Syria 2013 is Spain 1936-1939. The fascist victory in Madrid and Barcelona paved the way to World War II. A serious victory for Syrian President Bashar Assad in the cruel civil war he has been waging in Syria will end up paving the way for an Iranian attempt to take over the greater Middle East. Whoever doesn't want to pay the price for curbing Assad now will have to pay it back in innocent blood with compound interest in upcoming battles.
And from this perspective, I found it hard to understand Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri when he averred that Assad is the lesser evil when compared with the Syrian rebels. While they are probably an awful bunch, Assad is nevertheless the midpoint on the axis of evil extending from Tehran to Beirut. It passes through Damascus.
The 1938 Munich Agreement all over again?
On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry compared the current diplomatic situation to the days of Munich -- recalling the defeatist agreement then-British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed with Adolf Hitler, simultaneously promising "peace in our time" while dragging humanity down the path to war. Given the comparison, why would Kerry have withdrawn during his stay in Paris to ponder the possibility of heading to the United Nations? Because in his example, the United Nations is similar to the League of Nations -- the international organization that failed to appropriately punish Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in Manchuria after the Manchurian Incident, vanishing like it never was.
Nazi agreements were often ephemeral. The prime example was the division of Poland in 1939. Maybe the Russians have sold the West on the innocence of Syria's chemical weapons industry, or Assad himself, but his evil will not grow mild. Assad is no banal man. He must be destroyed. Saturday's Kerry took over responsibility from Sunday's Kerry.
The main headline in Haaretz on Sunday suggested that the State of Israel disconnect the Israeli experience and the memory of the Holocaust from the Israel Air Force and the armed forces as a whole. It wrote the article following the ten-year anniversary of the IAF fly-by over Auschwitz. Every single sensible person in the West can recall the total impotence of enlightened nations when faced with situations like the Munich Agreement. Obama has rendered himself Chamberlain even though he talks like Churchill. The U.S. president did not err in drawing red lines, but he did go wrong in waiting for a response. Europe and the Arab League nations now demur at a U.S. offensive because the strike was slow in coming. But if the Obama administration chooses to strike as the true horrors are uncovered, these countries will applaud and follow after him, saying that like the biblical King David, "Obama hath slain his ten thousands."
Obama has caused real damage to the status of the U.S. presidency. As each day passes, it grows harder to rectify and the price gets steeper. It would have been one thing to go to Congress, and another thing to strike immediately before either house had the time to take a position. Now, the president finds himself under great distress. He should take initiative and launch the first missiles before his speech on Tuesday. That would radically change the situation.