So why on earth is she advocating for what would inevitably lead to Muslim Brotherhood control of Syria? After reading her recent op-ed in the Washington Post, there really is no gray area about where she stands, though as a seasoned diplomat, she does her level best to massage her message. Her position is that Assad must fall and Syria must not be allowed to fall into the hands of Iranian control.
The fragile state structure of the Middle East has been held together for decades by monarchs and dictators. But as the desire for freedom has spread from Tunis to Cairo to Damascus, authoritarians have lost their grip. The danger now is that the artificial states could fly apart.What Rice avoids saying is breathtaking. Whatever desire there is for freedom in the Middle East is being snuffed out by new, religious tyrants who are filling the vacuum left by those "monarchs" and "dictators". Simply put, in every country where the 'Arab Spring' has been successful at removing dictators, things have gotten much worse. Egypt's new Muslim Brotherhood leader is consolidating power and that country is increasingly on the brink of civil war; Libya may have elected a secular government but make no mistake; al-Qaeda is calling the shots. Yemen, Tunisia, et. al. are all seeing similar outcomes.
Therefore, why would Rice think Syria would be any different?
Perhaps the answer lies in the very next paragraph:
In Iraq, after overthrowing Saddam Hussein, the United States hoped that a fledging multi-ethnic, multi-confessional democracy could do what authoritarians could not: give all of these groups a stake in a common future. To an extent it has, with elections repeatedly producing inclusive governments. But the institutions are young and fragile, and they are groaning under the weight of the region’s broader sectarian explosion. The conflict in Syria is pushing Iraq and others to the breaking point. At the same time, U.S. disengagement has tempted Iraqi politicians to move toward sectarian allies for survival. If Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cannot count on the Americans, he will take no risks with Tehran.Note how Rice comes precariously close to admitting that going into Iraq was a mistake but qualifies it by implying that more time is needed. The notion that the Syrian conflict is pushing Iraq to the "breaking point" is a bit of an exercise in denial. Make no mistake; Iran has all but annexed Iraq and for Rice to assert anything to the contrary presupposes that the Bush strategy still has a chance. It was doomed to failure when the foundation for the new Iraqi constitution was Sharia law; it was a soft surrender.
As Rice points out, Iraq is 65% Shiite; so is al-Maliki Shiite. Counting on Americans would have involved a Constitution that did not have Sharia law. Assuming that al-Maliki was ever interested in true freedom in Iraq, such interest was snuffed out at that point because it meant the Americans could not be counted on.
Rice runs into another problem. Note I did say she only came "precariously close" to admitting failure. Opining that the United States should not support the ouster of Assad would be an admission of failure in Iraq and inconsistent with the broader strategy of her boss, because it would mean that the perceived liberation of people who are ruled by a dictator can lead to greater enslavement, which it has in Iraq, Gaza, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, et. al. Rice almost has to support Assad's overthrow at this point. Advocating the opposite would torpedo the Bush doctrine of democratization in the Middle East.
Comparing Iran to Karl Marx seems to be an attempt - in part - to liken the former to the United States' cold war nemesis. Take note of her reference to a "theocratic flag" and where it flies:
Today’s Karl Marx is Iran. It envisions the spread of its influence among Shiites, uniting them under the theocratic flag of Tehran — destroying the integrity of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Lebanon. Iran uses terrorist groups, Hezbollah and the Shiite militias in southern Iraq to do its bidding. Syria is the linchpin, the bridge into the Arab Middle East. Tehran no longer hides the fact that its security forces are working in Syria to prop up Assad. In this context, Tehran’s sprint toward a nuclear weapon is a problem not just for Israel but the region as a whole.Few would argue that there are easy answers in the Middle East but Rice seems to be falling into the same trap that so many westerners do. While being rightfully concerned about Iran, there is this inexplicable underestimation of Turkey, which continues to be wrongly viewed as an ally of the West. In reality, Turkey has been making more gains than Iran, in many ways. With every Muslim Brotherhood victory, Turkey is secretly emboldened and its lustful eye for a reestablished Ottoman empire waters a little more with increased anticipatory desire.
While Rice rightfully bemoans the Shia's "theocratic flag of Tehran", she ignores the "theocratic flag" that is being planted all over the Middle East as Turkey quietly sees those flags as representing a resurrected empire in the near future.
In recent days, France, Britain and Turkey have stepped into the diplomatic vacuum to recognize a newly formed opposition that is broadly representative of all Syrians. The United States should follow their lead and then vet and arm the unified group with defensive weapons on the condition that it pursues an inclusive post-Assad framework. The United States and its allies should also consider establishing a no-fly zone to protect the innocent. America’s weight and influence are needed. Leaving this to regional powers, whose interests are not identical to ours, will only exacerbate the deepening sectarianism.It is simply breathtaking to consider that someone of Rice's intellect does not understand the Islamist nature and goals of Turkey's leadership. She then talks about aligning with them and arming the Syrian rebels but under the condition that there is a post-Assad framework and that the rebels who are armed can be trusted (because that's worked out so well to this point).
Certainly there are risks. After more than a year of brutal conflict, the most extreme elements of the opposition — including al-Qaeda — have been empowered. Civil wars tend to strengthen the worst forces. The overthrow of Assad could indeed bring these dangerous groups to power.
But the breakdown of the Middle East state system is a graver risk. Iran will win, our allies will lose, and for decades the region’s misery and violence will make today’s chaos look tame.
Then, she demonstrates an unbelievable amount of naiveté relative to history, both old and recent, when she says that the breakdown of the Middle East state system is a graver risk than the Muslim Brotherhood groups ultimately taking control of Syria. If she was truly interested in preserving the "state system", Assad is the better option.
Does she not know that it is Turkey which desires the dissolution of every nation that has fallen to the Brotherhood? That would also include Syria if Assad falls.
Rice's former boss - George W. Bush - communicated a similar embrace of the 'Arab Spring' in an op-ed he wrote for the Wall Street Journal last May.
For Rice or Bush to admit the truth would require them to admit failure, which they're obviously not willing to do.
Unfortunately, not doing so smacks of both pride an foolishness.