Ground Operation in Syria Would Be Suicidal for the United States

September 5, 2013
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with US Secretary of State John Kerry | ABC News

The following is a translation in Ria.Ru, one that represents a lot of editorials on the Syrian issue that can be found in the Russian media. It has a few noteworthy characteristics that are common.

Curiously, despite the fact that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has specifically stated that there is no “boots on the ground” option for Syria, that is the title of this article. The quotes from American lawmakers appear to be cherry-picked to show that some think that the U.S. has no option but to intervene while others suggest that intervening would have terrible consequences. Also, despite the Kremlin doubling down on its support for Assad, and the Russian government recycling already problematic claims that the Syrian rebels used chemical weapons near Aleppo, the article echoes the Russian government’s line that it is open to punishing Assad if proper evidence can be presented that he used chemical weapons.

The Russian media is actively spinning the details of this story in subtle and not so subtle ways. See our other recent translations, The Siege of Obama and the Barracks of Assad, and “What kind of missiles were spotted by our missile defense system over the Mediterranean” for more examples. – Ed.

U.S. can no longer get out of the Syrian situation without losing their credibility if they don’t use force, said Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Federal Agency on CIS Affairs (“Rossotrudnichestvo”).

The U.S. President Barack Obama has passed the point of no return, and now he has to use force in Syria, but a ground operation would be suicidal for the United States, according to a former head of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs and the current head of “Rossotrudnichestvo” Konstantin Kosachev.

“President Obama has passed the point of no return, and now he will be forced to move in the direction of military operations in Syria, regardless whether or not he wants it. <…> Everything has been set in motion, the Americans have no freedom of maneuver. Morever, the history of Syria makes things more and more difficult for the Obama administration, because it is an unprecedented case when a regime declared illegitimate by Americans, continues to exist for several years,” said Kosachev in his interview for “Echo of Moscow” radio station Wednesday night.

“At this point they can no longer get out of this situation without losing credibility, if they don’t use force,” said the expert, adding that “the risk of unintended consequences is enormous.”

A ground operation is out of the question, according to Kosachev, it would be suicidal for the United States.

Russia’s position on Syria, according to the expert, is consistent. “If we get evidence that the Syrian authorities have used weapons of mass destruction, Russia will not need to modify its position in any way to strongly condemn these actions,” he concluded.

How Obama decided to attack Syria

President Barack Obama demanded that Congress authorize a military operation against Syria. Washington believes it proved that on August 21 the Syrian authorities had used chemical weapons outside Damascus, killing more than 1400 people.

Administration officials consult daily with legislators. On Tuesday U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey spoke before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. More on Kerry’s statements in Congress and the Kremlin’s reaction (Russian) >>

The Congress won’t start do discuss a resolution on Syria until September 9.

How the Congress could vote

In Congress, there are both supporters and opponents of the strike on Syria. In particular, a number Democrats oppose such move pointing to the failure in Iraq. In 2003, the administration of President George W. Bush requested and received authorization from Congress for military action by submitting false intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Also opposed to the current proposal is the so-called Obama’s isolationist wing of the Republican Party, whose members oppose broad U.S. intervention in foreign countries affairs.

Sen. (R) John McCain: “If the Congress were to reject a resolution like this after the President of the United States has already committed to action, the consequences would be catastrophic.”

Rep. (D) Alan Grayson: “We are not global policeman. We can no longer afford it, these military adventures that involve us in the war for a decade and more.”

What is Russia’s position on a military operation in Syria

Yesterday in an interview with Channel One and The Associated Press Putin said he would not rule out Moscow’s consent for military action in Syria if use of chemical weapons by Damascus is proved, but only with the approval of the UN Security Council.

“I do not rule this (the consent of the Russian Federation) out. But I want to draw your attention to one absolutely fundamental fact. According to current international law, only the Security Council of the United Nations can authorize use of weapons against a sovereign state. Any other pretexts, any methods, that would justify the use of force against an independent and sovereign state, are unacceptable and can only be qualified as aggression”, said the president of Russia. Read more (Russian)>

Russia and the United States have no reason to be at loggerheads over Damascus

Columnist Mikhail Rostovsky for RIA Novosti: “The fundamental interests of the two countries are not the same in Syria. The essence could be described in two points. Point one: political stability and absence of the civil war in Syria are equally beneficial to Moscow and Washington. The more quiet it is in Syria, the more peaceful it would be throughout the Middle East. Point two: further strengthening of Iran is equally disadvantageous for both Russia and America, especially if Tehran gets hold of nuclear weapons. The regime of President Assad is a key ally of Iran. This circumstance is one of the main reasons why America wants to change the political regime in Syria so much. Read more (Russian)>>