9/5/2013 10:25:00 AM Syria: Let's think this through
Catholic News Service
Syrian refugees, fleeing the violence in their country, cross the border into the Kurdish region of northern Iraq Sept. 4. As threats of military intervention against Syria escalate, U.S. Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien, grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, said that no matter what transpires, prayer is urgently needed.
President Obama is determined to hold Syria accountable for using chemical weapons and U.S. officials are deciding how to respond. Let’s think this through carefully.
What a mess the brutal civil war in this ancient country has become. More than 110,000 civilians have been killed, nearly two million displaced, and the carnage continues daily as a bloody stalemate.
Syria’s opthamology-trained medical doctor/strong man is right: Whatever we do in Syria likely will fail.
Already, the sectarian fighting is spilling over to other countries in this violent region. Car bombs are detonating in Lebanon’s Shia neighborhoods and scores of Sunnis are being killed each week in Iraq.
Some prescient foreign policy wonks fear the region may degenerate into a cataclysmic fight between Sunni and Shia Moslems. Keep in mind that in the weeks before the push into Iraq, many U.S. officials were ignorant of the two branches of Islam.
Just about anything can happen in this unstable, violence-wracked part of the world that contains most of the world’s oil reserves.
Assessing the situation from that perspective, the Mideast really is China’s problem, more so than the West’s. That is because U.S. oil exports have been halved from historic dependency levels. China needs oil.
The U.S. is being blamed throughout the region for everything that is going wrong. We should be used to that response by now.
But what should we make of the worrisome quiesence of Iran and Israel?
The New York Times’ Tom Friedman quotes foreign affairs experts who argue that the key to peaceful outcomes is the West’s ability to affect the internal governance of these failed nations. Good luck with that.
Whatever the U.S. decides to do, all our allies must be with us to share the burden in case the Mideast blows up altogether.