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10/10/16

Syria: The Mother Of All US Humanitarian and Foreign Policy disasters

David T. Jones writes in the Epoch Times; "The proverbial “law of holes” states, “When you find yourself in one—stop digging.”

So far as Syria is concerned, we seem unwilling to learn this lesson.

And, brutal as is the reality, the West has lost the war in Syria. Whatever our kaleidoscope of objectives has been, ranging from removal of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to support of “democratic” rebels to creation of an Aleppo ceasefire, we have failed.

There is no reason to believe al-Assad will cease military action in Syria until he has eliminated opposition—whether it be Daesh (aka ISIS/ISIL/IS) or assorted “rebel” groups of whatever political philosophy. As long as al-Assad has Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah assistance, he will prevail.

Nor is Aleppo’s ongoing humanitarian disaster going to cause a twinge by those conducting it. The fighting has continued since July 2012; various estimates suggest 30,000 dead with several hundred thousand civilians and combatants remaining in the besieged portion of the city.

However, remembering Russian casualties during World War II, e.g., siege of Leningrad (900 days; one million civilians and 300,000 military died) or Stalingrad (1.1 million total casualties; 478,000 killed), Putin may well conclude Aleppo’s losses are inconsequential—and the Western whiners are trying to play a human rights card in a military reality poker game.

Indeed, Western leaders have misplayed their opportunities from the beginning. We apparently believed the Arab Spring, starting in 2010, which swept away creaky dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, as well as forcing political change throughout the Middle East, would also evict al-Assad.

After all, al-Assad looks like a gawky ophthalmologist (his academic training) rather than presenting the visage of an iron-fisted dictator. Implicitly, we thought he would decamp with lovely wife, family, and uncounted fortune to comfortable retirement in some dictator-accepting/friendly country. But there was steel where we expected Jello; his Army stayed loyal, fought hard, and beat down various rebel groups. Al-Assad “channeled” his father who never caviled at massacring opponents.

Western leaders declined to put “boots on the ground”—removing al-Assad wasn’t initially believed to be worth body bags coming home—or even bomb his airfields and destroy his Air Force, his trump card in combating rebels. So fighting continued, and we lost the easy course of action. President Obama backed away from his personal “line in the sand” demanding al-Assad remove chemical weapons; then the Russians were able to arrange such a removal/elimination and, concurrently, seize a principal position in the struggle.

Consequently, Syrians have fled by millions. Statistics on the tragedy are politicized, but one estimate has 4.8 million refugees plus 6.6 million displaced within the country from a population of 17 million. Most refugees are in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.

But the exodus has also disoriented Europe, which in a misplaced burst of humanitarianism opened its doors to more than a million refugees."

 The proverbial “law of holes” states, “When you find yourself in one—stop digging.”

So far as Syria is concerned, we seem unwilling to learn this lesson.

And, brutal as is the reality, the West has lost the war in Syria. Whatever our kaleidoscope of objectives has been, ranging from removal of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to support of “democratic” rebels to creation of an Aleppo ceasefire, we have failed.

There is no reason to believe al-Assad will cease military action in Syria until he has eliminated opposition—whether it be Daesh (aka ISIS/ISIL/IS) or assorted “rebel” groups of whatever political philosophy. As long as al-Assad has Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah assistance, he will prevail.

Nor is Aleppo’s ongoing humanitarian disaster going to cause a twinge by those conducting it. The fighting has continued since July 2012; various estimates suggest 30,000 dead with several hundred thousand civilians and combatants remaining in the besieged portion of the city.

However, remembering Russian casualties during World War II, e.g., siege of Leningrad (900 days; one million civilians and 300,000 military died) or Stalingrad (1.1 million total casualties; 478,000 killed), Putin may well conclude Aleppo’s losses are inconsequential—and the Western whiners are trying to play a human rights card in a military reality poker game.

Aleppo - Syria
Indeed, Western leaders have misplayed their opportunities from the beginning. We apparently believed the Arab Spring, starting in 2010, which swept away creaky dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, as well as forcing political change throughout the Middle East, would also evict al-Assad.

After all, al-Assad looks like a gawky ophthalmologist (his academic training) rather than presenting the visage of an iron-fisted dictator. Implicitly, we thought he would decamp with lovely wife, family, and uncounted fortune to comfortable retirement in some dictator-accepting/friendly country. But there was steel where we expected Jello; his Army stayed loyal, fought hard, and beat down various rebel groups. Al-Assad “channeled” his father who never caviled at massacring opponents.

Western leaders declined to put “boots on the ground”—removing al-Assad wasn’t initially believed to be worth body bags coming home—or even bomb his airfields and destroy his Air Force, his trump card in combating rebels. So fighting continued, and we lost the easy course of action. President Obama backed away from his personal “line in the sand” demanding al-Assad remove chemical weapons; then the Russians were able to arrange such a removal/elimination and, concurrently, seize a principal position in the struggle.

Consequently, Syrians have fled by millions. Statistics on the tragedy are politicized, but one estimate has 4.8 million refugees plus 6.6 million displaced within the country from a population of 17 million. Most refugees are in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.

But the exodus has also disoriented Europe, which in a misplaced burst of humanitarianism opened its doors to more than a million refugees. "

Bottom line: Syria has become the mother of all US failed humanitarian and foreign policy disasters.

The question that Europe must answer, rather sooner than later is, can it continue to blindly walk in "lockstep" with the US, when it comes to their totally failed Middle East policies, or develop its own independent and more constructive foreign policy objectives?

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