, Salem, MA

September 7, 2013

Letter: Advice on Syria: Stop digging

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

At the risk of being called an isolationist, the situation with Syria is simple — we don’t have a dog in this fight! There is no scenario that can save face for Obama (or alternatively re-establish the soft power of the United States).

Lawrence of Arabia’s achievement can be simplified to getting the Sunnis and the Shiites to stop fighting each other long enough to help the allies during World War I. After the war they went back to their religious war that has been going on ever since the death of Muhammed. The Arab Spring is just the latest round. “Leading from behind” in Libya ended up with Benghazi. The “democratic elections” in Egypt ended up with a military coup to recover from the extremes of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Bashar al-Assad anchors one end of the Shia sweep that starts in Iran. And like Saddam Hussein, he belongs to the minority sect that rules a different majority. We don’t need to get into another internal conflict between religious sects — neither of which likes us.

Ever since the Berlin wall came down and Boris Yeltsin self-destructed, administration after administration has failed to provide the leadership to figure out the role of the last super power standing. We are afraid to bow to the will of the U.N. because there are too many kleptocracies there that do not share our constitutionally guaranteed rights and values. On the other hand the do-gooders in this country are enthralled with the myth that we are the world’s good cop and it’s our obligation to right all wrongs and establish “social justice” throughout the world — whatever that means.

A foreign policy based on “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” hasn’t worked out too well. Saddam Hussein was supported in his war with Iraq because they took down “our friend the Shah” but not when he got overconfident in our support and took over Kuwait. The Mujahedeen/Taliban was supported with Stinger missiles against the Russian helicopters, but that relationship turned sour. The military corrected both these situations but the bureaucracy lost the peace.

Just because we have the capability of sending a Tomahawk or a drone anywhere in the world to do our dirty work doesn’t mean we should do it. Collateral damage comes back to bite us in our ability to use soft power!

It’s time to step back and do a real assessment of the situation in the Middle East and what can we realistically accomplish. There’s no indication that any of the rebel factions would be any better.

First law of holes: When you are in one stop digging!

George Binns