By William J. Murray –Chairman Religious Freedom Coalition (EXCLUSIVE)
The newest line from the Obama Administration is that the slaughter of Christians and Shia Muslims in Iraq is the fault of President Assad of Syria. The fact that the United States, Europe, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have spent over $50 billion so far to topple the secular government of Syria is not a factor at all according to the White House. Neither is the Obama orchestrated “Arab Spring” which has cost countless lives and left thousands dead in Egypt and a failed state in Libya. Obama was aided in creating terror havens by hawks within the Republican Party who want to send our armed services into harm’s way on the basis of even a rumor of war somewhere.
Very few on Capitol Hill are willing to confirm the reality that the current policy of overthrowing secular governments in the Middle East and hoping for an Islamic democratic outcome is foolish. Senator Rand Paul stood alone warning against arming rebels, because it could destabilize the region. He continues to issue the warning in a Wall Street Journal column on August 28th stating:
Shooting first and asking questions later has never been a good foreign policy. The past year has been a perfect example.
In September President Obama and many in Washington were eager for a U.S. intervention in Syria to assist the rebel groups fighting President Bashar Assad’s government. Arguing against military strikes, I wrote that “Bashar Assad is clearly not an American ally. But does his ouster encourage stability in the Middle East, or would his ouster actually encourage instability?”
The administration’s goal has been to degrade Assad’s power, forcing him to negotiate with the rebels. But degrading Assad’s military capacity also degrades his ability to fend off the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Assad’s government recently bombed the self-proclaimed capital of ISIS in Raqqa, Syria.
For decades there has been little or no foresight in American foreign policy in the Middle East. The first huge error of trying to bring “democracy” to the region was under the Jimmy Carter Administration when the “cruel” Shah of Iran was given a push out, in favor of the popular mullahs who were going to “liberalize” the society. How did that work out? About as well as the Bush plan for Iraq and the Obama plan for Libya.
In his column, Senator Paul brings us to the current “unhinged” policy with regard to Syria, where the Obama Administration has supported the same “rebels” we are fighting in Iraq:
This is not to say the U.S. should ally with Assad. But we should recognize how regime change in Syria could have helped and emboldened the Islamic State, and recognize that those now calling for war against ISIS are still calling for arms to factions allied with ISIS in the Syrian civil war. We should realize that the interventionists are calling for Islamic rebels to win in Syria and for the same Islamic rebels to lose in Iraq. While no one in the West supports Assad, replacing him with ISIS would be a disaster.
Our Middle Eastern policy is unhinged, flailing about to see who to act against next, with little thought to the consequences. This is not a foreign policy.
Yet the hawks within the Republican Party not only support Obama’s failed Middle East adventurism, they chide him to go even further and commit American Armed Services to the task. What little conservative media there is the United States, supports the hawks and encourages President Obama to move forward into war, any war.
Conservative media such as Fox News and the Wall Street Journal will jump onto any band wagon that is moving in the direction of sending American troops to die in battle regardless of who our President is or what the cause is. In just one week the Wall Street Journal went from assigning some blame to President Obama for the rise of the ISIL to blaming President Assad as per State Department directives. In a featured front page article on August 23rd the headline read: Assad Policies Aided Rise of Islamic State Militant Group. The subheading was: Islamic State, or ISIS, Gained Momentum Early on from Calculated Decision by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Go Easy on It.
“Calculated decision?” Before the first demonstration by Sunni tribesmen against President Assad in 2011, Saudi Arabia had pre-positioned over $2 billion of arms in Sunni areas of Syria adjacent to Turkey. As soon as the actual fighting began, the CIA began planning the “Operation Damascus Volcano” which was a coordinated attack by Saudi mercenaries on Damascus from three sides. I guess it was while mortar rounds were hitting President Assad’s home that he made the “calculated decision” not to fight jihadists hundreds of miles to the northeast of Damascus. The logic of this article and those who promote its line of thinking is appalling.
As a prelude to the Damascus Volcano in 2012, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton toured the Middle East declaring several times a day, “Assad’s days are numbered.”
The Wall Street Journal can find no fault in President Barack Obama for destabilizing the region with his “Arab Spring.” Thanks to Obama having supported jihadists in Syria and Libya, the destabilization has spread to Iraq. In essence the nations of Syria, Libya and Iraq no longer exist as single political entities, thanks to the policies of Barack Obama.
Oddly, the pundits at Fox News such as Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly claim that if Obama had just bombed Damascus in 2013, that the 80,000 man strong ISIL would not exist today. Forget the fact that the ISIL has been active in Iraq under a different name for nearly ten years. Then there is the odd running argument that if Obama would have reached an agreement so that 5,000 members of our armed services could stay in Iraq, then ISIL would not have been able to gain territory. Reality: with such a small force, about all we would have by now is even more dead and wounded Americans.
Senator Paul also addressed the lack of foresight in the Republican Party in his August 28th column:
But the same is true of hawkish members of my own party. Some said it would be “catastrophic” if we failed to strike Syria. What they were advocating for then—striking down Assad’s regime—would have made our current situation even worse, as it would have eliminated the only regional counterweight to the ISIS threat.
Not referring to Senator John McCain by name, Senator Paul also took aim at Americans who have openly sided with and encouraged armed revolts in the Middle East and encouraged CIA support of rebels in Syria:
We aided those who’ve contributed to the rise of the Islamic State. The CIA delivered arms and other equipment to Syrian rebels, strengthening the side of the ISIS jihadists. Some even traveled to Syria from America to give moral and material support to these rebels even though there had been multiple reports some were allied with al Qaeda.
President Barack Obama destabilized this area by promoting an “Arab Spring” to bring about “democracy” when it was already very clear that the attempt by President George W. Bush to plant democracy in Iraq had failed, just as President Jimmy Carter’s attempt to plant democracy in Iran failed. The slaughter in the Middle East is the result of inept interference in the government affairs of that region by American administrations dating back to the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979. Had the secular leaning governments of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria been allowed to put down Islamist revolts without American interference, there would be no Islamic State (ISIL) today and the Christians of the Middle East would still be living in peace.
One solution: Encourage the Iraqi government to lift the ban on the Ba’athist party that successfully and peacefully ruled that nation for decades. While they were brutal in dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists in the past, their history now appears benevolent compared to the Islamic State that America helped to create in their absence. A second solution, and one that Senator Paul seems to agree with, is for the United States to back off the Ba’athist secular regime in Syria and allow it to fight the ISIL without our interference.
William J. Murray is also the director of the Christmas for Refugee program which provides a Christmas meals to Christian refugee children from Iraq and Syria.