One thing that can be said with some degree of certainty is that the situation in Syria is a mess. Then again, that largely describes things in all of the Middle East as well. This is one messed up part of the world, and no easy solutions present themselves to any number of problems found there.
But the situation has just been ratcheted up a notch – indeed, a huge notch – by Obama wanting to take America into war again. His insistence on taking some sort of action – no matter how ill-conceived or little thought through – makes this whole scenario now the stuff of front page news.
Indeed, with all the sabre-rattling going on now from a number of players, talk of WWIII erupting is not mere rhetoric. So this is serious stuff which needs sober analysis. And that is largely lacking in so many quarters. There seems to be far too much sloppy thinking and confusion about all this.
While I do not claim to be an expert on the matter, I am happy to draw upon the expertise of others as I very briefly examine a number of relevant points in this debate. They are by no means the only considerations here, but they are some crucial ones nonetheless.
Where is the anti-war left?
Given the fact that at any moment Obama may have military strikes being launched against Syria, one of the most obvious questions to be asked is just where are all the peaceniks and lefties? Just imagine if this were Bush in office: all hell would have broken loose by now, and there would be rioting in the streets.
Every lefty in the nation would be doing mass protests with all the usual lame rhetoric: “Stop US imperialism,” “End the occupation,” “No blood for oil” etc. Yet all we seem to hear at the moment is crickets chirping. So evidently American aggression overseas is not wrong in itself – only if Republicans do it. But if Obama is behind it, then it must be just fine. Yes, I understand how the left thinks here. What was that word starting in ‘h’ and ending in ‘ypocrisy’?
Just who are the good guys here?
No one I know thinks Assad is a paragon of virtue. Basically none of the Muslim leaders are. But some are worse than others. Assad is bad news, but the track record of him and his father has been a bit of a mixed bag. One thing which can be said is that Christians at least had a somewhat better deal under him than under some other rulers.
And they are certainly faring better under him than under the rebels. The latter group has been targeting and killing Christians big time, and if they fully get into power (which Obama seems keen on), it could well be the end of all Christians living there.
Newt Gingrich is correct to put it this way: “Most Americans would agree Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad is a bad person, just as his father was before him. Most Americans would agree the use of chemical weapons is frightening and worthy of condemnation. Most Americans would also suggest, however, that both sides in the Syrian civil war are terrible and that there is not a good side in this tragedy.
“In fact, given the relative caution of the two Assads (Bashir’s father took over in 1970, so the family has run the dictatorship for 43 years) America would be in greater danger at this point if the radical Islamists and terrorists in the opposition manage to win than if Assad survives.”
Yes, this would be just another ‘Arab Spring’ situation which simply turns into an Islamist Winter. We should have learned our lessons from Egypt and elsewhere. Of course Obama has long been supporting the Islamists throughout the Middle East (and even at home) so his agenda is clear. But no one else should buy this nonsense.
As Robert Spencer rightly warns: “Given the fact that both the American and the British governments are dedicated to denying the reality of Islamic jihad and ignoring how Islamic jihadis use core texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism, it’s extraordinarily unlikely that U.S. or British forces will be able to tell the difference between Sharia supremacists and secularists, or act effectively in favor of the latter, if indeed there are any significant secularist forces left in Syria.
“After all, the U.S. and Britain presided over the establishment of Sharia constitutions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why will Syria be different? Bashar Assad is unquestionably a bloody tyrant; so also are many other rulers around the world whom the U.S. and Britain have not yet determined to dislodge – and a general worldwide War on Tyranny would likely sap the remaining resources of both in short order.
“But his regime has been far more hospitable to Christians, Alawites (of which he is, of course, one) and other religious minorities in Syria than a Sharia state could or will ever be. Nor is there any reason to think that a Sharia state in Syria, even one established by the United States, will be any more grateful to the United States than are the current regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
And as Robert Fisk reminds us: “If Barack Obama decides to attack the Syrian regime, he has ensured – for the very first time in history – that the United States will be on the same side as al-Qa’ida. Quite an alliance! Was it not the Three Musketeers who shouted ‘All for one and one for all’ each time they sought combat? This really should be the new battle cry if – or when – the statesmen of the Western world go to war against Bashar al-Assad.
“The men who destroyed so many thousands on 9/11 will then be fighting alongside the very nation whose innocents they so cruelly murdered almost exactly 12 years ago. Quite an achievement for Obama, Cameron, Hollande and the rest of the miniature warlords.
“This, of course, will not be trumpeted by the Pentagon or the White House – nor, I suppose, by al-Qa’ida – though they are both trying to destroy Bashar. So are the Nusra front, one of al-Qa’ida’s affiliates. But it does raise some interesting possibilities.”
Or as Keith Davies writes, “Britain and France, who also seem to be Muslim Brotherhood-friendly, wish to appease their domestic Sunni terrorists and play along with Obama. The hypocrisy of Democrats and the liberal media continues to show no shame. Obama, being an arrogant fool, always speaks before he thinks and painted himself into a corner with his ‘red line’ and has no room to diplomatically maneuver.
“If he does not strike, he looks weak and if he does strike, the entire Middle East will blow up. Even a nominal cruise missile strike will accomplish nothing militarily; it will only create a bigger mess. Deposing Assad will bring a new Muslim Brotherhood victory. Maybe Obama wants this to compensate for the Muslim Brotherhood loss in Egypt, which obviously disappoints him greatly.”
What ‘red line’?
Obama has said a ‘red line’ has been crossed by the use of chemical weapons. The first question to ask here is this: Who sez? Where did this magical red line come from? Why is death by nerve gas to be condemned more than death by a thousand other means? The end is still death for everyone involved.
Sure, using sarin nerve gas or other such weapons on anyone, and especially innocent civilians, is terrible, but so are so many other more ‘morally acceptable’ means of death. Why was a red line not crossed 1400 years ago when Islam began its bloody march for global domination?
Why was a red line not crossed when the Syrian rebels proudly ripped out the organs of killed soldiers and ate them right in front of TV cameras? That sure seems like a red line crossing to me. Thus picking some arbitrary and magical line in the sand to not cross seems like just so much moral and mental gymnastics to me.
And of course we have not even properly answered the most important question here: Just who used these weapons? The jury is still out on this, with many experts believing the Syrian rebels were the ones to use them now and on earlier occasions. See for example the following links for starters:
As Pat Buchanan writes, “The basic question that needs to be asked about this horrific attack on civilians, which appears to be gas related, is: Cui bono? To whose benefit would the use of nerve gas on Syrian women and children redound? Certainly not Assad’s, as we can see from the furor and threats against him that the use of gas has produced. The sole beneficiary of this apparent use of poison gas against civilians in rebel-held territory appears to be the rebels, who have long sought to have us come in and fight their war.”
What about the Christians?
I have already touched on this issue, but let me offer a quick quote from Robin Phillips who argues that we are “Supporting the Wrong Side” here: “A problem with America and Britain involving itself in Syria’s conflict, apart from the fact that it is none of their business, is the simple fact the Western powers have chosen to support the wrong side. No one is claiming that al-Assad’s authoritarian government has been godly; however, the prospect of what might emerge if his government is overthrown is almost unthinkable.
“Yonadam Kanna, a member of the Iraqi National Assembly and Secretary General for the Assyrian Democratic Movement warned that the collapse of the Syrian state would be a jihadist triumph and endanger Christians throughout the entire Middle East. We must pray that this does not happen and that the Lord would grant special protection to Christians living in Syria. We must also pray for those Syrian Christians who have had to flee to refugee camps in Turkey and Lebanon.”
Plenty of other issues can be raised here. For example, the same Democrats who screamed bloody murder about Bush and by-passing Congress to start a war, etc, are now of course doing exactly that. And why the timing here? Why this moment to all of a sudden seek to make war against Syria?
And as Michael Snyder reminds us, “The Obama administration has not gotten approval to go to war with Syria from Congress as the U.S. Constitution requires. The United States does not have the approval of the United Nations to attack Syria and it is not going to be getting it.”
In sum, I am not at all opposed to using military might to remove evil dictators on occasion. I think we were right to go after Saddam for example. I am not a libertarian nor a neo-isolationist, but Obama’s war in Syria – which is effectively siding with the Christian-killing Islamist rebels – is not something I can support at all.