Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Well, we wouldn’t want another Iraq, would we?

That's the cliche that started it. It proceeded to allowing that Syria's Baathist regime might be onto something with its talk about Salafi terrorists in the rebel leadership. Where that led was to a beggaring of the broadly popular and mostly secularist civilian militias that emerged at the outset of Assad’s hyperviolent reaction to the pro-democracy mass uprising in late 2011. 
It meant no NATO-patrolled humanitarian corridor inside Syria. It meant pleas for a “no-fly zone” went unheeded. By last December it had meant that the clever “non-interventionists” of the NATO capitals had effectively invited the suicide-bomb artists of Jabhat al-Nusra out of the Iraqi deserts to insinuate themselves at the forefront of the Syrian insurgency. 
Prophecy fulfilled, round and round it goes, and a deeper understanding is emerging, now that Obama’s “red lines” on such weapons of mass destruction as sarin gas are proving not so red after all, and U.S Secretary of State John Kerry is reduced to grovelling at the Kremlin for a commitment to some sort of “peace conference” on Syria down the road. 
It’s an understanding that unites even Syria’s Baathists with the rebels they are slaughtering by the hundreds on an almost daily basis now. It unites Syrian tyrant Bashar Assad with his allies among the Khomeinists in Iran, the Lebanese Hezbollah and with his equally charming enemies in the Sunni ranks of al-Qaida in Iraq, now converging around Aleppo. 
Everybody agrees. Everybody knows. Obama is not a man of his word. The Americans cannot be trusted. The NATO countries are not to be taken seriously. Canada? Are you kidding? Isn’t that a country somewhere near Greenland? 
Here is the Hansard record of last night's debates in the House of Commons.
As for where this is all heading I'd say it may be heading for something like Iraq before the surge, only with no hope of a surge, or it's going to be just like Afghanistan, circa 1994: war to the knife and the knife to the hilt. That's what "non-intervention" gets you. Everybody else intervenes, everybody else picks a proxy, but the secularists and the democrats, the women and the liberals - none of these constituents end up with any militias of their own, and they're the first to get the garrotte.
Everybody in the NATO capitals just sat back and watched.  Here is where the revolution got hijacked. This was the point of no return. Here's Michael Weiss, from back when so much was still possible. Here's Michael from just a couple days ago: surprise!
Weiss has followed the Syrian revolution more closely than anyone I know. That he still thinks much is possible should count for something: "The point is not that they aren't hardcore ideologues fighting in Syria but that not everyone who professes himself to be one is necessarily that. Many so-called 'Salafis,' for instance, could not tell you the first thing about the Salafi doctrine – they just joined Suqoor al-Sham because they wanted comrades with the highest level of discipline and battlefield experience."
La lutte continue.

UPDATE. . . 
The maestro, Leon Wieseltier: "Is the death of scores and even hundreds of thousands, and the displacement of millions, less significant for American policy, and less quickening? The moral dimension must be restored to our deliberations, the moral sting, or else Obama, for all his talk about conscience, will have presided over a terrible mutilation of American discourse: the severance of conscience from action." And comrade Michael Petrou, Homage to Latakia: "Canada is footing the bill for some refugees’ tents. Maybe we’ll speed up the refugee process for Syrians fleeing Assad. It’s not exactly a stirring expression of solidarity: 'Your struggle is our struggle, and after you lose it, we’ll help you find an apartment in Mississauga.' John Baird should print that on a banner and march under it next time he visits the Middle East. . . ."

Meantime, my brief diversion this week into parochial (I mean, provincial) politics, here in British Columbia: What would be so bad about waking up May 15 to find that we’ve elected a few high-calibre MLAs not beholden to either Dix or Clark? We’re not electing an emir or a khan here. We’re electing a legislature.


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