The Big “What If” In Syria
In my career as a terrorism writer, I let myself consider the absolute worst case scenarios, invent characters, and cut them loose to entertain readers for a few hours. It’s fun, but sometimes things get a little out of hand. Most of the time I’m careful to stay on the very front edge of technology, science. The characters are easy, I grew up with these people, even had some very similar adventures, so there’s no problem there.
The hardest part about writing terrorism is that the idea has to be plausible. I toss about ten plotlines before settling on one, and sometimes I let it simmer for a long while before putting my one usable hand to keyboard. Often a scene I wrote in a cast-off fits so well that I use it in the new work, but it may just be so satisfying to me that I forget what other of my ideas generated it.
All of the foregoing is to set the scene for what I am about to tell you would be in a new book, but this plotline is at once so plausible and so not-plausible I dare only to write it as perhaps a very bad dream that plays out on home pages and quite possibly on the pages of white papers circulated in hushed circles of power centers.
This “what if” concerns Syria, specifically Damascus. Let us imagine that indeed a chemical weapon, say sarin or ricin gas was used against unarmed citizens and that the outcry was expected. Who stood to gain the most from such an attack?
Let me say from the outset that Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah are not worthy of any trust. Let me also say that all three groups kill more of their own people than others, even Jews. They’d like to kill more other people, but distance limits one thing, Israeli Defense and intelligence prevents the other.
Going back to the question of who gains is the premise I would pick in a heartbeat. Say for the sake of argument that AQ, or one of the others deliberately used a chemical weapon against one of their marginal allies, knowing full well that the President of the United States had dared Assad not to use it. Well, told him not to cross a red line. What a perfect set up.
Our enemies know liberal thought process better than liberals do. It’s been standard practice of our enemies since the Korean war, and Ho Chi Minh was so confident he actually said he would win the Viet Nam War on the streets of America. We got “out with dignity,” but left a bunch of little yellow guys behind. Our enemies have no problem using our sensitivities against us.
That being said, let us return to the “what if” possibilities. Of course, the kill off a few of our own is an old device. It was used in covert warfare so often, the practice became a standard plot device in many stories, but the point usually stopped there, but how about this?
What if the device were a lure to make an arrogant and weak world player over-commit, decide to attack on ego alone? What if the enemy were to plant explosives, triggered remotely to coincide with external attacks, and what if the plants were placed in WMD storage areas and called “collateral damage?”
Killing an entire metropolis is nothing to these enemies, nor is their personal loss. The idea on which they perform is world domination. Suicide with that goal in mind is part of the ethos of the movement.
What would be the upshot? The United States, who has lost all credibility, would be rendered as a criminal enterprise, shunned by a world that believes not a word espoused. After all, these barbaric Americans loosed by coincidence the largest chemical disaster since the Bhopal incident years past. It would work as a huge propaganda scoop in every left leaning media, even our own.
With the loss of Britain as an ally, the United States stands nearly alone unless one counts the usually feckless French. While they appear to stand with the US, the enormous Muslim population in France would explode, requiring French troops in country to put down an out-and-out rebellion. We would be alone on a world stage that seeks to nullify our influence.
As I previously stated, I’m just a writer who looks for possibilities, plausible modus operandi. I could be totally off base, and the idea is so fraught with peril, I would hesitate to use it in a book, but it did occur to me. I thought I might mention it.
We deal with very evil people. We’d better think laterally rather than linearly. The enemy is not bound by any moral code such as ours.