Wednesday, May 29, 2013

So-Called Leftist 'Hawks' Cower From Intervention in Syria

An interesting piece at WaPo, "Liberal hawks were vocal on involvement in Iraq but have been quiet on Syria":
The advocates for intervention argue that there are strong moral, geopolitical and national security reasons to intervene and that although there is no good option in Syria, doing nothing is the worst option of all. They’d like to see the destruction of Assad’s aircraft, heavy weapons and assets on the ground and have called for the creation of no-fly zones and the arming of rebels, as well as a naval blockade to prevent Syria from exporting oil. They also believe American firepower could create havens in rebel-controlled territory, giving a moderate opposition the chance to govern and to weaken extremists while easing the burden of refugees, and preventing further sectarian spillover into neighboring states.

They worry that Obama is sending the message to dictators that brutality will go unchecked and that he is ceding the battlefield to the United States’ more strategic enemies, including Iran. The advocates worry that Obama’s blurring of red lines over the use of chemical weapons weakened American credibility and moral authority and reduced any chance for a diplomatic solution.

Those who oppose armed intervention fear that U.S. involvement in Syria would only worsen the situation and fuel the kind of sectarian fury that was unleashed in Iraq.

They also believe that the administration has been wise to avoid ownership of the problem if it is not willing to make a long-term nation-building commitment.

The few prominent liberal hawks have taken their case to high-profile platforms. Bill Keller, a former editor of the New York Times, recently acknowledged his wariness but added that “in Syria, I fear prudence has become fatalism, and our caution has been the father of missed opportunities, diminished credibility and enlarged tragedy.” He was immediately attacked with echoes of the “Bush’s Useful Idiots” critique. Leon Wieseltier has incessantly demanded action from his perch at the New Republic. And Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former top State Department official who is president of the New America Foundation, has been consistently outspoken in favor of intervention.

Slaughter said she wants to hear more from the intellectuals who joined her in urging intervention in Kosovo, Rwanda and, most recently, Libya. “The place to look, I think, is not 10 years ago [in Iraq], it’s Libya,” she said. “Where’s the Libya coalition?” She blamed the Obama administration inaction in Syria for creating a climate of “despairing futility” that rendered her former allies moot.
Well, there's actually quite a few voices on the left pushing for intervention, although things might have been more propitious at an earlier stage of the conflict. At this point you're almost 100 percent certain to leverage Islamists to power there, and considering how the Egyptian revolution's working out, it's hardly attractive to extend the Arab Winter to Damascus.

Interesting, though, it looks like the administration is now pushing to expand the U.S. role in Syria. See the Daily Beast, "Exclusive: Obama Asks Pentagon For Syria No-Fly Zone Plan."