Thursday, September 5, 2013

Al Qaeda's Air Force

Generally speaking, the ability to distinguish differences and make nuanced judgments is considered a sign of intelligence. 

A person unable to differentiate chickens from turkeys because both are flightless birds would be viewed as an idiot and handled with patronizing pity.

This basic notion is routinely uprooted in politics where "leaders" are often made by making crude generalizations and grouping unrelated things together in order to make things simpler for "the folks."

Enter the Canadian-Texan Senator Ted Cruz and the Ohio Congressman Dennis "I have a hot British wife" Kucinich both of whom -at different times- described potential US involvement in Syria as America acting as "Al Qaeda's air force."

"It appears what the president is pressing for is essentially protecting his public relations because he drew a red line, and, essentially, the bluff was called," Cruz said.

Now just to make sure that we're all on the same page..

Drawing the red line was President Obama warning Assad not to use chemical weapons. To use Ted Cruz's phrasing, Obama's "bluff being called" was Assad gassing his people in spite of Obama's warning and killing over a thousand people. 

So -in the senator's view- Obama is now proposing a strike on Syria not because over a thousand of people were gassed to death but because he is "protecting his public relations" on account of his bluff being called. 

Senator Cruz doesn't want American presidents to make rash decisions like warning dictators against using chemical weapons in the future. 

Sarin gas in Syrian lungs is a-okay, as the Senator said, “we certainly don’t have a dog in the fight.” 

Syria is a diverse country. Around 70% of the people are Sunni Muslims. Around 10% belong to an esoteric Shia sect called the Alawites, the rest are Christians and other minorities. Allowites were used by the French colonialists to help rule Syria. 

The French elevated Alawites from an oppressed minority to the ruling class in order to have native Syrian stakeholders in colonialism (an old colonial trick). Assad's regime and his Alawite dominated army are a legacy of that arrangement. 

The Syrian rebels are Sunni Muslims fighting for the control of a country where they are the overwhelming majority. They are not saints and they were joined by radical Islamist elements who view the Alawites as sinister heretics. 

But its dumb and disgusting to equate all of Syrian rebels with Al Qaeda.

Its one thing to oppose a US strike.

Its another to insult all people fighting a genocidal regime by equating them with terrorism just because it suits your dumb fucking talking point.

There are few easy decisions in foreign policy or politics in general. Often the choice is between two bad alternatives. 

To be involved in another Middle Eastern conflict or to give Assad a free pass to gas Syrians who want his ouster. 

To cut out complexity and reduce everything to a black and white choice is a sign of stupidity or demagoguery. I don't know either Kucinich or Cruz well enough to know where they fall.

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