“I want you to know that I am proud neither of what I have done nor what I am doing.” – LTC Matthew Markinson, as portrayed by J.T. Walsh in A Few Good Men
After watching my candidates for president drop like flies this year, I chose to leave the Republican Party , and came to the conclusion that the major party nominees would do relatively equal damage – albeit not the same damage – to the country, leaving Gary Johnson superior to both.
What I saw this weekend changed my mind.
First, some context. I am one of the few Americans (“the last six” is my favorite phrase) who has never wavered in support of the Iraq War . I genuinely believe Iraq is in far better shape as it stumbles towards democracy that it was in Saddam Hussein’s Republic of Fear.
Yes, the remnants of the Iraqi Ba’athist regime have taken over al Qaeda in Iraq (now Daesh). All that does is reinforces my belief that things would be infinitely worse if they had all of Iraq under their control.
Ba’athism is literally the Arab version of Nazism; it was inspired and aided by Hitler’s regime, and took power for the first time in a 1941 Nazi-backed Iraqi coup. Its rival factions have terrorized Iraq and Syria respectively for decades. The Syrian version – the regime of Hafez Assad and his son Bashar – has seen whole cities erased, invasions of Israel, chemical weapons attacks on the Syrian people themselves, a neighboring Prime Minister assassinated, and efforts to build nuclear weapons. Keep in mind, only the first two on the list are limited to the late father. The rest are on the son’s butcher bill.
It says all we need to know about Bashar Assad that millions of his countrymen choose not from escape ISIS to him, but rather to Europe from him.
A Syria free of Ba’athism could reset the entire region, and move it in a more stable direction: one of nations choosing their own leaders and trading peacefully with each other. Call that Pollyannaish, but it’s something I’ve felt and believed for over 25 years (I first called for Syria’s liberation back in 1991, albeit as a college freshman during study breaks).
So when Mrs. Clinton took a much harder line on the Assad regime during the second debate, I took notice. I remembered how President Bush the Younger saved the Iraq War not merely with the “surge” in troops, but also a change in policy  that made clear to Iraqis that he was just as worried about the mullahcracy in Tehran as they were. It helped bring the Iraqi Sunnis around especially, and Bush was still trying to help just last year despite his long absence from the White House (Politico ). In that second debate, Clinton showed an understanding that forcing the Syrian people to chose between Assad and Daesh was utterly foolish and counterproductive (indeed, as millions have voted with their feet and rejected both of them).
Still, I hesitated, until this weekend, when I saw reports from the United States (Reuters ) and from the region itself (al-Hayat , although the Jerusalem Post  has a better translation, it also gets Akram al-Bunni’s name wrong). They revealed the preference of the Syrian opposition – the real opposition, not the Iraqi Ba’athists who keep Daesh operating – for Mrs. Clinton.
That tipped the balance, and countered Johnson’s superior positions on economic matters, at least to me. This year has been a long-running internal conflict between my inner neoconservative and my inner libertarian…and in the end, the neoconservative won.
For the analyst in me, this is a real leap of faith, but if there is a chance of a free Syria, I have to take it. If that means voting for Hillary Clinton, then God help me, that’s what I must do.
Thus, that is what I will do tomorrow.