Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Syria: The Thunderdome Dilemma

The conflict in Syria is on the minds of many Americans as well as others around the globe. The recent uses of chemical weapons, such as the nerve agent, sarin, have aggravated the attention.

In one corner, we have  the Assad regime. Assad is a staunch Ba'athist. Those unaware of the political ideology and formation of the Ba'ath party will not see the significance.

The Ba'ath Party rose out of those who supported Hitler's Nazi Party and Mussolini's Fascist Party. Economically and politically, the Ba'ath Party leans heavily to the left of the political and economic scale. They seek a form of national identity in lieu of the old tribal identities. While that may seem a positive step, it involves a collectivist mentality. Those tribes or tribal members who do not support the national view meet strong opposition. That opposition comes in the form of restrictive laws targeting those individuals and a military-like police force that enforces those laws ruthlessly. There is little to no room for political discourse or debate.

Economically, all resources are owned by the state. Any production is done by the whims and will of their federal government. In short, it is a form of socialism.

The former dictator and tyrant who ruled Iraq for over 20 years, Saddam Hussein, was a Ba'ath Party member. When he first came to power in Iraq, he did so with strong support from the Ba'athists in Syria. In 2003, when the US and coalition forces crossed the border from Kuwait, many of Saddam's upper-level bureaucrats fled to Syria for asylum. Possibly, among them was Izz'at Ibrahim Al-Duri, Iraq's "Vice President". Al-Duri's biography is one almost as monstrous as Hussein's. Al-Duri championed Saddam's decision to use mustard gas and sarin against the ethnic collective of Kurds in northern Iraq.

Syria threatened to send forces across the border into Iraq, should the coalition invade. They did not come. Allied forces set ready to repel the counter-attack. Instead, many believe Syria helped fund, train, equip, an support various former regime allied insurgent groups. However, they were not as quick to support those groups that allied with Al Q'aeda or Ansar al-Sunnah.

Today, various rebel factions in Syria seek to overthrow Assad's reign or tyranny. That seems, on the surface, a good cause to support. However, when we examine the strongest and more organized of these rebel groups, we find they are likely backed by Al Q'aeda and their affiliates.

Al Q'aeda is a strong ally of the religious extremist group, the Taliban, who imposed a religious tyranny over Afghanistan. Al Q'aeda's ideology is one that supports a strict theocracy based upon Wahabbist or Salafist ideals. These ideals strongly oppose free will, free thought, or individual rights. They place little value on human life, other than the lives of their leaders.

On September 11, 2012 another "rebel" group backed by Al Q'aeda invaded the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The US Ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three others were sodomized, brutalized, murdered, and dragged through the streets. Their murders were celebrated. Meanwhile, there were reported skirmishes near an alleged CIA outpost. With all that has been revealed about the terrorist attacks and "rebel" actions in Benghazi, the vast majority of the story is still largely unknown by the public. The State Department and the rest of the Executive Branch quickly sought and offered an unlikely scapegoat. It's possible that they, like Anthony Wiener, were caught with their pants down and were scrambling to burn another Lewinski dress while the media chased after Foamy the Squirrel.

Americans are not as ignorant as some would like to believe. The Benghazi incident stinks. The smell coming from the "rebels" in Ba'athist Syria has the same stench. They are eating from the same trough.

So we end up with a death-match between two entities who hate our country and our way of life. Both sides have no qualms with employing weapons of mass destruction against each other or any innocents that may be in the middle. For the Ba'athists, they are martyrs for the state, national heroes. For Al Q'aeda they are unwilling martyrs who will be strongly rewarded in paradise. In other words, their lives do not matter. All that matters is their quest to gain or maintain power.

The only answer is to impose "Thunderdome Death-Match" rules on them. Contain their violence and let them slaughter each other. The violence cannot be allowed to spill into Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, or the still tumultuous Iraq. Iran, with their potential nuclear capabilities including, at least, the potential of "dirty bombs", must be kept out of the mix. Direct US intervention invites Iran to support their unlikely allies.

Iran does not have the best relations with Ba'athists. Iraq and Iran fought a bloody war that involved large-scale uses of chemical weapons. The Ba'ath Party's Saddam Hussein was the tyrant in charge. After that war, Saddam blamed the Shia'a in Iraq's southern regions for being denied a quick and decisive victory against the Shia'a theocracy in Iran. In fact, Hussein later punished those same southern tribes for his loss against the allied coalition during Operation Desert Storm.

As heartless as this sounds, the best policy is one of "contain" and let them kill each other off. We need to lock up the octagon and turn it into a Thunderdome. Let them fight a war of attrition. Then we garner the support to other Middle Eastern states to form a coalition of peacemakers. That coalition should hunt down the surviving war criminals on both sides of the conflict. Then we let them write a constitution and elect their new government. Syria has one of the better equipped armies in the region. Training their new military would not take the amount of time it did in Iraq. (First step is to not automatically ostracize former military members like we did in Iraq.)

This begs the question about non-combatants. Despite the violence, the majority of Syrians don't care about either side. They just want to go about their lives, earning a living, taking care of their families, and live in peace. They don't want this war. They don't like either side. They are victims of both, caught in the crossfire.

Whichever side (if not both) used chemical weapons, they were deployed against non-combatants. If the rebels did it, they may have done so in an effort to point a finger at the regime. It was a propaganda action. It is a typical terrorist tactic. They don't care about civilians or kids. If the regime conducted the attacks, then the terrorists were intentionally hiding among non-combatants. That is also their tactic. In Iraq, they seized schools, mosques, and hospitals. They hid weapons, equipment, and leaders within these "protected sites". They use non-combatants as hostages and living shields. Should we have dropped bombs, the propaganda was ready to spin. The same tactic is obvious in Syria. If the regime attacks and kills the non-combatants, they don't care about them. The reality is that the terrorists don't either.

Whatever action we take, we need to be prepared to grant refuge. We need to be prepared to give medical aid on a mass scale. We must be prepared to temporarily house thousands of people. The danger lies in the fact that both sides are willing to use them as pawns if not weapons against any who offer aid or relief.

Syria is not the same animal as Iraq. That is where many pushing for US intervention have it wrong. Saddam Hussein was a threat to his own people. He was also aiding terrorist groups, not fighting them. (Well, there are two Kurdish separatist groups that conduct terrorist activities in Turkey. When Saddam was in power, they did the same in Iraq). Saddam was an enemy of the US who was aiding other enemies of the US. Syria is a case of two of our nation's enemies fighting each other.

Both sides in Syria are threats to our allies. They are threats to Israel. That much is obvious to all. However, they are threats to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as well. Egypt is in shambles. That leaves it ripe to corruption from either the Ba'ath Party or Al Q'aeda, whichever rises as victor in Syria.

As any Bears fan can attest, this is a case of Green Bay against Minnesota. We want both to lose. Since that cannot be, we just hope they both beat each other so intently that even the victor is left limping with their best players left on the injured reserve list.