Yes, all the arguments against intervening in the Syrian massacre are valid, or maybe, they are valid, or somewhat valid. The massacres in Syria are none of our business, they conclude. The fact that libertarian and left-liberal oppositions sound the same is a little bothersome though. It looks to me like the joining of amorality with immorality.
In my book, if you see a tiny rabid dog attacking a small person and you don’t interpose yourself with a stick, you are already guilty of assault. Assad’s Syria is only like Nazi Germany in terms of its evilness. It’s a small poor country with a small air force. A small air force can still inflict much hurt on fighters possessing no anti-aircraft weapons. A small air force can slaughter civilians by the hundreds of thousands. It’s especially easy if one bombs the civilians with gas.
This country, the US, has several times over the means to destroy the Syrian air force at little or no risk to itself. Simple humanity requires that the western democracies interfere with the on-going massacre.
I understand well the distaste toward another military involvement, after Iraq and Afghanistan although I don’t share it. (Personally, I believe the US and NATO should occupy the latter country for thirty or forty years. I know I can afford it.) But bombing selected targets inside Syria does not mean that we will “own it.” (That was a stupid formula coined by a political general who was greatly overestimated.) The defeat of the fascist Saddam Hussein in Iraq took two weeks plus one sand storm. Our troubles there began only when we decided to occupy the country. The US does not have to occupy Syria. It can attack and deplete Assaf’s military assets so as to give the opposition breathing space and them, just go home.
How about the violent jihadists who are included among the opponents- they say? Two questions about the jihadists:
1 Is the US more likely to render effective help to the secular, democratic part of the opposition to Assad by sitting out the war or by giving that fraction of the opposition active and visible support?
Don’t run away; don’t evade; don’t hide yourself; answer the question.
2 What are you saying? Do you actually prefer the familiar evil of of the fascist Syrian Baath Party (same as in Iraq) to the novel evils of violent jihadism? Has it gotten to this? Has the democratic West, has the US become so pathetic that we are reduced to chose through our inaction one form of great evil against another?
Th US sat out the Khmer Rouge grotesque self-genocide in Cambodia in 1975-1978 (one million-plus executions of people with glasses, for example, not counting many more deaths by starvation). The US watched passively the bricks and cane knife massacre in Rwanda where on group slaughtered 500,000 (or 1,000,000) in three months flat (Actually we were on the wrong side of the first mass crime.) Was it really the right thing to do in both cases, in either case? Think inside your head and look into your heart. Both organs matter to be a human being.
President Obama may be preparing to do the right thing at last. What do you know? Anything can happen.
Update 9/1/13. This is an overall tacit response to several critical comments: I was hoping aloud for armed Western intervention in Syria before there was any talk of gassing of civilians there.
Not well covered above: Any time the civilized world does not punish barbarous behavior, barbaric tyrants are encouraged to think they can do it too tomorrow. That’s a reason to intervene even if you are indifferent to the deliberate painful assassination of children.