I’m reminded of a quote from the great Japanese Sword Master, Miyamoto Musashi:
“The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy’s cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, stroking or touching the enemy, you will not be able to actually cut him.” -Miyamoto Musashi
It seems that the United States needs to prioritize which is its greater enemy, in order to decide how to act.
Part of the problem with the whole notion of the “War on Terror”, is that it does not define the enemy very clearly. Without a clear picture of what you’re trying to get rid of and what is actually present in the world, how are you to define your attacks and defensive strategies?
If I were the US, I would personally prioritize the defense of our homeland from foreign or domestic aggression and start from there. From looking at the world as it is in Syria, I would say that we would most likely do more harm to ourselves by continuing to back the rebel factions at all. I wouldn’t say go all out in supporting Assad, in order to have something with which to continue having diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia and Israel. However, it’s clear that the rebel factions are not coherent or cohesive enough in their opposition to Assad, and that our continued presence in the country could easily help the al-Qaeda militants who do have global ambitions to hit the US in our home territory.
If I were the US, I would offer to coach Assad in how to govern effectively for his people’s sake, rather than just by exploiting and repressing the population for his own supporters. We have the experience (albeit, imperfect to date) of governing with a plurality of people. While even our own government, at present, doesn’t govern effectively for the entirety of our population, I can conceive of very particularly chosen people from our country, who get that you need to let people figure out their own path towards development (rather than dictating to them how they should govern and behave) being able to chat with Assad and his ministers and, hopefully, convince them that they need to change how they think, feel and operate in the country, if they want to sustain their government in Syria. This is ultimately done through sustaining and supporting the people of Syria, not as a dictator over a group of people, but as a couple in an honest and loving relationship. While Assad doesn’t necessarily need to step down as the leader of Syria, he does need to step down in his own mind and begin to rethink the way leadership works within his country and amongst his country-folk. This would be applicable to anyone who would attempt to govern any society.
Now, there will be a lot of people who would criticize this tacitly supporting the Assad government. I would charge that such arguments arise out of a sense of passionate disgust with his present and past behavior and doesn’t set down to think about the empirically sensed conditions and the long term practical approach to governing and well being. I think that such arguments for the continued assault on Assad would only work, in the long term, to muddle the situation until some other power rises up that we don’t necessarily have the potential to have influence over and may actually be a greater enemy to us all.
Assad, however reprehensible he may seem to us, is still the demon that we know and a demon that doesn’t have a reason to assault our homeland and our people at home (especially if we draw down our support for the rebels and seek to open up a dialogue for the improvement of his well being as leader of Syria).
The time is coming for us to decide which way to cut; which enemy to cut.
Quite frankly, I would much more concerned about the global jihadis than the Assad government in Syria.
Therefore, we need to cut decisively and accordingly in our policies and stop with the mincing support for people whom I think, we would be better off ignoring.
Think about it.