James Kirchick: Warmonger Extraordinaire (Without a Plan)

James Kirchick is hands down the greatest chickenhawk of our generation. There’s been no war, bombing, drone campaign, or “kinetic military action” that he hasn’t been supportive of. 

But why participate? That’s what the soldiers are for. Yale graduates: need not apply. 

Kirchick, a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies — that ugly bastion of neoconservatism — could hardly contain himself following the death of Osama bin Laden last May:

We obviously can’t topple all of the world’s dictators, but we have a pretty good track record. As Osama bin Laden’s bullet-ridden corpse sinks to his watery grave, here’s to searching for, and destroying, more monsters.

It’s a shame Kirchick doesn’t put his money where his mouth is. He could have, by now, been leading his all-gay “Leonard Maltovich Brigade” into Afghanistan (his words, not mine).

The irony is quite breathtaking: Kirchick, who sees a terrorist dedicated to the destruction of the West in every mosque and under every hijab, doesn’t have the time of day to pick up a gun and fight. So, he either doesn’t actually believe what he writes all over the internet, or doesn’t have the spine to fight against his biggest enemy. 

Unsurprisingly, Kirchick is preparing for action in Syria. It’s worth examining, however, the case that he makes for yet another destructive war in the Middle East.  

Just a few days ago, Kirchick admonished Seymour Hersh for “telling [his editors and legions of readers] the lies they want to hear.” Why, then, did the armchair warrior uncritically parrot the 7,000 strong death toll in order to bolster his case for humanitarian intervention in Syria? The League of Arab States Observer Mission to Syria was explicit: both the rebels and Assad are responsible for the bloodshed, and the media wildly exaggerates death tolls:

26. In Homs and Dera‘a, the Mission observed armed groups committing acts of violence against Government forces, resulting in death and injury among their ranks. In certain situations, Government forces responded to attacks against their personnel with force. The observers noted that some of the armed groups were using flares and armour-piercing projectiles.

27. In Homs, Idlib and Hama, the Observer Mission witnessed acts of violence being committed against Government forces and civilians that resulted in several deaths and injuries. Examples of those acts include the bombing of a civilian bus, killing eight persons and injuring others, including women and children, and the bombing of a train carrying diesel oil. In another incident in Homs, a police bus was blown up, killing two police officers. A fuel pipeline and some small bridges were also bombed.

28. The Mission noted that many parties falsely reported that explosions or violence had occurred in several locations. When the observers went to those locations, they found that those reports were unfounded.

29. The Mission also noted that, according to its teams in the field, the media exaggerated the nature of the incidents and the number of persons killed in incidents and protests in certain towns.

But it’s not human life and blood that Kirchick is concerned about. For if it was, he would not be an apologist for the Iraq War, an illegal war that took the lives of many more than Assad and his Free Syrian Army foes could ever hope to extinguish. He should be given credit, though, as he puts on the mask of a real humanitarian: for it is the non-interventionists who have the most blood on their hands. You see, it is your and my fault that the 800,000 Tutsis died. Many more Libyans would have died had the West not intervened. International norms of sovereignty and self-determination be damned, unless you and I (but not Kirchick, he will be busy writing or globetrotting) drop everything that we’re doing to go find a “monster to destroy,” the blood is on our hands. Not Assad’s. Not the Free Syrian Army’s. Not Kirchick’s. Your’s and mine.

What Kirchick is really concerned about is the Big Chess Board. The Great Big Game.

It is “the fall of the Assad regime that is in the manifest interest of the United States.” And why is that? Because, Kirchick writes:

Syria is Iran’s closest ally, the conduit by which it smuggles weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. It has also long been the host of Hamas. Deal a deathblow to the Assad regime, and the baleful influence of “the resistance” in both Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority lessens dramatically.

So it’s all about “the resistance” in both Lebanon and Palestine. This is codeword for “protecting Israel.” Hezbollah and Hamas are not serious threats to the United States, but they are very capable of inflicting damage on Israel. It cannot be said that allegations of Kirchick being an “Israeli Firster” are unfounded. 

Kirchick is correct to note that “Iraq is not Afghanistan, which is not Libya, which is not Syria.” But his analysis is almost identical to the same poor planning that resulted in the Iraq debacle and the Libyan aftermath: throw the bums out and hope the stars align.

Upstanding Iraqis did not emerge to align with the West after the purge of the Baathists and Saddam’s regime. Noble Libyans did not come out en masse to reclaim Libya’s role as the leader of Africa. Instead, interfactional fighting and widespread human rights abuses have become the norm.

And what is Kirchick’s plan for a post Assad Syria? There isn’t one. Bomb first, plan later. It’s this mentality that gave Iraq up to the Iranians, despite eight years of occupation and rule by the United States.

Already, Kirchick’s strategy of bombs and wishful thinking in Syria is starting to unravel. Hamas, just last week, turned against Assad and his regime and threw its support behind the Syrian resistance. (Just pause for a moment to acknolwedge the absurdity of Likudnik James and Hamas actually agreeing on something!) No bombs, drones or Western weapons to the resistance were necessary. It’s less likely that Shi’ite Hezbollah would split with the Assad regime, but Hamas has proved that anything is possible.

But just as a thought exercise, what if Kirchick gets his way? What if NATO, led by the US with Israel nowhere to be found, decide to take out Assad? What next?

Well, the Alawites sure won’t remain in power. Alawites all across Syria would probably experience the same fate of Gaddafi loyalists and sub-Sharan Africans in post-Kirchickian-induced-Libya: marginalization, torture and slaughter. 

Just based on sheer numbers, it’s highly probable that the Sunni’s, seventy-five percent of Syria, will rise to power in the post-Assad power vacuum. When all is said and done, Sunni Hamas could once again have a home back in Syria as the Arab spring winds have hardly been blowing in a secular or pro-Israel direction. So much for that “deathblow to the baleful influence of ‘the resistance.'”

The possibilities of what could happen if Assad is taken out by the West are endless. How many has Kirchick and co. prepared for? Precisely zero. 

The burden is definitely on Kirchick to prove why his discredited line of thinking is worth even more blood and treasure, especially when the only plan he does have is to throw Assad out, cross his fingers and hope for the best.

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