Washington Panics: Is Iran/Syria Regime Winning?

Other implications of a Syrian government victory:

-- It again reminds us that we are in an era characterized by two phenomena: the battle in each country between Islamists and non-Islamists, and the battle between Sunni and Shias. The old Arab nationalist era, extending from 1952 to 2011, is over.

-- The United States should recognize that the increasingly repressive Erdogan regime has led it into a mess in Syria. The White House won’t do this, though there are many in the State Department who understand.

-- Both Sunni and Shia Islamists are against U.S. interests. U.S. policymakers don’t quite get this.Even if they did, what would they do about it?

-- U.S. policy will probably become more favorable to the Muslim Brothers ruling Egypt (lots more military aid) and those wanting to rule Syria: they are becoming increasingly designated as “good guys” by the United States, even though they are becoming more repressive and unpopular.

-- The violence is growing in Iraq, where Sunnis are looking at Syria and saying: “We thought we couldn’t win, but maybe we were wrong.” That country might also be destabilized. Ironically, the United States and Iran are both on the same side there, supporting a Shia regime against al-Qaeda.

-- The (Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese) Christians, (Iraqi and Syrian) Kurds, and Syrian Druze are increasingly going to look for a protector. The United States will probably ignore them.

-- Internal violence is also growing in Lebanon along Sunni-Shia lines. Perhaps the United States should reconsider a strategy which has indirectly supported Hizballah. Indeed, maybe it should consider covert operations to work with the Christians and mainly moderate Sunni Muslims to subvert Hizballah. But it won’t do this, either.

To my knowledge, despite massive coverage of Syria, there has not been one article or even quote in a mass media outlet questioning whether the United States should arm Syrian rebels who are 95 percent Muslim Brotherhood, Salafist Islamists, or al-Qaeda.

There was never any coverage of the idea that the United States should, before the civil war began, try to punish Syria, and -- after the civil war began -- try to support non-Islamist moderates and Kurds rather than the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the way foreign policy debates are conducted in the United States today. If one raises such questions -- like whether there really is a live Israel-Palestinian peace process, or whether U.S. policy should support the overthrow of the Egyptian government, or whether the Turkish regime's policy is bad for the United States, or about the astonishing number of pro-terrorist American Muslims being consulted and courted by the U.S. government, etc. -- you will be blacklisted, and never appear in mass media.

Incredible, but essentially true. We are not talking about outrageous, crackpot positions, but about well-documented arguments and about the most basic policy choices that must be made. These are not even innately partisan issues -- for instance, Senator John McCain is a leader in calling for arming the rebels.

Can one say that there is a real foreign policy debate in America anymore, at least concerning the Middle East?