Romney’s Syria Problem
His support for “opposition groups” is misplaced.

Mitt Romney campaigns in Warwick, R.I., May 31, 2012.


Andrew C. McCarthy

Americans are not predisposed against Muslims — in sharp contrast to mainstream Islam’s animus toward the West. We welcome with open arms anyone, of any creed, who is willing to assimilate to our culture of liberty — to the outrage of Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who regards asking Muslims in the West to assimilate as a “crime against humanity.”

We are exhausted, though, from defending ourselves against Muslim mass-murderers while walking on eggshells for fear of offending tender Muslim sensibilities. We are tapped out, emotionally and financially, from making enormous sacrifices on behalf of ingrate Muslim peoples, who gravitate to our enemies even as we labor to improve their lot. And we are sick to death of the suggestion that we need to apologize for our country when most of the violence that currently besets the world — a great deal of which is Muslim-on-Muslim savagery — is directly traceable to Islamic culture. We have never been at war with Islam, and we have no desire to conquer or occupy Muslim territory; but neither do we want any more entanglement with Islamic countries than is absolutely necessary. We hope Islam reforms, we hope Muslims stop killing each other. But we’re tired of that being our problem — especially since it’s a problem we can’t fix.

By refraining from American involvement in Syria — or, at least, overt American involvement — we have deprived the competing factions of the opportunity to unify around the superpower they love to hate. As a result, they are fighting among themselves. Hamas has pulled up stakes from Syria, its longstanding partnership with the Assad regime and Iran in tatters because of its support for the Syrian “opposition” (i.e., the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is the Palestinian branch). Relations between Hamas and Hezbollah, a key Assad ally, have frayed. Assad is increasingly crippled, which deeply wounds Iran. Erdogan’s honeymoon with Assad is over, and Turkey must tend to the strains in its formerly cozy relations with Iran and Iraq (while quietly replacing Iran as Hamas’s sugar daddy — proving, yet again, it is no ally of ours). The Saudis, who have bankrolled the Muslim Brotherhood’s global promotion of Islamic supremacist ideology, are panicked by the Brotherhood’s ascendancy, frosting their relations with Egypt and complicating their efforts to aid Syrian Islamists.

If we had tried to come up with a plan for simultaneously weakening all the anti-American, anti-Western players in the region, we’d never have been able to come up with something this effective. And it needn’t cost us a single American life or a single American dollar. All we need to do is stay out of it.

In Egypt, just across the sea from Syria, after the first “democratic” election yielded overwhelming Islamist control of the legislature, the next “democratic” election has produced a standoff between the Muslim Brotherhood candidate and the Mubarak regime candidate (to be decided in a runoff election later this month). That didn’t happen because of the United States. It happened because, in the Middle East, there is no freedom culture: The authentic democrats are vastly outnumbered by the Islamic supremacists. The only thing that prevents the tyranny of the Islamists is the tyranny of the strongmen — which is why 23 percent of Egyptians, deathly afraid of the former, voted for the latter.

As in Egypt, there is no good outcome for us in Syria. There is the atrocious dictator or the atrocious Islamists. There is no “better” side for Romney to choose. By throwing in his lot with the Islamists, he signals that he has failed to learn the hard lessons of the last decade. Americans do not want four more years of an administration that looks at enemies and sees friends. We don’t want “outreach”; we want out.

Romney’s support for the Syrian “opposition” will undoubtedly play well inside the Beltway. But the groan you hear is from the rest of the country, where elections are won and lost.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.


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