Coming Soon to Syria, Iraq War Part II?
A few days ago, I rode in an Uber. The driver seemed Middle Eastern, but a cross hung from the mirror. “Uh oh,” I thought. “Is he one of those…?” I knew I was in for a painful ride down memory lane.
We got to talking. Yes, the driver was a Christian from Iraq. And yes, every one of his friends and family members fled their country. (Christians have been in Iraq since the apostles evangelized it.) Yes, every church he’d ever attended burned to the ground, while U.S. troops (obeying orders) did nothing. His father was robbed by ISIS at gunpoint, then shot. Dad recovered, but was banned from the U.S. for providing “material aid” to ISIS. (An organization that didn’t exist before our invasion.)
Of more than a million Iraqi Christians who lived there safely in 2002, 80% are now refugees. “Mission Accomplished,” indeed! I told the driver how sorry I was on behalf of all my countrymen. I knew it was pitifully inadequate, but he appreciated the gesture.
Is Syria Next?
There are still a million Christians living safely in the government-controlled part of Syria, and hundreds of thousands living in the Kurdish-led, free Federation of Northern Syria. Will they end up like the hunted, abandoned Christians of Iraq? What President Trump decides in the next few days will tell us.
Orthodox Easter Weekend from the Holy Cross Church in Damascus.
If the US was to attack the Syrian state in an Iraq-Libya-style intervention, it would embolden the very jihadists trying to eliminate Christians from Syria. pic.twitter.com/8hE9fW3JkZ
— Sarah Abdallah (@sahouraxo) April 9, 2018
I don’t know whether or not the recent chemical attack on civilians in Syria that can be traced to the Assad government. (It’s on the verge of winning the war and doesn’t need to use them.) Or the radical Islamist militias it’s fighting against. (They are losing, and desperate for outside intervention.) I doubt that the U.S. government knows for sure. No doubt there are people who think that they are certain, as Colin Powell thought he was certain that Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction. I’ll never forget his slam-dunk presentation at the U.N.
It almost convinced me that we needed to invade Iraq. But in the end it didn’t. Why? Because there were so many other questions we were unable to answer. The most important one was: “Will we only make matters worse if we do?”
May We Learn from Experience?
Way back in 2002, I posed such queries to war advocates. Few bothered to address them. They were gung-ho and can-do about America’s power. Could we create a unified democracy in a splintered, sectarian country? BLEEP yeah! We’re Team America, World Police! Those of us who even doubted it turned out to be “unpatriotic.”
Alas, the real world has a way of answering such questions in blood and fire, in burning churches and teeming refugee camps. We saw that answer in Libya, too, when President Obama told us we had to act to save Libyan dissidents from “genocide” at Gaddafi’s hands. That turned out to be propaganda, of course. NATO bombed his forces to let the “rebels” win. Now ISIS controls a third of that shattered country, and Arab traders are now selling black Africans openly in slave markets. Another big win for NATO.
Let’s go through my questions from 2002. Let’s see how they got answered in Iraq, and how they’d likely get answered this time in Syria.
The Same Shabby Script from 2002
I wrote back then:
Iraq is not a nation. It is a petty, despotic empire. … an artificial creation of colonial mapmakers, designed by foreigners to suit their interests, which can only be held together, to all appearances, by a tyrannical regime that represses minorities. In other words, it’s a lot like Tito’s Yugoslavia — and remember what happened, and is still happening, there. Should the U.S. invade, it will become our responsibility to create and maintain a stable regime. All failures will be rightly laid at the feet of the American government, and resentments throughout the Arab and Moslem world will be aimed at Americans-not just American soldiers or policymakers, but at innocent civilians who work in skyscrapers, American tourists on vacation, American businessman and women working abroad.
Is all that true of Syria? Yep, every last sad word.
Should the Kurds — let’s say — vote to secede from an American-ruled Iraq, will our Marines repress them by force? The Turkish government has threatened to invade any nascent Kurdish regime. Wouldn’t that suit our interests, to have a NATO country crushing the legitimate aspirations of a long-captive nation, as our troops look on?
The Kurds of Syria have tried to do just that. In fact, they created a free, democratic enclave where Christians are part of the government. And yes, the Turks invaded it, and the U.S. just looked on while our allies (the ones who beat ISIS for us) were brutally crushed.
What if the Shiites — a clear majority in Iraq — decide to establish a theocratic government, imposing Islamic Sharia on the hundreds of thousands of Christians who live (untroubled by the current secular government) in Iraq, as Islamists are now attempting to do in Sudan, Nigeria, and Indonesia? Will we stop them? That should help diminish support for terrorism, shouldn’t it?
As it turned out, the Sunnis of ISIS were the ones who tried to do that in Iraq, enslaving, killing, or rape-trafficking thousands. In Syria, the radical Sunnis whom John McCain and Lindsey Graham liked to call “moderate rebels” are doing ISIS’s work in the Afrin region. And the jihadists who now want our help against Assad will do it to one million Christians in cities like Damascus, if given the chance.
The same people who assured us that Saddam Hussein was a grave threat to America are now saying that of Assad. They’re telling us that “moderate rebels” exist who would be America’s allies if they came to power.
Should We Install Jihadis in Damascus?
The same people who assured us that Saddam Hussein was a grave threat to America are now saying that of Assad. They’re telling us that “moderate rebels” exist who would be America’s allies if they came to power. And they’re braying that we have a profound moral obligation to punish Assad for attacking civilians. Maybe he did.
But where were these same people two weeks ago when Turkey’s military was blowing up hospitals and bombing fleeing civilians in the same exact country, Syria? Where was their moral outrage then? They seem mighty selective. Almost like they don’t really care about what happens to people in Syria. They just want to change regimes there, as we did in Iraq and Libya. Boy that turned out wonderfully, didn’t it?
I pray that in a year or two I won’t get a ride from a haggard Syrian Christian, who’ll tell me about his family living in exile, and the churches that flourished in 2018, which now lie in piles of rubble.