“Americans can be counted on to do the right thing–after exhausting all possible alternatives”–Unknown
“And will always do it when it has become the wrong thing to do”–Lowell Van Ness
Chances are very, very high that we will intervene in Syria within the next two weeks, unless someone in the administration grows a functioning neuron cluster or two.
The fact of the matter is, I was in favor of intervening in Syria two years ago, when the coalition against Bashar al-Assad, who is supported by the Iranians and by Hezbollah, was mostly Syrians who simply wanted something other than domination by a very small minority of the populace. At that point, American supply of arms to secularist groups might’ve had a shot at working, and we would’ve eliminated an Iranian ally.
That was two years ago. By now, however, circumstances have changed. Due to our extremely wishy-washy behavior with the Syrian rebels, they have received support from elsewhere, elsewhere being the Saudis, Qatar, Chechens, and various other Islamist types, almost all of whom are giving support to groups who are as radical if not more radical than the Muslim Brotherhood, also called the guys who tried to take over Egypt until Thermidor came.
By now, any intervention that we perform will result in a government inimical to our interests in Syria, unless we decide that we want to occupy another Middle Eastern country. And that has a snowball’s chance in a napalm strike of happening.
As to the civilians and what Assad might to do to them after he wins, it probably won’t be any worse than what the rebels will do after they win.
Regarding America’s already-shot credibility on the Syrian problem, this wouldn’t be an issue if the President hadn’t said that Assad needed to stop being the leader of Syria, and then pretty much did nothing about it for months. This wasn’t an exceeding big deal, though, in terms of our international reputation.
However, the President then, apparently believing that al-Assad would take him seriously, declared that the use of chemical weapons in Syria was a “red line.” While he tried to give himself an out in the next two sentences, the implications of his statement were definitely tilted toward the equation’s answer becoming “intervene.” Especially given that he made the statement to begin with.
Now, if he doesn’t intervene, no one’s going to take him seriously for the rest of his term, and the value of America’s word regarding what it will do will be further debased. This will lead to more adventurism by foreign powers and probably, in the long run, to the death of more Americans, and more people in general.
The other problem, of course, is that if the chemical weapons that were the reason for intervention in the first place fell into the wrong hands, it could lead to even more people dying.
In other words, all of our options stink to high heaven, and the only thing left is to intervene.
Now, me, I say we launch two strikes. One to take out Assad, one to take out the men who carried out the order to deploy the gas–assuming Assad gave that order. This would minimize our involvement, and the inevitable blame for the postwar slaughterhouse, while punishing the use of chemical weapons appropriately.
Unfortunately, the people in the administration who backed the Arab Spring still haven’t learned that American-style democracy is not coming to the Middle East. Blood and creed are what matter there. But the people in America’s halls of power either don’t get or don’t care that there’s not a plausible regime in Syria worth the life of a single human being. So we’re going to go to war. We’re going to install a government that says all the right things for a few months. And then we’re going to watch it all fall apart.
The main lessons to be learned are these: If you’re a political leader, keep your mouth shut about foreign policy ruckuses if you’re not willing to back up what you’re saying; don’t think that people scare easily if they’ve shown no sign of it; and remember that everything is much more complicated than it looks to be on the surface.
‘Til next time,
Lowell Van Ness.
Edit: And, while I was writing this, apparently Obama decided to pass this on to Congress. While this may mean that we’re not going to get all sandy again, this is really doesn’t help with the whole “credibility” thing. How about getting Congressional approval before you move assets to the area?