Ed Driscoll

What Truman Knew

Richard Fernandez on Obama and Syria:

The problem of ensuring that the successor state in Syria is friendly to the United States does not require a new and undiscovered technology yet to be identified by the Obama administration. The methods were well known to Truman. They were well known even to George Bush who was criticized as stupid for implementing them. They should have been well known to Obama in Libya, and again in Afghanistan, but for some reason the secrets of the ancients have escaped him. Perhaps his recent troubles in Syria have reminded him of them.

The administration’s reluctance to use the old Truman method is understandable.  Any successful “disarmament, demobilization and reintegration” requires a period of occupation and political consolidation. Japan and Germany were occupied for 10 years. There are still US forces in Korea, Japan and Germany. Iraq, though not occupied for that duration, was nevertheless occupied in a manner that Obama swore never to repeat. And in fact he decamped from there as soon as he could. Perhaps that haste was wise, perhaps not.

However, if the administration has any serious plans for DDR’ing Syria and making sure the “heavy weapons” sent to the rebels do not wind up in al-Qaeda’s hands, they will have to do exactly that: occupy Syria or control it in some fashion after Assad falls. Otherwise they will wind up with another Libya.

Therefore the implied headline behind the Washington Post announcement that heavy weapons are being sent to Syrian rebels should be “the Obama administration intends to occupy Syria after Assad falls”.  But if Obama has no intention of doing this, then I confidently predict the headline in 2015 will be “US embassy in Syria unexpectedly burned by a mob enraged at an anti-Islamist video produced in Los Angeles. Producer is in custody.”

If we didn’t have the cultural strength to do what Truman did while Dubya was in office, why would we have it under Obama?