Friday, October 14, 2016
Syria: why the rush to action?
I note with concern that President Obama is to consider 'military and other options' in Syria today. Some commenters have pressed for greater US military involvement there, possibly direct military action. In response, Russia is battening down the hatches in a public display of belligerence and support for its allies in the region.
I can only ask: what is the United States' compelling national interest in Syria? I can't see one right now. This isn't the Cold War any more, where the 'domino theory' predicated a military response to any threat (real or perceived) against any pro-democracy state. Most of the parties involved in the fighting in Syria are as bad as all the rest. Almost all of them, including the Assad government, are guilty of terrorism by any objective standard. The only group that appears innocent of that crime are Iraqi and Syrian Kurds, who've been oppressed by previous and current governments in the region, and are now well armed and determined to resist any further oppression.
I'll gladly support arming and supporting the Kurds; but let them do the fighting for themselves. As far as I know, neither we nor the Russians see any need to attack them. Turkey has attacked PKK Kurdish terrorist bases across its border with Syria, but is apparently still on reasonably good terms with Syrian and Iraqi Kurds as such, and does not appear to be engaged in conflict with them. I don't see how helping the Kurds would draw any others into the conflict, and it would satisfy a debt of honor we owe them for their support and assistance in US military operations in the area in past years.
However, apart from assisting the Kurds, what US national interest is involved in this conflict? I can't see one. Why are we even considering military action for or against anyone else? Haven't we learned anything from our involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts so far this century? George H. W. Bush's decision to stop Operation Desert Storm once Kuwait had been liberated, and to leave Iraq to its own devices, seems more and more wise in hindsight. The current administration might be well advised to consider it carefully.
I don't think the Syrian mess is worth even one more American life. Let's reserve our armed forces for situations that directly threaten our security and national interests.