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Just posted: The editors on Syria

Just posted on the homepage, the editors on the paucity of options in Syria, where fighting has killed seventy thousand people over two years and driven three million from their homes:

Only the most unrepentant advocates for the invasion of Iraq think the United States has the tools and the knowledge to fundamentally change the course of events in Syria. U.S. intervention might be warranted if there were a reasonable prospect that it would bring the killing to a quick end, but almost no one thinks that would happen under the current conditions.Still, there are many eloquent, morally serious advocates calling for intervention, and their views should not be dismissed lightly. Most of them urge the United States to supply the rebels (but somehow not the jihadists) with advanced weapons, establish a no-fly zone, and create humanitarian corridors where refugees can be protected from Assads murderous militias. Even the administrations most vocal critics, however, do not advocate sending in ground troops. Yet what if these partial measures were to fail, as they are likely to? At that point, the pressure to commit ground forces will be nearly impossible to resist, especially if U.S. military personnel are at risk. Containing Assads large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons presents an even more daunting problem. Bombing those facilities is not an option, and the best-case scenario for securing the weapons would require at least seventy-five thousand U.S. troops and would most likely result in significant civilian and U.S. military casualties.

Read the whole thing here.

About the Author

Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s digital editor.



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To believe that there not eventually be US "boots on the ground" is hopelessly naive. Until and unless the draft is reinstated and there are few if any exemptions granted; until a war tax is imposed; until the US population in general begins to feel .... really feel .... the effects of what they only to this point hear about .... until all of this happens, don't talk to me about any form of intervention that will most assuredly escalated to "boots on the ground."I suspect that there are few pew posters here who have any personal experience with the realities of war and, at best, can posit only theoretically.Saying "war is hell" was not just a pithy aphorism. Anyone who experienced any part of Viet Nam knows just how hellish it can be.

War fever seems to be approaching a critical stage: Do Something! Do Anything! Will Obama and the Pentagon hold out?

Do we have a moral obligation to intervene (whatever intervention would mean) in the event that chemical weapons are used, or in the event of ethnic cleansing? I don't think the traditional just-war criteria contemplate these sorts of humanitarian-driven imperatives, right?In light of Margaret's recent post on President Obama's willingness to let allies step up rather than the US lead such interventions, I'm not certain who "we" would be, i.e. who would do the intervening? This (excellent) editorial implies that most of the major actors in the Middle East have been sucked into the conflict on one side or the other already, so presumably they wouldn't be viewed as fair dealers. Would the UN intervene? I suppose Russia would be an insurmountable stumbling block for that? Would NATO see it as in its interest?

This country has become very good at "let George do it," particularly when George isn't any kid who is white, has a job or a good education, is married and generally can find a way out of not having to volunteer to serve in the military.Being a country that uses poor, non-white, poorly educated, unemployed mercenaries stinks to high heavens and smacks of "chicken hawkism."You damned right I'm incensed about this. This country should be ashamed of itself.

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