Having failed to find our Foreign Policy Ass with two hands and a flashlight for the last two years, it’s just too late for the US to have a positive impact on Syria. The downside, however, is significant.
The realpolitik choice is simple; Bashar Assad wins or al Qaeda affiliated groups win. If Assad wins it is also a victory for Russia, Iran and Hiz’bAllah. The uncomfortable reality is that if Assad wins things will quiet down relatively quickly or if you will they will be harshly suppressed. If the likes of the Al Nusra front wins look for hard core sectarian violence as Shia and Sunni take to the streets to resolve the sectarian control issues and punish the Alawite ruling minority.
No matter who wins we’ve effectively positioned ourselves to be viewed as a loser. If Assad wins we lose because we made firm declarations; “he has to go”, and “chemical weapons are a red line”. Now that we’re ‘sure’ chemical weapons were used we will ‘consult with allies’. The world sees the current American administration for what it is; big hat, no cattle! Lots of talk, very little walk!
If Al Nusra and its allies win, another country falls to Islamist control. Wow, what an Arab Spring we have had; Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria all fall to Islamist control.
And then there is Jordan. Reporting indicates that we’ve ‘left behind’ a few F16’s, just in case, and that there are 300 Marines in Jordan to coordinate any involvement we may decide on. This puts Jordan in terrible jeopardy. Association with America under this administration seems to carry a terrible burden; just ask the Poles, the Czechs, Mubarak, Gaddafi or for that matter, Israel.
Leading Democrats, in this iteration, former Rep. Jane Harmon is confident of Secretary Kerry’s ability to convince the Russian Foreign Secretary to agree to Syrian peace talks; really? The Same John Kerry who sat, like a miscreant child waiting for the school Principal, while Vlad Putin played power games by keeping him waiting for an hour and a half. Kerry, instead of walking out, sat like the subservient troll he is until Vlad deigned to see him. Global message delivered! We are not going to convince the Russians of anything! The Russians have been playing with us for years and there is nothing we have done that would indicate to them that it is in their interests to change their ways.
If you’re in the Middle East and you’re shopping for allies, look at it from their point of view. Russia has, despite international pressure, not pulled the plug on the Iranian nuclear connection. Bashar Assad has been pillaged by the International Community; Russia hangs by its ally. Russia said nyet to sanctions for years. What price have the Russians paid? Zero! What can we offer the Russians that will be more important than their warm water port in Syria? What can we offer the Russians that would look better to them than they’re current campaign to complicate and destabilize US policy across the globe; Syria, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran, North Korea, China?
Vlad takes an exceptionally harsh view of what happened to the Soviet Union as a result of the Cold War. He remains committed to a rising Russia and a declining America; it is his guiding strategic initiative and the evidence of Russian fingerprints is everywhere.
Before we intervene in Syria we have to answer a very fundamental question; are we ready to take on Russia and its allies, Cold War style. If so, who will our surrogates be? The answer to the rhetorical question is that there is only one potential surrogate beyond a weakened Jordan; Israel! It would have been nice if we’d treated them better as we may have to depend on them in the future as we have in the past.