Hope for peace in Syria depends on two things:
- the defeat of the so-called Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL or Da’esh), because those fanatics cannot live in peace with anyone else
- renunciation of “regime change” as a U.S. goal in Syria, because you can’t negotiate a peace with someone while you are openly bent on his destruction.
Secretary of State John Kerry has said some things that indicate the United States might be willing to work with Vladimir Putin for a negotiated peace. I hope this is so. U.S. policy under President Obama has been marked by a steady drift toward war, interrupted by sudden lurches toward peace, as with the Iranian sanctions negotiations.
Almost all the Democratic and Republican candidates are worse on this issue than the current administration. Hillary Clinton is a war hawk. Bernie Sanders says that the destruction of ISIS should take priority over removal of President Assad of Syria, but removal of Assad should remain as a long-term goal.
The Republican candidates are all over the map. I regret having given Donald Trump and Ted Cruz credit for certain glimmers of sanity when in fact they have no coherent policy. The one voice of sanity is Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who is a clear and principled opponent of regime change, but has little chance of winning the GOP nomination.
Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi and Bashar al-Assad were and are authoritarian rulers determined to stay in power by any means necessary. I would not have wanted to live under their rule. But it was possible for their subjects to live normal lives if they kept their heads down and stayed out of politics.
All three of these rulers did do things to improve the material conditions of their peoples. And all three were willing to peacefully coexist with the USA.
The invasion of Iraq, overthrow of Qaddafi and promotion of rebellion against Assad has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people who had as much right to live upon this earth as you and me. U.S. policy has replaced dictatorial but orderly governments with the rule of warlords, gangsters and religious fanatics.
The strength of ISIS comes from two sources. One is that they represent themselves as the champions of all Muslims against American and European domination of majority-Muslim countries. The other is that they represent themselves as the champions of Sunni Muslims against Shiite Muslims.
There are two big traps the U.S. government could fall into. One is to conflate, or to let the world conflate, the campaign against ISIS fanatic terrorists with a conflict with Islam as a whole. The other is to align the United States with either Sunnis or Shiites in the conflict within Islam.
John Kerry’s Moscow Love Fest by Mike Whitney for Counterpunch.
Could an end to Syria’s civil war be in sight? by James Gelvin for The Conversation.
Can Obama stop this insane war before Hillary or Rubio takes over? by Joseph Cannon for Cannonfire.
Rand Paul Didn’t Win But He Raised the Most Important Questions of the Debate by Charles P. Pierce for Esquire.
In U.S. Republican Politics, Hating on Iran Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry by Mahsa Alimandari for Global Voices.
An Idiot’s Guide to Why They Hate Us by Paul Street for Counterpunch.