Syria, Refugees and What to Do

I’m betting that everyone has seen the heart-breaking pictures of that little boy who washed up dead on the beach in Turkey – that picture plus the scenes of tens of thousands of people flooding into Europe has caught the attention of the world. This is because our modern world isn’t a place of thought and knowledge, but of emotions and impressions…and the picture of a dead child gives us an emotional impression…and demands that we “do something” get us off the hook, oddly enough, from having to actually do something (if we make a demand, in the modern mind, that is equivalent to action). But we do need to actually think about this – and then we really need to do something.

The refugee crisis is the result of the failure of the nations of the Middle East. No one went in there and made these people start fighting like mad. This was a conscious choice of the people there – no, not all of them, but enough of them to matter (and even those who didn’t want this also, in a sense, choose it – because they didn’t fight against the mad men, and each insane fighter has to have two or three non-fighters to support him in his efforts). This isn’t the legacy of Imperialism; this isn’t the result of Israel existing; this isn’t because we fought in Iraq – this is because of the people there deciding, all on their own, upon a course of action. The people of the Middle East failed, not the United States; not Europe, not the world.

It is worthwhile to note that the Middle East is not this monolithic entity. To be sure, most of them claim some version of Islam as their theology, but the place is actually made up of the ethnic flotsam and jetsam of 5,000 years of human migration into the Middle East; there are vastly different underlying cultures in the Middle East – just as Europeans have a lot in common but there are vast differences between, say, French and Bulgarian people. The passions within Islam have been held down for most of Islam’s history – invariably by a power which could apply enough force to convince everyone that peace is sweeter than freedom. Up to modern times, it was the Ottoman Turks who held them down; the Turks were briefly succeeded by European empires and then by various strong men. That has ended – and the people there are fighting it out; and there doesn’t seem to be any large force of people who are fighting for an Islam where everyone just goes their own way and lets everyone else just live and let live.

There are three courses of action:

1. Stay out – and that means, also, not allowing the people to come to Europe and the United States.

2. Go in – all the way in, with a massive military force. Pick a side we want to win and then fight until everyone opposed to that side is dead or taken.

3. Go on as we are – maybe a bit of military action; maybe a bit of half-hearted support for people we think might be ok; maybe a bit of diplomacy to try and broker deals between the sides.

The first choice means the war goes on; perhaps to a conclusion, perhaps to mutual exhaustion…but in either case, with plenty of very bad actors still around to cause trouble, including terrorism trouble in the West. The second choice means millions of men and women under arms in the Middle East for years – fighting a cruel war against forces which have no respect for common, human decency. The third choice means the war goes on, the refugees continue to flood into the West and vast amounts of blood and treasure get expended with no end in sight.

Rumors are that Russia is sending troops to bolster Assad’s regime in Syria – if true, then Russia is picking a side. And as brutal as Russia is under Putin, if they can provide enough force to Assad’s regime to beat the regime’s enemies, then peace will come to Syria – the peace of the grave for many, of course, but still peace. While I can’t imagine Putin taking such an action for humanitarian purposes, such an action is humanitarian in its ultimate outcome, if it works. The fighting will eventually cease. Some sort of government will emerge. People will be able to in some manner rebuild their lives. If you don’t like the idea of Assad’s regime surviving then here’s your choice: pick a different side and give it sufficient force to beat Assad’s regime, backed by Russia and Iran (with the attendant risk of war with Russia and Iran over it). Not too pretty a thing, right? But if you want to have a seat at the table when war is going on, then you have to fight – if you decide not to fight, then you are leaving all decisions up to those who will.

Which course do I favor? Either all the way in, or all the way out. Either we decide to fight until we get to impose an American settlement on the Middle East, or we stay out, completely. Half in means you just spend blood and treasure and still don’t get to have much say in how things come out. I don’t want American troops to die – nor to have them kill people – for anything which is unclear and/or indefinite. Whatever we do, we should do it all the way – even if what we decide to do is surrender American influence in the region.

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Facing the Truth About Egypt

Representative Kay Granger (R-TX) says cut off Egypt if peace is threatened – from the Jerusalem Post:

Washington’s $2 billion in annual aid to Egypt will be cut off if Cairo backs out of the peace treaty with Israel, Congresswoman Kay Granger – whose job as chairwoman of the US House appropriations foreign operations subcommittee means she literally writes America’s annual foreign aid bill – told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

“The United States aid to Egypt is predicated on the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, and so the relationship between Egypt and Israel is extremely important,” the eight-term Republican from Texas said in an interview…

This is only sensible – in order to secure peace between Israel and Egypt, the United States and Israel went about 100 extra miles to secure Egypt’s agreement.  It must be remember that Egypt was the clear loser in two wars of aggression launched against Israel.

As a result of those two wars, Israel had gained and retained firm control of the Sinai…and could easily have pressed far beyond the Suez Canal at will.  Israel was under no moral or legal requirement to return a square inch of formerly Egyptian territory…heck, Germany has more claim to East Prussia these days than Egypt had to the Sinai after the Yom Kippur War.  But Israel sincerely wanted (and still wants), peace.  It seemed not too great a price to free Israel from the renewed threat of war with Egypt…and so Israel agreed to surrender to the losers in the matter of the Sinai.

For the United States, it was a matter that Egypt had played a huge role in messing up the Middle East, forcing the United States to expend vast amounts of time and resources fixing what Egypt had broken.  But we also wanted peace between Israel and Egypt – and so we figured a relatively endless number of billions of dollars was worth it.  In the end, what Egypt – the aggressor/loser – got was all that Egypt had justly lost, plus a massive, monetary bribe from us to make peace.  And so peace was made – but the price of peace on Egypt’s part is to not in any way, shape or form threaten Israel.

Right now, that is shifting…and if the Moslem Brotherhood gains even partial power in Egypt in the upcoming elections, then that shift will become more pronounced.  The price Egypt must pay for breaking the terms of the peace treaty is to lose the bribe we offered…and we’ll leave it up to Israel if they want to take back Israeli territory in the Sinai (and I think they should – forthwith, before the new Egyptian government gets organized and, perhaps, moves major military forces in to the Sinai).  A deal is a deal, and the Egyptians are breaking it…and I don’t have any concern at all about why Egypt might be doing this.  It is immaterial…there can be no justification, and so all deals are off.  The Egyptians must be instructed that the losers can make no demands…and can’t ever change the terms.

It is high time we learned that you can’t play around with things like this – watching and waiting and hoping things will come out right just doesn’t work.  The graves of Egyptians and Israelis are already being dug due to Egyptian actions…the quicker things are resolved, the fewer there will be.  It is a matter of acting forcefully in the near term in order to cut off a catastrophe in the long term.

Jerusalem is in Israel

In spite of what some might want us to believe – from Jewish Journal:

Jerusalem: To be or not to be part of Israel. That’s the question that White House administrations have tiptoed around for decades.

The State Department neither recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital nor views the eastern part of the city—captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War and subsequently annexed—as part of Israel. But Congress passed a law in 2002 that effectively recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Presidents have been caught in the middle, cautiously balancing their pro-Israel rhetoric against longstanding U.S. policy.

That’s exactly where the Obama administration found itself last week after news reports revealed that the White House quietly had removed all references to Jerusalem as being part of Israel from a collection of photos on its website…

It is amazingly cowardly of us to not just recognize historic and current reality – Jerusalem is the capitol of Israel.  To all intents and purposes, it always has been and always will be.  Its been 44 years since the Israelis liberated the eastern section of Jerusalem from Moslem misrule and it is high time we just bit the bullet and did the right thing.

But we can’t do that!  It would offend Islam!  Yeah, and our failure to recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel has won us just so many friend in the Moslem world, right?  Get real – there is nothing we can do to make them hate us any more than they already do, while a course of forthright action will at least instruct them that we are people of courage and not to be trifled with.  Recognize the Israeli liberation of Jerusalem..and throw in the Golan for good measure.  Time to end this silliness and start acting like we’ve got a backbone.

US May Get Huffy About Syria’s Regime

From Bloomberg:

The Obama administration may call on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down soon, a U.S. official said as the State Department said the Syrian government has detained more than 30,000 people, some in cages.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she wants to see more pressure on Assad to step down from Europe, India and China, including the sanctioning of Syria’s oil and gas industry, speaking in an interview with CBS News yesterday…

And if that doesn’t work we may even send a strongly worded protest.  But calmer heads in the Obama Administration are worried that such a hard line stance might cause Little Assad to go slow on his reforming zeal.  There is much worrisome talk that in a fit of anger President Obama may even decide to make himself perfectly clear about Syria.

What a freaking joke of a foreign policy team…start a half-war in Libya to “defend civilians” while we carefully think over whether or not we should even mention Assad’s massacre of civilians in Syria.  Do you hear the laughter from our enemies?  The curl of contempt on their lips as they consider our President?  Does anyone out there think that any enemy of the United States is worried about what we might do when they attack?

We’ll be a generation repairing the damage Obama and Co have done to America’s reputation around the world…and part of the price we’ll have to pay will be in blood.  This is the result of allowing ourselves to be hoodwinked by slick campaigning…we were fooled in 2008 and we’d better un-fool ourselves in 2012.