The Fall of Assad Should Be an American Strategic Goal

 

And not just because helping folks fight bad guys is the right thing to do.

Syrian dissident Farid Ghadry is the founder of the US-based Reform Party of Syria, which has been advocating regime change for a long time. He takes no prisoners in his recent blog post on the world’s response to the slaughter of Syrians by their own leadership:

It is unconscionable to think that people are dropping like flies on Syrian streets, the injured are hiding in private homes to avoid capture or cold-blooded murder, the funeral processions are being shot at with many killed at a time they bereave the dead, the detained are tortured and many die and are buried in mass graves, yet the international community seems only willing to extend words of comfort. Where is your conscience, people? It’s Easter Sunday for heaven’s sake.

Then comes Erdogan who thinks Gaza is tragic with its people under siege and tyranny while Syrians, under his buddy Assad, enjoy comfort and freedom. Where is your humanitarian flotilla to Syria, Erdogan? Our injured, attacked by the snipers of your dear friend Assad, cannot go to hospitals for fear of being either killed on the spot or arrested to die under torture. Or does that not fit with your understanding of what a human tragedy is?

Are Gazans better people than Syrians? Is Assad too dear a friend for you to bother?

And where are the Hamas Palestinians who seem to forget everyone else’s tragedy except their own? Where are their voices? Never expect Syrians to come to your aid again. When elections come, we will make the MB in Syria pay for your silence.

That last point assumes a successful outcome to the uprising, which is by no means certain, particularly in view of Iran’s assistance to the Syrian despot and the Americans’ and Europeans’ reluctance to wade into the fray. Still, the sentiment Ghadry is voicing augurs a potential sea change. Tzachi Hanegbi argues in today’s Jerusalem Post that the Syrian revolt, if successful, will have “a more decisive impact than those in any other Arab country” because of the disruption of Iran’s sole regional strategic alliance:

If [Syrian] opposition leaders survive the conflict, overcome the current oppressive regime and fill key positions in Syria, they are unlikely to show a surplus of sympathy toward the Shias of Iran and Hezbollah. To know what would really serve Israel’s interest, we should look toward the Islamic Republic. Nothing currently worries the ayatollahs’ regime more than the loss of Syria as its intimate partner in the “axis of evil.” Iran has invested enormous resources in maintaining this partnership, including a willingness to compromise on its own interests to satisfy Syria’s desires. Syria’s defection from the radical camp into the arms of the pragmatic Arab camp would leave Iran isolated and vulnerable.

There’s an opportunity here, in other words. Can Obama see it? Is he missing it, or is he acknowledging it and choosing to let it pass? Why? Because it’s too risky? Too difficult? Or because in his view, it simply isn’t America’s place to involve itself in the easing of Syria out of the radical camp? 

I suspect Obama went into Libya for two reasons: his blindsided, stumbling approach to the Egyptian revolt was embarrassing, and Qaddafi looked like an easy target. Libya’s turning out to be tougher than expected, though, so the appeal of another engagement in the region is slim. But that’s where things like leadership and vision come in. It’s difficult to explain or defend an involvement in Libya when we refuse to assist Syrian citizens who are themselves trying to oust a violently oppressive regime — a regime that has had a hand in the killings of Americans and American allies for decades.

Although the two regimes are not analagous, a willful blindness to the Syrian people’s struggle against Assad would be akin to Obama’s apparent blindness to the struggle of the Iranian people against the mullahs. And most importantly from an American strategic standpoint: the success of Assad’s regime against his domestic uprising could have similar consequences to the success of Ahmadinejad and his cohort at crushing their own dissenters, in terms of the emboldenment of Iran. That emboldenment will come at a cost of American security and possibly American lives.

We cannot foresee what will arise in Assad’s place. But if Farid Ghadry is to be believed, a walkover by the Muslim Brotherhood is hardly a foregone conclusion. Assume nothing, stay informed, take steps when necessary to act as a force for good, and keep the strategic interests of the American people as a beacon before your eyes. That seems like a reasonable job description for the leader of the free world.

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  1. Profile Photo Editor
    @Claire

    For what it’s worth–I have no idea how much–the groups that have actually protested the Assad regime here in recent days are the ones behind the Gaza Flotilla.

    Also for what it’s worth, here’s the way Syrian state news is covering Syria’s interaction with the Turkish Ambassador.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Inactive
    @IsraelP

    The US should certainly get involved against Assad.

    Whether in the end this is good for the Jews remains to be seen. In this case – as opposed to the others in play – I am optimistic, within very modest expectations.

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Inactive
    @billy

    I am optimistic, within very modest expectations.

    You’re kidding, right?

    The fecklessness of this administration is boundless; nothing will be done to support those who would overthrow the Assad regime.

    Nothing at all.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Ioannis
    billy: I am optimistic, within very modest expectations.

    You’re kidding, right?

    The fecklessness of this administration is boundless; nothing will be done to support those who would overthrow the Assad regime.

    Nothing at all. · Apr 27 at 3:25am

    I think what he means is that one can be somewhat optimistic about any successor regime in Syria being more friendly towards the West, less closely aligned with Iran and more open towards some peace deal with Israel, all of which are plausible. Of course it is also possible that an even more virulent regime will replace Assad. Whether the US administration will do anything to help push the changes in the right direction remains to be seen but, like you, I am not holding my breath.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Editor
    @Claire
    Israel P.: The US should certainly get involved against Assad.

    Whether in the end this is good for the Jews remains to be seen. In this case – as opposed to the others in play – I am optimistic, within very modest expectations. · Apr 27 at 2:29am

    Edited on Apr 27 at 02:30 am

    What kind of “getting involved” would you have in mind?

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Inactive
    @IsraelP
    Ioannis

    billy: I am optimistic, within very modest expectations.

    You’re kidding, right?

    The fecklessness of this administration is boundless; nothing will be done to support those who would overthrow the Assad regime.

    Nothing at all. · Apr 27 at 3:25am

    I think what he means is that one can be somewhat optimistic about any successor regime in Syria being more friendly towards the West, less closely aligned with Iran and more open towards some peace deal with Israel, all of which are plausible. Of course it is also possible that an even more virulent regime will replace Assad. Whether the US administration will do anything to help push the changes in the right direction remains to be seen but, like you, I am not holding my breath. · Apr 27 at 4:08am

    Yes, that is what I meant.

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Inactive
    @IsraelP
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.

    Israel P.: The US should certainly get involved against Assad.

    What kind of “getting involved” would you have in mind? · Apr 27 at 4:32am

    That, Claire, is beyond my competence. Obviously not the Libyan model.

    Whatever it was that people wanted in Iran after the elections is probably right here. (I don’t recall alot of specifics then either, but of course that was before Ricochet.)

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Ioannis
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.

    What kind of “getting involved” would you have in mind? · Apr 27 at 4:32am

    In as much as one can be very skeptical whether the US Administration has either the interest, or the expertise or the courage to get involved in a meaningful way in Syria, one cannot underestimate the difficulties involved. Still, there are people in the Syrian opposition with enough local credibility and who, if not the West’s best friends, they are at least pragmatists who might entertain the idea of a less hostile attitude towards the US, willing at least to talk to the Israelis and sufficiently nationalistic not to want their country to be Iran’s proxy. And there must also be some who are corrupt enough to be bribed. Not my line of work but it seems to me that combining a low-to-mid level pressure (i.e. no invasion) towards the regime, offering Turkey incentives to get on-board, and supporting the most promising of the Syrian opposition with money, intelligence and arms, would be a start. Perhaps Hillary “Assad is a reformer” Clinton or someone else in the Administration is spearheading all this but I doubt it.

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Judith Levy: The Fall of Assad Should Be an American Strategic Goal

    Do you mean a fall from power in general, or a ‘It would be a real shame if he had an accident in the shower’ kind of fall?

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @StevenZoraster

    The local experts are the Israelis, so the US President should ask their advice. Unfortunately, this US President is unlikely to do that.

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Herkybird

    Reading this morning’s paper I see where the Pakistani Prime Minister is lobbying Hamid Karzai to ditch the U.S. and throw his lot in with Pakistan and their ally China. Before we start “getting involved” in Syria maybe we should take a moment to consider exactly what benefit would accrue to the United States by doing so. And maybe we should also reflect on what retaliatory measures might be taken against our interests and possibly ourselves if we choose to awaken the sleeping sword of war.

    The first answer to every foreign policy dilemma is not “Get steam up on the catapults and turn her into the wind.”

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  12. Profile Photo Thatcher
    @BryanGStephens

    I am all for him being gone. I am not sure what the United States should be doing to make it happen.

    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Douglas
    Israel P.: The US should certainly get involved against Assad.

    Sorry, but I’ve had my fill of “getting involved”. I’m a little tired of this expectation that my country has to fix all the bad things in the world. Especially in places like Libya and Syria. Topple Assad, and something worse will take his place. Here’s a novel idea… how about staying out of it?

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Ioannis
    Ajax Telamônios

    Judith Levy: The Fall of Assad Should Be an American Strategic Goal

    Do you mean a fall from power in general, or a ‘It would be a real shame if he had an accident in the shower’ kind of fall? · Apr 27 at 5:17am

    More like “It would be a shame if he had an accident while taking a shower fully clothed” kind of fall.

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Inactive
    @DavidWilliamson

    “That seems like a reasonable job description for the leader of the free world.”

    Who is that?

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @Pseudodionysius

    That seems like a reasonable job description for the leader of the free world.

    He’s tied up on the ninth hole and Oprah right now, but he may be trumped yet.

    • #16

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