The recent Syrian use of chemical weapons and the American response to it are dominating the news this week–as they should.
I have rarely seen such tense debate on national television over what to do. It’s also rare to have such strange bed-fellows in the debate: Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid joining John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Bill O’Reilly as war hawks, and Dennis Cucinich, Frank Leahy, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity representing the doves.
To be honest, as Charles Krauthammer recently admitted, I’ve gone back and forth on what is the right course of action.
But today I had to vote in a national poll of Christians leaders.
I said no to an attack on Syria.
Here are my thoughts. I’d love to hear yours.
1. Bill O’Reilly believes that America’s reputation in the world is at stake in the Syria dilemma. We’re known in history as a noble nation that backs noble causes. In the last hundred years we’ve freed more people from tyranny than any nation in history. We can’t let the use of chemical weapons go unnoticed or we will unleash every crackpot tyrant in the world to kill their people and abuse their power. I agree with Bill on this general premise.
2. America is a unique nation that has advanced the cause of freedom around the world. We never did it perfectly–but better than anyone else. Our stature is based on our trust in God, belief in His Word and principles, in biblical freedom, justice and compassion, and the God-given rights of people. However, our corporate culture is dangerously in decline because of turning away from God–making us morally weak, economically enslaved, and internationally vulnerable. Our true power will never be our firepower–but our hearts, morals, ideals, compassion, hatred of evil and zeal for good–backed up by the greatest fighting force known to man.
3. Many say we should bomb Syria because chemical weapons were used to kill over three hundred people and injure one thousand more. That’s gruesome and barbaric. But a double standard or poor memory seems to exist. Saddam Hussein gassed five thousand Kurds in the 1988 and probably over 50,000 of his own people over two decades. Yet Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and many others opposed our involvement in Iraq. Why the duplicity? Why is it a “principle” now to oppose the use of weapons of mass destruction, but not to oppose it under Saddam? Principles should never be politicized–otherwise they are not principles, but simply partisan chicanery.
4. President Obama made numerous, consequential mistakes that have brought us to the present crisis. First, as Democrat Charley Rangel observed, it was “embarrassing” for a US president to draw a “red-line” over the issue. It only tempted our enemies to taunt us. In truth, that red-line was passed several times in the past six months–so why play our chips now, and not then? Is there simply a bruised ego involved here that is the real motivation for authorizing a strike? Is that a good reason to lob bombs or start a war?
5. The president of the United States then indicated that a surgical strike was imminent. Two days later he took a forty-five minute walk and changed his mind. He told us the strike didn’t have to be imminent–it would be just as effective in days, weeks or months. Really? Can’t the Syrian government move its targets during that time into residential neighborhoods behind masses of human shields? And if we bomb the heck out of them, aren’t we more guilty of the loss of innocent human life? No wonder Pope Francis is calling the world to fast and pray on September 7 for peace in Syria..
6. The administration’s expressed strategy is not regime change in Syria–but “a shot across the bow,” i.e. to make a point or save face. Is that a good military calculation? We spend a a half a billion dollars lobbing Tomahawk Cruise missiles priced at 1.5 million dollars each into the Damascus neighborhoods to say Na-Na-Na-Na Na! to the Syrian dictator? Won’t he just laugh in our face and continue the civil war, emboldened that America doesn’t have the guts to fight a war to win? (Anybody remember Viet Nam?).
7. Let’s back up and look at the bigger picture. How has the current US government’s foreign policy helped to bring either freedom or stability to the Middle East? We got rid of Ghaddaffi in Libya (after he had laid down his arms thanks to “Peace Through Strength” under Ronald Reagan); in return we have our embassy ransacked, our ambassador killed, and a fearful rise of jihadist elements in Libya. In Egypt, we get behind the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, then support the Muslim Brotherhood who tried to bring a worse from of Islamic dictatorship to the nation; the people cast off Mohammed Morsi and now hate America for our stupidity. Now in Syria we say that we want to help depose the dictator, Bashar al-Assad; but if he is defeated, it’s likely that he will be replaced by the rising jihadist element in the Syrian opposition forces.
8. We seem to have our foreign policy backwards. In nations that have never experienced biblical liberty, “stabilizing dictators” are far better than Islamo-fascist ones. Let’s be honest. The Middle East and America’s strategic interest were far better off under Ghaddaffi, Mubarak, and Assad than under the emerging alternative. We are essentially helping Iran–the real terrorist linchpin in the region–to foment an Islamic caliphate in that part of the world.
9. Let’s talk about Iran–honestly. It’s the real human scourge in the Middle East. Iran is the seat of the world’s most radical jihadist government which is brazenly committed to annihilating Israel and spreading holy war to the ends of the earth. It is the supplier of arms for Hezbollah and Hamas. Syria is simply its client puppet in closer proximity to Palestine. And Iran is possibly one year away from having a nuclear bomb. I have a suggestion for Congress as they meet next week. If you want to authorize a war declaration or get behind a wise use of force against evil, then authorize the military might of the United States to join Israel in taking out Iran’s nuclear capabilities–then support the freedom movements that were once vibrant in Tehran. As Iran goes, so goes Syria and the rest of the Middle East.
10. As to chemical weapons being used in Syria, there is a disagreement as to who really used them. Our government tells us it was Bashar al-Assad who reigned them down on a Damascus neighborhood. But why would he do that with UN inspectors on the ground? He’s winning the civil war in his nation. Why would he be so foolish to turn world opinion against him?
There’s another theory out there that you might want to read here. In a thought-proving and well documented article, Israeli-American foreign affairs expert, Yossef Bodansky, lays out the case that it was the jihadist opposition that used chemical weapons to frame the Assad regime and draw America and the world into the trap of deposing Assad.
11. Here is the pertinent part of Bodansky’s research:
“There is a growing volume of new evidence from numerous sources in the Middle East — mostly affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its sponsors and supporters — which makes a very strong case, based on solid circumstantial evidence, that the August 21, 2013, chemical strike in the Damascus suburbs was indeed a pre-meditated provocation by the Syrian opposition. The extent of US foreknowledge of this provocation needs further investigation because available data puts the “horror” of the Barack Obama White House in a different and disturbing light.”
“On August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major and irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and representatives of Qatari, Turkish, and US Intelligence [“Mukhabarat Amriki”] took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors. Very senior opposition commanders who had arrived from Istanbul briefed the regional commanders of an imminent escalation in the fighting due to “a war-changing development” which would, in turn, lead to a US-led bombing of Syria.”
“Several Syrian leaders, many of whom are not Bashar al-Assad supporters and are even his sworn enemies, are now convinced that the Syrian opposition is responsible for the August 21, 2013, chemical attack in the Damascus area in order to provoke the US and the allies into bombing Assad’s Syria. Most explicit and eloquent is Saleh Muslim, the head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) which has been fighting the Syrian Government. Muslim doubts Assad would have used chemical weapons when he was winning the civil war.”
“’The regime in Syria … has chemical weapons, but they wouldn’t use them around Damascus, five km from the [UN] committee which is investigating chemical weapons. Of course they are not so stupid as to do so,’” Muslim told Reuters on August 27, 2013. He believes the attack was ‘aimed at framing Assad and provoking an international reaction.’”
12. So things may not be what they seem. This same ploy was used in 1995 to draw America into bombing Serbia (under Bill Clinton). The winners of that charade? The Muslim forces in the region. Is it possible that a similar deception is taking place in Syria to draw the US to depose Assad which will lead to either chaos or Islamicist supremacy in another Muslim nation?
Those are my dozen thoughts. I’d like to hear yours.
Here are some suggestions:
- We should not go to war in Syria, especially with a symbolic surgical strike. The US Congress should say no to presidential blunder and bluster. Syria is not Iraq. Bashar al-Assad is not Saddam Hussein. As Ret. Colonel Ralph Peters opines, “we should let both our enemies kill off themselves.”
- We should lead the humanitarian assistance to those suffering in the region. We should support the real forces of freedom.
- We should do everything in our power to stand by Israel and not trigger a war in the Middle East that builds a ring of terrorism around the Hebrew nation.
- Any military actions should be aimed, short-term and long term, at liberating Iran. Cut off the head of the snake and the body and tail will die.
- We should immediately approve the Keystone Pipeline and act with urgency to create energy independence in the United States. A disastrous entanglement in the Middle East will spike the cost of gasoline and plunge the world into global recession.
And we should join with Pope Francis and the Catholic Church in praying for God’s gracious intervention among the suffering in the region. We should also join with Intercessors for America in 21 days of fasting in prayer that begins on September 11.
Here is my prayer:
Father in Heaven–we desperately need your wisdom and clarity to respond to these incredible events taking place in the Middle East. Protect and inspire your people to bring the light of Jesus Christ into every home and neighborhood. Raise up godly leaders, both here and abroad who share your interests of life, liberty, and justice on earth. May your light and love triumph over the forces of darkness coming against the world. In the Name and through the power of Jesus, the Messiah. Amen.