From today's WaPo comes Smokin' Joe Lieberman's exhortation that the US exercise its oh-so-necessary "leadership" (I mean, that's what America must always do, right? Like, in Iraq?) in re Syria by spearheading a "U.S.-coordinated train-and-equip mission" to provide "lethal aid" to anti-Assad forces. Also on Joe's wish-list?: "a campaign of airstrikes to disrupt Assad’s command over his forces and to establish safe zones along Syria’s borders so the opposition can organize inside their country."
Just as John McCain (one of the "Three Amigos" of the McCain-Lieberman-Graham triad) wanted to "bomb bomb Iran," Lieberman now pushes to "bomb bomb" Syria.
Yes, the humanitarian situation in Syria is beyond awful, and the country is quickly becoming the new poster-child for the R2P'ers. But what Lieberman and his ilk seem to want is a reprise of the Libya adventure, which the US and NATO have more or less chalked up as a win once Qaddafi was killed, and then walked away. That the people of Libya even now see this as a "win" - or, more important, will see it as a win a few years from now - is a question that Obama and pals would rather keep off our radar screens. But the fact of the matter is that Libya is in fragments. The situation there remains highly volatile, and the future is highly uncertain.
Lieberman extols the courage of the anti-Assad resistance and demands that the US rush to its defense (provided, of course, that the anti-Assad fighters play by Joe's rules:
Syrian fighters who want help must reject al-Qaeda and terrorism; refrain from human rights abuses and revenge killings; place themselves under civilian-led opposition command-and-control; and secure any weapons stockpiles that fall into their hands.
Some of those horses left the barn months ago, Joe. Sorry. Nice try though.
The reality is that Syria is messy. The "fighters" are themselves fragmented, with no established leadership. Moreover, even though opposition seems to be coalescing, Assad still retains fairly broad support in some areas, and among some well-entrenched groups, in the country.
In other words, even with US intervention of the kind and scale that Lieberman wants, the "happy ending" would not be some trans-Syria kumbaya moment. It would likely be complicated, and bitter.
And if recent developments are any indication, there might be significant collateral damage: Lebanon.
Be careful of what you wish for, (Three) Amigos.