Guest Column

Palin is right: Let someone else determine Syria's fate

Sarah Palin is often criticized for misstatements or controversial comments. Of course, were she a female Democrat with a flamboyant style, she would be labeled “brave” and “courageous” by the press. 

And Palin has once again made a bold statement, one I am sure will enrage those who love to stay upset with her. Speaking on the topic of whether the United States should arm Syrian rebels, Palin suggests that we “let Allah sort it out.” And if recent history is any indication, Palin is absolutely right. Our track record of losing American lives in combat or to acts of terrorism by taking sides in nations where religious factions are battling has, on the whole, been less than fruitful. 

Just consider one of the many headlines this week. A once inconceivable effort by the U.S. government to hold “peace talks” with the Taliban appeared to be on the edge of collapse as the leader of Afghanistan, whose freedom we fought for, complained about the U.S. giving the Taliban legitimacy in meeting with its leaders. Once again, blood and battles leave the U.S. in a no-win situation, trying to play the “father figure” to the world.

It does little good to assert that the Syrian government should be condemned by other major world powers for what appears to be the admittedly deplorable use of chemical weapons against its own people, when Russia chooses to block such a condemnation. Our nation basically has been held hostage by a virtual U.N. Security Council writ large. No matter what effort we have attempted to build as a united coalition of countries against nations where we have deemed there to be weapons of mass destruction or the use of weapons against helpless citizens, those efforts usually have resulted in a hodgepodge of participation with little respect.

But more importantly, our nation is in no position to continue removing one enemy simply to replace that leadership with slightly less hostile yet still anti-American leaders. It’s tempting to get involved in every nation where tyrants reign and people are dying. But we are not the fiscal giant of a country we were in decades past. And our efforts, going all the way back to Jimmy Carter’s attempt to stand by a longtime ally, the then Shah of Iran, typically have proved to lay the groundwork for volatile and deepening hatred of Americans. In Carter’s case, it was a choice of following U.S. tradition, and he paid dearly for that choice with an ensuing hostage crisis that cost him reelection. 

But now the United States is expected not merely to stand by allies, but also to topple governments and regimes. And to what end? More than 1,000 people lost their lives this May in protests in Iraq, the nation we “rescued” under President Bush. It is hard to make a case that America’s policy of “intervene at any cost” still makes sense today. Few other than academicians and some members of the U.S. Senate truly understand the full implications of not sending American tax dollars to arm protesters in Syria. And one might argue they know too much for their own good. 

The factions in Syria are diverse, and motives on all sides are murky. Yes, there are tyrants and bullies around the globe. The poverty that hundreds of millions endure around the world is unimaginable and, in fact, truly not comprehended by most Americans. But with so many here who cannot read or find a job, who have children with empty stomachs and little future, why are we supposed to rescue those who, ultimately, if given power, probably would dislike us as much as those they wish to replace?

Does this mean the United States should become an isolated country with a similar foreign policy? The answer is no, except in instances in which our efforts likely will not advance our nation’s long-term goals and will more than likely create more enemies determined to attack us from within for our “imperialist” ways. We have reached the point where we are in no position to be the policeman in a so-called “Arab Spring” that is unlikely to produce anything but “April showers” that lead to more “May deaths” such as those we witnessed last month in Iraq. 

It appears Palin is correct. 

 

(Matt Towery is author of the book “Paranoid Nation: The Real Story of the 2008 Fight for the Presidency.” He heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage.)




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