Where by “Syria” I mean our response to the civil war in Syria, i.e., efforts by terrorist thugs (the “rebels,” freedom fighters, etc.) to topple an establishment thug (the rogue ophthalmologist, B. al-Assad). That article is Andy McCarthy’s “Drawing an Al-Qaeda Red Line” over at NRO. What’s so good about it? Several things.
Item: Andy calls attention to the enormous hypocrisy on the part of the Obama administration about Assad.
Or maybe it’s not “hypocrisy,” but bumbling inconsistently, which when translated to the stage of world diplomacy equals stunning incompetence. Remember, this is an administration that just a few short years ago
— reopened diplomatic ties with Syria.
— Hillary Clinton called Assad a “reformer” (no where near as dangerous as that hapless chap who made the anti-Muslim internet video and who was sent to federal prison for . . . for what? Jay-walking? Failing to abate a smoking chimney? Violating the terms of his parole? Something that for people who do not attract the ire of the president merits a stern talking-to?)
— John “reporting for duty” Kerry and his wife were photographed having an intimate dinner with Dr. & Mrs. Assad, the “wildly democratic” couple Vogue celebrated in a puff piece just a couple of years ago.
It was all part of Obama’s love-thy-Muslim-brother initiative. Bang! Burka Burka Mohammed Jihad blows up another church, mows down 13 fellow soldiers, wounding another 30, at a Texas army base, detonates homemade IEDs at a road race in Boston, murders a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans at a U.S. diplomatic mission in some African hellhole, etcetera, very much etcetera. Who’s to blame? “Violent extremists,” the president’s favorite bad guys. Not “Muslim violent extremists,” just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill extremist — please let it be a white, male, Christian, gun-toting, tea-party extremist.
Bottom line: what’s happening in Syria is the latest assault — the salt in the fields, as it were — on the establishment narrative about the Muslim world.
Here’s the thing: from a certain distance and in a certain light Obama looks like an Important Person, the president of the United States, leader of the free (or at least formerly free) world, just as John Kerry looks (well, sort of looks) like something more than an insufferable prig and blowhard.
But take a closer look. You see that they are both completely out of their depth. Obama jets around on Air Force One. He spends tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on an African adventure for himself and his family while closing the White House to school tours because of the sequester. He swaggers just like he’s a big deal, but here’s the rub: the least-experienced president in the the history of the republic, the man whom nobody knew, the guy whose college transcripts we can’t see, whose legislative record was one long evasive “Present,” whose repellent racialist pandering has set race relations back decades in this country, whose Alinskyite demonize-your-opponents radicalism has further poisoned the character of American politics: this mountebank has succeeded mightily in fulling his promise of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” making us poorer, less secure, less free, and less influential than we were when he came to office. He was the man who was supposed to repair the damage done to U.S. prestige by that evil cowboy George W. Bush=Hitler (that’s just fine, calling Bush Hitler, but just try wearing an Obama mask if you’re a clown and see what happens). How’s that working out? Obama was also the fellow who, when not making the oceans recede and healing the plant, was going to work miracles in the U.S. economy, take care of Julia cradle-to-grave, and help enact a 2000-page monstrosity that will go down in infamy, before it goes down to repeal, as ObamaCare. It’s all in shambles now, isn’t it? You can tell how serious the damage is by this first: Obama actually cancelled a fund-raising event the other day — yes, really. Why? Because his support in Congress for an attack on Syria had gone wobbly. When Ambassador Chris Stevens and three men from his security detail were murdered last September 11 (September 11, mind you), the first thing Obama did was fly to Las Vegas for a fund-raiser. That’s what he means by “leading from behind.” It’s what you or I call “abdicating responsibility.” One of the great things about Andy’s column is that it highlights the discrepancy between the confused reality of the Obama administration and its well-oiled public face.
Here’s an interesting question: if Obama does not bomb Syria, will John Kerry survive as secretary of State? As Andy points out, in his congressional testimony, “Kerry was desperately trying to portray the ‘rebels’ as predominantly ‘moderate.’” What’s his definition of “moderate”? He didn’t actually say, but here’s the reality:
[T]he Obama Left and the GOP’s McCain wing are applying Washington’s lunatic definition of “moderate.” By this thinking, the Islamic ummah is divided into two camps: an al-Qaeda fringe in one, and in the other the teeming millions of “moderate,” tolerant, peace-loving “democracy” activists. In this fantasy, the Muslim Brotherhood — whose name the Beltway strains to avoid uttering in discussions of Syria — is moderate . . . and never you mind the bloody catastrophe the Brothers have wrought in nearby Egypt over the last few weeks and months.
In truth, the Brotherhood is an implacably Islamic-supremacist organization that is “moderate” only by comparison with al-Qaeda, and, even then, only if we are talking about al-Qaeda’s methodology of full-time savagery — the Brothers are part-timers who, unlike al-Qaeda, think violent jihad is just one item on the sharia-installation menu. As far as ideology goes — i.e., the imperative that sharia be installed — the two are on exactly the same page. If anything, the Brotherhood’s influence over the “oppositionists” is even greater than al-Qaeda’s. The Brothers are the antithesis of moderate. They are anti-American (though they’ll happily take our help before using it against us), anti-democratic (though they’ll happily hold popular elections in Muslim-majority countries), and rabidly anti-Semitic.
So here’s the question: just whom are we fighting for?
Andy’s piece also offers a salubrious correction to another aspect of the dominant narrative about the situation in Syria: that it’s all about chemical weapons.
That’s the phrase — “chemical weapons.” Assad used chemical weapons, poison gas, ergo we have a moral obligation — a moral obligation, amigo — to do something, anything to get rid of Assad.
Two points: 1. Did Assad use chemical weapons? We don’t actually know. Maybe. Somebody did. And it might have been Assad. But as Andy points out, there’s a “dirty little secret” about chemical weapons that is not getting attention from the Obama administration and its media sycophants. It is this: “The rebels not only want them, they have them and they quite likely have used them, both in Syria and elsewhere. Al-Qaeda has been seeking to procure and use chemical weapons for over 20 years — and unlike Assad, al-Qaeda affiliates are quite likely to use them against the United States and Israel if they have the chance.” 2. Chemical weapons are pretty hideous, but are they really more hideous than other weapons employed by the bad guys? The cold water Andy splashes on this idea is clarifying:
I am unimpressed by the Western obsession over chemical weapons. They are ghastly, yes. But so, in the wrong hands, are bombs and jumbo jets and hollow-point bullets. To me, the shrieking over weapons of mass destruction is the international version of the Left’s domestic campaign against guns, and of a piece with its trendy revulsion against land- and sea-mines. This is the delusion that discord is caused by the song, not the singer. It is a cop-out: the pretense that there is a valid excuse for failing to grapple with the players and the ideologies that resort to violence — as if we live in a make-believe world where destructive weapons in the right hands are unnecessary to keep us safe; and where laws, conventions, and purported “norms” against various types of weapons are effective against rogues like Assad and al-Qaeda.
Andy ends with a question I wish someone would put to John Kerry: “Why is Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons worse than the rebels’ use of al-Qaeda?” I don’t think we’d get a very enlightening answer to that from John Kerry for the simple reason that the entire dance over Syria has almost nothing to do with the pursuit of a rational foreign policy and almost everything to do with supporting the moralizing narrative of an administration that values ideology over American interests.