Remembering the U.S. Experience in IraqI hate to repeat this hackneyed phrase, but it is so true, in this case: "Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it." The U.S. intervened militarily in Iraq ostensibly on three grounds: 1) To eliminate a threat to U.S. national security. 2) To promote democracy and stability in the Middle East. 3) To promote human rights in Iraq, particularly of minority groups.
- National security. Iraq was never a serious threat to U.S. national security -- even if it had been true that it possessed chemical weapons. So no benefit to U.S. national security could have been attained from a non-threat, even if everything had gone right. Tragically, Iraq actually poses a greater threat to U.S. national security today than it did before the invasion, as a result of the rise of extremism within Iraq as well as the relative strengthening of Iran's (America's declared arch-enemy) influence within Iraq and the region. Middle East stability. Iraq and the Middle East as a whole are demonstrably more unstable today than prior to the U.S. invasion. Democracy and human rights. Iraq is less of a liberal democratic society today than it was prior to the invasion. Elections do not guarantee liberty, justice or democracy in any meaningful sense. Never have; never will. Post-Sadaam Iraq is just one more case study, proving to be a humanitarian and democratic disaster for Iraq's minority groups including Christians, Jews as well as many Muslims.
Obama Imitating BushObama apparently wants to imitate the Bush disaster. The parallels are uncanny. The reasons stated for a military intervention in Syria are almost exactly the same: U.S. national security; Middle East stability; the promotion of a regime change in the direction of democracy and human rights. And it is already obvious that Obama is achieving the same sort of results that Bush did.
- National security. Syria poses no serious national security threat to the U.S. The Assad regime and its weapons may pose a threat to opposition groups within Syria (including jihadists), but not to U.S. national security. Even if Assad were so stupid as to commit a hostile act against the U.S., America could very swiftly take care of this puny threat with full moral justification and backing from the international community. What about threats posed by Syria to Israel? Syria poses no more danger than virtually any other major Middle Eastern nation does to Israel (they all have conflicts with Israel), nor is it any more of a threat than it was one, five or 10 years ago. Furthermore, the current regime poses considerably less risk to Israel than virtually any Syrian successor regime that can realistically be imagined. Israel and the Assad regime have coexisted for many decades; there is nothing to suggest that the danger to Israel posed by the Assad regime has increased relative to historical norms. Middle East stability. As much as some Americans may not like to admit it, the Assad regime represents the best chance for the most stability that can be hoped for in Syria at the present time, given Syria's state of economic, social, cultural and political development. A post-Assad Syria would look much like the post-Sadaam disaster in Iraq today (sectarian and ethnic civil war) and the post-Mubarak catastrophe brewing in Egypt. The Assad regime represents the best chance of keeping this religiously and politically fractious nation together and avoiding a civil war and potential holocaust. Democracy and human rights. While the Assad regime is hardly model of modern sensibilities with regards to human rights, it represents the best chance that Syria's ancient Christian population, its Jewish population, political secularists and Muslim moderates have to evolve into an ethnically diverse liberal-democratic nation over time, based on the rule of law. It is unrealistic to think that the establishment of liberal democracy can occur in Syria in anything other than a gradual evolutionary fashion that will take at least two or three generations' time. The overthrow of the Assad regime will almost certainly represent a set-back on this path and entail the massacre and mass emigration of Syria's sizable Christian population, just as occurred in Iraq and is currently happening in Egypt. Gruesome attacks on Syria's Christian population by Islamist anti-Assad groups have already begun.
Loss of U.S. InfluenceThe U.S.'s inept handling of the situation in Syria is handing a major diplomatic victory to the Putin regime in Russia -- a regime which poses a far greater threat to U.S. national interests than the Assad regime ever has. It is also strengthening the hand of Iran and China, regimes that also pose a far greater threat to U.S. national interests than the Assad regime in Syria ever has. More general, the belligerent fumbling and bumbling of the Obama administration is causing massive damage to U.S. standing and prestige around the world. It also indirectly harms the political and social standing of U.S. companies such as Exxon ( XOM), Chevron ( CVX) and Schlumberger ( SLB), which have important economic interests in the region.