Something so black and white has never spawned more vivid color as the bloody Syrian debacle that rages on right before our very eyes. Even if the events in Syria didn’t have consequences that extend beyond their national borders, the international inertia is nauseating.
With rivers of blood from freedom-aspiring men, women and children literally flowing through the streets of Syria, it is particularly disgusting, not to mention enormously alarming, that China and Russia unapologetically quashed a United Nations effort to neuter this multigenerational murderous regime. Even the Arab League, which is littered with its own assortment of unsavory actors, has called for President Bashar Assad’s ouster. While it would be nice to be able to turn a blind eye, the reality is that the implications of the Syrian imbroglio extend throughout the Middle East and beyond.
For starters is the unambiguous message that Russia and China have once again sent the world community, through their most recent veto, as to the true nature of their own unseemly regimes. Completely bereft of any moral high ground and with an economy that is one-tenth America’s, why we allow Russia any sway in this despicable and preventable matter is beyond comprehension. But we do. And with its growing power, both economically and militarily, dealing with China may require higher math and greater deftness, but we still can’t be feckless.
What the conduct of both show during the Syrian affair, in absolute black and white terms, are the ever growing dangers in the world and our continued need for unqualified and total preparedness — a preparedness that the current White House occupant clearly doesn’t understand as he works to shrink our defense budget, among other weakening actions.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Middle East is much closer to simple addition than calculus. For starters, those in power want to keep power. OK, no surprise there. Most reached their status through murder and intimidation. Just as a right-handed person doesn’t magically wake up a southpaw after a good night's sleep, tyrants don’t make the conversion to democrat with a power nap. Assad is no different. He will continue to kill until killed. Also, the sooner he stops killing, the sooner he will be killed. Nobody knows that better than Assad himself.
Just like in the movies, the most important asset of any bully is casting a large and intimidating shadow. Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein are exhibit A in this phenomenon. Once the skinny kid musters the courage to punch back, the bully’s bluster is gone. To the advantage of the United States, we are the biggest kid on the block, and our swagger is backed by real strength. But, regrettably, our current administration is actually afraid of its own shadow.
Isn’t it high time for the United States to stop making apologies for holding most of the cards and being in a position to act unilaterally if we so choose? We hold those cards because our democratic and capitalistic system works better than any alternative that has ever been conceived in the history of the world.
Now, with the introduction of American media like Facebook, Google, Twitter and the like, the formerly blindfolded populations of tyrannical states like Syria have 20/20 vision that has allowed them to see the inadequacies of their duplicitous and despicable leaders.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Chinese brethren are not much different than Assad and his ilk. Treachery and thirst for perpetual power are encoded into their DNA. It was only a generation ago that the annihilation of 25,000 countrymen by Assad’s father served to harden his hold on power. Regardless of his Western schooling and wife, the lesson was not lost on the son.
Our dithering in Syria, Iran and other global hot spots will only embolden the bad actors. Ceding authority and power, particularly to those with nefarious intents like Russia and China, undermines the United States and strengthens the amalgam of enemies that are aligning themselves against us around the world.
To our president’s chagrin, being a freedom-loving superpower can be lonely. Such status carries with it not only our own national security interests, but also global responsibilities, some of them inconvenient. Failing to stand up to Russia and China in regard to Syria, singularly or in concert with other nations, will give rise to even more hazardous inconvenience and danger in the future. It is time for Obama and the West to recognize that we are in the midst of what is really a good versus evil war, and the lines are in black and white.
Chapin is CEO of USAOPOLY, partner of Zephyr Partners and chairman of Health Savings Associates.