Wednesday, September 4, 2013

RAND Study: Destroying Syria's Chemical Weapons Would Require Ground Troops

TPM's Sahil Kapur:
The United States would be embarking on a dangerous fool’s errand if it attempts to wipe out Syria’s chemical weapon capability, according to a new peer-reviewed study by the RAND Corporation, a respected global policy think tank.

But the study, which provided an operational overview of the situation on the ground, also concluded that U.S. air strikes have the potential to reduce the regime’s ability and its incentive to deploy such weapons in the future.

“In spite of often casual rhetoric about ‘taking out’ Syria’s chemical weapon capability, the practical options for doing so have serious limitations, and attempting it could actually make things worse,” write authors Karl P. Mueller, Jeffrey Martini, and Thomas Hamilton.


The study warns of “substantial” collateral damage if the U.S. attempts to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, arguing that locating and striking the relevant facilities would require “very precise and detailed intelligence.” It concludes that the prospects for scrapping Syria’s chemical weapons via air strikes alone “do not appear promising” and “would require ground forces” in order to have a realistic chance at success.

"When will they ever learn? When will they e...ver learn?" Learn what? That "limited interventions" almost never are? That US actions in one theater affect actions of other countries and organizations around the world?

The best course for President Obama is to ignore Sen. Get‑Off‑My‑Lawn and Sen. Graham‑Cracker and not enter another futile war. Maybe he thinks to distract people from their troubles at home, but with one in three working-age Americans out of work, doesn't he have better things to spend resources on than yet another Vietnam War? "How many times..." must we do this?

For the millions... yes, millions... of Americans who haven't a clue where Syria is, here's a clue:

Will that picture become as familiar as the map of Vietnam, or of Iraq? When the "accomplishments" of an assault on Syria are totaled up a year... five years... 20 years from now when we get our troops out of there, how many American troops will have died? how many Syrians, military and civilian? How many other international relations will the US have weakened or utterly wrecked?

This is a really, really bad idea. For Obama, it is a ploy to cover a domestic failure that is admittedly not primarily of his making, but it is still a truly terrible idea.

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