Similarly, in Syria, Assad has been accused of using chemical weapons against the opposition. This opposition appears to be an Islamist coalition and sometime front for Al-Qaeda. A key quote from the NYT: "Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of." Assad is a brutal dictator in the mold of his father, but the opposition is no friend of democracy either. The U.S. has vacillated in support of the opposition, and with good reason, there are no obviously good options.
In the case of Egypt, I believe we are faced with a false dilemma. There is more complexity to the Egyptian political scene than merely Islamist vs military. There is a large democratic leaning minority. Right now, the administration is taking a PR beating from that group for our previous support of the Muslim Brotherhood in the name of supporting democracy. But we don't have to support a democratically elected government that doesn't itself support democracy. Obama erred in supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi. But we should be clear that we expect fresh elections from the military. It will be a long time before we have real influence in Egypt, but the only way to achieve that end is to consistently support freedom.
In Syria, our policy is accidentally correct. We have vacillated in our support of the rebels just enough so that they have not been defeated. A jihadist victory in Syria, including control of likely caches of chemical weapons, would be a disaster for the west and Israel. However, Assad's freedom of action is being contained by the civil war. We can't forget that Bashar Assad and his predecessor/father have made mischief in the Middle East for decades, often in cooperation with Iran and Hezbollah. If the U.S. were to articulate its policy, it would be to contain Assad and prevent him from using chemical weapons to seek revenge on the rebels. Until such time as the Syrians come to their senses, this is the best that can be accomplished. At the end of the day, I find it hard to find great fault in Obama's policy. There is little to be done in the short term, and we seem to be stumbling towards something resembling the least bad options.
What You Should Be Reading.
- Dean has been keeping us up to speed on the continued obstructionism against the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare being perpetuated by. . . the Obama administration. This of course is the fault of the Republicans. The WSJ covers some of the same ground, with less humor, but more depth. KT proposes the logical solution to implementation issues with the ACA; Hayek would agree with the connection made.
- Why do we need big coal or other fossil fuels? The answer to that question is probably in your pocket. (H/T Professor Perry.)