Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Talking Politics: To Bomb or Not to Bomb in Syria

Last night U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama made his case for an American missile strike on Syria, sometime, at some undetermined point in the future which will be limited in scale, limited in scope but still terrible enough to strike fear into the hearts of tyrants all over the world who might think of using chemical weapons. Frankly, I found the speech baffling, with more twists than a pretzel factory. His attempt to explain how it was in the vital, national security interests of the United States to attack Syria failed to impress me. It was entirely speculative; this could cause something that could cause someone else to possibly do something that would be a threat to the United States. Not good enough Mr. President. Not good enough. I was less than thrilled with the last war in Iraq but at least then it was against a man who was actually shooting at American aircraft on an almost daily basis. It also does not help that the only thing Obama has been consistent on throughout all of this is his inconsistency. He was against taking down a Ba’athist dictator in Iraq who gassed his own people but finds it vitally necessary to take down a Ba’athist dictator in Syria who gassed his own people. He was just about to strike, but then decided to wait a while. He didn’t need to go to Congress, then he did go to Congress. Syrian dictator Assad “had to go” but then it wasn’t about “regime change”. He wants an attack that will send a message but will also be extremely small. It is positively bewildering.

As most know, though I do not recall saying it here, I am very much opposed to the United States getting involved in the Syrian civil war. I have heard nothing about how any of this has anything to do with American interests or American security and I am not at all confident that American involvement would make things better rather than worse. In saying so, I have, of course, upset some who think the U.S. is the policeman of the world and it is up to the President of the United States to decide who lives and who dies around the world. Assad is a bad guy it is the duty of America, as the exceptional nation, to take him down! No, no, no. I will agree that Assad is a bad guy but I do not think there is anything he is, has or can do that would in any way affect American prestige, power or anything of the sort. There are actually far worse characters holding power around the world and others I would like to take down first. However, I do want Assad to be taken down. I do want his regime to be dismantled, I do want to see the whole Ba’athist Party and its revolutionary, socialistic ideology swept from the world forever. Read up on them if you care to; they embody just about every political idea which I totally despise. I would love to see Assad taken down but I want to be equally clear in saying that the United States of America should not be the one to do it. I would also be worried that, as much as I would like to see Assad go the way of Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi, that what succeeds him might be far worse.

The argument in the American halls of power has focused a great deal on the moderate rebels, which are all saintly, secular, progressive-minded people committed to democracy, versus the extremist rebels who are all a bunch of bloodthirsty, religious fanatics and terrorists. Well, frankly, I don’t much care for either of them. Some people have said we have to support the pro-democracy rebels so that the terrorist rebels do not come out ahead. Sorry, but the pro-democracy rebels scare me just as much as the terrorist rebels do. Whether it was President Woodrow Wilson or President George W. Bush, efforts by America to bring democracy to people around the world, in my opinion, has not worked out to the benefit of America or the peoples in question. Suppose the pro-democracy rebels overthrow Assad and then the terrorist rebels win the first election and Syria becomes another Egypt. Would there be another civil war then to oust the democratically elected religious tyrant? Perhaps a military coup to replace him with a secular, tyrant from the army? None of this will improve the situation in Syria. Not of it, I will add again, has anything to do with the United States of America.

When I say that if something should be done, it should not be America that does it, I am not, I assure you, speaking from a knee-jerk reaction as some sort of isolationist. I am certainly not an isolationist. I am speaking from the position of someone who has studied history for many years and who has seen the historical record that should be obvious to everyone: when it comes to these types of situations, the United States really has a terrible record at picking “winners”. America has been stabbed in the back by people or movements originally under American sponsorship more than probably any other country in the world. Saddam Hussein himself, as most know, was once supported by the United States because both opposed Iran. He turned out not to be the most faithful ally in the world obviously. Osama bin Laden, the arch-terrorist of them all, first learned his trade in Afghanistan fighting the Soviets when the U.S. was giving money, arms and training to the Taliban militia fighting the Russians. How did that work out for America? Not to skip over Iran either. The Shah had been a stalwart ally of the United States but President Jimmy Carter decided he would not support such an autocratic monarch and he was overthrown, by moderate rebels of course. Those moderates were then promptly replaced by the ghastly regime of the Ayatollah.

In Vietnam, the Viet-Cong that so bedeviled the American and ARVN military was actually an American invention. Before that, they had been the Vietminh bedeviling the French colonial forces and the Vietminh had been organized, armed and trained by the United States during World War II because they promised to fight the Japanese. Obviously, that was a stupid move. It happened every time the U.S. tried to win rebel support by throwing over a European colonial ally, thinking that the grateful rebels would side with America instead of the Soviet Union. It happened from Indonesia to Egypt and every time the people who gained power either joined the Soviet side anyway or, at best, remained somewhat neutral. This has never been a winning system for the United States, nor for the countries involved. Call it a quirk of human nature, the natural desire to bite the hand that feeds you, or simply call it astoundingly bad judgment on the part of the United States in deciding which faction to support in someone else’s war. Whatever you call it, the record says the U.S. needs to just stop trying to play this game.

I also do not think it helps the United States to keep antagonizing Russia. This does not mean America should always agree with Russia on everything. I will not be able to give my wholehearted support to any Russian government that does not have a Romanov reigning over it. However, I think America should focus on the Americas and stop trying to meddle in every other part of the world. Right now the Iranians are establishing networks of terrorists in South and Central America, in the very backyard of the United States, while Washington DC is focused on fanatical goatherds in central Asia. Right now, Red China owns controlling interest in the Panama Canal and is growing in influence, buying up resources all over South America. The U.S. should be more concerned with Central and South America than with the Caucasus, Syria or Turkmenistan. If, as was seen in the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. will not tolerate any other country interfering in the Americas, we have to ask what right the U.S. has to interfere in Europe, Africa or Asia? Most importantly to my mind though, every time the U.S. does something to annoy Russia, it pushes the Russians ever closer into the arms of their former enemies the Red Chinese. Now, I hasten to add that I think it is monumentally stupid for Russia to do this, they will come out the loser in such an embrace, but it is nonetheless happening and yet I have seen Presidents Bush and Obama act as though they want to make these two formidable powers which do not care that much for America, become better and better friends instead of enemies.

Finally, I am against America getting involved in Syria because I am a monarchist. History also teaches us that where American intervention goes, monarchy does NOT tend to follow; and the results have been disastrous. The U.S. held off intervening in World War I until the Tsar was overthrown -the Bolsheviks took over and a Russia that had been a friend of the United States became an enemy. The U.S. intervened in World War I, Germany and Austria-Hungary all became republics and the result was another world war twenty years later. In World War II the United States, by intervening, enabled some monarchies in Western Europe to be restored, but it also meant that monarchies in Italy and Eastern Europe were lost. It meant the fall of monarchies in Korea, Manchuria and Vietnam all in 1945. When the U.S. intervened in Korea it did not result in a restored monarchy. When the U.S. intervened in Vietnam, American agents helped bring down the former monarch a second time. In Afghanistan, where there was every good reason to hope for a restoration of the monarchy after the defeat of the Taliban, it did not happen. There was less hope for Iraq and it did not happen there either. I would like to see the governments in Syria and Iraq replaced by Hashemite monarchies like Jordan, as both were originally intended to be, but that is not likely to happen. If the U.S. is involved, it would not only be unlikely but impossible.


  1. I think it would be nice to see Jordan and Syria reunified under a single monarchy. They are culturally and linguistically almost identical and I believe that if the division of the Ottoman Empire had seen them under the same nation's protectorate then they would be a single country today - it certainly seems a lot less absurd than the "United Arab Republic". Jordan is also the most stable Islamic country in the Middle East. Certainly, it must be a better idea than the uninterrupted reign of the Assad Dynasty.

    Regarding the USA's involvement in World War 2 - did you know that the senate suggested dismantling Belgium and dividing it between France and the Netherlands? An offer was also made to purchase Greenland from Denmark for about $100 million in today's dollars, but Denmark declined.

    1. Heard about Denmark, don't recall hearing about Belgium. However, given the despicable way King Leopold III was treated, it doesn't really surprise me.

  2. American people too often misunderstand the ideas of their founding fathers. The American rebels were deists, whigs, and masons, but they viewed egalitarianism in terms more like yours or mine than that of modern Americans. The US was founded as a Republic with a rather aristocratic flavour, including property qualifications for voting and the electoral college. This confusion leads to the US believing that anything other than democracy is evil, a belief that has caused no small amount of problems for the United States and countries around the world. Whatever his faults, Alexander Hamilton would have wept to hear that his country would later become the world's foremost champion of egalitarian democracy.

    Uninhibited democracy is a poor idea in any country, let alone one with a strong jihadist element. I simply don't see how any US involvement in Syria could make anything better for anyone, except for the folks who are beheading priests and threatening nuns who belong to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. You know, the ones who are affiliated with the people who attacked the WTC.

  3. The Cold War, Arab-Israeli Conflict and the Islamic Revolution in Iran all had its impact. Dictatorships in Egypt, Iraq and Syria all fed lies to their people, and in the case of the latter two, went to invade and occupy their neighbours. The anti-Israel rent-a-crowd will talk about Israel's wrongdoings but overlook the faults of many of those Arab dictatorships and the Islamic Republic of Iran which are considerably greater. Never mind that the regimes most aggressively hostile to Israel have not moved in decades against them while attacking neighbouring countries.

    More of it, nobody asks why are there so many failed states, failed economies and failed societies since 1945?


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