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View Diary: Overnight News Digest: "Old Southern Medley" Edition (65 comments)

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  •  Type of weapon should not drive US policy (7+ / 0-)

    Stephen Walt @ NYT: Weapons Assad Uses Shouldn’t Affect U.S. Policy

    Even if proven, the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government does not tip the balance in favor of U.S. military intervention. To think otherwise places undue weight on the weapons Assad’s forces may have used and ignores the many reasons that U.S. intervention is still unwise.

    Of course it is not good that Assad's forces may have used chemical weapons, but it is not obvious why the choice of weaponry changes the calculus of U.S. interests in this case. The brutal nature of the Assad regime has been apparent for decades, and its forces have already killed thousands with conventional means. Does it really matter whether Assad is killing his opponents using 500-pound bombs, mortar shells, cluster munitions, machine guns, icepicks or sarin gas? Dead is dead, no matter how it is done.


    Obama may be tempted to strike because he foolishly drew a “red line” over this issue and feels his credibility is now at stake. But following one foolish step with another will not restore that lost standing. U.S. power is most credible when it is used to protect vital U.S. interests. The United States has little interest in getting bogged down in Syria, and the use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces does not alter that fact.

    •  More from Walt (7+ / 0-)

      Walt @ Foreign Policy: We're Going to War Because We Just Can't Stop Ourselves

      What is most striking about this affair is how Obama seems to have been dragged, reluctantly, into doing something that he clearly didn't want to do. He probably knows bombing Syria won't solve anything or move us closer to a political settlement. But he's been facing a constant drumbeat of pressure from liberal interventionists and other hawks, as well as the disjointed Syrian opposition and some of our allies in the region. He foolishly drew a "red line" a few months back, so now he's getting taunted with the old canard about the need to "restore U.S. credibility." This last argument is especially silly: If being willing to use force was the litmus test of a president's credibility, Obama is in no danger whatsoever. Or has everyone just forgotten about his decision to escalate in Afghanistan, the bombing of Libya, and all those drone strikes?

      More than anything else, Obama reminds me here of George Orwell in his famous essay "Shooting an Elephant." Orwell recounts how, while serving as a colonial officer in Burma, he was forced to shoot a rogue elephant simply because the local residents expected an official of the British Empire to act this way, even when the animal appeared to pose no further danger. If he didn't go ahead and dispatch the poor beast, he feared that his prestige and credibility might be diminished. Like Orwell, Obama seems to be sliding toward "doing something" because he feels he simply can't afford not to.

      •  He can't get his advisors out of his head (6+ / 0-)

        and has become them, as instances such as this shows.  Not that he was ever a pacifist, but when he gets off his butt on foreign conflicts the results have been far less than subtle or solution-bearing.

        It's a quandary how you can help innocent people in the modern day who are between a rock and a hard place of civil war which gets advertised in full digital reality, but one must get beyond a single hammer in their toolbox.

        Even if they are attempting to interrupt a well-defined supply chain and/or factory, the notion of targeted strikes is obviously one that will kill some of the very people you ostensibly say you're seeking to protect.

        We're reacting too much to players in the area, as well.  This whole move has dirty hands all over it - which will soon be bloodied, as well.

        "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

        by wader on Tue Aug 27, 2013 at 09:43:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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