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Ron Radosh

Should the U.S. Intervene in Syria? The Debate Continues

June 23rd, 2013 - 2:10 pm

The collapse of Barack Obama’s policy in the Middle East, the result of  “leading from behind,” is apparent to all but the most obtuse of Obama’s former defenders. Charles Krauthammer aptly spelled it out last week: as he and many others have observed, we are witnessing a replay of the Spanish Civil War, in which Italy and Germany came to Franco’s rebelling generals with aid while the West stayed neutral. The Soviet Union, seeking to gain influence in the region, supplied the Spanish Republic with arms, but not enough to win, and only enough to defend themselves for a short amount of time. Krauthammer writes: “Obama has chosen to do just enough to give the appearance of having done something,” but only a small amount that will not be sufficient to win.

As a result of the inept and backwards policy, Obama has found that he has no place left to hide. He faces incredibly different choices to make, none of them good. They are spelled out today by Thomas Friedman, who sees three options, which he calls “the realist, the idealist, and the God-I-hope-we-are-lucky approaches.” As he aptly notes, none of them are without great risk, and all could leave the U.S. in an even deeper pit and in worse shape in the region.

Friedman thinks to succeed in Syria would take a full-scale Iraq-type invasion, led by the dreaded “boots on the ground,” which no commander in chief would in their right mind now advocate. So we citizens are left trying to guess which approach Obama believes is the right course, and what he really has in mind.

As a result, a new chorus of ardent interventionists has emerged. They have good arguments, and are repulsed about the failure of the Obama administration to use American power for good when it had an opportunity, and the resulting 80,000 or more deaths in Syria that are the result of U.S. inaction.

The two sides do not follow any usual left-right divide. They include a coalition of anti-interventionists on the radical Left and the libertarian and paleo-conservative Right; a coalition of ardent interventionists on the neoconservative Right and the moderate Left; and conservatives and leftists who unite around arguing that the United States should not at present intervene in Syria with aid to the rebels.

The influential Economist presented the most coherent analysis, concentrating on the need for the West to curb Iran’s power in the region, and to prevent its growing power, which would result from an Assad victory. The magazine’s editors favor both a no-fly zone and arming the Syrian rebels.

Joining them in urging intervention are two TNR editors, Leon Wieseltier and John B. Judis. Both are irate at their fellow liberals and leftists who eschew intervention. Wieseltier is upset, as he should be: “The foreign policy discourse of American liberalism no longer includes an emphasis on freedom or democracy.” He is a liberal hawk, a man who takes the same position regarding Syria that he took in the period before the Bush administration moved into Iraq and which he and his colleagues later regretted.  His colleague Judis, a man of the Left, breaks with his comrades at The Nation and Mother Jones who vigorously see U.S. imperialism involved in any intervention, and favors what he calls “benign intervention for humanitarian or for worthy geopolitical ends.” At least he is honest in acknowledging that he has no idea what can be done, and only says that as a “card-carrying member of the American left,” he thinks “we should try to do something to rid the world of the Assad regime.”

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Top Rated Comments   
Ever hear of a guy called Ronald Reagan? Does the name ring a bell? What do you think he would say? Let me give you a hint and see if you can figure it out.


1. The United States should not commit its forces to military action overseas unless the cause is vital to our national interest.

2. If the decision is made to commit our forces to combat abroad, it must be done with the clear intent and support needed to win. It should not be a halfway or tentative commitment, and there must be clearly defined and realistic objectives.

3. Before we commit our troops to combat, there must be reasonable assurance that the cause we are fighting for and the actions we take will have the support of the American people and Congress.

4. Even after all these other tests are met, our troops should be committed to combat abroad only as a last resort, when no other choice is available.
- RONALD REAGAN!!!

42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The time has long past come to arm the Kurds.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"As a result, a new chorus of ardent interventionists has emerged. They have good arguments, and are repulsed about the failure of the Obama administration to use American power for good when it had an opportunity, and the resulting 80,000 or more deaths in Syria that are the result of U.S. inaction."

What good arguments do they offer? In what way will using American power be for the 'good'? For the 'good' of whom? There is no 'good' for the United States coming out of such an ill-considered venture.

And do not label me as a war criminal for the "80,000 or more deaths in Syria that are the result of U.S. inaction." Now, of all inane accusations, I should feel guilty about not intervening in a war among my enemies? Do Tell!
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (34)
All Comments   (34)
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Hell no.
If anything, we should back the Russians and let them do the intervening.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The moment we put American boots on the ground in Syria, the civil war will end. That very moment.

Instead of continuing to fight each other, all the Syrians will turn around and start shooting at the US troops.

And, how do we decide to Support :
.. the murdering tyrant, Assad ... or
.. the various groups of murdering, tyranical al Q'aida jihadist
fundamentalists

There are NO Good Guys in Syria.
They ALL Hate our Guts
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The 80,000 dead in Syria are not on us. I can't tell if you're just citing this as someone else's belief or that you are stating it as your own position. Either way, it shouldn't go unchallenged. Of the few things we can be sure of when it comes to the Middle East is that there really are no good guys. And we will regret helping whatever side we do pick. If we were going to do anything we should probably consider providing just enough assistance to keep the conflict alive so that our enemies (and near enemies) continue to have to provide resources in response.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
This "Affaire Syria" should be the only example sensible people need to emphasize that it's past time for us Americans [Ameddicans] to stand aside and do the coat-holding .....for a change.

Why is it so difficult for the social worker "do-gooders" and militarist interventionists alike to understand that there's nothing....nothing...the we Americans [Ameddicans] can do to alter centuries upon centuries of traditional Muslim intra-butchery?

[USAID merely ends up in a few out-of-county bank accounts. That's a constant.]
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
read......"out of country"....
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
No matter who eventually prevails in Syria, America loses: if Assad retains power with Russkie support, he will continue to hate and oppose American interests in the region - if the AL-QAEDA REBELS win, they will still hate America and plan to kill us at every opportunity. WHERE DO WE WIN?

I served 1 tour in Iraq and 2 in Afghanistan. I am a 46-years-young cripple due to my wounds and have to deal with the incompetent, racist, anti-American caregivers at the VA for my medical treatment. I do not wish for one single American soldier-sailor-airmen or Marine to share my fate for the sole purpose of defending some pi$$ant terrorists where we as a nation gain absolutely NOTHING for spilling more precious American blood.

God Bless America....Remember BENGHAZI!
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's the problem: It's a lose - lose situation. The only good outcome is to spare American lives, money and time by letting it alone. If the winners want a war with us, we'll deal with that when it happens.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The thing is most of the time in foreign affairs the choice is often between bad and worst. In Syria this is not the case, there is no bad choice both are worse.
We had a window of opportunity when this revolt happened, but that window has long since closed.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Offer all Christians who wish to leave Syria asylum in the United States...then let the mooslims fight it out among themselves for as long as they wish.

Remember BENGHAZI!
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is from John Bernard (if you don't know who he is, you should find out) and what he says about Afghanistan, applies to Syria as well.


Our concern as a people of a nation should be for the well-being of our War Fighters - FIRST! If Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians, Libyans, Tunisians, Algerians, et al want to lessen their plight, they have the exact same opportunity as our Fore Fathers did; fight for it! We owe them nothing and certainly not our trust or the blood of our finest! The problem is, they don't see their condition as a scourge or a plight; they see it as the spiritually enlightened condition of men who have given themselves to the doctrines of a man who claimed to have conversed with a 'god'.

Any man in this country who thinks we have anything to offer people who have given so much of themselves to so vile a religious construct as Islam is simply arrogant - and ignorant! Asking better men to sacrifice themselves for this arrogance is the height, width and depth of moral depravity! Demanding they continue in light of such absolute proof of the total and abysmal failure of such an arrogantly conceived battle plan, is simply criminal!

Afghanistan is a cesspool of humanity; a mass grave for honorable men compelled to serve in her sewage by the arrogant, delusional and cowardly politicians of the day. Nothing good has come of our efforts; nothing good will come out of the next two years.

42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
If they first demonstrate that they want freedom, life, liberty and happiness (they have not done so) and act like people who belong to a modern humanitarian society that values individual rights and opportunity and freedom (they have not done so), then I would be for aiding them—Afghan, Iraqi, Syrian or whomever. But we (as in parts of our government and media) want to give aid without being entirely clear who or what we might be aiding and what their goals might be. It's both stupid and criminal (that includes you, John McCain).
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ever hear of a guy called Ronald Reagan? Does the name ring a bell? What do you think he would say? Let me give you a hint and see if you can figure it out.


1. The United States should not commit its forces to military action overseas unless the cause is vital to our national interest.

2. If the decision is made to commit our forces to combat abroad, it must be done with the clear intent and support needed to win. It should not be a halfway or tentative commitment, and there must be clearly defined and realistic objectives.

3. Before we commit our troops to combat, there must be reasonable assurance that the cause we are fighting for and the actions we take will have the support of the American people and Congress.

4. Even after all these other tests are met, our troops should be committed to combat abroad only as a last resort, when no other choice is available.
- RONALD REAGAN!!!

42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Reagan's ROE is what got over 200 US Marines killed in Lebanon. Then instead of changing the ROE, he cut and ran, thus emboldening enemies of the US all across the region. And encouraging more assaults on US personnel as result. He should have released the Kraken.

Im a big fan of Reagan, but the man was not infallible.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
No. Unless you plan on occupying and nation building for the next 2-3 centuries. We weren't willing to that for Iraq or the Afghans, why on Earth would we do it in Syria? Stay out.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
No. Let the Islamists kill themselves, the more the merrier.
In any case, we are begging the Talibans for peace in Afghanistan, losing a winnable war. We snatched defeat from victory in Iraq, courtesy of our Dearest Dear Leader. Hey, we were even afraid to rescue our ambassador from an excitable mob. What business do we have in another Islamist country except to get our troops killed?

Let's be fair though, our Dearest Dear Leader is doing really really well defeating enemies on his enemies list. He is doing it without firing a shot, he uses the NSA and the IRS to blackmail them to defeat.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
If I hear "we're fighting for [ our/their ] freedom, democracy, blah blah blah".....I'm gonna PUKE !!!
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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