This week, Buck Sexton, National Security Editor at TheBlaze and co-host of Real News, has been traveling through the center of the bloodiest conflict on the globe, near the Jordanian/Syrian border. On radio this morning, Buck called in from Cairo, Egypt to explain how bad the refugee camps are, what the outlook is, and what locals on the ground have to say about America.
To start, Buck explained the situation in Egypt and the welcome (or lack there of) he has received in the country. “I was in Tahrir [Square] just until a few minutes ago. I stepped away from it so I could get on a phone line where you'd actually be able to hear me. And also as you can expect, they don't particularly like people who look like they may be Western journalists walking around them with cellphones, cellphone cameras, et cetera,” he explained. “They were very testy when I just spoke to them before. The whole city right now, Glenn, and this is in Cairo… the whole city's on edge because of the one year anniversary of Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi taking power. There are huge demonstrations going right now… And people are very worried, there's a serious possibility, even by Cairo standards, for things to get out of control and there to be real violence.”
The mainstream media has painted the uprisings in Egypt and the Arab Spring more generally as a revolutionary, pro-democracy movement that Americans should enthusiastically support. As it turns out, the Arab Spring set the Middle East on fire, and now it seems those living in the region have found a scapegoat: the United States.
“I thought there was a very Jeffersonian revolution. I heard that from Bill Kristol,” Glenn joked. “I thought this was going to be really a good thing.”
“Well, you'll be happy to know, Glenn, that the Egyptians have already come up with a very plausible explanation for all this, which is that it's America's fault,” Buck said. And I've been told this now many times. So it's not that they messed up the revolution. It's that somehow we messed up the revolution… But on top of that… the economy here is in such rough shape right now. I feel bad for these shopkeepers and these other guys who are trying to make a living for their families from tourism, but you know what? I mean, when the Muslim Brotherhood's running things and people are scared, they tend not to want to spend their vacation time, their vacation money worried as to whether they are going to get caught in a protest and catch a little teargas in the face.”
Buck explained that, at this point, many in the country are just looking for someone to blame, and America is an easy target. One of the explanations Buck has heard involves the United States orchestrating the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power and ruining the revolution.
In addition to being in Egypt, Buck visited Syrian refugee camps to better understand the breadth of the situation on the ground. What he found was staggering.
“I spent an entire day with the refugees yesterday in Zaatari, which is the camp. It's only a few miles from the Syrian border. The nearest town gets hit with errant shells from Assad's artillery,” Buck said. “And the stories, there are two things that really came out of my discussions there. One of them is just the level of violence and viciousness and evil that is going on in this conflict is well beyond what I think most people understand. People were absolutely terrified that I was going to take their photograph because they're worried about repercussions either for themselves or their families if they try to go back or anyone who's still there. They were worried about me taking a photo, Glenn, that had water bottles in it. Now, I said why is that a concern? You know, I was taking a photo of something and they said that recently some Assad troops found a family of five that had just come sort of across the border and they said, oh, those water bottles, those must have come from the refugee camp. They lay them all down, they executed them all on the spot, including three small children. So the viciousness is impossible to overstate.”
You could liken the situation to ethnic cleansing, but, as Buck explained, the situation is more like human cleansing.
“They are killing everybody they think is opposed to them,” he said. “And then, of course, you've got the guys with the beards in the camp who are clearly, shall we say not of the Jeffersonian model, and perhaps very obviously of the fundamentalist and even pro jihadist model. They wouldn't speak to me. They eyed me very warily and quite honestly there are a lot of fights and there have been some violence in the camp. So I had to watch out for that. They see me as the enemy. They made that very clear.”
So what are the Syrian opposition forces looking for?
“But they want guns. They don't want a no fly zone. They want guns. They want us to arm them. They want us to let them finish the job. They were very clear on that as well,” Buck said.
With the Obama administration publically proclaiming that the red line has been crossed and they are preparing to take action in Syria, the mindset seems to be that the U.S. can somehow swoop in and end the fighting. But that is simply not the case.
“No one is prepared for what's coming. There are so many more refugees, so much more violence. This thing is far from over,” Buck explained. “And the notion that we could end it, even if you wanted to, is kind of a fantasy. So it was eye opening. And these people are living in absolute squalor, by the way. I mean, the international community, forget the fact they can't stop the fight in Syria. They should be completely ashamed of themselves. They say this is what they're supposed to be able to do is feed starving children, and they are not doing a very good job.”
The last few days, Glenn has been open with his predictions that World War III may very well be on the horizon. And with border fights in the Middle East continuing and and international support varied, it seems difficult to avoid a global-scaled conflict.
“I don't think we can avoid a broader conflict really in the Middle East,” Buck said. “Look, you've already got Lebanon for all intents and purposes involved in this. Hezbollah has thrown their lot in. The Russians are backing Assad to the hilt. The fact that they will back this regime tells you all you need to know about the character of the Russian government or its complete lack of character. It's disgraceful. The Iranians have gone in… full force on this issue. And the international community's so slow to get involved.”
“But Glenn, I mean, this is the other side of it. I'm giving you evils of the Assad regime, right? I was staring into the eyes of small children yesterday who, one kid looked at me, we were kicking around a soccer ball, and he said, ‘They murdered my mother, they assassinated my brother, but my father is fighting for the Free Syrian Army, so everything will be okay.’ All right. That's one side of this,” he continued. “The other side are the people that I spoke to in Jordan who are in contact with, know the resistance well, have been up and back across the border. They say that when it comes to the real fighting against the Syrian regime, against Assad forces, 80% of the major combat effectiveness, not the numbers of people but the combat effectiveness comes from the jihadists, the hardliners, the guys who as soon as they can take control of Syria want to start raining hellfire into Israel right next door. The Israelis know this. That's why everybody's on edge.”
Ultimately, there is no easy answer.
“Other than I wish these kids that I saw in the camp had food and were living in tents that were 120 degrees in the middle of the desert, I don't know what the answer is,” Buck said. “You got two sides, we can't trust either one, and if this thing goes cross border, and it very well could, into Turkey, into Jordan, you name it, no one knows. How do they stop the violence? I don't know.”
As much as the people in the Middle East blame America and have written off the U.S. because of the Obama administration’s incompetence, Glenn believes it will be a small group of strong-willed individuals who will first save this country and then save the world.
“If we have any chance of saving this country and the planet and man's freedom, it will come from a small group of people, and I believe it will come from the people who have brushed across this audience,” Glenn said. “Love is the answer. Peace, peaceful resistance. Standing in the fire of God. Because when everything else is burning, there's only one thing that won't. It will just become more pure. And if we're not in that space, we will lose and the whole world will go the way of Europe. And strong men will return. Whether they're religious strong men or just brutal thugs, strong men will return. It can't happen here. Can't. We're the only hope the world has.”