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Hillary Clinton Seeks Brechtian ‘Solution’ in Syria

When the subject of the Assad regime in Syria came up in the presidential debate on foreign policy, President Obama declared: “We are going to do everything we can to make sure that we are helping the opposition. … We are mobilizing humanitarian support, and support for the opposition. And we are making sure that those we help are those who will be friends of ours in the long term [emphasis mine]…”

By my rough count, those are two not-necessarily-overlapping projects. We support the “opposition” — but only those elements of the opposition that will be friendly to U.S. interests in the long term. As it’s become increasingly clear that those elements, if such exist, have yet to coalesce in any meaningful way, this is proving a tricky two-step for the Obama administration.

A headline [1] yesterday in the New York Times spoke volumes — “As Fighting Rages, Clinton Seeks New Syrian Opposition”. Apparently, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has had it up to here with the Syrian National Council [2], the Turkey-based opposition group whose members Clinton described as “people who have many good attributes, but have, in many instances, have not been inside Syria for 20, 30, or 40 years.”

The Times report continues:

The Obama administration has been exasperated for months with the anemic leadership and constant bickering of the council, which is often far more caught up in fighting over spots on travel delegations than in creating an effective transitional government. It failed to attract significant representation from minority groups, including the Alawites who dominate Syria as well as the Christians or the Kurds. Its obscure academics and long-exiled activists also seem increasingly irrelevant in a civil war in which extremist jihadis are gaining more visibility.

The Obama State Department’s conundrum in Syria calls to mind the left-wing dramatist Bertolt Brecht’s immortal sardonic advice [3] for a Communist regime facing hungry East Berliners in 1953: “Would it not be easier in that case for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?”

Of course we can’t simply “elect” a new Syrian opposition. But we’re going to conjure a brand new one that combines the worldliness of the aging exiles with the energy and authenticity of the rebels on the ground. Oh, and Mitt Romney is completely on board [4].

What could go wrong?

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#1 Comment By Mightypeon On November 1, 2012 @ 10:53 am

Syria currently has 3 wars going on at the same time.

“Democrats” vs Assad

Radical Sunnis vs the Shia

Kurds vs anyone that is against Kurdistan

For starters, it helps to put the initial protests into perespective. Policemen were killed fairly instanteusly, the Police reacted with extreme force. This could happen in western countries too, imagine what happens if Occupy wall street starts copkilling.
Al Assad later went in to play “good cop” and pronounced several family members of police abuses as Martyrs (which entails significant monetary benefits), this may have been seen as weakness by some parts of the opposition, but the salafi internventionists from lybia and northern Lebanon (who have been in the country from the start) continued to shoot.

Due to state overreactions and terrorist acts, Assads belated reform efforts fell flat, and all out civil war happened. At this point, there was a measure of unity between the Salafists, the Muslim brothers and the “pro democracy protestors”. However, as violence escalated further, the Regime felt sufficiently threathend to go and basically shoot the low hanging fruit, in this case the pro democracy movement. The foreign intervents and the Muslim brothers were both harder to catch then the well infiltrated and disunited crowd that was cheering for more democracy.
The situation in Syrias north was more complicated, following a damn building project, sizeable numbers of Sunni Arab farmers were transplanted there and given the lands of Rich Kurdish magnates, these Kurds want their land back. As the revolution, particularly after the death of the democratic opposition, became more and more an exclusively Sunni Arab thing, the Kurds were naturally somewhat dismayed. Since the transplanted Sunni Arabs largely supported the FSA, the Kurds aligned themselfes with Assad. That Assad shot down a turkish plane was perhaps his way of signing his pact with the PKK in (Turkish) blood. Given that Turkey regularly violates Iraqi airspaces to drop bombs on people they deem to be PKK, Turkey is not exactly in a position to complain if others shoot down their fighter jets.

Assad is a bastard, but not neccessarily a foe of the west, nor is he the biggest bastard in the region. He is also quite far on the rational side of things. Once the Shiites are dealt with however, the Sunnis will have scant need of the west, and I am somewhat unconvinced that f.e. Israel is well served by being surrounded by Muslim Brotherhood nations.
Somewhat thankfully, the prospects of a Muslim Brotherhood victory in the short term are slim, unless someone decides to bomb them into power. The Alawites know that only the wall awaits them, the christians arent too hot about moving into Lebanon and
the Kurds arent interested in being third class citizens either, being second class under Assad was enough.

A point in Assads favor was that he generally treated ethnic and religious minorities well, or rather, less bad than his neighbours. Syria has the distinction of being the only middle eastern nation that does not treat Palestinians like second (or third) class citizens, it also has a history of being quite OK to Christians and being less horrible towards Kurds than its neighbours.
After the slaughter and expulsion of the Lybias Black population, this cannot be said for the international salafist brigades that today make up the majority of the “Syrian opposition”.

#2 Comment By Rossbach On November 1, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

Isn’t this what we did just prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003? Perhaps we a Syrian counterpart to Ahmed Chalabi. He might even help Hilary conjure up some WMD. It’s been done before.

#3 Comment By classic fall On November 2, 2012 @ 8:55 am

“”Secretary of State Hillary Clinton””

The consensus seems to be that she’ll be gone by year end, whatever the election result. Good riddance to the most spectacularly incompetent Secretary of State since Robert McNamara, and probably ever. Countless missteps, botches and outright disasters; zero accomplishments.

Despite leading the 27 million hits returned by a Google search on “worst secretary of state” she’ll probably wash up at one of those international institutions where the worst of the international elite go to sustain their sense of entitlement after they’ve finished screwing up in the big leagues.