For the US, there are No 'Good Guys' in Iraq-Syria
Now we learn that Syrian warplanes are attacking ISIS in western Iraq. There is no end to the flavor of Muslim forces that are battling Assad's government in Syria. But it is certain that among any of their arsenals, warplanes are not accounted for. The aircraft that are attacking ISIS definitely emanate from Assad's air force. That would be the Assad about whom President Obama has said: "he must go." Well, according to the well-worn concept of 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'… So which among these two blood-thirsty combatants -- Assad's genocidal, chemical weapons-toting troops or ISIS's beheading-inclined, Islamofascist warriors -- is the enemy and which is the friend?
How blind does one have to be not to see that neither side is a friend of the United States of America!
The Muslim world is aflame with sectarian violence. Much of it originates in the centuries-long enmity between its two main branches – Sunni and Shia. But it is also reflected in Arab vs Persian, fundamentalist vs 'moderate,' Muslim vs non-Muslim neighbor (e.g., India, China, black Africa and of course southeastern Europe), and Muslim vs any non-Muslim minority that has the misfortune to reside in the Muslim Umma. In all of these disputes, there is no Muslim component that supports the ideals and values which characterize the US, and western civilization, more generally -- that is, religious tolerance, human life and freedom, rule of law, free markets and minority rights. There are no true friends of the United States to be found anywhere in the inferno that plagues the Muslim world today. There are some entities with whom we have struck temporary and convenient alliances -- for example, Saudi Arabia. And we should continue to pursue such alliances if they serve our interests -- and if our 'partners' do not give succor to those who mean us harm (fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were Saudi). But the thought of spilling another drop of American blood to protect any of these medieval combatants is sickening.
One must recognize that, as happened in Afghanistan fifteen years ago, if an outfit such as ISIS is able to create a region in which they are free to plan horrific attacks on the US, then that eventuality cries out for our a priori intervention. In such cases, I have no problem with massive air strikes, covert Special Forces operations and cyber and other remote warfare on the devils. But another intervention -- such as we engaged in in Iraq and Afghanistan -- seems likely to result in thousands more dead and wounded American GIs, with no satisfactory endgame. We have no real friends in the Muslim world. We should formulate our plans to protect and defend ourselves accordingly.
Ron Lipsman, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Maryland, writes about politics, culture, education, science and sports at http://ronlipsman.com