Friday, February 10, 2012

A New Crusade for US Militarists and Neocons: Syria

The Bobbsey twins +1 of American militarism abroad now demand that the US provide military assistance to the Syrian rebels, and that Mr. Obama leave no option off the table.

I speak of course of GOP senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, along with Joe Lieberman - as reported by US News and World Report and Jim Lobe at IPS.  Lobe also notes that some of the usual suspects among the neocons and liberal hawks - specifically, Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute and Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic - are beating the drums for Western intervention.  

Fortunately (and as Lobe notes as well), there's been some pushback from people who truly understand what's going on in Syria (but are also wise enough to admit that no one truly has a handle on what's going on).   I recommend (among others) these pieces today from Patrick Seale (who puts it all in a much deeper historical perspective) and Marc Lynch  (who lays out eloquently and cogently the reasons why arming Syria's rebels might be a very bad idea).

For that matter, as a partial template for what might transpire in Syria after any prospective NATO intervention, see this recent NYT report from Anthony Shadid about how Libya's militias continue to operate uncontrolled.  

The country that witnessed the Arab world’s most sweeping revolution is foundering. So is its capital, where a semblance of normality has returned after the chaotic days of the fall of Tripoli last August. But no one would consider a city ordinary where militiamen tortured to death an urbane former diplomat two weeks ago, where hundreds of refugees deemed loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi waited hopelessly in a camp and where a government official acknowledged that “freedom is a problem.” Much about the scene on Wednesday was lamentable, perhaps because the discord was so commonplace.


Libya, of course, has fallen off most Americans' radar screens, having been assigned to the "we won" list and chalked up as an achievement for Mr. Obama's tenure as commander-in-chief.  But a trail forward there has not yet been blazed.

And keep in mind that Syria is even more complicated internally, and has borders with other countries that have themselves been de-stabilized (hat-tip to Mr. Bush and our Israeli "allies") and could easily be pushed into renewed violence if Syria were to fragment.  I speak especially of Iraq and Lebanon, of course, where the sectarian implications of a dissolving Syria could be particularly dire.  (Tony Karon has a marvelous post at Time's Global Spin that pulls together the complexities of it all.)

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