The Syrian Crisis & Emerging Geopolitics

September 7, 2013 at 6:39am


This is a brief and simplistic note about a complex situation. Elsewhere I have background material that is relevant. You can find more on your own. But here are my observations about where things stand and how they are shaping up in very brief and facile form:

A Recitation of Facts and Near Facts:

1.      There have been a lot of people killed in acivil war in Syria over the last two years.

2.      Syria has strong elements of Hezbollah which issupported by Iran and operates heavily in Lebanon and to some degree inIsrael’s Palestinian Territories.

3.      Syria has received a public commitment fromRussia and Vladimir Vladmirovich Putin that Russia will help Syria if the USAattacks Syria.

4.      China, Brazil, Argentina and Russia havedeclared their opposition to a strike against Syria.

5.      Someone has used chemical weapons in Syria andthe USA has declared that it was the Assad regime.

6.      President Obama has asked for Congressionalauthorization for the attack to come.

7.      Russia and the United States have positionedships in striking distance of Syria and one another.

8.      France has pledged its support for the US actionin Syria.

9.      The September 11 anniversary is almost upon us.

10.  France is the oldest and first ally of theUnited States and our relationship with them has been badly and unfortunatelyunderplayed for a long time. The images of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinettewere once displayed with honor for many years in the Capitol. The honoraccorded this pair of paintings was second only to that of Washington asauthors of American independence and that is a correct assessment replaced bynonsense.

11.  France has shown in Mali and elsewhere that itcan be very effective in dealing with Islamist foes.

12.  France is a major geopolitical player with manyfriends in the world.

The question is what do all of these facts mean? What arethe risks and potential rewards of an attack on Syria? Who is morally and legallyresponsible for what? There are books that could be written about all of this,but in this brief post I want to look at a few possible analyses of thesituation.

Scenarios of Possible Outcomes

Let us divide the possibilities into scenarios. No scenariocan turn out to be exactly the way things will play out for a variety ofreasons. But they give us something on which to base discussion of thesituation. I am going to spell out in extremely brief form six differentscenarios of where this set of facts could be leading us.

1.      Thewildly optimistic scenario is: Russia, China, Britain and many othercountries throughout the G-20 and elsewhere do in fact support the strike andare ready to lend support.  This willplay out in short order as French and US forces rush in and create a new Syriaby surprise and the whole world cheers. Obama’s revelations about Osama BinLaden’s killing are trumped with a far greater display of international showmanship.A happy resolution not announced by anyone ensues.

2.      The very optimistic scenario is: Thestrikes are effective and nothing more than international protests areforthcoming and a better regime begins to emerge in a way that is notdisgraceful and the US proves it can effectively go thing alone. The ties withan old ally in France are also strengthened.

3.      The optimistic scenario is:International protests abound. Russia introduces new interceptor batteries thatare not very effective against US missiles, a wave of trouble rocks the regionthat is typical and there are new small incidents involving Israel and Iran butthe whole thing blows over  and the lawagainst chemical weapons is  upheld.

4.      The realistic scenario is:   Russiaand Iran operate a defensive shield and war around Syria. Countries protest ahistory of American unilateral and unconventional attacks. US, Russian andIranian ships are sunk. Israel is hit with some chemical weapons. Jordan andLebanon are thrown into mid-term crisis.  A new Cold War is created and people are happybecause it is not a hot war.  The Obamaregime resets American foreign policy for the next fifty years at least.

5.      The pessimistic scenario is: Russialaunches a diplomatic initiative with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization andother allies. Massive cyber attacks, penetrators against regional bases andinterceptor batteries are deployed which have not been seen before in battle.American carriers are sunk and submarine communications are disabled. However afterregional wars in the Mediterranean and Iran a new Cold War resumes. Many oldallies return to the US fold and America launches successfully many needed reformsof its own.

6.      The very pessimistic scenario is: Carriersand drones are shown to be largely vulnerable in a war which has nuclearexchanges and which cripples the US and much of the rest of the world.  However, there is no World War Three.


I will not spell out the worst option as you should be ableto figure it out for yourself. This is a serious time and we are here as aresult of many serious decisions and actions and the future is uncertain.  None of this deals with what will happen ifthere is no strike, we build a coalition in advance or any number of other possibilities.This is a set of current trends continuedscenarios.

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