Lion of the Blogosphere

Syrian foreign minister says Syria will defend itself

Associated Press interview with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad:

“There will be no international military intervention,” Mikdad said in the interview at his office. “If individual countries want to pursue aggressive and adventurous policies, the natural answer … would be that Syria, which has been fighting against terrorism for almost three years, will also defend itself against any international attack.”

“They will bear the responsibility for such an attack, which will result in killing thousands of innocent people, as happened in Libya, and committing criminal actions against a sovereign country,” Mikdad added. “Syria will not be an easy target.”

Mikdad did not elaborate on how Syria might defend itself, but he said such an attack would trigger “chaos in the entire world.”

When is the last time that a country the United States attacked defended itself in any meaningful way that made America sorry for getting involved? The Vietnam War (in which we never actually attacked North Korea)?

There are Americans who are sorry we were involved in Iraq, but that sorrowfulness didn’t happen until well after the government of Saddam Hussein was completely eliminated. It was a bunch of non-governmental guerrillas who caused us to be sorry and not the Iraqi army. America is not good at occupying countries, but we are very good at destroying enemy military might and civilian infrastructure without taking any meaningful damage in return.

I wonder, is it possible for any small country to retaliate against us in any meaningful way? After two wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia and Libya, one can either conclude that none of those countries were capable of retaliating, or that their military leadership was incompetent. With respect to Iraq, I definitely think that Saddam Hussein was very hands on in telling his military what to do, and that he was incompetent.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 26, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Posted in International

46 Responses

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  1. With respect to Iraq, I definitely think that Saddam Hussein was very hands on in telling his military what to do, and that he was incompetent.

    I think the general consensus is that Hussein’s Revolutionary Guard was fairly well equipped and trained, but saw their effectiveness severely limited by having to answer direct to the delusional Saddam.

    As soon as Senior Iraqi military commanders saw the US unloading armor in late 2002 they knew that the game was up, though. It’s pretty expensive to move and maintain armor.


    August 26, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    • As soon as Senior Iraqi military commanders saw the US unloading armor in late 2002 they knew that the game was up, though.

      We should have installed an Iraqi Christian (Tariq Aziz??) as supreme dictator, made the surrendering army give an oath of allegiance to him and left 90% of our forces 18 months after capturing Baghdad.

      The relatively secular Arab dictators know how to put down the prole Muslims. Look at Al-Sisi did to the Muslim Brotherhood. He crushed the protests by terror killing a few thousand civilian protesters. That’s the way a third world military should deal with a savage mob.

      Of course, we need the Arab dictators to do this for us because we aren’t willing to do what Al-Sisi did in Tarir Square a few days ago.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      August 26, 2013 at 6:46 PM

  2. Terrorism is the poor man’s nuclear weapon. In the case of Iraq, Iraqi intelligence agents did try to commit international terrorist acts in the 1990’s, but they were really bad at it. I don’t think they were able to pull off a single successful terrorist attack. Of course, Iraqi agents were probably afraid of bearing the brunt of any action that was pulled off and might have been uncommonly timid.

    But Syria now has an ally in Hezbollah, and I’m sure that even though they are a secular dictatorship, they’re not afraid of supporting wacko religious terrorists; particularly when the target is the US and US interests. So I don’t think the threat is entirely a bluff, at least as long as the Syrian government is intact.


    August 26, 2013 at 2:29 PM

  3. Serbia could have easily retaliated on the US with something much worse than any terrorist attack it had seen (presumably they had a lot more resources and actual expertise than the Oklahoma nutcase or the Islamists that tried to first bomb the WTC) but there was no point: after that Clinton would have had no trouble getting the support for a full ground war and a good part of the Serbian regime would have been either hanged or jailed for a very long time. The way it actually worked out most of the top Serbs just retired to live out the rest of their days – hell, I’m guessing a bunch of Serbs with not very clean pasts are working for Americans now.

    Terrorism by a particular country is not a sustainable strategy as it’s very easy to shut down. The US may be stuck with a ton of PC restraint with Islamic terrorism that doesn’t come from a particular state but if Serbia arranged a few spectacular bombings on US civilian targets and announced that Serbian saboteurs planted in the US would keep repeating the acts, well, it used to be standard practice to not allow citizens of enemy nations in your country when you’re at war. Actually, it *is* standard practice *for everyone else* to deport enemy nationals when you’re at war but the US just skips it because Americans feel secure and superpowered. Attacking military targets in the US is not cost effective (spend resources on James Bond operations to blow up missiles in US bases or spend resources on decoy buildings that cost a fraction of what it costs to blow them up with cruise missiles?).

    The only defense is the hedgehog strategy: don’t plan to defeat the US, plan to make the war as costly as possible for the US. This partially worked for the Serbians as the US stayed off the ground – it would have worked if the US would not have had Albanians to work as the footsoldiers. Right now American leaders are fairly powerless against any proper, unified state with no exploitable internal divisions as it’s well known that American leaders can’t get domestic approval for full wars unless provoked first.

    Jaakko Raipala

    August 26, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    • The evolved traits of the military personnel also matters.

      The 1999 Serbs took down a US stealth bomber using rusty Soviet missiles whereas the Arab Iraqis couldn’t scratch us even though they had better equipment than the Serbs did 8 years later.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      August 26, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    • Serbia should have been wiped out from the map for what it did to the Western Civilization on 1914.


      August 27, 2013 at 4:27 PM

      • Serbia didn’t cause WWI. Imperial Germany used the Archduke’s assassination as a fig leaf excuse to launch an unprovoked attack against France. Of course, it still would have been better if the Kaiser won.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        August 27, 2013 at 9:39 PM

  4. Lion, you ought to do a piece on the Atlanta schools test cheating scandal, the teachers and administrators in the case are now going on criminal trial on a rolling basis:

    The story has all the hallmarks of the ultimate “make dumb kids smart” story under NCLB – black school administrator gets rave reviews for the improbable, meteoric rise of the rock-bottom test scores in her 80-95% black districts. Then, media later exposes the story of cheating but no one ever bothers to wonder why these students can’t compete and needed grade changing in the first place.

    By the way, these are not crumbling schools of the type that you’d see in the inner city in the Northeast. Many of the schools in question are brand new and full of equipment, facilities and computers that I could only dream of having in my public school growing up down south.


    August 26, 2013 at 5:32 PM

  5. Syria has some kind of an air force and air defense. They may have the latest Russia has produced. They can probably, like the Iranians, launch cruise missiles against US ships. The Syrians have a poor record against the Israelis, but they may be able to inflict some serious damage. The war can be seen as a test of what would happen in an attack on Iran. I think there are a lot of people ready to see the US humbled not just by terrorism and guerilla war, but in conventional war. Assad and his cohort have nothing to lose, and Iran and Russia have a lot to gain.


    August 26, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    • The problem is they’re military is staffed with inbred Muslims. In the hands of Russians or ethnic Serbs those weapons could be dangerous. But Syrians? Better than the 1991 Iraqis, but not by a lot.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      August 26, 2013 at 6:53 PM

      • Muslims gave Israel a bloody nose in Lebanon in ’06.

        Dave Pinsen

        August 27, 2013 at 9:23 AM

      • Muslims gave Israel a bloody nose in Lebanon in ’06.

        Again, because Israel is too civilized to fight dirty by killing civilians en masse like Al-Sisi.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        August 27, 2013 at 9:41 PM

      • Muslims gave Israel a bloody nose in Lebanon in ’06.

        Nah. The IDF gave Hezbollah a fine beating, and then left.

        The world media was determined to report it as an Israeli defeat, but that’s always true. Nothing Israel can do about that.


        August 28, 2013 at 6:23 AM

  6. i disagree. much of the iraqi “insurgency” was the iraqi army in all but name.
    Also, Hizb’allah did a really, legitimately solid job banging up Israel in southern lebanon. Hizb’allah isn’t an “official” army, in that it represents no state, but it functions almost identically to one. They have clear chains of command, engaged in set-piece battles etc.


    August 26, 2013 at 6:08 PM

  7. To be very cold, the main damage the US received in Iraq was in money and in prestige. Yes, we lost 4,400 soldiers, but those losses are very small. We lost 58,000 troops in Vietnam, in comparison. We lost 400,000 in WWII, which was also a small loss compared to Germany losing at least five million, Japan three million, and Russia losing eight million soldiers and 19 million civilians. There were 600,000-750,000 Americans dead in the Civil War. I’m sure Grant would do anything to wage a war where he lost 4,400 soldiers.

    If America attacks Syria, our manpower losses will be minimal, especially if we avoid putting boots on the ground (I don’t think there were any Americans who died in Libya until Benghazi). If we do occupy the country, we will have to pay plenty of cash, which we scarcely wish to do.


    August 26, 2013 at 6:13 PM

    • 4,400 is too many. Let them destroy each other and die in their own fire. Unless we go in there and truly “win” by hanging the leader, mowing down anyone in opposition, and declaring it an annexed territory, it will just be the same sort of ineffective nation building effort we’ve seen in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt which are all ripe for islamist control (as happened in Iran) and/ or guerrilla warfare. Sure it could be an easy fight, but at what long term cost, and at what realistic hope of resolution?


      August 26, 2013 at 9:54 PM

      • I am not saying the Iraq War advantaged us in any appreciable way. What I am saying is that Assad is wrong in suggesting that we would lose heavily if we struck. If we only launched cruise missile strikes and launched bomber planes, we would suffer minimal losses.

        Do I support military intervention? No. As ghastly as the sarin gas attack was, I’m not convinced that the rebels would be any more merciful than Assad’s regime, especially to the Alawites. I can’t think of any geostrategic advantages to us. Doesn’t seem worthwhile.


        August 27, 2013 at 6:37 AM

    • That’s an incomplete picture. Total casualties for the US military were 20,000+. Many serviceman are alive yes but crippled for life. Civilian contractors also surpassed the number of deployed soldiers and nobody knows what their casualties were. The overuse of contractors was deliberate to conceal losses. Then you add all the puppet Iraqi cops/soldiers who were wasted. Now you’re beginning to get closer to the truth…


      August 27, 2013 at 12:12 AM

      • Excellent point. What would you estimate the sum total to be?


        August 27, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      • I’d say the total casualties for the US/UK armies, contractors, and local allies to be 500,000 killed or wounded. I’m not being overly broad either anyone receiving coalition tax dollars is a coalition casualty. Since contractors and local allies outnumbered our serviceman and did the jobs they would have done in earlier wars it makes sense losses would be much higher and similar to other major wars.


        August 27, 2013 at 4:04 PM

      • Certainly, being wounded counts as a casualty and being wounded is horrible. I’ll accept that there was a higher number of people wounded, per capita, than in other conflicts, due to superior medical technology. Nevertheless, there were 150,000 wounded in Vietnam, over 90,000 in Korea, 670,000 wounded in WWII, and an unestimated amount of wounded in the Civil War, with treatment for those wounds being gruesome.

        My point remains that the Iraq War, while a colossal fiasco, was not as damaging to American lives and manpower as previous conflicts. One estimate I read about civilian contractor losses put the figure around 1500, around 250 being American. Of course, the exact figures aren’t known. Even if you double our losses from less than 4,500 to 9,000, those losses are tragic but are smaller than previous wars, during which we had significantly smaller populations.

        Iraqi losses were grave, but my point was that the Iraq War wasn’t as damaging to American lives as previous major wars were. Even so, if you estimate that the Coalition killed and wounded were around 500,000, then I would submit that there were around 2,500,000 killed or wounded in the Vietnam War, 750,000 killed or wounded in Korea, and 22,000,000-30,000,000 deaths in WWII (God knows about the wounded) among our allies in those conflicts in military losses.

        To reiterate, the Iraq War was a costly mistake, but the damage it did to American lives and manpower was smaller than previous wars.


        August 28, 2013 at 4:26 AM

    • That 4,400 dead actually translates to about 25,000 critically wounded. Not a small number in a modern war. There are much less dead thanks to improved evacuation tech and better medicine, but very inefficient as well (I believe quite a few of them had to be brought all the way to Germany).


      August 27, 2013 at 4:30 PM

      • Based on the Egyptian model, that would seem to be the plan.


        August 28, 2013 at 8:07 AM

  8. The main damage we would do to ourselves would be defeating Assad and then having him replaced by some lunatic prole Muslim political party.

    The Undiscovered Jew

    August 26, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    • Exactly. What is the point of helping to oust Assad when he’s replaced by more of George Dubya’s “freedom loving muslims” of the the brotherhood and al queda?

      As Kissinger said, ” It’s too bad they both can’t lose.”


      August 26, 2013 at 7:54 PM

      • “If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible, although I don’t want to see Hitler victorious under any circumstances. Neither of them thinks anything of their pledged word.” Harry S. Truman, on June 24th, 1941


        August 27, 2013 at 6:44 AM

      • Such philosophy of Truman gave us Mao and Uncle Ho.


        August 27, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      • Chiang Kai Shek was a horrible, horrible “ally,” who was less suspicious of Stalin than he was of Anglo-American “imperialists.” Mao was a million times worse than Chiang, but Chiang was useless.


        August 28, 2013 at 3:49 AM

      • Such philosophy of Truman gave us Mao and Uncle Ho.

        No, because it wasn’t implemented.

        The philosophy of Franklin Roosevelt is what gave us Mao and Uncle Ho, as well as Stalin in Berlin, Prague, and Vienna — namely, “give Stalin everything he wants, with no questions asked.”


        August 28, 2013 at 6:15 AM

  9. I wonder, is it possible for any small country to retaliate against us in any meaningful way?

    Sure it is. If they have WMD and the capability to deliver them. Maybe if they have Russian / Chinese help in delivering a punishing cyberattack.


    August 26, 2013 at 8:13 PM

  10. Funny to see how none of the commenters here seems to be concerned with the fact that once again our government leads us into an expensive war under blatantly false pretext.


    August 26, 2013 at 8:30 PM

  11. Hey LotB
    Here’s an article on one of your favorite topics: robots & computers making human work obsolete.

    It says what I’ve been trying to say. There are lots of jobs that computers just can’t do, at least in the foreseeable future.


    August 26, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    • If robots are doing all of these jobs< then why do we need all of these immigrants?


      August 26, 2013 at 11:55 PM

      • Like it says in the article, they will do low level service jobs. But some of those are being replaced as well. Already steps are being taken to further automate farming and crop harvesting (see parapundit’s blog).


        August 27, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      • Rich people like to be serviced by poor people. For example, they like full-service restaurants vs. going to a fast-food places that requires fewer employee and where they sell less labor-intensive food.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        August 27, 2013 at 11:45 AM

      • “Like it says in the article, they will do low level service jobs.”

        One of the commenters describes his waiter job being replaced by an app for ordering; all he’s left with is serving and clearing dishes from the table.


        August 27, 2013 at 1:27 PM

  12. “The Vietnam War (in which we never actually attacked North Korea)?”

    Why should have gone out of our way to attack the Norks? We had a treaty with them.


    August 26, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    • I think Lion probably meant N. Vietnam. The US also bombed the hell out of it too.


      August 27, 2013 at 4:38 AM

    • They captured the US Navy ship Pueblo on the high seas and held the crew hostage, and the US was too timid to retaliate.


      August 27, 2013 at 5:38 AM

  13. I don’t understand Syria. Instead of boasting about Vietnam, why not just say: “Hey, why are you attacking us? We may hate you, but our enemy here is Al Qaeda. It is Al Qaeda that wants to rule Syria.”

    Then invite Russian peacekeepers to build a base in Syria. America is now effectively neutralized.

    I don’t understand why these people are so stupid.


    August 26, 2013 at 11:54 PM

    • Syria is about building a nat gas pipeline to Europe to break Gazprom’s (ie. Russia) monopoly. That Obama gets to indulge his anti-american, “anti-colonialism” is the leverage being used to get him to go for it.


      August 27, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    • Russia will send arms and practice diplomacy in its national interest, but no more wants to put troops in the middle of that multicultural snake pit than any sensible American does.

      The Anti-Gnostic

      August 28, 2013 at 12:00 PM

  14. The late Steve Jobs was part Syrian.


    August 27, 2013 at 10:31 PM

  15. You doubted that Syria would retaliate severely?

    Here comes the pain!

    They hacked the NYT, Twitter, the Financial Times, Washington Post, CNN and BBC.


    August 28, 2013 at 9:58 AM

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