With Friends Like These, the Syrian People Don’t Need Enemies

In light of the Iraq war debacle, a salutary motto for any American policymaker would be: “Beware of pro-Israelis bearing advice.” Even more so when it’s pretty much the same people that worked so hard to get the United States into that mess who are once again dispensing unsolicited counsel.

Back in 1998, the Project for a New American Century wrote to President Clinton urging him to remove Saddam Hussein and his regime from power to address the potentially “destabilizing effect on the entire Middle East” supposedly posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Thirteen years, hundreds of thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, and no weapons of mass destruction later, three of the signatories of that infamous PNAC letter — William Kristol, Robert Kagan and James Woolsey — are among a gang of Israel partisans and their lackeys who have signed another open letter to an American president urging regime change in yet another one of Israel’s Arab neighbours. This time it’s the hawkishly pro-Israel Foundation for Defense of Democracies that is urging President Obama to remove Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his regime from power. The letter reads in part:

Mr. President, the opportunity presented by recent developments in Syria and the broader region is momentous. As you said in May, “we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable, and more just.” Supporting Syrians to rid themselves of Assad’s yoke would also have broader game-changing implications on peace and stability in the Middle East. It would deny Iran the use of its major ally as a proxy for terrorism, stem the flow of Syrian arms to Hezbollah, reduce instability in Lebanon, and lessen tensions on Israel’s northern border.

This is a significant moment where many of our allies and partners in Europe and the region are in agreement that the Assad atrocities must stop now. They are poised to act. Now is the time to continue placing the United States firmly on the side of the Syrian people. We urge you to grasp this opportunity and increase your administration’s efforts to ensure that the brave people taking to the streets in Syria are soon able to enjoy the fruits of freedom that we in the West hold so dear.

Needless to say, the best thing the United States could do now for the Syrian people would be to not repeat the mistake George W. Bush made in following similar beguiling advice from “experts” like Kristol and Kagan.

Maidhc Ó Cathail writes extensively on U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East. Read other articles by Maidhc, or visit Maidhc's website.