Friday, September 6, 2013

My thoughts on Syria

It's hard for me to believe that we now have a Democrat in the White House--who got there in part by being against preemptive war--who is forcing UN inspectors to leave yet another mid-east country so that we can start bombing.

Arguing that we must attack because chemical weapons violate international norms is pretty rich. We gave Saddam Hussein his chemical weapons and helped him use them against Iran. Using atomic weapons violates international norms, but we're the only country who's done that. Preemptively bombing and invading other countries violates international norms, but we've done that. Torture violates international norms, but we've done that. Using cluster bombs and land mines violates international norms, but we refuse to sign on to treaties banning their use. We also refuse to sign up for the International Criminal Court because we want immunity from our war crimes. This is not exactly the ideal resume for international norm enforcer.

The best synopsis of the situation in Syria that I have read is from William Polk via James Fallows. I can't add much to what he says, but it's reassuring to know there are level-headed people that demand rigor when contemplating war. It's also good to see that the British people, Parliament, the American people, and perhaps even Congress, have learned something over the last decade about scrutinizing lame-ass excuses for going to war.

The one thought I can add is the potential political impact of attacking Syria. Military action there will go wrong--per the situations today in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. It will be the height of irony if Obama and Congressional Democrats rally the American people to a young upstart anti-war Senator named Rand Paul in 2016, but it's possible, especially against pro-war Hillary Clinton. Of course, it's also possible that she could once again lose the primary to an anti-war opponent, though sadly, I'm not sure who that might be.

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