Friday, September 6, 2013

All Syria, All The Time

At times like this, I am glad I was not blogging in 2003.  I can only imagine how much time I would have spent arguing against the invasion of Iraq.  On the other hand, I am more confused about this one, which means more potential posts, right?

Just a few comments given the latest stuff out there:
  • I think my confusion may be going away.  Paul Wolfowitz has apparently come out in favor of the war--that the Arab would would be thrilled by yet another American use of force in the region.  Rule number seven of the Mideast--whatever Wolfowitz wants, do the opposite, right?
  • The latest guess on who is voting on it looks pretty bad for the resolution in the House.  If we have 217 against right now, that means that every single other Congressperson must support the mission if my math is correct [(435/2)+1].  Of course, those leaning no can change their minds. 
  • The American Israeli Political Action Committee has indicated that it will come out swinging next week in favor of the Syrian mission.  Not a surprise, of course.  This presents an opportunity for social science--will the picture above change dramatically once the all-power lobby enters the fray?  This would satisfy the hell out folks who think that the Israel Lobby (however defined, articulated or mis-specified) can get the US into wars it otherwise does not want fight.  However, as smart folks have noted, the lobby is swinging into action now after the Obama administration made the decision to intervene (which the lobby might have supported but probably did not influence) and after Obama decided to take it to Congress (which the lobby would not have supported given how shaky thinks are there).  At least here, unlike in the case of Iraq, the behavior is observable and is going to be observed. 
  • Robert Scales has written a scathing piece, arguing that the Pentagon, his former place of employment, is opposed to the war.  Of course, the military was not thrilled to go to Bosnia and that seemed to work out ok, and the uniformed opponents to the Iraq war were mighty silent in 2003.   Scales may be right but we have no idea whether his "friends" are a representative sample or not, as Jonathan Rue points out:
  • Going to Congress has certainly complicated the dynamics, as Drezner points out--raising the stakes at home may have caused the mission to expand just a bit.
There is plenty of noise in the twitter-o-sphere and in the blogosphere today.  The danger, as usual, is listening to only those who agree with you. The good news for me is that I don't know what to think, so cognitive closure is a bit harder.

I don't know enough about the players on the ground to comment on that stuff (so I gave up a chance to be on Canadian media coast to coast early this morning)*.  And I have to write a grant application, so don't expect more than hits &runs like this post. 

*  That and I have been up late at night reading the latest Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interesting Syria posts, and wishes for another great decade of teaching.
Something unrelated, but since you are a fan of the show:

R. William Ayres said...

While I see Drezner's point about the "supply side" - that Obama may want to expand the mission to get a few more members of Congress on board - in my observation Congressional negotiation and compromise tend to make things smaller, not bigger. I'm not sure he's going to win the vote in the House at all, but if he is going to peel away some of the 217 "no" votes he is likely going to have to concede some territory, which may mean more restrictions, lot fewer.

Philip said...

On the AIPAC point, just because they have said that they will initiate their public support for intervention next week doesn't mean that they're not already lobbying behind the scenes now, does it?

Steve Saideman said...