With U.N. inspectors still trying to figure-out what exactly is happening in Syria, both establishment Democrats and Republicans seem to be prodding President Obama along to bomb…something.
If these reports are true and Assad has indeed used chemical weapons on his people during this Civil War (and I stress, if), we have a right to be appalled and angry. But I’m baffled as to what those calling for “action” really want to accomplish.
Anytime we’ve gotten involved in the Middle East, rarely do things ever truly improve. We armed the Mujahideen during Russia’s occupation of Afghanistan, and that resulted in Osama Bin Laden. Iraq has turned-out to be worse than before, and who thought that was possible? Our meddling in Iran back in the 1950’s hasn’t reaped many benefits for the U.S.
We’re not certain exactly who we should support in the Civil War. I’m just failing to see how dropping a few “surgical” strikes on some regime buildings is helping not just the rebels, but the U.S., too.
University of Michigan professor Juan Cole sums-it-up nicely for me:
It is not clear what an American intervention would achieve. It is likely that Washington will conduct a limited punitive operation, perhaps hitting regime buildings with Tomahawk missiles. The latter would avoid the regime’s sophisticated anti-aircraft systems, which might be able to fell an F-18 fighter jet.
It should be obvious, however, that any such strike would be a form of retaliation for President al-Assad’s flouting of international law. It would not actually protect Syrians from their government, and it would be unlikely to alter the course of the civil war.
Such a strike would carry with it some dangers for the US. It is not impossible that the Baath would respond by targeting US government facilities or businesses in the region. It is also possible that it would target Israel in revenge. An American strike might bring the Iranian Revolutionary Guards into Syria in greater forces.
But it is also possible that the regime will hunker down and concentrate on surviving its domestic challenge.
Either way, the people of Homs and other contested cities will likely go on suffering the regime’s indiscriminate assaults, and it is unlikely that a few Tomahawk strikes will affect the course of the war.
With any other government programs, we demand plans, execution for such plans, and the cost of such plans. For some reason, when it comes to war, we don’t make the same demands.
Someday, someone will have to explain to me why thousands of people dying by “conventional” warfare is tolerable, but chemical weapons is where a line must be drawn.
I can only think of Dr. Clifton from Bridge On The River Kwai yelling, “MADNESS!”