September 5, 2013

An American Attack Against Syria: Some General Thoughts

The debate about going to war against Syria in the United States Congress and press almost entirely leaves out the fact that Assad's regime is fully capable of defending itself and responding to an illegal U.S. strike. Political leaders and their allies in the media are naively confident in the use of force to resolve the crisis in Syria.

In Syria, Washington is not going to war against al-Qaeda, some mythical force out of a fairytale, or a weird dictator who wields iron power over a collection of tribes as in the case of Libya, but a real country with a very long and proud history of resistance to foreign invaders and occupiers.

This fact must be kept in mind. Nations with a long and unique history have an ingrained hostility to outsiders, and it does not matter if outsiders attempt to conquer in the name of religion or for the claimed defense of international norms.

President Obama can give lip service to red lines, chemical weapons, and human dignity as much as he likes, but the fact remains that he is not acting in concert with international law, nor is he acting to defend moral principles and religious values. At the end of the day he is just another thug with a gun, and if guns and thugs can fix the problems of Syria then it would have already happened.
Another important factor is that Assad still enjoys a large amount of popular support, not to mention the support of regional and international allies. So he is far from a dead dog. The man still has credibility in the eyes of many sectors of Syrian society, who don't believe U.S. and French accusations that their leader used chemical weapons against them.

Assad's popularity has not been brought up in the U.S. media and by American leaders. They seem to be going to war against Syria by self-deceiving themselves into it, and this is a very grave mistake, because when a nation goes to war it must know concretely who it is going to war with and why.

To attack a country is a very dangerous crime, and when you have delinquent leaders like Senator John McCain playing a poker game during a war hearing, then there are already serious problems.

Secretary of State Kerry repeated several times to members of Congress on Wednesday that President Obama's decision to attack Syria is not about regime change, but the issue of chemical weapons. He even said at one point that "President Obama is not asking America to go to war."

That trickery may fool Congress into backing military strikes, but it doesn't fool Assad and Syrians, who will view American strikes as a clear act of war and will respond with the bravery that only genuine patriotism and self-sacrifice can bring out in a nation.

The leaders of America must realize that other people love their countries as much as they love their own country, and that they are willing to die to defend their country's sovereignty and their rights. What do you think would happen if Russia and China decide to take out America's nuclear weapons for the international good? Americans will rightly fight back.

And that is what Syrians will do when Obama unjustly and illegally attacks their country. They won't be fighting in defense of Assad's regime, but in defense of their country against foreign invaders.

Of course, American military power cannot be denied, but only a spirit can conquer a country, not a military.

There is no such thing as a "symbolic strike." America will be starting a wide-scale regional war the moment it drops bombs on Syria. Syrian civilians will die in large numbers, and they won't blame Assad, that's a guarantee.

Since President Obama is so intent on attacking Syria without public approval or international consensus he should clearly lay out his reasons and objectives. What is most damning about his case for war is that his arguments are so inconsistent.

President Obama doesn't even have the courage to take responsibility for his own words, saying falsely that he did not draw the red line on chemical weapons, but rather the world did. This is not a positive trait in a leader. If you are going to say something, stand by it. Don't toss the ball to "the world." Is he serious? He thinks the world is behind him on this? France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel are not the world.

The world is behind a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria, not an unlimited war which is the direction that Washington and its allies in Saudi Arabia and Israel have taken. Washington is more interested in regime change than peace or stability. Washington wants Assad gone, whatever it takes, no matter the costs. And that is a recipe for disaster, as the past two and a half years have shown.