The Road to Damascus Starts in Tehran
It's Middle East Groundhog Day all over again. The discussion of What To Do About Syria is a replay of What To Do About Saddam: it's all about the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong way.
When the intel and military "experts" say, as they have been saying for many months, "there is no good outcome in Syria," they're talking about that war, the wrong war.
We invaded Iraq in the name of the War Against Terror, which President George W. Bush defined as a war against terrorist organizations and the states that supported them. That should have made Iran the focus of our strategy, since Tehran was (and still is, now more than ever) the world's leading sponsor of terrorism. Nothing would have so devastated the jihadis as the fall of the Iranian regime, which--then as now--funded, trained, armed and gave sanctuary to terrorist groups from al-Qaeda and Hezbollah to Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Unless we defeated Iran, it would not be possible for Iraq to have decent security, no matter how total the defeat of Saddam and the Baathists, and how well-intentioned the successor government. As you can plainly see.
It's not as if anyone should be surprised; before the invasion, both Assad and Khamenei publicly announced that they would wage war against us in Iraq, just as they had in Lebanon a short generation before. Today they warn us to stay out of Syria, or they will attack us on a global scale.
Here we go. Again. We are still the main target of the terror war, of which the leading sponsor is Iran. The Assad regime in Damascus is a satrapy of Iran, as we are publicly told by both the Syrian insurrectionaries and the Iranian leaders, including The Great Moderate, President Rouhani. There are thousands of Iranian killers in the front lines, hailing from the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force and from Hezbollah, long the regime's foreign legion. Iranian advisers tell Assad's loyalists where and how to attack, and if the Syrians have indeed used chemical weapons, you can be sure the Iranians approved it, and were probably involved in the operations.
So, as in Iraq, if you want to win this battle in the terror war, you must defeat the Iranian regime. And, as in the early years of this bloody century, you can do it without dropping bombs or sending Americans to fight on the ground, because the overwhelming majority of Iranians want to rid themselves of Khamenei and Rouhani and all the rest of their tyrannical oppressors. They can do it, with a bit of political, technological and economic support. They could have done it in 2003, when they were on the verge of declaring a general strike against the regime. Colin Powell and W abandoned them, and it never happened. They could have done it in 2009, when millions of them took to the streets in demonstrations larger than those that led to the downfall of the shah. Hillary Clinton and O abandoned them, and a brutal repression ensued.
A lot of Americans have been sacrificed to our failure of strategic vision, and American soldiers, the best of us, are at risk today in Afghanistan, targets of Iranian-trained Taliban fanatics. You can be sure that more Americans will be at enhanced risk if we engage in Syria, from soldiers on military bases to civilians in embassies and consulates and resorts and stock exchanges, or even walking through Times Square or waiting at the finish line of a marathon.