Friday, September 6, 2013

The Only Way the US Wins in Syria is if a Western Style Democracy Takes Hold and That Isn't Going to Happen

I've been on vacation the last couple of weeks, in Israel, and I've been really amazed how people have gone so crazy over Syria in the US while I was gone.  Look, I am not for chemical attacks on anyone but why is a chemical attack so much worse than the 100,000+ who have been murdered with good old fashioned guns and knives?  Are we saying that it's only wrong to kill your own people if you don't do it the old fashioned way?

Anyway, what's clear is that this is a no win situation for the US.  What does the US gain by attacking without changing the situation on the ground?  The US will simply look impotent.  And if they do change the situation on the ground, it brings Islamists into power, which is bad for the US and bad for Israel.  Seriously, do we really want to be al-Qaeda's air force?  And what is the probability that a western style democracy takes hold?  Pretty much close to zero.  The only thing that might make sense for us would be to help the Syrian Kurds carve out an autonomous area in Syria, as they are actually our allies.  I doubt this administration would actually do that however as that makes way too much sense for them to do it.  They only make boneheaded foreign policy moves (see the overthrow of Mubarak and their support of a Chavez-like dictator in Honduras among others).

One thing I will have to say about Obama though is that he has done something that few have been able to do, unite the right and left in Israel.  No, they are not united in supporting his move to attack Syria. They are united in thinking that Obama is just not a serious actor on the world stage and he has made a laughingstock of the US by waffling the way he did.  Attack or don't attack but make a decision and stick with it (though honestly I heard about as much support for intervention in Syria there as I do here, almost none).  

What really is the case to risk American lives in Syria?  John Kerry made it sound like this is all going to be like some video game where some soldiers push some buttons and some missiles are shot.  But this is serious business.  Some American child is going to lose their father because of a decision to go into Syria.  And for what?  What interest do we even have there?  You can just as easily argue that it is in our interest to keep Assad in power as it is to overthrow him.  

And as a Soviet immigrant to the US, I have to say I am deeply troubled by the fact that Putin is running rings around a US President.  How bad a President do you have to be to make the Russians look good?  To make Putin look like a reasonable and dependable ally?  Putin has no respect for Obama and it shows.  

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