Let me begin by saying that I am not a fan of Donald Trump, or any of the politicians currently in the pre-election field for that matter. Nor have I made up my mind, who I may finally end up casting my vote for in 2016. That being said, I recently found myself strangely agreeing, well maybe agreeing is too strong a word, lets just say that I found some common ground with Donald Trumps recent statement regarding Russian involvement in Syria.
This is a segment from CNN.com October 1, 2015
New York, New York (CNN)If Vladimir Putin wants to launch airstrikes inside Syria, that’s no problem for Donald Trump, who said Wednesday that he believes Russia’s military moves in Syria are targeting ISIS and that the United States shouldn’t interfere.
“They don’t respect our president. They really don’t respect us anymore. And that’s why they’re doing this,” Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon in a wide-ranging interview at Trump Tower Wednesday. “At the same time, if they want to hit ISIS, that’s OK with me.”
Several years ago there was spring in the air, an Arab spring that is, we don’t hear the phrase much, if at all anymore and for good reason. Lets look at Egypt and where the Arab spring got them. Hosni Mubarak, president of Egypt, secular, arch enemy of the Muslim brootherhood and Islamic radicalism and U.S. ally. After weeks of uprisings and the chants of “Arab spring is in the air” he is ousted, arrested and eventually stands trial. New elections are called for and low and behold who is elected, none other than Mohammad Morsi, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood. One year later Morsi is ousted in a coup d’etat, by a more sinister version than Mubarak, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, ex director of military intelligence who is elected by a landslide. It is important to note that he ran virtually unopposed. In the end, Egypt is back where it began, not counting the thousands of dead, an economy in shambles, and a fertile ground for Islamic extremism.
Libya under Muammar Gaddafi, here is a man and regime I have no love for and yet perhaps the best example of the unpredicted results brought upon by “Arab spring”. Gaddafi, Libya strongman for over 40 years, brutal and ruthless, specially in the earlier part of his tenure. Despite the horrors of the Lockerbie Pan Am bombing over Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988, for which he was directly responsible as well as countless of other crimes; during his last decade in power he seemed to have taken a more reconciliatory tone. He managed to pay reparations totaling $1.5 billion to the Pan Am victims families and made some limited stride towards social reforms in his own country. Believe me, I am not fooled by this charlatan, not for a moment, but as an example, he serves my purpose for this article. Libya to a large extent is structured along tribal lines, with close to 40 tribal groups in all. Under Gaddafi, by exerting force as only a dictator can, he kept these tribes in check. Many of these tribes have blood feuds going back centuries and perhaps needed a strongman to keep them in check. In comes Arab spring. Many of these tribes and splinter groups seeing an opportunity under the banner of “Arab spring” revolt against Gaddafi. We all know the story, Gaddafi dies, there is a power vacuum and Libya is up for grabs. Where is Libya today, two rival governments, one in Tripoli and one in Bayda, collapsing infrastructure, there is little to no gasoline due to the kidnapping of fuel truck drivers, schools have been closed because they are filled with displaced families, hospitals have little if few resources and the list goes on and on. Yet perhaps the most alarming fact to date is the stronghold ISIS seems to have in Libya. Matthew Sinkez, regional risk manager for Whispering Bell, a security consultant for companies operating in North Africa in a July 2, 2015 Time magazine article stated, “They [ISIS affiliates] have identified Libya as their foothold in North Africa,”
Don’t get me wrong, ideologically an Arab Spring is a wonderful idea, it’s just not feasible, not just yet. Like all change it will have to go through growing pains, much as our own countries government did in the first 100 years. With this in mind, it is the responsibility of the international community to guide and nurture all aspiring democracies. We must never forget that change of this magnitude takes time and that people tend to want change quickly and lack the patience, and as such tend to fail in the immediate. Most importantly, as setbacks occur, a void must never be created, because at times an imperfect government is far better than an uncertain government, or no government at all. As the saying goes, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know”.
So how does all of this take us to Trump, Syria and Russia. First a quick snapshot of Syria past and present. Current president Bashar al-Assad took over from his father in 2000. Far from a perfect or peaceful state Syria managed to teeter along that is until Arab spring took hold in 2011, thrusting the country into a virtual civil war. I can still remember Senator John McCain calling for the Obama administration to arm the rebels, while Bashar al-Assad insisted that the rebels were in fact terrorists. Makes me wonder if he might have been on to something. The fact is that today Syria is infested with ISIS, ISIS supporters and sympathizers many having come from Egypt and Libya. Strangely enough I no longer see Senator McCain on CNN calling for Obama to support the “rebels”.
Some believe that if Bashar al-Assad regime were to fall there would be such a power vacuum, that Syria might be fractured into several different states or even worse, an ISIS state. Whether this is true or not, there is no denying that ISIS is a major player in Syria and that it is in the best interest of the U.S. and the world that they be stopped.
Russia like the U.S., has also been a victim of Islamic extremism, having suffered terrorist attacks on their soil, and up to now have made moves to counter it domestically. Could this current move by Russia aiding Bashar al-Assads regime be a leap to combat terrorism on an international level? Who really knows what Mr. Putins motives, ulterior or otherwise may be. Could taking the punch to ISIS in Syria such a bad thing?
I am certainly not privy to what goes on in Trumps mind, but I have to go with the Donald on this one. Let Russia get down and dirty and help send ISIS back to the netherworld from which they came.