For America to avoid permanent military entanglements in the Middle East, it must learn to mind its own business.
So says Michael Scheuer, a 20-year CIA veteran who, from 1996 to 1999, headed Alec Station, the CIA’s unit assigned to track Osama bin Laden at the agency’s Counterterrorism Center.
He’s also the author of two seminal works on America’s fight against terrorism: Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror (2003) and Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam after Iraq (2008).
Scheuer has repeatedly warned: The United States must not deploy troops in Syria.
More than 310,000 people have been killed in Syria’s uprising-turned-civil war. The conflict began on March 15, 2011, triggered by protests demanding political reforms and the ouster of dictator Bashar al-Assad.
And many members of Congress are demanding that “we must do something” to stop all that killing.
Among the reasons why America should steer clear of the Syrian tar-baby:
The Assad regime is backed by–-among others–the Iranian-supported terrorist group, Hezbollah (Party of God). Its enemies include another terrorist group–Al Qaeda.
Hezbollah is comprised of Shiite Muslims. A sworn enemy of Israel, it has kidnapped scores of Americans suicidal enough to visit Lebanon and truck-bombed the Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983, killing 299 Americans.
Flag of Hezbollah
Al-Qaeda, on the other hand, is made up of Sunni Muslims. Besides plotting 9/11, It has attacked the mosques and gatherings of liberal Muslims, Shias, Sufis and other non-Sunnis.
Examples of these sectarian attacks include the Sadr City bombings, the 2004 Ashoura massacre and the April, 2007 Baghdad bombings.
Flag of Al Qaeda
When your enemies are intent on killing each other, it’s best to stand aside and let them do it.
Intervening in Syria could produce unintended consequences for American forces–and make the United States a target for more Islamic terrorism.
An American military strike on Syrian government forces could lead the country’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad, to attack Israel–perhaps even with chemical weapons.
Assad could do this simply because he hates Jews–or to lure Israel into attacking Syria.
If that happened, the Islamic world–which lusts to destroy Israelis even more than “apostate” Muslims–would rally to Syria against the United States, Israel’s chief ally.
China and Russia are fully supporting the Assad dictatorship–-and the brutalities it commits against its own citizens.
This reflects badly on them–-not the United States.
And any move by the United States to directly attack the Assad regime could ignite an all-out war with Russia and/or China.
What happens if American and Russian forces start trading salvos? Or if Russian President Vladimir Putin orders an attack on Israel, in return for America’s attack on Russia’s ally, Syria?
It was exactly that scenario–Great Powers going to war over conflicts between their small-state allies–-that triggered World War l.
The United States cannot defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) through air power alone.
President Barack Obama authorized airstrikes against ISIL in September, 2014. Since then, the United States Air Force has dropped thousands of bombs on ISIL convoys.
This has not, however, destroyed ISIL. And its failure to do so has only led to demands by hawkish Republicans and Democrats for “boots on the ground.”
This was in fact predictable. Air power alone failed to secure victory over Nazi Germany during World War II and Vietnam during the Vietnam war. Nor did it “shock and awe” the Iraqis into surrendering during the 2003 Iraq war.
While Islamic nations like Syria and Iraq wage war within their own borders, they will lack the resources to launch attacks against the United States.
When Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, then-Senator Harry Truman said: “I hope the Russians kill lots of Nazis and vice versa.”
That should be America’s view whenever its sworn enemies start killing themselves off. Americans should welcome such self-slaughters, not become entrapped in them.
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During his September 28, 2014 appearance on 60 Minutes, President Obama admitted that the mostly Sunni-Muslim Iraqi army had refused to combat the Sunni army of ISIL.
Then followed this exchange:
Steve Kroft: What happens if the Iraqis don’t fight or can’t fight?
President Obama: Well…
Steve Kroft: What’s the end game?
President Obama: I’m not going to speculate on failure at the moment. We’re just getting started. Let’s see how they do….
It was precisely such a mindset that led the United States, step by step, into the Vietnam quagmire.
As in the case of Vietnam, the United States lacks:
- Real or worthwhile allies in Iraq or Syria;
- A working knowledge of the peoples it wants to influence in either country;
- Clearly-defined goals that it seeks to accomplish in that region.
America rushed to disaster in Vietnam because its foreign policy elite felt it had to “do something” to fight Communism anywhere in the world.
And it is continuing to rush toward disaster in the Middle East because its foreign policy elite once again feel is must “do something.”