Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The enemy of my enemy...

Recently the adage "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" has been rejected by Pres. Obama and other western leaders as a basis for cooperation against the Islamic State (IS) that has suddenly appeared in the midst of the Middle East.  This is intended to exclude both Pres. Bashar Assad' regime in Syria, who are targets of IS, and the Ayatollahs of Iran, who are the leaders of the Shia Muslim sect, from becoming allies of the US against IS.  However, while this may be a sensible policy given that both Bashar Assad and the Iranian regime are anti-democratic, anti-western murderous regimes themselves, nevertheless the Western democracies have engaged in fraternal relations with the enemy of their enemy on several occasions.
Perhaps the most obvious was the alliance with Stalin's Soviet Union in WWII against the threat of Nazi Germany.  At that time, the Communists, who had been considered arch-enemies of western democracy were embraced as close allies, and were supported and supplied with vast amounts of US munitions in order to fight Hitler's armies.  In fact it was a very wise move to ally with Soviet Russia, since not only was it the main enemy of Nazi Germany, but they also took the brunt of the huge invasion of Operation Barbarossa, that involved at least 2 million German troops.  It was only the huge size of Russia, the intense Russian winter and the counter-attacks of the Red Army that resulted in the defeat of Nazi Germany.  Certainly D-Day and the Allied invasion from the west played a large role, but had it not been for the Soviet stand at Stalingrad and the victory at Kursk, there is little chance that the western allies alone would have been able to invade Nazi-occupied Europe and the results could have been catastrophic.  So sometimes choosing unpleasant allies may be the right thing to do.
Other examples are the sometimes fascist dictators that the US befriended during the Cold War as allies against the Soviet Union, such as Gen. Batista in Cuba (overthrown by Fidel Castro), Gen. Nasser in Egypt (replaced by Pres. Sadat), Gen. Somoza in Nicaragua, etc. etc.  It seems that liberals like Pres. Obama would rather allow enemies like Iran and the IS to grow and expand rather than pragmatically join forces with whoever is also opposed to them.  I do not for a minute mean that the US should cooperate with Iran or Assad, but there are other players who should be included, such as Israel (which is fighting the Islamist Hamas), Nigeria (which is fighting the Islamist Boko Haram), Kenya (which is fighting the Islamist Al Shabbab) and the Kurds (who are fighting IS on the ground).  Fortunately, at the recent NATO Conference in Wales, Obama initiated a joint collaboration with some of the member countries, including Turkey, against the IS.  This is what is needed, a Global War on Terrorism, something that Pres, Bush initiated and that Pres. Obama rejected when he first came into office.  Now he finally faces the reality.


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