Assad may again be gassing the locals. What to do about it?
The US overthrowing local strongmen (a bipartisan effort that made everything worse: Saddam, Ghaddafi, Mubarak, and one more) in the naïve Western belief / projection that these autocracies would become liberal democracies is the root of nearly all global fighting. The tap root of global islamist terror comes from the same seed: Carter (D) enabling the overthrow of the Shah – and the return of Khomeini and sharia to the world. Why? Carter looked into his eyes and saw a “Man of God.” Carter just failed to ask, which God?
Assad is a butcher and a strongman. But whom is he butchering and whom keeping in check with his strength? He is stopping the rise and expansion of regional islamists. He is holding-back the head-choppers. He is the only local leader remaining – that America hasn’t overthrown or enabled his overthrow – who can keep the sectarian violence in check, at least within his territory.
If he falls, then what? Then whom? Does anyone really think that vacuum will be filled by other-than-islamists? Will civilians having their heads hacked off with dull butcher knives by the rise of a spreading islamist savagery Assad is prevented from killing be any less dead than if they are collateral damage in a serious attempt to rid his country of these Dark Ages fanatics of barbarism?
The only other option will be Putin, who WILL keep his naval base on the Med. And while he may be more acceptable, does anyone really believe the West will not just turn a blind eye as Putin consolidates power in the eastern Med, using sub-optimal methods? Of course not. Will we care? We don’t seem to care right now that Putin didn’t seem to finish the job of removing Assad’s WMD, now, do we?
Do we want a repeat of the Cold War “non-aligned” movement with nations happily riding Russia’s horse because it is the strong one? Really? Would we prefer Russian hegemony in the region to Assad’s non-sectarian rule in Syria? Because there is no third option.
Once (more) heads are rolling in the streets of America, Americans will be all for serious annihilation of islamist terrorists, and more likely to support a Putin doing the dirty work – as is the strongman Assad we seem unfathomably attempting to stop – than we will be upset that it is being – finally – done. So the time, lives and money we spend removing Assad will be as wasted as the time, lives and money spent attempting to stop N. Vietnam, or the islamists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Yemen, Somalia…
Assad is a no-kidding bad guy. But the alternative is… WORSE. In the real, ie non-Progressive world, most often the choices are between “bad” and “worse.” This isn’t kindergarten and the choices are not “good” and “bad.”
HOW enemies are killed is irrelevant; THAT they are killed is all that matters. If indiscriminate killing happens – well, war is hell. Ask the indiscriminately dead in Dresden and Berlin. Ask the indiscriminately dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki how they felt about it. The War Dept estimate of Japanese dead in a land invasion of Japan was 5M; the Navy Dept put their estimate at 9M. Both estimated American dead at 1M. Using WMD against Japan saved millions of lives, and 90% of the lives saved were the enemy’s. How is that a bad thing?
And the utter defeat experienced by both of those nations by indiscriminate force created citizenries freer, wealthier, better-educated than ever in their history, and countries that have been economic, military and political allies ever since. No one – EVER – will be able to say that about Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, … or Syria if we again engage in limited war.
We “wage” “limited war” to NOT kill too many of our opponents, when in fact, doing so kills far more. Want to kill fewer locals? Nuke the islamists. Refuse to get serious and MORE locals will die. If we are serious about saving lives, then the answer is to annihilate the bad guys as productively as we can, and THAT means using our most productive weapons: thermonuclear ones.
Understanding – as no Western leader still does – that there ARE no “innocent civilians” in a battlespace – was how we stopped those raping Nanking, overrunning the Philippines and New Guinea, and gassing Europe. Refusing to learn that lesson has resulted in far more losses than had we learned it.
Estimates of Vietnamese dead in our “limited warfare”? 2M. American dead? 58K. Had we nuked Hanoi in 1963 to prove we were serious, and that we were going to continue Ike’s “Massive Retaliation” policy, we would have killed far, far fewer Vietnamese and zero Americans. Would some local civilians have been killed indiscriminately? You bet. Would fewer lives have been lost, including civilians, and fewer dollars been spent? You bet.
The idea that limited warfare saves lives is absurd and not borne out anywhere in history. Had we been smart enough to continue Ike’s policy, we would NOT now have a DoD budget larger than the next 100 nations combined. We would NOT now be in-thrall to the military-industrial complex against which he warned us.
Why? Two reasons. One: The world would have realized we WERE serous as the first, and likely only, mushroom cloud rose above Hanoi, and, Two, Not building a massive conventional force would have required NATO members to spend THEIR money building THEIR nukes to deter the USSR from gobbling THEIR countries. Rather than the German Army having fewer armed men than the NYPD, America not building a huge force would have forced Germany and all of Western Europe, as soon as they could afford to, to grow-up and defend their country themselves. It’s called “Maturity.” Or, they could have chosen as did Ukraine, to give up (or never build) a nuclear arsenal, and undergone Natural Selection and extinction from a tougher occupant of that portion of the ecosystem.
Had NATO nations built their own serious deterrents, America would have saved – as in NOT SPENT – trillions of dollars we could have used to create an even freer, wealthier, better-educated and safer America – and world.
What to do about Assad? Same thing Wilson (D) ought to have done about the Kaiser: Nothing.
Instead, Wilson started a century of warfare that led to over 200M dead from a WW1 that was at a stalemate and likely would have resulted in a negotiated peace, but instead, resulted in Russia quitting the fight and going home to Sovietize, giving us the USSR and the Purges (30M dead), a not-really-defeated Germany that gave us WW2’s ETO (45M dead), a world in which Japan could get aggressive (5M dead), the rise of Red China in the bow-wave of the USSR, and the Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward (80M dead), the Cold War ($T wasted), the failed (no surprise) implementation of Marxism in Egypt and the UAE, leading to their falling ever-farther-behind, with results we see today, and the detritus of Cuba, Angola, Cambodia, etc.
America always has had good intentions, but the implementation of them has been woefully uninformed by reality and results. We – the West – the WORLD – NEED a strongman in Syria to stop the islamists as an outer-ring of defense-in-depth. If he, once he, falls, so, too, does the perimeter – and the bad guys get closer.
Only fools fail to understand history and the importance of Vienna stopping – COMPLETELY – islam at its gates in the Middle Ages; the modern world would – could – not have been created had the West not been serious then. The West will not remain if we do not become serious now.
Islam MUST be stopped again. Syria seems the frontier of the West against this most recent expansion of islam. It will NOT be if we continue removing its obstacles in the naïve belief we are all Westerners now.
And if it is not Syria… where will it be? Italy? Spain? The UK? Canada? America?
Islam is not going to stop itself. It WILL have to BE stopped. Islam is not going to say, “Oh, cool. We have enough territory, it’s OK if all these others don’t accept Allah.” That is not what islam IS; it is not what islam DOES; and it matters not at all that Western “leaders” don’t seem to understand this. It REMAINS fact.
Why is stopping islam THERE not better than stopping it HERE? Why is stopping it for the price of a couple of weapons already in the inventory not a better choice than spending thousands of lives, trillions of dollars and millions of bullets and pretending they are anything more than a few fingers in the dike?
I really don’t care what level of force is used to stop it; it MUST be stopped. NOTHING in islam is more important than my kids and their freedom – who WILL be at risk if the West continues the absurdity – and absurd waste – of limited war against an existential enemy.
And, like it or not, accept it or not, Assad is defending the entirety of Western Civilization.
We don’t have to like him.
We don’t have to help him.
But we must stop hindering him.