Obama’s potentially appalling mistake

The US learns nothing from its wars, not from all the military disasters it set in train in this millennium — Afghanistan and Iraq that did little else but prepare the ground for the Islamist radical take-over. Yes, Saddam Hussain was a bloodthirsty tyrant but Washington supplied him with the chemical weapons he used against Iran in the decade-long war in the 1980s, and against his own Kurdish population. But it was Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran Washington wanted to hurt then by any and all means, including CWs. In this context, Obama’s first charging Bashar al-Assad with CW use and then, on the basis of this charge mounting a punitive operation, is a bit rich, especially because the irrefutable evidence the US says it has collected, has not been disseminated to an international public, which action would have improved Obama’s creds. The only countries jumping onto the American war bandwagon are, predictably, France and the Britain, who are reduced to being hangers-on in the new century. So countries of West Asia will have to brace for another eruption of violence with the Syrian rebel army now leaning on direct help from the US. It is another matter, that this won’t be enough to displace Assad in Damascus. Worse, is the likelihood that the generally secular rebel forces, with the military situation tilted against them, will in time welcome all the armed and motivated Islamist goons from all over to enlarge their fighting ranks and, soon enough, the rebel army will distinguish itself from the Assad regime because of its al-Qaida precepts and philosophy. Lo and behold, actions against Damascus will spur al-Qaida revival. The denseness of the American policymakers is simply appalling. The irony is that, while the initial phase of drone and Tomahawk cruise missile attacks, and stealth aircraft recce runs is underway, the US armed forces, who are always up for a scuffle with a manifestly weaker foe, are wary of intervening in another scrap that could blow up in the American faces. So, it is Obama, twice elected on an anti-war agenda, then who will be driving the US into another conflict, with what consequences can only be speculated.

In this mess, Russia is weighing in militarily on the side of Assad. One of the warships deployed by Moscow in the Mediterranean is reportedly the Moskva helicopter carrier. Not to be left behind, China is doing its two yuans worth to muddy the waters by sending in a small flotilla offshore of the Levant. What these PLAN vessels will be doing mucking around those waters is hard to fathom, except perhaps to snoop around, pick up operational radar frequencies, stuff like that and generally act as a would-be great power poking its snout in other people’s business without the least chance of making an impact.

This analyst for one hopes Chinese ships get in harm’s way, get shot up, and the PLAN flotilla gets involved in an inadvertent firefight with the USAF and the US Mediterranean Fleet, and otherwise gets its tail in the wringer.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Asian geopolitics, China, China military, Cyber & Space, Defence Industry, Europe, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, guerilla warfare, Russia, russian military, Terrorism, United States, US., West Asia, Western militaries. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Obama’s potentially appalling mistake

  1. RV says:

    Bharat, its a very fine article. Two minor corrections and some very relevant additions:

    1. The Moskva missile cruiser that is deployed is of the Slava class that preceded the Kirov class missile cruisers. Apart from the name, it has no relationship to the helicopter carrier. Still in its present modified form it carries a considerable “punch” and is a dedicated anti-CBG asset.

    2. It would be highly risky to underestimate PLAN motives. They are using this event to shore up an ally, and, gain invaluable experience long distance “blue water” operations.

    Frankly, I believe India should have sent a few guided missile frigates/destroyers to support Assad. The IN is far superior to the PLAN in “blue water” operations, and perhaps in certain areas second to none! Iran is critical to any Indian strategy. It’s the Rupee payment for Iranian oil that keeps the Indian economy from crashing. If the semi-despotic, but secular regime of Assad falls just because the US powers-that-be have been bought off by criminal Saudi money, Iran is next. Assad is not a threat to Israel. He promotes and tolerates secular values, and has has actively supported and encouraged emancipation, equal rights, and, education for women, etc…

    What to me is bizarre is the fact that the US and its stooges seem hell bent in destroying the earliest Christian communities that can trace their existence right to the very advent of Christianity, even before it spread to Greece, and treat them in as “collateral damage” in an illegal military operation that brings the AQ to the very doorsteps of Israel, just for a few crumbs thrown by the criminal Saudi’s into the pockets of the US powers-that-be.

    • RV says:


      The statement in point 2 of the above post should read as: “They are using this event to ostensibly shore up an ally, and, gain invaluable experience in long distance “blue water” operations.”.

    • RV says:

      The statement in point 2 of the above post:

      “Frankly, I believe India should have sent a few guided missile frigates/destroyers to support Assad”

      should be expunged and read as:

      “Frankly, I believe India should have sent a few guided missile frigates/destroyers to observe the situation”

      India should only extend support to itself and its own interests, which unfortunately is not happening. Personally I wouldn’t lose any sleep if Assad was swinging from a lamppost. Assad is certainly no angel and has a lot to answer to his own people. However, he is many shades better than the Saudi/-backedAQ goons that will replace him.

  2. RV says:

    Bharat, with regards to your statement: “This analyst for one hopes Chinese ships get in harm’s way, get shot up, and the PLAN flotilla gets involved in an inadvertent firefight with the USAF and the US Mediterranean Fleet, and otherwise gets its tail in the wringer.”, I hope you realize and note two points:

    1. You should blame the Indian establishment for their incompetence, corruption, and treason for recent events in the Ladadh-DBO sector. China is an expanding power. If your people were too weak, stupid, corrupt, and incompetent to stop the loss of an additional 600+ kms of YOUR territory., don’t spill your bile on the Chinese!

    2. The now “confirmed by default” downing of an F-22 is the second such incident. The first such incident was when an F-22 was “jumped” on two F/J-10’s of the PLAAF, when it intruded Chinese territory! The IAF possesses some of the best pilots in the world. But, would an IAF commander order the downing of a US aircraft that intrudes Indian airspace when a corrupt imbecile like “Charlie” who is more interested in prop driven trainers, unrealistic C–17’s, and even perhaps biplanes, and some of his predecessors, head the force? Do you recall the hovering of a USN chopper over Kalpakkam a few years ago DESPITE being told that this was a “no fly zone”? Do you think this was an “innocent event”? The PLAAF would have brought the prying chopper down in flames!

  3. RV says:

    The spine chilling account of Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib, mother superior of St. James Monastery in Qara, Syria of the barbaric brutality of the FSA, on whose behalf the US and its stooges intend to go to war is worth noting:


    It’s pretty rich that the US is going to wage war on Assad’s Syria on the pretext of human rights violations, on the instigation and bribery of a pre-Stone Age country like Saudi Arabia, which has never signed the Human Rights Convention! If Assad has to swing from the gallows, due process and not lies and bribery should be the deciding factor!

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