Civil War

More Calls for Intervention in Syria

Written by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Pressure is building on President Obama to involve the United States more deeply in the brutal civil war in Syria that may have claimed as many as 70,000 lives, and created more than a million refugees. Late last week, the editorial board of the Washington Post called for “aggressive intervention by the United States and its allies to protect the opposition and civilians.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) apparently believes that the Post didn’t go far enough because the editorial explicitly ruled out sending U.S. ground troops. He wants the U.S. military to secure suspected chemical weapons caches there. But where Graham is leading few will follow, aside from his frequent co-conspirator, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The American people are not anxious to send U.S. troops into the middle of yet another civil war in the region.

United States is meddling in a Civil War

Before Christmas, amid the drama of the fiscal cliff, and before the horrible shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama announced that our government would recognize the Syrian opposition as the legitimate representative of the country’s people, stating:

“The Syrian opposition coalition is now inclusive enough, and is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population, that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime.”

An Open Letter To Governor Bob McDonnell On Virginia’s Confederate History Month

Dear Governor McDonnell:

I am writing to express my profound disappointment your decision earlier this month to issue a proclamation designating April to be Confederate History Month in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Speaking as someone who voted for you last year based on the campaign you ran, this is not the image of the Old Dominion that I want to see spread across the nation, and I think it’s unfortunate that you choose to issue a proclamation that has resulted in just that.

First, it was an egregious mistake to fail to include any reference to the role that the institution of slavery played in the run up to the Civil War and in life in Virginia under the Confederacy. As you said in the amended proclamation that you issued yesterday afternoon “the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights.” While you corrected this mistake yesterday, it is disturbing to me that you, or someone in your office, apparently considered the very reason for the Civil War to be irrelevant to a proclamation about the Civil War.

More important than the omission of slavery, though, is the very idea of having a “Confederate History Month” in the 21st Century. It’s worth noting that in his Cornerstone Speech in March 1861, Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens called slavery and the subjugation of  an entire race to be the cornerstone upon which the Confederate States of America were founded. Setting aside a day to commemorate such a government, or even just Virginia’s involvement in that government,  is not in fitting with the image that Virginia, one of the birth places of the American Revolution and home to some of it’s greatest Presidents, should be projecting to the rest of the United States and the world.

Secession…an American Tradition

Texas Governor Rick Perry raised a few eyebrows recently when he used the “S” word in public. Secession, he said, was always an option on the political table as far as Texas was concerned.

Euromaidan Protests in Ukraine Turn Deadly

Halfway across the globe, a political protest known as Euromaidan continues into its twelfth week in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. As an emerging free market, Ukraine is a pivotal trade partner with the US, the EU, and Russia. As of this morning, 25 have been killed, and as the death count rises, the West tunes in.


As a quick review, the public protest began late last November when more than 100,000 Ukrainians filled the streets of Kiev in response to President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of trade agreements with the European Union in favor of continued bailouts from Russia. As Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute, states:

“It is now apparent that Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovich, had no effective strategy to resist intense pressure against the EU deal from Moscow. The Kremlin promised big cash loans, a gas discount and debt forgiveness, while explicitly threatening to block Ukraine’s access to the Russian market and implicitly threatening to stoke separatism in regions of the country.”

For more on Euromaidan, click here for a more in-depth background, here for a livestream from Kiev, here for a liveblog of events, and here for photos of the riot taken yesterday.

Americans favor diplomacy over war against Syria

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama did not make a convincing case for military intervention, according a CNN poll of Americans who watched the speech on Tuesday night.

Under intense criticism from members of Congress and polls showing a lack of support from the American people, President Obama hoped that he would be able to sway public opinion by taking repeating the same talking points that had been in the next for the past few weeks in a televised address.

But the CNN poll shows that 50% of Americans believe that President Obama failed to make a convincing case for military strikes. The poll found that 47% said that he did make the case, putting the results within the margin of error.

Additionally, 58% of Americans who watched the speech say that air strikes against Syria would not achieve significant goals for the United States. There was a slight shift in the numbers on this question from the pre-speech poll of the same respondents when 66% said that air strikes be unsuccessful.

Those who believe that air strikes would accomplish the United States goals’ rose from 30% pre-speech to 36% after.

Americans are, however, more confident in the outcome of a diplomatic solution brokered by Russia, with 65% saying that such an angle is likely to resolve the dispute.

Sixty-nine percent (69%) reacted positively to President Obama’s speech, with 35% describing calling their reaction “very positive” and 34% saying it was “somewhat positive.” Though that’s still a high number, it’s down from CNN’s past post-speech favorables.

Obama fails to make the case for military intervention in Syria

Barack Obama

TL;DR version: President Obama gave a speech last night rehashing the same arguments made for military strikes against Syria. He delivered the speech well, but failed to present a compelling case for intervention, specifically saying several times that Bashar al-Assad isn’t a threat to the United States. Even as he made a specious case for intervention, Obama said that he asked Congress to postpone a vote, making it a mostly pointless speech.

In a televised address last night, President Barack Obama took his case for military intervention in Syria directly to the American people, stating that Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons is a violation of international law and is a threat to the United States’ interests in the region.

President Obama started off by offering background on the civil war that has ravaged the Middle Eastern country, noting that more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.

“I have resisted calls for military action because we cannot resolve someone else’s civil war through force, particularly after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Obama. “The situation profoundly changed, though, on August 21st, when Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people, including hundreds of children.”

President Obama emphasized the treaty banning use of chemical weapons, which the United States Senate ratified in 1997. Syria, however, is one of five countries that hasn’t approved the treaty, though they now say they will.

Obama walks back Syria “red line” comment

President Barack Obama is in way over his head on Syria and is looking more incompetent by the day. Back in August of last year, he laid out a clear message to Bashar al-Assad that the use of chemical weapons against his own people or by others involved in the bloody civil war is a “red line” that “would change [his] equation,” basically threatening military intervention.

Just so there’s no confusion, here’s video of those comments:

But now, he’s trying to walk back those comments. During a press conference in Sweden, where he was trying to convince that country’s government to back planned strikes against Syria, President Obama said he didn’t set a “red line” and tried to spin his administration’s chest puffing by putting pressure on Congress.

Where’s the moral outrage over the deaths of innocent civilians in Pakistan?

Among the arguments the Obama Administration has made for military action in Syria is that that the alleged use of chemical weapons on civilians by Bashar al-Assad’s regime is a moral outrage that demands a response.

Secretary of State John Kerry made very emotional arguments for action in Syria earlier this week, stating that the use of chemical weapons “defies any code of morality” and called the killing of civilians a “moral obscenity.”

“As a father, I can’t get the image out of my head of a man who held up his dead child, wailing while chaos swirled around him; the images of entire families dead in their beds without a drop of blood or even a visible wound; bodies contorting in spasms; human suffering that we can never ignore or forget,” said Kerry.

There is no disagreement that the use of chemical agents to kill innocent people is outrageous, though it isn’t a case for getting involved in a conflict where the United States doesn’t have a national interest or doesn’t represent a clear and present danger.

Though one can argue that the use of chemical weapons in the Middle Eastern country’s civil war is a “game changer,” there is much hypocrisy in the case being made by the Obama Administration for military action in Syria.

Last year, researchers at Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law put together a study documenting the traumatic effects of the drone strikes that the United States has carried out in Pakistan.

There is no smoking gun in Syria

The White House has determined that that the Syrian government carried out a chemical attack against its own citizens. President Barack Obama made the comments during an interview on PBS NewsHour on Wednesday evening.

“We have looked at all the evidence, and we do not believe the opposition possessed nuclear weapons on – or chemical weapons of that sort. We do not believe that, given the delivery systems, using rockets, that the opposition could have carried out these attacks, President Obama told host Judy Woodruff.

“We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out. And if that’s so, then there need to be international consequences,” he said.

But it seems that it’s anything but clear that this is actually the case. Much like the Bush Administration presented a case for war in Iraq based on a faulty premise, President Obama seems to be ready to go to war based on information that hasn’t actually been confirmed. Moreover, the Obama Administration hasn’t had substantive conversation about Syria with chairman of congressional intelligence committees as they continue to decide what action they will take in the Middle Eastern country.

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