The Wages of Passivity in Syria

Sept. 12 2018

Over the past few days, Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies began an offensive to capture the city of Idlib and its environs—the last major stronghold of the rebellion that began in 2011. There is ample reason to believe that Assad’s forces will again use chemical weapons to cow the civilian populace into submission and, even if they choose not to, a high civilian death toll is all but inevitable. Considering the implications of the impending victory of America’s enemies, Noah Rothman writes:

Damascus was designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1979, and it has lived up to that title every year since. Syria’s descent into civil war presented several opportunities to dispense with the despot in Damascus and avert a crisis in the process, but they were all ignored. [Instead], the results of the West’s overreliance on covert action, outsourcing, and diplomacy in Syria is arguably the worst-case scenario.

Some parties in the West with a political interest in isolationism deliberately confused terrorist groups [operating in Syria] with secularist movements led by Assad-regime defectors. In the years that followed, those moderate rebel factions were crushed or corrupted while Islamist terror networks, which provided a politically valuable contrast to the “civilized” regime in Damascus, were patronized and nurtured by Assad.

The incubation of terrorist organizations eventually necessitated the kind of American military intervention President Obama had so desperately sought to avoid, but at a time and place not of America’s choosing and with a footprint too small to achieve any permanent solution to the crisis. All the while, a great human tide poured out from Syria in all directions, but especially into Europe. There, an influx of unassimilated migrants eroded the continent’s postwar political consensus and catalyzed the rise of illiberal populist factions. . . .

The lessons of the Syrian civil war are clear: the U.S. cannot stay out of destabilizing conflicts in strategically valuable parts of the world, no matter how hard it tries. The humanitarian and political disasters that resulted from Western indifference to the Syrian plight is a grotesque crime that posterity will look upon with contempt. Finally, the failure to enforce prohibitions against chemical-weapons use on the battlefield has emboldened those who would use them recklessly. American soldiers will suffer the most in a world in which chemical warfare is the status quo of the battlefield of the future.

Welcome to Mosaic

Register now to get two more stories free

Register Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in now

Read more at Commentary

More about: Barack Obama, Bashar al-Assad, Chemical weapons, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy


The American Peace Plan May Be Pushing Jordan into the Arms of Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood

June 20 2019

In connection with the yet-to-be-released White House peace proposal, both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been pressuring King Abdullah of Jordan to relinquish his custodianship of the al-Aqsa mosque, and other Islamic holy sites in Israel, to the House of Saud. They have in return offered to put billions of dollars toward solving the kingdom’s severe economic and fiscal problems. But Abdullah has publicly indicated his unwillingness to surrender his position, and Nadav Shragai argues that it would be to Israel’s detriment if he did:

Sign up to read more

You've read all your free articles for this month


Sign up now for unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Al-Aqsa Mosque, Donald Trump, Israeli Security, Jordan, Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey