% of the population that can be bought off or is in perpetual need of a Great Leader.  Internationally, Moscow and Teheran and Beijing are still with him.  Maliki in Iraq probably also, under the table.  Israel is too vulnerable to rocket and poison gas attacks and its small military on the wrong side of a cost/benefit/risk arithmetic to dare much.  Turkey is largely being timid/conservative and popular opinion opposed to Kurdish autonomy seems to be the strongest driver of policy.

      The United States is the big, game-changing, wild card.  It nursed and then armed and helped organize the rebellion.  It has now put a significant protection for Turkey in place in the forms of an anti-aircraft/anti-missile rocket shield.  All that's needed for Kosovo/Libya II now is the U.S. Air Force assembling in force at Incirlik.  The U.S. can do a very leisurely stroll toward militarily strangling Assad while professing a desire to not intervene now; Assad in turn is running thin on useful military forces and time.  Teheran has no game changers to offer.  Moscow has reached the limits of what it can do with semi-defensible rationales.  Assad is looking at relentless slow attrition.

      That leaves gambling with the few high cards left in his hand.  Which amounts to the nerve gas weaponry.

      •  OK, but if he does that he definitely dies (0+ / 0-)

        He doesn't have any Qaddafi-bravado interest in how he's remembered when he's gone. Running away is the much better option.  

        You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

        by Rich in PA on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 03:47:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The whole thing is (0+ / 0-)

          driven by the ego/pride/vanity/sunk costs that Assad must have, ultimately.

          That's the deep difference between dictators and little people.  Little people flee because whatever is worth most to them and makes up their raison d'etre lies within their heads and hearts and family group.  For dictators that's all been discarded and emptied out by Will To Power and substituted for by fetishizing of the marks power leaves (such as it does)- the monuments, the massacres, the rubbled cities, the fear and awe with which people speak their name.

  •  Saddam Hussein readied those in 2003 too (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chuckvw, Pluto, JesseCW

    Remember that?

    "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

    by Shane Hensinger on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 06:13:05 PM PST

    •  except that Hussein didn't have them and Assad (0+ / 0-)

      almost certainly does... (there wasn't any Iran/Iraq war, or No Fly Zone in Syria...)

      that said, I remain skeptical until I see confirmation elsewhere in the international press.

    •  Except Sadam said he didnt have any (0+ / 0-)

      And Syria has repeatedly acknowledged that they have chemical weapons.

      it is NOT the same situation.

      •  Because a state possesses a weapon (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        protectspice

        does not mean it's likely to be used. Israel has fought numerous wars and never used nuclear weapons, nor has the US, China, Pakistan, India or Russia.

        This is bogus, unconfirmed intelligence which reeks of a political agenda. US intel on Syria is FULL of holes a mile wide - we had no idea a rebellion was brewing, still have no idea of the ideology of the leadership of most of the anti-Assad opposition and we have no idea what will come afterwards. Consulting a magic 8-ball would be as accurate as US intelligence on Syria.

        "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

        by Shane Hensinger on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 09:55:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Anyone know what Al Jazeera has to say about (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    defluxion10, mahakali overdrive

    all this?

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 06:24:48 PM PST

  •  If true, I really ain't making a guess on that (0+ / 0-)

    This is the nightmare scenario.  All I can guess is this.  If Assad does use Sarin, even once, US cruise missiles, fighters and bombers are going to swarm into Syria.

    As someone else said, Obama doesn't bluff on this sort of thing.  He said its a red line...and I suspect he really means it.

    All that said, for Assad to use chemical weapons is equivalent to Assad committing suicide...he knows that.  No country will take him after that...he will be killed.  I find it hard to believe that he is gonna go out that way.  I doubt, he will use chemical weapons. And Christ I hope I'm right.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 06:55:45 PM PST

  •  Bullshit. (5+ / 0-)

    http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/...

    The Pentagon says they have NO evidence he's preparing to use chemical.

    This place needs a PVP server.

    by JesseCW on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 07:07:05 PM PST

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