Op-Ed: Adopt a Ba'athist?
Prof. Steven PlautSteven Plaut teaches at the University of Haifa and is author of "The Scout" (available from Gefen Publishing House). More of his writings can be seen on the New Plaut Blog, as well as in numerous electronic and print newspapers.
Not a single bullet has been fired at the Assad regime so far by the Western allies. Nevertheless the Left is already emerging from its caverns to oppose the war. It even is using the same old worn out banners and signs, without even bothering to change them and bring them up to date. Things like: No War for Oil, and US Get Out, and Hands Off Syria.
In the UK the "Stop the War Coalition" is preparing mass demonstrations, and parliamentary leftists have already voted against any military involvement. Their party clones in Times Square held an identical protest, and in Chicago their cousins were determined to restore the loop to the Loop.. Protesters in Turkey, which has regularly threatened Syria, held an anti-American solidarity with the Assad's protest.
The local radical tenured Left in Israel is getting in on the act and is preparing petitions of Israel "academics" condemning the US for shooting at the Assad's and demanding that no Western powers get involved in protecting the Syrian population from the regime.
Why are these knee-jerk reactions coming from the Left? The answer is that the raison d'etre of the Left everywhere is anti-Americanism. So if the US favors something, it must be evil and therefore the Left should support the other side. And so the Left demands "Hands Off Syria" not because it fears the Syrian opposition is even worse than the Ba'ath regime (which is something I believe).
The Left simply hates America and if it thinks it hurts the US by adopting a position of Solidarity with Assad or Let's All take a Ba'athist to Lunch this week, then this is what it needs to be said. And the Leftist herd will automatically toe that line. Obviously the Left could not care less if a few tens of thousands of Syrian civilians get massacred, including by means of poison gas. As long as Assad is anti-Israel, the Left thinks he deserves the benefit of the doubt and gestures of leftist solidarity.
When hundreds of thousands of civilians were murdered in the civil war in Algeria, the Western media all but ignored it.
There actually are some problems with the idea that the US and friends should bomb the Ba'aths back to the Stone Age. The first is that the opposition forces in Syria include and in fact are largely led by Islamofascists even worse for the world than the Ba'athists. If they gain power, Syria would be more of a threat to Israel, not less of one.
All the gesticulating about civilians deaths by Western powers is just posturing. When hundreds of thousands of civilians were murdered in the civil war in Algeria, the Western media all but ignored it and even today most Americans do not even know there was a civil war or civilians casualties there.
On the other hand, Obama did publicly proclaim that use of gas by Assad would be a casus belli and having placed American prestige behind the threat, failure to carry through would remove any doubts in the minds of Iranians and North Koreans that the US is all hot air and empty threats.
What should be done? The best possible scenario is to maintain the Syrian civil war for as long as possible, a semi-permanent situation where Syria simply does not function as a state. Secession of parts of the country, like Jebel Druse, would be even better.
That means the US should bomb whichever side begins to grow in strength and threatens the other side, a bit like traditional British policy regarding the Continental conflicts in the centuries before World War I. If Assad gets too strong, find a reason to send in the Tomahawks. If the opposition gets strong enough to threaten to seize power away from him, adjust the dials on the missiles to redirect them. If Assad shoots a single missile in the direction of Israel, Latakia should be erased from the face of the earth, preferably by Israeli planes. As long as the two sides are simply murdering one another's civilians, but are unable to consolidate power, the world is a better place.
And the Syrian civil war does have its ironic sides. The Israeli media this week reported that all of the people in a large "refugee camp" of "Palestinians" near Damascus were in hysteria and mass panic, fearing that Assad and his Hebollah allies might turn their poison gas weapons against them. If this happened, I have no doubt that, as in Sabra and Shatilla, the Anti-Zionist Lobby and the Israeli Tenured Left would figure out a way to make it the fault of the Jews.