From 5/26/13

The U.S. senate passed a resolution by 99 votes to zero. The one senator who was not there due to severe illness would be in favor too. In today’s partisan environment is there any subject that can unite ALL 100 senators? It seems that only one—support for Israel. Unfortunately the context of the support was Iran. While important, it is not urgent. What is urgent is the situation in Syria.

Over the last seventeen months, I have written at least five separate blogs discussing the Syrian situation. I admit that I was a bit late to the “party” but in my defense, no one took seriously what was happening in Syria throughout most of 2011. The vaunted Hillary Clinton “the best secretary of State ever” according to many (what a preposterous suggestion), not only did not take it seriously or do anything about it (I admit that this does not say much, as she did all of nothing on everything), but for most of 2011, she professed support for “Assad the reformer” (her words).

But things got worse and worse and in the first few days of 2012, I wrote a blog asking, “where is everyone?” Why is the world allowing this cruel and despotic man to murder, slay, and slaughter his people with impunity?

My answer came from people like Fareed Zakaria whose writings and appearances on his CNN GPS program are replete with predictions on Syria, which were proven to be wrong, and explanations that were and are groundless. According to Mr. Zakaria, at that time, repeatedly, Assad would fall shortly. Initially it was because he would not be able to maintain the loyalty of his army. When that did not work, it was because he would run out of money. And when that proved baseless, the rebels were having the upper hand. That has now proven to be wrong too.

I followed the January 2012 blog with a blog in February warning that the U.S. must intervene now to avoid a terrible humanitarian disaster and to achieve, if it would intervene, a major geopolitical victory. I made it clear that intervention then was feasible, did not require “boots on the ground,” and could have been based on a serious undertaking by the opposition forces to enact democratic and humanitarian policies as the new rulers of Syria, and would deliver a debilitating defeat to Iran—the “fountain” of all things evil in the Middle East for sure, and in the world too.

I drafted a blog in May but never published it with a simple message in regards to Syria but one which is true at any time—a conflict delayed is a conflict enhanced. You do not solve problems by ignoring them or shoving them aside.

By mid-year 2012, I wrote another blog saying the U.S. should act now or it will be too late, and I lamented the lack of leadership in the U.S. and thus the free world.

Throughout this time, appeasers such as the aforementioned Zakaria warned against intervention on the basis that it would makes things worse, that providing support to the opposition would turn the conflict into a full-blown civil war and will cause a humanitarian disaster. Really? And what is it now exactly? There are 80,000 people dead, hundreds more dying every day, and that is not a civil war? Millions of people have been removed from their lands and live as refugees in their own country and outside it—is that not a humanitarian disaster?

In early October, I scorned the FT that suddenly concluded in an editorial that it is time for the world to intervene, and that it is shameless to not intervene. Wow…coming from the FT, the bastion of appeasers and lack of realism in understanding the roots of world conflict, that says a lot. I am not 100% sure but I have not seen much more written in the FT on this subject. Zakaria, on the other hand, had another brilliant idea to solve the Syrian conflict: Talk to Iran. “Convince” them that it is in their best interest to come to a deal to remove Assad. You cannot even invent these things. Where in the world does he come up with these stupid notions? Convince Iran to do what? To let their most strategic asset in the Arab world go? Why? In return for what? You cannot convince them to give up their nuclear weapon programs in consideration of riches beyond imagination, so why would they give up something that is as important to them in their scheme to achieve the rebirth of the Caliphate?

By the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013, I posted blogs that concluded that it was probably too late for the U.S. to intervene. The window closed. The opposition became way too extreme and dominated by Al Qaeda’s philosophy. I predicted that Iran will escalate its support for Assad by way of deploying Hezbollah units and Al Quds forces and that this conflict will continue to run for years and years, resulting in effect in the cantoninzation of Syria. I also wrote that the continuing voices warning against the U.S.’s intervention in creating a no-fly zone are ridiculous. The long newspaper articles about how strong the Syrian air defense system is are baloney. I mentioned the fact that thirty years ago, Israel made a spectacle of the Syrian air defenses and air force. It only took a few days after my blog for Israel’s air force to again do exactly what it wants, when it wants to over Damascus’s air space with impunity. The vaunted air defense system was not even able to react it happened so fast.

Zakaria, on the other hand, is of the view that U.S. intervention will make things worse a-la Iraq, according to him. So, having run out of excuses, he is now using his version of the Iraq war, clearly not the only version, as an example of an intervention that went, according to him, bad, but Syria was never about an intervention of the Iraqi model/type. This was very much about an improved Afghanistan-type intervention that drove the Taliban out of Afghanistan within weeks, with the help of local opposition. The improvement in Syria would have been possible by pre-agreement with the opposition forces about the type of democratic government that will ensue. But this is all by the by now. In today’s GPS program, he and another expert continued the intellectual lack of integrity by avoiding the fact that a  U.S. intervention 12–15 months ago would have made a world of difference and he opted basically to suggest that the upcoming “peace conference” on Syria may indeed be successful. According to them, peace-success is giving in to Assad’s demands and leaving him as the ruler of Syria. Of course, the opposition will not agree to that but that does not matter to them.

So where are we now?

Iran has escalated its support for Syria. In the face of amazingly weak USA leadership, Russia is doubling down on its support to Assad by providing him with air defenses that this time are really serious—the feared SA-300. Hezbollah and Iran have to a large extent taken control of the fighting as I predicted and have gained significant ground. I believe that the extremist Jihadists on the other side may still reorganize and give them a good fight, but at the moment, the predictions of Assad’s demise seems like those pertaining many years ago to Mark Twain—premature.

Unfortunately that opens a very serious new angle that I did not think about before and that is the Israeli angle. Israel was very reluctant to get involved in this conflict. I wrote over a year ago that it was a mistake but I speculated that Israel made a Fustian bargain with Russia: Israel will not intervene in Syria, and Russia will not supply Iran with the feared SA-300. I did not go on to say that but the connotation of a bargain with the devil says it all. It is ill advised and always comes home to roast.

Israel is now facing a huge issue—the more Hezbollah gets involved and intermingles with Syrian forces, the more the Israeli threat of preventing sophisticated, advanced weapons systems and chemical weapons from reaching Hezbollah becomes moot. Does it matter if these weapons are in the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon or controlled by the Hezbollah-controlled and led Syrian army?

So what now? I suspect that Israel will have to act. The SA-300 are a “game changer” for Israel (to use a phrase liked by our president), it is crossing a red-line. So is the heavy intervention of Hezbollah in the fighting in Syria. Of course, acting now is going to be much harder and much more painful than if Israel were to act 15 months ago, as I suggested, but the alternative of doing nothing is intolerable. So watch out for a serious intervention by Israel in the Syrian conflict with all its explosive implications.

By the way, throughout this entire tragedy and ticking bomb, where is the leader of the free world? The president, other than trying to handle scores of domestic scandals, has time to:

  • declare that the war on terror has been won (in the face of assessment to the contrary from most world intelligence services)
  • reinvigorate his efforts to close Guantanamo (a speck of dust in the global world issues)
  • spend hours and much political capital on condemning sexual crime in the military (totally despicable, no doubt, but is it a matter for our president to focus so much time and attention on at a time when the world is falling apart?)

Words fail me to describe the failure of leadership afflicting the Western World and first and foremost the U.S. The consequences will be dire and all could have been avoided.