Punish Syria for using chemical weapons, President Barack Hussein Obama cried. Any resolution in Syria must include the removal of Assad, he insisted. Supporting the opposition was his strategy.
If blathering were a sport, the president would be world champion. And if using thoughtful common sense were a prerequisite for being Commander in Chief of the only world super power, Obama has failed out of the gate.
Instead of punishment, Vladimir Putin came to Assad’s aid with regard to Obama’s threats of military action, and now 49 percent of raw materials for chemical weapons in Syria have been removed. Had Obama had his way and perpetrated a military strike, there would be blood and bone strewn about and all chemical weapons materials would still be in Syria.
If the U.S. had armed and then trained the Syrian opposition there would be a very good likelihood that our recent Al Qaeda enemies, some fresh from Club Gitmo, would have been the beneficiaries. Now they just get logistical support from us.
Insisting upon the removal of a sovereign head-of-state while he deals with a civil war smacks of neo-colonialism. At least in Iraq the U.S. enjoyed a unanimous United Nations Security Council Resolution and 39 countries signed on to go in with us. Syria could well have been President Obama’s Bay of Pigs, with his “red line” nonsense, especially considering Syria is supported by Russia, Iran and China.
Remembering that in the First Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) Assad provided the Coalition with the Syrian 9th Armored Division and a Special Forces Regiment to oppose Saddam Hussein in the liberation of Kuwait is far from Obama’s recollections, as well as from the memories of the mainstream media and most Americans. How soon we forget who our friends and allies were now that public opinion, shaped by the liberal media and an even more liberal Obama administration, has swung against the military and political actions of said Syrian former ally.
If we look at the slew of Arab teammates who helped perpetrate war against the rogue Hussein (Saddam, not Barack for those of you keeping score), we find Saudi Arabia (Islamist misogynists), Kuwait (same), Qatar (yup), United Arab Emirates (uh, huh), Oman (yes), and Egypt (not so much), all gave blood and treasure to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991.
Where are they now when the fire is again in their back yard, or at least in their neighbor’s back yard? Perhaps they are doing what we should be doing – letting the Islamists in Syria attrition themselves into extinction. And then, when there’s nothing left, do business again with Assad, their brother.
There is an old Arab saying: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Not in the case of Syria if Assad is our enemy. And if Assad is our enemy, what (or who) changed that between 1991 and 2011?
Islamists engaged in the Syrian conflict against Assad are not much different than Al Qaeda in Iraq; opportunistic “foreigners” trying to score credibility points by taking out “bad boy” Assad. It’s a bit cannibalistic, but leave no doubt that for us to get involved with any of the opposition factions is tantamount to playing the amphibian to the Islamist arachnida in the old proverb, “The Scorpion and the Frog:”
A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”
The frog is satisfied, and they set out. But in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”
Replies the scorpion: “It’s my nature…”
It is the nature of Al Qaeda and other Islamists to sting the frog, killing them both if necessary, for, according to one version of the parable the scorpion replies after the drowning frog protests, “it is better that we both should perish than that my enemy should live.” This is the common sense reason why we should never ally ourselves with those who would just as soon kill us as look at us.
Why then cannot the scorpions fight the king scorpion, Assad? Why involve the frog at all? Because the frog is prey.
Obama is being devoured by his own naïveté, and now by the wolves (Russia and Iran) as well as the Syrian opposition scorpions. And heck, all he did was offer them a ride across the stream, right? Ever hear Leo Durocher say, “Nice guys finish last?” Obama apparently has not.
So, Putin has his way with Crimea and Egypt (signed an arms deal with Egypt while the world – and Obama – were distracted by the Olympics), the Mullahs have their way with nukes in Iran, and Assad plays carrot with Weapons of Mass Destruction.
In the mean time, Assad waits him out, watching as the opposition scorpions keep trying to convince Obama to take them across the stream. Assad is supported by the Russians, who havemore reason than ever to thumb their nose at the U.S. (economic sanctions over the Crimea/Ukraine situation). Assad is supported by Hezbollah and the Iranians, and still apparently enjoys some gravitas from Arab neighbors due to Assad’s ganging up on fellow Ba’athist Saddam Hussein in Desert Storm.
Assad played that card to prevent Israel from taking advantage of Iraq’s instability and invading Syria during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Assad eventually gained approval from Syrians for that move, and bought himself twenty years of relative peace.
If he’s not careful, in the end, which is neigh, Obama will be left drowning in the middle of a stream, asking “why?” as his muscles turn to stone and his lungs fill with water. My question is, if that happens, where does it leave the rest of us?
I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Twitter @mjgranger1