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Syria descends into civil war

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The scenes of Assad's forces attacking Homs look very familiar. We saw the same thing over and over in Iraq when US forces used 'shock and awe' tactics. They didn't work for Bush and they probably won't work for Assad. The pro-Assad forces are claiming that the opposition is now firing back, but that is a natural consequence of a regime that fires on unarmed protesters. Eventually the protesters return with guns and start shooting party officials and clerics that support the government.

Assad is precisely the type of dictator that the US has been more than happy to keep in power if they are considered to be on 'our' side. Russia is still playing that game and so it is hardly surprising that they see the US position on Syria to be yet another opportunistic power grab. From the US point of view the US has invaded two countries in the region, toppled the regimes in three more and is looking to do the same in Syria and Iran.

As with unemployment, Syria is a topic that the GOP simply does not want to talk about. Mitt Romney attacked Obama for not calling for Assad to go quite quickly enough for his taste back last year but only wanted rhetoric, not actual military action. Meanwhile there is a steady demand to start a war with Iran, a war that would inevitably be three times the fiasco of Iraq.

If there was any actual sense or strategy to the GOP campaign against Iran they would be all for military action against its only significant ally when the Assad regime is possibly on the brink of collapse. The fall of Assad would be a real defeat for the regime in Tehran. Instead they demand a war on a country that can shut off the world's oil supply and create a global recession.

The reason for this silence is that while AIPAC has a very clear policy against the Iranian regime, they are less keen on regime change closer to home. For AIPAC to thrive, Israel must remain perpetually isolated and insecure, a lone 'democracy' surrounded by dictatorships.

At this point there are no good options. Doing nothing poses a serious risk of Assad murdering tens or even hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters. The 'Free Syrian Army' is not (yet) considered capable of sustaining a campaign against Assad. The US is floating a proposal for a 'coalition of the willing' but is unlikely to find support without UN sanction.

The most likely outcome is that the world will stand by as Assad commits his massacre, then the Russians lose patience and drop their opposition to action by NATO. Meanwhile Syria will descend into civil war and the effects will spread into the neighboring countries.

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