Slamming President Barack Obama for his reluctance to get the U.S. mired in another Mideast war, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) blasted the president for “showing weakness” to foreign enemies. Wishing to go back to former President George W. Bush’s policy of preemptive war, Graham insisted the U.S. must show “resolve” around the globe to have credibility. Graham’s idea of “resolve” mirrors that of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who’s called on many occasions for Obama to bomb Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and give military support to Syrian rebels. Both know that that policy would antagonize Russia and China and most likely put U.S. arms into a variety of terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda. Graham insists the U.S. needs military action “at a time when we need resolve the most, we’re sounding retreat,” almost parroting Bush’s words verbatim.
When voters gave Obama a landslide victory Nov. 6, 2012, they expected Obama to meet two major campaign promises, one foreign and one domestic. On the foreign side, end the Afghan and Iraq Wars, while, on the domestic side, maintain a vigorous economy. When Bush left office Jan. 20, 2009, the economy was in shambles and the U.S. was in two costly wars. McCain and Graham have never accepted gratuitous military spending on foreign wars as a major factor in breaking the U.S. economy. Now that Wall Street’s up nearly 100% since Obama stepped into the Oval Office, the economy’s added over 5 million jobs and unemployment has dropped from 9.4% to 7.5%, the GOP continue to beat the war drums. Getting the U.S. into war in Syria would repeat past mistakes and drive today’s improving economy into a possible double-dip recession, something helping the GOP in 2014.
Steering clear of Syria, except perhaps channeling humanitarian aid to only the most reliable rebel groups, helps assure that less deaths and injuries to Americans soldiers and increases the economy’s chance of moving ahead. Refining his counter-terrorism strategy, Obama believes the U.S. can fight the war on terror with better intel and more selective use of the CIA’s predator drone program. Graham’s comments about Obama’s lack of “resolve” mirror those of former Vice President Dick Cheney who insisted that ending the Iraq or Afghan Wars would embolden terrorists around the globe. Obama ended the Iraq War Dec. 31, 2011, over six months after Navy Seals ended Osama bin Laden’s 20-year reign of terror. Graham talks about the president being out-of-touch but it’s the GOP that don’t get will of voters to end Mideast wars and reinvest in the American economy.
When Lebanon’s Iran and Syrian-backed Hezbollah militia announced yesterday that it’s joining the battle to keep al-Assad in power, it was another sign of Sunni-Shiite sectarian strife or religious war that keeps the Mideast in flames. Saudi-backed rebel groups, including Palestinian Hamas, have thrown their weight behind toppling al-Assad’s minority Shiite, Alawite government. Hezbollah’s Shiite militia Leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah vowed to fight Sunni-Wahhabi rebels now threatening to consolidate power near the border town of Qusai in the Lebanese frontier. Backed by Shitte Iran and Syria, Nasrallah risks losing half of his support if al-Assad is driven from Syria. “Syria is the back of the resistance [struggle against Israel], and the resistance cannot stand, arms folded while its back is broken,” Nasrallah told supporters via video link his rationale backing al-Assad.
McCain and Graham want to project American power into the region without understanding the real geopolitical dynamics. “If Syria fall into the hands of America, Israel and the takfiris [Sunni extremists], the resistance [Hezbollah] will be besieged and Israel will enter Lebanon and impose its will,” said Nasrallah, showing conflicting themes within, Shiite and Sunni thinking. While hatred toward Israel is the only common thread between Shiites and Sunnis, today’s battle in Syria begun March 11, 2011 is a sectarian Sunni war against al-Assad’s minority Shiite government. “If Syria fails, Palestine will be lost,” said Nasrallah, in another non sequitur, knowing that Sunni-based Palestinians are currently fighting with al-Qaeda and other Wahhabi groups to topple al-Assad. Hezbollah has no interest in the Palestinian cause other that getting money from Syria and Iran to fight Israel.
Graham and McCain need to get more familiar with bottomless pit of hatred between Sunnis and Shiites. Whether Israel existed or not, the Sunni and Shiites would continue their ongoing battle for Islamic supremacy, with the Saudi-backed Wahhabis sponsoring Islamic revolution around the Middle East and North Africa. When the U.S. leaves Afghanistan in 2014, you can rest assured that the extremist Sunni-Taliban will try to grab back power. “I see a big difference between the president saying the war’s at an end and whether or not you’ve won the war,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok.), showing just how out-of-touch the GOP finds itself with Mideast reality. Graham calls Obama tone deaf but does Coburn really believe the U.S. has won wars in Afghanistan and Iraq when the U.S. has lost over 6,000 troops and $2 trillion tax dollars? Winning is far more attuned to staying out of war.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.