Sotloff’s Syrian kidnappers were the “good” guys
September 10, 2014
The revelation by a spokesman for the family of Steven Sotloff, the second
journalist beheaded by the Islamic State (ISIS), that Sotloff
was “sold [to ISIS] for between $25–50,000,” by
the US-supported “moderate” Free Syrian Army underscores the irony
and absurdity of this moment. As the President gets ready to go to the American
people and ask for their support in pursuing a military campaign in Iraq and
Syria, how the principle of “blowback” operates should be clear to
everyone – even Rudy Giuliani.
The “moderates” we have been funding, arming, and training for the
past few years couldn’t have come up with a better plan to suck us into the
Syrian quagmire. After crying “Wolf!” for so long – what with chemical
attacks supposedly inflicted by the infinitely evil Bashar al-Assad, and other
tall tales of dubious provenance – the rebels had lost all credibility. What
to do? Desperate to increase the decibel level of calls for US military action
in the region, they resorted to targeting the US media in hopes that the outrage
generated would push the Americans into war.
And the ruse certainly seems to be working. That’s their battlefield, after all: the Syrian Mod Squad has never been an effective fighting force on the ground in Syria, but when it comes to dominating the Western media landscape they’ve been wildly successful. According to their many friends in the Fourth Estate, those lovable cuddly “moderate” Islamists wouldn’t hurt a flea – after all, they’ve been “vetted,” haven’t they?
What a grisly joke.
The immoderate kidnapping of Sotloff surely eviscerates the argument that we
could’ve been spared the existence of ISIS if only we’d gone full bore in supporting
the Syrian Free Army. Yes, if only we’d handed Syria over to them the way they
handed Sotloff over to ISIS everything would be hunky dory. That makes sense
– in Bizarro World.
Yet Bizarro World “logic” is exactly what has been determining US
policy in the region ever since the “Arab Spring,” when the Obama
administration decided to hop on board the “revolution,” co-opt all
that energy, and use it to generate support for regime change throughout the
region. The results have been an unmitigated disaster, to wit:
- In Libya we overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, “liberating” the country with the help of – and at the urging of – our European allies. The Libyans expressed their gratitude by murdering our Ambassador, trashing our embassy, and plunging the country into Somali-like chaos.
- In Egypt we backed a “moderate” Islamist regime, throwing longtime American sock-puppet Hosni Mubarrak overboard without so much as a by-your-leave – and wound up supporting an even worse “secular” military dictatorship.
- In Syria, we plotted to overthrow another Gaddafi-like secular despot, aligning with those lovable “moderate” Islamists – many of whom would soon defect to ISIS, taking their US-supplied arsenal with them.
As I’ve said in this space from the beginning, ISIS has “Made in USA” stamped all over it – and I don’t mean that just figuratively. Yes, our wrong-headed policies have so alienated the Sunnis that they’ve resorted to supporting the fanatics of ISIS, but it’s worse than that. It is literally true that we armed, trained, and deployed these monsters – what we might call the Islamist Frankenstein Brigade – and now they’ve turned on us with a vengeance.
Well then, so what? So what if our crazy policy of empowering Islamist militias in Libya and overthrowing Assad in Syria led us to this horrific pass: the monster is rampaging over the entire region and we’ve got to act fast before it takes Baghdad – right?
Wrong. To begin with, contrary to US government officials and their media echo chamber, ISIS represents little threat to the continental US. If we can’t corral the few dozen Americans who’ve gone over there to fight on behalf of our self-proclaimed allies, the darling rebels, then where have the billions spent on “homeland security” gone?
The principal victims of ISIS are those who actually live in the region: the Syrians, the Iranians, and the Iraqis. The Turks and the Kurds have a lot to lose, too, if ISIS triumphs: so why not let them take care of the problem? Senator Rand Paul, in an interview with Sean Hannity, proposed exactly that:
“Right now, the two allies that have the same goal would be Iran and Syria, to wipe out ISIS. They also have the means, and the ability, and they also have the incentive to do so because [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad’s clinging for power and clinging for life there.”
What could make more sense? Yet it’s precisely because it’s the logical solution that it’s being ruled out of order. The well-known high “moral standards” of the US government absolutely forbid such a course: Assad, we are told, is “killing his own people.” He’s a monster, and even indirectly helping him maintain his power is impermissible – because, you see, “the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend” is a Very Bad Principle to adopt because … well, just because. Not to mention the poor, persecuted Sunnis who will be “alienated” from us, and we just couldn’t have that, now could we? Far better to risk American lives, expend our resources, and bear the burden of empire alone, pure in our virtuous martyrdom.
Among the more incredible arguments along these lines is made by foreign policy maven Daniel Larison, who weaves a strange and entirely illogical theory around the idea that “Assad benefits from ISIS’ continued existence. As long as ISIS appears to be the main alternative to him and his regime in Syria, he is much more secure, and so at least in the short to medium term he has little reason to want them destroyed. One might think that he would have an incentive to destroy this group, but in practice he hasn’t been trying to do this.”