Monday, November 13, 2006

Assad's Syria: Time for a Change of Course? (Part 2)

(Continued from Part 1, last post)

Here, a strategy change with regards to Syria may be in order. The Bush administration, at the behest of its war hawks, has continued to isolate the Syrian administration under Assad, and prosecuted them as an ally in terrorism. However, recent calls from Israel, Britain, and important Middle Eastern allies have brought the possibility for cooperation back to the forefront. A recent New York Sun article explicates this new potential relationship. Assad, backed by American allies, has called for American cooperation and negotiations. Now, more than ever, is the time to establish a working relationship with Syria, not only to reduce Iran's geopolitical influence, but also as an opportunity to smooth over religious, sectarian tensions.

Such a strategy of engagement is a crucial part of any successful strategy in the Middle East, especially one which seeks to prevent Iranian ascension in the region. According to Jim Lobe, Syria remains the lynchpin of the Middle Eastern geopolitical equation (while this article was posted on antiwar.com, Lobe is legitimate, as a senior editor for the Inter Press Service). Cooperation with Syria would have several benefits:

  1. Hezbollah and other Shia' Extremism: Iranian influence in Syria's day to day operations, and close ties with the Assad administration have allowed it to continue to successfully support the Hezbollah terrorist organization, the primary agitator in the this summer's war. Cooperation from Syria would both reduce cooperation between Syria and Iran, allowing a more effective crackdown on Hezbollah. It would also reduce Iranian influence in the western portion of the Middle East, likewise undermining radical Shi'ism.

  2. Iraqi Stabilization: Syrian cooperation with the United States would help to foster cooperation over Iraq, especially with regard to their mutual border. Cracking down on this gateway for terrorist transportation would have the duel effect of undermining a terrorist logistical boon, as well as reducing the mobility of the insurgency. The second effect, (one which is not lost on the current Iraq Study Group) is the effect such cooperation would have on the Sunni militant insurgency in Iraq. By working with Syria, and the relatively Moderate Assad administration, the United States would have a better shot at cooperating with the insurgency groups, allowing for the formation of a legitimate coalition government.

  3. Israeli Peace Process: Syria and Israel remain two of the major players in the Middle Eastern Peace Process, especially with regards to the terrorist attacks coming from Hamas's Palestine. Syrian-Israeli-American cooperation (or at least diplomacy) would ease tensions over the Golan Heights, reduce terrorism (see Hezbollah), and isolate the Hamas movement. These factors would help to facilitate Israeli-Palestinian peace, and at very least to isolate Hamas diplomatically and logistically.

These benefits help both to smooth over sectarian troubles in the Middle East, but also to reduce Iranian geopolitical clout, helping to maintain the stability of the region.


Critics claim that engagement with the Syrian regime will only help to support/legitimize the current Assad regime which has been a supporter of terrorism, and has suppressed local democracy movements, and that a hard line which isolates Syria would be preferable, leading to regime change. This relies however, on a false premise. Namely, that the Syrian administration is on unstable political footing. However, this is simply not the case. American attempts to isolate Syria have resulted in strengthening Syrian dictatorship, as Syrian leadership no longer relied on western aid, but was able to support itself through the help of others such as Iran, allowing for continued despotic control. Additionally, this connection to Iran, not the administration itself, is more to blame for Hezbollah terrorism, thus cooperation would be preferable to competition.


On both sides of the spectrum, left and right, the goals remain the same. Stabilize Iraq, prevent Iranian control of the region, prevent the spread of radical terrorism, and secure peace for Israel and Palestine. And as far as Syria policy is regarded, the only real opportunity for positive change lies with engagement with Assad's regime. In all truth, only one option remains tenable.


The possibility for change always remains on the table. Unfortunately, it is our administration, rather than Assad's which the barrier to change remains. American military, economic, and political power makes us a more attractive ally, one which can satisfy their needs more effectively. Moreover, Syria fears Iran's radical Shi'ism just as much as all of the other Sunni regimes in the region, and their alliance with the Iranians has been a convenient one rather than a tactical one.


Is it time for a change in the course? Absolutely!

Assad's Syria: Time for a Change of Course? (Part 1)

The war in Iraq has shattered the old geopolitical orthodoxy in the Middle East, and out of the ruins Iran led by the Mullahs has stepped up, presenting a grave threat to regional stability. With the belligerence of Iranian president Ahmadinejhad toward American regional allies, primarily Iraq and Israel, our main concern in the Middle East is not simply maintaining stability within Iraq, but also containing Iran and ensuring the radical Shi'ism endorsed by its leaders remains in check. With this goal in mind, foreign policy scholars have isolated two primary routes to this goal.

The first way to balance Iran is the stabilization of Iraq, primarily with regards to the secular conflict which claims thousands of lives each month. An important note with regards to the secular breakdown of Iraq is the split between Sunni's and the Shia which is where most of the violence begins. While most of the Middle East is led by Sunni leaders, Iran remains the largest (and only) Middle Eastern nation controlled by Shi'ite politicians.

The implications of this religious division of the Middle East are profound, as American allies around the Middle East are confronted with increasingly belligerent Shia populations, sponsored in large part by the Iranian administration. Robbins, a senior policy fellow from the conservative American Enterprise Institute, demonstrates in "Let’s Be Friends with Syria" that this split between Sunni and Shia is so wide, that Iranian doctrine holds that the Sunni's must be killed, holding the position of an 'Apostate', a Muslim who believes in Sunni doctrine. These Apostates are (in the minds of the radical Mullahs in charge) worthy of death, because unlike Christians and Jews, they are not simply 'deluded', but they OUGHT to know better. This divide between Sunni and Shia has been exacerbated by the instability in Iraq, and Iran's main strength outside of its borders has been its ability to exploit this shift to destabilize its neighbors.

Therefore, a key part of the American strategy in Iraq must be to ensure Sunni integration into the political process (with many Sunni's creating the foundation of the insurgency against Iraq's Shia majority). Without their participation, it is unlikely that any truly effective coalition government can prevent escalation of secular violence, and create a major counterbalancing force to Iran's growing strength. It is for this reason that many scholars on the conflict have suggested that the United States actively pursue a stronger relationship with Iraqi Sunni communities, regional Sunni allies, and Sunni militant groups.

The second approach is entirely geopolitical in its nature, splintering Iran's regional coalition, and isolating it diplomatically. While Iran maintains close ties with many nations, two remain the most important in the Middle East's balance of power. The first nation is Russia, with its strong ties to the development of Iranian petroleum and nuclear energy reserves, their aid has allowed Iranians to develop their nuclear program, and modernize their military forces. The second nation is Syria, whose leadership under president Assad has found itself diplomatically and politically isolated from regional powers. Despite its strong Sunni majority, and opposition to Shia expansionism, Syria has found itself FORCED into a stance supporting Iranian military strength.

Syria in particular is important in this regard. The Hezbollah terrorist organization, infamous for its war of terror against Israel this last July, receives most of its monetary and logistical support from the Shia leadership of Iran. This terrorist organization is just one example of Iranian extended influence in the region, spreading and exacerbating the conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims in the western Middle East. Syria's support of Iranian political doctrine has also allowed Iran to help block Israel from exerting its influence farther east, and has continued to prevent the stabilization of the region, particularly with regard to Iraq. Finally, Syria's connections with Iran have fostered the creation of a terror-friendly border between Syria and Iraq, fueling the insurgency movement. Clearly, Syria's geo-political alignment with Iran has been problematic for the region, and for American regional interests.



(This Post will be continued with PART 2 posted later)

Have Questions/Comments/Disagreements? Post them!


New Member

We have a new member here at A Youth's View from the Right, he is "The Mouthpiece of Truth." He is a decorated debater, so I'm looking forward to his posts. I'd give his credentials, but the thought of someone hunting him down with that information is in the back of my mind. Actually, I just hope we have enough readers for some of them to get fuming mad at what we say, but who knows, maybe we do.

Anyway, look for his posts, they are sure to be interesting in the least.

Fighting for truth, justice, and the capitalistic way

Rudy 2008

Now here is a republican who the democrats could deal with: Rudy Giuliani. He has began the process of becoming a Presidential Candidate. Not only could the democrats handle him, I think that republicans would back him enthusiastically also.

"The former mayor filed papers to create the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Exploratory Committee, Inc., creating a panel that would allow him to raise money for a White House run and travel the country."

I think it's funny that as soon as the midterm election passes, everybody (including me) is talking about the next presidential election. But I guess even after the last presidential election people were talking about Condi versus Hillary for prez. It's all one big campaign.

Fighting for truth, justice, and the capitalistic way

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hope

A new perspective in Iraq may be a good thing, but I don't know if I want it to be the democrats' perspective. The purely anti-war mantra of the democrats is noble and all, but it could be dangerous for America. The hope I have came from an article by John Gibson. Although it may be a bit too "I told you so," it has a good point.

"That is for the Democrats to abandon their anti-war election rhetoric, recognize this is now their war to win too, and help President Bush and the Iraqis make this go quickly and go well."

Hopefully these polititians realize that now they have been elected to office, they can drop the campaign slogans and work to find a better solution than running from Iraq and "talking" to the terrorists. Terrorists don't compromise, and we shouldn't compromise with terrorists.

Fighting for truth, justice, and the capitalistic way

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Coincidence...

... I think not.
(the link doesn't work perfectly for me, so if there is confusion, it's the "Riddle Me This" post)

The day after the election was so much more pleasant without all of the babies whining about voter fraud and intimidation.

Fighting for truth, justice, and the capitalistic way

The Results

When I first realized that the republicans had lost the House, and now possibly the Senate, I was a little upset, but now that I think about it, it will be interesting to see how this pans out over the next few years. We can't win every election, so I'm not too worried in the long term; this is a good time for the republicans to regroup.

On a semi-related note, I found this little story and I found it very amusing:

While walking down the street one day, a U.S. senator is tragically hit by a truck and dies. His soul arrives in Heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.
"Welcome to Heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you."
"No problem, just let me in."
"Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in Hell and one in Heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity."
"Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in Heaven," says the senator.
"I'm sorry, but we have our rules."
And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down.
The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him. Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.
They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne. Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy. He has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go. Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises.
The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on Heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him.
"Now it's time to visit Heaven."
So, 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.
"Well, then, you've spent a day in Hell and another in Heaven. Now, choose your eternity."
The senator reflects for a minute, then he answers.
"Well, I would never have said it before. I mean Heaven has been delightful, but I think Iwould be better off in Hell."
So, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to Hell.
The doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags, as more trash falls from above. The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder.

"I don't understand," stammers the senator. "Yesterday, I was here and there was a golf course and a clubhouse and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, danced and had a great time. Now, it's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened"?
The devil looks at him, smiles and says, "Yesterday, we were campaigning. Today, you voted."

Fighting for truth, justice, and the capitalistic way

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