The Answer to the Syrian Question is “Lebanon”

First off, Russia has released a report claiming that Syrian rebels used poison gas on March 19th. Whether or not the report is true, it does cast doubt on the Administration’s “Assad rat bastard against Freedom Fighters” narrative.  The Russian report, if proved correct, just adds one more bit of evidence that the rebels in Syria are just as nasty and inhuman as the Assad forces.  And this, in turn, makes it less and less wise for us to intervene in Syria.  But, there is a course of action the United States can take during this crisis which will help us, help our allies, weaken our enemies and leave us in a better position no matter who wins the Syrian Civil War – and that is to concentrate our efforts on Lebanon.

What is important is not necessarily what is in the newspapers.  In fact, what is making the headlines is as often as not the last thing we should be paying attention to.  This is because most reporters and editors are ignorant of things like history, strategy, military issues and such.  They are in the news business not to keep the citizenry informed, but to make bags of money and get rich and famous.  This Onion parody of why the MSM reported on Miley Cyrus actually explains the motivation of the  news business correctly.  Read it for the truth – and for the laughs, as its quite funny (language warning).  While reports showing the horrors of war and dead bodies will get people to tune it (especially if their are explosions!), what you’re seeing there isn’t what is at issue…it is the result of an issue.  The issue going on in the Muslim world right now is who gets to be in charge…all the battling and civil war and revolution and repression is all about who gets to be top dog.  Our leaders might think this, that or the other thing but the people there causing the trouble simply want power and are willing to go to horrific, anti-human lengths to obtain it.

Given this, we can be certain that whomever ruthlessly climbs to the top over a mountain of corpses probably won’t be a paragon of virtue.  In other words, whomever wins will be an enemy – actual or in prospect – of all we hold dear.  We can’t intervene on either side because both sides are simply after the same thing – ruthless, absolute power in order to perpetuate themselves (though, truth be told, the least dangerous outcome for us is an Assad victory…he doesn’t appear to have dreams of a global caliphate, as do many of the rebels).  So, our task then is to ensure that at the end of the bloody war, we and our allies are in the best possible position.  To me, this makes me turn to Lebanon.

Lebanon was wracked by civil war for years and then, essentially, came under Syrian and proxy-Iranian rule (the Iranian proxies are Hezbollah).  While this has made for peace in the sense of nobody immediately shooting each other, it has made for a lot of oppression as neither the Syrians nor Hezbollah are interested in the rights and desires of the people of Lebanon.  With Syria now locked in a death match and Iran expending energy keeping her ally Assad in power, the time is ripe for us to try and leverage Syria and Hezbollah (Iran) out of Lebanon.  The people there probably don’t like Syrian/Hezbollah rule, even if they don’t particularly like us, either.  There’s not much Syria can do if we decided to apply a little political pressure backed by covert military pressure to help the Lebanese push out the Syrians and then turn on Hezbollah. If we can get Syria/Hezbollah out of Lebanon then at the end of the Syrian Civil War we’ll have a weaker Syria, a weaker Iran, a free Lebanon and a more secure Israel – and if our efforts fail, we’ll be no worse off than we are now and we won’t have gotten ourselves involved in a Syrian Civil War which can do no good for us.

I don’t at all expect Obama to do anything like this.  He’s even more ignorant than a news reporter.  But I thought it worthwhile to demonstrate that there is an alternate policy for us to support – and thus put to rest the concept that some how or another because Obama screwed up and Assad is a bastard that we have to get directly involved.  The world doesn’t work like a machine – its run by human beings and thus can be quite confusing and the real issue can be off to the side while everyone is looking at the shiny object.  A true sense of our power and what our interests are clears things up a lot – pity that hardly anyone in a position of authority has any idea of either thing.

Syria: How Global Power Works

Like this; from the New York Times:

With evidence that powerful new weapons are flowing to both the Syrian government and opposition fighters, the bloody uprising in Syria has thrust the Obama administration into an increasingly difficult position as the conflict shows signs of mutating into a full-fledged civil war.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Tuesday that the United States believed that Russia was shipping attack helicopters to Syria that President Bashar al-Assad could use to escalate his government’s deadly crackdown on civilians and the militias battling his rule. Her comments reflected rising frustration with Russia, which has continued to supply weapons to its major Middle Eastern ally despite an international outcry over the government’s brutal crackdown…

Meanwhile, the report goes on to note that the rebels are being armed by the Turks with assistance from other Muslim powers.  Here’s what is actually going on:

No one outside of the precincts of the West gives a hoot about the sufferings of the Syrian people.  We here in the United States are disgusted with the mayhem and slaughter but people who are not like us don’t care – they only look at the mayhem and slaughter and think, “can I gain any advantage out of it?”.  No amount of moralizing by Obama and Clinton or anyone in the West will make the least impression upon the Turks, Russians, Iranian,  Saudis or anyone else who is so far involved in the war in Syria.  In fact, they’ll probably view such statements as a sign of weakness – figuring that if we really had a pair we’d intervene so we can grab what advantage we want out of the situation.  Holding back and lecturing all concerned is, in the view of such people, the act of cowards.

Russia and Iran want to maintain their Syrian ally.  Iran because it allows Iran to keep up pressure in Israel while also allowing Iran to project power in to the center of the middle east.  Russia because Syria is on Turkey’s southern flank and puts the Turks between two fires if any Russo-Turkish conflict arises…plus it sticks a finger in our eye and Putin (utter fool that he is) thinks that Russia’s proper role is to oppose the United States (the truth is that Russia can only survive in alliance with the United States, but Putin is just too blinded by his Great Russian nationalism to see this).  In service of this goal the Iranians have shipped thugs to Syria for the purpose of massacring Syrians who oppose the Assad regime (probably the very same thugs the Iranians use to massacre Iranians who oppose the Mullah’s regime in Teheran…so, they’re likely experienced killers who no how to choke off a rebellion).  Russia won’t send troops but is clearly sending arms – and in spite of bland words to the contrary, is sending arms which are useful in fighting the increasingly competent Syrian rebels.

Turkey would love to turn Syria in to a satellite State – the Turks, after all, were the imperial overlords of Syria for more than four centuries and while we here in the United States might not know it, the Turks understand that controlling Damascus is just as important as controlling Baghdad if you want to dominate the middle east (this is why Iran continues to press their power in Iraq along with trying to sustain their ally in Syria).  The Turks also have a very long history of enmity with the Russians (there have been, I think, 9 Russo-Turkish wars over the centuries) and so would love to reduce Russian influence in the area.  Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and other States in the area have a vested interest in curbing Iranian influence – and taking out Iran’s key ally in Damascus is worth a lot in Saudi eyes.

Our problem is that we have as President and Secretary of State two people who appear to have zero knowledge of how the world works.  Obama and Clinton seem to think that there is, somewhere, a genuine desire in Syria and in the other players to end the bloodshed.  There isn’t.  There is a desire to win.  Assad wants to win.  The rebels want to win.  Iran wants to win.  Russia wants to win.  Turkey wants to win.  Saudi Arabia wants to win.  All of them won’t win, of course – but they are all fighting for victory as they see it.  We, under Obama and Clinton, don’t want to win – we don’t even know what we want other than an end to the violence; an admirable desire, but violence can be ended in good or bad ways.  Obama and Clinton are ensuring that when the violence ends there is sure to be one nation which won’t have won:  the United States.

Proper American policy in this matter is not to get involved in Syria – we have no dog in that hunt, unless we could grab Damascus and keep it.  That would involve a major military offensive too fraught with risks right now to be envisioned.  So, nothing to do in Syria – but we do have a strong interest in completely ending Syria’s (and, thus, Iran’s) role in Lebanon.  Syria’s armed forces are, naturally, being concentrated on the rebels.  I’ll bet their forces in Lebanon are thin on the ground:  the opportunity is for us eject them completely – ending Syrian domination and at the same time vastly undercutting the ability of the Iran-backed terrorist groups to operate there.  It is a certainty that Lebanon’s Christian population wouldn’t be adverse to a change in Lebanon’s status – certainly in the southern regions of the country, which we are most concerned about as it borders Israel.  A bit of thought and effort and some coordination with Israel and the thing could be done…by the time Syria is able to respond, it would be too late.

Will we do this?  Not a chance – Obama doesn’t even see it.  I doubt that anyone in his Administration does.  So, we’ll get more liberal hand-wringing while the Russian and Iranians battle it out with the Turks and Saudis and the winner of that not only gets Syria, but Lebanon thrown in to the bargain.  Just monumental stupidity brought about by rank ignorance on the part of our leadership.


Egyptian PM: Peace With Israel “Not Sacred”

From the Jerusalem Post:

Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said a peace deal with Israel was not “sacred” and could be changed for the benefit of peace or the region.

His comments, made in an interview with a Turkish television channel and broadcast on state television, were the strongest yet by the new government which took over after president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in February.

“The Camp David agreement is not a sacred thing and is always open to discussion with what would benefit the region and the case of fair peace … and we could make a change if needed,” he said in the interview…

My suggestion to Israel is that they re-open the “discussion” of peace by pushing the Egyptians out of the Sinai.  When you’ve got them by the privates, it is said, hearts and minds will follow…the Suez Canal is one of Egypt’s few money-makers and Israeli control of it might remind Egypt’s government of just why the Sadat regime sought a peace treaty in 1979.

Israel is in her most difficult position since just prior to the 1967 war – rising Islamism; Turkish hostility (it looks as though the Turks are asserting themselves for the Palestinians in order to forestall Iranian efforts…but, no matter, it still works out bad for Israel); threat of Iranian nukes…and a US government which actually believes that Israeli/American actions are the cause of the conflict (instead of it really being nothing more than a manufactured issue by Islamic leaders who want a short cut to personal power and wealth…and scapegoating Jews is just easy).  Israel had to both tread carefully but at the same time be willing to act with lightening speed to disrupt the Islamists.

Right now, those Islamsits are looking forward to re-starting the war with Israel – confronting Israel with massive terrorist attacks from the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai and southern Lebanon.  Israel, caught between four fires, will be terribly vulnerable.  Better if one or more of the fires could be put out before it gets started.  As Israeli re-occupation of the West Bank is impractical (ties down too many Israeli units in occupation duty), the logical place to strike is in the Sinai…minimal Egyptian civil popualtion to control, it cuts off Gaza (thus putting that fire out) and would allow the IDF to concentrate on south Lebanon and the West bank with their southern and western fronts secure.

The worst thing Israel can do is just hunker down – MacArthur was once asked his formula for defensive war.  His answer?  “Defeat”.  Sitting there and waiting for the terrorists to strike won’t help…better a spoiling attack against them, throwing their plane in to confusion and allowing Israel a breathing space until a new American government comes to power…hopefully one with a more realistic understanding of the Islamists.