Syrian Lessons

Both sides of the Washington duopoly firmly believe in the existence of moderate Islam.   I am not referring to the everyday Islam of most Indonesian or Indian Muslims talked up by Islamophiles, but to an Islam that is supposedly a moderate political force.  This theoretical Islam is nonviolent and “peace-loving”. Its adherents supposedly yearn for self-determination, elections, a “free press,” and the protection of minority rights. According to Fox News, this Islam is absolutely necessary as an “ally” against the extremists, which is why  Donald Trump’s Muslim ban is such a terrible idea.

There are two problems with this moderate political Islam: First, this phenomenon is awfully elusive , and, second,  it has proven, time after time, to be irrelevant in any Middle Eastern hot spot. The latest illustration of this comes from Syria.

During the last four years, both the Obama administration and the neoconservative policy wonks have insisted that there is a noble opposition in Syria.  This notion has been argued repeatedly, by people like John McCain pleading for President Obama to do more in support of the so-called moderate opposition or by Obama himself, who has criticized the Russians for not distinguishing between ISIS and the more palatable rebels supported by his administration. Recent events have demonstrated the shortcomings of this assessment, not the least of which is the failure to realize that the acquisition of power is often a matter of willpower and brutality.

The first question that needs to be asked is why, yet again, the Americans have decided to risk putting money and arms in the hands of Sunni militants. We have done this enough, either intentionally or unintentionally, to have learned that this is something we should avoid at all costs.  Every international terrorist group of concern to the United States in the last 30 years has been Sunni.  As Srdja Trifkovic and others have pointed out, the al-Qaeda phenomenon began with us arming the Sunni mujahedeen in opposition to the Russians during the 1980s.

The Shia in Iraq may have taken our weapons and dropped them for ISIS to scoop up, but,  unlike the various Sunni groups, they have shown little proclivity for attacking the West.  If we have to pick a side, the Shia would seem to be a better bet, if for no other reason than that their numbers are smaller and their ambitions more localized. The Iranians are not bankrolling the radicalization of Muslims on all continents.  They are leaving that project to our Saudi allies whom Bill O’Reilly and Fox News don’t want Trump to alienate. In the face of all this evidence,  U.S. leaders have opted to fund and arm the Sunni side in Syria.

The US agenda rests on a very dubious foundation, which is little more than wishful thinking.  The hope is that at the end of a free-for-all war,  an  amicable Arab government will somehow get to power and sustain itself indefinitely.  Imagine a scenario with an Arab version of Jimmy Carter leading the way.   Not only has such an unlikely event never resulted from any similar situation, but Syria-- a boiling pot of sectarianism and jihadism--may be the least likely place for this dream to become reality Add to the equation the U.S. foreign policy establishment’s contempt for dictators who violate “human rights”, and we see a project with as much hope for success as Martin O’Malley’s presidential campaign.

As David Ignatius has described in the Washington Post, there are essentially six warring factions in Syria. The two most prominent are the Assad regime, backed by Russia and Iran, and then ISIS. The other four are: 1) the Kurds, whose interests are purely selfish and limited, 2) the Turks, who are in conflict with the Kurds, 3) the al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadist group al-Nusra, and then 4) the Sunni opposition funded and armed by the United States, the Saudis, and other oil-rich gulf states. Somehow the Washington calculus--wildy improbable--is that with Assad deposed in the midst of a chaotic breakdown of the Syrian state, their Sunni beneficiaries will seize power while not only placating the Alawites, Christians, Turks, and Kurds, but also repressing the jihadist groups they have been fighting with for years in opposition to Assad.

What make this agenda even more silly are two other underreported factors: 1) the low numbers of the so-called moderate opposition and its apparent lack of commitment to the cause as the U.S. conceives it, and 2) the moderate opposition’s constant wavering between fighting with the jihadists and acting like the jihadists, on the one hand, and then doing what its American and Arab bankrollers want it to do on the other. Regarding point #1, consider Ignatius’s summation of the U.S.’s success in fostering this opposition force during the past year:

“In Iraq, U.S. trainers were dispatched to Al Asad and Al Taqaddum air bases in Anbar province to train thousands of Sunni tribal fighters. The tribesmen mostly didn’t show up, and no wonder: The Shiite-led government in Baghdad still refuses to approve a Sunni ‘national guard’ with real power. In Syria, Congress authorized a $500 million plan to train and equip a largely Sunni force to fight the Islamic State. Only a few hundred signed up, instead of the expected 5,000, and the first wave of fighters walked into a trap and was savaged by jihadists in northern Syria.”

So there you have it. he Sunnis of supporting a Shiite government in Iraq or in fighting ISIS to the death, which is what would be required to actually defeat ISIS. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, except to the narrow-minded democracy ideologues who condemn Bush but persist in having the same fundamental vision for Middle East democracy that he did.

Our moderate allies not only lack commitment, but in addition they are backed by  Saudi and Qatari money that may make them ultimately unreliable. What makes matters even worse is that if the moderate opposition is interested in cultivating alliances, it appears to be interested in teaming with al-Nusra and ISIS.  Very recently a Christian bishop in Syria  informed a Catholic news agency that the so-called moderate opposition was engaging in constant bombardment of civilians along with the jihadists. Bishop Georges Abou Khazen of Aleppo went on to remark that the "groups that are called the 'moderate opposition' do not differ from the other jihadists (Islamic State and al-Nusra) other than by name," an assertion which appears to corroborate Mr. Trump's assertion that we don't know who these people are.

For both the Democrats and neocons, Islam is capable of producing moderate political forces that can steer a course between a secular state and Islamist extremism.  They also think that American involvement can help move the region away from these two paths.  To date the D.C. establishment has had no success and only cultivated more enemies for the United States. This is because, in their ignorance and contempt for Christianity, they are searching for something that doesn't exist.



8 Responses

  1. Robert Reavis says:

    “This is because, in their ignorance and contempt for Christianity, they are searching for something that doesn’t exist.”

    This is so true but very rarely admitted. In fact I am often confused as to whether willful ignorance is not very similar to open contempt, or if one leads to the other and which one is first in the order of experimentation — the open contempt or the willful ignorance ? In any case one thing is for certain and our long experiment proves it , neither Jew nor Palestinian, Hindu nor Moslem, Buddhist nor self respecting Old Buddies, would ever tolerate the routine derision ordinary Christians in America endure on a daily basis from the hands of their dear leaders and intellectuals.

  2. Dissident says:

    Yes Robert, but Christians nowadays do not fight back, and that is because their actual belief is pretty thin much of the time. I just had a Catholic friend of mine tell me that Christianity was responsible for far more death in history than Islam. He told me that the Nazis were all churchgoing Catholics. The edifice of historical lies propped up by the education system is staggering, and it is well past time for people with some resolve and work ethic to steadily fight back.

    What is funny is that in the long run I think Islam is actually an ally. It will show its true colors in due time and utterly embarrass the educational and media establishments of both America and Europe. That will help to create a pathway that right now seems improbable.

  3. Dot says:

    Many Christians are Christian in name only because of Baptism.

    In my comment regarding “Syrian Lesson”, the problem is two-fold. One is antagonism against Russia who sides with the Shite Muslim countries.

    The second reason Washington appears to support the Sunni Muslim countries is economic. These are oil producing countries. However, I don’t believe that Saudi Arabia, which is Sunni Islamic, is our main source or oil as in the past. We get it from other countries and we produce our own supply also. Those who attacked the world trade center in 2001 were Sunni of the as-Qaeda group. I have to wonder why “Congress authorized a $500 million plan to train and equip a largely Sunni force to fight the Islamic State” another Sunni force. Giving millions to Sunni who were responsible for attacking us? Go figure!

  4. Robert Reavis says:

    Dear Dissident,
    I suspect the attack against Christians is much more organized and more easily manipulated in America than we imagine. And for many reasons. But I certainly agree with your post and would not argue with any thing you included in it .

  5. Robert Peters says:

    Liberalism, Islam and Christianity all make universal claims. Liberalism, one of the three ugly sisters of the Enlighenment, has successfully killed the various state hosts of her two siblings: Marxism in all of its forms and fascism in all of its forms, although they still spook around in looking for a polity to possess. In her Jacobin soul by means of the Hobbesian state which she animates with her high ideologies of equality, democracy, social justice, etc. and with her more pedestrian side of corporatism, Liberalism intends full-spectrum dominance and world (global) hegemony. She and Islam hate their mutual competitor: Jesus Christ, His Church and any culture reflecting the influence of Jesus Christ or His Church. They, therefore, make common cause against the faith, iconoclasts both. The Church will, of course, survive, albeit under the rubble. The question remains, which of the two enemies of the Faith will prevail over the other? My bet is with Islam!

  6. Robert Reavis says:

    Dear Dissident,
    ” It will show its true colors in due time and utterly embarrass the educational and media establishments of both America and Europe.”

    I thought of your quote this weekend when I saw the news that some jihadist in Yemen attacked a retirement home for priests with Alzheimer’s and dementia run by Mother Theresa’s order. I think one nun survived by hiding in a refrigerator. The Christopher Hitchens and John Stoussel types never found much use for these types of Westerners anyhow but I am not sure they ever advocated their physical murder so much as their spiritual and intellectual eradication. My point was the enormous funds spent subsidizing such views at our Universities and within our conglomerate news organizations while at the same time black listing and silencing those capable of a equally forceful apologia on behalf of the Tradition .

  7. Dissident says:

    Mr. Peters, I must say that I take issue with the term “liberalism” itself. I prefer to go by “leftism,” since that directly pins the thought of the left on its origin with the French Revolution. Terms such as “liberalism” and “progressive” give the left a rhetorical edge right off the bat. They make it sound like leftists are “liberating” humanity and helping humans to make “progress”. I really think you should avoid using the term “liberalism” for that reason.

    By referring to the “left” – which is where the Jacobins and others sat in the general assembly in France – we are designating the leftists for what they are, not what they purport to be, namely liberators ushering in progress. I am tired of conservatives using the term “liberal” when it is very clear that the left takes it as a huge (and intentional) compliment.

  8. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I wonder if we could not do without expressions like “I am tired of…” This is a discussion forum, not a class in sensitivity