The Syrian Dilemma

Monday, April 1, 2013

There may be good arguments to enter Syria. But they do not matter much, because neither this administration nor the American public is up to the dirty task.

As in Libya, would we ‘lead from behind’ the French and British? Would the Obama administration ask permission to intervene from the United Nations and the Arab League, but once more not the U.S. Congress? Would UN Ambassador Susan Rice solemnly assure the Russians and the Chinese a second time that we were only providing humanitarian aid and not actively supporting ground troops?

Are Americans willing to occupy a post-Assad Syria to ensure that its cities do not turn into another Benghazi?

Stripping Iran and Hezbollah of their close ally Bashar al-Assad certainly makes good strategic sense, but are we even sure that subsequent Sunni Syrian ‘reformers’ would dislike Shiite Iran any more than they dislike us? If American-educated and supported Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, recipient of massive U.S. aid, is either a moderate or a deterrent to an expansionist Iranian theocracy, he sure has a good way of hiding it.

At home, we know that too many Senate grandees, analysts, and talking heads clamor for war when they expect a quick in-and-out moral intervention—only when reality sets in to claim that the ensuing mess was someone else’s fault all along.

True, there are humanitarian issues in Syria. But then there are similar ones as well in Darfur, Somalia, and Mali.

In short, collate the recent American past in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya and you could write a script for Syria, from A to Z.