Friday, May 3, 2013

Reason #287: Death From Above

Someone needs to explain to me why air strikes are so out of vogue all of a sudden.

Let's run down our list of options in Syria:

  • Invade, Iraq-style. Take down Bashar al-Assad in a month or three, with the rebels at our side, then get stuck rebuilding and operating the country for ten years, ultimately turning the rebels against us for a host of likely-understandable reasons. Ultimately, we leave Syria under the command of an ostensibly-elected puppet who either doesn't have the respect of the people or who promptly turns against us once we're not paying attention.
  • Send a drone after Assad. Best-case scenario, the bulk of his regime stays intact and whoever takes over in his absence agrees to stop slaughtering people; the violence ends, but nothing gets fixed. Worst-case scenario, we miss, and piss him off even more--and even if we get him, such a tactic could weaken our standing in the rest of the world, opening up assassination as a viable strategy against those the US decides it doesn't care for.
  • Do nothing. Obama looks like a wimp and a prevaricator, and the US sets a precedent for stubborn dictators to use whatever weapons they please against their own citizens with no repercussions from the West.
  • Arm the rebels. See: Bin Laden, Osama.
  • Air strikes, Kosovo-style. Cut the Assad regime off at the knees (and elbows, for that matter), making him easier pickings for the rebels, who ultimately take over and set up a new government according to their own interests. Maybe not as friendly as a puppet, but certainly friendlier than Assad. No boots on the ground, no American casualties, we can stop the moment we feel we've done enough.

Make no mistake, every single one of these options gets more civilians killed. Most of them get civilians killed by us. There are only bad options in this situation, and I've explained before that any American president's moral standing is basically SOL by default in my opinion.

That being the case, Kosovo seems to me to have been the closest we've ever come to a clean--and cheap--war. Would I do it, were I the president? No. But I didn't run for president--Obama did.

Further Reading

The Stakes of Being Too Late

Reason #256: Classified

1 comment:

  1. You and I should run in the next term. We'll flip for top bunk. Our foreign policy will simply be "Be most excellent and party on!".