Dr. Daniel Pipes wrote a piece arguing for “Inaction” on Syria because, in lieu of Assad, Islamic extremism will ascend to power.
Dr. Zuhdi al-Jasser responded to Daniel using six precise arguments pivoting around the notion of US hope, morality, and defeating extremists.
Daniel then responded (Same link above) to Zuhdi in another brief write-up but nonetheless standing by the main argument of “Let Syrians solve their own problems”, which essentially means more killings.
For anyone interested in the dynamics of Syria, this debate helps clear some issues and provides answers to some puzzling questions but it also raises other important questions besides morality and America’s message.
Islamic terror began to take root shortly after tyranny was established in several countries like Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, and Libya. Either driven by the regimes and the ruling families or by disfranchised Muslims who found freedom in the bosom of a MosqueÂ then turned violently against the west for turning a blind eye towards tyranny (i.e. The devil you now).
To argue for inaction is to perpetuate a game of Russian roulette, which at the end will have one of two impacts: 1) Either Assad, holding the gun to your temple, wins, thus fostering more Islamic extremism, which will explode in the region or, 2) Assad loses but not before sparking a religious war that will touch everyone in the region, including Israel — 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs not to speak of the almost 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who will, given their disposition for conspiratorial theories, accuse Americans like Daniel for starting this religious war.
While Arabs and Muslims fight each other in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, Palestinians will hurl accusations and rockets against Israel first and burn US flags second. If the US remains on the sidelines, this is exactly how Putin will turn Arabs against the US and Israel. It takes an Arab raised in a Soviet system to see the trailer of this movie.
We have no choice but to separate the two sides by defeating Assad to prevent an all-consuming supremacist war that may yield either more extremism or more hate in the region. It does not mean that waiting for a neighborly war to end while the bullets ricochet off your window sills that you will be fine.
As far as Islamic extremists ascending to power, this may be true and I am one who argued, on many occasions, that the SNC, which is majority-ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood, will lodge more extremists in the new Syrian government than we wish for.
For people like Zuhdi, and many others, being the alternative to both alternatives has no value for any western policy maker because all eyes are either on tyranny or Islamism. We are given no chance of success because we do not have a Saudi-like lobby or a Muslim Brotherhood-like organization. Further, the west argues for a political solution in terms of the strong horse and not in terms of the strong ideas. Supporting the strong ideas within the framework of a weak link is way less important than supporting the strong horse within the framework of a bad link; even though strong ideas are the basis of the democratic values the west embraces successfully.
Syria cannot afford tyranny the same way she cannot afford Islamism. If the Syrian “strong ideas” elements are unable to muster western support, then we have no choice but to dislodge Assad and to let Syrians control Islamism on their own. We are the guardians against the two evils and the west must trust we will do our job even without its support until Arabs reach for their own firmament. The more the Middle East looks like a carousel of tyrants, the more dangerous the region will become and inaction on Syria will result in either much more harmful tyranny or even worse Islamism.
The west can no longer afford to stand guard outside the tyrants’ parties while more and more Muslim extremists keep crashing them until they take control.
As Zuhdi said, defeating Islamism will occur through the war on ideas. But how can you defeat Islamism by supplying it with oxygen in the form of tyranny?
Time to stop kicking the can down the road by supporting a military-based regime change for Syria. The worst that could happen is we let, with our diligence, another form of government fail on its own.