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Post Afghanistan Massacre, A Lesson for U.S. and Syria

03/13/2012 11:31 EDT | Updated 05/13/2012 05:12 EDT

One message that resonates loud and clear over the U.S. soldier who flipped his lid in Afghanistan and murdered 16 people, is that the U.S. should avoid at all costs getting involved in the Syrian rebellion.

As the regime of Bashar al-Assad continues its year-long campaign to kill whole towns of Syrian protestors, pressure grows on the U.S. and its allies to do something -- something being air strikes as were done in Libya.

Tempting as that might seem, that would be a sure way to turn Syria into an Afghanistan situation which now verges out of control.

The staff sergeant who went off the rails and shot up those women and children was on his first tour in Afghanistan, following three tours in Iraq, and it's now claimed he suffered a traumatic brain injury a couple of years ago when his vehicle overturned.

As a reason that may satisfy some, but it cuts no ice with Afghanis.

What's outrageous -- and significant -- in this incident, is that the Taliban are making a big song and dance over the deaths. As if they cared. Even before 9/11, the Taliban have deliberately killed more innocent people than the Americans and all the Alliance forces combined.

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai expressing concern for innocent victims of the American incident rings as phony as everything else about him.

When coupled with the accidental burning of the Quran (books which apparently were being used by those in custody to transmit messages) and the murder of a couple of American officers, Afghanistan's future as a democracy seems a pipe-dream.

The Taliban will likely rule again, and be more than a match for the partially trained Afghan National Army (ANA).

If it were just the Taliban in Afghanistan, something resembling victory might have been attainable. But Pakistan is the Taliban's not-so-secret weapon, being a source of weaponry, a sanctuary when pursued, and a training and recruiting ground in-between.

U.S. President Barack Obama hasn't helped his troops. Announcing withdrawal dates for American troops, Obama gave the green light for the Taliban to keep fighting.

Troops have already been withdrawn, and not just Canadian soldiers who have shifted from a fighting role to a training role. Each soldier is a now a target.

Replacing many American units are what's known as "contractors" -- former soldiers in civilian life who have been hired as mercenaries and don't have the same restraints as when they were professional soldiers.

Afghanistan seems a losing cause -- as Syria would be if he U.S. intervened.

And why should they? Let the Syrians get rid of their oppressor. America may help pick up the pieces, but the last thing it needs or wants is another war.

Already Libya looks to be a mess, for which America has some responsibility. Egypt, too, is turning nasty. And then there's the spectre of Iran with nuclear weapons.

In fact, America should avoid wars unless they are prepared to win them quickly and get out -- as Ronald Reagan did in Grenada and Panama.

The last time the U.S. decisively won a war was in 1945 against Japan. Korea, five years later was a stalemate, with the good guys eventually winning the peace. Vietnam was a losing war, as were Iraq and Afghanistan. Forgotten was the principle that if you get rid of the dictator, the dynamics change.

That principle applies to eliminating Assad in Syria and Ahmadinejad in Iran -- more effective than air strikes.