Briefly, on Syria
The Obama administration wants to bomb Syria for generally understandable reasons. The country is in chaos and the government there has done truly atrocious things to its citizens.
The Bush administration wanted to invade Iraq for generally similar reasons.
At the time, the question wasn’t whether or not Saddam Hussein deserved it—he did, absolutely—it was whether it was the US’s responsibility, and whether unintended consequences would ultimately prevail. Loss of life, treasure, regional stability, etc.
Now we’re poised to strike at Syria. The reasons why sound eerily similar to the ones we heard in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion.
“If the United States is unwilling to lead a coalition of people who are prepared to stand up for the international norm with respect to chemical weapons that’s been in place since 1925, if we are unwilling to do that, we will be granting a blanket license to Assad to continue to gas,” said John Kerry on ABC’s The Week. “We will send a terrible message to the North Koreans, Iranians and others who might be trying to read how serious is America.”
I’m not saying that Assad doesn’t deserve it—that he and his cronies haven’t deserved some terrible hell for a long time now, along with the rest of the tyrants who gas and torture their own people. I just worry about the unintended consequences. Life, treasure, regional stability. The further swelling of the executive’s power to meet out violence across the globe in the name of freedom, humanity, or whatever.
I’m also reminded that while I generally prefer Democrats over Republicans, both parties are ultimately obsessed with our status as a global military power. Neither would throw the ring back into Mount Doom.