February 12, 2012

Russia and China are made to be the bad guys for vetoing action against Assad, but does anyone really care about him in Washington? Yes and no. The neocons would like to see him go because he does not follow orders and allows Hezbollah to remain a threat against Israel’s northern frontier with Lebanon. Uncle Sam has no bases in Syria, which also makes Assad expendable. Yet throughout Syria, Assad is the only man able to bring in eventual reform and to protect Christians—who in Egypt are being slaughtered by the newly “free” and “democratic” Egyptian Muslims.

Iraq showed us how easy it is to prematurely proclaim victory. In that tragic country, elections after the American invasion only widened divisions, and a civil war is a fifty-fifty chance nine years after the invasion.

Libya is worse off now than when the monstrous Gaddafi was in power. Militias have the run of the place, the killing continues, and the only good to emerge from the West’s intervention is the fact that Gaddafi’s ghastly offspring no longer come to Gstaad, St. Moritz, St. Tropez, and St. Barts. That is all. Washington has never learned any historical lessons. We armed the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, both of which cost thousands of American lives.

The Syrian opposition is divided—by sects, by politics, by regions, and by tribes. What’s happening in Syria is not a revolution, it is a sectarian conflict. Syria’s Sunnis and Alawites hate one another more than they hate Assad. That’s why Assad has survived so long.

Russia is not the kind of country that plays nice for the hell of it. Russia sees the falls of Saddam and Gaddafi as part of a plan to draw countries into the Western orbit. Syria is the seventh-biggest Russian arms purchaser. The deepwater port of Tartus welcomes Russian warships. Putin dreams of a Russian return to the Soviets’ global standing. The Russkis have made a bet, and I think it’s a fifty-fifty one. As the great Marcel Dalio playing the croupier in Casablanca used to exclaim, “faites vos jeux”—place your bets.



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