Mark Collins – No Longer OpTomist Friedman: US “Insane” About Syria…

…in one important aspect.  While I don’t agree with much that the NY Timesman writes (will Bad Vlad really come a cropper in the Levant?), he is spot on in these paragraphs:

Syria, Obama and Putin

If we want something better — multisectarian democracy in Syria soon — we would have to go in and build it ourselves. The notion that it would only take arming more Syrian moderates is insane.

During the weekend The Times reported that “nearly 30,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Iraq and Syria from more than 100 countries since 2011.” So 30,000 people have gone to Syria to join ISIS to promote jihad and a caliphate. How many Arabs and Muslims have walked to Syria to promote multisectarian democracy? Apparently zero.

Why do we have to search for moderates like a man with a dowsing rod looking for water, and then train them, while no one has to train the jihadists, who flock there? It’s because the jihadists are in the grip of ideals, albeit warped ones. There is no critical mass of Syrian moderates in the grip of ideals; they will fight for their own homes and families, but not for an abstract ideal like democracy. We try to make up for that with military “training,” but it never works.

Are there real democrats among the Syrian opposition? You bet, but not enough, not with the organization, motivation and ruthlessness of their opponents.

Everyone wants an immaculate intervention in Syria, one where you look like you’re doing something, but without the political cost of putting troops on the ground or having to make unpleasant compromises with unsavory people. There is no such option…

Indeed.  From a post of mine in May this year:

What to Do About the Bloody Middle East? Good Grief! Tom Friedman Agrees With Me

I wrote the following in February:


Poor bloody locals. If the West is truly willing to sort things out right now, are we then willing to rule-one way or another-for some decades or so to try to ensure things work out wellish? Triple double HAH! Given no willingness for, or today in the West intellectual acceptance of, such a prospect, then let us just face things honestly:

The US and the Middle East: Just. Give. Up

Now we find the formerly opTomist NY Timesman writing this


Plus from 2014:

Sunni, Shia, Iraq, Syria: OpTomist Friedman Gives Up on Arab Muslims…

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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17 thoughts on “Mark Collins – No Longer OpTomist Friedman: US “Insane” About Syria…”

  1. Hmm:

    ‘“They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” Putting an end to America’s failed Syrian policy

    There’s no question that Moscow’s expanded role in Syria comes with a degree of risk but successes in Crimea and Ukraine have likely overcome fear of an Afghan repeat. And let’s be clear, Russia’s involvement is not about establishing an Alawite enclave or seeking to “freeze” the conflict. Just a few weeks ago, Russia had just a small military footprint in Syria but now a major deployment is underway. No, this is more about increasing Russian support to a Syrian military that will eventually push northwards and toward the Turkish border while its nominal Kurdish allies press south.

    Where the Syrian opposition and ISIL will end up is anyone’s guess but I have a suspicion that many will huddle in southern Turkey causing the Turkish government, their former benefactors, no end of grief. On the other hand, in Syria it’s likely the fighting will eventually draw to a close and those refugees that simply fled for their lives will make their way home – finally, and mainly thanks to Moscow.

    Dr. Chris Kilford (then Colonel Kilford) is the former Canadian Defence Attaché to Turkey. He retired from the Canadian Armed Forces in August 2014. Today, Chris is a Fellow with the Centre for International and Defence Policy at Queen’s University.’
    https://www.cdainstitute.ca/en/blog/entry/they-shoot-horses-don-t-they-putting-an-end-to-america-s-failed-syrian-policy

    Meanwhile many are predicting that Putin is getting into his own quagmire. Predictions anyone?

    Mark Collins

  2. >”Meanwhile many are predicting that Putin is getting into his own quagmire. Predictions anyone?”

    First we have to acknowledge that unlike the US, Russia really doesn’t have a choice. ISIS and it’s related pets are going to have a hard time getting across the Atlantic in any meaningful way. Armenia, Georgia (them again), Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan etc, etc are all highways straight into Russia and even if they didn’t make it all the way to Russia would be a considerable problem if ISIS got a real foot hold in any of them.

    The second thing we have to acknowledge is that almost every thing we are being told by Washington and their pets London, Paris, Ottawa is BS. Polling done before and during the war shows that Assad is still the most preferred leader in Syria cutting across almost all regions and almost all demographics and has much better numbers than the people who are sold in the west as the supposed good guys.

    http://www.opinion.co.uk/perch/resources/syriadata.pdf

    Qatar, KSA, Turkey and to a lesser extent the west have already done the most they could to support those trying to over run Assad and most should face war crimes trials for what they have done. But they haven’t brought Assad down and it no longer looks like they are going to. There are to many eyeballs on the conflict now for the kind of sleaze they have been doing until recently.

    Almost every one is turning around on whether Assad has to go. Sisi of Egypt has re-established relations with Assad and is saying Syria should stay intact. Keep in mind Egypt is doing more fighting than most against Isis (Sinai). Egypt is interesting because they are the most populous and influential country in the ME and mostly Sunni they are also beholden to KSA for for financial support but still back Assad

    The wild card is the US. If just once they wanted to do the right thing they could stop acting in Syria and I think Assad and Putin would have Daesh mostly pushed into Iraq by the end of the year. The supply lines from Turkey are likely to be permanently cut in the next few weeks. That alone will make the biggest change in the last year. Logistics are an under appreciated part of war. France is scrambling to keep those supply lines open under their new no fly zone plan but it is going no where.

    If the US is happier to stick it to the Russians and to a lesser extent China than they are to fight terrorism like they did in Afghanistan and Libya then they could drag this out for a very long time at relatively little short term cost.

    The problem, like Afghanistan is the long term costs. The price for sticking it to the Russians in Afghanistan was 9/11. The price for keeping this war going is going to be much, much higher. But it won’t become a disaster for Russia like Afghanistan because Russia isn’t doing all the heavy lifting. Syria, Lebanon and to a much lesser degree Iran are providing the boots.

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