In 1936 the fascist military leaders in Spain led by Francisco Franco (El Caudillo) revolted against the Republic that had replaced the ancient Spanish monarchy. The Republic was led by socialist and left-wing democrats. Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy supported Franco with arms, planes and “volunteer” soldiers. The Soviet Union supported the Republic similarly. And the western democracies, England, France and the United States looked on; offering sympathy to the Republic but not wanting to assist them too much lest it strengthen the communists. Before the start of WWII the fascists won in Spain and the Spanish people were subjected to some thirty-five years of dictatorship (after the war the west allied with Franco during the cold war).
In 2012 the people of Syria revolt against their dictator whose family had ruled for decades. He bombs and strafes the villages and uses chemical weapons against his own people. Iran and Russia and the radicals in Lebanon (Hezbollah) send arms and aid to the dictator. And the western democracies, England, France and particularly the United States send platitudes and good wishes and humanitarian aid. Weapons to match those that Russia has given the Syrian government might fall into the hands of the Islamists (reads like the Spanish communists). Without putting troops on the ground the western powers with their missiles and drones and planes could enforce a no fly zone and assist the rebels as they did the Libyan rebels and as they did in the 1990's when they brought down Milosevic in Serbia and saved Kosovo.
But analogizing the Syrian situation to the Spanish situation is considered simplistic and war-mongering. Because McCain and Graham and other hawkish Senators call for aid to the Syrian rebels our government further temporizes. We will stand by and watch Assad use chemical weapons against his own people as we stood by and watched the genocide in Rwanda in 1995.
In the beginning of the 19th century those who wanted to see a world of democracy and freedom thought of America as the world’s last best hope. The South American revolutionaries modeled their fights for independence from Spain on our Revolution and tried to use our model of peaceful independence rather than the French terror. When the Chinese struggled for rights in 1989, as the Berlin Wall tumbled, they raised the Statue of Liberty as their symbol in Tiananmen Square. Under President Obama, during the crisis in Egypt and the revolt in Libya, America began again to be seen on the side of the little people. Now the waffling and the whimpering and the hesitation and the appeasement in Syria threaten to undo that image. As Russia sends missiles to Syria to shoot down any planes the west might employ in a no-fly zone and Hezbollah sends “volunteers” America pontificates and urges conferences. We need to learn more about the rebels before we give further assistance. Fortunately for our country the King of France didn’t want to know more about the members of the Continental Congress before he decided to help us he simply wanted to know our enemy. Why do we need to know more than two things: 1) the regime in Syria is massacring its own people and would rather ruin the country and murder the non-Alawite citizens (90%) than give up power. 2) the regime in Syria is supported by Iran and Russia and Hezbollah.
Winston Churchill once said that you could count on America to do the right thing after it tried everything else. If we do that in this situation we will do the right thing when it is too little and too late and require more resources than we can expend. The Syrian people have a right to live in peace and freedom. All people have a right to live in peace and freedom. And unless the greatest nation on the planet firmly stands for that than someday no one may be living in peace and freedom.
29 May 2013