" />

Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Beating the Wrong Drum in Syria

Print Friendly

The recent deaths of two Western journalists in Syria, killed during the Assad regime’s shelling of the Amr Baba neighborhood in Homs, has cast a new light on a near-daily slog of reports chronicling the carnage in Syria, where the regime has launched increasingly brutal attacks on civilian population centers in response to an increasingly armed and violent opposition.


Citing the final dispatch of Marie Colvin, one of the slain reporters, the Washington Post quickly editorialized: “Ms. Colvin was trying to tell the world is that [Srebrenica] is happening again, in Baba Amr. … If the Western nations and Syria’s neighbors continue to stand by passively, Ms. Colvin’s words will come back to haunt them.” A few days before, the Post had explicitly called for the West to arm Syria’s opposition elements: “The most available and workable solution,” it claimed, “is tactical and materiel support for the anti-regime forces, delivered through neighbors such as Turkey or the Persian Gulf states.”


That the Post, with its cast of neoconservative writers and editors, would call for U.S. involvement in a conflict in the Middle East should come as no surprise. Neither should calls by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for the United States to channel arms to Syrian opposition fighters through connections in “third-world countries,” or Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-CT) support for instituting Libya-style “no-fly” zones over parts of Syria. But the Obama administration, which has ostensibly sought a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, also appears to be softening its once-strong opposition to arming Syria’s rebels.


Last week, a coalition of 56 hawks assembled by the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Foreign Policy Initiative sent President Obama an open letter demanding action on Syria. The letter—whose signatories included the likes of Paul Bremer, Elizabeth Cheney, and Dan Senor—called on the president “to take immediate steps to decisively halt the Assad regime's atrocities against Syrian civilians, and to hasten the emergence of a post-Assad government in Syria,” including by providing “self-defense aid to the FSA [Free Syrian Army].”


Calls for further escalation will doubtless follow. And although they are keen to raise recent events, many of the letter’s signatories have been calling for regime change in Syria for months or even years.


Max Boot, another signatory to the letter, has claimed that “foreign jihadists will flock to Syria” if Assad is not deposed—a rather astonishing assertion given the documented (if not overwhelming) presence of Islamists in Syria’s domestic opposition, as well as Iraq’s all too recent descent into violent extremism in the wake the U.S. invasion.


However, Syria hawks have yet to articulate how funneling arms to a fractured Syrian opposition could help end the bloodletting in the country. Foreign Policy’s Marc Lynch, himself a stringent backer of the NATO action in Libya, has strongly opposed a similar course in Syria. “Arming the Syrian opposition is not a cheap and effective substitute for military intervention,” he wrote, “and it is not a generally harmless way to ‘do something.’ It does not guarantee either the protection of the Syrian people or the end of the Assad regime. It is more likely to produce a protracted stalemate, increased violence, more regional and international meddling, and eventual calls for direct military intervention.”


Since Gaddafi was deposed in Libya, for instance, scores of dueling militias—often with western-provided arms—have continued to skirmish with each other and terrorize civilian populations. Similarly, funneling arms wantonly into Syria might help bring down Assad, but there’s no reason to expect it will end the killing. It may well do just the opposite.


—Peter Certo

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), President Trump’s nominee for secretary of state to replace Rex Tillerson, is a “tea party” Republican who previously served as director of the CIA.

Richard Goldberg is a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who served as a foreign policy aide to former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL).

Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has been advocating regime change in Iran since even before 9/11.

John Hannah, Dick Cheney’s national security adviser, is now a leading advocate for regime change in both Iran and Syria based at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Dennis Ross, a U.S. diplomat who served in the Obama administration, is a fellow at the “pro-Israel” Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Sheldon Adelson is a wealthy casino magnate known for his large, influential political contributions, his efforts to impact U.S. foreign policy discourse particularly among Republicans, and his ownership and ideological direction of media outlets.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is known for his hawkish views on foreign policy and close ties to prominent neoconservatives.

For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

North Korea and Iran both understand the lesson of Libya: Muammar Qaddafi, a horrifyingly brutal dictator, gave up his nuclear weapons, was eventually ousted from power with large-scale US assistance, and was killed. However, while Iran has a long and bitter history with the United States, North Korea’s outlook is shaped by its near-total destruction by forces led by the United States in the Korean War.

Print Friendly

Europe loathes having to choose between Tehran and Washington, and thus it will spare no efforts to avoid the choice. It might therefore opt for a middle road, trying to please both parties by persuading Trump to retain the accord and Iran to limit missile ballistic programs and regional activities.

Print Friendly

Key members of Trump’s cabinet should recognize the realism behind encouraging a Saudi- and Iranian-backed regional security agreement because the success of such an agreement would not only serve long-term U.S. interests, it could also have a positive impact on numerous conflicts in the Middle East.

Print Friendly

Given that Israel failed to defeat Hezbollah in its war in Lebanon in 2006, it’s difficult to imagine Israel succeeding in a war against both Hezbollah and its newfound regional network of Shiite allies. And at the same time not only is Hezbollah’s missile arsenal a lot larger and more dangerous than it was in 2006, but it has also gained vast experience alongside its allies in offensive operations against IS and similar groups.

Print Friendly

Donald Trump should never be excused of responsibility for tearing down the respect for truth, but a foundation for his flagrant falsifying is the fact that many people would rather be entertained, no matter how false is the source of their entertainment, than to confront truth that is boring or unsatisfying or that requires effort to understand.

Print Friendly

It would be a welcome change in twenty-first-century America if the reckless decision to throw yet more unbelievable sums of money at a Pentagon already vastly overfunded sparked a serious discussion about America’s hyper-militarized foreign policy.

Print Friendly

President Trump and his advisers ought to ask themselves whether it is in the U.S. interest to run the risk of Iranian withdrawal from the nuclear agreement. Seen from the other side of the Atlantic, running that risk looks dumb.