Saturday, July 28, 2012

Crap about Al Qaeda

For decades now, the US and NATO have been unwilling to get military without something vaguely resembling world permission.   They will never get this because denying them permission is Russia and China's only chance at making themselves look no worse than the West.   So the West will never act on Syria.

What, in this context, are we to make of Western fears about Al Qaeda militants lurking among the opposition to Assad?

Perhaps some few Western politicians don't really have such fears and are just looking for another feeble excuse not to act.  In any case, facts will not persuade these people; they don't want to be persuaded.   What follows just tries to show that, whatever the facts on the ground in Syria, any genuine fears are idiotic.

The West worries about two Muslim spectres, Al Qaeda and The Islamists, whom they may or may not identify with Al Qaeda.   Let's ask ourselves, what sort of Islamists might actually take power in Syria.

Well the only major Middle Eastern nation that has anything like a real Al Qaeda presence is Iraq.   That's because Iraq's Shia government is virtually at war with its Sunni population.   What chance does Syria have of getting a Shia government?  None.

So suppose the West is terrified of Islamists.   What could they possibly be terrified about?  For almost a century 'Islamist' in Syria has meant 'Muslim Brotherhood'.   Oh, the same tendency the US has been willing to support in Egypt.   The chances of Al Qaeda prevailing against the Muslim Brotherhood?  None.  No country in the world has both a strong Al Qaeda presence and a strong Muslim Brotherhood.

So Syria will end up with either a secular or with an Islamist government.   In either case,  no Al Qaeda.  Well duh.


  1. Also, it seems there's little political incentive for the Obama admin to go in there at the moment. They've already got a war they can use for political gain in Afghanistan. Doubling down on wars right would not help Obama's reelection effort. Americans can't find any of these countries on a map and, as you correctly point our, there's no guarantee that whatever government comes out of an FSA victory will be better than Assad. Maybe there are some political points to be won through a "defender of democracy" lens, but Americans don't believe that Islamist governments and democratic societies are mutually exclusive constructs. One might argue that NATO should go in because it's the morally correct thing to do - crazy I know - but the unfortunate reality is that that's not enough when the people dying are brown, let alone brown and Muslim.

    1. *Americans DO believe that Islamist governments and democratic societies are mutually exclusive constructs.

  2. Thanks for comment. The US should include in its calculus the truly huge damage done to its reputation - it appears weak, useless. This might matter around the world. No need to double down on wars. Shipping a some shoulder-fired missiles would be financially and militarily cheap. Worked wonders in Afghanistan but they shipped to the wrong side and have never got over the fear they might do so again. They have no confidence in their intelligence services and no ability or will to improve them. Yet there is no shortage of Syrian-Americans who could help.