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Subject: Muslim Protests- Keep Calm and Carry On rss

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William Boykin
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There has been a lot of sturm und drang, both in RSP and elsewhere on the interwebz, that the current Muslim unrest demonstrates the 'failure' of Obama's policy with the Muslim world. Charles Krauthammer, in fact, declares that this last week as demonstrated the Failure of the Cairo Doctrine..
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-c...

However, he writes a bit soon- for earlier today, counter-protestors, angry with the militias who started the anti-American riots, have marched into the compounds controlled by those militia groups and thrown them out.

Quote:
Armed men at the administrative center for the Ansar al-Shariah militia, suspected to have led the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Benghazi consulate, first fired in the air to disperse the crowd, but eventually withdrew from the site with their weapons and vehicles after it was surrounded by waves of protesters shouting “No to militias.”

“I don’t want to see armed men wearing Afghani-style clothes stopping me in the street to give me orders, I only want to see people in uniform,” said Omar Mohammed, a university student who took part in the takeover, which protesters said was done in support of the army and police.

"Libyans storm militia building after giant protest in wake of attack on US consulate", by Associated Press, Updated: Friday, September 21.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/libyans-hold...

In fact, most of the anti-American protests have been quite small, especially when compared to previous incidents such as the Danish publication of Mohammed in political cartoons, back in 2010.

What this demonstrates is twofold-
1). The best action for the US to do was to let the protests die down, rather than to succumb to the desire of some to 'do something'.
2). There are friends- or at least, people who just want to be left alone- in the Muslim world who we can work with. Many of them are in the new governments created in the Arab Spring, such as the new President of Egypt Morsi, who stepped forward and apologized to the US for the violence and deaths of Americans, and also condemned the use of violence in the protests.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/52764.aspx

The simple truth is that while President George W. Bush was correct in pointing out that promoting democracy in the Middle East is in the American interest, that is in the long term. In the short term, our historical support of despots is going to lead to the election of people who are opposed to us. The best strategy, long term, is to give them the space to change their minds about us, and to promote economic growth and political stability in the Middle East. The danger of the Middle East isn't Al-Qaeda, its the huge numbers of unemployed young men with no real economic prospects. Demonstrating that being a friend of the United States and the West will help with unemployment is the best, long term, strategy of promoting security for US interests in the Middle East.

Darilian
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Daniel
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This whole thing to begin with is blowback for the West supporting despots for decades- not just the immediate reaction to recent events.
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Andy Andersen
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Charles Krauthammer is the smartest man on Earth.
 
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Krauthammer is really the only conservative pundit with articles that I look forward to reading.
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William Boykin
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SpaceGhost wrote:
Krauthammer is really the only conservative pundit with articles that I look forward to reading.


I like reading him- he is a good writer and makes some good arguments- but he is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG when it comes to

-Syria
-The current round of protests in the Arab street
-What to do about Iran and their nuclear program.

He is trying to resurrect the same Neo-Con ideology which led to the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan, and he is utterly without remorse about the role that he, and other neo-con pundits like him, played in convincing Americans, like myself, into backing those misadventures.

Once again, Krauthammer et al are beating the drumbeats of American military power and the chimera of 'strong leadership' as a panacea to the world's problems- because all one has to do is beat the 'bad guys'.

Alas, today's bad guys are many times our best friends tomorrow- or should be, as we found out in Iraq with the Sunni Spring, as former insurgents turned into allies of the American occupation.

I'm not saying that I'm a huge fan of Pres. Obama on foreign policy (though I am impressed with Mrs. Clinton), but I do think that, in this case at least, Obama's reserve was precisely the right thing to do. We needed to remain calm, not overreact, and give room for people who might be our friends- or at least, be the enemy of our enemies- room to manuever.

Darilian
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Andy Andersen
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As a "world leader" we should something. Obama has done nothing. The US is no longer relevant in Syria.
 
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Daniel
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I miss the do-nothing Presidents. Give me a silent Cal any day.

In the rush to do something, government always does precisely the wrong thing.
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Rob
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Darilian wrote:
I'm not saying that I'm a huge fan of Pres. Obama on foreign policy (though I am impressed with Mrs. Clinton),


The one thing that saddens me about this election is that no matter who wins, it will still be the end of her tenure in the State Department.
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William Boykin
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Orangemoose wrote:
As a "world leader" we should something. Obama has done nothing. The US is no longer relevant in Syria.

We're funding insurgent elements in Syria through Turkey.

What more would you have us do?

Send troops? Authorize NATO planes to attack Assad? What, exactly?

At least Mark Katz makes some specific suggestions- military involvement via a "No Fly Zone" to be imposed.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/12/its_time_to...

Perhaps we're doing all that we can- or should- be doing, and just not making a big deal about it because we want to give the appearance that the insurgents in Syria are doing this on their own, without any {overt} American help.

Or perhaps we're not doing more because it would require Turkish help- and currently (at this moment) the Turks aren't really willing to do more than they are already.

But unilaterally, there isn't much that the US can do more of. The fact remains that that corner of the world is pretty bereft of American friends. Jordan is unwilling to do more than humanitarian support- and even then, they're getting a bit overrun. Turkey is the key- and our support of Israel is making that difficult, due to the current diplomatic row between Israel and Turkey. And looming on the sidelines is Iran, anxious to drag the US into a quagmire in Syria at the same time that they are making up their minds on how to go forward in their game of chicken with Israel.

So all of this is pretty complicated- and the admonition that Obama should just 'do something' is a bit naive, at least, without some specifics.

What should we be doing that we are not?

Darilian


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Rob
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dandechino wrote:
I miss the do-nothing Presidents. Give me a silent Cal any day.

In the rush to do something, government always does precisely the wrong thing.


Reminds me of a great quote from George Will that sums up that sentiment: "Don't just do something; stand there."
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Andy Andersen
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Act like a leader. When was the last Obama statement out? He doesn't care about people being slaughtered? Do you? Do I?
 
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William Boykin
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Orangemoose wrote:
Act like a leader. When was the last Obama statement out? He doesn't care about people being slaughtered? Do you? Do I?


I think he cares about people being slaughtered, but just what can he do about it? So he makes a speech condemning the slaughter. People are still dead. An empty speech without a specific policy to help things out is futile.

The reality is that we are sending some small amounts of support to support the insurgents, but to broadcast loudly the nature of our largesse could delegitimate the insurgents fighting against Assad- they'd look like American stool pigeons. And Turkey is clearly not comfortable with doing much more either.

We're not the world's policeman. At a certain level, we need the support and help of our allies. And no amount of 'leadership' can change physical realities. It is not just a question of 'will'.

Could Obama do more? Yes- probably. Does he, from where I'm sitting, have good reasons for not doing more? Yes.

But this is a lot more difficult than just a game of cops and robbers.

Darilian
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An explanation for the reasons in different policy approaches to Syria and Lybia would be nice, at the very least.
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Andy Andersen
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Why did he support the Libyan uprising?
 
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William Boykin
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SpaceGhost wrote:
An explanation for the reasons in different policy approaches to Syria and Lybia would be nice, at the very least.


Because NATO- especially Italy and France- was willing to give Logistical support.

With Syria, we need Turkey, and Turkey is unwilling to do this right now.

But if we made a big stink out of it, it would further poison our relations with Turkey. They're already still pissed at us because they think we'll back an Israeli attack on Iran, which pretty much WILL have to go over Turkey. Turkey is one of the three possible air routes that Israeli planes could take- the other is Iraq (who won't let them), or through Saudi Arabia (who won't let them, publicly. Maybe on the sly, like they did in the 1980's.)

You can't look at Syria without also considering the implications of what happens with Iran. Given that the two nations have a security alliance with each other, any intervention by the West could trigger Iran to move forward with their nuclear programs that much faster.

Thus, the key difference between Libya and Syria is that Iran wasn't backing Qaddaffi, but they are backing Assad.

This isn't that easy. If there were any easy solutions, I'm pretty sure we would have done them by now.

Darilian
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Darilian wrote:


Thus, the key difference between Libya and Syria is that Iran wasn't backing Qaddaffi, but they are backing Assad.


Darilian


I just find it interesting that the American people don't get such an explanation. A more cynical person would think that it is because Libya produces 5 times the oil as Syria. If I were that cynical person, I would expect the same thing under any administration in terms of prioritization.

Obama did lay down the marker that if Syria uses chemical weapons, he will use military force. Interesting that the threshold is how the people are slaughtered versus the slaughtering itself.
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Oil could be a reason for NATO to get involved with Libya, since all of that oil went to Europe, none went to the US.

We just accused Iran of sending weapons to Syria in commercial airlines and listed 117 planes. This was to pressure Iraq to do something about it if they flew over Iraqi airspace.
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jmilum wrote:
Oil could be a reason for NATO to get involved with Libya, since all of that oil went to Europe, none went to the US.




Oil is sold on the world market, so any disruption is of national/economic interest to the US.
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SpaceGhost wrote:
Darilian wrote:


Thus, the key difference between Libya and Syria is that Iran wasn't backing Qaddaffi, but they are backing Assad.


Darilian


I just find it interesting that the American people don't get such an explanation. A more cynical person would think that it is because Libya produces 5 times the oil as Syria.


And so what if it was oil? I mean why do we kid ourselves? Why do we act like there has to be some altruistic reason to do something? Why can't it simply be about natural resources, which we all need? Because we're suppose to be beyond the whole "conquering and pillaging" bit?

Quote:

Act like a leader. When was the last Obama statement out? He doesn't care about people being slaughtered? Do you? Do I?


Truthfully, I don't. Do you? What are you as the individual citizen willing to do about it? Are you speaking out? Are you opening your wallet and donating an AK to the rebels? Are you willing to go over there and put your life on the line?

Act like a leader? Sometimes when the leader isn't acting like he should, someone needs to step up. Is that someone you?

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William Boykin
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SpaceGhost wrote:
Darilian wrote:


Thus, the key difference between Libya and Syria is that Iran wasn't backing Qaddaffi, but they are backing Assad.


Darilian


I just find it interesting that the American people don't get such an explanation. A more cynical person would think that it is because Libya produces 5 times the oil as Syria. If I were that cynical person, I would expect the same thing under any administration in terms of prioritization.

Obama did lay down the marker that if Syria uses chemical weapons, he will use military force. Interesting that the threshold is how the people are slaughtered versus the slaughtering itself.


There is a case that could be made that Obama hasn't done a good job explaining our position in Syria. I think a much better case could be made for that vis-a-vis our undeclared, covert wars in Yemen.

But the problem is how to make public a war when your ally doesn't want anyone to know that you're helping them.

Darilian
 
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SpaceGhost wrote:
jmilum wrote:
Oil could be a reason for NATO to get involved with Libya, since all of that oil went to Europe, none went to the US.




Oil is sold on the world market, so any disruption is of national/economic interest to the US.

You would think so, but it doesn't actually work that way in practice. Libya doesn't amount to that much in the total production scheme of things. Before the war they averaged 1.6 Mbpd. The OPEC limit is officially about 30 Mbpd, and the total world production is around 90 Mbpd. OPEC unnofically stepped up production to around 32 Mbpd when Libya started having issues and stopped supplying Europe, so they alone could handle any shortfall in Libyan production.

But Libya produced light sweet crude. They have the largest reserves of that stuff in the world. Refineries that are setup to process that type of crude cannot just switch to processing the nastier stuff.
 
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I'm surprised no one has brought up the Russia issue yet.

Russia doesn't WANT us in Syria. Syria is historically their little playground. US going, as the US, into Syria would make a bloody mess of things. I'm sure some will cry out OMG SCREW RUSSIA! 'MERICA! But they *are* still the country touting the largest stockpile of nukes besides us, so, responsible diplomacy requires letting them do their thing(at least on the surface) and trying to convince them(which we have been doing) that they need to sort their shit out.
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jmilum wrote:

You would think so, but it doesn't actually work that way in practice. Libya doesn't amount to that much in the total production scheme of things. Before the war they averaged 1.6 Mbpd. The OPEC limit is officially about 30 Mbpd, and the total world production is around 90 Mbpd. OPEC unnofically stepped up production to around 32 Mbpd when Libya started having issues and stopped supplying Europe, so they alone could handle any shortfall in Libyan production.


Saudia Arabia can cover it in the short-term; however, in the long-term, the removal of 2% of the oil supply would cause some economic difficulties as the gap between supply and demand. I think it would be highly naive to think that wasn't one of the main motivations (and the natural desire to remove Qaddafi for a couple of decades).



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Orangemoose wrote:
As a "world leader" we should something. Obama has done nothing. The US is no longer relevant in Syria.


It never was.
 
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Darilian wrote:
Orangemoose wrote:
As a "world leader" we should something. Obama has done nothing. The US is no longer relevant in Syria.

We're funding insurgent elements in Syria through Turkey.

What more would you have us do?

Send troops? Authorize NATO planes to attack Assad? What, exactly?

At least Mark Katz makes some specific suggestions- military involvement via a "No Fly Zone" to be imposed.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/12/its_time_to...

Perhaps we're doing all that we can- or should- be doing, and just not making a big deal about it because we want to give the appearance that the insurgents in Syria are doing this on their own, without any {overt} American help.

Or perhaps we're not doing more because it would require Turkish help- and currently (at this moment) the Turks aren't really willing to do more than they are already.

But unilaterally, there isn't much that the US can do more of. The fact remains that that corner of the world is pretty bereft of American friends. Jordan is unwilling to do more than humanitarian support- and even then, they're getting a bit overrun. Turkey is the key- and our support of Israel is making that difficult, due to the current diplomatic row between Israel and Turkey. And looming on the sidelines is Iran, anxious to drag the US into a quagmire in Syria at the same time that they are making up their minds on how to go forward in their game of chicken with Israel.

So all of this is pretty complicated- and the admonition that Obama should just 'do something' is a bit naive, at least, without some specifics.

What should we be doing that we are not?

Darilian




The US cannot Authorize NATO planes to attack Assad, they can request it.
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