A friend and I have been corresponding about Obama’s statement that tomorrow we will strike meaningless buildings in Syria to “punish” Assad for using nerve gas on his own people. We agreed that we agree. FWIW, were’s what I wrote to him:
I am unnervingly reminded of the events leading up to WWI. As you may recall, that started with a small regional problem, and mushroomed into a war that cost millions of lives as the various “great” powers got sucked in. Then, it was America that pulled England’s chestnuts out of the fire. Now, it is America that is hurling fuel onto the fire, and there will be no one left to pull anything out.
The Washington Post is running an editorial saying that Obama is aiming for a careful surgical strike, and that it is announcing the strike’s details, right down to the date, well in advance to deflect a hot-headed response. Thus, says the WaPo op-ed, there will be no dead bodies, just a few shattered buildings. The purpose of this carefully calculated incursion is to let Bashar Assad know that Obama is angered by his behavior and is watching him.
As for me, I think this is a carefully calculated mistake. The swirling vortex in Syria is too strong to allow escape for any force that comes too close. It might have worked in 1993 when Clinton fired a few rockets into Iraq, but it will not work in a white hot civil war characterized by (as you said) 100,000 dead bodies, not to mention the atrocities and the refugees.
Obama has also miscalculated terribly by failing to articulate what American interests are in Syria. Is he trying to weaken Assad to give the al Qaeda rebels a fighting chance? If so, what’s in it for us? We’re talking about al Qaeda for Gawd’s sake.
As they showed in Libya, having America help them in one year isn’t going to stop them from attacking and killing Americans in Benghazi the next year. They’re very focused, and their goals are regional control and, Allah willing, world domination. They’ll take Great Satan’s hand if they need it, but it doesn’t quench their fundamental murderous animosity to America and her people.
And if there’s another reason for going in, what is it?
Americans are a sympathetic people, but they’ve learned through bitter experience that internecine conflicts between Arabs/Muslims are invariably blood baths. Whether between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s, in the Sudan a few years ago, within Iraq since 2003, in Egypt right now, or in Syria for the last two years, they fight with unspeakable savagery until the survivors are incapable of fighting any more. And then they fight some more.
In past wars, we’ve gone in with the stated purpose of bringing Democracy to an oppressed people. Americans like to fight for freedom. But what are we doing taking sides in a battle between two sadistic oppressors? Obama has failed to explain.
Worse, Obama has failed to explain even to Congress, because he refuses to speak to it, despite the War Powers Act. He’s also failed to speak to the UN (despite his pre-2008 promises to do so), leaving Ban Ki-whats-his-name to beg him to “give peace a chance.”
So yes, I agree with you VERY STRONGLY. I hope I’m wrong, but I fear that the President, unilaterally — and I mean entirely unilaterally, without even America behind him — is taking us down a dangerous path that has no benefit for America, only peril. And along the way, there’s a substantial chance that all the parties to the conflict will turn their guns on Israel.
A lot of people are saying that, for all the rhetoric, neither Syria, nor Iran, nor al Qaeda, is ready to take on Israel. That’s logical, of course, but logic doesn’t deter mad men. Think about this: if Hitler had stopped before engaging in a disastrous second front against the Soviet Union, he might have been sitting pretty in Europe for decades. His advisers begged him to leave the Soviet Union alone, but he wouldn’t listen. When it went sour, they begged him to pull out, but he wouldn’t. And no military advisers would ever have urged him to turn over so many military resources — trains, guards, etc. — to make the continent Judenrein. He did these things because he had become a megalomaniac as the war progressed.
And sadly it seems that, in Muslim wars, megalomania is never far behind.