I am persuaded by those who call for intervention to try and stop this mass-murderer.
But I am even more persuaded by those who oppose such intervention.
1. We are overstretched.
I would be very sympathetic to engaging, much like we did over Serbia in the 90s and Libya last year, if we weren't coming off a decade of perpetual war, at a cost of over a trillion dollars and thousands of (our own) lives lost. Humanitarian gestures take the kind of resources that we simply lack at this time.
If America wants to be the world's humanitarian police, it should stop pissing away money, lives, and goodwill on military adventurism. So absent Iraq and Afghanistan, I would be all-in. But we can't erase Bush's legacy. Our men and women in uniform have sacrificed enough.
2. Someone else can step up
Europeans are nervous about an escalated refugee crisis on their doorstep, and they have every reason to be concerned. So while the EU can claim an actual strategic concern, the United States cannot. And given that the EU has a larger GDP than the United States, it has the resources to protect its own interests.
Now obviously the EU is a cauldron of competing interests masquerading as a "union", but their inability to manage their own national interests shouldn't be reason enough for the United States to expend limited resources. If Syria poses a threat to European interests, let Europe handle the situation. It's not our problem.
3. What about the long term?
If Egypt looks bad today, a post-Assad Syria could be infinitely worse, with Islamists seemingly making up the strongest elements of the opposition, a pro-Western secular Syria is a pipe dream. Heck, an anti-Western secular Syria appears out of reach.
Yet no one calling for the bombing of Syria can explain what comes next. Drop a few bombs. Kill a few people. With luck, we may not kill too many innocents. But assuming the most precise of bombing campaigns, where only bad guys and a few Syrian Army barracks get leveled, what then? Until this question can be answered, no intervention can be justified. And it's the lack of an answer to this question that has paralyzed Western governments for so long.
4. And what about the rest of the world?
Syria isn't the only place where people are dying. The billions we will spend killing people with bombs could be better spent in every other corner of the world in development projects. We, as Americans, get outraged when we spend a few billions in humanitarian aid, yet don't have the same visceral opposition to even more billions in military ordinance.
Again, I'd be more inclined to support genuinely humanitarian military action if we were just as eager and quick to provide non-lethal developmental aid.
So there you have it. That's why I can't embrace action when emotionally, my heart cries for us to "do something". Wanting to help is laudable. But Syria isn't the only place where people are dying, and getting involved won't actually change anything except "send a message".