Wednesday, September 4, 2013

More Bad Reasoning on Syria

This time mainly from the left, typified by this headline from Daily Kos today:

"We can't be spectators to slaughter, except for all those other slaughters"

The essence of this argument is that, because we did nothing about Rwanda, nothing about the slaughter in the Congo and next to nothing about the endless series of ethnic wars perpetrated in Sudan, we don't have the right to do anything about Syria.

Put this baldly, the argument seems (I hope) idiotic.  But like the claim that we can't trust Obama because we couldn't trust Bush and Cheney, it is a principal refuge of liberals who don't want to see the United States do anything in Syria.

Well, I guess if you buy the notion that, once you have done the wrong thing, you are never allowed to do the right thing, this might make sense.  But I don't think that many of us believe that people can never change.  In fact, when I hear either one of these arguments, what it makes me suspect is that people who resort to this line of reasoning do not have any substantial reasons to sit and do nothing while innocent people are slaughtered.

This doesn't mean, by the way, that I support military action against Syria.  I still haven't heard a viable suggestion about what resources of the Assad regime could be destroyed without tipping the balance of power in Syria to the current opposition, which seems to have been (as far as I can tell, seen through the lens of our miserable press) totally co-opted by the worst sort of revanchism and religious extremism.  But if we oppose Obama's intentions, let it be on the basis of real issues, not patently irrelevant knee-jerk reactions.


Paul Avery said...

I can't really comment on Obama's intentions since I can't be at all certain what they are. However, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that his failure to act aggressively when Syrians were starving from the 2008-11 drought somewhat undermines his claim to be a humanitarian.
But I think the issue goes deeper than punitive policy. I always found it interesting that an American president's creditability is always called into question when he DOESN'T make war, or those who are against military intervention are advocating "doing
Of course Obama should do something. But that something requires fundamental diplomatic relation changes in the Middle East. Without these changes all the "limited strikes" we can muster will only make a bad situation worse as been the case so far.

Poll P. said...

Maybe it's the Mother in me speaking, but my instinct and experience tells me that if you don't demonstrate that bad actions have bad consequences for the bad-actor, the bad behavior is in essence rewarded and repeated. You don't bomb the teen who wrecks the car, you take away some things he/she loves and values and needs to have fun.I'm sure there are targets that will hurt Assad personaly...I'm not saying kill his family. But certainly take away some of his toys.

Green Eagle said...

This has occurred to me, Poll- what can we do to make Assad's life personally more miserable (without, say, killing all his relatives?) I'm not sure what it might be, but if you can think of something, I think it would be a good idea. This guy has no conscience, so unless he is hurt personally, he is not going to change.

It's funny, when his father died, people said, oh, the son was educated in England, he is an opthalmologist, he will be so much more moderate. That didn't work out, did it?

Poll P. said...

Turned out he was still myopic.