ISIS or Assad? The president’s decision weighs heavy

The U.S. government has a troublesome issue to work out. Does it want to renege on its commitment to combat Bashar al-Assad, the pseudo-dictator of Syria, or does it want to back the Islamic State, the group which has taken over Iraq and beheaded countless individuals? It shouldn’t be too difficult a choice, but because of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy decision to completely oppose Assad and his Syrian government, it could prove problematic.

AndrewBooth-01The Obama administration and both of political parties’ leaders in Congress have been pushing for military intervention in Syria since the publication that it was the Assad Regime who perpetrated the chemical gas attack in Syria’s capital, Damascus.

To make matters worse, in hopes of rallying support for a direct military invasion of Syria, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, flew to Syria and had a photo shoot with ISIS rebel fighters who are now purported to have committed atrocities ranging from kidnapping pilgrims to consuming the hearts of enemies. While McCain and the Obama administration will never flat-out declare support of ISIS, they never seemed to mind its existence until they invaded Iraq.

This brings us to the issue at hand: Should we choose to oppose ISIS or to oppose Assad? When we support one, we inevitably support the other, and they themselves are fighting in Syria. As it stands, the U.S. government seems to have the position of wanting neither in power and would support military strikes against both, though an invasion of Syria to remove Bashar al-Assad would mean triggering the mutual self-defense pact the U.S. government has with Iran.

War with Syria and Iran would also mean another direct affront to Russia, because as Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s former NATO ambassador, put it, “Iran is our close neighbor, just south of the Caucasus. Should anything happen to Iran, should Iran get drawn into any political or military hardships, this will be a direct threat to our national security.” This would further ramp up the tensions kindled in Ukraine along with the issues concerning the economic stability of the U.S.

The other routes are to abandon our opposition of Assad and oppose ISIS or to stay out of the matter. Allowing ISIS to run rampant means the potential collapse of weakened legitimate Iraq State — a group we installed after our invasion — along with the loss of trillions of dollars expended to do so. If we choose to continue intervention against ISIS, will we begin admitting and apologizing for the direct support of them along with other terrorist groups in Syria, or will we simply ignore the elephant in the room?

 

Reach the columnist at abbooth1@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @AndrewBuckBooth

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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