For too long, American involvement in the Middle East has employed the wrong formula in the mistaken belief that we can change the thinking of radical Islamists. Many administrations have pressured Israel in the misguided and unjustified hope that this would produce a change in outlook and a reset in religious fanaticism. It hasn't. In fact, our "reach-out" efforts are seen as weakness in much of the Islamic world.
Arab and Muslim peoples have been at war with other nations and each other for centuries. The two major factions of Islam -- Sunni and Shia -- are in constant conflict over which one is Prophet Mohammed's legitimate heir. The "infidel" West can't help settle any of this and is more likely to unite the warring factions against us, as it has in the past.
Add to this a scenario that resembles the Cold War. Russia is "all-in," supplying anti-ship cruise missiles to President Assad's regime. Moscow, according to the Wall Street Journal, has deployed at least a dozen warships to patrol waters near the Russian naval base in the Syrian city of Tartus. President Obama's token gesture of small arms and ammunition is the equivalent of dipping one's toe in the Mediterranean Sea and calling it swimming.
As in so many other instances, President Obama is, according to the Daily Telegraph, "leading from behind in Syria -- and can't see where he is going."
The president wants credit for withdrawing American forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, but with Syria he is involving the U.S. in another war that can't be "won," at least not in a way that will advance American interests.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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