(LA Times) Syrian forces told to use ‘any means necessary’ to crush rebellion in Dara

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Syrian security forces besieging the flashpoint city of Dara have been ordered to use "any means necessary" to crush the rebellion that sparked the weeks-long uprising against the regime of President Bashar Assad, a Syrian military source said Saturday.

The claim by the military official, who has provided accurate information in the past, could explain the violent response of Syrian security forces in Dara over the last two days, which resembles the take-no-prisoners strategy used by Assad's father, Hafez Assad, to put down a 1982 rebellion in the central city of Hama.

"There have been commands to attend to the situation in Dara as soon as possible and with any means necessary," the military source told The Times in a brief conversation conducted over the Internet. "Even if this means that the city is to be burned down."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

27 Comments
Posted April 30, 2011 at 4:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. BlueOntario wrote:

I recall reading and hearing the term regularly during the 70s and 80s in articles and reports about Central and South American governments, and about Ferdinand Marcos. But when did MSM stop calling dictators dictators?

April 30, 7:28 pm | [comment link]
2. carl wrote:

Where are the Libyan hawks?  Have they so quickly become Syrian doves?

carl

April 30, 7:52 pm | [comment link]
3. Tired of Hypocrisy wrote:

Violent Syrian security forces. And this is new?

April 30, 11:02 pm | [comment link]
4. Br. Michael wrote:

2, good question.  If Libya then why not Syria?  Surely their civilians are just as important as Libyan civilians.

May 1, 5:54 am | [comment link]
5. Br. Michael wrote:

In Libya we seem to be deliberately targeting Gaddafi. 

“TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi escaped a NATO missile strike in Tripoli on Saturday, but his youngest son and three grandchildren under the age of 12 were killed, a government spokesman said.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110501/ap_on_bi_ge/ml_libya

Well fair enough I suppose, but I can’t help wondering what is the practical difference between this and using an assignation squad.  I also can’t help but wonder how we would feel if the Libyans targeted No. 10 or the White House.  After all there is no declaration of war yet we feel free to deliberately target a national leader and his family.

May 1, 6:24 am | [comment link]
6. AnglicanFirst wrote:

Brother Michael (#5.) said,
“Well fair enough I suppose, but I can’t help wondering what is the practical difference between this and using an assignation squad.  I also can’t help but wonder how we would feel if the Libyans targeted No. 10 or the White House.  After all there is no declaration of war yet we feel free to deliberately target a national leader and his family.”

An excellent point.  An astute observation.

What happened to the Presidential Executive Order that stated that we will not target the leaders of foreign nations, particulary with assassination squads/units/capabilities?

This Administration has changed Natioanal Policy in this area that has been supported and honored by preceding Democratic and Republican presidents.

Has a new Presidential Executive Order been signed or a new National Security finding been been certified by this Administration?

Has the Administration consulted Congress regarding this matter?

May 1, 7:25 am | [comment link]
7. Creedal Episcopalian wrote:

Why would an executive order signed by Ronald Reagan and reinforced By George Bush the elder have any force on Obama? Executive orders are not laws, and are arguably extra constitutional anyway if they promote policy that has not been implemented or authorized by congress.

May 1, 8:26 am | [comment link]
8. carl wrote:

It has always been US policy that it is not assassination to kill a national leader who happens to be inside a legitimate military target when that target is attacked.  Nothing has changed. 

carl

May 1, 8:39 am | [comment link]
9. Vatican Watcher wrote:

As far as why the US is doing nothing about Syria:
a) everyone knows that Libya was a sideshow as far as ME politics were concerned.  Attacking Qaddafi has no real fall out across the region.
b) attacking Syria definitely would have fall out across the region.  Syria has its fingers in many pies and is a nexus of much tension both political and religious.

May 1, 12:13 pm | [comment link]
10. AnglicanFirst wrote:

Carl (#8.) said,
“It has always been US policy that it is not assassination to kill a national leader who happens to be inside a legitimate military target when that target is attacked.  Nothing has changed.’

Carl,
Using the logic of your statement would have justified our bombing of the residences, office buildings, and bomb shelters of the North Vietnamese Communist Party (NVCP) and particularly any location believed to contain Ho Chi Minh and/or any of the senior leadership of the NVCP.

That would have ended the Vietnamese War in a big hurry since the impetous for for military unification of communist North Vietnam and non-communist South Vietnam came from Ho Chi Minh and no more than about a dozen of Ho’s veteran Communist Party lieutenants.

With them out of the way, the communist effort to forcefully use the North Vietnmese Army to combine the two countries would have fizzled to a full stop.

May 1, 12:34 pm | [comment link]
11. Br. Michael wrote:

Well I suppose that if Libya had the capability, it would justify them taking out the White House.  I say this because when someone shoots at someone they can realistically expect return fire and in an era of asymmetrical warfare one may anticipate non-conventional means.  Assassination of leaders can be a two way street.

I do not think you can launch an attack on another country and then cry foul when they strike back with what ever means they have.  In all of this I think we are extremely fortunate that Libya does not seem to have the means to strike back effectively.

May 1, 12:50 pm | [comment link]
12. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

Nothing to worry about folks…it’s all part of the No-Fly-Zone, where we use Humanitarian-Aid-Missiles to defend the innocent Civilian-Rebel-Army by targeting buildings on the ground that are far removed from the actual fighting.  Besides, this was a NATO action, not a US action.  Why, there wasn’t even any need to consult congress for this Kinetic Military Action.  Move along…

Baa, baa

May 1, 2:34 pm | [comment link]
13. carl wrote:

10. AnglicanFirst

If an installation has a legitimate military purpose, then it may be legitimately attacked.  It is often true that civilian family members of Gov’t officials will take shelter in bunkers that operate as command and control centers.  If that bunker gets destroyed, then those civilians will also die.  Do a search on ‘Al Amiriya bunker’ for an example. 

If a major leader happens to be in the bunker when it gets destroyed, so much the better.  It’s technically not assassination.  I grant this is not much of a distinction - especially when attacks are based on intelligence that the leader is in the bunker.  But it certainly gets around the policy on assassination of foreign political leaders.

carl

May 1, 3:02 pm | [comment link]
14. AnglicanFirst wrote:

Carl (#13.) said,
“But it certainly gets around the policy on assassination of foreign political leaders.”

It is exactly this sort of policy thinking that starts us down a ‘relativistic’ slippery slop of rationalization.

In the instance that I cited (#10.) involving the Vietnam, the North Vietnamese had “de facto” declared war on South Vietnam and the the U.S. forces in South Vietnam. 

In this situation, a clear case was presented that justified direct attacks on the senior North Vietnamese leadership. 

Such attacks were not made because a small but influential political element in the USA favored radical internationalist socialist revolutionaries more than the remainder of the political spectrum within the USA was willing to sacrifice blood and material to support a war that was being fought to permit the South Vietnamese to ‘work out’ their internal governance. 

This “work[ing] out” was to have been by means of a democratic process involving non-communist South Vienamese of all political/religious/ethnic persuasions.

In the case of Libya and/or Syria, neither state nor its specific political leadership is at war with the USA.  They may have geo-political views of the world and methods of internal governance that are anti-thetical to ours, but they are not at war with us and neither have we declared war on them.

The Rules of War and the international polity that has evolved in the world is one that provides a certain level of predictabilty in foreign relations that helps to prevent a repeat of such things as the reaction to Arch Duke Ferdinand’s assassination that led to World War One.

If we, the USA, decide to ‘willy nilly’ ‘take out’ foreign leaders just because we don’t like them or like what they do, then I believe that we are increasing the ‘unpredictability’ in foreign relations to a highly dangerous level.

May 1, 6:31 pm | [comment link]
15. Ad Orientem wrote:

Two quick thoughts…
First, I agree with those asking where the Libyan hawks have all gone.  Their silence is deafening.  Libya is of course already shaping up to be yet another foreign militaristic adventure gone awry. When will we learn?

Secondly assassination of foreign leaders (however we try to disguise it, that is what we are talking about here) is a very very dangerous can of worms to open.  There is a reason why all but the most unhinged despots steer clear of political assassination.  It is a very slippery slope.  Given what has happened I could not accuse Qadaffi of doing anything grossly illegitimate if he ordered the assassination of our president.  One final observation… Most foreign thugs like Qadaffi don’t have to make regular public appearances.  Our leaders do.

May 1, 7:22 pm | [comment link]
16. MichaelA wrote:

Where are the Libyan hawks?  Have they so quickly become Syrian doves?

Where they have always been. You didn’t want the US being involved in Libya in any way (or anywhere outside the continental USA one suspects), so you certainly won’t want them being involved in Syria.

Nothing to worry about folks…it’s all part of the No-Fly-Zone, where we use Humanitarian-Aid-Missiles to defend the innocent Civilian-Rebel-Army by targeting buildings on the ground that are far removed from the actual fighting.  Besides, this was a NATO action, not a US action.  Why, there wasn’t even any need to consult congress for this Kinetic Military Action.  Move along… 

Someone had better tell Sick & Tired that the no-fly zone was in Libya which is a different country to Syria (on a different continent, no less)!

First, I agree with those asking where the Libyan hawks have all gone.  Their silence is deafening.  Libya is of course already shaping up to be yet another foreign militaristic adventure gone awry.

Not at all. We just find your arguments repetitive and unconvincing. Intervention in Libya was feasible and effective, therefore we supported it. Direct intervention in Syria may not be feasible – I am undecided about that, but if it isn’t, then don’t do it. As I commented on a Syrian thread previously, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

And Libya is not in any sense “shaping up to be yet another foreign militaristic adventure gone awry”. Rather, western intervention appears to have worked very well.

“When will we learn?”

I agree. Your post holds out little hope that the lessons of history have been learned.

Secondly assassination of foreign leaders (however we try to disguise it, that is what we are talking about here) is a very very dangerous can of worms to open.

Of course. But sometimes its necessary, as you yourself believe if you are citizen of the United States (see below for something you seem to have forgotten).

Given what has happened I could not accuse Qadaffi of doing anything grossly illegitimate if he ordered the assassination of our president.

My my, what short memories we have! The USA has already tried to kill Qaddafi using bombing in 1986. Qaddafi received warning and vacated the target building only minutes before the bombs hit. Far from causing Qaddafi to retaliate, it caused him to pull his horns in and at least outwardly, start seeking international legitimacy.

May 1, 9:20 pm | [comment link]
17. AnglicanFirst wrote:

To MichaelA (#16.).

It seems that you have avoided comment on my comment (#14),

“If we, the USA, decide to ‘willy nilly’ ‘take out’ foreign leaders just because we don’t like them or like what they do, then I believe that we are increasing the ‘unpredictability’ in foreign relations to a highly dangerous level.”

May 1, 9:48 pm | [comment link]
18. carl wrote:

16. MichaelA

Intervention in Libya was feasible and effective, therefore we supported it. Direct intervention in Syria may not be feasible

What a load of ... well ... I guess we don’t need to mention the contents of the load since it is so well defined.  According to what criteria is direct intervention in Syria ‘not feasible?’  Would it be the “Syria is too far away and we just can’t get our Armed Forces there” criteria?  Would it be the “Syrian refugees won’t be showing up in Europe anytime soon” criteria?  Would it be the “Our populace won’t support any campaign that is too costly” criteria?  Would it be the “There is no oil in Syria” criteria?  Certainly it’s not the absence of the “We must protect civilians from massacre” criteria since that has manifestly been met.

All this talk about ‘protecting civilians’ is just that - talk.  It is just as I said three months ago.  A crisis too far away from Europe will generate no response because the crisis will have no impact on Europe.  Libya was never about ‘protecting civilians’ as Syria conclusively demonstrates.  It was about European powers trying to find some humanitarian fig leaf to justify a military action that served the vital interests of Europe.  Period.

Oh, and I certainly supported both Iraq wars since a nuclear-armed Sadaam acting as regional hegemon over the Middle East would have been a geo-strategic disaster.  I only oppose military actions that do not serve the vital interests of the US. 

carl

May 1, 10:04 pm | [comment link]
19. carl wrote:

However, MichaelA is exactly right when he says this:

My my, what short memories we have! The USA has already tried to kill Qaddafi using bombing in 1986. Qaddafi received warning and vacated the target building only minutes before the bombs hit. Far from causing Qaddafi to retaliate, it caused him to pull his horns in and at least outwardly, start seeking international legitimacy.

It’s amazing how effective the prospect of death can be when it comes to modifying behavior. 

carl

May 1, 10:12 pm | [comment link]
20. Sarah wrote:

RE: “Intervention in Libya was feasible and effective, therefore we supported it.”

Not at all.  Intervention in Libya was an Absolute Moral Duty  and anyone opposed was heartless and cruel and did not love “civilians.”

Baldly—that was the “argument” [sic] put forward for intervention in Libya.

As was endlessly pointed out, such a bizarre moral assertion would be utterly impossible to maintain consistently as that would promptly force such an Absolute Moral Duty on 50 other conflicts.

What’s sad is that the asserters of such grandiose [and inaccurate] moral principles of the duty of countries to run out and use their military might to “protect innocent civilians” are indifferent to any sort of rational consistency or principle.

The Absolute Moral Duty was merely a convenient canard thrown up—as rhetorical whitewash—in an attempt to paper over the real reasons for interference in Libya and not all the other countries where ruthless thug dictators threaten their citizens.

Casually and brazenly disgraceful rhetoric.

May 1, 10:49 pm | [comment link]
21. MichaelA wrote:

AnglicanFirst at #17, I thought I had made it clear, but if not let me restate - I agree entirely with your quote. That is what my “of course” referred to. Just because I think that sometimes assassination of enemy leaders may be justified, doesn’t mean that I think it is something to be undertaken lightly.

Carl at #18, I agree that when I wrote ‘feasible’, I should have made clear that I was also thinking of the cost-benefit analysis. If intervention in Syria would involve huge risk and expense with little prospect of success, I say don’t do it. As noted, my mind is not yet made up on that one.

By contrast, intervention in Libya was relatively easy to do, getting a good result (i.e. better than not intervening) was relatively easy, and Libya is right next to Europe, hence far more important to the West.

“According to what criteria is direct intervention in Syria ‘not feasible?’”

It may well be more difficult to obtain a useful result. I suggest looking at the actual situation in Syria, taking into account the demographics, force ratios, terrain and all the myriad other stuff one has to assess when planning a military operation. I spent a number of years at this sort of stuff and its pretty tedious, but it has to be done.

“It was about European powers trying to find some humanitarian fig leaf to justify a military action that served the vital interests of Europe.  Period.”

No, it was about western powers justifying a military action that served the vital interests of the west, despite the kindergarten level of analysis used by some of their citizens. 

Sarah wrote:

Not at all.  Intervention in Libya was an Absolute Moral Duty and anyone opposed was heartless and cruel and did not love “civilians.” Baldly—that was the “argument” [sic] put forward for intervention in Libya.

Not by me it wasn’t. I would thank you when replying to my post not to conflate my arguments with others! However, something I did do was demolish the arguments of those who argued that there was NO moral imperative to intervene in Libya. They essentially tried to do this by whitewashing Qaddafi’s character and ignoring (or being ignorant of) his past behaviour.

The fact is that there was amply moral justification for intervening in Libya (and still is), but there were also plenty of other reasons to do so.

“Casually and brazenly disgraceful rhetoric.”

I agree, this well describes some of the views I have been arguing against.

May 2, 5:59 am | [comment link]
22. carl wrote:

21. MichaelA

However, something I did do was demolish the arguments of those who argued that there was NO moral imperative to intervene in Libya.

You did?  Perhaps you could post a link or something to the destruction.  I think we all missed it.  I do find it curious to be lectured about the moral imperative to fight from the citizen of a country that has never had any part in the conflict.

No, it was about western powers justifying a military action that served the vital interests of the west, despite the kindergarten level of analysis used by some of their citizens.

Now if you could only identify that vital interest - for those of us who are citizens of the countries that you think should be involved in the fight.  Being in kindergarten, I can’t possibly discern these things for myself.

carl

May 2, 8:32 am | [comment link]
23. Sarah wrote:

RE: “However, something I did do was demolish the arguments of those who argued that there was NO moral imperative to intervene in Libya.”

Heh.

Yes—in your own mind, I’m sure that you did.

May 2, 8:36 am | [comment link]
24. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

#16 said: “Someone had better tell Sick & Tired that the no-fly zone was in Libya which is a different country to Syria (on a different continent, no less)!”

Does it make you feel awfully superior to make snide comments like that?  It was an accidental posting to the wrong thread.  I had multiple windows open at the same time and confused which one I sent the comment to.  But hey, if it lifts your self esteem to belittle someone, by all means step all over me brother.  Make yourself feel real superior.  Do a little dance.

May 2, 6:32 pm | [comment link]
25. MichaelA wrote:

“I think we all missed it.”

Probably you did, but not because it wasn’t there!

“I do find it curious to be lectured about the moral imperative to fight from the citizen of a country that has never had any part in the conflict.”

That’s one of the things about moral imperatives - they can be argued with equal force by anyone.

But let me get this straight - I, who have a son-in-law serving in Afghanistan and a son shortly to start his basic training (and who almost certainly will serve in Afghanistan also), am not allowed to argue in support of the US airmen who risked their lives in Libya.

Whereas you, who have denigrated the mission on which those US airmen were engaged, are allowed to say anything you like.

Yes, that makes a lot of sense. It may be obvious to readers why I have scant respect for my opponents on this one.

“Now if you could only identify that vital interest…”

Interests, not interest. That makes my point in spades. If you cannot see the relevance of unrest right next to Europe, and its relevance to every western country, then that is not my problem.

“Yes—in your own mind, I’m sure that you did”.

Thank you. My own mind is the only one I have.

“It was an accidental posting to the wrong thread”.

Thank you, noted. That wasn’t at all obvious from your post, but now that you have informed us, I of course accept that.

May 2, 7:12 pm | [comment link]
26. carl wrote:

25. MichaelA

That’s one of the things about moral imperatives - they can be argued with equal force by anyone.

Well, no they can’t actually.  I’m not much impressed by other countries telling the US where it has a moral responsibility to fight.  Europe doesn’t intervene because it chose not to purchase the capability to intervene.  It couldn’t even project power into Bosnia. 

But let me get this straight - I, who have a son-in-law serving in Afghanistan and a son shortly to start his basic training (and who almost certainly will serve in Afghanistan also), am not allowed to argue in support of the US airmen who risked their lives in Libya.

God bless them for their service.  But how does their service give you any standing to argue that the US has a moral imperative to intervene in a third country?  Are you an American citizen?  If you think such a moral imperative exists, then I suggest you begin fulfilling that imperative by developing an Australian ability to intervene independent of the US.  But this notion of “The US should intervene and perhaps we will assist” doesn’t carry much weight. 

btw, you aren’t ‘arguing in support of US airman.’  You are arguing that the US should expose those airman to mortal risk for an operation of no intrinsic significance to the US.  When you can vote in an American election then you will have standing to make comments about where the US should go to war.

Whereas you, who have denigrated the mission on which those US airmen were engaged, are allowed to say anything you like.

Every male member of my family and every male member of my wife’s family including myself and my wife have worn the Uniform of the United States.  There are three combat veterans and two DAVs in that group.  (Look it up.)  So, yes, I have earned the right to comment.  Besides, it is my country that we are discussing.  Not yours.  It is my uniform in question.  Not yours.  Who has a closer connection to the American servicemen whose mission you say I am denigrating?  Me or you?  Who are you to say I am denigrating anything?

Interests, not interest. That makes my point in spades. If you cannot see the relevance of unrest right next to Europe, and its relevance to every western country, then that is not my problem.

I have said all along that vital European interests are at stake.  That doesn’t immediately translate into vital American interests.  Europe is quite capable of defending its own interests.  It simply doesn’t want to.  It wants the Americans to carry the freight.  Sorry.  Not interested.

It may be obvious to readers why I have scant respect for my opponents on this one.

I’m shattered.  No really.  I am.  The “Let’s police the world to the last American” brigade doesn’t respect those who would say “No.”  Well, perhaps they could find a world policeman more agreeable to their moral imperatives - perhaps in their own country.

carl

May 2, 8:24 pm | [comment link]
27. MichaelA wrote:

Carl,

What an extraordinary post. Let’s look at the real stunner to start with:

“Are you an American citizen?”

This is a rhetorical question since Carl well knows that I am not. But now we see it: only American citizens can criticise the operations of the USA. Nice one.

Presumably only French citizens can criticise the decision of France not to fight in certain wars, also? That would logically follow, wouldn’t it? And the same for other nations. Excuse me if I don’t agree!

“I’m not much impressed by other countries telling the US where it has a moral responsibility to fight.”

The point I have made throughout my posts is that there were and are moral reasons for intervening in Libya (and, as I have also emphasised, they are not the only reasons). Those moral reasons apply to the US as well as Europe. You have tried to argue that there are no relevant moral OR operational reasons to intervene in any way, and I have argued against that (despite my lack of US citizenship!).

“But how does their service give you any standing to argue that the US has a moral imperative to intervene in a third country?”

Since I never argued that it did, why ask this question? YOU are the one who argues that no-one but an American can comment on the issues involved in US intervention in Libya.

“Every male member of my family and every male member of my wife’s family including myself and my wife have worn the Uniform of the United States.”

Good for them. However, since I have never suggested that you are intrinsically not entitled to comment, this is irrelevant.

“You are arguing that the US should expose those airman to mortal risk for an operation of no intrinsic significance to the US.”

No, I am not. The US has already exposed those airmen to mortal risk, in case you hadn’t noticed. That was not my decision. I am however arguing that the operation was justifiable on a number of grounds.

And really, “exposed to mortal risk”? Yes, every person who has ever participated in any military operation is exposed to mortal risk. But lets keep the exaggeration to a minimum - the risk involved in that No-Fly zone was minimal compared to other operations being run right now.

As for “an operation of no intrinsic significance to the US”, yeah right. In the same way that Reagan’s bombing of Libya in 1986 was of no intrinsic significance to the US, I suppose? Silly, silly Reagan.

“So, yes, I have earned the right to comment.”

Since I have never suggested otherwise, I would thank you not to imply that I did. Rather, you have suggested (and by #26 stated outright) that I and every other non-American have no right to comment. Well guess what, we do!

“Who are you to say I am denigrating anything?”

I am a human being the same as you. You and your positions are not immune to criticism simply because you are American, Carl. Like it or not.

The “Let’s police the world to the last American” brigade doesn’t respect those who would say “No.”

Exaggeration again. Now we are told that conducting the No-Fly Zone operation in Libya was “To the last American…”! You flew some air missions, that’s all. Yes they are dangerous like any military operation but they are not remotely comparable to other operations that the USA and other countries are running at the same time.

And finally, I have never ever suggested that I lack respect for all of those who say No. I was much more specific than that. I suggest re-reading my post.

May 3, 1:00 am | [comment link]
Registered members must log in to comment.




Next entry (above): (CNS) For many, Pope John Paul’s humanity made him a more accessible saint

Previous entry (below): The Verger Does Cartwheels at the Royal Wedding

Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)