Fareed Zakaria is one of my favorite commentators. He has illuminated the situation in Syria in a way that I haven’t heard before. It is a video, so I can’t cut and paste his quotes into this post, but I can give it a brief summary.
His first point is that after WWI, the European powers divided up the Middle East and they installed three minority powers in three of the countries. That is, they installed leaders of a minority group in charge of each of the countries. Maybe this was to make the new rulers dependent on outside help from Europe? Maybe as a way to protect the minorities from slaughter by the majorities?
At any rate, all three of those countries have had the rest of the country rise up in revolution against their minority governments.
First was Lebanon. The country went into civil war in the ‘70s against the minority Christians put in place after WWI. It took fifteen years. Reagan smartly stayed out of Lebanon’s civil war.
Second was Iraq. Bush foolishly kicked off that civil war by invading in the ‘00s and the Sunni Muslims were ousted. It has been going on for 10 years.
Now the third is Syria. The minority Alawite Muslims are being thrown out of power. They have no choice but to fight to the death, because if and when they lose they will be massacred, and most will likely flee. Obama is smartly staying out of Syria. It will last at least 10 years.
It seems humanitarian to try to help the “good Muslim rebels” overthrow the savage dictator, Assad. But, as Fareed pointed out, even the massive presence of U. S. troops in Iraq didn’t prevent the slaughters of their civil war, which is still ongoing to some extent.
Stay out of other country’s civil wars. It looks like the various Muslim sects do not get along, and are intent on killing each other. U.S. intervention doesn’t keep that from happening, kills lots of Americans, and just annoys the Muslims we are trying to “help.”
The notion that we have to intervene to keep the West safe is a false one, or so I now believe. At the beginning of our intervention in Iraq, I thought it was about creating a Middle East that wouldn’t be a breeding ground for al Qaeda. But now I think this whole thing was always about the Muslim wars, including the attack on 9/11/2001, which was really about driving the U.S. out of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.
Personally, I have no problem with the U.S., and Europe, getting out of the Middle East. Leave them to their wars. We’ll buy their oil, at least until we don’t need it anymore, which inevitably is going to happen (natural gas, green energies, efficiencies of operation, environmental sensitivities, etc.)
We can offer humanitarian assistance with refugee camps in surrounding countries, but stay out of those civil wars. No need to add Americans to the casualty lists.