Saturday, August 24, 2013

Oh Goody, More Pointless Saber-Rattling

US boosts naval presence amid Syria tensions.

Fourth vessel ordered to the Mediterranean as pressure rises on White House for action after reported gas attack.


The US is now stacking up Arleigh Burke Destroyers like cordwood in the Med. Al Jazeera now reports four of the vessels doing donuts in the area. One, the USS Mahan, got held over in sort of a big grey stop-loss. I'm sure the Sailors and their families are just thrilled that the ship won't be coming home as planned.

So with each ship possibly configured to launch up to up to 90 cruise missiles (your milage may vary) there is not an inconsiderable amount of flying death aimed at the Assad regime. But with Syria having a rather healthy air force it is not as impressive as one may think. Those ships are rather slow and easy targets for any jet pilot worth his wings.

I'm scratching my head over this move, who, if anyone, is this supposed to impress? I doubt that Bashar Assad will take too much notice or be too concerned. Now if those ships are the support for an Aircraft Carrier or two, (perhaps even three) then we have taken the saber out of the scabbard and are swinging it around briskly.

With the investigation of the possible gassing going the way of the last investigation, slow, convoluted, and constrained, I'm wondering what the whole point of all this diplomatic heavy breathing may be. The Russians have a Naval Base in Syria and if they put their minds to it, they too can have some big grey bruisers trolling the waters of the Med as well. We could create quite the impressive and obscenely expensive regatta off the shores of Tyre if that is the aim. And there is the added bonus for the crews that they can do this in the dog days of summer in one of the hottest places on earth.

I sincerely hope Obama gets a notion in his head, a plan, instead of this Ad Hoc nonsense. So far he has been the perfect brain-dead follower of the oxymoronic DC Conventional Wisdom. The man needs to get out of his contemplative comfort zone. He made an foolish, if politically savvy, statement of the "Red Line" because that is the default set in D.C. Now that he actually has to back up his words with action he has found a serious disconnect between theory and reality. It's easy enough to act tough, to act determined, to stand tall. It a whole different thing to follow through, to perform. All sorts of real world complexities rear their ugly head when theory becomes "kinetic" i.e. when the bombs and bullets start flying.

I'll believe Obama is serious about his military options when I see not just a few Arleigh Burkes bobbing in the waters, but a full on Carrier Groups-- plus ramp ups in Turkey and Italy of NATO airbases. But first Obama has got to snap out of his present funk. He is in Deer-in-the-headlights mode right now, unable to follow through on the fine words he spoke only a year ago. Maybe he should have kept his mouth shut about red lines? Just a thought.
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