Obama’s deadly September surprise in Syria
A year after his first failed attempt at rendering Syria to dust, Emperor Obama has now unleashed the dogs of war on the restless Middle East. Instead of chemical weapons, as was the case last year, the main cause of the bombing campaign in Syria, which began Monday night, is the rise of ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq And Syria (or the Levant in other versions). ISIS, a militant group formed out of the radical armed movements that sprouted in Iraq after the 2003 U.S. invasion and Syria after the 2011 uprising, has rampaged across both countries, erasing their national borders and establishing a creaky, so-called “Caliphate.”
There is little doubt that ISIS is not a pleasant band of renegades. They are a modern-day armed group akin to the Khmer Rouge that drowned Cambodia in bloody agony in the 1970s. The recent, videotaped beheading of two journalists is more than enough testament to this. But like Pol Pot, ISIS was birthed out of a previous conflict, namely the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Now President Obama is calling on the population to prepare itself to clean up after our mess. Even more dangerous, Obama has now engaged the U.S. in the middle of a wide, religious war raging across the Middle East.
The Iraq war and the 2011 eruption of the Arab Spring both helped unleash a new, sectarian conflict based on the old divide between Sunni and Shia Islam. The conflict can be easily compared to the wars between Papists and Protestants in 14th century Europe. The battleground looks like this: In Syria, the Islamic rebels represent a majority Sunni population trying to overthrow a Shia-aligned dictatorship. In Iraq, ISIS represents a Sunni minority fighting what it sees as an oppressive, Shia government. ISIS was originally funded in Syria by the greatest Sunni power in the region, Saudi Arabia, while the governments of Syria and Iraq are backed by the region’s major Shia power, Iran.
Complicated? Well, our Commander In Chief is planning to send American bombs cascading right into that morass. Dismiss Obama’s typically pompous, blowhard rhetoric about “vanquishing” evil-doers and his bizarre, 19th century-tinged claim that the world always seeks us when it needs help (Obama did nothing to help Gaza when it was being carpet bombed by Israel in June-July).
The cold, political reality is that the U.S. is trying to maintain dominance in a region spiraling out of control. It is doing so by supporting its crooked allies in the region like Saudi Arabia and the newly-minted military dictatorship in Egypt.
Iran is a natural adversary against ISIS, due to the religious rift between Shia and Sunni, but Secretary of State John Kerry, another master of puzzlingly bizarre imperial logic in his rhetoric, has ruled out full cooperation with the Iranians because they don’t get along with Saudi Arabia’s Medievalist regime, plus there’s the hilariously overblown issue of Iran’s nuclear development program which the West has been inducing collective nightmares with for years.
The Obama White House is also embarrassed to now be fighting against the very same force seeking to overthrow the Iran-aligned, Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad which Obama nearly bombed last year before a last-minute Russian deal prevented a major war. So now the White House claims it will arm and train “moderate” rebel forces to fight both ISIS and Assad.
So, Obama plans to fight an emerging, albeit extremist, state (the Islamic State) and still overthrow Assad, therefore provoking possible retaliation from Iran for smashing its only Arab ally in the region. If we were ever so lucky as to have a wise president, Obama would not commit the U.S. to another war in the Middle East.
Instead Obama is trying to be sneaky. Unlike Bush and Cheney, who were at least clear, focused and direct in their grand schemes, Obama wants to treat the American people like fools by promising no boots on the ground, plus a broad, international coalition. Of course the said “coalition” mostly consists of the European Union saying “go ahead” without committing resources, except for France which is getting a Napoleonic itch and will commit a few fighter jets to bomb Iraq (yet even Bonaparte’s boots are too big a challenge for Francois Hollande).
Yet, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, is warning that the issue of ground troops is being discussed on a “case by case basis.” Throw into this witch’s brew the ongoing unrest in Eastern Europe and it almost brings tears of irony to realize this year marks the 100th anniversary of World War I. That was a catastrophic conflict caused by the irrational, pompously blind actions of the world’s major powers.
The Middle East should be allowed to resolve its own, regional issues without outside interventionism. What we are seeing happen in Iraq and Syria is horrific, but we would do well to set the example instead of pouring fuel in the fire. For example, a good start would be in changing the situation where we do have a major influence, Israel.
If the U.S. were to make a serious effort in pushing the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu to stop Israeli colonial designs, lift the siege of Gaza and actually allow the Palestinians to form an independent state, it might just change the general perception the Arab world has of U.S. foreign policy. We should stop funding and arming brutal dictatorships in Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen, where the angry and disenchanted then turn to the toxic ideologies of groups like ISIS. At the moment we appear to be intervening in Syria and Iraq out of cynical, political calculation, and such a view would not be wrong.
In Salman Rushdie’s brilliant 2005 novel “Shalimar The Clown,” the author (himself a victim of Islamic extremists), imagines a Kashmiri circus performer who joins a militant terrorist group because the U.S. ambassador has taken away the love of his life. The would-be guerrilla is attracted to the extreme, messianic teachings of the terrorists not because he is prone to religious extremism, but out of sheer, blind rage over his situation. It is an eloquent allegory of what is happening now in the Middle East. Until we understand this, nothing will change, no matter how many drones we send.
Hubris is quite the dangerous drug, and Uncle Sam is quite high on it. As citizens we should be concerned about Obama’s new war plans, because while Washington may dictate from above, we will be the ones who may the price when our towers fall again.