Idealism Vs. Realism in Syria
There is no glory in pure expediency. But what is a nation to do when the cost of altruism is the death of a mother's son?
That is the kind of question posed to the United States as it watches civilian bodies pile like cordwood in Syria.
Should a predominantly Christian America bomb Damascus to save the lives of Muslim women and children? But more important, if some of them are the wives and offspring of militant Islamists who see Americans as infidel imperialists, should we expend our blood or treasure for their benefit?
This is our query regarding the "Arab Spring" democracy movement.
The cause would seem to favor America's view that people are endowed by their Creator with an unalienable right to govern themselves. As such, a Middle East democracy initiative was actually commenced in the last Bush administration and embraced by President Obama.
The problem is that it is simplistic and counterproductive to American interests.
America's democracy initiative brought about free elections in the area controlled by the Palestinian authority. The result was that the majority of the people, at least in Gaza, chose to establish a brutal dictatorship headed by the terrorists of Hamas. Then, when free elections were held in Egypt, the majority chose the repressive Muslim Brotherhood to lead their new parliament.
In the most recent news, we learned that in Libya, newly "freed" by our NATO military, an al-Qaida terrorist chief spent weeks shopping for weapons. In Egypt, where we joined to call for the ouster of a dictator, Christian churches were burned. And when these Christians held a demonstration to highlight their concerns with their newly democratized nation, 27 were killed.
Years ago, I was an enthusiastic member of a group known as Young Americans for Freedom. Founded by William F. Buckley, the intellectual architect of the modern conservative movement, this group established as one of its guiding principles that American foreign policy must solely be judged by whether it serves the interest of the United States.
The building of "democratic" dictatorships that may end up oppressing Christians and enslaving women with Sharia law serves only the interest of academics who can see no farther than the ballot box. Altruistic democratic nation-building sounds noble, but it does not necessarily serve American interests.
The Assad family in Syria, as brutal as it is, may be better able to serve the interests of the United States than the terrorist sympathizers to be found among those who oppose it. The regime has kept peace along its border with Israel and has not directly eroded America's Middle East position. To be sure, its support of Islamists in Lebanon did not serve American interests well, but it has kept its mischievous conduct to a low level.
On the other hand, the enemies of the Assad regime include Islamists with a spiritual kinship to the Taliban and al-Qaida. Giving them a helping hand could prove as shortsighted as Jimmy Carter arming the Taliban in its fight against the Soviet Union. Foreign policy ought not be the product of a simpleton's slogan like "democracy now." It is a complex decision which needs to be judged solely by its contribution to American security.
So what ought the United States do when Syria murders its dissidents in pursuit of power for its minority sect? The answer is that intervention into Syria only strengthens terrorists. When the choice is between strengthening our enemies and helping evildoers who harm them, the answer is not to choose at all.
Ron Paul has a legitimate point when he reminds us again that "we are not the world's policeman." Sure, we must urge the Assads of this world to restrain themselves. Nor can we become in any way complicit in their evil. But our own interests must supersede the natural desire to play "superhero" to the oppressed.
In 1982, Syria's former leader descended upon the Muslim Brotherhood and anti-regime Islamists in the town of Hama, killing 20,000 civilians. Americans ought to mourn every day for the innocent of Syria, then and now. But our grief and disgust ought not make our soldiers part of the statistics or our taxes part of the price.
From Tripoli to Damascus, we should agree that there are problems we cannot and should not solve.
Robert M. Levy is chairman of the Moore County Republican Party. Contact him at Law52@prodigy.net.
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