I've often referred to the "burden of empire" in this space, and this is usually calculated in terms of the cost in blood and treasure. But get a load of what Abdulbaset Sieda, who heads up the Syrian National Council, has to say:
"We want for America and the Western countries to carry out their responsibilities. With regard to America, specifically, we would like to say to President Obama that waiting for election day to make the right decision on Syria is unacceptable for the Syrians.
"We cannot understand that a superpower ignores the killing of tens of thousands of Syrian civilians because of an election campaign that a president may win or lose. That's why we are saying there is work that must take place at the Security Council."
Americans have no right to think of themselves: this is "unacceptable for the Syrians." As for what the American people think -- well, they don't matter. The US and its allies must "carry out their responsibilities."
Responsibility -- to whom, and for what? The implication is clear enough: we must bear moral responsibility for anything that happens anywhere on earth. The burden of empire is not just material, it is also ethical -- a "responsibility to protect," as the lefty-internationalist apologists for the Libyan debacle would have it. Lost in all this, of course, is the US government's responsibility to protect the people of their own country, whose interests -- and very lives -- are needlessly endangered by our reckless foreign policy.
Floating a story about how the administration is resisting increasing pressure to intervene in Syria is a good way to deflect attention from what they are in fact doing right at this moment to overthrow a foreign government. That they are mounting this increasingly overt effort to benefit a movement with clear connections to our supposed Enemy Number One, Al Qaeda, may rile some conservatives, but probably not enough to the point of making a big deal about it. So Senor Sieda needn't worry: thanks to our "democratic" system, this administration will pay no political price for meddling in the Syrian mess. If the rebels did indeed present the administration with a wish list of weapons, and it isn't being delivered in a timely manner -- well, pieces like the Telegraph story may speed up the process.
One interesting aspect of the Telegraph piece is that it cites at least three separate anonymous "Syrian lobbyists" as saying this and that, but one wonders: who is paying all these lobbyists? And how much money is changing hands in Washington in the effort to push us into war? The Obama reelection campaign's decision to "globalize" their fundraising efforts puts the question front and center: will foreign interests -- the Saudis, the Qataris, the Israelis -- buy themselves another Mideast war? Sure, only American citizens can donate to our election campaigns, but it is easy to enough to get around these restrictions by utilizing American stand-ins and indirect payments to nonprofit "advocacy" groups.
If war with Iran would mean a regional or even a new world war -- World War III -- then Syria is a 21st century version of the Spanish civil war. The Spanish conflict was a dress rehearsal for the main event, in the course of which various "militias" fought one another for control of the Spanish Republic, while the Axis-backed forces of Gen. Francisco Franco and his Falangist party eventually prevailed. There were those in this country who wanted to support the Loyalists, as supporters of the pro-Communist Spanish Republican government were called, but in that event we might very well have wound up with Spain behind the Iron Curtain after the end of World War II. Likewise, in Syria today, in our effort to ally with radical Sunnis in a holy war against Shi'ite Iran, we risk handing power to those who would be more than happy to bite off the hand that fed them.
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