Photo Credit: Master Sergeant Bill Thompson
U.S. infantry paratroopers practicing high altitude, low opening jumping. The Administration is about to rush into a war where winning is not the best outcome.

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

It’s really pretty simple. The American people understandably don’t want to go to war with Syria, not to mention Syria’s patron of Iran and especially not to put into power the Muslim Brotherhood and murderous Islamists. Going to war is a serious matter to say the least. There’s no assurance how long it will take, how many lives it will cost, and what turns it may take.

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In fact the Middle East has just had several examples of these wars. Iraq and Afghanistan cost a lot of money and lives as they extended for a much longer time than had been expected. In addition they derailed the Bush Administration’s electoral fortunes and domestic programs. With the main emphasis of the Obama Administration being a fundamental transformation of America such distractions are not desired.

There is one other important consideration. The Obama Administration does not accept the traditional diplomatic and great power strategies. It believes that it can reconcile with Islamist states; it does not comprehend deterrents; it does not keep faith with allies; and it does not believe in credibility, which is the belief that only power exerted can convince a foe of seriousness.

Of course, that wouldn’t rule out a one -time targeted attack but even if that were to be done is America going to fight a full-scale war on the ground with the American allies (including al-Qaeda) never satisfied and eager to stab them in the back?

The administration has trapped itself with two problems. One is that the rebels who are being supported in Syria are extreme radicals who may set off blood baths and regional instability if they win. The other is that a challenge has been given to very reckless forces: Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. When the United States threatens these three players the response is “make my day!”

So this is the situation. The United States is bluffing, it does not want to exert force and probably won’t. In other words, Iran and Syria would be quite willing to fight a war but the United States and its government doesn’t have the will to do so.

What is the optimum option for the Obama Administration ? To try to negotiate – as unlikely as it is – a deal in which some kind of interim or coalition arrangement would be arranged with Russia and Iran to make a transition from the current regime. And that mainly means stalling for time.

That could work, though, if the regime does not actually win in the war. Aid to rebels and some gimmicks, perhaps but no decisive action. Remember. though, that Iran cannot be said to have won as long as the civil war is continuing. The Administration can simply depend on denial, which should be sufficient for domestic purposes.

There is, however. a problem. The two sides Syrian sides want to wipe each other out. Why should the Russians and Iranians make a deal if they have a winning hand? No diplomatic arrangement is possible. In fact the diplomatic option is fictional or, to put it flatly, there is no alternative.

It is not inconceivable that the White House would consider easing sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program to have a chance on making a deal on Syria.

What is likely then is stalling, with the probability that the civil war will settle into stagnation for several years and thus a de facto partition of Syria. The United States simply can’t win given what it is willing to do. And in a great power standoff that’s a very dangerous situation.

Remember. though, that Iran cannot be said to have won as long as the civil war is continuing. The Administration can simply depend on denial, which should be sufficient for domestic purposes.

Finally, ask yourself one question: Will the United States under Obama dare a confrontation with Iran, Syria, and Russia to keep up American credibility, deterrence, and confidence of allies who it is already opposing on Egypt?

Of course not. This is already a president who could barely decide to kill Osama bin Laden.

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28 COMMENTS

  1. “The Obama Administration does not accept the traditional diplomatic and great power strategies. It believes that it can reconcile with Islamist states; it does not comprehend deterrents; it does not keep faith with allies; and it does not believe in credibility, which is the belief that only power exerted can convince a foe of seriousness.”
    Very nicely done. In these two sentences you have captured the milquetoast who occupies the Oval Office and renders our country the laughing stock of the developed world. All the talking heads on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and MSNBC should take note. All their long winded excuses amount to nothing but a fig leaf for a President who is clearly unable or unwilling to exert American power and strength. The Emperor truly has no clothes.

  2. Assad has threatened to try to destroy the city of Tel-Aviv with missiles if NATO or outside nations got involved militarily in Syria. Israel has warned Assad that Damascus would be destroyed in return. I’m paraphrasing of course, but I think you get the message. If Assad in response to outside intervention uses biological or chemical weapons on Tel-Aviv and Israel retaliates against Damascus with a nuclear strike it would be the fulfillment of Isaiah 17. We have been on the knifes edge for months now and it looks like it’s likely to take place sooner rather than latter. I’m not saying it is “without question”, but without question it looks like it is. I wrote a small 6 page book that outlines what I believe the Bible states will take place soon as well as the potential trends I see at this time. I don’t accept donations and it’s free. It’s a short read. I encourage you to have a look: http://www.booksie.com/religion_and_spirituality/book/richard_b_barnes/after-the-rapture-whats-next.

  3. "The Obama Administration does not accept the traditional diplomatic and great power strategies. It believes that it can reconcile with Islamist states; it does not comprehend deterrents; it does not keep faith with allies; and it does not believe in credibility, which is the belief that only power exerted can convince a foe of seriousness."
    Very nicely done. In these two sentences you have captured the milquetoast who occupies the Oval Office and renders our country the laughing stock of the developed world. All the talking heads on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and MSNBC should take note. All their long winded excuses amount to nothing but a fig leaf for a President who is clearly unable or unwilling to exert American power and strength. The Emperor truly has no clothes.

  4. with the time Obama has left in the white house and his wonderful set of advisors…there is no telling to the great amount of grave mistakes it could make, not only in the middle east, but elsewhere. please Obama, leave Syria and Egypt to fend for themselves. the more of them that die…the better for Israel…your only true ally in the world! Sunni and Shiite have been killing each other for centuries…what difference does it really make a few more years?
    and please do not blame me…I voted for the other guy…

  5. The problem Obama is a islamist and regrettably will get involved to a new war, all this Obama and his leckayers don’t look the past 70 years, the US didn’t win a war: Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Afgahnistan and Irak, also has lost Iran, only the Gulf war won, the balance polytically, wars a total failure, looking this the best sugestion is that the US should get out from there, in porpouse if Obama get involved should return the Peace Nobel Price, what I doubt becouse he is a corrupt.

  6. with the time Obama has left in the white house and his wonderful set of advisors…there is no telling to the great amount of grave mistakes it could make, not only in the middle east, but elsewhere. please Obama, leave Syria and Egypt to fend for themselves. the more of them that die…the better for Israel…your only true ally in the world! Sunni and Shiite have been killing each other for centuries…what difference does it really make a few more years?
    and please do not blame me…I voted for the other guy…

  7. The problem Obama is a islamist and regrettably will get involved to a new war, all this Obama and his leckayers don't look the past 70 years, the US didn't win a war: Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Afgahnistan and Irak, also has lost Iran, only the Gulf war won, the balance polytically, wars a total failure, looking this the best sugestion is that the US should get out from there, in porpouse if Obama get involved should return the Peace Nobel Price, what I doubt becouse he is a corrupt.

  8. I will say Obama is a “islamisT”, but he doesn’t understand what is a islamist, I always new that the muslims they had and have many wifes becouse the wars, but today they didn’t have so many wars, but males was equal in quantity with females, so now I understand why the male muslims are warriors and get killed each other untill the equation are more females than males equal more wifes for one man and have much more childrens males and females with the preference the males to make warriors and again killing each other, this serial goes till now after Mohamed times, that is why the muslims in Midle East are a mess, so I understand, and I don’t now if the “islamist” Obama and his leckayers understand.

  9. Fact is everyone in the US I’ve talked to don’t think we should be doing anything in the middle east for Israel. They got their illegal land, let them defend it themselves. Benjamin Franklin spoke off the jews also and he was a founding father.

  10. I will say Obama is a "islamisT", but he doesn't understand what is a islamist, I always new that the muslims they had and have many wifes becouse the wars, but today they didn't have so many wars, but males was equal in quantity with females, so now I understand why the male muslims are warriors and get killed each other untill the equation are more females than males equal more wifes for one man and have much more childrens males and females with the preference the males to make warriors and again killing each other, this serial goes till now after Mohamed times, that is why the muslims in Midle East are a mess, so I understand, and I don't now if the "islamist" Obama and his leckayers understand.

  11. As the US provide Syria with misslies, weapons, and financial aid in the past and having lost in Afgan Iraq, little yemen, do you think USA will defeat Syria? The Arabs, and Russians and Iran is laughing at the USA.

  12. Prof Barry has the knack of pinning precise points in the issues of his topics. Love reading his articles. In this regard, we are best informed, with much teeth-gritting what keeps the US president dilly-dallying, I find it annoying and how frustrating it must be to those whose responsibilities are closely tied to defense, diplomacy and national security.

  13. Prof Barry has the knack of pinning precise points in the issues of his topics. Love reading his articles. In this regard, we are best informed, with much teeth-gritting what keeps the US president dilly-dallying, I find it annoying and how frustrating it must be to those whose responsibilities are closely tied to defense, diplomacy and national security.

  14. Prof Barry has the knack of pinning precise points in the issues of his topics. Love reading his articles. In this regard, we are best informed, with much teeth-gritting what keeps the US president dilly-dallying, I find it annoying and how frustrating it must be to those whose responsibilities are closely tied to defense, diplomacy and national security.

  15. Congress will agree with military action but not with the “open ended” wording of the proposed plan. Like “war on terror”….pretty vague wording there. Who’s a terrorist? How do you identify a terrorist? I guess the “logical” way is to bomb a v ountry, invade a country, kill women and children and the “terrorists” will come out of the woodwork. Those aren’t terrorists, those are everyday people that have resorted to violence to fight an illegal invasion and occupation. Furthermore, war is the jews harvest.

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