All empires disbelieve that war is the problem, not the solution to their problems.
They pay a ruinous price for that disbelief.
President Obama has thus been absurdly criticized by ultra-neocons for insufficient avidity for military action in places completely irrelevant to the national security: Iraq, Syria and Ukraine. If anything, Mr. Obama has been too eager to fight over these irrelevancies rather than too cautious.
He has been assailed for refusing to supply weapons or other military support to alleged “secular moderate rebels” fighting Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in 2011-12. But moderate secular rebels in the Middle East are as mythological as unicorns. They are invented as predictably as the butterflies at Capistrano to justify ubiquitous warfare.
We supported professed secular moderates in Iraq, and we got Shiite oppression of Sunnis and a failed state. We supported moderate secular rebels in Libya, and we got sectarian and tribal anarchy. Indeed, Islam and secularism are antonyms. Islam does not recognize any separation of church and state. There is nothing in the Holy Koran that corresponds to the injunction of Jesus: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Moreover, secularism in the Middle East solves nothing. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was a secularist, and we initiated war against him twice over Kuwait and imagined weapons of mass destruction. Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was a secularist, and we initiated war against him in 2011.
Mr. Obama’s detractors also maintain that the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State would not have emerged if the imaginary moderate secular rebels had been supported. But those twin organizations were born of Mr. Assad’s persecution of Sunnis in favor of Alawites.
Even more important, Mr. Obama’s critics have been unable to explain why the fate of Syria is relevant to the security of the United States, as opposed to a craving for world domination. Syria has never attacked the United States. It has not threatened to attack the United States. It has not served as a launching pad to attack the United States. We would obliterate Syria instantly if Mr. Assad initiated war against us. Syria is an ink blot on our economy.
We should learn from President Ronald Reagan’s debacle in deploying Marines in Lebanon to support imaginary moderate factions seeking an end to a vicious civil war. On Oct. 23, 1983, 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers were killed in a terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut — the deadliest single attack on Americans overseas since World War II.
There is a word to describe American political or military leaders who would recklessly risk the lives of our servicemen and servicewomen on utopian schemes to bring peace and secularism to convulsed Middle East Muslim nations: criminal.
Mr. Obama has been further assailed by neocons for refusing to enforce his ultimatum against Mr. Assad against use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war as Mr. Hussein did against Iraqi Kurds in Halabja in 1988 without provoking a U.S. military response. The neocons insist that to maintain global credibility Mr. Obama should have initiated a gratuitous war and caused an indeterminate number of American casualties. And global credibility is imperative, according to the neocon trumpet, to deter any country or non-state actor from doing anything anywhere that we dislike no matter how remote from the common defense of the United States.
Thus, neocons are fuming that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea and destabilized eastern Ukraine without our permission — allegedly because Mr. Obama refused to pulverize Syria. But why? Mr. Putin’s aggression is bankrupting Russia and squandering its shriveled military resources compared with the United States. Further, the neocons urged our employment of military force to carve out Kosovo from Serbia without asking Russia’s permission. Why the double standard?
The answer to the question is the neocon dogma that to be the sole superpower on the planet means acting like a global boss in the manner of Lucy to Charlie Brown, and never having to explain why you are going to war.
That childish thrill is unworthy of civilized peoples.
If the United States sticks to fighting wars only in self-defense, the problems the neocons constantly create through perpetual global warfare will disappear.
For more information about Bruce Fein, visit brucefeinlaw.