Missile attacks on chemical weapons facilities in Syria last week by combined American, British, and France forces make me wonder if we are pursuing the right course in that beleaguered country. Although the attacks were in response to apparent chemical attacks against Syrian rebels, and seemed to have been carried out with a precision that minimized the damage to civilians, I think they raise serious questions.
What are we doing in Syria in the first place? Or rather, why have we been involved in the civil war that has been raging in Syria since the early days of the administration of President Obama? You can even say that if it weren’t for our involvement in the Syrian civil war on the side of the rebels, there would have been no civil war in the first place. Actually, without our support of the rebels, ISIS might never have gained a foothold in Syria.
One of the reasons I voted for Donald Trump in 2016 was the belief that he would take a more pragmatic approach to foreign affairs than candidate Hillary Clinton had done during her stint as Secretary of State during the Obama administration. Clinton and Obama had worked together to foment the so-called “Arab Spring,” a movement designed to oust dictators and bring democracy to the Arab world.
The ouster of a dictator or strong man in Libya did not result in democracy but in chaos and anarchy that still persists today. The rebels we supported and armed might even have participated in the infamous attack on our embassy in Benghazi. Obama and Clinton also encouraged an uprising in Egypt that ousted another strong man but only led to the emergence of the fanatical Moslem Brotherhood that commenced to impose Sharia law as well as brutally persecute Christians. Eventually, the Egyptian army had to take over and now the country is ruled by a military strong man.
What can possibly make us think that the overthrow of the Syrian strong man, Bashar Assad, will not have similar results. A glance at a map of Syria today shows an incredibly divided country that is acting like a vacuum sucking others into a potential devastating confrontation.
The forces of the Russian backed Assad government control most of the central part of the country. In the north a large portion of the country is in the hands of American backed Kurdish forces that have played a leading role in driving out ISIS. For their efforts in both Syria and Iraq, the Kurds want an independent state of their own.
American backed rebel forces still control parts of the country but during the Obama administration, officials liked to distinguish between extremist and moderate rebels. If recent history is any guide, moderates in places like Libya and Egypt were quickly overwhelmed by more extremist and violent elements.
In the city of Homs, a rebel stronghold, practically all of the Christian population has either been killed or forced to flee. It is possible that the rebels we have armed in the past might eventually turn their arms against us. Isn’t it amazing that we want to disarm our own population but think nothing of providing Moslem militants with the latest sophisticated weapons?
Finally, the Wall street Journal has just reported that the defeat of ISIS has led to the emergence in Syria of a rival Moslem terrorist group led by Al-Qaeda, a Sunni Moslem group formed originally by Osama bin Laden. Is this one of the reasons why Shiite Iran is also intervening in Syria.
Some, like the editors of the Wall Street Journal, argue that an American presence in Syria is now necessary to counter Russian and Iranian imperialism. I wonder if that is a good or practical reason. It seems to me that Russia’s Putin has done a much better job of restoring peace and ending the bloodshed in Syria than we have.
We have demonized Russia’s President Putin in this country but if you take an objective look, it would appear that his measures have done a much better job of restoring peace than ours. A few years ago Putin restored Russian sovereignty over the Crimea in a practically bloodless coup. Since that time has anyone heard of civil war, bombings, or general anarchy in that area? Would anyone in the Crimea today like to live in Syria?
Instead of confronting the Russians and Iranians in Syria we should be working with them to find a solution that must involve all those who have thrown in with the Assad regime. Arming rebels and calling for Assad’s ouster has caused untold misery in Syria.