The Corner

The Only Question about Syria that Matters

Why? What’s the fierce urgency of now? With European countries now backing away from bellicosity, why is the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party still bruiting military action in Syria? And pathetic military action at that? 

One U.S. official who has been briefed on the options on Syria said he believed the White House would seek a level of intensity “just muscular enough not to get mocked” but not so devastating that it would prompt a response from Syrian allies Iran and Russia.

“They are looking at what is just enough to mean something, just enough to be more than symbolic,” he said.

Good Lord. As I write over at PJ Media today, it’s time to just say no to further useless adventurism in the Middle East, unless and until the U.S. is ready grapple with Iran:

As Napoleon said, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake” – and for the “Arab world” (perhaps better characterized as the ummah), this is the biggest and best mistake they’ve made since the Iran-Iraq War. For it is of absolutely no moment to the United States who wins the struggle between the Assad government and the al-Qaeda rebels trying to take it down; the “Arab spring” delusion surely has taught us that by now — and if it hasn’t, please see Benghazi.  It is of no moment whether Assad has used poison gas on his own people; please see “Hussein, Saddam,” as Western high dudgeon is entirely opportunistic. Indeed, the entire Middle East is no longer worth the life of one more American soldier… 

Intervention, especially when we have already advertised that our goal is not regime change, will net us a grand total of zero good will from the Believers, whose zest for slaughtering each other almost matches their zest for murdering us.

To quote Napoleon again, if you start to take Vienna, take Vienna. If the goal is to stop Iran, then stop Iran, destroy its nuclear capability, disestablish Islam as the state religion, and restore the glory of Persian culture and the Peacock Throne (again). That would have the added advantage of thwarting the Russian Bear, which has lusted after Iran for more than a century, and lost its best chance when its agent-in place, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, served a stint as the Islamic Republic’s foreign minister during the Jimmy Carter Hostage Crisis. (Ghotbzadeh was eventually stood up against a wall and shot as a traitor to the Revolution.)

Islamism is a fever; best let it rage until it burns itself out. And if it kills the host, that’s too damn bad.

None of that will happen, of course. We appear to have lost — at every level of the command structure, starting with the commander-in-chief — the ability to think strategically, with a clear objective in sight. We enter conflicts insouciantly, while already pondering an exit strategy, when the only exit strategy should be and must be the total defeat and unconditional surrender of the foe. Proxy wars and semi-symbolic gestures are for losers, especially when the enemy rightly understands such talk as moral weakness disguised as the false virtue of “compassion,” and acts accordingly.

Michael Walsh — Mr. Walsh is the author of the novels Hostile Intent and Early Warning and, writing as frequent NRO contributor David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives.


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