Syrian refugees shelter in a makeshift tent in the Bekaa Valley, part of the 1.15 million refugees being hosted by Lebanon.
(photo credit: MOHAMED AZAKIR / REUTERS)
‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” – Edmund Burke The important discussion over whether the world is experiencing a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam, or is witnessing an intramural conflict within Islamic society, has unfortunately been eclipsed by politicians and fear-mongers who are more interested in scoring political points than advancing an effective and realistic American national security policy for the Middle East and beyond.
Do we actually have a strategy to empower moderate Muslims? Are we a nation that has no place for a value- based foreign policy, an influence for good in the world? From the realist but often wrong school of international affairs, Henry Kissinger said, “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.” The 17th century Catholic French king, aligned more with the Islamic Sunni Ottoman Empire than with Christendom during the last failed Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683, exemplified weighing interests over shared ideology.
Until President Barack Obama, American foreign policy interests were aligned with the Sunni fundamentalists of the Arabian Gulf, who share nothing in common with American or Western values.
What we did share were mutual interests that until 2009 were about limiting the most dangerous player in the region: Iran.
The president’s realignment led to a dysfunctional and untrustworthy American foreign policy. We abandoned longterm allies to ally with the Shi’ite Iranian theocracy that this year was again named by the State Department as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.
There is little doubt that the president’s Middle East strategy of disengagement, ignoring red lines and realignment has dramatically worsened the stability of the Middle East, while diminishing American influence and interests. It seems this was an Obama administration goal, not an incoherent policy.
But does the president’s mishandling of the Syrian catastrophe border on complicity to genocide because he choose not to create safe zones or no-fly zones for Syrian refugees? Does acquiescing by lack of action to the war crimes committed in Syria by Iran, Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar Assad rise to the level of co-conspiracy? Fifty-one State Department officials whose job is to resolve problems diplomatically called for American military intervention in Syria. According to The Wall Street Journal, they said the “US risked being complicit in the slaughter of civilians in Syria by failing to punish Assad’s forces for repeated violations of international cease-fire agreements.”
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The last American ambassador in Syria, Robert Ford, said, “The bombings of hospitals in Aleppo and Idlib are a violation of every human norm... the Assad government...
won’t let in food aid... and the Americans are watching it all happen.”
In Syria nearly a half a million have been killed, and half the population are refugees. Three out of four people are unemployed, and four out of five live below the poverty line.
In the category of blind bunker mentality, State Department spokesman Mark Kirby said, “There aren’t any US plans to target President Bashar al-Assad.”
This policy has directly contributed to the mass exodus of refugees to Europe, in large part because of the president’s lack of leadership combined with the toxic combination of isolationism, rationalizations and empowerment of Iran.
The president would be well advised to remember it only takes good nations doing nothing to let terrorism win.
The administration’s lack of a moral and coherent strategic Middle East policy has contributed to a Syria that is unrepairable, with long-term consequences not only endangering the region, but also emboldening the Islamist world.
The Obama administration’s UN ambassador, Samantha Power, covered the genocide in Bosnia and Srebrenica in the 1990s and criticized American unwillingness to stop that slaughter.
She said, “The United States had never in its history intervened to stop genocide and had in fact rarely even made a point of condemning it as it occurred.”
So how can she in good conscience remain the face of America, representing the Obama administration at the world’s leading international body, while Syria burns? Yet it could actually be worse under a Trump presidency. His combination of isolationism, bravado and racism is a toxic brew for America’s foreign policy future. I also fear Hillary Clinton’s progressive move to the Left demanded by the Bernie Sanders wing of millennials that could also move America further into the isolationist wing, while excusing radical Islamism in the name of cultural relativism.
Liat Collins recently wrote about a 2007 Jerusalem Post interview with the unrivaled Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis. His words have never rung more true, but are ignored by the politically correct.
Lewis was asked: “In your writings you have spoken of the feelings of humiliation and rage in the Muslim world.
When will their rage subside?” “One way [for them] to alleviate their rage is to win some large victories.... They seem to be about to take over Europe...self-abasement on the European side – in the name of political correctness and multiculturalism, to surrender on any and every issue... the only pertinent question regarding Europe’s future...
Will it be an Islamized Europe or Europeanized Islam?” And the president’s Syrian and Middle East policy, or lack thereof, has accelerated the process.The author is the director of MEPIN™. He regularly briefs members of Congress, their foreign policy advisers, members of the Knesset and journalists. He regularly briefs Congress on issues related to the Middle East.
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