Hell in Syria. Indifference in America.

 

In Syria, more than 40,000 people have been murdered; millions have been forced to flee; countless souls have been psychologically and physically scarred for life; entire villages, towns and farming communities no longer exist; and throngs of desperate, starving children have lost both their parents and their homes.

On December 30th, Senators McCain, Lieberman and Graham published an op-ed entitled Syria’s Descent into Hell. I urge you to read it. Contemplate the Assad regime’s unleashing of evil and the moral depravity of the American regime’s response. Here are three excerpts:

The world has failed to stop this slaughter. President Obama has declared that his ‘red line’ is Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Many Syrians, however, have told us that they see the U.S. red line as a green light for Assad to use all other weapons of war to massacre them with impunity …

For months we have argued … that the United States, together with our allies in Europe and the Middle East, must do more to stop the killing in Syria and to provide help to moderate forces among the opposition. Specifically, we have advocated providing weapons directly to vetted rebel groups and establishing a no-fly zone over part of Syria. Neither course would require putting U.S. troops on the ground or acting alone. Key allies have made clear again and again their hope for stronger American leadership and their frustration that the United States has been sitting on the sidelines …

Most distressing of all are the swiftly deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Syria. … Recent visitors to Aleppo have told us they saw no sign of U.S. aid there, nor were local Syrians aware of any American assistance. … [This has created] opportunities for extremist groups to provide relief services and thereby win even greater support from the Syrian people. To many, these extremists appear to be the only ones stepping in to help Syrians in the fight. Meanwhile, moderates in the Syrian opposition are being discredited and undercut by our lack of support. 

Nowhere is the lack of a moral compass more evident than in the Obama administration’s Syria policy – a policy indifferent to human suffering and destructive of Middle Eastern struggles for democracy. In response to the slaughter, the disappearances, the torture, the executions, the bombing of towns, the terrorizing, maiming and imprisoning of children, and the targeting of religious groups, official American policy has been to do nothing. Before America did nothing, it did positive harm; Recall that President Obama and Secretary Clinton picked the brutal Assad as Middle East “peace intermediary,” thereby emboldening and elevating him. In (non)response to the Syrian cataclysm, the administration has:

– Deferred to the U.N. Security Council, which it knew would veto any meaningful action

– Obstructed or diluted every substantive congressional proposal

– Rejected France’s call for a humanitarian corridor and Turkey’s plea for a stronger response

– Accepted a Russian-backed U.N. plan which did not call for Assad to step down

– Failed to make a moral case for the Syrian people

Rather than succumbing to the indifference that the Obama administration encourages, let us record the tragic sequence of Assad’s annihilationist policies: In response to peaceful pro-democracy protests, Assad employed heavy artillery to gun the people down. When state brutality only fanned the rebellion, he employed tanks, attack helicopters, and fighter jets against rebels and civilians alike. When that didn’t do the trick, he launched Scud missiles at the people. He now prepares, and by many accounts is already employing, chemical weapons.

The evil taking place in Syria is not Syria’s alone, and it will affect us eventually. Russia continues to abet the regime. Iran actively supports it. Hezbollah is fighting in Syria. Al Qaeda is exploiting the vacuum created by U.S. policy, using Syrian despair at American indifference to recruit Syrians. Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and Israel face grave instability; Syrian war might ignite wider conflict.

I agree with the Senators: 

If we remain on the current course, future historians are likely to record the slaughter of innocent Syrians, and the resulting harm done to America’s national interests and moral standing, as a shameful failure of U.S. leadership and one of the darker chapters in our history.

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Members have made 51 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Illiniguy Member

    Sorry, Anne, but I can’t agree with you on this. We don’t have a dog in this fight. Assad is a reprehensible thug and we know next to nothing about the so-called “rebels”, but it’s a pretty good bet they’re riddled with jihadists and would be no better. The blood of dead civilians is on their hands, not ours. Better to let them butcher each other and let the Russians clean up this mess of their own making. Let people see a world without American “hegemony”. It’s what they’ve been asking for all these years.

    • #1
    • January 3, 2013 at 3:51 am
  2. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member

    I believe he’s in Hawaii at the moment.

    • #2
    • January 3, 2013 at 3:52 am
  3. Profile photo of jkumpire Inactive

    Not to redo the article again, but US Foreign Policy goes like this:

    1. Obama = Marxist (Socialist if you still believe it)

    1a. US is bad. Everything we do is bad, unless it is good for me.

    2. Marxism = I don’t give a (insert invective or 4 letter word here) for anyone except my friends and whoever allows me to rule or keep me from ruling.

    3. Syrians = Not my friends, not people I care about, they don’t help me rule. Nothing good for me there.

    4. Obama foreign policy to Syria= Please die quickly unless your give me bad press that makes me look bad. Then I will say something until you go away.

    Simple ain’t it?

    • #3
    • January 3, 2013 at 3:55 am
  4. Profile photo of genferei Member

    How does giving support to ‘moderate’, ‘vetted’ opposition groups help in the long – or even short – run? As soon as Assad – a brutal and bloody dictator – falls, the formerly oppressed majority will wreak brutal and bloody vengeance upon the previously favoured groups, such as Christians and the wrong flavour of Muslim. Is this to buy the US a seat at the table while the interim junta sets up the ‘one man, one vote, once’ post-Assad election? Why?

    • #4
    • January 3, 2013 at 4:00 am
  5. Profile photo of David Williamson Member

    As Dr Kissinger may have said, it’s a pity that both sides in Syria can’t lose.

    • #5
    • January 3, 2013 at 4:18 am
  6. Profile photo of Anne R. Pierce Inactive
    Anne R. Pierce Post author
    genferei: How does giving support to ‘moderate’, ‘vetted’ opposition groups help in the long – or even short – run? As soon as Assad – a brutal and bloody dictator – falls, the formerly oppressed majority will wreak brutal and bloody vengeance upon the previously favoured groups, such as Christians and the wrong flavour of Muslim. ……Why? · 19 minutes ago

    Yes, the situation has so degenerated that Obama administration hopes for a “political’ solution are absurd. Would you compromise with the regime that had bombed your friends, your family, your town? History tells us that the times the U.S. has made the enemy’s enemy our friend — or ignored the world’s worst human rights atrocities – eventually come back to haunt us. Dictators turn their exterminationist policies outward; conflicts escalate; innocents hate us for our indifference and become extremists. There is an American foreign policy tradition and it includes sound national defense strategy and taking a stand for human rights. The Obama administration cares nothing for that noble tradition, and has defiled it as it has never been defiled before.

    • #6
    • January 3, 2013 at 4:28 am
  7. Profile photo of Bryan G. Stephens Reagan

    Syria sucks. It admits no solution that Americans are willing to engage in. Thus the suffering will continue.

    Anne, what should we be doing there?

    • #7
    • January 3, 2013 at 4:34 am
  8. Profile photo of Illiniguy Member
    Anne R. Pierce There is an American foreign policy tradition and it includes sound national defense strategy and taking a stand for human rights.

    But the enemy we face today isn’t the same. We’re at war with an ideology, not a nation. An ideology which has a totally antithetical view of “human rights” and which interprets our concern for individual liberty as weakness. The sooner we come to grips with that fact, the better.

    Even if it’s for the wrong reasons, the Obama administration has blundered into the only policy that makes any sense when dealing with the Islamist movement in the Middle East. These people are going to hate us regardless of what we do, we may as well save ourselves the cost in lives and treasure.

    • #8
    • January 3, 2013 at 4:41 am
  9. Profile photo of Anne R. Pierce Inactive
    Anne R. Pierce Post author
    Bryan G. Stephens: Syria sucks. It admits no solution that Americans are willing to engage in. Thus the suffering will continue.

    Anne, what should we be doing there? · 3 minutes ago

    Use our moral leadership to draw attention to the atrocities; Truman, Reagan taught us the power of moral pressure and a good speech as they brilliantly dealt with the Soviets.

    Use our strategic leadership to create intense geopolitical pressure, regionally and with our allies.

    Humanitarian aid and arming of vetted rebels -by a coalition of nations.

    Stop deferring to the Soviets and the Security Council.

    But, anything we do now is too little too late. The situation is apocalyptic.

    • #9
    • January 3, 2013 at 4:43 am
  10. Profile photo of Anne R. Pierce Inactive
    Anne R. Pierce Post author
    Illiniguy
    Anne R. Pierce There is an American foreign policy tradition and it includes sound national defense strategy and taking a stand for human rights. 

    But the enemy we face today isn’t the same. We’re at war with an ideology, not a nation. An ideology which has a totally antithetical view of “human rights” and which interprets our concern for individual liberty as weakness. The sooner we come to grips with that fact, the better.

    Even if it’s for the wrong reasons, the Obama administration has blundered into the only policy that makes any sense when dealing with the Islamist movement in the Middle East. These people are going to hate us regardless of what we do, we may as well save ourselves the cost in lives and treasure. · 1 minute ago

    I would argue that the Cold War and World War II were also wars with ideology.

    • #10
    • January 3, 2013 at 4:44 am
  11. Profile photo of Illiniguy Member
    Anne R. Pierce

    I would argue that the Cold War and World War II were also wars with ideology. · 0 minutes ago

    Which also contained an existential threat to our national survival.

    • #11
    • January 3, 2013 at 4:46 am
  12. Profile photo of FirstAmendment Inactive
    Anne R. Pierce
    Bryan G. Stephens: Syria sucks. It admits no solution that Americans are willing to engage in. Thus the suffering will continue.

    Anne, what should we be doing there? · 3 minutes ago

    Use our moral leadership to draw attention to the atrocities; Truman, Reagan taught us the power of a moral pressure and good speech as they brilliantly dealt with the Soviets.

    Use our strategic leadership to create intense geopolitical pressure, regionally and with our allies.

    Humanitarian aid and arming of vetted rebels -by a coalition of nations.

    Stop deferring to the Soviets and the Security Council.

    But, anything we do now is too little too late. The situation is apocalyptic. · 4 minutes ago

    Well said, Anne. These are specific, “common sense approaches” (to borrow an oft-used Obama phrase) and yet the Obama/Clinton inaction is appalling.

    • #12
    • January 3, 2013 at 4:51 am
  13. Profile photo of David Reese Inactive
    What is not mentioned in your piece–and what makes all the difference–is who is against Assad. They are Islamists, in the main, and their victory will mean bloody terror for Syria’s dwindling Christian population, and massacre for the Alawites. Moreover, given that they are part of a burgeoning Islamist movement in the ME that is just now coming into its own, it is more likely that they — not Assad — will export terror beyond their borders, using their victory as a springboard for toppling other regimes, with all the blood and suffering that comes with that result. Bottom line: if we do what you recommend, and hand the victory to the jihadists, the humanitarian crisis you say justifies our involvement will become worse, not better. We ought to look after the Christians as best we can. Otherwise, let Syria burn.
    • #13
    • January 3, 2013 at 4:54 am
  14. Profile photo of John H. Member
    Anne R. Pierce

    …or ignored the world’s worst human rights atrocities…

    I don’t rank atrocities. But if I were to start, it wouldn’t be with the ones other countries suffered. It would be with the ones my own suffered.

    Y’know what I’d like to see on Ricochet, or anywhere? A Syria hobbyist. Is there such a beast? Someone who isn’t Syrian, but who has visited it a lot, has seen a lot, has understood what he’s seen, can guess what he’s missing, writes about it, and does all this because it satisfies him.

    Y’know?

    • #14
    • January 3, 2013 at 4:55 am
  15. Profile photo of Illiniguy Member
    John H.

    I don’trankatrocities. But if I were to start, it wouldn’t be with other countries’ atrocities.

    That seems to imply you’d start with American atrocities.

    • #15
    • January 3, 2013 at 4:57 am
  16. Profile photo of John H. Member
    Illiniguy
    John H.

    I don’trankatrocities. But if I were to start, it wouldn’t be with other countries’ atrocities.

    That seems to imply you’d start with American atrocities. · 1 minute ago

    You’re quick! I just edited my post, to correct that ambiguity.

    • #16
    • January 3, 2013 at 5:00 am
  17. Profile photo of Xennady Member

    I used to work with a guy who had family in Iraq.

    Christians.

    He told me about their ethnic cleansing while the US government was still actively engaged in ruling that sliver of the Eurasian landmass. The US government made no complaint. I also hear no complaints about the oppression of Christians in Egypt, now. 

    I also used to work with a guy who had family killed when the communists conquered the Republic of Vietnam. He told me about that once, then at some point mentioned that he had several children.

    I thought of him again when I saw a story that the US was offering the murderous dictatorship of Vietnam some sort of military guaranty against China. It’s possible that one or more of those children are now in the US military. So it’s also possible that they could end up fighting on behalf of the regime that killed their grandparents.

    I’ve had enough of this. If the US can’t be bothered to defend sworn allies like South Vietnam or ME Christians then it has no business saving Syrian jihadis.

    Let the UN save them. Or not.

    • #17
    • January 3, 2013 at 5:01 am
  18. Profile photo of Stuart Creque Member

    The Realpolitik version of the American interest in the overthrow of Assad is that his overthrow will remove the heart of the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis, making Hezbollah far weaker and potentially enabling the other factions in Lebanon to resist its campaign to take over that country. That has implications both for the security of America’s ally Israel and for the balance of power in the Arabian Gulf, not to mention the power of Hezbollah to continue its worldwide campaign of terror attacks.

    • #18
    • January 3, 2013 at 5:07 am
  19. Profile photo of Illiniguy Member
    Stuart Creque: The Realpolitik version of the American interest in the overthrow of Assad is that his overthrow will remove the heart of the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis, making Hezbollah far weaker and potentially enabling the other factions in Lebanon to resist its campaign to take over that country. That has implications both for the security of America’s ally Israel and for the balance of power in the Arabian Gulf, not to mention the power of Hezbollah to continue its worldwide campaign of terror attacks. · 4 minutes ago

    I’d like to think you’re right, but I have my doubts.

    • #19
    • January 3, 2013 at 5:21 am
  20. Profile photo of Anne R. Pierce Inactive
    Anne R. Pierce Post author
    Stuart Creque: The Realpolitik version of the American interest in the overthrow of Assad is that his overthrow will remove the heart of the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis, making Hezbollah far weaker and potentially enabling the other factions in Lebanon to resist its campaign to take over that country. That has implications both for the security of America’s ally Israel and for the balance of power in the Arabian Gulf, not to mention the power of Hezbollah to continue its worldwide campaign of terror attacks. · 19 minutes ago

    I agree. Syria was and is aligned with the world’s other worst regimes and creates both strategic and moral perils. In addition, Syria has long been one of the world’s main terror sponsors. I also agree with Truman and Reagan that America at its best combines moral and strategic concerns.

    • #21
    • January 3, 2013 at 5:29 am
  21. Profile photo of Charles Mark Member

    I see no good outcome here. I don’t understand the moral case against early intervention in Syria (that horse having long since bolted) as opposed to the actual intervention in Libya. Whither Samantha Power? And once again I am astonished at the apathetic response of most Westerners to even the most extreme Muslim on Muslim violence.

    • #22
    • January 3, 2013 at 5:44 am
  22. Profile photo of Joan of Ark La Tex Member

    But Anne, Obama didn’t appoint himself to be the President. The American people voted for him to be their representative.

    This is what most Americans including the Libertarians want. Let the world solve their own problems. Americans are tired. 

    • #23
    • January 3, 2013 at 5:45 am
  23. Profile photo of Anne R. Pierce Inactive
    Anne R. Pierce Post author
    Illiniguy: Sorry, Anne, but I can’t agree with you on this. We don’t have a dog in this fight. Assad is a reprehensible thug and we know next to nothing about the so-called “rebels”, but it’s a pretty good bet they’re riddled with jihadists and would be no better. The blood of dead civilians is on their hands, not ours. Better to let them butcher each other and let the Russians clean up this mess of their own making. Let people see a world without American “hegemony”. It’s what they’ve been asking for all these years. · 1 hour ago

    The protest movement began as a peaceful pro-democracy movement and was dominated by secularists and religious moderates. At the time, it was Assad who had started to reach out to Iranian-inspired Islamists, (he was already sponsoring Hezbollah), seeing them as ruthless enough to assist in his deadly plans. Of course, there are Islamic extremists within the movement now, given the devastation created by the regime, and given the vacuum created by the world’s indifference, which extremists have exploited.

    • #24
    • January 3, 2013 at 5:50 am
  24. Profile photo of jkumpire Inactive
    David Reese
    Anne R. Pierce

    Assad himself is closely aligned with Islamist extremists in Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and on and on. I do agree with you, though, regarding the horrible treatment of Christians throughout the region. On this, too, the administration has been mute. · 54 minutes ago

    Indeed he is. But this does not mean we should help the Islamists opposing him — especially when we have no reason to think they won’t have the same dance partners. Really, what is the point? The Obama administration has been silent about Christian persecution in the ME, but we shouldn’t pretend the previous administration cared, either. No one in this country much does, to our shame. · 10 hours ago

    David,

    That statement is not the case. The Bush Administration regularly and loudly spoke out about this issue and other Administrations have to. Just because it’s not in the press doesn’t mean it was ignored by serious people in foreign policy circles.

    • #25
    • January 3, 2013 at 5:52 am
  25. Profile photo of Anne R. Pierce Inactive
    Anne R. Pierce Post author
    David Reese: What is not mentioned in your piece–and what makes all the difference–is who is against Assad. They are Islamists, in the main, and their victory will mean bloody terror for Syria’s dwindling Christian population, and massacre for the Alawites. Moreover, given that they are part of a burgeoning Islamist movement in the ME that is just now coming into its own, it is more likely that they — not Assad — will export terror beyond their borders, using their victory as a springboard for toppling other regimes, with all the blood and suffering that comes with that result. Bottom line: if we do what you recommend, and hand the victory to the jihadists, the humanitarian crisis you say justifies our involvement will become worse, not better. We ought to look after the Christians as best we can. Otherwise, let Syria burn. · 1 hour ago

    Edited 1 hour ago

    Assad himself is closely aligned with Islamist extremists in Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and on and on. I do agree with you, though, regarding the horrible treatment of Christians throughout the region. On this, too, the administration has been mute.

    • #26
    • January 3, 2013 at 6:06 am
  26. Profile photo of James Bond Inactive
    Anne R. Pierce: Rather than succumbing to the indifference that the Obama administration encourages, let us record the tragic sequence of Assad’s annihilationist policies: In response to peaceful pro-democracy protests, Assad employed heavy artillery to gun the people down. When state brutality only fanned the rebellion, he employed tanks, attack helicopters, and fighter jets against rebels and civilians alike. When that didn’t do the trick, he launched Scud missiles at the people. He now prepares, and by many accounts is already employing, chemical weapons.

    Some food for thought:

    Total internet blackout in late November. Syrian government blames ‘terrorists’: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20546302

    Former General of Syrian military police (defected) backs up chemical weapons claims (nerve gas). Accuses Assad regime of “systematic murder”. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/chemical-weapons-were-used-on-homs-syrias-military-police-defector-tells-of-nerve-gas-attack-8431380.html

    • #27
    • January 3, 2013 at 6:36 am
  27. Profile photo of David Reese Inactive
    Anne R. Pierce

    Assad himself is closely aligned with Islamist extremists in Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and on and on. I do agree with you, though, regarding the horrible treatment of Christians throughout the region. On this, too, the administration has been mute. · 54 minutes ago

    Indeed he is. But this does not mean we should help the Islamists opposing him — especially when we have no reason to think they won’t have the same dance partners. Really, what is the point? The Obama administration has been silent about Christian persecution in the ME, but we shouldn’t pretend the previous administration cared, either. No one in this country much does, to our shame.
    • #28
    • January 3, 2013 at 7:05 am
  28. Profile photo of Nick Stuart Thatcher
    Anne R. Pierce
     

    But, anything we do now is too little too late. The situation is apocalyptic. · 2 hours ago

    Edited 1 hour ago

    If that’s the case, why get exercised about it?

    It’s hard for me to see what exactly we can do that would be effective in any way.

    As the parent of two active duty Army soldiers it’s not hard for me to be very leery about any American commitment of any sort whatever. Somehow it always ends up with our military in place, hunkered down like jackasses in the rain (as LBJ so poetically put it) and made sitting ducks by rules of engagement conjured up by JAG officers in Tampa and Alexandria.

    Got kids? Send yours, leave mine out of it.

    • #29
    • January 3, 2013 at 7:59 am
  29. Profile photo of Mark Member

    Let it play out without us. We’ve spent enough blood and treasure in that area. We don’t need to search for other monsters to slay. And we need to stop overestimating our ability to control events around the world.

    • #30
    • January 3, 2013 at 8:10 am
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