As has been widely reported, Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Secretary John Kerry of lying.
“It was unclear exactly what Putin was referencing, but Kerry was asked Tuesday while testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee if the Syrian opposition had become more infiltrated by al-Qaida. Kerry responded that that was ‘basically incorrect’ and that the opposition has ‘increasingly become more defined by its moderation.’ When asked if a strike would make al-Nusra and other extremist forces stronger, Kerry responded, ‘No, I don’t believe you do (make them stronger). As a matter of fact, I think you actually make the opposition stronger. And the opposition is getting stronger by the day now.’”
On the face of it, if one simply follows the media reports, I think one would assume that Putin is telling the truth and Kerry is lying. Al Qaeda forces are thoroughly involved in the Syrian “rebellion.” This has nothing to do with deciding which of the two men is morally superior. We can assume they are both willing to lie when they think it is profitable to do so. But the reports line up much better with Putin than Kerry.
But what if the reports are inaccurate? Does Kerry have better intel?
One way to test the theory is simply what we know about war and human nature. Is it likely that, in a protracted civil war, that the rebels would “increasingly become more defined by moderation”?
We can also ask about competence. What kind of people would be most likely to succeed in battle and assume leadership positions in the rebel military structure? It seems quite likely that foreign Jihadists from Libya and Afghanistan and elsewhere—people with real battle experience—would take over.
And, no surprise, that is exactly the scenario that media reports and horrific YouTube videos confirms.
We can also think about Libya and how we supported the overthrow of Gaddafi only to put in power terrorist/Jihadist groups. One of them even killed our ambassador. We supported terrorists and the result is a completely unstable region. Here we had the same reports of Al Qaeda-related terrorists fighting, with White House complicity, against the Libyan government. Those stories have proved true. So why believe Kerry on Syrian “moderates”?
Then consider Iraq. We went to Iraq and overthrew a secular dictator. After spending American blood and treasure, as well as getting multitudes of Iraqi civilians killed. We now have left in place a majority Shiite nation that is a natural ally to Iran. It is now run with secret police, secret prisons, and the use of torture and rape as political tools. Furthermore, while Al Qaeda was kept out of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, it is now so entrenched that it presents a major threat both in Iraq and Syria.
Thus, recent history suggests we are overthrowing a ruthless secular dictator to replace it with some kind of Al Qaeda zombie apocalypse.
I don’t trust Putin, but his claims appear more credible than Kerry’s do.