Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry is the latest to propose the terrible idea of allying with the Syrian regime, and tops it off with a ridiculous pop culture reference:
And so the U.S. must pull its strategy from the Game of Thrones playbook, and be willing to do the ruthless and the unexpected. It’s not going to look good, but it will get the job done.
That’s why the U.S. should team up with Bashar al-Assad’s regime — but not Assad himself.
Let’s forget for the moment that this “playbook” of ruthlessness and surprise gets a lot of Game of Thrones characters needlessly killed and brings ruin on their country. On its own terms, this proposal doesn’t make any sense. It is doubtful that “it will get the job done,” since there is probably nothing that would better suit ISIS’ propaganda and recruiting purposes than to be fighting the Syrian regime and the U.S. as they work in tandem. In times of extraordinary danger it might become necessary to make temporary alliances with horrible governments, but there is no excuse for waging a war of choice and then arguing for making deals with ugly regimes for the sake of a war that the U.S. doesn’t have to be fighting. We would need to be pretty desperate before joining forces with a government as awful as the Syrian regime, and there is simply no reason for it here. Even if such a “Faustian bargain” (Gobry’s words) could “get the job done,” that is just another reason not to try doing this particular “job.”
Besides, there is no chance that the Syrian regime would go for the deal Gobry wants to offer. The conditions that he sets for this imaginary deal with the Syrian regime wouldn’t be acceptable to anyone in a position to make such a deal. Maybe some members of the regime would be willing to depose Assad, but that doesn’t really change anything about the nature of the regime or its past crimes. Supposing that some members of the regime agreed to do this, others might violently oppose a coup and that would create a rift between different factions of the regime. Is it at all likely that any members of the regime would be interested in a treaty with Israel or in breaking off their client relationship with Iran? Iranian support has kept the regime afloat for years, and now they’re going to give that up for the promise of U.S. support? That’s not going to happen. For that matter, is there is any chance that anyone in the “moderate” opposition would be interested in forming a unity government with a post-Assad Baathist leadership? Why would they take that deal? Because Washington tells them to?
More to the point, why would anyone in the U.S. want to make this offer? At this point, Syria would be a massive liability to have as a client state, and an enormous drain on American resources just as it has been a drain on Iran’s. But the full insanity of what Gobry proposes becomes clear when he tries to figure out what to do about Hizbullah:
So the first thing the new Syrian-American alliance should do is destroy Hizbollah in Syria in a lightning strike, which would greatly weaken Iranian interests in the region and lead to stability [bold mine-DL.
Since Hizbullah has been actively involved in Syria’s civil war and has been fighting on the same side as Syrian regime forces for years, there is also no chance that members of the regime would agree to reject their help and absolutely no chance that they would agree to participate in “destroying” Hizbullah forces now in Syria. Gobry wants the U.S. to side with the Syrian regime, but to do so after it has renounced two of its main sources of military aid and support and attacked one of its former allies. This is the cunning strategy that he wants us to adopt. It’s the sort of brilliant plan one might expect from Theon Greyjoy.
Gobry concludes by describing this as “playing empire smartly,” which is bad enough, but the policy he advocates here isn’t a smart one even when judged by thoroughly amoral standards. It would backfire horribly, it would greatly weaken the regime that is supposed to become our new ally, and it would create threats to the U.S. where they didn’t exist. Judged by a reasonably sane standard, it’s an outrageous and foolish idea. If it were carried out, it would identify the U.S. with one of the most abusive and despicable regimes on earth, and it would alienate and appall every other regional government as well as the vast majority of people in Arab and Muslim countries around the world. There’s no question that the war Obama is waging right now is a very dumb war, but this would be even worse.