Complications Arise

Things just got worse. That’s what the pessimist always says. Things just got better – lots of stuff that looks bad is really an opportunity for change, for good things to happen later, or even soon. Optimists say that. Cynics say nothing really changed – it’s the same old crap – and weary realists say things suddenly got more complicated. That’s neither a good thing nor a bad thing – time will tell – but those complications will fry your brain. There’s too much to think about. It’s hard to keep it all straight. That’s why realists are weary all the time, and things suddenly got more complicated on Wednesday, September 30, 2015. The Syrian civil war, in its fifth year, involving multiple countries with overlapping and conflicting agendas, got more complicated – as if a major global refugee crisis and the rise of the Islamic State weren’t enough. Now Russia has jumped in. No one expected that. No one is sure if this is a good thing. It’s only the ultimate complication.

Reuters covers the basics:

Russia launched air strikes in Syria on Wednesday in its biggest Middle East intervention in decades, plunging the four-year-old civil war into a volatile new phase as President Vladimir Putin moved forcefully to stake out influence in the unstable region. Moscow’s assertion that it had hit Islamic State militants was immediately disputed by the United States and rebels on the ground. The attacks also raised the dangerous specter of Washington and Moscow running air strikes concurrently and in the same region, but without coordination.

We’re sort of both fighting ISIS and Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said they’re going to meet about this. We don’t want our fighter-bombers running into theirs, and they probably don’t want that either, but this started off badly:

The U.S. State Department said a Russian diplomat in Baghdad notified the United States of the intended air strikes an hour in advance and warned that American aircraft that have been pressing a daily bombing campaign against Islamic State positions should avoid Syrian airspace. Kerry said the Russian warning was ignored and U.S. air strikes continued on Wednesday.

And we think he may be lying:

Putin said he was striking against Islamic State and helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, long Russia’s closest ally in the region, in this aim. But Washington is concerned that Moscow is more interested in propping up Assad, who the United States has long held should leave office, than in beating Islamic State. Assad’s opponents in the brutal civil war include rebel groups that oppose both him and Islamic State and that are supported by the United States and other Western countries.

Putin, then, will go after ISIS – good for him – and go after the guys we’re supporting in their effort to get rid of Assad – which is a terrible thing. Putin is helping, and is our enemy, bombing our guys, both at the same time. We make a distinction he doesn’t, and there’s this:

Moscow’s intervention means the conflict in Syria has been transformed in a few months from a proxy war, in which outside powers were arming and training mostly Syrians to fight each other, to an international conflict in which the world’s main military powers except China are directly involved in fighting.

Russia joined the United States and its Arab allies, Turkey, France, Iran and Israel in direct intervention, with Britain expected to join soon, if it gets parliamentary approval.

The world’s main military powers except China are directly involved in fighting? That sounds like World War III starting, but no one is fighting each other, yet – but we want Assad gone. Russia doesn’t. And both sides have the airpower there to fight it out with each other, without the Syrians doing a thing.

It may not come to that, but the trash-talk has started:

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Russia was moving to “ramp up” support for Assad, adding: “They’ve made a significant military investment now in further propping him up.”

Earnest called it “an indication of how concerned they are about losing influence in the one client state that they have in the Middle East.” …

In Moscow, Putin said the air strikes would be limited in scope and that he hoped Assad was ready for political reform and a compromise for the sake of his country and people.

“I know that President Assad understands that and is ready for such a process. We hope that he will be active and flexible and ready to compromise in the name of his country and his people,” Putin told reporters.


At least 200,000 people have been killed and millions driven from their homes since the civil war began in 2011 when Assad’s forces moved to crush peaceful protests against his family’s four-decade rule. …

Kerry said Washington would have “grave concerns” if Russia hit Syrian targets where Islamic State fighters were not present. Speaking at the U.N. Security Council, Kerry also reiterated Washington’s view that the militant group “cannot be defeated as long as Bashar al-Assad remains president of Syria.”

Putin doesn’t agree:

Russian jets went into action after the upper house of the Russian parliament gave Putin unanimous backing for strikes following a request for military assistance from Assad. The last time the Russian parliament granted Putin the right to use military force abroad, a technical requirement under Russian law, Moscow seized Crimea from Ukraine last year.

Putin said Russia’s military involvement in the Middle East would involve only its air force and would be temporary. One of the reasons for getting involved was the need to stop Russian citizens who had joined the ranks of Islamic State from later returning home to cause trouble, he said.

None of this, however, seems temporary. We said we’d be out of Iraq in six months. We weren’t. The Soviets were in Afghanistan over nine years, from December 1979 to February 1989 – insurgent groups that received aid from the United States and other Muslim countries fought against the Soviet Army and allied Afghan forces. The Soviets just left. The Soviet Union collapsed the next year. The guys we supported in Afghanistan eventually turned into the Taliban and hosted al-Qaeda. No good came of that. No good may come of this. Things always get complicated.

Now things are even more complicated in Syria, or they’re not:

Donald Trump is giving his approval to Vladimir Putin and his intervention in the battle-ravaged country.

“Putin is now taking over what we started and he’s going into Syria, and he frankly wants to fight ISIS, and I think that’s a wonderful thing,” Trump told Fox News Tuesday, after ending his boycott against the network. “If he wants to fight ISIS, let him fight ISIS. Why do we always have to do everything?”

Trump’s position has always been that we should let Assad and Isis fight it out, and then go in and wipe out the winner. Now he’s simply impressed with Putin:

The GOP contender gave the Russian leader a high grade on his skill as a leader, contrasting it to what he considers President Obama’s poor performance.

“I will tell you in terms of leadership he is getting an ‘A,’ and our president is not doing so well,” Trump said. “They did not look good together.”

And there was this:

On Tuesday, Trump also seemed to be open to the idea that Assad may not be as bad an actor as the U.S. thinks.

“I’ve been looking at the different players, and I’ve been watching Assad,” Trump told O’Reilly. “I’m looking at Assad and saying maybe he’s better than some of the people we’re supposed to be backing because we don’t even know who we’re backing. We have no idea.”

Assad is okay? He killed thousands of his own people. The Obama administration led the international effort to force Assad to stop using chemical weapons against them, stripping him of those, but he still uses barrel bombs and carpet bombing, wiping out civilians only, and there are those millions of refugees showing up in Europe. What is Trump thinking?

This must have to do with having that “killer instinct” Trump talks about. He has it. It made him rich. Putin has it. Assad has it. Maybe it’s more than a metaphor, but it does seem real enough:

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban thinks there is a single word central to understanding Donald Trump’s presidential campaign: “killer.”

“His most important word is Killer,” Cuban recently wrote on his Cyber Dust social media app. “If you are not a killer, he doesn’t respect you. If you are a smart killer, you have used knowledge, effort and something that makes you special to accomplish what most dream of.”

None of Trump’s rivals, Cuban added, can match the real-estate mogul’s killer instinct.

“There is no one running that can stand up to him. He knows it. That’s why he isn’t leaving anytime soon. He smells the kill,” he wrote. “We want to vote for a killer of those who threaten our future. He has sold his way to that position.”

Cool, but it’s not that simple. The New York Times has a grid of where everyone stands on Syria at the moment, which in a simplified form looks like this:

United States – BACKS more moderate elements among the rebel forces in Syria. OPPOSES the government of President Bashar al-Assad, as well as the Islamic State and other Islamic extremist groups…

Russia – BACKS Mr. Assad, the leader of Syria, which has been Russia’s only persistent ally in the Middle East for decades. OPPOSES the Islamic State, which several thousand young Russians have joined… Russia says it fears a so-called blowback of militants coming home to carry out attacks. But Western nations question whether Russia uses that as cover to counter any threat to Mr. Assad’s rule.

Turkey – BACKS the United States-backed coalition and, tacitly, rebel forces in Syria. OPPOSES principally the Assad government and Kurdish groups allied with the PKK an insurgent group active in Turkey; nominally, also the Islamic State.

Iran – BACKS Mr. Assad and the Syrian government. OPPOSES Sunni insurgents, the Islamic State and other Sunni extremists… (Iran is Syria’s staunchest ally, and has been providing military support, weapons, supplies and financial aid since the start of the civil war in 2011. In 2012, Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese proxy joined the fight on the government side. The next year, Iran sent hundreds of military advisers to assist Mr. Assad’s army, and Hezbollah committed to an all-out battle to defeat the rebels. But recent seizures of territory by Sunni insurgents and the Islamic State have weakened the Syrian Army, and there are signs that Iran is conserving its resources to defend government strongholds, including the capital, Damascus, and areas along the Lebanese border and the Mediterranean coast.)

Saudi Arabia – BACKS a number of rebel groups fighting the Syrian government. OPPOSES Mr. Assad and the Syrian government… (Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, reiterated in New York on Tuesday that there were no circumstances in which his country would accept a Russian effort to keep Mr. Assad in power. Mr. Jubeir warned that if a deal to remove the Syrian leader was not reached, the shipment of weapons and other support to Syrian rebels would be increased – and a military option to remove him remained on the table. In addition to funding and arming rebels on the ground, Saudi Arabia began conducting airstrikes with the United States-led coalition against the Islamic State in Syria a year ago.)

Qatar – BACKS a number of rebel groups fighting the Syrian government. OPPOSES Mr. Assad and the Syrian government…

Britain – BACKS more moderate elements among the rebel forces in Syria. OPPOSES: the Assad government, the Islamic State and other Islamic extremist groups… (Because of strong opposition in Parliament to military intervention in Syria, Britain has so far focused mainly on coalition airstrikes in Iraq. However, it recently conducted a drone strike in Syria that killed two British citizens it said had joined the Islamic State.)

France – BACKS more moderate elements among the rebel forces in Syria. OPPOSES the Assad government, the Islamic State and other Islamic extremist groups… (Facing a refugee crisis and stepped-up jihadist recruiting in Europe, France recently expanded its participation in coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State and other extremist groups to targets in Syria as well as Iraq. But it has ruled out any ground intervention.)

Those are just the highlights. Trump’s killer instinct won’t untangle all of that, but Trump is not alone. At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum thinks that Tom Friedman gets it right on Syria:

Today’s reigning cliché is that the wily fox, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, has once again outmaneuvered the flat-footed Americans, by deploying some troops, planes and tanks to Syria to buttress the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and to fight the Islamic State forces threatening him. If only we had a president who was so daring, so tough, so smart.

Drum sees that too:

Yep. Charles Krauthammer, for example, is nonplussed. “What’s also unprecedented is the utter passivity of the United States,” he said yesterday. “The real story this week is what happened at the U.N., where Putin essentially stepped in and took over Syria. He’s now the leader.” And here’s another Republican on the same theme:

“Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) says Russian President Vladimir Putin is escalating his support for the Assad regime in Syria because he thinks the Obama administration won’t stop him – ‘He sees no pushback, no price to pay,’ said Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at the Washington Ideas Forum on Wednesday. ‘What he’s doing is raising popularity in his country.'”…

“The Foreign Relations chairman also criticized the Obama administration for missing opportunities in Syria, citing the decision to pull back from its red line after the regime used chemical weapons.”

“‘We have missed opportunities, he said, ‘that could have really changed the momentum at a time when we really did have a moderate opposition. By us not taking that action, it took the wind out of their sails,’ he said. ‘That was the biggest moment of opportunity … and that was mishandled.'”

Drum is a bit frustrated by all this:

This has become almost pathological. Every time Putin does something, Republicans start wailing about how he’s taking charge, showing what a real leader does while Obama meekly sits back and does nothing. They assume that military action always shows strength, while avoiding military action always shows weakness. That’s just crazy. Let’s take a quick survey of the real situation here:

Syria is the last ally Russia has left in the Middle East. Putin didn’t suddenly increase his military support of Assad as a show of brilliant grand strategy. He did it because he was in danger of losing his very last client state in the Middle East. This is a desperate gamble to hold on to at least a few shreds of influence there.

On that, Drum cites Fred Kaplan:

In the past decade, Russia has lost erstwhile footholds in Libya and Iraq, failed in its attempt to regain Egypt as an ally… and would have lost Syria as well except for its supply of arms and advisers to Assad… Syria is just one of two countries outside the former Soviet Union where Russia has a military base… His annexation of Crimea has proved a financial drain. His incursion into eastern Ukraine (where many ethnic Russians would welcome re-absorption into the Motherland) has stalled after a thin slice was taken at the cost of 3,000 soldiers. His plan for a Eurasian Economic Union, to counter the influence of the west’s European Union, has failed to materialize. His energy deal with China, designed to counter the west’s sanctions against Russian companies, has collapsed.


Intervention is unpopular with Russians. Corker is dead wrong about Putin doing this to curry favor with the public. On the contrary, they don’t care about Syria and are reluctant to lose any lives helping Assad. Putin is assisting Assad despite the domestic difficulties it will create for him, not because he expects the Russian masses to rally to the flag.

There he cites Amanda Taub:

A recent poll by Moscow’s Levada Center shows that only a small minority of Russians support giving Bashar al-Assad direct military support. Only 39 percent of respondents said they supported Russia’s policy toward the Assad regime. When asked what Russia should do for Assad, 69 percent opposed direct military intervention. A tiny 14 percent of respondents said that Russia should send troops or other direct military support to Syria.


Putin is targeting anti-Assad rebels, not ISIS. For public consumption, Putin claims that he’s helping the US in its counterterrorism operations against ISIS. This is obvious baloney, since Russian jets aren’t operating in areas where ISIS is strong. They’re operating in areas where anti-Assad rebels are strong.

That makes no sense:

The benefits of getting further entangled in Syria are…what? Russia may be concerned about Syria becoming a breeding ground for terrorists who then make their way up to Russia. But that’s about it. Putin isn’t going to win Syria’s civil war, and Assad will become a bottomless pit of demands for more military support. Aside from winning the admiration of American conservatives, it’s hard to see Putin getting anything of real worth out of this.

The same is true of the United States. There has never been a cohesive “moderate opposition” that would have ousted Assad if only we had supported them earlier. Republicans keep repeating this myth, but when they had a chance to support strikes on Syria in 2013, they didn’t do it. That shows about how much they really believe this. Nor has there ever been a chance that the United States could topple Assad short of committing tens of thousands of ground troops, something that nobody support. “Arming the opposition” is the last refuge of hawkish dead-enders: something that sounds tough but rarely has much effect. You mostly hear it from people who don’t have the courage to recommend ground troops but are desperate to sound like they’re backing serious action.

So yes, things just got far more complicated than they were. The pessimist says that’s very bad. The optimist sees opportunity. The weary realist, however, just gets more realistic:

The United States doesn’t have the power to fix the Middle East. We can nudge here and there, but that’s about all. As Friedman says, Obama may have caused some of his own problems by talking a bigger game than he’s willing to play, but he’s still right not to play. If Vladimir Putin is so afraid of losing his last foothold in the Middle East that he’s willing to make a reckless and expensive gamble in the Syrian quagmire, let him. It’s an act of peevishness and fear, not of brilliant geopolitical gamesmanship. For ourselves, the better part of wisdom is to stay out. Modest action would be useless, and our national interest simply isn’t strong enough to justify a major intervention.

That’s it? Yes, that’s it. If it weren’t an election year, or the year before an election in this case, America would shrug. Things got more complicated? Yeah, that happens.

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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2 Responses to Complications Arise

  1. stephelinda says:

    “We don’t want our fighter-bombers running into theirs” — reminded me of a catchy little tune by Dos Gringos called “World War III.” It was shared with me by a fighter pilot the night before he deployed to Helmand Province in 2010. I see that the song is now posted at . Dos Gringos (USAF) are amateur musicians, but amusing.

  2. Rick says:

    Two nits to pick today, one with a Republican elected official, and the other with someone who has incredibly phenomenal ambitions to be one:

    – – – – – – – – – –
    First, there’s that famous “Red Line”, reported by Kristina Wong in The Hill:

    [Foreign Relations chairman] Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) … criticized the Obama administration for missing opportunities in Syria, citing the decision to pull back from its red line after the regime used chemical weapons.

    The Republicans have been saying that for so long, a lot of people are starting to assume it’s true, but here’s what really happened when Obama used the phrase, “red line”, in response to those who questioned under what conditions he would intervene in Syria:

    Barack Obama used the phrase on August 20, 2012, during the Syrian civil war in relation to chemical weapons, saying that “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”

    In the US, the phrase then became a source of contention when political opponent John McCain said the red line was “apparently written in disappearing ink,” due to the perception the red line had been crossed with no action. On the one year anniversary of Obama’s red line speech the Ghouta chemical attacks occurred. Obama then clarified, “I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war,” in reference to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

    That Ghouta attack occurred in the morning of August 21, 2013.

    Several opposition-controlled areas in the suburbs around Damascus, Syria, were struck by rockets containing the chemical agent sarin. Estimates of the death toll range from at least 281 people to 1,729. The attack was the deadliest use of chemical weapons since the Iran–Iraq War.

    The president probably should have made clearer to everyone that, on the breach of that red line, we would not immediately be dropping troops into Syria with guns a-blazing. His actual response was more realistic:

    United States President Barack Obama said the US military should strike targets in Syria to retaliate for the government’s purported use of chemical weapons, a proposal publicly supported by French President François Hollande, but condemned by Russia and Iran. …

    In early September, the United States Congress began debating a proposed authorisation to use military force, although votes on the resolution were indefinitely postponed amid opposition from many legislators and tentative agreement between Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin on an alternative proposal, under which Syria would declare and surrender its chemical weapons to be destroyed under international supervision.

    In contrast to the positions of their governments, polls in early September indicated that most people in the US, UK, Germany and France opposed military intervention in Syria. One poll indicated that 50% of Americans could support military intervention with cruise missiles only, “meant to destroy military units and infrastructure that have been used to carry out chemical attacks.”

    Also, Republican members of Congress and candidates for president, especially those advocating that Obama listen to his military, please note the following:

    In a survey of American military personnel, around 75% said they opposed air strikes on Syria, with 80% saying an attack would not be “in the U.S. national interest”.

    And to those who suggest Putin may be just trying to please his population back home?

    Meanwhile, a Russian poll suggested that most Russians supported neither side in the conflict, with less than 10% saying they supported Assad.

    But the bottom line was this:

    Within a month of the attacks, Syria agreed to join the Chemical Weapons Convention and allow all its stockpiles to be destroyed. The destruction began under OPCW supervision on 6 October 2013. On 23 June 2014, the last shipment of Syria’s declared chemical weapons was shipped out of the country for destruction. By 18 August 2014, all toxic chemicals were destroyed aboard the US naval vessel MV Cape Ray.

    So to summarize, Obama once alluded to use of chemical weapons in Syria as a red line that, if crossed, would change the calculus of our getting involved in the Syrian civil war. One year after saying that, the line was crossed. He first considered a military response, but found very little appetite for it, neither among his fellow citizens, nor in Congress, nor in our military, nor among the populations of our allies. Instead, he opted to make a deal with the Russians and the Syrians for us to pick up all Syria’s chemical weapons, then destroy them all at sea — which was done.

    Therefore, we here at The Inside Poop rule that the claims of Senators Corker and McCain and all those other conservatives, that the Obama administration decided “to pull back from its red line after the regime used chemical weapons”, is nothing more than one of those flaming paper bags of poop that some nasty neighborhood brat places on your front porch, then rings your doorbell and runs away, hoping you’ll come to the door and stamp out the fire — which, of course, you do.

    (We contemplated using the much-more concise “Pants On Fire”, but that was taken.)

    – – – – – – – – – –
    Trump now thinks Assad may be okay, after all?

    “I’ve been looking at the different players, and I’ve been watching Assad,” Trump told O’Reilly. “I’m looking at Assad and saying maybe he’s better than some of the people we’re supposed to be backing because we don’t even know who we’re backing. We have no idea.”

    Yeah, I’ve had those suspicions, too.

    Since the first time I heard that Obama pronounced the American position as “Assad must go”, I’d wished he hadn’t said it. I never liked the idea of us singling out some country’s leader, then telling the world that we think he ought to go.

    For one thing, we did that in 1953, with Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically-elected popular prime minister of Iran, and it has been biting us back ever since. Also worth considering is a situation in which we say some guy has to go, but then he just keeps hanging in there, like some smarmy guest who won’t go home after your house party — something Assad has been doing. That makes us — and in particular, Obama — look a bit foolish. And thirdly, what’s the point of saying some leader has to go, but then not lifting a finger to help him pack, so to speak? In other words, if we’re really against Assad’s leadership, we should show it by joining with some opposition group; otherwise, we should probably just put a sock in it.

    I think I’d have preferred that, instead of deciding who’s side to join in that war, since we couldn’t ever verify that the good guys were really all that good, meaning we’d end up arming our future enemies, we should have stayed totally neutral — and furthermore, quietly hinting to the Russians to do the same. The risk we’d face, of course, would be pissing off whatever legitimate rebels by not helping them in their time of need, and then watch them ally themselves with ISIS or somebody else we don’t like. But while I’d be willing to take that risk, Obama was not — and, to paraphrase some other president, Obama is the decider, not I, and certainly not all his Republican critics.

    Not only did Assad start this thing by attacking peaceful demonstrators, pretending they were all evil extremists, then savagely killing thousands of civilians, apparently with chemical weapons and barrel bombs, but on top of that, he could not, and cannot, be trusted. In short — in the words of many who have paid closer attention to the man than Donald Trump ever did — Bashar al-Assad is a “pathological liar”, a recent example being this interview he granted to the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen:

    Bowen: What about barrel bombs, you don’t deny that your forces use them?

    Assad: I know about the army, they use bullets, missiles, and bombs. I haven’t heard of the army using barrels, or maybe, cooking pots.

    Bowen: Large barrels full of explosives and projectiles which are dropped from helicopters and explode with devastating effect. There’s been a lot of testimony about these things.

    Assad: They’re called bombs. We have bombs, missiles and bullets.

    Bowen: So you wouldn’t deny that included under the category of ‘bombs’ are these ‘barrel bombs’, which are indiscriminate weapons.

    Assad: No, there’s no indiscriminate weapons. When you shoot, you aim and when you aim, you aim at terrorists in order to protect civilians. If you’re talking about casualty, that’s war, you can’t have war without casualty.

    Plenty of people have testified to seeing barrel bombs being dropped from helicopters in Syria. Nobody else but the government uses helicopters In Syria. Assad just denies things that everybody else knows is true, like the possession of those chemical weapons that he later turned over for destruction.

    If Trump had only been following him over the years, he’d be aware of Assad’s reputation as a blatant liar from way back, this being an assessment of his broken promises from the GlobalPost back in 2012:

    Assad’s vows have come almost weekly since the uprising began. And they are broken often times within days, or even hours.

    A little over a year ago, Assad promised to abolish the much-maligned emergency law that gives his security forces license to violently crackdown on threats to the state. A month later he again promised to lift the controversial law. Four days later the Syrian cabinet said it backed the law’s removal.

    On April 21, 2011, there was little celebration when Assad finally made good on the promise. Little changed. His security forces continued to operate under the same impunity the law sanctioned.

    On June 20, 2011, Assad made a rare public speech, promising to amend the constitution and call his soldiers back to the barracks. Three days later the country’s foreign minister promised “serious reforms.” Syria would eventually hold a referendum on a new constitution, but it would do so amid violent crackdowns throughout the country.

    Turkish officials said it doubted the vote was legitimate. US officials called it “laughable.”

    “It makes a mockery of the Syrian revolution,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at the time. “Promises of reforms have been usually followed by increase in brutality and have never been delivered upon by this regime since the beginning of peaceful demonstrations in Syria.”

    I think I heard that Donald Trump has said everything he knows about the world comes from watching television and reading. Same with me. My advice to you is, just to be safe, don’t vote for either of us.


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