In Sympathy to the Devil, America approaches WW3 in Damascus

We learned the power of an image in September 2012 when a cartoon inflamed passions across the Islamic world. Photo: AP Photo

NEW YORK, September 5, 2013 — It takes an image to spark uncontrolled outrage; this we learned in September 2012 when a cartoon trailer inflamed passions across the Islamic world.

Editors of Egyptian publication Al Wafd and military censors apparently have allowed vivid portrayal of our President as the devil. As of now, there is little outrage.

Perhaps it is finally time to consider leaving the fact-free universe, thinking clearly concerning America’s true national interests in the Middle East, while acknowledging our terrifyingly over-extended financial and military profile.

We need not rush towards oblivion in one more ill-conceived foreign intervention.

Regime Change: The Tortured Path of Befriending Devils

In the practical world with fewer and fewer secrets, overt regime change tears apart core precepts of settled international law.

Is any territory actually sovereign?

Can there be rule of law anywhere?

One clear lesson that America’s foreign policy elite refuses to heed, after failing so abjectly with regime change for so long, is that it can be better to lie with the devil you know, then to rush into the arms of the one you have not met.

In 1979, we pushed out a loyal American ally, in hope that Islamic rule could work inside Iran. We need not debate whether that episode of regime change served America’s national interests or the Iranian populace.

Leap ahead to the period starting in 2001: regime change under President George W. Bush in Afghanistan and in Iraq has not worked, especially considering the tremendous cost in blood, treasure and national reputation.

Now consider the bidding since January 2009.

President Obama’s major speech in Cairo in June of that year likely marks the moment he started draining credibility with enemies and rivals in the Middle East.

Scant days afterwards, America’s inactions following a stolen election in Iran created tragic rivulets of blood, spilled by those prepared to rise up and throw off the corrupt, theocratic Iranian regime.

As Iran remained locked down in a cruel, oppressive winter, the Obama Administration then engendered an Arab spring. We do not fully know what American resources eventually sparked events that culminated in the first Tahrir Square demonstrations back in 2011.  

President Obama certainly instructed Hosni Mubarak to step down. Months later, America certainly supported Mohammad Morsi and played down at home the threats to Egypt posed by the Muslim Brotherhood. When Morsi’s true colors ultimately showed, America enabled a second episode of regime change.

Who wants to defend (using facts) the proposition that America’s vital interests have been served or Egypt’s prospects advanced by this meddling?

Those who now push the case for interfering in Syria include prominent figures who foisted regime change upon Libya.

If you want to see Syria’s future should we intervene there, look back upon our flirtation with jihadist elements inside Libya. Then remember two things—Syria has many more people and far less oil than Libya.

Who cares to demonstrate that Syria has a competent governing class capable of rising now after decades under rule by the Assad family?

Supposing Assad is toppled over objections from Russia and from Iran, how will Syria compete on world stage? What will Syria sell on world markets? Will that country actually survive intact?

Do we really believe that if at first you do not succeed, we should fail, and fail again?

If only American foreign policy since 1979 were just a bi-partisan muddle, not the abject failure rushing in haste for the entire world to see.

Let us Now Reject an Appointment with Armageddon

Our President sleeps in St. Petersburg at a G-20 Summit where he has, at best, held “frank discussions” or at worst found it painful to sit down.

While he sleeps, Americans and the world stand at gates to hell, led here by those who embrace and have become rebels for the wrong causes across the volatile Mideast.

If only President Obama’s agile mind could contemplate deviation from the collision course he has set.

If only we could recapture some of his promise.

If only we could rescind and rework the “reset” with Russia.

Alas, we have a President, a group in command, and a band of advisors who care little what the public thinks—in this Administration, the meek follow wherever the mighty choose to lead.

At war since September 11, 2001, Americans are along for a ride and definitely in the back of the bus.

Or are we?

With apologies to Winston Churchill, the argument that we must bomb Syria “just enough” but stop short of removing all those responsible for killing innocents with banned chemical weapons is neither a riddle, nor a mystery, nor an enigma.

The Obama-Kerry-McCain call for military action against Syria is a contradiction, wrapped in rhetoric that rests on deeply flawed assumptions.

Moreover, this pitifully thin case certainly has not swayed affected nations, while both ends of the somnolent American public rises in more forceful, bi-partisan opposition.

This is no time to “out-cowboy” George W. Bush by acting far outside ideals we used to hold dear.

If a missile strike against one more nation in the Middle East is the answer, we certainly are not yet asking the correct questions.

Now is the time to overwhelm the internet, voicemail, and letter boxes of our public servants so that America can call off a losing date with destiny.

Better angels expect nothing less while those who cherish the American dream deserve much more.

As we drive toward Damascus on the fast lane to hell, we still have time to stop the inevitable destruction.

And, we must have far better choices.

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Charles Ortel

Charles Ortel became a lapsed member of the silent majority in August 2007 when he began alerting the public to dangers posed by structural changes in the global economy. Since then, Charles has appeared in the print, radio and television media with increasing frequency. Brass Tacks will attempt to offer non-partisan perspective on factors contributing to the unresolved, burgeoning crisis and discuss potential solutions. Graduated from Horace Mann School, Yale College and Harvard Business School, Charles tries to learn each day.  

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