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Works and Days

Count Me Out on Syria

May 13th, 2013 - 9:44 am

Consistency Should Matter

I have another confession about why, as a supporter of removing Saddam Hussein, I did not favor either the Libyan bombing or the proposed Syria intervention. In short, I have no confidence in those now calling for intervention to be there should things not go as planned. More have been killed in Afghanistan during Obama’s 52 months than during Bush’s nearly seven years. Announcing simultaneous surges and withdrawal dates is not wise. After all the blood and treasure spent in Iraq, not leaving a tiny monitoring force was shortsighted. An administration that not only lied about Benghazi but knew it was lying does not inspire confidence, especially in its amoral calculus in promoting a pre-election narrative of a weakened al-Qaeda after the killing of bin Laden and a reforming Libya after the removal of Gaddafi over the interest of truth and the safety of our own in Benghazi.

Consistency of any sort should matter also. I admire those like a Max Boot who wanted to go into Iraq and supported the cause to the bitter end. I even sort of admire a Pat Buchanan who thought Iraq a folly, and as a useful idiot on MSNBC damned those like me who supported the occupation. And I even admire Dennis Kucinich-types who thought intervention was wrong and staying on worse, and were ridiculed when the statue fell and the “Mission Accomplished” euphoria persisted. But I have no admiration for the zealots who called for the attack, basked in the spectacular removal of the Hussein regime, and then peeled off as the violence spiked and the soldiers were more or less on their own.

Like most of you, I did not write a letter in 1998 calling for the preemptive removal of Saddam Hussein. Most of us were indifferent to Bill Clinton’s regime change act. And I think most of us did not even know about those who wrote another letter to George W. Bush after 9/11 calling for preemption in Iraq again. But most of us agreed with 70% of the people that the Congress had logic and morality in their 2002 23-writ resolution calling to oust Hussein. Colin Powell made a sincere, but flawed, presentation. (It was not just the faulty intelligence, but the failure to mention all of the congressional resolutions for war.)

Once we did go in — along with the widespread support of the American people — I vowed to support the American effort to rebuild the country to the bitter end. And the end was certainly bitter. But by 2009 the American role in the war was all but over, a plan for a residual force to ensure the peace was in place, and what happened after that was now up to a new administration. I think leaving in toto was a bitter mistake, but leave we did and as a nation we live with the consequences.

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Top Rated Comments   
Yes. 9/11 ripped the lid off the bitter social divide that was percolating under the surface. I too supported the removal of Sadaam, but did not anticipate the viciousness of the Leftist attack as they, Vietnam-like, used the war (and the deaths of heroic Americans) to fuel their attack on the Constitution. This was a calculated and vicious betrayal, and its nature tells you everything you need to know about what kind of people are driving this neo-communist / globalist putsch.

I supported the war in Iraq because what I saw looming was a generational war with a re-emerging worldview that was hostile to our existence: Jihadism, or Islam in its militant form. Like most religions, Islam has peaceful as well as war-like aspects, and whichever aspect is predominant depends on a variety of factors. As opposed to Christianity, Islam's peaceful aspect is fragile and thin, while it's warlike aspect is large and emphatic.

Historically, Islam was either in united, expansionist mode, or in divided, impotent mode. When it's the former, neighbors would shudder, when in the latter there was nothing to worry about. Now, in the age of WMD, its a different story. Even in their “dormant” phase, with a single spectacular attack they can turn a super-power on its head.

Many argued that Iraq under Sadaam had nothing to do with Jihad. That was not true, albeit the connections were tenuous, they were there. Here was a belligerent ruler, openly trying to destabilize the entire region, not to mention the petroleum economy. He could and would have wrapped himself in the cloak of Jihad, and employed terrorist methods anytime it seemed expedient. Trying to preempt him, and to break the wider Jihadist pattern by sending a message to other Arab leaders made sense, but as VDH points out, it was poorly executed. A deep enough understanding of the dynamics of the region appears to have been lacking, particularly Iran's willingness to enter the conflict using guerrilla methods. A broader campaign was necessary, and more pain had to be inflicted. It's the hard reality of war with extremist enemies. And again as VDH points out, the worse thing a super-power can do in those circumstances is withdraw. In the tribal equation any sign of weakness, psychological or otherwise, only invites further aggression.

Now we are in the doubly dangerous position of fighting a religious enemy who is de-centralized and can strike from any direction; and who is in league and being supported by elements of our own government. The leftist-globalists seem to be using the US military to re-shape the political landscape in the middle-east, even going so far as supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and even Al-Qaeda to do so. If this were a movie, I'd shake my head and say it was too far-fetched to be believable. But unfortunately its not.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Agreed - there is no such thing as moderate islam - there is only islam.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is no strategic reason to expose one US soldier to death in Syria. If Al Queda gets Assad's gas supplies and uses them, that's a casus belie and we can pound them and their allies later. We need to stop being the world's damn policeman. We have no allies in Syria, only enemies who are unworthy of our aid.
The US should arm Israel to the teeth, tell the Egyptians it was nice while it lasted, and tell the rest of the Arab nations they are on their own. Let them fight among themselves Sunni vs Shia. Not another American penny to any Arab-Islam nation. We get nothing but trouble from the Arab countries, we'd be much better off with very limited contact.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (51)
All Comments   (51)
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We haven't really had a successful intervention since Korea and that was a stalemate. Enough, particularly in the Islamic world. Persian Gulf oil is no longer a major factor, let these people fight it out and solve their own problems.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Peace in the Middle East = depopulated Middle East. It's just that simple.

Islam, can't trust it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
a MoveOn.Org labeling Petraeus “General Betray Us,”

And a sitting Senator, future Secretary of State calling belief in the veracity of Petraeus' Iraq progress report required "A willing suspension of disbelief..." or, in shorter words, a lie.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I wouldn't trust any theater of war...to theater majors.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well written and correct, as usual. I can simplify it into a single sentence: What is our national interest in Syria? Before anyone says "Peace in the Middle East", taming the animals in Syria won't do it. Neither will it work in Libya or any of these other pitiful excuses for a nation. We should support Israel and wash our hands of the rest of this filth: The Jews are well capable of dealing with the Arabs when that becomes necessary. Not one more drop of US blood should be wasted on this part of the world.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Made-Ron Paul by the force of history. It was an eventuality. Glad it happened.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Great arguement, Professor. It sure would be great if we gave the Syrian conflict as good of a leaving alone as we have given the conflicts in Mali, Somalia, Rwanda etc.

Unfortunately for America, it seems, if the rumors are true, that we are already involved with arming the opposition in Syria.

And one more thing, also in the rumor mill, is that I have read that Russia has been pushing for peace talks on Syria, but our media refuses to report on that but only portrays Russia as a warmonger on the "wrong" side in the conflict. (As if there were a "correct" side!)

This rumor, whether true or not, raises the question that we never hear open calls from the US Administration for peace talks among the parties in Syria..

Why is that?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Greetings:

I tend to view Islam as a globalization of 7th Century Arab tribal culture under the guise of religion. It has made little progress since and the people on whom it has been inflicted show little ability to challenge or change it.

Islam is the millstone. If your plan doesn't include constraining, undermining, or eradicating Islam, you don't have a plan. What you have is a hope.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mo's dicta really date from the Neolithic age -- 12,000 ybp compared to 1,200 ybp.

He was completely retro by even Eighth Century standards -- being unable to restrain his feral brigandry -- breaking all taboos.

Pashtunwali -- the way of the Pashtun is PURE Neolithic thinking. The ISAF runs into it all the time.

Thinking that ONLY 12 centuries separates our norms causes no end of troubles.

The Jews and Arab polytheist-pagans of his time were thousands of years more morally advanced than Mo.' That has to be acknowledged -- and broadcast.

Mo' was a sociopath, a scoundrel by even ancient standards. At one time or another, he committed every crime known.




1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Dr. Hanson, I agree with everything you said. The blood of our young people is too precious to waste on peoples whose very desire is to kill and they don't care who. Let them kill each other.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not just let, HELP them kill each other.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"The history of the Middle East in particular (see Iran in 1980) and world history in general (cf. France, 1794 or Russia, 1917) suggests that the more extreme, better organized revolutionary zealots, even when in the minority, usually win out over the moderate and sensible reformers in the post-war sorting out and sizing up."

Dr. Hanson

I couldn't agree more as I witness an extreme minority driving our own country into the ground. A bitter warning for what awaits us if we continue down our current path. Ours is not a (yet or perhaps ever) an armed war but is in fact a cultural, class, race, gender, political war but nonetheless a war that will culminate in our eventual death by suicide and hopefully a decent resurrection when we are forced to return to the roots of family, spirit and the soul, local government, small government, free markets and the hands on individual freedoms that made this country great.

No guarantees I realize, but it would seem that we need to collapse before the average person gets it.

Then again maybe there really is a Marxist Utopia and I'm all wet. In that event "All Hail the Collective".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes. 9/11 ripped the lid off the bitter social divide that was percolating under the surface. I too supported the removal of Sadaam, but did not anticipate the viciousness of the Leftist attack as they, Vietnam-like, used the war (and the deaths of heroic Americans) to fuel their attack on the Constitution. This was a calculated and vicious betrayal, and its nature tells you everything you need to know about what kind of people are driving this neo-communist / globalist putsch.

I supported the war in Iraq because what I saw looming was a generational war with a re-emerging worldview that was hostile to our existence: Jihadism, or Islam in its militant form. Like most religions, Islam has peaceful as well as war-like aspects, and whichever aspect is predominant depends on a variety of factors. As opposed to Christianity, Islam's peaceful aspect is fragile and thin, while it's warlike aspect is large and emphatic.

Historically, Islam was either in united, expansionist mode, or in divided, impotent mode. When it's the former, neighbors would shudder, when in the latter there was nothing to worry about. Now, in the age of WMD, its a different story. Even in their “dormant” phase, with a single spectacular attack they can turn a super-power on its head.

Many argued that Iraq under Sadaam had nothing to do with Jihad. That was not true, albeit the connections were tenuous, they were there. Here was a belligerent ruler, openly trying to destabilize the entire region, not to mention the petroleum economy. He could and would have wrapped himself in the cloak of Jihad, and employed terrorist methods anytime it seemed expedient. Trying to preempt him, and to break the wider Jihadist pattern by sending a message to other Arab leaders made sense, but as VDH points out, it was poorly executed. A deep enough understanding of the dynamics of the region appears to have been lacking, particularly Iran's willingness to enter the conflict using guerrilla methods. A broader campaign was necessary, and more pain had to be inflicted. It's the hard reality of war with extremist enemies. And again as VDH points out, the worse thing a super-power can do in those circumstances is withdraw. In the tribal equation any sign of weakness, psychological or otherwise, only invites further aggression.

Now we are in the doubly dangerous position of fighting a religious enemy who is de-centralized and can strike from any direction; and who is in league and being supported by elements of our own government. The leftist-globalists seem to be using the US military to re-shape the political landscape in the middle-east, even going so far as supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and even Al-Qaeda to do so. If this were a movie, I'd shake my head and say it was too far-fetched to be believable. But unfortunately its not.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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