It’s a given that we should have been more closely coupled to the opposition in the early days of the uprising. Our procrastination did opened the door to extremist involvement in Syria. Enough said as it’s water under the bridge.
Syria has no friends; any allegiance to the Assad regime stems from economic ties with Russia and political ties to Hezbollah and Iran. A regime change in Syria achieves two very important goals. First, it will diminish Hezbollah’s capacity to threaten Israel as well as limit its influence in Palestine; possibly giving enough time for a diplomatic process to work. Clearly the foundation to a lasting peace in the Middle East. Secondly, it isolates Iran, either slowing or completely halting its nuclear program. Anything that we can do in this regard is most definitely worth the cost. Furthermore, I would have no hesitation in asking for financial support from UAE, Saudi Kingdom, Jordan and Kuwait to absorb the costs for that action. This is the big picture.
In the past few days we’ve also seen pictures of so called “rebel groups” executing Syrian regular soldiers. I’d suggest caution in drawing any hard conclusions from these videos. For a number of reasons that I’ll get into shortly.
In watching Syria’s actions prosecuting the war against its opposition I’ve concluded that its game plan is classical Cold War “Soviet” doctrine. I say Soviet because I want to draw a distinction between Cold War Soviet Union and present day Russia. During the Cold War, Soviet strategy was to simply surround an area of operation and decimate anything and everything within that perimeter. An approach the Assad regime expanded to include the use of chemical weapons, which are ideally suited for indiscriminate extermination. Let’s call it modern day “Scorched Earth Policy”; it matters not whether you’re rebel or the corner grocer.
Part of that strategy, which was also used heavily and effectively during VietNam, is propaganda. The media has a short memory and equally short attention span but some of you may remember Viet Cong guerillas executing villagers then alleging U.S. actions were responsible for those deaths. So, I think we need to be very careful about drinking the Kool-Aid that’s coming out of Syria New York Times!
Instead why don’t we keep our eye on the big picture.
Our “illustrious” press is also engaged in advancing theories to suggest that AQ and affiliates could replace a disrupted Assad regime. Well, it may get ratings but the concept is pretty poorly thought-out, and here’s why. Syria has been, for the last 50 years or so, a secular totalitarian (dictatorship may be more accurate) government. Syrians are both educated and sophisticated, so it is highly unlikely that AQ will have one iota of a chance in establishing itself in Syria.
More troublesome however is the prospect of Hezbollah gaining access to chemical and biological stockpiles as the result of a halfhearted effort on the part of the US and the EU in Syrian. That concern is addressed in one of two ways:
Ensure that Assad stays in power, giving up on the big picture -OR-
A regime change with coalition forces on the ground who’s explicit and only goal is locating, securing and destroying Syria’s chemical and biological weapon caches.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, especially after 11 years of combat but it’s got to be done.