The Syrian regime, like Libya a year ago, continues its slow slog to utter demise. Unlike Libya, though, we haven’t seen a bandwagon of countries jumping on board the Jihad to get rid of the region’s latest despot in trouble.
Considering the death toll in Syria is now around 8,000, I find this peculiar, but not particularly troubling. As I’ve stated in previous blogs, I thought the whole Libyan intervention was short-sighted to begin with because eliminating a bad regime is only half the solution. Ensuring something better comes along is the other half, and apparently no democratic government on earth has the staying power to make that happen.
Unfortunately, it’s a hell of a lot easier to topple a government than it is to ensure the replacement is better. We should already know this; just look at Iraq. Or maybe Libya. Nobody’s watching anymore, because there are no longer any cruise missiles, but the place is still a mess. Militia torture on a grand scale and threats of secessionist fighting splitting the countryside.
In Syria, there have been some calls to begin using force to get rid of Bashir al Assad, which I find remarkably stupid for the same reasons as Libya—namely, we’ll topple Assad, and then watch the country fall apart while doing nothing. It’s much easier to patrol the sky enforcing a no-fly zone than it is to patrol the street protecting the population from the fallout of the vacuum created. Makes the west feel good while creating future issues we refuse to confront.
There are a plethora of military reasons not to intervene in Syria:
· The opposition has no cohesive platform other than a hatred of Assad, with a ten-fold increase in various groups fighting compared to Libya’s tribal striations – some clearly allied with Islamic fanatics.
· The Syrian military is much, much stronger than Libya’s; with an air defense umbrella that makes Libya look like a pee-wee football team against Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain.
· The trans-national linkages and implications of a Damascus implosion will reverberate in ways that Libya never would.
· Syria has a large amount of various WMD that will become uncontrolled in the fighting. Etc, etc, etc.
Even given all of that, in my mind there’s a bigger reason not to intervene in Syria, and it’s called Iran. It’s a cold-blooded assessment, but it’s a cold-blooded world we live in.
Syria is happy that Russia and China have blocked various UN resolutions, but its biggest supporter in its own backyard is Iran. They constantly rail against “Western Imperialism” in Syria, stating that the whole thing is a western plot – and going so far as implicating Arab states at providing “mercenaries” propped up by western powers. Syria loves the support from Iran, but in my mind, they would do well to take a look at why it’s coming. Why on earth would an Islamic regime like Iran support a secular dictatorship like Syria? Modern day Iran came about because of a grass-roots revolution against a dictator that bears much more in common with the current Syrian regime than it does with the Ayatollah. Why side with the dictator – against the revolutionary forces you constantly espouse as a means to the pure Islamic world? Maybe it’s not all about the peasant after all.
What is the one thing Iran needs to build a nuclear weapon? Clearly, it’s time. Time to get the technology. Time to complete the tests. Time to perfect the delivery system. Time.
Sanctions hurt, but Iran thinks they can outlast the pain. Sanctions take time to be felt as well, and I believe the regime has calculated that it can accomplish its goals despite the worst sanctions. Of course, Iran is no fool. It will agree to talks to forestall that pain and give it the valuable currency it needs. More time.
In the end, Iran knows there’s only one course of action with the power to stop its quest for nuclear weapons: the application of military force. It also knows that military capability alone is nothing without the will to use it. So how do you keep the Great Satan from employing its might? How do you short-circuit that will?
Simple. Get the U.S. involved in another mid-east conflict. Assad thinks Iran is a staunch supporter because they stand and fall together. Friends to the end. I think Iran is propping up Assad for a Machiavellian reason: It hopes he’ll commit enough atrocities that the U.S. will ultimately be forced to intervene. It knows how hard that fight will be, and also knows the U.S. population’s feelings about getting involved. If that trigger is pulled, there’s absolutely no way the U.S. will be able to intervene in Iran. No way it will have the willpower for yet another mid-east war. And Iran is absolutely right.
It’s a cold-blooded world, but the fact is that intervening in Syria will prevent the U.S. from stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions through military force. One is something I’d like to do because Assad is an asshole (provided we followed through). The other is a direct threat to our nation’s security.
All they need is time, and Syria is one more chess-piece providing it.