Many today are questioning the policy behind the possible kinetic military activity President Barack Obama has threatened in Syria. The administration is claiming that, while compelled to act in response to illegal chemical weapons use, such action is in no way to be considered a step toward any meaningful change in the balance of power in the region.
On its face, such an approach is patently ridiculous; perhaps the predictable outcome when the foreign policy children that populate this administration -- the Ladies of Syria (including Valerie Jarrett, Susan Rice, Samantha Power) along with others such as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry (who both Peter Principled their way up years ago) -- are truly incapable to lead our nation in any adult fashion.
Yet even this group must be fully aware that a simple kinetic bombing cannot be contained. If the US is to simply hit and run, what is to be accomplished? Do they trust that the other players in the region will stand by for an action that does nothing? Do they think the glaring contradictions with former stances taken against the Bush administration’s Middle East policies will go unnoticed? Do they not see that such action will afford many interested parties the rationale for further anti-US action; be it al Qaeda, Syria, Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Russia, China, and so on?
It is certainly true that Obama put himself in this position by drawing a red line for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Our nation’s Left Wing media has so effectively trained Obama that he scores points when he employs his “Big Daddy” attitude and threatens Congress or Israel or others who dare to complicate his job. Unfortunately, most of the world -- from Vladimir Putin to Li Keqiang to Kim Jong Un to Egyptian General Al Sisi -- responds differently from Sasha and Malia. One too many times Emperor Obama exposed himself wearing no clothes.
Still, his narcissism cannot fully explain the call to action here. And perhaps he is setting up to be saved from action through an appeal to a higher purpose- the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine promoted by Power herself. This doctrine requires regional support and the failure of the Arab League and the UN to support any action against Syria may allow Obama to cleverly further a precedent and subject US policy to the collective desires of the rest of the world. This is certainly in line with the radical Leftist views of those with whom Obama has surrounded himself. Still, it is a roundabout way to establish the RTP doctrine.
On the other hand, an action against Syria could have certain desirable political side effects for Obama. It looms as another Wag-the Dog scenario made famous by Bill Clinton. It would distract us from all of those “phony” scandals Obama has tried to shut down -- the NSA , the IRS, Benghazi and so on. As World War III erupts, who could be bothered with forcing Lois Lerner to testify honestly to Congress? Who would not cry out to make certain the NSA is using all available means to protect us? And the four murdered in Benghazi would be a faint memory in the face of massive current destruction.
Further, while Obama ally, the Muslim Brotherhood, has taken a major setback in Egypt, Obama appears to have waited this past year to act against Syria in order to afford the Brotherhood adequate time to work its way into the Syrian Rebels hierarchy. The Brotherhood will thus stand to gain plenty should deeper chaos result in Syria.
Still, Obama is not simply reckless. If any principle seems to weave through his Middle East exploits it is that dictators who get in the way of Islamists (Mubarak, Qaddafi, Assad…) must go. Similarly, Islamist governments such as the Islamic Republic of Iran and the start of the Muslim Brotherhood formation under Mohammad Morsi in Egypt must be protected at all costs.
“Why?” is another question and presumably not enough information on Obama has been made public yet to deduce; at least enough that the elite media will not call “conspiratorially crazy.” Still, if this is Obama’s true leanings, the use of kinetic force on Syria today may well be the action necessary to provoke the chaos that will lead to a global change in power, disaster to
U.S. allies, and a major reduction in U.S. global power in all of its forms. That is certainly a goal of many of Obama’s advisors and funders, along with the president himself, as perhaps anti-American as it may be.
Consequently, there is absolutely no value to the simple quick hit the administration has voiced. Some commentators have responded that such a hit would only have value if it were a part of a sustained attack upon Assad that would result in a serious degradation of Syria’s forces and support. Yet, simply extending action more deeply in Syria alone adds no additional US interest to the equation. It does not go far enough.
There is one policy, however, that should be front and center for our nation and thought through should (and before) Obama actually makes a move on Syria. The Road to Damascus leads to Tehran.
Syria’s significance is primarily as a tool of Iran. Iran has been, for over three decades, our enemy not because we declare it so but because its regime declares it so. It has been fighting a proxy war with the U.S. for that entire period; most recently, some allege, via the Benghazi murders of our ambassador and three others. Iran has fostered much of the terrorism that has threatened us for decades and has been a great source for the threats that Israel has faced as well including through Hezbollah and Hamas at times. Iran has aided not only the 9/11 terrorists but was a major factor against US forces for years in Iraq. Add to this other allegations that Iran has been working throughout South America training and flooding our borders with terrorists. Simply put, eliminating this threat should be our number one security priority.
The elephant in the room is Iran’s nuclear weapons pursuit, which Obama has avoided addressing in any meaningful manner; so much so that when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State she floated many a balloon to test the waters for whether a policy of “containment” (which presumes Iran becomes a nuclear power) could easily be sold. Any level headed assessment of Obama’s actions to date leads to the conclusion that Obama is fully comfortable with a nuclear Iran, his rhetoric aside. Given Obama’s obsession with a nuclear-free world (which must start, of course, with a nuclear-free America), perhaps he takes his logic from that of Nancy Pelosi’s “we must pass ObamaCare to see what is in ObamaCare” resulting in a policy that states “we must allow Iran nuclear weapons in order to talk them out of nuclear weapons.”
Cutting through it all, the regime controlling Iran is our foremost enemy at this time. The significance of any action against Syria lies with whether the U.S. is willing to use it as a basis and base for finally going against the regime directly. A U.S. policy that maintains (publicly or secretly) that should Iran or its clients respond with force against the US or Israel, the US will join Israel in targeting not just Iranian nuclear sites but the regime itself, would be the best of all worlds for a variety of reasons.
The value of George W. Bush’s march on Iraq was in large part in how it positioned the U.S. for further action against Iran. Once in Iraq, along with Afghanistan, the US had Iran virtually surrounded. Iran understood this best as that was the time it sought to reduce its nuclear efforts and assisted the US somewhat in its pursuit against terrorists. Unfortunately, the Leftist media and Congress so pressured Bush that any focus on Iran was quickly dispelled. Occupation of Iraq was turned over to an ill equipped State Department and Iraq quickly became political quicksand.
It is clear that we will have to confront the Iranian regime sometime. Better to do so sooner rather than later while we have still have advantages. A nuclear Iran will mean “game over” for many of our response assets. As war weary as we may be, this is not the time to turn away if the proper basis is laid.
The immediate lesson of Assad’s presumed chemical weapons use is that a WMD not addressed today will come back to haunt us in exponential fashion. The Syrian weapons are most likely the ones that Saddam Hussein sent Assad in the run-up to the U.S. attack on Iraq. There were numerous reports then of such weapons being shipped out of Iraq to Syria but the anti-Bush media refused to cover it. A similar clock is running out today on Iranian nuclear assets.
An often-stated reservation on U.S. action against Syria is that it will likely unleash a fury of chaos. Certainly giving Islamists and others in the region a shot at dispelling authority almost certainly guarantees this chaos. And that is why many are furious that Obama is likely helping Al Qaeda which now seems to be the predominant rebel component. As he had done in Libya, Obama also seems to have cleverly waited for action in Syria until the Muslim Brotherhood was well situated among the rebel forces.
Chaos will be a disaster unless we are willing to go all the way forward toward the regime in Iran. Supporting its demise would differ from what Obama has brought about in Egypt and Libya as the Iranian people have a very different history with a more westernized government. It is true that the Iranian people often stress their pride in their nuclear program but as far back as 2006, when asked if they would object to attacks on their nuclear sites, over 65% replied “no” as long as the regime was eliminated as well. Following the 2009 election debacle in which Obama sat idly by, the Iranian people are only more open to whatever it takes to rid themselves of their government. Nor will occupation be necessary or desired. The U.S. should perform its mission and leave as the Iranian people are well situated to determine their own fate.
Finally, swift and firm action would reset our stance in the world. Obama has not only gravely weakened our defense forces, he has emasculated our word and threats. Such action would go a long way to turning us from a paper tiger to one that truly roars. And only when that is well understood globally can the US be a meaningful force for peace throughout the world.
Consequently, action in Syria to protect Obama’s credibility makes no sense unless one is looking for world chaos. Action that is underwritten with a firm intention to go all the way to Tehran, however, would be excellent U.S. policy.
Bill Siegel is the author of The Control Factor: Our Struggle to See the True Threat published by Hamilton Press.
Featured image credit: AP
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