Syria and Iraq, Hope and Change!

Actually, we’re not having a debate about taking sides in Syria’s civil war. That’s the problem. We’re debating Syria as though it’s an engineering question—an electrical outage, or a bit of erosion in the backyard. Doing so removes the most vexing aspects of the issue, leading us to the delusion that military action can easily make things better.

Too much of the discussion has focused on moral arguments and too little of it on the very real political problems beneath the war.
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In the 1990s, realists like Richard Betts were warning Americans not to fall victim to the “delusion of impartial intervention.” Admonishing policymakers for their newfound enthusiasm for limited, ostensibly apolitical intervention, Betts reminded readers of a ground truth: “A war will not end until both sides agree who will control whatever is in dispute.” This is as true in Syria as it is anywhere. Alternatively, if analysts want to use the U.S. military to regime-change Assad, they have every obligation to explain how they intend to shepherd the country toward whatever political order they seek.
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Anyone who doesn’t deal with the underlying political problems at stake is threatening to push the country into another ill-considered, potentially costly war.

Our Astrategic Syria Debate

The Obama administration will have a hard time cobbling together even a modicum of popular support for the (inevitable, IMO) U.S. military intervention into Syria without a re-mobilization of that once-noisy but recently scarce tribe of armchair agitators known as the Liberal Hawks. Right on cue comes Bill Keller in today’s New York Times, making the argument that “Syria Is Not Iraq.” Which is, I suppose, a much more succinct headline than “Listen to Me About Bombing a Middle Eastern Country in 2013 Even Though I Was Totally Wrong About it in 2003.”
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You would think that “getting over Iraq” would also mean getting over the elementary school-style argumentation about war demonstrating “credibility” and seriousness, but perhaps it’s unsporting to stand between a man and his epiphanies.

Reluctant (and Later Apologetic) Liberal Iraq Hawk Says Onward to Syria!


Unfortunately, it seems that the future Aldous Huxley predicted in 1932, in Brave New World, is arriving early. Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. However, we do need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT), learn what Members of Congress pay in taxes, and prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

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