published Monday, September 9th, 2013

Smith: SYRIA CROSSROADS: It’s time to stand again

By Robin Smith

America is searching mightily to understand the reality behind this Syrian crisis and the role our nation should play.

An uninformed, or partially informed, public makes decisions based on emotion rather than fact.

Granted, public information is understandably limited because of national security. No argument. But let’s walk through what’s been published in numerous news accounts regarding this roiling mess to get beyond simple opinion.

The current request for military action in Syria revolves around a statement President Barack Obama made last year that supports the global policy: No chemical weapons are to be used. Period.

As credible evidence has mounted and time has dragged on with a delayed response from America, the “red line” imposed by Barack Obama’s own words on Aug. 20, 2012 actually turned into a river of blood flowing from hundreds of innocent Syrian children, executed by their own government with sarin gas, a nerve agent classified as a weapon of mass destruction that paralyzes one’s respiratory system.

As members of Congress voice their approval of President Obama seeking their authorization to commit an act of war, they pragmatically assess the President’s erratic decision-making in reversing his own secretary of state, John Kerry, along with the foreign policy failures in Iraq, Libya, and Egypt.

These failures highlight the admonition now coming from the Obama Administration: “Come on, trust us!”

So, how did this start?

The Syrian civil war began as an uprising borne out of shortage. Energy and water became scarce with rising prices stretching an already poor people. This uprising, however, devolved over the last 28 months into a sectarian or ethnic battle between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

And, who’s on whose team?

Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad and his top military brass are of the Alawite sect of Islam, more closely aligned with the Shia sect of the Islamic faith. The majority of the Syrian population is of the Sunni sect.

As the conflict grew, the spillover of this civil-turned-sectarian war has aligned interests outside of Syria and hostile to the U.S. and our allies.

Those on the Shia-Alawite “team” include Syria, the governing majority of Iraq, and the overwhelming majority of the Iranian theocracy. This contingent shares its revenue, its resources and its support from both Russia and China.

This explains the recent statements from Israel that the activity of Syria is viewed as activity of Iran.

Those on the Sunni “team” are Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Syria’s current ruling government is being supplied by Russia, Iraq, and the extremists of Iran with the opposing rebels receiving cash and arms from the royal families along the Persian Gulf.

Of course, no battle would be complete without a sprinkle of al-Qaeda and a dash of the Muslim Brotherhood mixing it up for tyrannical flavor.

All of this contributes to the importance of domestic energy independence; to the critical nature of global trade policies; to the concern over who holds the debt of the United States in times of over-spending; and to the value of a partner in peace, Israel, who sits among these warring lands as a friend to America.

The backbone of American leadership in a consistent and vigilant foreign policy can never be underestimated. Now, let’s see which politicians put partisanship aside and display some backbone in reassembling a critical coalition to lead the world … again.

Robin Smith served as chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm.

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nucanuck said...

Ms Smith creates her own truth by omitting that which doesn't fit with her premise.

The discontent within Syria was exploited and fed by Sunni-dominant countries combined with US and Israeli supplied arms and black ops. This was no spontaneous civil outbreak as occurred in Tunisia.

While the deaths by gas has been confirmed, those responsible have not been determined except by the US. The rest of the world has not been convinced and the US has no credibility based on past performance.

Even if a savvy Assad were fool enough to incite the world by using gas, it is not the job of the US to intervene and proscribe punishment for a country. Bombing destroys lives and buildings, but does not change minds. Bombing would be the act of a rogue nation without world opinion strongly backing that bombing.

When Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa all speak out AGAINST bombing Syria and the few governments who have shown support do not have popular support within their respective countries, it turns out that only the neocons in the US, Israel and neighboring Sunnis favor bombing.

Could Ms Smith's war lust be religion based? There seems to be a strain of belief in the US that we are in a war with Islam. That belief finds adherents throughout the Christian Brotherhood that is strongest in the South. We have to wonder about the motivation of anyone so out of step with world opinion.

September 9, 2013 at 8:16 a.m.
SaraB said...

Funny, I don't see any call for war at all in this article. I read this to be a list of all the Muslim sects warring against each other added to the many failures of the Obama Administration in the region.

I take the opinion to call for a new foreign policy that puts America first and to protect Israel leading our allies.

But, I don't hate the right or Mrs. Smith, so I guess I actually don't read things into the article.

September 9, 2013 at 8:20 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

Robin, Are you ready to send your son to die in the desert? Why not call for an international tribunal for Assad? Or would that strike too close to home?

September 9, 2013 at 8:29 a.m.
Facts said...

The statements calling for American leadership and "backbone" are hilariously viewed by the left as "war."

Do you not see that if this President and his State Department had been "consistent and vigilant in foreign policy" for the last five years that America would not be in this embarrassing situation with no allies and enemies laughing. Effective diplomacy and leadership have been absent in this Administration.

I simply love the opportunity to capture in black and white the comments of Democrats who equate leadership with war. Priceless.

September 9, 2013 at 8:44 a.m.
nucanuck said...


Bombing is an act of war. Ms Smith uses the words 'backbone' and 'lead the world' to convey her position quite clearly. If you see a message of military restraint in her message, please elaborate.

September 9, 2013 at 11:49 a.m.
nucanuck said...

Facts, the US leadership wants, and almost assuredly provoked, this confrontation, just like Iraq. This time the American people want no more of this failed war policy. Obama is going to be a lame duck for these next 3 1/2 years. Sad for America.

September 9, 2013 at 11:54 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

I'm not sure I understand what point Robin Smith and you righties are trying to make here. You seem to be calling for a firm hand in dealing with Syria, which is exactly what Obama is doing, or at least trying to do, and yet you are still managing to bash him. SaraB says, "Funny, I don't see any call for war at all in this article... But, I don't hate the right or Mrs. Smith, so I guess I actually don't read things into the article." No, Mrs. Smith doesn't come right out and say, "Unleash the dogs of war!" but she is obviously not talking about merely a stern vocal chastisement.

She and you knee-jerk reactionary wing-nuts are going to find disfavor with Obama and call him an abysmal failure at foreign policy, or anything else, no matter what course of action he chooses. He's calling for a firm hand (immediate but limited military action) in dealing with the Syrian situation and he gets your firm disapproval. Yet, if he were calling for patience and diplomacy, then you would be calling him an indecisive liberal wuss. You guys are so twisted and tied up in knots in your gut-level hatred of the guy that you fail to make any sense whatsoever.

Having said that, we need to stay the hell out of Syria, and I don't base my decision on any irrational love or hatred for Obama. Even a limited strike would take countless lives of innocent people, and we will only stir up the pot of unrest even more, which in turn would have us feeling more and more obligated to do more than just carry out a limited strike. We are always talking about "saving face" and not sending a signal of a lack of courage and strength. Baloney! We used that argument for staying the course in Vietnam and Iraq and all it did was to ensure that the body count (ours and the innocent civilians of each of those countries) would continue to rise.

We need to rethink this whole "red line" concept and we need to ditch the insane neo-con Bush doctrine of "attack now, ask questions later." The entire Mideast is a hornet's nest of unrest and internal conflict, thanks in no small part to our own present-day and previous meddlings there, and will be so for years to come. We cannot afford to keep playing policeman there. Whenever we do, it always has a way of backfiring and making things even worse.

September 9, 2013 at 12:16 p.m.
SaraB said...

Here's what I am reading: 1. Obama made statements to punish the use of chemical weapons by Syria. 2. Obama is going to Congress for approval to use a military response. Ms. Smith applauds Obama's going to Congress. 3. Congress is skeptical because of the Obama's message differing from Kerry and the past failures in the Middle East by his Administration. 4. Obama is not making the argument. Instead, they're saying, Trust us. 5. The religous sects are placed on the opposing factions with Israel viewing Iran and the Syrian government as being the same. 6. The policies of energy independence, trade, excessive spending because of debt, and Israel's friendship are specified as critical to our foreign policy and how our interests are defined. 7. The call for bipartisanship for global leadership is issued.

I don't see any place in this writing that says, "Hey, Republicans, do what Obama wants. Let him bomb, declare war, whatever." I see an overview of the mess and that because of failures and weakness now tied to America's foreign policy, there's a need to change those policies and form strong allies again.

Where do you see a call for Republicans to support Obama's plan?

September 9, 2013 at 12:23 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

One must remember that Ms. Smith learned her political positions under the Kama Sutra of Alexander, Wamp, Corker, and crony corporate government.

Using "other people's money and lives" makes it easy to doublespeak.

September 9, 2013 at 12:36 p.m.
conservative said...

Hey nucanuck-

Are you still consuming 2.3 earths?

September 9, 2013 at 1:14 p.m.
SaraB said...

Exactly what I originally posted. I don't hate this lady so I read her content, not make personal insults to fit some agenda.

September 9, 2013 at 1:20 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Jesus, conservative, You're like a child.

September 9, 2013 at 1:23 p.m.
conservative said...

Yes, it is so wonderful to be a child of God!

September 9, 2013 at 2:37 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

I guess that means you never grow up.

September 9, 2013 at 3 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

A "child of God." It is one thing to have the innocence of a child but not at the expense of shutting off your reasoning mind and blindly following a God who COMMANDS your obedience, who expects you to fear him as much as you love him. Love based on fear is not love at all, no matter how you Christians try to make it so. A God who prefers his children to be blindly obedient instead of creatively engaged with the reasoning minds that he endowed us with is a twisted, sadistic monster of a God and not one who is worthy of being respected and worshiped. Fortunately, we reasoning people know that the sort of God you brain-dead fundamentalists bow down to is just a figment of your imagination and does not exist at all.

"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear." - Thomas Jefferson

September 9, 2013 at 3:12 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

conservative said...

"Yes, it is so wonderful to be a child of God!"

Does that mean your old Dad impregnated an illiterate young virgin by hocus-pocus and foisted you off on an unsuspecting cuckold?

I can see why you are proud.

September 9, 2013 at 3:19 p.m.
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