Friday, June 28, 2013

More Of That Smart Diplomacy That Was Going To Distinguish Obama From Bush

You have probably seen the coverage showing that the Obama Administration is already training the rebels in Syria.  (This may have been part of why the Benghazi disaster was hushed up and blamed on the world's least competent filmmaker.)  I have blogged in the past about the cannibalism by some of the Syrian rebels, eating their enemies, which some Muslims defend as being justified by the Koran.  This June 27, 2013 Washington Times news story is a reminder that we are almost certainly backing some pretty monstrous people -- and where there is really no vital American interest:
A priest and another Christian were beheaded before a cheering crowd by Syrian insurgents who say they aided and abetted the enemy, President Bashar Assad’s military, foreign media reported.
An undated video that made the Internet rounds on Wednesday showed two unnamed men with tied hands surrounded by a cheering crowd of dozens, just moments before their heads were cut off with a small knife, Syria Report said. The attackers in the video then lifted the head for show, and placed it back on the body. The incident took place in the countryside of Idlib, the media report said.
Unlike traditional European beheading with an axe or a sword, which was a fast and relatively humane form of execution, the practice of al-Qaeda is to use a fairly small knife -- a very slow and torturous way to kill someone.  I wish that I had some confidence that we were only backing forces that share Western values -- but I am not sure that those really exist in Syria.


  1. We should provide just enough support so that neither side can win. Then they can kill each other until none of them are left.

  2. That's a solution that Metternich or Machiavelli might approve, but there are an awful lot of people in Syria, Christians, Muslims, and Jews who are trying to raise their families and live their lives who are stuck in the middle. Maybe we can't fix this tragedy, but we shouldn't be aggravating it.

  3. The Muslim worlds best end is for them to fight each other like a bucket of crabs until that religion is extinguished. Islam should be as shunned as the KKK, cannibalism, Aztecs, et. The KKK is actually BETTER on women's rights...

    I have sympathy for Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Afganistan, Saudi, et al, but absolutely nothing can be done for them until they give up this insane religion.

  4. A component of what is going on as Syria falls is that the Christians in Syria made a deal with the devil long ago, in that they supported the regime against other factions within the country in order to gain protection from them. Now that the regime is falling, that's being held against them.

    Same thing happened in Iraq. Take sides with a dictator like Saddam or Assad, and you're going to pay the price when he falls. It's not fair, in that these various sects like the Christians and the Baha'i were virtually forced into these relationships in the first place, due to the issues they had with the Islamists, but when you spend decades supporting things like what happened in Homs, you get tarred with the same brush as the regime, and then that's added to the already existent and repressed religious animosity...

    Well, you get what is happening today. It's tragic, but the situation is a lot more complex than mere religious sectarianism rearing its head. When the regime uses ethnic and religious sects against each other, this is the natural result of removing the regime.

  5. It's a lot more complex than mere religious sectarianism.

    For years, the regime used the ethnic groups of Syria against each other, in a complex balancing act. The various sects embraced Assad because that was the only way they could remain safe from the other groups within Syria, but the result was that they became identified with the Assad regime. Same thing happened to the Christians and other sects in Iraq.

    What happens as the regime falls is that these groups get a double dose of hatred: Once, for supporting the regime so loyally over the years, and twice again over for the religious factors. It's a hell of a mess, and if you've ever talked to these people or studied the countries themselves, you can see the inevitability of this happening. There's a lot of built-up hatred due to the role that Christians had in supporting the regime. Don't forget, Saddam's foreign minister was an ethnic Iraqi Christian. Care to guess what happened to the community he was a part of?

    Then, there was the problem of where all those Iraqi Christians fled to, and how they were seen as "being taken care of" by the Assad regime in Syria.

    Dance with the devil, and get taken down with him. Sadly, these groups really had no other choice, but the same results are seen across the region, and in every other melange of ethnicities where the regime takes advantage of sectarianism to maintain control. A lot of what happened in Yugoslavia was based on this sort of thing, as well.

  6. The situation in Syria is a mess. The Assad government is utterly loathsome and viscerally anti-American.

    It is a de facto satellite of Iran (the most anti-American government in the world), and is being propped up by the anti-American gangster regime in Russia.

    However, it is also the enemy of Sunni Moslems, and has made allies of some of its Christian subjects, who fear Sunni radicals and preferred collaboration to persecution. (Saddam Hussein did something similar.)

    There are no good solutions.

    However, victory for the regime would be the worst outcome for the U.S. It would reinforce the power of Iran, which as a state is far more dangerous to the U.S. than al-Qaeda.

    It would reinforce the impression already too widely held that America is dangerous as an enemy but useless as a friend. Our pointless denunciations of Assad and half-hearted assistance to the opposition are demonstrations of impotence.

    The second-worst outcome would be for the regime to fall to the Sunni jihadists alone. It would be a huge public-relations triumph for al-Qaeda, and create the first Sunni jihadist state since the Taliban in Afghanistan. It would also almost certainly be marked by vicious reprisals against the Christians and Alawites in Syria for Assad's crimes.

    (It wouldn't be all bad, though. It would be a black eye for Iran and Russia, and probably lead to the collapse of Hezbollah in Lebanon.)

    The nearest thing to a favorable outcome that is possible would be for the U.S. to intervene decisively and visibly to break Assad's power, eject the Iranians and Russians, and force a negotiated settlement. A substantial part of the opposition doesn't want a jihadi state. We can't put them in power, but we could insure they have a share of power and that the Alawites and Christians survive. Throw in the Kurds (a significant force that is neutral and also doesn't want a jihadi state) and the result should be barely tolerable.

    Not good - but substantially better than either of the possible consequences of inaction.

    However, the best moment for such action passed long ago. As in Libya, our "leader-from-behind" fumbled the opportunity for immediate effective action. Something can still be salvaged, but it will be messier, costlier, and less satisfactory.

  7. I may add that the action need not and should not involve U.S. troops on the ground.

    A barrage of cruise missiles against the government's airbases and other military assets would be sufficient.