George Graham

Beware the Syrian Trap



I was surprised – shocked – by Vladimir Putin’s shameless treachery in attacking Syrian rebels who, according to the media, are backed by the United States. But I was also surprised to find out the US is backing any of the rebels.

The media calls the US backed rebels “moderates.” But I find it hard to reconcile with any kind of moderate philosophy the image of armed men blowing up the scenery and slaughtering people.

OK, so they’re fighting Assad and Assad is a monster. But in the Mideast, who isn’t?

From what I read in the newspaper and on the internet and see on TV, there is nobody you can trust in that part of the world.

If you believe what the Iraqis say, for example, you must  have just come off the bus from the country.

Those same Itaqis who cost the US billions and billions of dollars – and thousands of lives – are now in bed not only with their Shia pals in Iran but also with Putin.

So are the Chinese. While President Obama was treating Xi Jinping to a state dinner and giving him a fraternal handshake, the Chinese president was sending a warship to support the Russian assault on Syrian rebels.

Hey, President Obama! Things are not what they seem, buddy. When Putin tells you he is joining your war on ISIS, you should stop and think. Of course, Putin would want to remove ISIS from his doorstep. But what he wants even more is to prop up Assad’s bloody regime.

Putin has been a pal of Assad’s from way back. But that’s not the only thing that motivates him. He is a former KGB agent, and such people don’t cherish the same ideals as you and I. Human life is an expendable commodity to people like those. Lying is completely normal.

Notions of democracy, freedom, justice and such are absurd in their world. You do what works. And if that includes mass murder, hey, that’s just the way it is.

I don’t know anything about the “moderate” rebels in Syria, but I can see how the “liberation” of Libya turned out, how Egypt is doing under “democracy,”  how nation building fared in Iraq and Afghanistan, what deposing Saddam Hussein did for the Iraqis…

Like Assad, Saddam was a monster. But in his Iraq, ordinary people could pursue their ordinary lives with some assuarance of stability. Not democracy of course. Not justice or liberty or fraternity or whatever. But they could go to sleep at night – most of them anyway – assured that they would probably be gettting up in the morning and going to work as usual.

And Saddam’s Iraq provided a bulwark against Iran. With him out of the way, the Iranians are swarming all over the region. And their traditional allies, the Russians, are moving in behind them.

What does America do now? Now that the genie is out of the bottle?

I don’t know. But I do know this:  An emotional response could be catastrophic. Sometimes you have to curb your anger, however righteous, and swallow your pride.

I think this is one of those times. The world’s major powers are involved in a chess game that could have far-reaching, and unforeseen, implications.

This is a time for brains – not brawn.

Click for more on the Russian attack.

Click for more on China’s involvement.

Click for an analysis of the situation.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for