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

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

September 9th, 2013 By Robin Smith in Opinion Columns

Robin Smith

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

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.