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Sunday, September 8, 2013

David Frum, "Four Questions for Backers of Syria Mission": Four Answers

There can be no mistaking CNN's opposition to a US strike against Syria's Assad regime and its refusal to proffer contrary opinions.

Last Monday, CNN published an absurd online opinion piece entitled "A U.S. strike would be self-wounding" (see: by someone named Kapil Komireddi, who claimed that there was an "absence of conclusive evidence linking the Assad regime" to the August 21 sarin attack that killed almost 1,500 Syrian civilians on the outskirts of Damascus. Yes, this is the same claim being being made by Vladimir Putin.

On Thursday, CNN was back with an equally ridiculous opinion piece entitled "Syria strike would put peace further out of reach" (see: by Patrick Regan, "a professor of peace studies and political science at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies." The premise of Regan's essay was that a "significant amount of research," including his own, demonstrated "that military interventions from outside states lengthen and make bloodier civil wars," and that the Obama should instead seek a negotiated settlement. Yeah, no one has tried to negotiate with Bashar al-Assad and his Iranian overlords. What a crock!

Today, CNN is giving top billing to an opinion piece entitled "Four questions for backers of Syria mission" (, by David Frum, a "contributing editor at The Daily Beast." Frum asks with regard to a US strike against Assad:
  1. What will it accomplish?
  2. What comes next?
  3. What will it cost?
  4. Is there another way?

"What will it accomplish?" Simple. Following such an attack, it would be hoped that Assad would refrain from using sarin gas, which on August 21 killed nearly 1,500 civilians, more than 400 of them children.

"What comes next?" Yes, in all likelihood the Syrian civil war will continue, but again, we can only hope that Assad will refrain from future use of chemical weapons, particularly against civilians. Is this not a legitimate objective in and of itself?

"What will it cost?" Frum argues, "If [the president, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense and other top officials] commit to resolving the Syrian civil war, inevitably they give second shrift, or third shrift, or worse to many other concerns of arguably greater importance to the region and the world." Who said anything about commitment "to resolving the Syrian civil war"? Obama would "commit" to putting an end to the use of sarin gas against civilians.

"Is there another way?" Of course, but it takes two to tango. Are Assad and Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei willing to engage in meaningful negotiations? Thus far, they have shown no signs of willingness to stop the slaughter.

Near the end of his piece, Frum observes:

"What has gone well, by contrast, is the U.S. campaign of economic pressure on Iran. Who would have dared predict in 2002 that Iran would still lack a nuclear weapon 11 years later and without a U.S. military attack? Yet so it has happened."

Has US economic pressure halted the Iranian effort to build a nuclear weapon? Although the Iranian economy is in tatters, the answer is no. How soon will Iran have a nuclear bomb? As observed by Reuters in January (

"Iran could produce enough weapon-grade uranium for one or more nuclear bombs by mid-2014, and the United States and its allies should intensify sanctions on Tehran before that point is reached, a report by a group of U.S. nonproliferation experts said."

See also a July 31, 2013 UPI report ( stating:

"Iran is expected to achieve 'critical capability' in mid-2014, with sufficient uranium to build a nuclear bomb, a Washington think tank report says.

The report was published Tuesday by the Institute for Science and International Security."

And so, congratulations to all: It has taken Iran longer than previously thought to build a nuclear weapon, but you would need to dig your head deep into the sand in order to avoid observing that its first atomic bomb is just around the corner. Israel, which has been repeatedly threatened with annihilation by Iran, does not have that luxury.

Kudos to CNN and Frum, a distant cousin of . . . Paul Krugman, for this benighted opinion piece.

Enough said.

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