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September 02, 2013

Team Intervention: Shut Up And Let US Bomb Syria Already

Shut up and start the bombing, they explained.

Republicans should support some version of the authorization of force resolution. They should do so even if they think that the Presidentís policy will prove ineffective, do no good, waste money, or entail unforeseen risks; they should do so even if they think he has gotten the nation into this situation by blunders, fecklessness, arrogance, or naivetť; and they should so even if, and especially, if they have no confidence in his judgment. The simple fact is that the nation and our allies will be at further risk if the world sees a presidency that is weakened and that has no credibility to act. Partisans may be tempted to see such a result as condign punishment for the Presidentís misjudgments; they may feel that he deserves to pay the price for his hypocrisy and cheap and demagogic attacks on his predecessor. But at the end of the day, Republicans need to rise above such temptations; the stakes are too high. The weaker the presidentís credibility on the world scene, the more the need to swallow and do what will not weaken it further. President Obama is the only president we have. That remains the overriding fact.

That's James Ceaser of the University of Virginia approvingly quoted by William Kristol.

Unsurprisingly, Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post is jonesing for just one more war.

We should fully understand what the isolationist right and left contemplate as ideal national security policy. According to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), we have no national security interests in Syria. When Bashar al-Assad began slaughtering his own people, if we said anything at all (and really what business is it of ours?) we should not have demanded Assad leave or face the consequences. When rebels asked for aid or arms or gas masks we should have denied them any support. When Assad used chemical weapons we might have said something, in the Rand Paul (R-Ky.)/Sarah Palin/Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) world view, but there should be no red lines threatening robust retaliation. After Assad killed over 1,400 people by chemical weapons we should take no action. In fact Paul seems sympathetic to Assad, saying Christians will be better off with him. (Why 1,400 gassed victims of unknown religious identity donít concern him is puzzling.)

In short, for isolationists, there is no amount of dead Syrians, refugees and WMD deaths that would justify us doing anything effective.

Is that the world we want to live in? Once Assad used chemical weapons, then all despots will feel free to do the same. And the green light would not entice merely rogue regimes in Syria and North Korea.

I'd prefer to live in a world where that didn't happen but my second choice is a world where America doesn't launch another war every time a two-bit dictator does what two-bit dictators have been doing for thousands of years...kill their own people.

Notice by the way the casual slur of "isolationist" Rubin throws around in her piece. Am I an "isolationist" because I don't want to start a war on the Korean Peninsular to stop the savages in the North from continuing their acts of barbarity? Am I an isolationist because I don't want to invade the Sudan to stop Islamist from killing innocent people in Darfur? There are plenty of places around the world where people are killing each other. That I don't think they all require US firepower doesn't make me or anyone else an isolationist.

Rubin argues that if we don't do something in Syria (her preference seems to be invasion) then no one will take us seriously on anything else.

To be blunt, the only deterrence that will matter and the only way to end the threat of more WMD attacks on Syrians is to destroy the chemical weapons caches or disable the military forces that will deliver them. And if our aim is to signal to Iran we wonít tolerate their acquiring a nuclear weapon, then anything short of driving Assad from office or significantly tipping the balance in favor of non-jihadists will be insufficient.

That's nonsense. Because the US Congress may decide that Syrians killing Syrians within Syria doesn't rise to the level of doesn't mean that it won't decide Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons would. And don't let Team Intervention fool you, if Obama or any President wants to attack Iran's nuclear program it damn well will require authorization from Congress.

Interventionists like Kirstol, Rubin, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham either can not or will not, accept that not everything calls for a military response. Not every bad thing rises to the level of American national interest and that the US military is not the answer to every problem in the Muslim world.

Who exactly is attacking Syria going to deter? Iran has been living under the assumption that a US attack is possible for nearly a decade (while the US had well over one hundred thousand troops in neighboring countries). Are they going to see some cruise missiles being lobbed at Syria as the end of their dream for regional dominance through nuclear weapons? Would al-Qaeda leaders suddenly think, "Wow, did you see those missiles hit Damascus? We better give up our hunt for WMD we can use against America!"

Of course not.

Under the best of circumstances public support for military action is a precious asset not to be spent lightly. Instead of fact free exhortations like Ceaser's or the fields of burnt strawmen offered up by Rubin, be honest with the American people and admit there are real risks to the "Bombs away, invade" reflexes of the interventionist wing.

Americans are tired of war. You know how to ensure that they won't be there when you want their support to attack Iran? Make your answer to everything "Attack! Invade! War!". Like "the boy who cried wolf", they will stop listening to you and will ignore you when it really counts.

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posted by DrewM. at 03:02 PM

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