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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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Mr. President, Please Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There!

Drawing red lines is never a politically wise move.
A pair of U.S. Airforce F-16 Fighting Falcons, capable of destroying more than 400 types of targets.

A pair of U.S. Airforce F-16 Fighting Falcons, capable of destroying more than 400 types of targets.
Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Boitz

Kol Israel on Monday morning quoted Israeli officials in Washington who say an American intervention in Syria—albeit limited—is a forgone conclusion, seeing as the White House has been under so much concentrated attacks from Europe and from inside the U.S. to employ its considerable resources to stop the civil war.

President Obama has been meeting with his national security team to discuss reports of the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons, a White House official said over the weekend, throwing strong hints that an American military strike was on the table.

The humanitarian group Doctors without Borders said reports it received from hospitals in Damascus indicated that 355 people had died from symptoms consistent with being exposed to a neurotoxic agent.

“We have a range of options available, and we are going to act very deliberately so that we’re making decisions consistent with our national interest as well as our assessment of what can advance our objectives in Syria,” the White House official, speaking on background, said.

Once again it has been proven that it is not a politically wise move to draw red lines. It never ends well. Like all pledges, the pledger ends up being forced to act on notion he or she had in the past, despite all the new information they possess today.

Never mind that this pledge by President Obama, to pin U.S. foreign policy on whether or not Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons, is possibly the least astute of all the lines in the sand.

The man has been bombing civilian neighborhoods in his own cities and towns for two years, with supersonic attack planes diving down on homes and cars and schools and mosques, ripping all of it to shreds with air-to-surface rockets, and that didn’t trigger any red line. But the fact that he did it with an antiquated technology that gave Europe nightmares in World War I – that’s already intolerable. That’s unforgivable. This time he really crossed the line.

I feel like I’m channeling Jacky Mason here. The United States believes that it could actually achieve some good in the tortured Middle East by bombing a whole bunch of places in Syria? Seriously? The Syrians themselves can’t tell any more who is fighting against whom – the rebel forces are split into pro- and anti-Western armies, all of whom hate Israel, and all of whom hate the Shiite Hezbollah even worse than they do the Jews. And the U.S. will start shooting Tomahawks into these wretched battlefields, followed by limited bombing from the air, followed by more intense air raids – and that will help matters?

Let’s look at the record of U.S. interventions in the region over the past decade, shall we? At the cost of a trillion dollars, give or take, and thousands of American lives, we managed to topple the one serious enemy Iran had at its border, the horrible, terrifying, puppy killing Saddam Hussein, to replace him with a Shiite-ruled government and to extend Iran’s Hegemony all the way down the Persian Gulf.

But that was President GW Bush, and what did he know about global strategy, right? So our next commander in chief is spending another trillion dollars to make sure the Taliban will have a firm hold on Afghanistan for centuries, but with a few differences: whereas in the past the Taliban were merely an Afghani phenomenon, now they threaten their entire region, most notably Pakistan, a proud member of the nuclear club.

So now the brilliant boys and girls at the White House want us to intensify the rate of the killing of innocent civilians, weighing in on the side of the “good” rebels. Judging by their record so far, it is virtually certain that the result of our efforts will be a Sunni Al Qaeda state, where all the Allawites, Druze and Christians have been murdered, and Israel’s northern border with Syria—largely dormant since 1973—will come back to life.

And all of it because we think Assad mass murdered his people using chemical weapons instead of tanks and planes.

I yearn for the day when we’ll have a president who understands the value of not intervening in the Middle East. This region is not a Europe with darker complexions. This region is where tribes of all manner of color and dress have been doing war since the time the hunter-gatherers and shepherds ran into the first cultivated wheat fields and everybody got their bats and sticks and sharpened stones and went at each other. And each time European powers land here, they turn the occasional suffering into permanent pain, with ever larger numbers of dead and mutilated.

Yori Yanover

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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