“A plague on both your houses” – the three great lies of the Left on Syria
Charles Shoebridge, a British security analyst and former intelligence officer in Her Majesty’s Service, wrote an article yesterday in the UK version of the Huffington Post. In it, he pretty much summarized the entire thinking and talking points of the Left’s “A-plague-on-both-their-houses” approach to the Syrian revolution. Basically, this camp maintains that the Free Syrian Army and Syrian demonstrators are just as bad, if not worse, than Bashar Al-Assad, and therefore the West should have a strictly hands-off approach towards Syria.
The Left’s methods in this regard rely on disseminating three fallacies; 1) that making common cause with a group that doesn’t totally share your ideology or politics is somehow unheard of in the annals of politics 2) wildly exaggerating the extent and scope of the “support” that the Syrian Revolutionaries are looking for from the West, and 3) routinely and consistently exaggerating the extent to which the FSA is somehow filled with Al-Qaeda hardcore types, and trivializing the brutality of the Assad regime
Let’s examine the first fallacy, that somehow one can be a super power, with influence in all corners of the world, without ever having to ally oneself with groups and individuals with opposing aims or ideologies. In World War 2, President Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union and the Chinese Nationalists saved those two forces from total collapse, and yet neither of those two regimes could have been described as remotely democratic. When the British and Americans went looking for allies in occupied Europe, they lent their support to Tito and all manner of anti-semitic, anti-American and anti-British French officers before circumstances forced them to settle on Charles De Gaulle.
After the war ended, many former Germany Nazis and Japanese war officials were “rehabilitated” in order to build up those two societies, and to better resist the expansionist designs of the Soviet Union. There have been numerous precedents in 20th century history, where great powers have lent their support to other groups, with which the only thing they had in common, was a common foe.
Since when did expediency suddenly become a bad word? To the Left, apparently when it came time to shield and protect Bashar Al-Assad, a man sees no reason not to make common cause with the Iranian theocracy and hard line Islamist terror group Hizbollah, neither of which share the Baath party’s supposed “secular” ideals.
Afterall, how many times has Mr Shoebridge, during the course of his work as an intelligence officer, gained advantageous information from a turncoat or defector. Did Mr Shoebridge ever turn away such intelligence assets because the subject didn’t pray in Church on Sunday or didn’t know how to hum God Save the Queen? There are few things one can guarantee in Syria, but one can guarantee that whatever aid the West provides the Syrian revolution, will not result in half the headaches that have resulted from the American-Pakistani aid and cooperation, and which never the less resulted in the elimination of Usama Bin Laden.
On to the second pillar of the Left’s great fallacy, that somehow support for the revolution means nothing less than total all out war on Bashar’s military machine. Actually, the West has already provided 90% of the kind of support the Syrian revolutionaries have been asking for. These days, Syrians have been learning who their true friends are. The West has repeatedly backed strong resolutions at the highest diplomatic levels. It has imposed sanctions that have crippled the Syrian regime’s ability to wage war on its people. Countless Syrian exiles have found a safe haven in Europe, Canada and the USA. In fact, the West has done everything short of actually starting a shooting war. Very few people in the opposition are asking for American boots on the ground, and it is one of the more despicable myths of the Left that has served to confuse the debate on Syria.
At the very most, there have been calls for a safe zone either near the Turkish border or along the Jordanian one. No one can deny that the regime’s crackdown has been unprecedented in the 21st century for its brutality. Regardless of one’s politics or ideology, how can anyone claim that providing a safe area for the fleeing Syrian civilians is anything but justified? The Syrian regime has, not once, set up any refugee camps to help absorb the hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians. It has routinely denied the Red Cross and the Red Crescent access to hard hit areas. Such callous disregard by a government for the wellfare of its own citizens is barbaric.
The third and final falsehood by the Left, is the habit of exaggerating the extent to which Islamists and Jihadists make up the ranks of the Free Syrian Army, and trivializing the barbarity of the Assad regime. Volumes of books could be written on this very subject.
But thirteen year old Hamza Al Khatib was not a Salafi-Jihadist. He was shot while trying to get food and aid to besieged Dar’a, and tortured to death in the most barbaric manner.
Najati Tayara, Syria’s most respected human rights activists, is by no means a Salafi-Jihadist, and yet he was jailed and brutalized for eight months after talking to the Arabic service of the BBC about the Syrian army’s first invasion of Baba Amr in Homs.
Ali Ferzat, one of the Arab World’s most prominent cartoonists, is not a Salafi-Jihadist, and yet he was abducted by the regime’s thugs, beaten, tortured and his hands broken, all for publishing a cartoon that was unflattering to Bashar.
And the elderly parents of Malek Jandali, one of Syria’s foremost musicians (and by no means a Salafi-Jihadist), were beaten mercilessly after their son attended a pro-freedom demonstration in the United States. These are just four stories, four prominent ones, but multiply them by the hundreds of thousands of displaced, killed, wounded, jailed and disappeared in Syria, and then tell the Syrian people that the brave defectors who risked all to defend their communities, towns and families, are just as bad as the scum who ripped out the throat of Gaith Mattar, the creator of numerous innovative methods of peaceful demonstrations, and the man once described as Syria’s “little Ghandi”.