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Ron Radosh

Why We Must Support a Military Strike in Syria

September 4th, 2013 - 4:12 pm


Iran — not Obama — is the real elephant in the room. Wish as we might, there is no civil society of a democratic nature or a culture of democracy that would allow us to create a Jeffersonian democracy in the Middle East. There is a reason, after all, why only Israel — often the only nation Obama pressures — is the only real democracy in the region.

On the issue of the nature of the opposition to Assad in Syria, some observers have argued that a good part of the opposition is in fact secular and not Islamist. In the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth O’Bagy claims:

Contrary to many media accounts, the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al-Qaeda die-hards. The jihadists pouring into Syria from countries like Iraq and Lebanon are not flocking to the front lines. Instead they are concentrating their efforts on consolidating control in the northern, rebel-held areas of the country.

From her own experience covering the front lines in Syria, she believes that “moderate opposition forces … continue to lead the fight against the Syrian regime.” I know that our colleague Barry Rubin says this is because O’Bagy sees the Muslim Brotherhood as secular liberals, and they make up the very forces she writes about.

I have not been there, and can only report what this journalist writes. I hope she is correct and that Rubin is wrong. When she was in northern Syria last August, O’Bagy witnessed “nearly daily protests by thousands of citizens against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham in areas of Aleppo.” I agree with her that it is in the U.S. interest to support whatever truly moderate forces still exist and to bolster their fight against the Assad tyranny.

Writing in Commentary, Abe Greenwald makes the following argument for intervention:

If you think not acting is good, look at what inaction has done so far: It’s allowed for more than 100,000 dead; the repeated use of chemical weapons; and the strengthening of Assad, and thus of Iran and Russia as rising powers who oppose an American-led global order. Perhaps worst of all, American inaction has reinforced the idea for thousands of Syrians (and Arabs and Muslims generally) that they should not look to America for help when fighting off tyrants. Even if one is not sentimental about such things, this is hugely problematic because it has driven these thousands into the arms of Islamist radicals they increasingly see as the only hope for support in fights of liberation. If this is the wisdom of restraint, we’ve become wise beyond comprehension.

I think Greenwald is correct. The United States has a role to play as a defender of a free and peaceful world. President Obama’s goal is to save face for himself; to appear that he has acted as he had promised after his self-imposed “red line” was crossed, and then to go back to his usual failed policies. His own aims for Syria are rather meaningless, and as Greenwald says, will only make things worse after the missiles fall.

But to do nothing harms not just Obama, but our country and our standing in the world. When push comes to shove, I still think we cannot afford to risk losing by doing nothing. Hence I still support the resolution in favor of a military strike in Syria.


image illustration courtesy shutterstock / Nneirda

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My comments predated Bryan' I am on record on all of the issues that Ron writes about here...including Abe Greenwald's article, isolationism vs. the "forced choice" and my belief that there is a Part A and a Part B to the required analysis here.

It is NOT that America has no role to play in keeping dangerous, reckless and deplorable dictators in line.

It is NOT that Iran (and Russia) can be ignored in their role advancing dangerous despots and providing cover for a worldwide threat.

It is NOT that we should abandon the world in its time of need in using our might for right.

It IS...that Obama, Hagel, Jarrett, Rice, Holder, Power and Kerry (and the other Inversion Narrative masqueraders on the left) have NEVER IN THEIR LIVES put America's interests first or its citizens. Not before they held power over our lives...and most certainly not after.

If we learn nothing else from Benghazi...we should learn this.

This cabal is up to something, it stinks to high hell...and they will abandon and let die a miserable and sadistic death...ANYONE they place in danger...and those who rush INTO the fire to save them...without batting an eye.

They then will tell naked and ridiculous lies about what they said, what they did and what they didn't do.

They will perp walk a scapegoat and JAIL HIM to cover their fraud.

They apologized for America...when it needed none...and they failed to apologize for THEIR actions when it cried out for their accountability.

Their media will cover up any and every action taken against ANY citizen that isn't they, themselves. Their umbrage extends only as far as their own ox is gored.

In the cesspool of these lies and under the boot of this tyranny...we are one of the most staggering ironies of my entire six decades on this planet...being asked to use our might to advance "humanity" abroad...when they have shown not a dust mite's worth here at home.

They are traitors and slanderers...the whole stinking lot of them.

I am in no mood to advance leftism's march, goosestepping on our Constitution and have an equal disdain for the march of 4th century barbarians that they seem to enjoy as secret bedfellows.

Harm a hair on Israel's beautiful head...and I will grab a gun and race to the front lines. Declare war on the west and I will draw my sword.

But, an undefined mission...with no goals, an announced halting, hesitant and hemming and hawing garbled mewling...WILL ACCOMPLISH NOT ONE SINGLE THING ADVERTISED.

Hoping that "Republicans like Graham can do MORE" is not a comedy sketch, it's a farce.

"Just muscular enough to lead from behind" is not a war slogan, it's an ad in the back of a comic book for Charles Atlas exercise tapes.

And having French Surrender Forces as our sole wingman is a cosmic joke.

The world is sitting on its hands...waiting.

Because NOBODY believes Obama and his cabal when they talk tough. This is the Protest Culture playing a role it doesn't understand or believe in.

Salving Obama's ego and polishing up his image is no reason to give him carte blanche to make symbolic war gestures.

Play ALL the tapes of Obama, Kerry, Power, Rice, Holder, Hagel, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid...all the leftists slandering this country for doing EXACTLY what they are asking us to approve now. Play them every day for six months.

Because radical leftism is the more immediate and serious danger to our national well being...and that of the world.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, thank you for allowing those of us that do not necessarily support sending messages to Syria via Tomahawk missiles to not be indicted as dreaded Isolationists.

I'm sure that we can all agree that from Korea to Afghanistan, Isolationism is a philosophy that has brought us no end of trouble and loss.

I would ask you that if America has a role to play in defending the world against whatever it is that Assad may or may not have done, wouldn't this beggar the question of, ummm, where in the Hell IS the REST of this world we would be defending?

You'd think that these folks might step up and put some skin in the game.

Heck, ChimpyMcBushHitler even managed to get Japanese and Polish boots on the ground in Iraq.

For the Syria kerfuffle? Not so much....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No, Ron, you're still wrong. You concede all of Bryan's points, but then weakly insist you support Obama-style intervention "on the grounds that the weakening of presidential power is dangerous; in the current situation re Iran- for which Syria is really a proxy- failure to act is a signal to the Mullahs that the U.S. word amounts to little. They will read inaction as an announcement that they can speed up and obtain a working nuclear bomb, and that they have little to fear that the Obama administration will do anything to stop them."

Wrong. Here's why:

1) An incompetent president who is bent on making severe mistakes which are contrary to the U.S. national interest and/or the Constitution must have his power weakened. As you admit, Obama has acted in such a manner and will continue to act in that manner. He must be weakened for the good of the country.

2) Obama has persisted in negotiations with Iran on nuclear issues for 5 long years, despite the fact that they have PUBLICLY jeered at him during this time. Do you really think they believe Obama's word is of any strategic import? If they did why have they been so PUBLICLY dismissive and even insulting in their words and deeds? Ron, wake up! Iran Mullahs see Obama as a fool to be gulled, not as a powerful leader to be feared and engaged. His word already amounts to little with them.

3) How much faster can the Iranians go in building their bomb? Do you REALLY believe they've been slacking, and that if we don't throw a dozen or so cruise missiles at the Syrian desert, it'll dawn on them that they slow-coaching it? Fact is, they been going as fast as they can ...

4) Repeating 2, above, do you REALLY think the Mullahs of Iran are afraid of Obama? Do you really think he'll do anything, anything at all, after 5 years of fruitless negotiations where he and his administration were mocked by those same Mullahs? You surely can't believe that at this point he would really do anything. Remember the 2009 elections? The Green Revolution he refused to aid?

And finally, Ron, you place your hope in the words of Elizabeth O’Bagy. "Hope is a thing with feathers" as EMily Dickinson reminded us. But using it as a war club, is ill-advised.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (62)
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Syria must be made to tremble before the onslaught of US might.

First, a Shrill Tirade by Nancy Pelosi.

Then carpet the entire country with Golf Balls, personally launched by Barry Obama.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If Obama came on the TV one morning, and announced "last night, I ordered and the United States has carried out, an attack against Iran, with cruise missiles and bunker-buster bombs, aimed at neutralizing once and for all its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons, and to achieve hegemony in the Persian Gulf", I would 100% support, and would (with some embarassment) cheer his name.
To argue that we must support an act of abject stupidity in order avoid embarassing ourselves and an idiot-president is progressive-style logic, unworthy of PJM.
And by the way, I'll bet Elizabeth O'Bagy is not from the Ireland of my ancestors. Her "bio" at ISW is strangely lacking any statement of her credentials, her journalistic qualifications, her origins, and her now-admitted politically-biased affiliations. She was outed today on Fox News. I'm waiting for a WSJ apology.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The O'Bagy Lady has been a Washington lobbyist for the Free Syrian Army (aka al Q'aida).

Her WSJ op-ed was extremely light on specifics. She claims "numerous" trips to Syria. Downplays al Q'aida's role in Syria.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have demanded of the WSJ that they vet her and report on her concealed connections. I relied on WSJ and believed what she "reported", and taqiyya really annoys me. Her background info is completely concealed, both at ISW and everywhere else. Supposedly she has a Ph.D, but the source is nowhere stated -- probably al-Azhar University. There's no law that says an Arab can't transliterate and re-spell her name with an O' to make it sound Irish, but I've heard of the O'Neills and the O'Reillys, never heard of the "O'Bagys".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Lastly, here's something anyone who advocates for war in Syria should look at. In particular, look very hard at the photos of the women and children mourning their fallen soldiers. Then multiply that times several tens of thousands. That's what will happen if we go into Syria.

Are we really ready for that?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
From a philosophical and ethical standpoint, I agree with both FeralCat and cfbleachers.

However, Ron and many other conservatives keep missing the practical aspect of this discussion.

That is, America is in no way, shape or form able to "take on Iran" and win. There are facts that many people willfully ignore, chief among them that it will take a WWII-level effort to "take on Iran". Because we won't just be fighting Iran if we do this...we'll be fighting Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and every other Islamofascist group out there.

Also, we lack the necessary political will. We beat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan by butchering their people until there were almost none left to butcher. Obama, Jarrett, Kerry, Hagel, Power, Rice -- these people ARE NOT dedicted to the USA winning at all costs, like FDR, Marshall, Eisenhower, Spaatz, etc. were.

Next, WE ARE BROKE. Who the hell's going to pay for all of this?

Next, we don't have anything near the industrial capacity we had in WWII. It's all been outsourced to places like China and India.

Next, we don't have an Alliance. There's no British Empire on our side, no Soviet Union taking on the bulk of the Wehrmacht for 5 years, no nothing.

Next, our military is very capable but very small in terms of tooth-to-tail. We were stretched to the limit to keep 100,000 troops in Iraq along with another 60,000 in Afghanistan.

Finally, war is messy and the enemy gets a vote. Our current politically correct military leadership, Byzantine and top-heavy command and staff structures, means we will sacrifice people and equipment we can't replace until the politicians get weeded out and the warriors step up. Think McClellan and Hooker in the Union Army of the Potomac.

Also, we no longer have conscription. Think the likes of Miley Cyrus, Matt Damon and Chris Rock will volunteer to fight?

This is a very long winded post, I know, but bottom line: we're in no position to "take on" Iran. And they, the Russians, the Chinese and anyone else with half a brain knows it as well.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Here's a new article from two Republicans in favor of intervention and a military strike. Are they enemies and liberals too?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Are they enemies and liberals too?"

Foul, sir. You have not been called an enemy or a liberal. Many people simply do not find merit in your analysis.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Before you fall for that, how about read this first:

Btw, the spineless Republicans have lost their credibility a long time ago.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Don't be stupid. You cannot support the most incompetent, the most ignorant man to go to war for whatever reasons.

He botched the Afghan war. He botched the Iraqi peace, which according to his side-kick Biden, was his greatest achievement. His support of Libyan rebels have plunged the country into a vicious civil war and the murder of Americans in Benghazi, his support of the Muslim Brotherhood has done the same to Egypt. Now we should support him for a war to save al-Qaeda?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ron, I'd rather listen to the founding fathers than you any day.

Obama and his crew are a sleazy, diabolical lot. Now we should trust them to ignite the powder keg... no way.

"They serve to organize party faction; to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community, and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans, digested by common councils and modified by mutual interests.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual, and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty."
-George Washington, Farewell address (excerpt on faction and party spirit)

Obama's calling out Congress and the rest of the world is like some punk on a playground... it is beneath the dignity and gravity of his office, and reveals his proud, divisive, self-centered spirit. He sees and uses EVERYTHING and EVERYONE for political ends. This is all optics for him, and as another comment stated here, he has no viable plan. Giving Obama authority to go to war is like giving a sixteen year-old the keys to the liquor cabinet and the Hummer at the same time. What if this limited bombing campaign escalates into a regional or major conflict, and his ineptitude and lack of principle become even more apparent? Not one American life should be lost for this. The risks are enormous, and the only benefit would be to massage Obama's ego. He should hit the golf course and pontificate foreign policy to Tiger Woods with no one around. That's a worthy audience for him.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We Americans have been sacrificing too many young American lives for the ostensible "good of the World" since 1917. Not to mention shiploads of food and other wartime necessities to just about everywhere.
There has been a conspicuous absence of permanent "good" in Europe and Asia since then; however there certainly has been quite conspicuous anti-Americanism in too many places [after our cash advances have been deposited].

There is absolutely nothing, no lasting good which we Americans can expect to emerge from any further American involvement in Muslim Asia.

Here's another opportunity to stress the need for Cold-War-style Containment of the whole of Muslim Asia.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
According to Rosen, the true mission of Obama's Syrian adventure should be to "destroy Syria's aircraft and helicopters, degrade its air defenses, and disable its runways." Evidently, Obama and Kerry missed that e-mail. Mission creep has already started, and we're still in the discussion stage!

Throwing American lives and treasure into the furnace of constant Middle Eastern turmoil will destroy the support that Israel currently enjoys in the U.S., because there's no clear benefit to anyone other than Al Queda.

Instead of wasting capital by beating-up the bully's weak sister, we should husband them for the ultimate showdown against Iran itself. Syrian hawks may assume this won't happen, especially with Obama at the helm, but a disaster in Syria that will get blamed on Republicans -- how will this help? It won't. It will simply guarantee that a subsequent Republican President will not get elected, or will be so weakened that inaction against Iran is guaranteed. And that will be the true “disaster for the Middle East and the world.”
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The "weakening" of Presidential power, is important, I suppose, because without it, we would not have a King? Is that it?

How about the weakening of Congressional power? No mention of that!

Our founding fathers, did not pledge their lives and honor, to see power worshipers like Mr. Radosh kiss the kings America. Feel fine to travel elsewhere, however.

This is a free REPUBLIC, where the voice of the PEOPLE, can be heard! Even by Presidents, Mr. Radosh!

You will not understand the following: this is not a weakness...IT IS OUR STRENGTH.

King George would have LOVED your arguments! George Washington, not so much!

You have lost touch, with what makes America, AMERICA. You could start, by reading the Constitution...the American one!

The issue of whether Syrian intervention is good or not, will be decided where it should be, in the CONGRESS. Not in the Kings head!

One consideration: the deadly damage that will be done to our armed forces, in the event we carry out this foolish enterprise. There are many, heads of military familes, who will not allow their sons and daughters to serve in an armed forces, where any President could go off on some crazy attack, for NO REASON. Or even, if some insane Congress should approve! Some people, actually believe that the lives of their children are not worth that. Where will your precious power be then, Mr. Radosh, when the king has no army to command?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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