US moves naval group closer to Syria

posted at 11:31 am on August 24, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Has the White House decided to retaliate against the Bashar al-Assad regime after an alleged chemical attack on a Damascus neighborhood left hundreds dead?  The US reiterated today that no one has established with certainty what happened — but an American naval group has started toward Syria (via Instapundit):

U.S. naval forces are moving closer to Syria as President Barack Obama considers military options for responding to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad government. The president emphasized that a quick intervention in the Syrian civil war was problematic, given the international considerations that should precede a military strike.

The White House said the president would meet Saturday with his national security team to consider possible next steps by the United States. Officials say once the facts are clear, Obama will make a decision about how to proceed.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel declined to discuss any specific force movements while saying that Obama had asked the Pentagon to prepare military options for Syria. U.S. defense officials told The Associated Press that the Navy had sent a fourth warship armed with ballistic missiles into the eastern Mediterranean Sea but without immediate orders for any missile launch into Syria.

It’s becoming clearer that some kind of chemical weapons were used in the attack:

hree hospitals in Syria’s Damascus governorate that are supported by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have reported to MSF that they received approximately 3,600 patients displaying neurotoxic symptoms in less than three hours on the morning of Wednesday, August 21, 2013. Of those patients, 355 reportedly died.

Since 2012, MSF has built a strong and reliable collaboration with medical networks, hospitals and medical points in the Damascus governorate, and has been providing them with drugs, medical equipment and technical support. Due to significant security risks, MSF staff members have not been able to access the facilities.

“Medical staff working in these facilities provided detailed information to MSF doctors regarding large numbers of patients arriving with symptoms including convulsions, excess saliva, pinpoint pupils, blurred vision and respiratory distress,” said Dr. Bart Janssens, MSF director of operations.

Patients were treated using MSF-supplied atropine, a drug used to treat neurotoxic symptoms. MSF is now trying to replenish the facilities’ empty stocks and provide additional medical supplies and guidance.

“MSF can neither scientifically confirm the cause of these symptoms nor establish who is responsible for the attack,” said Dr. Janssens. “However, the reported symptoms of the patients, in addition to the epidemiological pattern of the events—characterized by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers—strongly indicate mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent. This would constitute a violation of international humanitarian law, which absolutely prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons.”

However, that still doesn’t answer the central question of which side used the weapons. Who will US naval forces target once they arrive?  Syrian state media confirms that chemical weapons were used in the attack — but says it was the rebels that used them:

Syrian state media accused rebels of using chemical arms on Saturday against government troops trying to storm a contested neighborhood of Damascus, claiming a major army offensive in recent days had forced the opposition fighters to resort to such weapons “as their last card.”

State TV broadcast images of plastic jugs, gas masks, vials of an unspecified medication, explosives and other items that it said were seized from rebel hideouts. It did not, however, show any video of soldiers reportedly affected by toxic gas in the fighting in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus.

Still, the claims could muddy the debate about who was responsible for an alleged gas attack on rebel-held suburbs of the capital on Wednesday that activists say killed more than 130 people. That attack has spurred demands for an independent investigation and renewed talk of potential international military action if chemical weapons were indeed used.

The Assad regime still hasn’t allowed the UN inspection team into the area to check out the reports themselves.  That could mean that the Assad regime is lying and trying to cover up the attack, or it might just be that the battle is still ongoing — as this report indicates. Whether or not it’s the former — and let’s face it, that’s the likely explanation — state media isn’t hesitating to pin the blame on other big players in the region, both American allies:

One message cited a Syrian TV journalist who is embedded with the troops in the district who said the army confiscated an arms cache that included gas masks and several barrels with “made in Saudi Arabia” stamped on them. It did not say what was in the barrels, but appeared to suggest that some sort of chemical agent was inside and supplied by Saudi Arabia, the region’s Sunni Muslim power and a staunch supporter of Syria’s Sunni-led revolt.

Another news scroll said that troops, after overrunning rebel positions, discovered antidotes following exposure to chemical agents. The TV said the medicines were produced by a Qatari-German medical supplies company. Qatar is another strong supporter of the Syrian rebels.

On one side, we have a hereditary dictatorship that has a track record of genocidal attacks on its own people.  On the other side, we have an aggregation of impotent secularists and radical Sunni Islamists with a track record of mass-murder attack on civilians.  The question isn’t which would use chemical weapons to further their cause, it’s which wouldn’t, and the answer is neither.  Unless we start bombing everyone, it’s difficult to see why we’d want to intervene at all, except to grab or neutralize whatever stores of chemical weapons we can find.


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US moves naval group closer to Syria

It’s comforting to know that no matter who we bomb, it will simultaneously be the wrong and right people.

MaiDee on August 24, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Ooohhhh, that’ll teach em. Just stop, you’re not fooling anyone, Obama.

Cindy Munford on August 24, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Bottom line: who gives a rodent’s rear end?

I remember two presidents named Bush who went after a dictator who had been gassing his own people. They wound up vilified by the same leftists now running Washington and insisting we must ‘do something’.

Screw that.

kd6rxl on August 24, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Help the Christians if we can. The rest can go to hell.

celtic warrior on August 24, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Note to AP Ignoramus: We do not carry ballistic missiles on our surface ships.

A Balrog of Morgoth on August 24, 2013 at 11:48 AM

I’ve got a bad feeling about all of this. The buffoons in DC are going to “lead” us right into WWIII.

AScott on August 24, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Bottom line: who gives a rodent’s rear end?

I remember two presidents named Bush who went after a dictator who had been gassing his own people. They wound up vilified by the same leftists now running Washington and insisting we must ‘do something’.

Screw that.

kd6rxl on August 24, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Those same leftists, when their man Bill was in the Oval Orific…er…Office, wanted said dictator removed by any means necessary.

Steve Eggleston on August 24, 2013 at 11:52 AM

War.

The most powerful diversion from homeland failure.

Shiny objects all around…

katy on August 24, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Who’s the enemy . . . or will it be safe to just hit anybody in the region. This cannot end well.

rplat on August 24, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Unless we start bombing everyone, it’s difficult to see why we’d want to intervene at all, except to grab or neutralize whatever stores of chemical weapons we can find.

Impractical at best, bloody fiasco at worst. The stuff is well stashed by now and we have no real interests or friends there.

Help the Christians if we can. The rest can go to hell.

celtic warrior on August 24, 2013 at 11:48 AM

I agree. Lets evac the Christians.

Unless Zero wants to hear catcalls about WMDs….

dogsoldier on August 24, 2013 at 11:57 AM

On one side, we have a hereditary dictatorship that has a track record of genocidal attacks on its own people. On the other side, we have an aggregation of impotent secularists and radical Sunni Islamists with a track record of mass-murder attack on civilians. The question isn’t which would use chemical weapons to further their cause, it’s which wouldn’t, and the answer is neither. Unless we start bombing everyone, it’s difficult to see why we’d want to intervene at all, except to grab or neutralize whatever stores of chemical weapons we can find.

This is not going to end well. 12 years after 9/11, our country is rushing in to aid and assist, it seems, the organization that attacked us at home.

There is no good guy in this fight – the US cannot – *cannot* – come out of this well. If we exert influence or force at all, in any way, no matter how this ends – we lose – we will have supported, militarily, a terrorist regime.

What am I saying? That seems to be the constant thread in Obama’s foreign policy efforts.

Midas on August 24, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Barky can’t blow anything up. His Nobel Peace Prize might crack like the Lady of Shallot’s mirror.

trigon on August 24, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Obama ordered the ships to be filled with thousands of
Muslim Brotherhood members ready to storm the shores of Syria and community organize the Syrians….

albill on August 24, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Oh, another war to get into. Yay.

RebeccaH on August 24, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Warmonger. Cue the giant paper-mache heads.

Soooo.lefties..is this the Hope or the Change?

Bishop on August 24, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Note to AP Ignoramus: We do not carry ballistic missiles on our surface ships.

A Balrog of Morgoth on August 24, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Indeed, the only ballistic missiles the Navy has are nuclear Trident IIs carried on Ohio-class submarines (at least those that haven’t been converted to carry a heap of Tomahawk cruise missiles). Is Teh SCOAMT going to put the canine teeth into “any WMD use justifies a nuking” premise? If so, why does he need to put more than a quarter of the SSBNs at risk?

Steve Eggleston on August 24, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Warmonger. Cue the giant paper-mache heads.

Soooo.lefties..is this the Hope or the Change?

Bishop on August 24, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Change.

Steve Eggleston on August 24, 2013 at 12:18 PM

We do have ballistic missiles on our ships that go under water.

Bishop on August 24, 2013 at 12:19 PM

A 10% kill rate doesn’t seem that effective for a govt to use against rebels. On the other hand, the rebels would stand to gain a lot in terms of terror and misguided assistance.

Is Obama about to be pawned – again?

OldEnglish on August 24, 2013 at 12:21 PM

There is no good guy in this fight – the US cannot – *cannot* – come out of this well. If we exert influence or force at all, in any way, no matter how this ends – we lose – we will have supported, militarily, a terrorist regime.

What am I saying? That seems to be the constant thread in Obama’s foreign policy efforts.

Midas on August 24, 2013 at 12:02 PM

That’s just a corollary to the real constant thread in Team SCOAMT’s foreign policy – <expletive deleted> over those who weren’t hostile to Dubya.

Steve Eggleston on August 24, 2013 at 12:22 PM

How about determining which chemical or chemicals were used, and how they were deployed?

Those would seem rather important details to leave unanswered.

Who? – TBD
What? – TBD
Why? – TBD
When? – Known
Where? – Known
How? – TBD

Christien on August 24, 2013 at 12:23 PM

US moves naval group closer to Syria

AKA: Operation Manhood

myiq2xu on August 24, 2013 at 12:24 PM

“MSF can neither scientifically confirm the cause of these symptoms nor establish who is responsible for the attack,” said Dr. Janssens.

Why would Assad use chemical weapons, knowing it could bring the US into the conflict, especially considering that he is winning at present?

Cleombrotus on August 24, 2013 at 12:25 PM

The folks in the middle east need the peace and tolerance of Islam more than ever. Why don’t they open up a few cans of that?

We in the west are mere observers of the struggle between sunni/shia Islam for dominance. It all boils down to shia wanting to use sharp blades on the world and the sunni who want to use dull blades on the world.

America is in favor of dull blades and is its enemies greatest friend, Allie and promoter. Crazy world isn’t it?

BL@KBIRD on August 24, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Christien on August 24, 2013 at 12:23 PM

You expect such detailed analysis from the mob who gave you Obamacare – we have to pass it so you can find out what’s in it?

OldEnglish on August 24, 2013 at 12:26 PM

As bad as Assad is compared to the rebels he’s probably the lesser of two evils.

It’s not that I think we are backing the wrong horse, I don’t think we should be backing any of them. There are no good guys in Syria, just bad guys on both sides and victims in the middle.

myiq2xu on August 24, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Sure seems odd to fake videos about a “chemical-weapons attack” if there actually was a chemical-weapons attack. It sorta makes me think there might not have been a “chemical-weapons” attack.

Here’s hoping the Obama administration is basing their decision on something other than fake videos and accounts from activist “physicians”.

happytobehere on August 24, 2013 at 12:27 PM

So comforting to know we have a third rate Junior Senator from Chicago in charge.

Cleombrotus on August 24, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Is Samantha Power moving closer to Turtle Bay, or is all transport from Ireland still unavailable?

Christien on August 24, 2013 at 12:28 PM

You expect such detailed analysis from the mob who gave you Obamacare – we have to pass it so you can find out what’s in it?

OldEnglish on August 24, 2013 at 12:26 PM

I know, I know. It used to be just basic logic and journalism 101, which are now alien concepts.

Christien on August 24, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Is Samantha Power moving closer to Turtle Bay, or is all transport from Ireland still unavailable?

Christien on August 24, 2013 at 12:28 PM

She doesn’t warrant the full-deck carrier and the Marine assault ship Teh SCOAMT warranted on his last visit to Ireland, after all.

Steve Eggleston on August 24, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Oobama seeks to look like a leader, when he’s really navel-gazing.

Liam on August 24, 2013 at 12:32 PM

So comforting to know we have a third rate Junior Senator from Chicago in charge.

Cleombrotus on August 24, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Hey, apologize to Mark Kirk; Teh SCOAMT is at best fourth-rate.

Steve Eggleston on August 24, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Steve Eggleston on August 24, 2013 at 12:31 PM

True dat. But in the time already elapsed, I could’ve flown commercial on my own dime from the West Coast to Dublin and back, several times.

Christien on August 24, 2013 at 12:35 PM

If we last that long, I think the next Presidential aspirant must show that he’s had at least two fistfights in his growing up years before he can be trusted with the mechanisms of American war powers.

Enough of these mom pants wearing fools with their fingers on the triggers.

Cleombrotus on August 24, 2013 at 12:35 PM

How about, just for sake of entertainment, some trolls pop in to defend their precious Obama?

Class it as “Things We Would Like To See.”

Liam on August 24, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Teh SCOAMT is at best fourth-rate.

Steve Eggleston on August 24, 2013 at 12:33 PM

True Dat. My apologies, Mark.

Cleombrotus on August 24, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Christien on August 24, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Indeed!

OldEnglish on August 24, 2013 at 12:39 PM

1 Why are we getting involved in a fight which is not only none of our business but in which BOTH sides are the enemy?
2 If poison gas is being used at all, how do we know that the rebels aren’t the ones using it to draw the US into the war on their side? (Note Al Qaeda wouldn’t hesitate to use gas on their own people to win the war by getting the US enter the fight.)
3 Killing is killing. Gas, napalm, bullets, bombs, knives, meat cleavers,axes, swords, broken bottles, fragmentation grenades–what difference does it make? Why this phony baloney moralizing over what weaponry is used?

MaiDee on August 24, 2013 at 12:47 PM

MaiDee on August 24, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Good questions.

Now sit down and shut up you neo-confederate racist.

Love,
Obama, the media, and the Left

Liam on August 24, 2013 at 12:49 PM

We do have ballistic missiles on our ships that go under water.

Bishop on August 24, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Submarines are considered ‘boats’.

I don’t know why.

trigon on August 24, 2013 at 12:50 PM

If we want your opinion, we’ll beat it out of you.

Love,
Liberals

Liam on August 24, 2013 at 12:53 PM

this is yesterday’s Fri news dump I know…but the open borders crowd has chalked up another win

The Obama administration issued a new policy Friday that says immigration agents should try not to arrest and deport illegal immigrant parents of minor children. The move adds to the categories of people the administration is trying not to deport.

In a nine-page memo, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said agents should use “prosecutorial discretion” to try to avoid detaining parents and, if parents are detained, agents should make sure they have the ability to visit with their children or participate in family court proceedings.

We have to be honest and say there’s lots of big money, powerful people, who really do want a U S of North America. Vincente Foxes vision may someday come to fruition…

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/aug/23/new-obama-policy-warns-agents-not-detain-illegal-i/

r keller on August 24, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Has anybody even looked into whether there were chemical plants or storage facilities in the area, much less what the prevailing winds were at the time of the attacks? How about is there any wreckage of tanker trucks in the vicinity?

The Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India, killed 18,000 within two weeks as well as thousands more afterward. It was a fertilizer plant leak.

Christien on August 24, 2013 at 12:59 PM

The USA does not have a dog in this fight.

unclesmrgol on August 24, 2013 at 1:02 PM

The USA does not have a dog in this fight.

unclesmrgol on August 24, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Maybe because Obama ate it?

Liam on August 24, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Now sit down and shut up you neo-confederate racist.

Love,
Obama, the media, and the Left

Liam on August 24, 2013 at 12:49 PM

But, but but–Mr Obama, sir—-My great grandfather, with the Army of the Ohio, in 1864 served in the Atlanta Campaign with General Sherman to help liberate the blacks. I even have the letters written home by him to prove it. Mr Obama, Your Holiness, doesn’t that count for something? Can’t you at least take away the term “racist” in describing me. To me a racist is anyone who does the following to a member of another race, viz:

1 Shoots an innocent baby in the face because of being frustrated by a botched robbery.
2 Shoots an Australian tourist because of “boredom.”
3 Beats a helpless 89 war veteran to death simply because he is a helpless 89 year old who can’t defend himself.

MaiDee on August 24, 2013 at 1:06 PM

The USA does not have a dog in this fight.

unclesmrgol on August 24, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Maybe because Obama ate it?

Liam on August 24, 2013 at 1:04 PM

If this were AoSHQ, I’d sock an “Uuuurp!”

Steve Eggleston on August 24, 2013 at 1:08 PM

The US reiterated today that no one has established with certainty what happened.

Let’s make one thing clear: there’s no way that Assad would have used chemical weapons and invited the wrath of the west upon him. It makes no sense at all.

On the other hand, the rebels have a very strong motive to use chemical weapons and try to blame Assad for it, and that motive is to get the west involved in a round the clock Libya style bombing so they can win. To think we are on the verge of initiating war on behalf of the al Quaeda and Muslim Brotherhood backed rebels that used chemical weapons is the ultimate insanity.

Stay out of Syria!

anotherJoe on August 24, 2013 at 1:11 PM

We just got a 911 call report about a building on fire. Maybe we should see if the firetruck will start.

growl on August 24, 2013 at 1:16 PM

Let’s see…American-backed Libyan rebels attack Benghazi consulate on September 11th, of all days. American-backed rebels launch chemical attack in Syria one year to the day after Obama’s Red Line speech, and immediately blame Assad. Gee, it’s almost as if that speech was about the use of chemical weapons by Assad or something. Almost…

That definitely passes the Smell Test with flying colors.

Christien on August 24, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Very stupid move.

Hagel has converted to Islam, along with Brennan.

Schadenfreude on August 24, 2013 at 1:28 PM

The USA does not have a dog in this fight.

unclesmrgol on August 24, 2013 at 1:02 PM

No, just a dog-eater

Schadenfreude on August 24, 2013 at 1:29 PM

From the Christian Science Monitor

Both Russian officials and independent experts in Moscow heaped doubts today on the veracity of reports that Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad used poison gas…

“Russia isn’t persuaded by any of these reports. Nobody in Moscow believes Assad would use chemical weapons, especially now that he’s winning without them, and he’d be crazy to do so on the very day that UN inspectors are visiting Damascus to look into reports of chemical weapon use,” says Sergei Markov, a frequent adviser to President Vladimir Putin.

“It’s obvious to us that we’re looking at a well-prepared provocation… aimed at whipping up emotions in the West and triggering an armed intervention to aid the rebels. It’s clear the rebels are the only ones who have any stake in creating an example like this. Russia is not going to support any moves in that direction,” he adds.

anotherJoe on August 24, 2013 at 1:33 PM

except to grab or neutralize whatever stores of chemical weapons we can find.

That means boots on the ground. No can do without Congressional approval. This time they better make him get it.

txhsmom on August 24, 2013 at 2:03 PM

I’m pretty sure we almost always have at least one “naval group” including a carrier somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean. We have been doing that since at least the 60s.

It doesn’t stand still. It doesn’t move around in small circles. And it generally tries not to move along a predictable path.

So moving it a bit more towards the Syrian coast may not be as big of a deal as imagined.

Considering the AP is announcing this, sounds like obvious sabre rattling.

Dear Leader’s “red line” may have been crossed and he doesn’t know what to do about it, other than continue to make threatening noises.

If Assad’s forces have used chemical weapons, it must be out of desperation because they have nothing to gain otherwise. Which would mean that whatever Comrade O might do in retaliation is irrelevant to them. It is not factored into their “calculus”. Yeah, they can do that kind of “calculus” too, Comrade O.

farsighted on August 24, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Note to AP Ignoramus: We do not carry ballistic missiles on our surface ships.

A Balrog of Morgoth on August 24, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Yeah, but it sounds good, and scary. Like calling destroyers and cruisers “battleships”. US “journalists” and “reporters” do that all of the time.

Are there any “journalists” and “reporters” on earth more ignorant of any and all things military than US “journalists” and “reporters”?

But then, on US university campuses any interest in anything military is considered right-wing crazy. So all good libs and lefties avoid the subject like a bad disease.

One of the saddest things I have seen in the past few years was a Jeopardy category where a battle was named and the contestants, all US university educated of course, had to name the war it was fought in. Not one of the three had a clue or even tried to answer which wars Tarawa and Inchon were associated with. Not one of them tried to give an answer. There was a awkward silence until the time-is-up buzzer went off.

farsighted on August 24, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Sure is strange that not a single leftist complains when a democrat uses force. It’s almost like they have an agenda and don’t care about anything other than complete and absolute power.

jukin3 on August 24, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Throughout history governments have deflected blame for economic disasters by turning their efforts to a far off enemy and going to war. It’s certainly no accident and it’s a forecast that contrarian observers have made repeatedly as the global economic crisis deepened.

Is this what we’re seeing play out right now?

If so, then the implications are far reaching, because anyone who thinks this is going to be another Iraq are kidding themselves.

This time, the Russians and the Chinese have a stake in the game, and they too have been positioning pieces on the Grand Chessboard. Not only have the Russians already advised western nations that the Syrians will be armed with weapons never before seen in the middle east, but they have warned that any military confrontation in the region could potentially go nuclear.

roflmmfao

donabernathy on August 24, 2013 at 3:05 PM

The other day, Obama suggested the US has a unique role in world politics. Oh, really! You mean, after 5 years, it finally occurs to him that in some way or other, the US is really an exceptional country? Because, you know, when Obama finally understands something, realizes some truth, it pops right out of his mouth, to show everyone his brilliance. Five years, it takes. The US is unique.

/Terrific
/jerk

Paul-Cincy on August 24, 2013 at 3:32 PM

It’s almost like they have an agenda and don’t care about anything other than complete and absolute power.

jukin3 on August 24, 2013 at 2:35 PM

As in House of Cards where art does imitate life

jazzuscounty on August 24, 2013 at 3:33 PM

Many people are assuming that Assad regime is all one unified front under total control of Assad… It is not… The pro-Assad forces are bunch of gangs at the moment and Assad has less control over them than many think… So it is possible that one of the Assad pro-gangs used the Chemical weapons without Assad knowing… or may be Assad is losing much more than people think and what the media is reporting and he just used chemical weapons thinking that nothing will happen to him or he may have nothing to lose…

Did the rebels use chemical weapons? It is highly unlikely because they have no access to it… In fact this report by the Syrian TV about gas masks and chemical weapons in barrels with “made in Saudi Arabia” is a laughable joke and it confirms 100% that the chemical weapons were used by Assad authorization or by one of his gangs without his knowledge…

mnjg on August 24, 2013 at 3:33 PM

This time, the Russians and the Chinese have a stake in the game, and they too have been positioning pieces on the Grand Chessboard. Not only have the Russians already advised western nations that the Syrians will be armed with weapons never before seen in the middle east, but they have warned that any military confrontation in the region could potentially go nuclear.

roflmmfao

donabernathy on August 24, 2013 at 3:05 PM

China has no interests in Syria, none… Russia has a strategic naval base there… Anyway if our military decides to interfere in Syria these two countries will just watch as they always did in the last 22 years because they have ZERO power to do anything against our vastly superior military… Both the Russian and Chinese military are paper tigers in a “conventional” type warfare… Their only military power against us is nuclear and they are not going to start WW III with us for Syria…

mnjg on August 24, 2013 at 3:39 PM

The Russians already advised western nations that any military confrontation in the region could potentially go nuclear.

donabernathy on August 24, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Great, but our national interests are so very compelling in Syria that lets risk it.

Yeah, we really really want to advance the goals of the al Quaeda and Muslim Brotherhood backed rebels that we’ll risk Armageddon for them.

anotherJoe on August 24, 2013 at 3:42 PM

The pro-Assad forces are bunch of gangs at the moment and Assad has less control over them than many think… So it is possible that one of the Assad pro-gangs used the Chemical weapons without Assad knowing…

mnjg on August 24, 2013 at 3:33 PM

If true, then Assad no longer has control of his WMDs.

Which would basically mean he no longer has control of his military, or the government.

If true and I were Assad, I’d be looking for a villa on the Black Sea somewhere near the Crimea, with the help of my buddy Putin.

This would also mean that any “kinetic” action we take against the Assad regime would only hasten its now almost inevitable fall.

And if we do that and I were Assad, I might accidentally “lose” some of my WMDs before I leave in a place easily accessible to allies of al Qaeda. There are plenty of them around.

farsighted on August 24, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Both the Russian and Chinese military are paper tigers in a “conventional” type warfare… Their only military power against us is nuclear and they are not going to start WW III with us for Syria…

mnjg on August 24, 2013 at 3:39

So …. let’s just go ahead and do it “because we can.”

One day then we will pay the piper for this type of wanton , reckless disregard for the concerns of our potentially grave enemies. One day we will have gone a bridge too far, we will have done too much, they will have had it.

OR, they, China and Russia etc, will feel that our warring behavior gives them license to engage in the same, and that would either violate our interests or risk a major possibly nuclear conflict with us. Those that treat this type of military action as a run of the mill mundane type thing are hugely misguided.

So go to war (and bombing is war!) only when there is a real compelling reason to do so. And we don’t have that in Syria.

anotherJoe on August 24, 2013 at 3:53 PM

One day then we will pay the piper for this type of wanton , reckless disregard for the concerns of our potentially grave enemies. One day we will have gone a bridge too far, we will have done too much, they will have had it.

OR, they, China and Russia etc, will feel that our warring behavior gives them license to engage in the same, and that would either violate our interests or risk a major possibly nuclear conflict with us. Those that treat this type of military action as a run of the mill mundane type thing are hugely misguided.

So go to war (and bombing is war!) only when there is a real compelling reason to do so. And we don’t have that in Syria.

anotherJoe on August 24, 2013 at 3:53 PM

As I said they are not going to start a nuclear war with us which they will lose everything just because of Syria… Yes, they know that we can shoot their nuclear missiles but they cannot shoot ours, so game over for them, and over for them in the most horrific way in history… However we will never reach this stage because both Russia and China are not going to commit mass suicide…

mnjg on August 24, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Yes, they know that we can shoot their nuclear missiles but they cannot shoot ours, so game over for them…

mnjg on August 24, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Russia has over 400 ICBMs and the US has around 30 Ground Based Interceptors.

sharrukin on August 24, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Russia has over 400 ICBMs and the US has around 30 Ground Based Interceptors.

sharrukin on August 24, 2013 at 4:10 PM

That is what the military tells the public regarding our anti-ballistic missiles abilities… We have more than that… Both Russia and China knows how vastly superior our military is to theirs in every aspect…

mnjg on August 24, 2013 at 4:14 PM

Russia has over 400 ICBMs and the US has around 30 Ground Based Interceptors.

sharrukin on August 24, 2013 at 4:10 PM

That is what the military tells the public regarding our anti-ballistic missiles abilities… We have more than that… Both Russia and China knows how vastly superior our military is to theirs in every aspect…

mnjg on August 24, 2013 at 4:14 PM

The Russians seem to think otherwise.

http://en.rian.ru/military_news/20130402/180401687.html

sharrukin on August 24, 2013 at 4:18 PM

The Russians seem to think otherwise.

http://en.rian.ru/military_news/20130402/180401687.html

sharrukin on August 24, 2013 at 4:18 PM

The Russians are known for extreme military propaganda in public… In reality they know better…

mnjg on August 24, 2013 at 4:25 PM

U.S. ‘backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria and blame it on Assad’s regime’

Leaked emails from defense contractor refers to chemical weapons saying ‘the idea is approved by Washington’

‘Phil… We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington.

‘We’ll have to deliver a CW to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have.

‘They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.

‘Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?

‘Kind regards, David.’

Akzed on August 24, 2013 at 4:41 PM

I am one of many who believe the chemical gas attack on the Syrian people was perpetrated by one of the many rebel factions fighting the al-Assad regime. And it was a calculated risk that seems to have worked. Now the U.S. is getting involved and will enter the fray with cruise missiles and probable drone attacks.

It has been established that many of the chemical warheads known to exist in Libya are missing and many suspect the warheads made their way into the hands of the Syrian rebels. It has also been established that al Qaeda operatives are interspersed within many of the rebel groups in Syria. What a clever way to help bring down the al-Assad regime than with the help of U.S. intervention. It very well could be that the U.S. will be abettors to aiding the al Qaeda terrorists…maybe something Obama wanted all along anyway.

The U.S. stood by while Mubarak was removed and imprisoned in Egypt. How did that work out for Egypt and the U.S./Egypt relations? Mubarak was a despot and particularly cruel and inhumane to many of his fellow Egyptians, but at least he maintained some sense of order among the many savages living in Egypt. Perhaps the same is true of al-Assad. Time will tell once the al-Assad government is overthrown by the rebels with the help of the U.S.

metroryder on August 24, 2013 at 5:20 PM

US moves naval group closer to Syria

…the left would say…it’s safe!…aren’t they using bio-fuels now?

KOOLAID2 on August 24, 2013 at 5:44 PM

except to grab or neutralize whatever stores of chemical weapons we can find.

That means boots on the ground. No can do without Congressional approval. This time they better make him get it.

txhsmom on August 24, 2013 at 2:03 PM

And exactly who is going to “make him get it”. John Boehner??? The Senate is an arm of the White House. The House has no control of anything. [Don't mention the "power of the purse". We have not had a constitutional budget for over 5 years, and all they have to do now is have the Federal Reserve "buy" some more US bonds with money created out of electrons.] Obama rules by decree.

I’m pretty sure we almost always have at least one “naval group” including a carrier somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean. We have been doing that since at least the 60s.

It doesn’t stand still. It doesn’t move around in small circles. And it generally tries not to move along a predictable path.

So moving it a bit more towards the Syrian coast may not be as big of a deal as imagined. ….

farsighted on August 24, 2013 at 2:09 PM

We have exactly zero aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean right now. We have one each in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea. Actually, most of our East Coast based carriers are either in drydock, or tied to docks and not ready to sail.

http://www.gonavy.jp/CVLocation.html

The supposedly “ballistic missile” armed warship is called the “4th warship” in the Mediterranean. Unless we are sending an SSBN to the Eastern Med, which would be pointless because it could hit Syria just as easily from the Atlantic; I am assuming it is a destroyer or cruiser. If it is joining a Mediterranean force of 3 ships as cited, it is likely that they are not an Amphibious Readiness Group unless that group has no escort ships; which does not happen.

More likely, the three ships are the unarmed Command Ship USS Mount Whitney, long-term based at Gaeta, Italy and a couple of escorts or supply ships. NOT a strike force.

I am reminded of the attack that killed our ambassador in Benghazi. At that time, for some reason, we only had 1 (one) destroyer in the Mediterranean Sea. One wonders who scheduled that.

Submarines are considered ‘boats’.

I don’t know why.

trigon on August 24, 2013 at 12:50 PM

They are called “boats” out of tradition. The early submarines were small enough to be hoisted aboard ships.

Subotai Bahadur on August 24, 2013 at 6:59 PM

The Russians will park a couple of SSGNs in the neighborhood to await the arrival of the task force. If Obozo decides to launch a few cruise missiles don’t be suprised if the Syrians send a few back with chemical warheads. How many men and women will die to prove your manhood Obozo.

Maybe the Russians will add a few and claim the Syrians sent them and Obozo won’t or can’t do anything about it, Putin owns you Barack.

Welcome to Armegeddon

banzaibob on August 24, 2013 at 9:56 PM

One message cited a Syrian TV journalist who is embedded with the troops in the district who said the army confiscated an arms cache that included gas masks and several barrels with “made in Saudi Arabia” stamped on them.

Do they expect everyone to believe that Saudi Arabia provided chemical weapons in drums marked “Made is Saudi Arabia?”

The Saudi’s are much to experienced for that.They would have supplied them in barrels marked “Made in Iran.”

schmuck281 on August 24, 2013 at 11:16 PM

Wag The Benghazi.

profitsbeard on August 25, 2013 at 12:59 AM

UPDATE to my post at 6:59 pm. on August 24 [yesterday].

There are NO aircraft carriers or Amphibious Readiness Groups in the Mediterranean. Updated locations of CVN’s, LHA’s and LHD’s at sea.

http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2013/08/Naval%20update.jpg

CVN-77 [GHW BUSH] is at sea off the Atlantic coast, but is in working up status and is a long way from being deployable.

Aside from the unarmed MOUNT WHITNEY Command Ship, there are three destroyers in the Med. They have been joined by the 4th warship as noted above, giving at most 1 cruiser and three destroyers in theater. Despite Associated Press’s ignorance, there are NO ballistic missiles deployed there; there are a metric-buttload of cruise missiles. AP is not alone, by the way. The Brit Daily Mail insists that all the ships involved are Battleships.

UPDATE as I write. The 3 Destroyers present are the GRAVELY, the BARRY, and the RAMAGE [not RAMPAGE as sometimes reported]. They are joined by the destroyer MAHAN.

The Russian Mediterranean Squadron now has the destroyer the Admiral Panteleyev, two amphibious warfare ships the Peresvet and the Admiral Nevelskoi, complete with approximately 2,000 Russian Marines. There is a logistics support squadron deployed also, and there are reports that another destroyer, a slightly smaller frigate, and another amphibious warfare ship are en-route. There may or may not be nuclear and conventional submarines deployed.

It is noteworthy that Russia has been and is supporting Assad, and may take a dim view of American missiles falling. Good thing that “Teh Won” is infallible.

Subotai Bahadur on August 25, 2013 at 7:19 PM