We hope yesterday’s airstrikes against Syria were only warning shots to the Assad regime and not the opening move of a campaign that will lead to his removal from power because none of the facts that led us to conclude Assad is the least bad option in Syria are changed by Assad’s attacks against his own citizens.
Those facts are simply that there is no possibility whatsoever the government of Assad can be replaced by anything other than Islamic terrorists and warlords orders of magnitude worse than Assad ever was. The primitive nature of the Islamic religion and savage nature of its adherents inherently prohibit the civilized norms required to sustain prosperous democracies ever taking hold in the Muslim world.
Since the start of the Cold War, and especially since its end, the history of the Middle East has been littered with examples of Muslim strongmen or military juntas that fell out of international favor because they brutalized their own people, but whose “democratic” successors turned out to be worse than their tyrannical, but stabilizing, authoritarian predecessors.
The rule of the Shah was replaced by the worse rule of the Ayatollahs. The fall of Gadhaffi led to Libya being carved up by Al Qaeda and ISIS warlords. The weakening of the secular Turkish military freed Erdogan to saber rattle against the West and Turkey’s non-Western enemies. The arrest of Egypt’s President Mubarak opened a path for Muslim Brotherhood terrorists to temporarily assuming power.
The only examples where a change of regime led to an improvement in the international balance of power were those that led to the rise of a Western backed Islamic dictator in defiance of the democratic preferences of ordinary Muslims: The Shah’s CIA endorsed overthrow of Mohamed Mossadeq; the Egyptian military’s coup against Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood controlled government, and various Turkish juntas that periodically took power during the Cold War.
By his chemical attack against a town sympathetic to the rebels Assad has erred greatly in testing how far the Trump administration would be willing acquiesce to Assad’s humanitarian abuses because of a lack of any remotely civilized alternative to Assad.
It would be a greater error on the part of the Trump administration to think Assad’s most recent offense means the alternatives to Assad are any better than they were last week when the administration appeared willing to grudgingly live with Assad.