- - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her fellow buglers for greater United States military intervention in Syria build their case on five stupendous lies.

Lie Number 1: The world will not forgive us for inaction in the face of mass atrocities in Syria. Nothing dries faster than a politician’s tear. International relations are unsentimental. The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. The world has “forgiven” us for inaction while Stalin and Mao collectively murdered over 100 million, genocides unfolded in Rwanda and Cambodia, and Hitler exterminated 6 million Jews. At present, the world is not rebuking us for inaction during the killings of more than 5 million Congolese in an ongoing civil war and during the mass atrocities and starvation that are besetting the South Sudanese people. Today, we enjoy a semi-alliance with Vietnam despite dropping 388,000 tons of napalm and killing more than 2 million civilians during the Vietnam War.

Lie Number 2: The carnage in Syria would be diminished if the United States provided military assistance and intervened on behalf of moderate Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad, the Russians, and Hezbollah. There are no moderates in Syria dedicated to the rule of law and democratic norms. All Syrian fighters are driven by ulterior motives to make their tribe dominate others. Internecine warfare rages amongst the rebels. A $500 million Pentagon plan to vet and train 15,000 moderate fighters collapsed because no qualified enrollees could be discovered.

The United States consistently and wrongly believes that common opponents of our enemies are moderates. The mujahideen in Afghanistan that we supported against the Soviet Union didn’t miss a beat in turning to perpetrate the 9/11 abominations under the Al –Qaeda banner. We entered the Vietnam War and lost 58,000 soldiers to support supposititious moderate South Vietnamese leaders against Communist North Vietnam. The perceived moderates like Ngo Dinh Diem, Big Minh, and Nguyen Van Thieu were autocratic and commanded no popular legitimacy. When the United States withdrew from the war, South Vietnam collapsed and all of our sacrifices went for naught. Our military intervention in Libya to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi has produced more misery, mayhem, cruelty and deaths than it was intended to stop.

Lie Number 3: Russia will gain at our expense. The opposite is the truth. Conquest or occupation of a hostile population weakens the conqueror or occupier. The annexation of Crimea has proven an economic albatross to Russia. The Soviet Empire disintegrated in 1991 because the costs of occupying and subsidizing Eastern and Central Europe were prohibitive. President Vladimir Putin is losing money and men to support Syrian President al-Assad in exchange for the fleeting and juvenile thrill of projecting power for its own sake. The United States loses nothing by inaction. Thus, after we refused to rescue South Vietnamese President Thieu from defeat by North Vietnam in 1975, sixteen years later the USSR—our arch-enemy—fell without our firing a single shot. We were left as the sole superpower in the world in large measure through masterly inactivity.

Lie Number 4: If Aleppo succumbs to President Al-Assad and President Putin, international terrorism against the United States will spiral. This is nonsense on stilts. Assad and Putin are enemies, not allies, of ISIS and Al Qaeda. Their takeover of Aleppo would be a setback for international terrorism. President Reagan withdrew our troops from Lebanon in 1984 after the Hezbollah terrorist attack on our Marine barracks in Beirut, but no spike in international terrorism against us ensued.

Lie Number 5: The credibility of the United States as the leader and defender of the free world will be devastated. This argument is the last refuge of a scoundrel eager to risk the lives and fortunes of others to gratify a craving for power or domination. Our withdrawal from Vietnam made us stronger, not weaker. Ditto for Lebanon. The argument’s premise is also flawed. As the United States Constitution and patriotism require, we pursue self-interest abroad like all other nations. Freedom is made subservient to Realpolitik. We have sold a staggering $90 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia in recent years despite its oppressive monarchy, military intervention in Bahrain to suppress freedom, war crimes in Yemen, and at least semi-complicity in the 9/11 abominations. We recognize the dictatorial People’s Republic of China at the expense of the democratic Republic of China on Taiwan. We are snug with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi despite his totalitarian methods. Other examples are endless.

In sum, Syria is as irrelevant to the national security of the United States as is the ongoing and equally tragic civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We should offer humanitarian aid and a welcome mat for vetted refugees from both nations, express sympathy for the war victims, but refrain from any direct or indirect military involvement. If private American citizens wish that more be done, they can contribute their money and risk their lives and limbs hoping to give birth to freedom in Damascus or Kinshasa.

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