Photo Credit: US Navy
Churchill, FDR, and Stalin at Yalta.

To what can such a perversion of reason and reality, of common sense, of any measure of American self-interest be attributed: Poole’s Brotherhood penetration of the U.S. foreign policy cadre? More wishful thinking? The illogic of an upside down world view and America’s place in it? Or the pernicious persistence of that first betrayal, the U.S.’s 1933 recognition of Stalin’s murderous gulag of a regime?

As the world confronts the next horror of innocent Syrian men, women, and little children, hundreds of them apparently, killed in late August 2013 by a rocket barrage of the deadly chemical weapon, sarin, the U.S. and the world once again have the opportunity to react rationally, soberly, and with core U.S. national security interests uppermost in consideration. It seems most likely that the Iranian-and-Hizballah-backed regime of Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad is responsible for this latest war crime, and the outcry to empower his al-Qa’eda- and Muslim Brotherhood-dominated rebel opposition has become overwhelming. U.S. naval forces are positioned near Syria in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, pending a White House decision on U.S. action. Yet, even as one side of this intra-Islamic sectarian civil war is getting the worst of it, with more than 100,000 casualties racked up so far, and no end in sight, with chemical weapons against civilians introduced into the conflict, there has never been a more critical need for rational, sober-minded thinking about where U.S. interests and responsibility lie. While a 2012 Presidential Intelligence Finding for Syria authorized the extensive clandestine CIA, financial, and Special Forces training support that has been channeled to Syrian rebels (jihadis and non-jihadis alike), in the months since then, any decision to expand that support, now that chemical weapons have been used against civilians in a large-scale attack, demands a significantly better informed assessment of the probable beneficiaries of such assistance than has been the case to date.

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Any decision to deploy U.S. military force beyond a punishing strike against the specific Syrian base and military unit that carried out this chemical weapons atrocity must take into consideration the consequences of an al-Qa’eda and Muslim Brotherhood victory in the Syrian civil war. It is hard to see how enabling the replacement of Iranian proxies and Shi’ite jihadis in Syria with Sunni jihadis aligned with al-Qa’eda and the Muslim Brotherhood will advance either U.S. national security interests in the region or those of our closest allies, Israel and Jordan. Providing generous humanitarian assistance to civilian victims is urgent and right; but, before America recognizes any more totalitarian-minded enemies of genuine liberal democracy, it would do well to enlist common sense, good judgment, and a judicious measure of national self-interest. It is high time we stopped empowering those who wish us ill.

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