,

Slaughter in Syria: Evil Triumphs When "Good Men Do Nothing"

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" -- Edmund Burke.

America and our allies would be wise to heed Burke's warning in regard to the ongoing slaughter in Syria by Bashar al-Assad, the megalomaniac of the Middle East.

Appeasing Assad through military inaction only damages America's foreign policy credibility worldwide at the very time we need to show strength through force.

We can no longer refrain from retaliating against Assad for his conspicuous crimes against humanity, particularly the mass murder of innocent civilians by chemical weapons -- including women and children as they slept.

Bloodthirsty Dictator

It's no secret that Assad is a ruthless and bloodthirsty dictator who has unleashed the worst type of terrorism against his own people.

The sad situation in Syria has only worsened as world governments feebly watch in horror but fail to act. Yet history has shown that appeasing evil tyrants begets worse atrocities.

In short, the only language dictators and despots understand is that of brute force, especially in the Middle East of all places. That's why any equivocation by America is viewed by Assad and other regional despots as a sign of weakness and a green light to continue mass murder and terrorism against civilians.

Thus by failing to act now we are sending a dangerous message to our enemies -- like Iran and North Korea, for instance. That message is that America can no longer be counted on as the global champion and fearless defender of basic freedoms and human rights.

America needs to stop shedding crocodile tears.

What we desperately need is a strong and consistent foreign policy in the Middle East. A foreign policy that recognizes our friends and punishes our enemies when they cross any proverbial "red line" America sets.

Time to Bomb Bashar

Assad is guilty of multiple documented war crimes since the start of the Syrian revolution two years ago. Syria's civil war has reportedly left more than 100,000 civilians dead and millions more wounded or displaced. Further, our key regional allies Turkey and Jordan are facing a destabilizing refugee crisis of mass proportions involving millions of displaced Syrians.

Therefore, all things considered, it's no surprise that conservative, moderate and progressive voices from across the political spectrum have coalesced in calling for swift and significant military action now.

These voices range from the likes of war hero Sen. John McCain and others in Congress to the editorial pages of the Washington Post and other influential news outlets worldwide.

The longer we wait to act in Syria the further it appears that America has lost its moral compass as a world power. Moreover, the longer we stall the more likely it becomes that Assad will order more devastating chemical weapons attacks against civilian population centers or America's regional allies.

And if we continue to let Assad get away with such barbaric war crimes, other evil dictators and terrorists will surely follow in his path without fear of retribution.

That's why America must stop procrastinating as evil triumphs in Syria.

That's why the time for bold and decisive military action is now.

DBG

* Note: All views and opinions are those of the author only.

** A similar version of this post appeared Aug. 24 on Politix.com

Leave a Comment

19 Comments

Leave a Reply

Profile Photo Peter Sperry

Haven't we learned anything from 12 years of misguided adventurism in the Middle East? Two very evil factions are battling for control of a land with minimal strategic assets and no value to the United States. Both sides hate us and neither will be grateful if we join them against their adversary. Burke was only half right. Sometimes all evil needs to triumph is for good men to blunder into conflicts they do not understand with little or no hope of peaceful resolution and make the situation worse by running up the body count even higher. We have made enough mistakes trying to separate good from evil in the Middle East. It is time to recognize there are no good guys in that part of the world and stay they hell out of their incessant wars.

Profile Photo Julie Chase

Peter....totally agree. We cannot stop the ME from caving in on itself. It is not our fight. We have enough problems right here to take care of. We are furloughed, we are broke, we are downsizing our troops by 20000 each branch. We will be visited by the "angel of death" BRAC in less than two years. No hiring, no pay raises.... We are not in a position to help anyone if we cannot help ourselves. We have the left and the right shouting each other down in the "name of I AM RIGHT" about what is best for this country. Your last sentence sums it up very well. " It is time to recognize there are no good guys in that part of the world and stay they hell out of their incessant wars."

Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

Thanks for your comments, Peter and Julie. I think a lot of people agree with you, at least according to public opinion polls.

Nevertheless, it appears that we're now stuck with our backs against the wall if we fail to follow though on our own foreign policy pronouncements about the consequences of crossing that red line. Thus a few follow up questions:

  • How does America maintain global trust and credibility if we fail to stand behind what we say?
  • How do we step back from the "red line" threat while saving face and not empowering Assad and other bad actors to use chemical weapons and other WMD against civilian populations?
  • How do we deter Iran and North Korea from developing and using nuclear weapons if we can't even stop Syria from deploying chemical agents against its own people?
  • How can our Mid-East and global allies ever take us seriously if just wimp out here and let bad guys like Assad defy America and international law at their will?
  • If we refrain from being the world's "policeman" then who will fill that vacuum? Probably Russia and China, both of whom have sharply divergent global outlooks and interests than America.
  • Is it possible for the world's leading superpower to turn inward and be isolationist?
  • Lastly, do you think Congress will approve military intervention in Syria on any level? If not, do you think the President will act on his own under the War Powers Act or another legal military justification?

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and views on this important issue.

Profile Photo Peter Sperry

David -

1. The fact that someone is stupid enough to make an ill advised "red line" threat should not obligate the rest of the nation to be stupid enough to go to war over it. And yes bombing a foreign nation is an act of war.

2. Wise nations never start something they are not prepared to finish. No deterrent is credible when it comes with limitations like "no boots on the ground" or "limited, narrow targeted". If we are not ready to put the full force of our nation behind a third middle east war (and no thinks we are) than we are fooling no one by throwing around bombs and missiles.

3. We have heard the same arguments about other nations taking us seriously just prior to every other misguided foreign adventure. Each one has produced worse results than the one before it. Better to not be taken seriously than to be played for a fool.

4. Avoiding military adventurism is not turning inward or isolationist. We are the largest international trading nation on the planet. We share our culture with the world. Our tourists visit every corner of the globe and we receive visitors in return. There are multiple ways to engage and interact with people around the world that do not involve killing them.

5. The world got along just fine without a policeman prior to the British Empire in the 19th century and the American empire in the 20th. Neither China nor Russia have the naval or airlift capacity to project the kind of force needed to police the world. If we step back from the role, it is most likely regional coalitions rather than global forces will fill the void to the extent it needs filling at all.

6. I pray that congress does not approve military intervention in Syria on any level. What the President will do in absence of such approval is difficult to predict.

Profile Photo Julie Chase
  • How does America maintain global trust and credibility if we fail to stand behind what we say?

We shouldn't have even "hinted" that we would draw a line in the sand. Our bluff has now been called.

  • How do we step back from the "red line" threat while saving face and not empowering Assad and other bad actors to use chemical weapons and other WMD against civilian populations?

England had no problem "stepping back" and I didn't read of any of our EURO allies "stepping forward". Yeah, ok, Europe...what are you kickin' in for our efforts......money, military backing? <crickets...crickets>

  • How do we deter Iran and North Korea from developing and using nuclear weapons if we can't even stop Syria from deploying chemical agents against its own people?

Just like you can't stop a robbery. It's going to happen. You can put in all the measures to slow it down, but you can't stop it. This is a power game.......they have no clue that karma is a given. It has been proven time and time again the countries above do not like, respect or give a flying flip about the United States. How in the world are we going to "help" innocents from being gassed if we launch missiles from the water into the very towns where they live....and killing them? And then we get accused of interfering and killing innocents. I am confident we have enough fire power to keep Russia and China at bay. Russia didn't take us because they didn't want their people killed. Whereas the ME nut-jobs don't care .....due to some promise of 73 virgins and dying for a cause.

  • How can our Mid-East and global allies ever take us seriously if just wimp out here and let bad guys like Assad defy America and international law at their will?

Mid-East allies? We have Israel, and that is about it. They can handle it, they have been for over 2,000 yrs. Who is "wimping out"? I can't loan you my lawn mower if I don't have one myself. I can't help you with a loan if I don't have the money to loan you.

  • If we refrain from being the world's "policeman" then who will fill that vacuum? Probably Russia and China, both of whom have sharply divergent global outlooks and interests than America.

If we had Europe, South America and other allies full steam behind us, with money, and might....that would be a different story. But if every neighbor in the neighborhood is borrowing my car, my lawnmower, my skilsaw and other tools, and adding to the money I am loaning the neighbors....and not seeing a penny in return.....pretty soon, I'll be eating potted meat using the engine manifold on my car (which is being borrowed half the time) to heat up, because I gave my neighbor my stove.......and so on and so on

  • Is it possible for the world's leading superpower to turn inward and be isolationist?

We need to clean up around here and find out exactly "who" are our allies. How many gov jobs are we willing to lose that "support" the people in "this" country to fund yet another conflict where we have no help, no money and the people "we are helping"....hate our guts? Do you think I would help you out if your kids keep throwing charcoal and lawn furniture in my pool and slitting my tires?

  • Lastly, do you think Congress will approve military intervention in Syria on any level? If not, do you think the President will act on his own under the War Powers Act or another legal military justification?

I think Congress will approve "something"....but will not put troops in. If the President acts on his own....he will receive much backlash and hypocritical outcries from not only the Republicans and tea partiers...but from his own far left pacifist supporters who cried foul when Bush went into Afghanistan.

We are spreading ourselves too thin. I have often heard that the US can be compared to ancient Rome. They fell because they spread themselves too thin with their resources. While they were out conquering other lands, no one was minding the store back home. The US is not the savior of the world.

Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

FYI - Remarks by POTUS this morning prior to meeting with members of Congress.

  • "We have high confidence that Syria used, in an indiscriminate fashion, chemical weapons that killed thousands of people, including over 400 children, and in direct violation of the international norm against using chemical weapons. That poses a serious national security threat to the United States and to the region, and as a consequence, Assad and Syria needs to be held accountable."

  • "This norm against using chemical weapons that 98 percent of the world agrees to is there for a reason: Because we recognize that there are certain weapons that, when used, can not only end up resulting in grotesque deaths, but also can end up being transmitted to non-state actors; can pose a risk to allies and friends of ours like Israel, like Jordan, like Turkey; and unless we hold them into account, also sends a message that international norms around issues like nuclear proliferation don't mean much."

  • "The military plan that has been developed by the joint chiefs and that I believe is appropriate is proportional. It is limited. It does not involve boots on the ground. This is not Iraq and this is not Afghanistan. This is a limited, proportional step that will send a clear message not only to the Assad regime, but also to other countries that may be interested in testing some of these international norms, that there are consequences."

Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

Julie: thanks for that funny photo, it makes a good point.

However, another point to consider is that chemical weapons, like sarin gas, have never been used against America, not even in Detroit
In fact, only three evil incarnates in modern history have used chemical weapons on innocent civilian populations: Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein and now Bashar Assad.
There's a good reason why international law -- not to mention basic morality and human decency -- has banned the use of chemical weapons for about a century. World governments are never allowed to use chemical weapons, especially against innocent civilian populations which include defenseless women and children. And when that law is breached there must be consequences and repercussions. If not, such barbaric activity will only spread and become worse.
As Secretary Kerry said today, "Never means never!" Period.

Moreover, if America had intervened more forcefully in Syria much earlier and helped overthrow the evil Assad regime, perhaps tens of thousands of innocent civilian lives may have saved -- not to mention one-third of the Syrian population being in a refugee camp or otherwise displaced.

Thanks for considering this.

Profile Photo Peter Sperry

Public Remains Opposed To Syria Strikes

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/public-remains-opposed-to-syria-strikes/

The Pew results are mirrored in a new poll from ABC News and The Washington Post:

Americans widely oppose launching missile strikes against the Syrian government for its alleged use of chemical weapons, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that finds little appetite for military action across the country despite a growing drumbeat in Washington.

Nearly six in 10 oppose missile strikes in light of the U.S. government’s determination that Syria used chemical weapons against its own people. Democrats and Republicans alike oppose strikes by double digit margins, and there is deep opposition among every political and demographic group in the survey. Political independents are among the most clearly opposed, with 66 percent saying they are against military action.

Profile Photo Henry Brown

I am truly of mixed emotions on the solution to Syria using Nerve gas in the Syrian revolution

Still NOT totally convinced that the current administration is sharing all the information about not only the attack but our plan to "punish" Mr. Assad.

I know it is a different administration but I believe that the phrase "burned once shame on me, burned twice and shame on you" has at least some bearing on the issue(s).

Have significant issue with some of the political rhetoric:

  • some will be opposed to the attack/retaliation simply because the President suggested it...
  • No violence should be allowed regardless of what the other side does
  • Let the Arabs/Muslims kill each other and when they get through there will be less violence in the world

Profile Photo Henry Brown

From the CATO @ liberty blog:

Accurately Predicting the Potential Costs of War in Syria
By Christopher A. Preble

On July 19, 2013, General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote a letter to Sen. Carl Levin detailing the costs of various military options in Syria. Dempsey also explained the purpose of the cost-estimating exercise. “The decision over whether to introduce military force is a political one that our Nation entrusts to its civilian leaders,” the general wrote to the Chair of the Senate Armed Serves Committee. “I also understand that you deserve my best military advice on how military force could be used in order to decide whether it should be used.” (emphasis in original)

...

Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

Thanks for those good points Henry and Peter. A few thoughts:

  • The cost of inaction may be greater in the long run than the cost of acting now -- in terms of money, morals, lives saved, human rights, global leadership and respect.
  • As you know, polls are fluid and merely represent snapshots in time.
  • Have you ever heard that true leadership means leading people where they don't want go.
  • Our Middle East intelligence is far superior now than it was when we went to war in Iraq. Check out this article in Federal Times: Intel expert: Post-Iraq analysis changes mean better Syria info
  • Message to GovLoopers: good government and strong leadership includes foreign policy as well as domestic policy, especially at the federal level.

Thanks again, Peter and Henry, for sharing your important insights on this contentious issue.

Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

If this doesn't cross the line than what does, where will it end and how may innocents will be murdered in barbaric fashion from being gassed?

If America fails to exert global leadership through military action than who will -- France, the Arab nations, others? Highly doubtful.

Thus if not us who?

If not now, when?

Profile Photo Julie Chase

Makes me wonder where all the "furlough" savings money is now going? And the TSP is back in the black....for now. While Kerry assures us there will be no boots on the ground.....I don't think he has a crystal ball. We need to stay out of it. We don't do well in the ME.....could it be because we are hated? Let Israel handle it. Rand Paul said Israel isn't worried about themselves. Come to think of it, never heard of an EL AL flight being hijacked. David, I read your points about the cost of inaction....those were the same points made in 2001. The intel is better? I get Benghazi wasn't in the loop. A good government needs strong leadership....yes...lead the people in this country to education, jobs, bring back manufacturing....and then perhaps our foreign policy will see some recovery. It's not worth the 600 million we "don't" have. And by the way,,,,since this boondoggle started....gas prices have gone up 10 cents in the last week...which leads to higher food prices...car prices....clothes prices.... Every time the ME gets a bee in their bonnet....we pay for it.

Profile Photo Peter Sperry

Western countries have been playing games in the Middle East since the start of WWI 100 years ago. The British, French and Americans supported the Al Saud family in the Arab revolt against Turkey. The victors of WWI then drew lines on a map to divide up and give away (Balfour Declaration) territory which was only theirs through right of conquest. Patterns of life and customs that had been unchanged for 1000 years were thrown aside for land, for oil, for politics, for personal ambition and for revenge. Mistake followed mistake as everyone from local warlords to global statesmen manipulated each other to gain and hold power and wealth with no input from or regard for the ordinary people who actually lived there day to day. It is far too late to erase the lines on the map and reverse a century of tragic error. The attempt would only cause even greater injustice to those who were born and raised in a new reality. But we can at least stop making new mistakes and causing new injustices. The people who actually live there need to be given the opportunity to work out solutions on their own, free from our weapons. The process will be long, painful and bloody. It will cost many lives. But at least it will be their own. The results will be those they choose for themselves and fight, often violently, to win on their own. We may not like or approve of the choices they make but we have no right to impose our will on them and certainly not to do so at gunpoint. Painful as it may be to watch them kill each other, 100 years of error should at last teach us that our interference only makes the situation worse and always leads to more, not less, bloodshed. it is time to exit the region.

Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

FYI - Op-Ed posted Sunday on Politix.com

Assad Poses Threat to U.S. Homeland; what President Obama should say about Syria

excerpts:

  • As another 9/11 anniversary fast approaches, the general public must be further educated about Syria's role in the ongoing war on terrorism. Americans need to be reminded we are still under the constant threat of attack by Middle East-based radical Islamic terrorist groups.
  • Syria has been an internationally recognized state sponsor of terrorism for years. Obama should also reiterate that Bashar al-Assad is a puppet of Iran, which may soon threaten America with nuclear weapons if we stand silent on Syria.