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Intervention Temptation

June 13, 2013 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Since the dawn of human history men have warred against one another. The bitterest fights tend to be within political communities, the sort of civil wars that rent America, Russia, China, among many others. Today Syria is going through a similar brutal bloodletting. The result is horrific tragedy.

Administration officials reportedly are debating providing arms to Syria’s insurgents. A National Security Council spokeswoman explained: “We are taking a closer look at what we can do to help the opposition.”

It’s a bad idea. This kind of messy conflict is precisely the sort in which Washington should not get involved. Not everything in the world is or should be about the U.S. or what Washington wants.

Is Washington’s collective madness pushing America towards war in Syria?”

In fact, the push to intervene suggests that working in Washington leads to policy madness. Despite the end of the Cold War, the U.S. armed services have spent much of the last quarter century engaged in combat. At the very moment Washington should be pursuing a policy of peace, policymakers are considering joining a civil war in which America’s security is not involved, other nations have much more at stake, many of the “good” guys in fact are bad, and there would be no easy exit.

The starting point for U.S. foreign policy should be peace. Sometimes tragic times require war, but only rarely. Most of America’s wars are hard to justify, with mass death and destruction inflicted for reasons which in retrospect look frivolous or foolish. Military action should not be a matter of choice, just another policy option. War is no humanitarian tool to employ to “fix” foreign societies. The government should not call Americans to arms unless their own political community has something substantial at stake.

No such interest exists in Syria.

Intervention against Damascus means war. Some activists imagine that Washington need only add a finger or two to the military scale and President Bashar Assad would depart. However, weapons shipments, no fly zones, and safe zones would not be enough to oust a regime which has survived two years of combat. Allied airpower was uniquely effective in Libya due to its open terrain and the government’s lack of modern air defenses, and even then the conflict dragged on for months. Intervening ineffectively would cost lives and credibility while ensuring heavier future involvement. 

There is no serious security rationale for war. Damascus has not attacked or …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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