Former Bush official and current senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Elliot Abrams is salivating with eager anticipation over the prospect that the U.S. – in its omniscience – will oust another Middle Eastern regime. I’m sure he can’t contain himself, and all the terrible death and destruction and law-breaking of the Bush regime has exited his mind forever, as he explains how “powerful” is the argument for “getting Assad out.” After all, it would be a kick in the knees for Iran and Hezbollah.
The strategic argument for getting Assad out is powerful: it would be a huge defeat for Iran and Hezbollah, and indeed the greatest defeat we could administer to Iran short of ending its nuclear program.
Forget the fact that Iran is basically a threat to nobody, we can see here how embedded is the notion of regime change as a legitimate function of the U.S. government in the minds of the political intelligentsia. He sees nothing wrong with donning America as ruler of the entire Middle East, granting governments the right to exist, or not so, by our own righteousness.
Even as he urges America towards the same brutal and lawless foreign policy its had for a century, he does present some interesting findings about the opinions of the Syrian population. France 24 reports:
Syrian opposition protesters are not just calling for the fall of President Bashar al-Assad: they have recently begun directing their anger against his regional allies, Iran and Hezbollah. Our Observer says this is a new and unexpected turn of events.
Videos of recent protests in Syria show demonstrators chanting slogans against Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s Islamic revolution, as well as the Hezbollah, an Islamist political party from Lebanon with a powerful armed wing. Even more surprising has been footage of protesters burning posters of Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary-general and a widely respected figure throughout the Middle East.
Their anger is a result of Tehran’s and Hezbollah’s unwavering support for the Syrian government, even as it ruthlessly crushes its own people’s calls for more democracy.
I find this interesting for two reasons. First, it shows that Syrians have not been so excessively cut off from the world by Assad’s regime – one of the most restrictive in the region – that they can’t develop cohesive, reasonable political opinions with great importance for their role in the region. This presents a hope that they can mobilize a viable alternative representative of their preferences if Assad were to be overthrown.
Second, its interesting how Abrams can easily recognize why an entire country of people can protest and chant slogans decrying another government’s repressive and intrusive policies. The only reason he has the ability to recognize this, and understand it for what it is, is because in this case those intrusive policies come from Iran. When Iranians, however, or Egyptians, or Iraqis, or Pakistanis pour into the streets and chant “Death to America!” or some such slogan, that’s an exemplification of how radical and illogical Middle Eastern societies are; it’s a sober reminder for why America needs an interventionist foreign policy and why we need to ensure that democracy is suppressed throughout the region.
He suffers from the same fallacy driving all of these calls – Republican and Democratic – for the administration of regime change in various cases of this Arab Spring.
Unfortunately for us, the Elliot Abramses of the world did not depart with the Bush administration.