Friday, February 17, 2012



U.S. intelligence officials now say they think that Al Qaeda operatives are “aiding” the Syrian opposition to the Assad dynasty. This should, of course, come as no surprise. The battle in Syria largely involves the majority Sunni Muslims rebelling against the Assad family, which is of the minority Alawite sect, which in turn is a branch of Shiite brand of Islam. Al Qaeda is a composed of radical Sunnis fighting for what they perceive as the purity of their faith, and this zeal often manifests itself in fighting against what they consider the apostate Shiites. Further, Syria borders Israel and, as much as Al Qaeda hates the United States and, to a lesser extent, the Shiites, its ultimate enemy is Israel. So when an opportunity arose to fight Shiites in a country that has direct access to Israel, it stood to reason that Al Qaeda would jump at the chance. Don’t be surprised if we next learn that Al Qaeda is more than “aiding” the opposition in Syria but indeed is, or soon will be, leading the opposition in Syria. An overthrow of the Assad regime, as worthy as that goal may be, may very well result in an Al Qaeda state on Israel’s border.

Note also that, as fervently as “the West” supported the Libyan rebels in their struggle against the Qadafi regime, we were never sure whom it was supporting. But just about everyone conceded that Al Qaeda elements were entrenched in the Libyan opposition. That did little to cool the ardor of those who were convinced that, by supporting the opposition, they were supporting the “Arab spring” and “the inevitable march of democracy” or some such drivel.

Don’t misunderstand me; I am not denying that the likes of Messrs. Qadafi and Assad are, or were, bloodthirsty thugs and, in many respects, the world is, or would be, better off without them. What I am saying is that we ought to be careful about not only what we wish for but also about what we midwife. We also ought to turn off “American Idol” long enough to consider some history. While I realize that the latter wish is utterly futile, I still persist in asking the American people to remember that we wanted the bad guy imperialist Communist Soviets out of Afghanistan so intensely in the very late ‘70s and early ‘80s that we aided the opposition with guns, money, and other forms of support. Remember how triumphant we felt when the Soviets (Who could be so crazy as to invade Afghanistan? Didn’t they know that Afghanistan is the burial place of empires? I at least digress parenthetically.) left with their tails between their legs? Remember further how convinced we were that the noble Afghan resistance would be so grateful for our help, and so naturally predisposed toward liberal self-government (Isn’t everybody, as George Bush and his henchmen would have us believe?), that our form of democracy, perhaps SuperPacs and all, would flourish in Afghanistan? Remember what actually happened? Those free, democratic, liberal, western oriented crusaders against Soviet oppression became the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Oh, boy!

One would think that we would have learned that putting our considerable probosces into the affairs of other nations, even when ostensibly well intentioned is generally a Frankensteinian prescription for disaster. But we are far too busy digesting the intellectual cotton candy that is beamed into our living rooms each night to do the hard work of actually governing ourselves. And so we, while happily chomping down on the sound bites the politicians feed us as the “political advertising” that supports much of the cranial novocain with which we fritter away our lives, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again and to act with surprise and shock when the outcomes similarly repeat themselves.

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