The “humanitarian” drumbeat for launching yet another Middle Eastern war against the Assad regime in Syria is increasing. Here are three reports that may help you think about the war question:
Attachment I, Syria crisis: US signals intent to take action against Assad regime (Guardian 26 August) lays out the case for attacking Syria as enunciated by Secretary of State John Kerry.
In Attachment II, US Set to Launch ‘Iraq, The Sequel’, in Syria (Ron Paul Institute, 24 August), my friend Daniel McAdams lays out an argument against intervention.
Think about the points made in these opposing views. Decide which you agree most with.
Now read Attachment III, Gangs of Latakia: The Militiafication of the Assad Regime (Syria Comment Blog, 24 July).
Aron Lund describes the situation in Syria, with special attention to the evolving decentralization of Assad regime into a loose confederation of pro-regime militias, with overlapping but sometimes competing agendas. While most readers are probably familiar with the confused nature of the competing rebel militias, the militiaization of the Assad regime and what it means for his ability to control events (like the employment of chemical weapons)is not well understood and almost never discussed in the mainstream media.
Although I lean toward McAdams argument, I submit that it does not really matter, because if Lund’s analysis is half-way close to being correct, the rational case against intervention wins hands down, for one simple reason: Questions of war or peace should not be determined by the arrogance of ignorance.
Kerry’s remarks (and those of pro intervention commentators) clearly assume Assad is in total control of events. Those who confidently claim limited precision strikes will have a predictable salutary effect in the Syrian civil war show no awareness of the mindboggling social complexities described by Lund.
Just ask yourself two questions:
(1) Given the presence of this increasing confusion and disorder, how can anyone rationally predict a limited precision strike by a few cruise missiles fired into the Syrian hornets will coerce Bashar Assad into conforming to our wishes — particularly given our dismal track of coercive success with such strikes over the last twenty years (a subject to be addressed in my next blaster)?
(2) And given Assad’s ongoing loss of control, would it make any difference even if Assad tried to conform to our wishes?
To ask these questions is to answer them, yet the Obama Administration seems intent of launching another American war in the Middle East by a assuming a few precision strikes will suffice to rectify a complex situation. That recent polls indicate a majority of Americans oppose such an action seems to have not bearing on the debate.