Jeffrey LudwigThe writer is a Harvard University Master Teacher who has taught at Harvard, Penn State, Juniata, and Boston State College as well as written numerous articles and poems. He has recently published a memoir about his childhood in Philadelphia.
How can we break the Gordian Knot of ‘to strike or not to strike’ in Syria that is dominating the news? First, it should be noted that there is a parallel between our present talk of retribution against Syria and Nancy Pelosi’s comment about the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare). She said that after we pass it, then we shall find out what is in it. Similarly, after we act against Syria we will find out what we will do next either in terms of greater military commitment or desisting altogether and leaving the arena.
The President assures us that there will be “no boots” on the ground in Syria, but knowing his tendency to split hairs or lie, that would not prevent the landing of troops in places other than Syria. In fact, “no boots” is an insult to our intelligence. One cannot talk about any serious military action and then publicly preclude this or that particular military action. If our troops are on ships near Syria or put into Saudi Arabia ready to deploy that would be “boots on the ground.” Further we already have “boots on the ground” in Iraq which is not that far away from Syria.
Further, it should be noted that many intrigues are in play in this situation. According to www.eutimes.net, V. Putin has threatened to attack Saudi Arabia if the U.S. bombs Syria.(1) It has been speculated that Saudi Arabia’s support of the rebels is not only ideological, i.e., that the Syrian al-Qaeda rebels are Wahabi to the core as are the Saudis, but that should the rebels gain control of Syria they will allow Saudi Arabia and Qatar to build a pipeline through Syria to Europe that will compete with the Russian natural gas pipeline(s) to Europe. Is the Saudi pipeline worth risking WWIII?
Also, the jihadists have a game plan regarding the ultimate conquest of Jerusalem which factors into their internecine quarrels. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian doctor who was second in command to bin Laden and is now the titular head of al-Qaeda, said in 1995 that Egypt and Algeria must first get rid of their anti-Islamist governments (e.g., Mubarak, Assad, Qadafi) before they (the Islamic jihadists) would be in a position to take Jerusalem.(2) Thus, as has been noted many times, the “Arab Spring” uprisings in North Africa, including Syria, are not “spontaneous” but are part of a game plan envisioned by the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda. This is not speculation, but documented fact.
Further, before his death Abu Masab al-Zarqawi, former head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, said, “Behold the spark has been lit in Iraq and its flames will blaze, Allah willing, until they consume the Armies of the Cross in Dabiq.” Here he was referring to the Days of Judgment that are expected to take place in northern Syria.(3) This is the apocalyptic piece in the game plan that certainly is in the minds of the rebels and other fiends of Islam who are trying to accelerate the advent of those “Days of Judgment.”
Lastly, Yossef Bodansky, a recognized Israeli-American political science professor and expert on Middle Eastern geopolitics, is suggesting that when the President stated his ‘red line’ al-Qaeda knew what was needed to get U.S. involvement against Assad and planned the recent poison gas attack. He also asserts that the U.S. with its pro-rebel policy actually abetted the planning of this poison gas scenario which was accomplished by thefts of poison gas by rebels in Syria as early as September 2012.(4)
Bodansky who is well-connected with many political insiders admits that he is not revealing his sources, but given the White House’s consistent history of saying too little or too much or making back door deals with bad guys and lying to the American public, Bodansky really does not strain our credulity.
None of us wants to see people gassed, but at the same time, we owe it to our own children not to be manipulated into a lose-lose-lose scenario. If we attack Syria for a brief period and the gassing continues, we look feckless and weak. If we attack Syria and are led into a wider war, we will be perceived as reckless militarists. And if we don’t attack Syria after having announced a ‘red line,’ we appear as a confused and less-than-super superpower.
Instead of any of these, why not take the moral high ground and reject both Assad and the Islamist rebels?
1 http://www.eutimes.net/2013/08/putin-orders-massive-strike-against-saudi-arabia-if-west-attacks-syria/, August 27, 2013
2 Dore Gold, The Fight For Jerusalem, 2007, p.8.
3 Ibid., p. 22.