As this is being written, American credibility around the world is a smoking crater; the worst people on the planet are enjoying the loudest laugh; Syria’s leaders are calling President Obama a joke; Iran feels like Nazi Germany did after their triumph at Munich; the America that wants to keep Iran from getting The Bomb can’t even figure out how to make Syria sorry it used poison gas against its own people; and the rebels gape disconsolately at America, suddenly no longer their great hope of help against the Assad brutes. Americans are regarded as worse than fools. We are regarded as perpetrators of a unique villainy, engendering hope made credible by America’s laudable history and then annulling that hope in a vile manner.
Now, how do we get it all back?
Some plays are meant only to be read, never produced. This piece of political-science fiction is probably one of them. It calls for American boots on the ground; not many, but there would be casualties. This calls for war – though limited and winnable, war nonetheless. It’s up to you. Do you want the dictators of the world to start respecting America again, or are you willing to let that slide?
We invade. And we invade not Syria but Lebanon!
With luck, landing troops in Lebanon could be as easy as Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s landing at Inchon on the west coast of Korea in September 1950. With still more luck it could be even easier, like the American invasion of Kiska in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska in World War II. We invaded Kiska and found that the Japanese had sneaked away under cover of heavy fog.
Lebanon used to be a jewel of an Arab democracy. The president was always a Maronite Christian. The vice president was always a Sunni Muslim. The speaker of the parliament was always a Shiite Muslim. In 1958 U. S. Marines landed on the beaches of Lebanon to head off a civil war that may have taken the lives of hundreds of thousands. The Marines, heavy with battle gear, were joyously welcomed by Lebanese women in bikinis right there on the beach.
Could we possibly do that again?
The element of surprise would be powerful. Lebanon misses its democratic past and despises the Syrian occupiers and the Hezbollah jihadists who, at Iran’s imperialistic behest, have turned this once-idyllic playground – whose capital, Beirut, was known as the “Paris of the East” – into a playground for terrorists.
The objective would be to storm ashore, seaborne and airborne, and stake out an enclave of Lebanese territory that would be a safe haven for non-extremist Syrian rebels – our guys – and all those able and eager to get to that enclave and fight against the Assad Syrians and their Iranian overlords.
The psychological damage to our enemies would be easy to state and difficult to overstate. The entire matrix of bad guys would turn instantly into a high-stakes game of “Whom-Do-You-Trust?” The bulk of the Lebanese population would love “Free Lebanon.” All democratic Syrian rebel refugees would be welcomed, especially those of military age and most especially those already armed.
Forgotten for the moment would be the race for The Bomb, threats against Israel and ridicule of the United States. There would be frantic Iranian measures to repress the inevitable street rallies for regime change in Iran itself. The Lebanese population is sophisticated and likely very much on our side from the first incredible report of an American landing. Rampaging pro-American crowds now able to defy the Hezbollah bullies would be encouraged to clear away more and more such “liberty lozenges” inside Lebanon.
We don’t enter Syria. Our well-announced aim would be to restore the independence of Lebanon from Syrian occupation. This could propel enough Syrians who’d like to be independent of their own Iranian masters to tip the fight in favor of the democratic rebels. We’d be flailing two enemies for the price of one.
This takes us far away from “pin-prick” strikes. Pin-pricks invite horse-laughs. This is solid. This is long-lasting. The ripping, gripping removal of a grateful colony would be history’s recorded punishment for Syria’s using poison gas to kill its own people. (In America’s immediate embarrassment following Obama’s sudden enamoration with Congress, the poison-gas killers praised themselves for “sticking to their principles”!)
There’s no law, but writers of scenarios as outside-the-box as this one might do well to let readers know what germ inside them makes them think it would work. Easy. There is no Nazi-like “Atlantic Wall” defending Lebanon. Nor are there troops ready to fight fiercely behind such a wall. I envision not a German-style defense of the Nazi homeland; I don’t even foresee an Italian-style defense (such as it was) of Sicily and Italy in World War II.
I envision confused, demoralized, screaming-meemie terrorists running to and fro something like the native South Sea islanders in those wonderful old movies as the volcano erupts.
You say, “No military action except in defense of America’s vital interests!” I agree with you, although you may not think so. It’s easy for two patriots to hold different views on what “America’s vital interests” are!