Foreign policy isn’t my forte nor is it a popular topic with most Americans. But if we want to truly bring our troops home and address vital domestic issues, we need to understand what is at risk if we get pulled into the Syrian Civil War.
Are there compelling “U.S. interests” for getting involved in the Syrian conflict as Senator McCain asserts and if so, how do they affect you and me?
In an effort to get President Obama and more Americans invested in supporting Syrian rebels who oppose President Bashar al-Assad, Senator John McCain snuck into Syria over the Memorial Day weekend to meet with leaders of the forces fighting to bring down Assad.
“McCain, one of the fiercest critics of the Obama administration’s Syria policy, made the unannounced visit across the Turkey-Syria border with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army. He stayed in the country for several hours before returning to Turkey. Both in Syria and Turkey, McCain and Idris met with assembled leaders of Free Syrian Army units that traveled from around the country to see the U.S. senator. Inside those meetings, rebel leaders called on the United States to step up its support to the Syrian armed opposition and provide them with heavy weapons, a no-fly zone, and airstrikes on the Syrian regime and the forces of Hezbollah, which is increasingly active in Syria.
Fighting across Syria has increased in recent weeks, with new regime offensives in several key areas, such as Damascus and the strategic border town of Qusayr. Thousands of soldiers serving Hezbollah—the Lebanon-based and Iran- and Syria-backed stateless army—have joined the fight in support of the regime, …” SOURCE
McCain laid out his support for Syrian Rebel forces in an earlier TIME magazine op-ed piece where he touts the vital “U.S. interests” that are at stake in Syria. “For America, our interests are our values, and our values are our interests”, McCain utters in his op-ed. What the f— does that really mean? This vague, sweeping reference to values does absolutely nothing to convey the greater risk of yet another involvement in the middle East.
And let’s be clear here. The interests McCain speaks about doesn’t touch the problems of continued high unemployment rates in this country. It doesn’t address the need to deal with a gun crime problem that contributes on average to 30 gun killings each day, not counting another 40-50 deaths from gun suicides. It doesn’t address the need to protect our children from poor nutrition and inferior education, both of which are connected to the lack of adequate state and federal funding that McCain’s Party has reduced in order to enhance the wealth of the richest 1% in this country. And it sure as hell doesn’t address the needs of elder poor Americans, many who are vets, who rely on Social Security and Medicare to survive.
Yes, there are those within Syria who have and continue to suffer the effects of a brutal regime under Assad and yes it seems that the least we can do is to provide them with adequate weapons and air support without putting our own troops into harms way one more time so that the rebels have a better chance of securing their freedom from the Syrian dictator. But tugging at our emotions with this conceals the reality that things are not always as simple as some like McCain make them. There are hidden factors and forces in play here that don’t become apparent to most Americans until we have over committed ourselves.
False premises for going to war in Iraq have cost the American public thousands in human lives and nearly $1.5 trillion in treasure
If the American people have learned only one thing over the last two decades with our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan it is that getting dragged into another middle Eastern conflict through weak and even false premises is not only NOT in our best interests but is likely to make things worse for us. If it were as simple as McCain and Gen. Salem Idris make it out to be that all we need do is supply them with things like heavy weapons and a no-fly zone to give balance to overwhelmed rebel forces, then by all means why wouldn’t we do it.
Well first there is the little matter about some strong forces who are opposed to any U.S. efforts to strengthen the rebels’ cause. We can’t just swoop in at will and do as we damn well please in this region. Expanding our hyper-power chest may make U.S. hawks feel good but the rest of the world isn’t so impressed. Have we learned nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan? Should we choose to take this action it is possible that this could escalate into a bigger global conflict than most Americans are willing to invest in.
Russia is strongly behind Syria and not because they favor their brutal tactics towards some of their own people. Geopolitics is at play here. Should the balance of power in that region of the world lean more favorably for the U.S. and its allies if Syria were to become controlled by Western-friendly forces, Russia and less-friendlier countries toward the West would feel even more threatened than they already do. Hardly a stabilizing effect for an area of the world that has known nothing but conflict for centuries.
Will Vladimir Putin allow Russia’s economic interests to take a back seat to U.S. special interests in Syria?
There may no longer be a 20th century-style cold war going on against the once super-power Russia and the U.S. but neither are they BFFs. This battle is taking place on the continent that Russia inhabits. A stronger American presence on that continent only ads fuel to a fire that has never truly died out since the end of WWII. Economic interests more than political ideological ones now dominate the 21st century Russo-American relationship and if Russia feels those economic interests are becoming threatened, they would do what any nation would do to protect their need to survive and prosper.
Iran is also supporting the Assad regime along with Israel’s bitter foes, Hezbollah. Americans may not feel threatened by such weaker forces but time has shown that the threat we face from the likes of such anti-American groups isn’t their military might, but their state of mind that sends women and children to kill westerners as suicide bombers, drive planes into occupied buildings or leave unsuspecting bomb-laden backpacks in crowded public places. Some have even suggested that military hawks like McCain want this involvement in Syria so it can serve as a prelude to a larger war with Iran. Who can forget McCain making light of bombing Iran during the 2008 Presidential race?
If as McCain suggests in his op-ed piece that American values should address the “desperate pleas for rescue that are made uniquely to us, the USA” then he and others who support getting involved with Syrian rebels need to be more truthful in their reasons for doing so. It is not in the interests of everyday Americans as McCain suggests to gallop into Dodge with guns blazing and rid the town of bad guys. As I mentioned, we would likely be safer by avoiding yet another reason to agitate the extremist jihad element in that region.
Then there is the notion that McCain entices us with, much like the Bush administration did, about how we need to spread freedom. But we’re not necessarily talking about political freedom here for the people of Syria. Freedom to neo-cons like Mccain is code for free-markets; something that doesn’t automatically include other freedoms like speech and religious freedom.
Besides accommodating the desires of his close ties to AIPAC (an alliance that some have viewed as “not in America’s national interest”) McCain, unwittingly or not serves those global capital interests that want yet one more market they can exploit for its resources, including the indigent population and their cheaper labor to make American and European goods. As a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, an organization that “believes national boundaries should be obliterated and one-world rule established”, McCain’s seemingly benign efforts to rid Syria of its despotic ruler allows global special interests to get a foothold in one more vulnerable country that lacks a tradition in democratic rule.
We have been led to believe that it is America’s manifest destiny to lead the world and to enable those who are coming out from under oppressive regimes to establish democratic institutions so their people will benefit from what real freedom offers. But it is not so much democratic institutions that the likes of Condoleezza Rice wants the U.S. to help establish.
If Americans want the tectonic plates of the international system to settle in a way that makes the world safer, freer and more prosperous, the US must overcome its reluctance to lead. We will have to stand up for and promote the power and promise of free markets and free peoples, and affirm that American pre-eminence safeguards rather than impedes global progress.” SOURCE