Tucked away in my safe American suburban neighborhood, it would be easy to look at the conflict in Syria, shrug my shoulders, and say ‘let the barbarians kill each other.” That seems to be the view taken by many of my Republican and Democrat confreres, in any case.
I don’t think that way, though, and one of the chief reasons is that an estimated 400 children were killed in a chemical attack. Among them were about 1000 adults who couldn’t all be the kind of brutal Islamists who are launching attacks on secular or religious moderates of the Free Syrian Army.
That being said, I would oppose American military intervention in the form of bombing or troops on the ground. I didn’t feel that way long ago when President Obama told the world that “Assad must go,” because there were few Al Nusra, or ISIS extremists who want to impose Islamic law on the country and its neighbors.
The time for U.S. bombing raids was then, if at all.
Deciding not to act is an act and a decision in itself. President Obama made the same decision not to act in Syria as he did in deciding not to support Iran’s Green Revolution in 2009. Instead of acting at a time when U.S. influence would have made a difference, President Obama let the chips fall where they may.
Syria today is a matter of bad timing, a certain president’s fecklessness in announcing his intentions to “punish” the Syria president for ordering a campaign of chemical warfare, and an offhand remark by Secretary of State Kerry.
Kerry’s remark, suggesting that Syria could avert a bombing campaign by promising to give up its chemical weapons arsenal, was seized upon by the Russians and their Syrian client-government. Quickly, Soviet President Putin captured headlines with an astounding diplomatic maneuver which cornered the Obama administration.
President Obama was forced to put his money where his mouth was, and the administration scrambled for the exits like 3rd graders on the last day of school. Republicans and Democrats in congress were relieved, too, that they weren’t lured into an open vote.
Now we can all sit back and cluck our disapprobation with Bashir al-Assad’s regime which was magically granted world-wide legitimacy through the auspices of the United Nations and President Obama’s “brilliant” but accidental diplomacy.
Regarding what’s happening on the ground in Syria is the underlying fear that Islamist extremists, who the Wall Street Journal reports already controls the Syrian north, will emerge as the victors in a three-sided war in which each side waits for the other two to exterminate each other. The compensatory American platitude for that horrid and dirty war is that, at least, the victors, if there are victors, won’t be aided by American bombs.
There are three possible outcomes for Syria and the best one in terms of U.S. interests is not likely. That would be that a moderate and secular opposition takes control of government.
The other two scenarios are far more likely. Assad remains in control and marshals his forces in such a way that the FSA and ISIS decimate each other’s ranks whereupon Assad’s forces do the mopping up operations. An equally evil result could stem from the domination of Syria by the hardcore Islamists who, according to the Wall Street Journal article, are moving into the vacuum created by the dwindling and weakened Free Syria Army forces.