On Saturday I took my family to have a closer look at Syria.
This was on the Golan Heights, from a roadside promontory overlooking the abandoned Syrian town of Quneitra. The border is very green at this time of year, a serene patchwork of orchards and grassland, and it was hard to impress on our kids that hell on earth was visible in the quiet distance.
But I wanted them to see it — to know that Syria is a place, not an abstraction; that the agonies of its people are near, not far; that we should not look away. Later that day, in a suburb of Damascus, Syrian forces apparently again gassed their own people.
It’s fortunate for Israel that it did not bargain the Heights away during the ill-fated peace processes of the 1990s: Had it done so, ISIS, Hezbollah or Iran might in time have trained their guns on Israeli towns below. The strategy of withdrawal-for-peace has not been vindicated in recent years, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or Gaza. It’s a point Donald Trump obviously missed when he insisted last week on U.S. withdrawal from Syria, likely encouraging the apparent chemical attack he now threatens to punish.
via Opinion | Staring Down on Syria – The New York Times
I almost support Brett Stevens. He has made a strong argument. But the commentor JW is right in his remarks here, echoing the caution by Madeleine Albright on the Steven Colbert show the other night. We need a policy, a strategy, and the same for the aftermath.
I propose looking at a major campaign, to take out most of or all of Assad’s airforce. That would be the beginning of the enforcement of a no fly zone over major parts of Syria, where the people we support or would protect live. To do this, we should enlist NATO and the US Congress, very quietly. The NYT reported a few years ago that Assad’s government has very sophisticated, Russian-built, anti-aircraft defenses. These defenses would have to be degraded to essentially inoperable.
If congress says no, I would repeated the limited strikes like last year, just to show the flag and some mettle. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much before, but it did probably reduce the amount of ethnic cleansing by chemical weapons, which civilized nations and people should oppose with force.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com