In The New Yorker yesterday, George Packer wrote “Two Minds on Syria.” It covers many of the issues in the current “should we or shouldn’t we” discussions about how to react to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. And at the risk of repeating what others have already said, I have a few things to add.
Like everyone else, I was shocked by the photos and videos from Syria, heartbroken and outraged by images of parents hugging their dead children and children crying over dead parents. But a skeptical little voice kept asking who would benefit by drawing the US into the Syrian conflict. And although we are being told now that the evidence points to Syria’s President Assad, it seems illogical that he would deliberately provoke US strikes against his own regime. Might the rebels themselves have done it, to draw our support?
And why act now? Is killing hundreds with chemicals really more heinous than killing thousands with guns or bombs? Are chemicals really any more a “weapon of mass destruction” than bombs and rockets?
I also have no faith in any attempt the US might make to form a coalition of nations to deal with the situation. Remember the Coalition of the Willing we organized to topple Saddam Hussein in Iraq? The vast majority of those troops were ours. Most of the other coalition nations contributed only token numbers.
No matter. It looks as though we are on the eve of another intervention, another war. And make no mistake; using bombs or missiles on another nation is a declaration of war. Obama erred in drawing his unscripted “red line” in a world where nothing is so simple, so black and white. There are no lines; there are only gray areas. But now, absent some Solomonic edict from the White House, it appears we’ll be taking military action in Syria. And I object.
As I said yesterday in a Huffington Post discussion:
Let someone else lead this intervention, someone who hasn’t spent the last ten years fighting two wars in the Middle East. We’re not the world’s policeman, but as long as we keep acting like it, other nations will gladly let us take the lead and bear the expense. We’re about to be chumps. Again.
Many of you may disagree. And that’s understandable. It’s a complex issue with no easy answers. No right answers. I just happen to believe the US is neither faultless enough nor wise enough to be taking sides in someone else’s civil war.