Saturday, December 8, 2012

Breaking Bad--Syrian Style

(Images:  Promotional stills for Breaking Bad)
Yesterday, the on-going Syrian Civil War made headline news over the report that the Syrian military began mixing batches of chemicals weapons and loading them on to bombs. 
Comrade Karla said, "...they make it sound like they're mixing this stuff up a meth lab."  (Hence the title of this post).  Another analysis was made by NightWatch, while Global Security has provided an index of Syria's WMD capabilities.
This story sparked a day-long commentary on-line.  Comrade Karla started things off with this observation:
Fox ran "Syria footage" last night that was odd. Lots of shaky footage of Russian air-to-air missiles (AA-11s, etc) that had "uchebniy" on them, meaning they were inert training weapons. And you wouldn't use those for chem delivery anyway.
Do they Syrians know they are inert training weapons? I mean, from the standpoint of being a bunch of ignorant peons, they're even worse than the Russkies...
Good point. I think the only less-capable AF would be Libya.
The discussion then turned to the geo-strategic consequences: 
If Syria employs Sarin or other CW agents, what will the US do? If we do nothing, we look like fools for making so much noise and then letting it slide. If we intervene on the ground, we end up buying the future of Syria and get sucked into another serious war on par with Iraq (maybe not quite that bad, but far more than anyone wants). If we do the Libya airpower approach (I think the most likely response for this president) we will ensure Asad eventually falls but will be unable to adequately influence the final outcome, and the Islamists may take over.
If I were Asad and I thought the long term trajectory looked bad, the time to use this stuff would be sooner rather than later -- break the back of the resistance before they gain too much strength and it's too late. Their biggest concern, I would bet, is alienating Russia and China, who would be forced to distance themselves from CW use. Thus Syria loses diplo cover at the Useless Nations. Still, the Russians would probably still quietly back them, no matter what, as Russia has too much to lose if Asad falls. Still, is the US or anyone else going to intervene on the ground if they use CW? With a lifeline to Iran via Iraq, Syria is not going to fall without ground power (external or rebels) making it happen.
Any use will be non-persistent agents in limited locations to break rebel morale and dislodge them from key locations. I doubt it will be widespread unless regime collapse is imminent. This keeps things less than clear for the US and others on how to react. They won't use their mustard agents -- blisters on babies upsets civilians at their breakfasts.
A bigger concern is if Islamists get some of the stuff (or Syria supplies Hizbollah) and use it outside Syria's borders. That might trigger a truly big war.
Also, if the US and others do launch major airstrikes, I can see some getting used on airfields to suppress allied action. I think our missile defense would help a lot there.

I suspect token airstrikes would be our response--the USS Eisenhower is supposedly in the East Med right now.  With respect to the regime, the odds are probably good they'll use them--one commentator last night said that there are still a number of Daddy Assad's people in the government who may be helping The Great Opthamologist make his tougher decisions. They arguably have more to lose than he does, as I suspect he'd make a run for Venezuela or Cuba or something if things really go sideways.

He might not be given a chance - his own people might not let him go!
The problem with Syria is that this is not a "kill the dictator" rebellion so much as it is a civil war between the majority Sunni and the minority Alawites. The latter cannot all go into exile - they're stuck with whatever happens and are not likely to give in easily, whatever Optodictator does. I can see them falling back to their mountainous redoubt in the west of the country, but if they do that they lose Damascus and the country (it would only be a strategy for a defeated Asad & Co.). This is a lot like the Shia Sunni split in Iraq. The minority has power and is hostile to the West, the majority wants to take over and is slightly less hostile to the West (the Kurds layed low in both instances). The difference is that in Iraq we had 100,000+ troops and years to force a change.
So, if you and your family can't escape, and you have thousands of Jihadi assholes out for your blood, the use of CW does not look so bad.
Finally, some speculation was thrown in:
And it probably includes the CW Saddam never had that were trucked out before the 2003 invasion.  Wouldn't that be embarrassing if it comes to light!
Yes, but I am not convinced of that.  Syria has plenty of its own, though I've seen some libtards using the brilliant logic that "there was no WMD in Iraq therefore there is none in Syria." They're in for a rude awakening.

Good point that the Syrians have had this capability for some time.  Easy to see how libtards have concluded that none of these regimes can possibly have WMD because it interferes with their deranged Iraq narrative.
Today, there's some doubt about the potency of Syria's chemical munitions
Potent, or not, everyone's concerned about "Optodictator's" next move.

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