It probably goes without saying, particularly for anyone who reads my blog regularly, that I oppose bombing Syria. just as I opposed invading Iraq back in 2003, and for the same reason. The parallels between then and now are truly extraordinary. The rhetoric is almost exactly the same, only the names have changed. Instead of Secretary of State Colin Powell saying we need to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein gassed his own people we now have Secretary of State John Kerry saying we need to bomb Syria because Bashar al Assad gassed his own people. Because everyone seems to be once again reading from the same script, I'll follow suit and quote what I wrote back in 2003:
Yes, Saddam Hussein is an evil man. Yes, the world will be better off without him. But Saddam is hardly unique in this regard, and solving this problem by starting a war sets a horrible precedent. What is to stop any country from launching a war against anyone that they judge to be evil?
Indeed, the horrible precedent has been set. Someone in the world does something evil (and make no mistake, launching a Sarin attack is evil), so the U.S. bombs them. And I get it: it's really hard to watch innocent civilians suffer while you stand by and do nothing, particularly if you like to fancy yourself as the Good Guys. So we have to do something, but we don't have the stomach (and maybe not even the ability) to put boots on the ground. So we send in the drones and the cruise missiles instead, because that's clean and easy (though a tad pricey) and we don't get American kids coming home in body bags.
But here's the problem: in a situation like this, cruise missiles and drones won't do any good. Whatever infrastructure we manage to destroy, they will simply rebuild with the help of their Russian sponsors, and then we'll be right back where we started, except that we will once again have set the precedent that, when the chips are down, the world is not governed by the rule of law but by the rule of power. It's OK for us to bomb Syria -- but, of course, not OK for Syria to return the favor -- because, well, because we can.
So we bomb Syria, and they rebuild. Then what, Mr. President? Then what?