In a perverse way, the leftist elite reaction to the Syrian revolt against tyranny is a refreshing improvement over what their reaction was to, say, Bush’s decision to remove Saddam Hussein from Iraq. Let’s think about their reaction to that decision a little.
After 9/11, Bush proclaimed that we would not only go after terrorists, but countries that harbor terrorists. We went into Afghanistan, threw the Taliban out of Kabul. We then turned to Iraq, who had been defying 17 UN resolutions to behave in accordance with his agreements after the first Gulf War. Bush then proceeded to overthrow Saddam.
What kind of regime was Saddam running? The book, “Republic of fear” by Samir al-Khalil, describes Saddam’s stalinist totalitarian hellhole. For the average Iraqi citizen I suspect it was worse than what the Russians experienced under Stalin in his worst moments; what the Chinese experienced during the Cultural Revolution in its worst moments, and what the German citizens experienced under the Nazi’s worst moments (excepting the Jews, Gypsies, mentally ill, etc.!).
Yet, the leftist elite spent nearly all of their energies fighting against Bush and his decision to liberate those Iraqis. For many, Bush remains the lowest of the low for that decision.
So, let’s be thankful for the positive response of our elite in the Syrian situation, no matter how tepid.
Let’s talk a little about America’s naked national self-interest. Syria is a semi-client state of Iran. Syria harbored Islamist terrorists throughout the Iraqi war of liberation. Terrorists passing through Syria killed hundreds of American troops and thousands of Iraqis. Syria also aided Hezbollah with arms from Iran, Russia, etc. Ditto Hamas and the PLA. Removing Assad and having a peaceful regime would be a big plus for the Middle East. One can make a strong argument for the active intervention by the US and NATO on the side of the rebels in Syria. Yet, we do very little.
“…but there is no sensible way to embody it as a sound basis for foreign policy in the present world…If the forces of order manage to stave off another generation of mass bloody warfare and repression around the world, that would be a good enough thing to start with” – a moral rather than a moralistic foreign policy given our espoused national ethos as perceived around the globe squares with developing power dynamics WRM (power politics, geo-political circumstances, transitioning arrangements, and world demographics incline towards Secretary Acheson’s stated view). Our duties are neither limitless nor world encompassing vis-a-vis global engagement/intervention.
Libya was a pariah, Syria a client of powerful states; Libya lightly and ineffectively armed, Syria has modern arms and well trained military. With no appetite in western world for a tough fight, or secondary consequences, Assad gets to do as he pleases. Naked hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance on part of “liberal elites” is entertaining but tragic.
“In other places a humane and moral foreign policy means doing different things. It means maintaining civil and open relationships with governments in China and Saudi Arabia, for example, despite our instinctive moral distaste for much that those governments do. The moral vigilantes call this hypocrisy, but this kind of behavior is a necessary part of making life better for people all over the world, including Americans.”
To whatever extent (if any) our US behavior has aggravated the mounting boldness, over the past decades, of China in bullying her neighbors, or of Saudi Arabia in assisting the radicalization and militarization of Islam in previously quiet areas, what do you suppose might have been the greater factor – our excessive harshness, or our excessive lenience? Or would both Chinese and Saudi policies have taken the same paths in any case?
And to whatever degree, in that same period, the Chinese and Saudis have pursued policies abroad that are detrimental to (or even openly defiant of) US security interests, are those actions more nearly a measure of how they fear and resent our power and influence in their “backyards,” or of how much they (secretly) despise it?
I know, I know, leading the witness.
Reminds me of my favorite parody of the left’s bumper sticker:
* With the purchase of one Tibet of equal or greater value.
This is a perfect example of Muslims getting an opportunity to fix their own back yard. They have the money, they have the arms, they have the men but not the political or moral will to do anything fundamental except talk and talk even more loudly.
Its no wonder that the Middle East consists of only one country capable of imposing its will in the region — Israel. The rest of the countries in the region do talk a lot.
Its also very odd that the US does nothing as well. Where are the serious condemnations, the speeches at the UN, the marches and rallies? Has there been a mention in the media about this? Odd to see why that hasn’t occurred.
About the only thing we can hope for is the folks that accidentally blew up the Iranian factories can do the same thing in Syria.
So, “Never Again” becomes “Well, Never Again, if it is easy and cheap!”?
Guess Leading From Behind is now enshrined.
Also worth noting in passing: The Arab League and the UN Security Council only approved “no-fly” enforcement for Libya. That NATO turned that into a take-down of The Loon was way beyond what was authorized, so such authorizations in the future are far from likely. The Libyan Adventure, far from advancing “R2P”, undermined it with the multinational organizations that the Internationalists see as the font of all legitimacy.
For your information, the photo is not in Homs, but Al Assy square in Hama, the hotbed of the Moslem Brotherhood.