Let’s suppose you feel Iran is the bigger of the two evils, and that Tehran, Hizballah, and Russia cannot be allowed to have a victory in the Syrian civil war. Therefore, the United States must supply weapons to the rebels despite the fact that they are America-hating Islamists.
I can understand that argument, but first let’s explore the adventure that the United States and European Union is about to embark on.
The cost: U.S. backing for the Sunni Islamist takeover of much of the Middle East. The benefit: denying Syria to Iranian influence after 30 years of it — though of course, Syria won’t come under U.S. influence. Also, many wars may flow from this policy: a Sunni Islamist regime’s war on Israel, Hizballah in Lebanon, the Syrian Kurds, and possibly Iraq (Sunni versus Shia) and Jordan (Islamist subversion to help the Muslim Brotherhood).
If the United States supplies enough weapons to just keep the rebels going, that would be one thing. But American policymakers are likely to be carried away — as often happens to Americans in this situation — and to see rebel victory as the equivalent of good, the heroic freedom fighters battling for the liberation of puritanical Sharia. It doesn’t seem to bother a lot of people to support an anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-woman, anti-gay movement that has already committed atrocities, whose leading organization once collaborated with the Nazis, and about 20 percent of which consists of al-Qaeda supporters.
We have just seen the proliferation of weapons and terrorists following the U.S.-sponsored support of Islamists after the Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan wars. Moreover, don’t count the rebels out yet, despite the hysteria claiming that Assad is winning — five weeks ago, everyone claimed the rebels were winning. Also — while I don’t want the Syrian regime to win — let’s remember that two short years ago the Obama administration was courting Syria as a potential ally, treating what was still a dreaded dictatorship as if it was one step from singing “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
Visiting U.S. officials and members of Congress became apologists for the regime. For those remembering these events, the current scene is disgusting. Suddenly Syria became a ferocious dictatorship? It was always a ferocious dictatorship. Suddenly Syria became an ally of Tehran, a stance that the Obama administration claimed two short years ago that it was going to reverse? It has been an ally of Iran for more than 30 years.
How short our memories. Analogies to other recent events are also often ridiculous (World War Two, the Spanish Civil War), made by people who know nothing about Syria. In Iraq, for example, there were viable democratic forces and the United States had real leverage over the situation. While one might want the overthrow of the Assad regime, that just isn’t true in Syria.
In Syria, the United States has not just accepted but backed from the start an exile leadership that not only was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood but which refuses to even allow a significant representation by liberal moderates and the Kurds. If U.S. policy, soon to be paying the bills and giving the weapons, cannot achieve that, then why give help without conditions? Again, one wants the Assad regime to fall, but cannot Washington even extract any political price for this support of the rebels? Perhaps, from Turkey to get more support for U.S. policy toward Iran from Ankara? Apparently not.
Will the murder of Christians and other rebel atrocities incur any penalties on U.S. backing, or not? Everyone should know that the United States cannot protect a single Syrian civilian from murder and persecution by the rebels.
Who is doing whom a favor?