Leon Anderson’s recent frail attempt to blame President Barack Obama for the tragic loss of lives in the Syrian civil war is an untenable assertion. Anderson, with the absolute certainty of hindsight, knows that if Obama had provided “rebel forces with modern weapons” and we had destroyed the Syrian air force by “bombing Syrian air bases,” Bashar al-Assad would have fallen.
There are two major flaws in Anderson’s simple solution to an extremely complex conflict. The first is the “rebel” groups were dissimilar, each with changing loyalties, goals, political philosophies, and objectives. We did not want to spend millions of dollars on “modern weapons” and have them fall into “the wrong hands.” The constantly changing circumstances of the rebel groups, from moderate to extreme, made it impossible to know which to arm. With Russia supporting Assad’s regime with air power, there was a substantial risk of direct conflict with Russia if we made a major effort to destroy Assad’s air force and air bases and that would have also meant a third war for us at the same time.
Anderson’s naive belief that “the world will never forget the 400,000 dead Syrians,” is, for him, a foolish faith in the ability of the “world” to deeply care about such tragedies. Even most Americans do not know that we lost 58,000 in Vietnam, and we have suffered the loss of almost 7,000 in Iraq and Afghanistan. The world’s reaction to the Syrian tragedy is sympathy, but not much more.
Lee Pitzer, O’Fallon