Obama a Fool if He Intervenes in Syria

Make sure he hears you--NO! on Syria.

Alexander Pope said it best back in 1709: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” The subject is Syria and President Barack Bush, sorry, Obama is the fool. He has been exploring ways to convert humanitarian aid for Syrian rebels into military aid to help topple Bashar Assad’s regime and replace it with one more amenable to rapprochement with the United States. Ousting Assad is doable, but the second part is fantasy from a president who seems desperate for some sort of foreign policy triumph to ameliorate a string of domestic failures. Unless wiser heads—though I’ll settle for crazed GOP deficit freaks—stop him, Barack Obama runs the risk of going down in the history books as a worse president than George W. Bush. If you think Iraq was/is bad, wait until you get a whiff of the Syrian stench. And wait until tax payers start footing the bill.

The push for Syrian intervention is every bit as bogus as the march into the Iraqi quagmire. Remember “weapons of mass destruction?” (Of course you don’t; there weren’t any!) Now we hear charges that Assad may have used sarin gas against the rebels. There’s no tangible proof of this at present—“yellow cake” anyone? But even if Assad has committed such a crime against humanity, Syria simply is not our fight. Let’s call Syria what it really is: a relic from the Cold War that is today a repository of Al Qaeda terrorists that are more of a threat to the United States than Assad has ever been. Why would the U.S. even consider interjecting itself into the Syrian civil war—to avenge the Cold War era in which the Assad family aligned itself with the Soviet Union? Ancient history!

Are thousands of Syrian civilians suffering? Yes. Is that terrible? Of course it is. Can the United States stop this? No, no, no—a thousand times no. We really made things better for Iraqis once Saddam Hussein fell from power, didn’t we? (Forget the nonsense you hear from the Pentagon, if Iraqis had the power to turn back the clock and restore Saddam as an alternative to today’s anarchy, they’d do so in the wink of en eye.) There is but one credible coalition that could intervene in Syria and that’s one sanctioned by the United Nations and led by Arab states. And Geneva-based U.N. authorities would be the ones to try Assad for gassing Syrians, not the U.S. court of public opinion. In fact, anything with a U.S. thumbprint on it will simply further Syria’s agony.

One wonders if John Kerry and the State Department are blind or just stupid. (Follow link for an earlier post on this.) It’s as if the State Department—first under Bush, now under Obama—is hell-bent on making Iran the region’s Islamic superpower. First, the U.S. under Bush manufactures a reason to take down Iraq, Iran’s biggest enemy in the region. Then we glibly praise Arab Spring uprisings as wellsprings of democracy, when in fact they are power grabs by theocratic Sunni oligarchies. Iraq burns, Egypt wobbles under Muslim Brotherhood fanatics, Hamas exports terror from Palestine and the Gaza Strip, and Yemen and Libya have become training grounds for Al Qaeda. In each case the United States has tried to play power broker, and in each case it has made the situation worse, not better. Moreover, in each case the only nation that has come out stronger in geopolitical terms is Iran. I suppose one might argue the U.S. is helping create a Sunni countervailing force to Shi’ite Iran; if so, that’s the equivalent of a fool borrowing money to bet against the house in roulette.  Thus far, we’d have to say such a strategy has failed spectacularly. (Even the Sunnis and Shi’ites seem to agree that the U.S. is the Great Satan.) The biggest loser of all, potentially, is Israel, which often bears the blunt of the blame for U.S. policies. It certainly suffers from the lack of strong nation states other than Iran—even those that don’t recognize its right to exist. Israel was better off with Saddam, Assad, and Mubarak in power. Collapsed states are so many Gazas and Lebanons—lawless regions where no authority whatsoever can check the movements of hate groups such as Hezbollah or Al Qaeda.

Even if you don’t buy my analysis or logic to this point, here’s another reason to stay clear of Syria: there are no credible U.S. allies there. Check out Ben Hubbard’s analysis for the New York Times. As he breaks it down, any aid the U.S. sends is likely to end up in Al Qaeda hands or those of some other extremist group. There is, simply, a lack of “moderates” in the battle. Hubbard didn’t put it this way, but I will; the United States would ultimately end up arming the equivalent of the Taliban—just as it did in Afghanistan.

Syria is a political tragedy and a human rights nightmare. One can but weep for those millions of Syrians whose politics don’t extend beyond wanting the suffering to end. Alas, those who seek to impose a settlement are amoral—the tyrant Assad and the extremists who want to wrest power from him, exploit the populace on their own terms, and use Syria to export mayhem elsewhere. There are, in simplest terms, no white hats in Syria, and the stupidest thing the U.S. could do is to try to play sheriff.

 Make sure you tell your representatives that you think Obama is a fool treading where angels dare not. Let them know they will lose your vote and campaign contributions if they don’t do their best to corral him. And be true to your word if they don’t.

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