Unlike my colleagues, I’ve been a bemused spectator during this week’s Syria follies. As readers of these columns know (see, e.g., here, here, here, here, and here), I believe the United States has less interest in Syria than in the persistence of drought in Burkina Faso. That is why I was a steadfast naysayer on American intervention in a conflict among rivals whose common ground consists of hatred for America and affinity for sharia supremacism (and the abetting thereof — I’m looking at you, Vladimir).
The current frenzy was ignited by the president’s abrupt decision to pull U.S. forces (all 2,200 of them) out of Syria. This prompted Defense Secretary James Mattis’s resignation — though General Mattis’s stinging letter indicates that Syria was really just the last straw for him after two years in the Trump grinder.
These latest chapters are already being folded into the Syria Hawk Fantasy Narrative. To recap, we are to believe that President Obama, by extracting forces from Iraq (inconveniently, pursuant to an agreement struck by President Bush) created a “vacuum,” in which ISIS spontaneously generated. It is supposed to be irrelevant to this story that the American people never supported Washington’s farcical sharia-democracy project, and that the Iraqis claimed to want our troops out even more than we did. What matters is that Obama’s decision “created ISIS,” dashing the dreams for a secular, pluralist democracy harbored by the moderate Muslims who predominate Iraq (at least on days when they’re not executing homosexuals and apostates), and making an unspeakable bloodbath of the heroic struggle by the same moderate Muslims to overthrow Syria’s Tehran-backed monster, Bashar al-Assad.
Of course, Obama did not create the Islamic State. Sharia supremacism did. What no one in Washington pontificating on Syria and neighboring Iraq cares to acknowledge is that this region is a tinderbox of fundamentalist Islam in which, if there were no intervention by outside forces, Sunnis and Shiites would be slaughtering each other until some strongman imposed order — something that is to be expected in a culture of voluntarism (God as pure will) where submission to authority is the norm. (Voluntarism is brilliantly explained by Robert R. Reilly in The Closing of the Muslim Mind.)