Friday, September 6, 2013

Reason #302: The Conversation

So now that I've got that out of my system, I can talk about Syria a little more directly. I argued quite specifically for missile strikes a little while back, and while I stand by that argument, I have to admit I've heard a lot of good points made against them in the last week--and a lot less crazy bullshit.

The Washington Post had a great article about Syria over the weekend (below) that (subtly) makes the case for strikes insofar as they would enforce the worldwide "norm" against using chemical weapons. Even if we can't single-handedly remove Assad from power without invading and turning it into a redo of Iraq, and even if we don't necessarily want the rebels to be running the show over there, punishing Assad for his apparent use of sarin still has intrinsic value--provided it's an effective lesson, and that he's willing to listen.

What I'm not so sure of is whether he would listen. The best argument I've heard against the strikes, and there have been many, is that Assad is literally fighting for his own survival--if he sees his options as either "use chemical weapons and win" or "don't use chemical weapons and die", then he's going to use them, and any other measures he deems necessary, to stay where he is, no matter what the West thinks about it. Assad can't go back, after all this, to just being an iffy Ahmadinejad figure on the world stage; someone we tolerate, but don't like or take seriously. So what's his motivation to ever play nice again?

The problem, of course, is that that argues for regime change--something no one in America has any interest in anymore, thanks to the recklessness of the Bush administration. As far as I'm concerned, Assad being free to gas thousands of his own people with impunity because the West wasted all its gumption on another invasion entirely is just another entry for Bush's list of crimes against mankind--maybe not in the legal sense, but certainly in the moral sense.

Of course, that's also why I can appreciate Obama giving this decision over to the congress--even if the prolonged debate renders the results less effective, and even if he admits it's a formality and his mind is already made up. After Iraq, seeing a congress that actually may not vote to authorize the strikes, that isn't breaking out the war paint at the mere possibility of throwing a couple hundred missiles around, is a welcome sign, and shows that Obama really wants this debate to happen, even if it makes him look bad afterward.

As much as I support Obama in a general sense, I still don't really know what I think about all this. But for once, at least, it's nice to be asked.

Further Reading

Reason #287: Death From Above

9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask

Chris Hayes States Opposition To Syria Intervention

No comments:

Post a Comment