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Obama’s Paralysis reveals failure of a Moral policy in Syria and a Post-American World
80,000 dead is not enough of a redline?
PHOENIX (April 30, 2013) – Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, an American Muslim of Syrian descent and author of “A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith” issued the following statement on behalf of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) regarding Syria:
“President Obama’s April 30 press conference revealed how we risk a world shaped in the absence of American advocacy for liberty. The ongoing genocide by the Assad regime in Syria has left the Syrian people with no hope or means for defense. After 26 months of bloodshed, the population, faced with complete decimation, is becoming more radicalized as well as exploited by foreign jihadists and militant Islamists. Our Commander-in-chief has failed moral test in both his tenor and lack of resolve in the face of genocide in Syria. Syrian expatriates and people of Syrian descent worldwide rushed to their media as the President called for a press conference – praying that this would be a sign of some hope for the beleaguered people of Syria. Instead, the President continued to dance all over the “bloodied” red line, making a mockery of those who actually look to the U.S. for leadership in the face of evil.
Are 80,000 deaths not enough of a “red line”? Tuesday’s press conference introduced no new ideas or policies on Syria, and instead proved to Assad’s monsters that the massacres can continue while the leaders of the free world do nothing. The President did pay lip service to ending the reign of Bashar Assad, but his mythical red line and apparent “Paralysis Doctrine” showed the administration for the paper tiger it has turned out to be.
What the President does not realize is that Bashar Assad is not afraid to take action against his people He knows that he can continue shelling civilian neighborhoods, using all the weapons in his arsenal – while his shabiha military terror squads roam the neighborhoods murdering, torturing, and raping innocents. The President’s moral relativism on chemical weapons allowed tens of thousands to die with no response from the United States. His equivocation on the meaning of a “red line” and continued lack of action to support those longing for freedom means the death of thousands more Syrians.
As the son of expatriates from Aleppo, Syria, I have watched with a deeply personal and almost helpless horror as almost 80,000 Syrians – our families from Aleppo to Dara’a, Damascus, Hama and Homs and beyond – have been massacred in a bloodbath the world watches passively. What I also know, however, is that this genocidal slaughter follows 48 excruciating years of Ba’athist oppression, murder, and torture to which few have paid any attention.
What started in Dara’a in March of 2011 was simply an awakening from a now festering cancer of fifty years. Ask any Syrian family who are not part of the Assad regime’s intelligence services, and they will tell you that like the Nazis, no sane human being ever envisaged Assad’s Ba’athist generals and massive murdering machine leaving through any route but by sheer force. Like Saddam Hussein, the Assad dynasty is cut from a cloth that seeks brutal final solutions, caving not to armchair political solutions but only to an overwhelming opposition.
President Obama’s inaction seems to be moving closer to heeding the advice laid out in a recent article by conservative Dr. Daniel Pipes, which made a shocking proposition: that in order to protect American interests, we should now aid Assad as a way to prevent a “worse” alternative from rising out of the rubble of revolution. Stated with trepidation, written with pause or not – this proposal approaches the Syrian people the way the notorious Dr. Kevorkian approached his “patients.” It quietly and inhumanly places a pillow over the faces of Syrians. If they die, no matter how painfully now – it is somehow more practical or even compassionate as if by order of God? They will then be quieter and bring the world less harm, cost, and general nuisance.
The truth is that no one can be sure where Syria is headed. The Syrian people will not give up no matter how hopeless as the taste of freedom is far preferable to any injustice the Assad regime may continue to bring their way. Is the rebellion well-organized? No. Might Islamists come next? Maybe. Even probably, especially considering Obama’s policies toward the Middle East and which Muslim nations are supporting the opposition (Qatar, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia). However, America cannot sacrifice our credibility with a twisted, rather bigoted logic that Syrians don’t deserve the possibility and the space to find liberty and freedom; but rather that they deserve only an assisted death to prevent the challenges that naturally arise from some fifty years of radicalism-fostering tyrannical dictatorship.
Bashar al-Assad and his generals have shown the world what Syrians have always known: Assad and his domestic allies will stop at nothing to stay in power. Beheadings, prolonged torture, mass rape, starvation and brutal executions reaching genocidal proportions are no surprise to those who have long witnessed the tyranny of Ba’athism in Syria. The courage of millions of Syrians has finally lifted the curtain on Assad’s reign of terror. The moral imperative to end the rule of Assad and the Syrian Baath party has never been clearer for the world to see. But will the global complicity and neglect finally end? And, if so, how much of Syria and its people will be left?
As with all revolutions, the fear of what will come next is a natural one. The rebels are weak, starving, penniless, homeless and maligned by a world that dismisses them due to the existence of a new force on the scene: the parasites of Jubhat al-Nusra (Al Qaeda), jihadists who have never met a war they didn’t like. Also, the concern about Muslim Brotherhood ascendancy is real but can only be defeated in a post-Assad environment. There is no doubt that should extremists rise to power, they must also be eradicated. The fact is that the longer the world leaves Syrians to die, the more self-fulfilling becomes the prophecy of a radicalized rebellion. However, Syrians will never forget that it took months of revolution before Islamists abandoned decades of close cooperation with Assad in exchange for the possibility of pursuing an Islamist state. Syrians will not forget that Hamas was headquartered in Damascus for decades, while Al-Qaeda used Assad’s Syria as a platform to attack Americans in Iraq and across the region. Syrians will not forget that the first casualties of Islamist violence are almost always Muslims themselves.
Syria’s people rose in peaceful demonstrations across the country in 2011, with only a handful representing a radical ideology. Now, that number is in the thousands – yet, this number of opportunistic vermin pales in comparison to the millions of regular Syrians in the rebellion. Unfortunately, without the robust assistance of Western democracies, Islamist states like Qatar, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia have been able to decide who gets aid and weaponry.
I embraced neo-conservatism in the 1990s because I believed it brought to the fore the ideas my grandfather and parents escaped Syria to embrace: promoting liberty and freedom abroad. While my family adored America, they saw our Cold War policies of aiding some criminal dictators to be amoral, anti-American abomination. We believed the new conservative movement set out to abandon the abysmal failure of Cold War policies and advance across the board a more robust intellectually consistent American idea of liberty. Watching both the right and left each develop their own brand of post-American passivity in the face of such obvious evil begs the question: has our foundational American commitment to the advancement of freedom vanished? Claiming to promote American interests by giving fascist Arab dictators the support they need to continue tilling the soil of radical Islamism effectively mimics the behaviors of actors like Russia, Iran and China. These are our competitors – not our allies – in the war of ideas between individual freedom and the death of it.
No matter how a policy of passivity – or worse, aiding dictators – is spun, American negligence on Syria remains immoral, un-American, and against our interests. The President has already burned 26 months in a pathetic exercise of hand-wringing, leaving an opening for our Islamist antagonists in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to step in. The right is similarly paralyzed, but for different reasons. For the most part unfortunately, they see the Arab awakening only through a lens of Islamist ascendancy and nothing more. Lost on them entirely is the idea that America should be seeking out and supporting those on the ground who are rising against both secular, fascist dictatorship and Islamist tyranny in order to forge a third path of liberty and individual rights. If the President is in search of a Doctrine, that would be a “Liberty Doctrine.”
Who are we as a nation if we no longer defend and stand for our allies in liberty even when the odds are against them? Such a surrender to tyranny is not American. It is, in fact, not our history. Abraham Lincoln once exclaimed that, “America was the last best hope for mankind.” Mankind: not just those within our borders. As leaders of the free world, our actions and inaction both at home and abroad define our character, morality, courage, and integrity. Sentencing Syrians or any other people to the assisted suicide of “letting them kill each other” is an idea so repugnant, so short-sighted and immoral I simply cannot subscribe to it – regardless of how sensitive I may be with my own extended family in Syria in the line of fire.
I still believe, and indeed have dedicated my life to advancing the spirit of true American liberty and freedom especially within Muslim communities. Our liberties were and are not ever easily won. Our fear must not paralyze those of us living in the warmth of freedom from seeing the people of Syria as equally worthy of life and liberty regardless of how many obstacles arise in their path.”
About the American Islamic Forum for Democracy
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. AIFD’s mission advocates for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state. For more information on AIFD, please visit our website at http://www.aifdemocracy.org/.