Senator Lindsey Graham is one of several Republican lawmakers calling for US intervention. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon.)
Part I of “Stay Out of Syria” can be found here.
Even as a stunning article in The New York Times ripped the cover off Syria’s civil war, neoconservatives—along with “liberal interventionists” such as the aptly named Anne Marie Slaughter—want war.
Let’s start with the Times. In a page-one piece over the weekend, the paper described the true face of the rebels leading the fight against President Assad, reporting in great detail that the vast majority of them are either violent Islamist extremists with ties to Al Qaeda or slightly less militant, but still dangerous, Islamists. The key conclusion of the piece:
Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.
Read that again: there is no secular fighting force in Syria. So, who exactly is the United States supposed to back? Added the Times:
Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.
Readers of this blog know that for months I’ve been writing that the anti-Assad forces are mostly right-wing, extremist Islamists. They draw their support from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, especially from ultra-wealthy individuals in those countries who are probably the same people who’ve backed Al Qaeda and the Taliban since the 1980s. Back then, they operated in concert with the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI, in support of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. Now they’re flexing their muscles once again, in support of an increasingly radical Syrian jihad. A big danger is that if a Sunni-led jihadist movement takes over in Damascus, it will radically exacerbate the Sunni-Shiite conflict across the region, pitting Saudi Arabia and its allies against Iran, with Iraq as the epicenter of the conflict. Iraq is already tilting into civil war again.
Even as Republicans demand direct US intervention in Syria, various liberal interventionists are demanding the same, with Slaughter making a spurious and invidious comparison to—what else?—Rwanda. Just as many pro-Israel radicals constantly invoke the Holocaust, whose mass atrocities occurred nearly seventy years ago, Slaughter and her cohort can’t help but bring up Rwanda every time civilians are being killed. Joining with Slaughter all too often are key allies such as Samantha Power and, unfortunately, Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, who is line to become President Obama’s national security adviser.