by Barry Rubin
Recently, an advocate of an attack on Syria remarked something along the following line to a much wiser expert:
“Some nerds try to tell a balanced truth, but that’s not effective in making policy.”
I was shocked, though not surprised. That is the cynical “player” view. But even if the policy is right, the cooking of intelligence is dangerous.
DEBATING WHETHER EVEN FIVE PERCENT OF THE SYRIAN REBELS ARE MODERATE IS LIKE DEBATING WHETHER GRAVITY EXISTS OR WHETHER THE WORLD IS FLAT. IT IS DEMONSTRABLY PROVABLE NONSENSE.
The course of national security policy never runs smoothly. Let’s remember that towards the end of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), Iraq used chemical weapons against Iranian forces on the Faw Peninsula in southern Iraq.
And the Iraqis used chemical weapons, too, most notably on the Iraq Kurdish border village of Halabja. There were no U.S. air strikes in response. That’s because the Americans were in effect on the Iraqi (!) side trying to hold the threat of radical Islamism regarded as the greater of the two evils, even against Saddam Hussein.
Is this true again? No. Realpolitik is a tough and nasty world. It is selective and unfair, but it should not be stupid. The Syrians don’t act in favor of U.S. interests.
But equally helping the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists win the war to supposedly save Western civilization from al-Qaida (and actually setting up a tyrannical repressive state that will provoke future wars) is stupid too.
Let’s not sentimentalize the Syrian rebels. The problem is not to help them, but, if anything, to set a red line.
And remember there were atrocities in Syria in the years that the Obama Administration courted Bashar al-Assad. Every person who is not lying knows that the Syrian rebels are radical terrorist Islamists, as Jonathan Spyer explains. Everybody. And you can bet that if the opposition wins, Christians, Alawites, and perhaps Druze also will fear massacre. So did Christians under the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
On the other hand, note Egypt. In the 1990s, the Egyptian army fought against a terrorist insurgency, not against the Brotherhood but against the Salafists. The army even arrested wanted terrorist’s parents to get them to turn themselves in.
That was nasty, but the United States was pursuing its legitimate interests in that the Egyptian government was favorable to those interests and to regional peace and stability.
Basically the test of foreign policy is whether the “friend” wants to kill you and war against you. Remember, that’s what Iraq did afterward, and there is every reason to believe the Syrian rebels—like the Egyptian Brotherhood, too—would do so.
So bomb Syria, maybe. But don’t aid al-Qaida and other anti-Americans with weapons. A one-time attack on chemical weapons facilities will not win the rebels the civil war nor should it try to do so. Assad knows that, which probably means he would not respond to an American attack.
Can anyone in Washington make the distinction between drawing a red line and installing a nightmare regime, as bad as the present one, in Syria? Frankly I’m not sure.
Kerry says that there will be no boots on the ground in Syria, which means 1) weapons to the rebels, some of which will get to al-Qaida; and 2) training. Don’t be fooled. 3) And who knows what comes next if/when Americans are attacked? This is the backdoor to side with Sunni Islamists in the civil war.
And that’s it. If the administration is going to train rebels–and that’s what it now hints–the administration is not drawing a red line but trying to find a back door for arms to rebels to put a Muslim Brotherhood government in power in Syria. It’s a trick! Congress must vote NO on intervention in Syria! It is to fool Congress. These fools think that the only way to keep al-Qaida out of power is by putting the Brotherhood into power!
Read this devastating article by a retired general. It is the most amazing refutation of a commander in chief that I have ever seen. It is revolutionary in the persuasiveness of its argument.READ IT
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