In the end I’m not sure it matters.
The worldwide majority of people—at least the people who don’t have political power—do not want the US to start arming Al Qaeda terrorists Syrian freedom fighters. As the Washington Post reports, every polling group finds a majority of the country opposes Syrian interventions. All this talk about a “red line” because of Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons (a claim still without evidence) may apply to pundits and politicians. The rest of us don’t think it matters.
The Washington blog points out that it is not just in the United States. Majorities polled in the UK, France, and Turkey all think arming our heart-eating, Christian Church burning “friends” in Syria is a bad idea. Of course, this opposition will make no difference: “Americans were opposed to the “humanitarian” war in Libya … even before they learned that the U.S. and its allies had backed Al Qaeda to topple Gaddafi. But we went in anyway.”
One way in which a “democratic” country like the US gets away with defying the will of the people is by distracting us with the pretence of an ongoing drama about how the decision is being made. Thus, the Jeffrey Goldberg reports for Bloomberg:
“At a principals meeting in the White House situation room, Secretary of State John Kerry began arguing, vociferously, for immediate U.S. airstrikes against airfields under the control of Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime – specifically, those fields it has used to launch chemical weapons raids against rebel forces.”
So, Kerry was for immediate unauthorized unilateral war. When you think about Putin’s opposition to the current US policy (What kind of country do we live in when the only politician willing to speak for the majority of Americans is the Russian president?), this behavior is staggeringly dangerous. Kerry sounds like he belongs in a lead role in the move Dr. Strangelove.
The Bloomberg story tells a tale of more drama:
“It was at this point that the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the usually mild-mannered Army General Martin Dempsey, spoke up, loudly. According to several sources, Dempsey threw a series of brushback pitches at Kerry, demanding to know just exactly what the post-strike plan would be and pointing out that the State Department didn’t fully grasp the complexity of such an operation. Dempsey informed Kerry that the Air Force could not simply drop a few bombs, or fire a few missiles, at targets inside Syria: To be safe, the U.S. would have to neutralize Syria’s integrated air-defense system, an operation that would require 700 or more sorties.”
Hopefully the story of the military pushing back on the quagmire that would be direct action against Syria is accurate. But notice what Kerry has done. He has basically manipulated the discussion so that the “moderate” position will involve arming and giving all sorts of other aid to these radical Islamists. Whether this is a story for public consumption in order to manipulate us to follow the establishment consensus, or if this is how Kerry is moving that consensus into a more interventionist direction, it doesn’t make much practical difference.
Either way, sanity is left behind. We are going to support instability and anti-Christian violence in Syria to oust a man who is no worse (at least!) than the people we are sponsoring.