Belmont Club

Who Will Bell the Cat?

Robert Satloff at the New Republic explains “Why a Syrian Civil War Would Be a Disaster For U.S. National Security”. Note the reasons carefully the reasons given, as many of them are quite valid.

Consider the many plausible scenarios that could yet transpire. They include:

Syrian army units responsible for the control of the regime’s substantial chemical and biological weapons stocks leave their posts, either through defection, mutiny, attack from insurgents or orders from superiors to fight elsewhere, and these weapons of mass destruction go rogue.

Syria lashes out at Turkey’s hosting of anti-Assad rebels by offering aid and comfort to a rejuvenated PKK insurgency against Ankara, reigniting a hellish Kurdish terrorist campaign that has claimed more than 30,000 Turkish lives over the past 30 years.

Syria pushes hundreds of thousands of hapless Palestinians still living in government-controlled refugee camps over the Jordanian, Lebanese and even Israeli borders as a way to regionalize the conflict and undermine the stability of neighboring states.

Syrian soldiers, Alawi thugs and their Hizbollah allies take their anti-Sunni crusade to the Sunnis of Lebanon, reigniting a fifteen-year conflict that sucked regional proxies—and U.S. marines—into its vortex.

Thousands of jihadists descend on Syria to fight the apostate Alawite regime, transforming this large Eastern Mediterranean country into the global nexus of violent Islamist terrorists.

Then change “Syria” to “Iraq” and note two things.  First, the list of concerns is very similar to what the toppling of Saddam was intended to prevent. Second, the list of concerns is very similar to what the toppling of Saddam was said to have caused.

The reason for the symmetry is simple. Both Iraq and Syria are located in the same strategic neighborhood. They are geopolitically important, powerful states.  Certainly there will be trouble if they fall into a chaotic state; as they will be trouble if left half-fixed. So somebody had to do it. Remember when?

The next question is who will bell the Syrian cat? The European Committee for Human Rights is no doubt that somebody must tame that formidable feline. And they have demanded it in one monster, periodless paragraph.

The International Tribunal over the Children affected by War and Poverty of the Human Rights Committee Faisal Sergio Tapia in London presents its international appeal to the community of nations and international human rights and international humanitarian law to stop and finish crimes against humanity against children in Syria and reporting through its European human rights committee, the murder of more than 600 children in Syria since March 2011, in a criminal carnage of executions in cold blood and asks the cessation of all forms of violence by all and punish those responsible, respecting the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria and the Syrian people’s human rights, supporting the paths of peace of the nation against Syria any interference of fomenting violence and war, says the International Prosecutor of Human Rights and President Founder of the International Tribunal over the Children affected by War and Poverty, the argentine Faisal Sergio Tapia , who proposed an International Conference on Human Rights in Damascus, to support the civilian population of the Syrian nation and its sovereignty against those who want to unleash war, destruction with rivers of blood of innocent voices, and states that the systematic use of beheadings, dismemberment, torture, burn victims, children, women, elderly men, is the common way to kill the mercenaries, where most victims are women and children killed before the eyes of the world.

Back in the day such demands would have been bolstered by the “CNN effect” — the footage of suffering humanity, juxtaposed with images of giant aircraft carriers ruling the seas. Translation. “Fix it America”. Fix it so’s we can blame you for every bomb that doesn’t hit the target. Blame you for anything short of perfection. We can accuse you of waging war for oil. But fix it.

Times have changed. Today the answer is just as likely to be nope. No can do. Do it yourself, Europe. Get someone else to save the world.  Or, “I already gave at the office.” As Lee Smith points out, the candidate Europe wanted so much to become the American president has reduced it to impotence.

Hillary Clinton says that the Obama administration can’t do anything about Bashar al-Assad. They can’t make him step down, and they can’t stop him from massacring women and children, as he did last week in Houla. “The Syrians are not going to listen to us,” Clinton said last week. “They may listen, maybe, to the Russians, so we have to keep pushing them.”

The secretary of state’s hedging is instructive. Maybe Assad will listen to Russia. Maybe Russia will force out Assad. Clarity is the outward expression of resolve, but Clinton’s uncertainty is the rhetoric of impotence, a condition the White House has imposed on itself. It signals to both adversaries and allies that they are free to act on their own because the White House is unable to shape outcomes.

If the Syrian conflict turns into a full-scale civil war, says Clinton, it’s Russia’s fault. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, fears the crisis may spread to the rest of the region and that the international community therefore “had better do something” about it. Obama’s secretary of defense, meanwhile, can’t imagine how the United States could take military action in Syria without U.N. authorization. “My greatest responsibility,” said Leon Panetta, “is to make sure when we deploy our men and women in uniform and put them at risk, we not only know what the mission is, but we have the kind of support we need to accomplish that mission.”

In other words, the administration believes America is incapable of acting on its own to defend and advance its own interests. The White House has come to see the U.S. role in the region much as the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran did. To paraphrase the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the Obama administration can’t do a damn thing.

Let’s spell out it again for emphasis. “The Obama administration can’t do a damn thing.”  So too bad about the Syrian people. Too bad about the real and dire consequences of Syria falling apart, watching its WMDs (are you sure? Where did they come from?) fall into the wrong hands, become a locus for regional instability.  Too bad about everything. Because “the Obama administration can’t do a damn thing.”

And that’s all she wrote.

All these years the Euroleft has wanted to see a chastened America. One incapable of acting. An America that was just another country; a hamstrung giant. Well they have it now. So they must like it. Someone once said, be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.

Here, kitty, kitty

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