Stay Out of Syria
A response to Clifford D. May.

At a checkpoint outside Idlib, Syria, June 10, 2012


Andrew C. McCarthy

Sunni supremacism is now ascendant in the Middle East. The fallout of the military’s attempted coup in Egypt this week remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that the generals were moved to act by the palpable danger to Egyptian and regional stability posed by an Islamist government whose ambitions include Israel’s destruction. Egypt’s Sunni supremacists have bonded with Turkey’s Islamist government, Hamas, Libya, Tunisia, and other Brotherhood hubs, particularly Qaradawi’s headquarters in Qatar — now also home to the Taliban’s leadership. They have grown into a force to be reckoned with — virulently anti-American and anti-Western.

The prospect of mullahs with nukes alarms me no less than it alarms Cliff. But I am less alarmed by prospects and potentials than I am by what is already happening in Europe, where the Brotherhood’s stealth jihad is achieving the gradual conquest that Qaradawi predicted it would. The triumph of Sunni supremacism in the Middle East also strengthens the hand of the Sunni supremacists massed inside our borders. We should be regarding them as hostiles, but they’ve been welcomed as consultants. It is not Iran that is besieging the counterterrorism strategy by which Ray Kelly’s NYPD has kept the jihad’s No. 1 target safe for the last eleven years. It is not Iran that has the Pentagon so intimidated it cannot bring itself to utter the words “Islam” and “jihad” in a 75-page report on the jihadist mass-murder at Fort Hood, the worst Islamic terror attack in the U.S. since 9/11.

Cliff, in conclusion, offers up a parade of horribles that could follow from Iran’s acquisition of nuclear arms. I agree that they are all bad, and to be avoided. But none of them remotely improves the case for intervention in Syria. If Iran attacks the Gulf states, dares to close the Strait of Hormuz, or has the temerity to threaten our Fifth Fleet, we should — and I expect we would — attack Iran directly and decisively. We don’t need, in Syria of all hellholes, to wage a proxy war against Iran that has the effect of strengthening our other set of enemies.

And it is odd for Cliff, in making a case for intervention in Syria, to raise the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran increasing its influence in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is precisely our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan that so strengthened Iran’s hand in those countries. To be sure, the post-9/11 mission to smash al-Qaeda’s safe haven and crack down on rogue regimes that facilitate jihadism was essential. We should not have dawdled for over a year before taking out Saddam, and Iran was a much more committed and threatening enemy — the war would have gone a lot better if we had attacked the challenge at its main source, which, for all the reasons Cliff marshals, was Iran. But the manner in which we intervened — ignoring Iranian provocations while elevating the construction of sharia-“democracies” over the defeat of America’s enemies — made it possible for Iran to spread its tentacles throughout Iraq while fueling the insurgencies against our troops both there and in Afghanistan.

In any event, if you really want to weaken Iran, then stay out of Syria and let it play out. Let the mullahs try to prop up the reeling Assad while the alliances with Sunni supremacists that they have spent two decades building disintegrate. It is in our interests that not only Iran but all of our enemies be weakened. What Cliff’s NRO essay labels the “Battle of Syria” is doing just that. The best thing we can do for American national security is: stay out of it and let them have at each other.

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