At Large

Walking Back the Red Line

Regime change, not chemical or conventional weapons, is the reason we will intervene in Syria.

By 10.11.13

This was never about chemical weapons. This has always been about regime change.

A case in point: This week as Secretary of State John Kerry praised Bashar al-Assad's regime for the speed in which it was destroying its chemical weapon stockpiles, President Obama’s Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power was once again rattling her Louis Vuitton saber and promoting nation-building.

Just when American military families were beginning to breathe a sigh of relief satisfied that dad or mom were not going to be marched off to die in another pointless Middle East war, Power told The Today Show that military options are not off the table with regard to Syria.

Why aren't you kids eating your cereal?

With chemical weapons now out of the picture, Ambassador Power has been walking back the exceptional threats those weapons imposed. Machetes can be as bad as chemical weapons, Power tweeted recently, comparing the civil war in Syria with Rwanda's genocide.

The back-walking continued in a recent UN speech:

Finally, whether by chemical weapons or by conventional weapons, the violence against civilians in Syria has gone on too long and it must stop. An agreement on the destruction and removal of chemical weapons is not a substitute for a political solution. The 100,000 or more dead Syrians makes it gravely clear that a political transition is urgently needed to end the violence.

Take a breath Samantha. Everyone agrees that violence against civilians -- whether in Damascus or Chicago -- is horrible. Where most Americans do not agree is that it is the duty of our 20-year-old sons and daughters to go to the Middle East and kill Syrians and, in turn, be killed by Syrians in the hope of overthrowing the Assad regime. What is more, Americans are getting wise to the idea that endless war is just another excuse for the endless expansion of federal powers, for in no time does the state grow more rapidly than in times of war. Endless war, therefore, means nonstop government expansion.

Even if regime change were effective -- and not one of the countries that threw off dictators in the Arab Spring has anything like a stable, peaceful democracy today -- it would still be illegal as well as immoral. Regime change is also synonymous with wishful thinking. Regime change is the fantasy that the next general who takes power will not develop into another ruthless, egocentric despot forced to battle extremist elements in his own and in neighboring counties, resulting in the kinds of human rights violations that make morally superior Ivy League grads like Samantha Power rush out and write Pulitzer Prize-winning books. Dictator succeeding dictator is standard operating procedure in most of the world. America’s intervention and a dozen Pulitzer Prizes are not going to change that.

Likewise it is folly to think a new Syrian ruler is going to toe the U.S. line, embrace our policies, and convert to democracy.

FOR WEEKS the Obama Administration and its neocon allies portrayed the use of chemical weapons as a game-changer. The Syrian rebels gladly went along with this. Anything to get the United States to bomb Syrian military and political targets and level the battlefield.

But instead of celebrating the recent deal to destroy chemical weapons, many rebels felt betrayed. So betrayed, in fact, that they joined the rebels' most extremist, al Qaeda-linked groups in the north.

Recently on NPR’s Morning Edition a so-called moderate Syrian rebel spokesman admitted that the rebels didn’t give a tinker's damn about chemical weapons. The rebel aim all along has been to sucker the U.S. into intervening on their behalf. When the U.S. and Russia brokered a deal to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons, some “moderate” rebels immediately joined the side of America’s real enemy. And I don’t mean Assad.

No one is talking about red lines anymore. But Ambassador Power is still tweeting fervently about regime change. And regime change, by definition, cannot be carried out without boots on the ground. And boots on the ground means American-filled body bags. Not Ivy League graduate-filled body bags, but the corpses of my neighbors in Marthasville, Trealor and Holstein, who will join the Army not because they are gung-ho to depose Syria’s president, but because there are no other opportunities for them in rural America.

How convenient. 

Photo: UPI

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About the Author
Christopher Orlet writes from St. Louis.