Damascus is a really old city. It has been there since recorded time from the Biblical ages. Christians are familiar with the story of St. Paul. He was on his way to Damascus to punish Christians as he had been doing in his role of Roman bureaucrat and a true Jew who viewed them as heretics. Then came the epiphany on the road to Damascus when he literally saw the light and heard the voice of God and his life was transformed. He bought a word of hope and peace as the Gospel to the world that is followed today by billions. Can we expect such good news (no pun intended) from the US’s tortured and perhaps militant (?) journey to Damascus today?
One major factor we overlook in our current slap stick foreign policy efforts is that from the Syrian and Assad perspective this is a fight to the death. The loser will be at the mercy of the winner. It is winner take all and one can see the way Muslims treat one another in their internecine wars. The Shia, Alawites and Christians will be killed or enslaved at best if they lose this battle. Such dreadful outcomes focuses the mind and stiffens the spine even in the face of difficult odds. We can’t credibly promise love, peace and prosperity for them if they lose this battle and they know it.
Its geography is diverse as is its people. From desert lands to the mighty Euphrates to the north and the mountainous regions in its southwest. The entire land like Damascus is filled with nooks and crannies to hide WMD. Because of the way we have handled the situation they have already had three weeks to disperse and re-arrange their armaments including those WMD. You can assume that only the most trusted troops would be involved in such a process. Damascus alone would provide endless small buildings off alley ways to stash the WMD. They have been doing that. Never assume your enemy is a fool; what they are capable of doing they will likely do. But for the mental exercise let’s assume that somehow there is an agreement to get the WMD and have it destroyed.
First there will be the interminable delays. They news today is already that the Syrians supported by the Russkies wants at least 30 days to merely hand over an inventory of the WMD on hand. But assume we get the deal for real people to come and look and locate in a reasonable time. How many will it take? If there are 20 locations you have to assume at least 3/4 inspectors per location. They can fly in fairly safely and even get transport to a school or hotel or wherever there is relative security. Speaking of which who is going to provide the actual, day-to-day security for those inspectors. No doubt they will want some outside force and not be dependent on Syrian troops for that job. How many foreign security troops will Syria allow into their country during the Civil War? They could rightfully suspect they might be spies transmitting data back to the CIA or similar organization. But assume we get by that hurdle also and some limited number of foreign troops are allowed as escorts to protect the inspectors.
Will the Syrians blindfold them en route to locations? I mean what if the deal falls apart only a few days after the process is started. You think the Syrians will allow those inspectors to take back home the exact locations of their WMD? They sure won’t allow them to wear Google glass hardware or Zillow cams.
After they locate the WMD it has to be secured. Locked under seal. It is inconceivable that it could be destroyed in place. How will it be transported? Who supplies those trucks and workers to load all that bad stuff? I doubt the Syrians will donate trucks during the civil war when they need them to move troops, ammo and logistics to their own troops. In all likelihood if the US estimates are remotely close you are talking about lots of trucks. Who will provide the security for the convoys to move those trucks and exactly where will they be taken? You ever thought about one of those trucks being taken out with an RPG? Either side could have a lone wolf who decides that would be just a dandy idea. One assumes the neighboring countries will not touch this transportation and storage situation with a ten foot pole. Israel would probably help out but, but, but, try selling that idea in a Muslim country.
Of course there is the obvious advantage to Assad of having those inspectors in-country during the Civil War. First, those facilities and nearby areas will never be targeted by the US for fear of collateral damage. Secondly, he has some built-in hostages that he can disperse where he likes and again protect those areas from any US military strike. If he delays, hides stuff even without trying to conceal the effort, the fact is that there will never be any military strike against him as long as they are there. History is replete with “guests” being in fact nothing but hostages to their hosts. Read any history and you see.
Yeah, we have satellites and drones and all that sophisticated gear to detect and attempt to locate the WMD and keep up with the inspectors. But Assad will not let the inspectors wear tracking devices unless it suits his purposes. And all that sophisticated gear is not full proof. It can’t see everything and night vision and all that heat sensitive sensors still have limitations. We simply can’t keep up with all the Assad troops in Syria 24/7. It will be impossible to verify we got it all. Maybe we get 90% but is that really making us safe? That ten per cent with the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston is not a vision we should welcome.
The only way this would work effectively is to destroy the opponent militarily so that you can work your will without interference. But getting it that war is a terrible idea. The US interest are not threatened and those Muslims should solve their own problems by the sword since that is their choice. We aren’t making them fight and kill each other. The solution is for them to find. Indecision and vacillation are the marks of the tepid and weak and seen as so by the world.
“Fish or cut bait” http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com