The One Constant of our Foreign Policy in the Mideast

…is the destruction of the Church.

  • John Schaefer

    The article is fairly well written and lays out the various options available to the West. As I’ve posted previously, I believe the choices in Syria are bad, worse, and terrible. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell which of the three we just chose by supporting the Rebels TM.

    But, what’s your point, Mark? Should we be supporting Assad? Because, with the dictator in power, at least things will stay normal for Christians in Syria…right? Or, is it that we shouldn’t support the rebels, and tacitly support Assad? I’m confused as to your position.

    Whatever your position on the tactic, you have assigned a nefarious purpose to it. Do you REALLY believe it is the US Government’s position to try to destroy the RC Church?

    • Stu

      Do we have to support either side?

      • John Schaefer

        No. I think our choices are:

        1. Support Rebels (TM). We will be giving weapons to some of our enemies. Think OBL in Afghanistan in the late 70′s/early 80′s. It also means that a more theologically intolerant regime MAY take Assad’s place.

        2. Support Assad. Supporting Assad means that we are supporting Iran. Syria has become a proxy war with Iran, and its supporters Russia and China.

        3. Do nothing. Doing nothing is a tacit approval of Assad, and a guarantee that more people – innocents included will die. The Catholic Church will probably survive in Syria, at least for the time being.

        None of these is especially appealing, and will have unintended consequences not listed here. These are not easy choices, nor should they be portrayed that way.

        • Stu

          I see no reason to support either side. But I also don’t believe option 3 is “tacit approval of Assad.”

          • Ian Bibby

            Indeed. You could make a stronger case that our involvement in WWII was “tacit approval of Stalin,” which it wasn’t.

        • Imp the Vladaler

          I don’t think #3 is tacit approval of Assad. If it’s tacit approval of anyone (which I doubt), it’s tacit approval of whichever group has the upper hand at the moment.

          • John Schaefer

            Well, you’re allowing Assad, and by extension Iran, Russia and China have more say in the region than we are willing to exert. So, you are allowing it tacitly.

            Framing it as an internal conflict, that we shouldn’t be involved in, disregards our history in that region. Our policy, whether you like it or not, has been to be the controlling nation, along with Israel, in that region – for obvious (Oil) reasons. If it’s going to be a “bad guy” running one of these countries, at least it was “our bad guy”. Just as it was the British before us.

            • Imp the Vladaler

              …if Assad is winning. I confess that I don’t know the day-to-day situation on the ground in Syria, but your argument is predicated on Assad winning this fight, correct? But what if Assad’s losing? What if these rebel groups have the upper hand?

              • John Schaefer

                Well, I guess he’s either winning, or not losing, as we feel compelled to do something currently. We have sat on the sidelines of this conflict for the last two years, though. So, it’s not a sudden move.

      • chezami

        Nope.

    • Ian Bibby

      Why do we need to support any of these guys? This is one case where Sarah Palin was the smartest person in the room.

      • John Schaefer

        Sarah Palin is NEVER the smartest person in the room, Ian.

  • Imp the Vladaler

    “Saddam’s a bad guy, Assad’s a bad guy… but hey, they’re nice to Christians, and they don’t torture or oppress them the way they torture and oppress their non-Christian population .” And Mark wonders why he finds himself battling consequentialism all the time.

    That’s tongue-in-cheek; I know that Mark never advocated supporting Saddam, Assad, or any other dictator. But if we find ourselves judging the wisdom of American foreign policy (or the goodness or badness of dictators) primarily by its effects on Christian communities, that should make us a little uncomfortable.

    Which is better: (i) a regime that protects and sponsors the Church while torturing dissidents, oppressing other religions, and imprisoning political enemies, or (ii) a regime that favors Islam as a state religion and restricts the practice of Christianity, but doesn’t torture, murder, or unjustly imprison its opponents wholesale?

    I don’t see why we should favor a human rights improvement for 5% of the population at the expense of the human rights of the other 95% simply because that 5% are Christians.

    • Stu

      I’m confident that option (ii) would also torture, murder or unjustly imprison its opponents.

      I like Saddam and Assad to the mafia. I don’t like them. I don’t condone what they do wrong. But for the most part if you leave them alone and go about your business they don’t care about you.

      I know what the Mohammedans have in store. They have been doing it for centuries.

      • Imp the Vladaler

        When the Mohammedans rule, sometimes you get Afghanistan. Sometimes you get Indonesia. Bit of a difference there.

        • Stu

          I prefer to look at their track record in totality. They have a tendency to want to expand and usually not in a pleasant manner.

          • Irenist

            “I prefer to look at their track record in totality. They have a tendency to want to expand and usually not in a pleasant manner.”

            That’s true of almost any human civilization.

    • Elmwood

      It’s not Mark who is opposed to these wars but the church who certainly know more about what is going on than most Americans. The church, established for 1000′s of years in the Middle East, through their charities and institutions, who have the first hand knowledge to really understand what is going on in these lands and have the best ability to make a moral judgement on this complex situation, and not Imp the Vladaler or Sen. McCain and Lindsey Graham.

      The church with its bishops including our Holy Fathers have clearly stated that arming the rebels or “picking sides” is gravely evil. They have asked the international community to seek PEACEFUL resolutions to this conflict and not military resolutions.

      • Imp the Vladaler

        I said nothing about the wisdom of getting involved in this internal conflict. In fact, I oppose it. I’m just questioning the wisdom of reducing a complex human-rights issue to a question of “what does this mean for Christians”?

        • Elmwood

          How can we not speak on behalf of our Christian brothers and sisters? If your mother or brother is unjustly killed, can someone blame you for speaking out against it?

          • kenofken

            I suspect Imp is framing the question in a different light. What if, instead of trying to filter the issue in terms of “what does this mean for Christians” in the Middle East, we shaped our policy on the question of “what does this mean for human beings in the Middle East?” If we did that, Christians over there would surely stand to benefit….

            • Imp the Vladaler

              Thank you.

              Here I’m thinking of Francisco Franco: surely a great friend to the Church, but a repressive dictator.

          • Imp the Vladaler

            Sure. But I would avoid saying “that guy might be torturing political prisoners, but he’s nice to my mom and brother, so he’s not all bad.”

    • Ian Bibby

      (ii) a regime that favors Islam as a state religion and restricts the
      practice of Christianity, but doesn’t torture, murder, or unjustly
      imprison its opponents wholesale?

      Are you under the impression that this is what Muslim Brotherhood leadership is like?

      • Imp the Vladaler

        No. I’m not discussing the specific case of Syria. I’m addressing the general question of whether we should be judging governments primarily based on how they treat Christians.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” has never been true. Not even Machiavelli bought into that bit of nonsense.

    • John Schaefer

      Explain that to Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin!

      • Mark S. (not for Shea)

        That proves my point exactly. The U.S.S.R. may have been fighting the Nazis in WWII, but anyone who thinks the Soviets were our friends has a very different definition of “friend” than I do.

        • John Schaefer

          Obviously, you are taking quite a literal view of the saying. If interpreted literally, you are correct. But, I think “friend” in this use, means one that is not hostile. In the short term, Stalin was not hostile. Having someone with a shared interest would make more literal sense.

          • Mark S. (not for Shea)

            Stalin was definitely hostile. He just didn’t have the means to be openly hostile until he had Berlin.

  • kenofken

    “The one constant of our foreign policy in the Mideast is our destruction of the Church.”

    That equation can be simplified. The one constant is destruction. To the extent Christian communities have thrived, or at least survived prior to recent times, it is not because of our non-involvement or of more just or thoughtful policies. They were a non-factor in our machinations then and they are a non-factor now. They are where they are because we propped up and armed regimes that consisted of ethnic/religious minorities brutalizing a majority.

    They were also secular and the only selection criteria we had was that they comply with us on the big issues of energy and Israel and non-interference or basing rights for our imperial wars in the region. We were never looking our for Christians in particular. What happened was that our imperial policy gave them some room to maneuver politically and culturally. The regimes we propped up needed the alliance or at least complicity of whatever other minorities were in their countries, like Christians, and it was easy enough to offer them relative security in return. It didn’t hurt that some Christians had Western appeal and business links.

    That worked for a long time, but of course it leaves those Christian communities in a very dangerous position. Yes, Islamist hate them anyway, but as these regimes fall, Christians are having their names highlighted on the payback lists. “You guys are the ones who helped the regime keep us impoverished and tortured.”

    There is no interventionist tool we have that will save these people. We’ve tried installing democracy at the point of a gun. So far, that’s creatd a chaotic narco state beholden to the world’s most radical Islamists, and another regime which is a satellite state of Islamists, and which we trained and armed to execute their payback lists with greater dispatch than they otherwise could. Interventionism gives Christians the option of dying fast rather than slow. Ironically, the lead architects of this sort of interventionism were Christians, but they have full support and complicity of our nation’s secular party, which now stands for nothing more than a Putin-esque consolidation and justification of power. About the only hope for Christians in the Mideast is if we extend them some sort of enhanced refugee status.

  • Dan C

    The one constant of our foreign policy in Latin America in the 1970′s and 1980′s was the destruction of the Church. We actually supported groups and parties actively killing priests and bishops.

    This is not much different.


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