Thursday, February 23, 2012

No Enemy Should Sleep Soundly

The question of supporting the anti-Assad rebels is in the air as Assad escalates his efforts to kill his way to peace and quiet that will end those persistent voices calling for his departure:

Syrian tanks pushed into a rebel stronghold in the battered city of Homs on Thursday and U.N. investigators accused President Bashar al-Assad's government of crimes against humanity.

I'd rather have the Turks go in to Syria in force to have a chance at ending this problem sooner rather than later. But if the question is simply whether we support the insurgents, the answer is "heck yes."

Does anybody remember that through the Iraq War Assad funneled jihadis into Iraq for al Qaeda where they blew up Iraqi civilians and American and allied troops in suicide bomber attacks? And otherwise supported insurgents fighting us in Anbar and the Sunni Triangle?

We owe Assad payback. Even if the anti-Assad forces don't win we should support the anti-Assad forces. Our enemies should know they don't have a free shot at us, and fear that even if we don't hit them immediately, we'll bide our time and strike when we can.

UPDATE: Some arms are getting in:

Foreign powers are turning a blind eye to weapons purchases by Syrian exiles who are already smuggling light arms, communications equipment and night vision goggles to rebels inside Syria, a Syrian opposition source said on Friday.

If it is a good thing that Assad falls (and I think it is), I worry that too many people in Washington labor under the delusion that insurgents always win and so Assad is doomed. After all, the people in power now are the same people who said we couldn't beat the insurgents and terrorists in Iraq. Indeed, they said that fighting the terrorists and insurgents in Iraq just created more insurgents and terrorists so was actually counter-productive. But I'm not sure that these people have digested the implications of the fact that we did in fact defeat the insurgents and terrorists in Iraq.

Assad has survived so far, remember. He is weakening and the resistance is strengthening. But Assad hasn't faced even the shock we faced of the dual uprising in Iraq in spring 2004--just as we were knocking down the Baathist resistance--where al Qaeda and the Sunni Arabs plus the Sadrists in the Shia community rose up to fight us and the new Iraqi government. Half of the Iraqi security forces collapsed in the first shock of that uprising, and it took a year to beat back the twin offensives. And then it took three more years and our surge offensive to finally beat them down.

Nothing is inevitable. Our choices influence what happens. And not making a choice is a choice.