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February 10, 2017


Sometimes prudence and being "cowardly" is the bravest and boldest strategy. Obama was right about Syria.

Barak Obama is always blamed for the extent of death and damage in Syria. That window of opportunity he missed to get us involved and save the day. I’d love to know exactly what can be pointed to in the past 16 years that might validate that fantasy. 

Our success in winning hearts and minds in Iraq and Afghanistan? Our intervention in Libya got Khadafi out of the way but opened the door for civil war and chaos. Were we supposed to have a permanent presence there too?

It’s pointed out that there was a moment when a particular rebel faction could have been supported. But who were they? They’d just popped up. This wasn’t a coup or rebellion initiated by a pre-existing militia. It started as a spontaneous street protest in Deraa, a city in the southern part of the country in 2011; part of the Arab Spring pushback against dictatorships.

This one was set off by frustration over corruption, unemployment and lack of basic freedoms. Recently cities had faced overcrowding caused by a wave of migration from rural areas due to crop failures from an extended drought. The drought, considered the most severe in the modern era, is thought to be part of a steady desertification in the region and of parts of northern Africa. Climate change maybe?

Assad responded to a peaceful series of street demonstrations with violence and it escalated from there to violent pushback, then to militias organized to protect neighborhoods, to militias fighting to overthrow the Assad regime. Then came the flood of arms and fighters from every conceivable interest zone: Islamic jihadis, committed allies of the Assad government like Iran, Iranian proxy – Hezbollah, then support from Russia, Sunni forces backed by the Saudis and eventually ISIS. Then Turkey jumped in.

So, back to the question – who were these people Obama was supposed to send weapons to? For a minute or two they were liberalizing secular elements. Like the uprising in Egypt they were also likely to include Islamists of every persuasion, moderate to extreme. The balance would certainly tip at any point and we would have no clue what cultural forces led to this or that temporary alliance. Our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan had seen billions of dollars worth of weapons and vehicles hijacked and delivered to the enemy.

Whatever leverage we could have offered the rebels would be offset by rage over our presence in yet anther Arab country after the apocalypse we ignited in Iraq and Afghanistan, both still going on. Not to mention our hand in overthrowing a democratically elected government in Iran in 1953, propping up a murderous dictator there and training his secret police in the fine arts of arresting and torturing people who complain about life in a repressive dictatorship. Then we gave our dictator pal Saddam Hussein chemical weapons to dump on Iranian forces in their war in the 1980s. We’ve been sponsoring dictatorships in the region for over a half century to defend our Christian god-given right to the region’s oil.

Somehow even rational Americans take for granted our alleged right to house our military permanently in the region so as to more efficiently march into any country in the name of democracy and freedom but more obviously to anybody who lives there – in the name of cheap oil. With Republicans running the country there’s a good chance we’ll be starting a war with Iran because of their self-interested hell-raising in their own region. I’m no Iran fan but a little self-reflection on our part might note some fatal irony in our outrage toward Iran’s power plays. In their own region.

Osama bin Laden ramped up the anti-American carnage in response to our housing troops in Saudi Arabia – the spiritual center of the Muslim world. He was a believer. In case we haven’t noticed: our continuing military footprint has not been inspiring a passing of the peace bong in the region. By what metric should Obama have chosen to jam us into the Syrian civil war? Or to just enforce an itty bitty no-fly zone.

Does anyone believe that sending in weapons and then “advisors” will not lead to sending in troops and then more troops to protect our troops being subjected so unfairly to return fire and then more troops to leave a message that the USA doesn’t cut and run and then – oops, sorry Vladimir, we truly regret shooting down that Russian aircraft. Our hearts go out to the families of the…

We’ve been watching for 16 years the effect of our intrusions in that region which is inhabited by a cultural dynamic that doesn’t conform to anything we’re familiar with exception of one element: the mayhem created by true believers of a particular diety and opposing notions how to believe. That’s the one cultural element of familiarity can never be pondered. And we’ve never been known for our curiosity and effort to learn the history, language, religion and culture of non-European societies so that we might truly understand their needs in an unbiased way. And to understand their notion of freedom before attempting to enforce ours for their benefit. And it might be strategically useful to acknowledge the damage we’ve done there in the past and at this moment.

At what point do we learn something… anything?

At that point – early in the Syrian conflict – Barak Obama had learned something. So he kept a lot of the offspring of American families out of harm’s way. Of course none of the offspring of American politicians and cable news pundits would have been at risk.

But here we are blaming him for the war’s escalation to a quarter million dead and 11 million forced from their homes. For a war started in Syria, by the Syrian government against the Syrian people and inflamed by tribal and religious feuding that’s been going on in that part of the world for a millennium and a half.

Somehow it’s America’s mission to bring peace. The theology of American Exceptionalism is no less nutty than the promise of 72 hot virgin babes for all eternity as reward for turning innocent Americans into fertilizer.

— Polar Levine, News Goo Dissection, February 10, 2017

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Polar Levine

working class college dropout who loves to learn, poke his biases and waste time looking around