For the love of God, no war with Syria
Letter to the Editor | Monday, April 10, 2017
I recently saw a headline that said President Donald Trump was considering military intervention in Syria in light of recent events. Marco Rubio is currently going viral making an impassioned appeal to American values and the need to oust Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Nikki Haley is condemning the Russian Ambassador in the U.N. over his country’s continued support for the regime. All of this is pushing us closer to a war in Syria, a war that would serve no purpose and end in absolute disaster for the United States.
Let’s first be clear about what is going on Syria: a brutal dictator, Assad, is being bankrolled by Russia and Iran, with military assistance from Hezbollah, in a civil war against Al-Nusra, IS and other Jihadist groups. The civil war has caused unbelievable amounts of pain for the Syrian people, and thus the argument in support of this war is primarily humanitarian: Assad is a brutal, evil, dictator, and America must remove him, because, it is moral and the right thing to do. This is not just a bad idea; this is a horrendously idiotic idea that will result in the loss of thousands of American lives, achieve absolutely nothing, and has the potential to drag us into a war with Russia.
Look at the situation at play: You have terrorist groups at war with a rogue dictator who is supported by a different terrorist group and bankrolled by two large regional powers. It’s a quagmire. Adding the American military to that situation will in no way alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. It will merely add yet another front in a brutal war, along which more civilians will be caught in the crossfire.
Presuming that the United States does oust Assad, and presuming that for some reason Russia and Iran don’t go to war with us to stop that, and presuming that we decide we’re OK with basically fighting on the same side as IS and Al-Nusra, there’s the issue of what comes next. Setting up parliamentary democracies has led to anarchy in Libya and Iraq, and in Egypt led to the rise of Radical Islamic Fundamentalists, the Muslim Brotherhood. Another option is to replace Assad with a different brutal dictator who will rule over that territory with an iron fist and stop the anarchy. Though, if that’s the solution, then why remove Assad in the first place? We could also partition Syria, in some sort of 21st century Sykes-Picot, because we all know how well westerners drawing borders in the Middle East has gone thus far. Nation building has been a colossal failure wherever the United States has tried it, and will only lead to the U.S. militarily occupying yet another country and overextending itself further.
Not only is the idea suggested by the humanitarian argument a bad one, but it is based on flawed logic. It is based on the notion that the United States should be pursuing some notion of “good” and should use its resources to advance this “good” in the world. This is false. The United States should pursue its own interests, and should only behave in a way that advances those interests. In no way, shape, or form, are the interests of the United States, or even the well being of her citizens, advanced from interfering in this civil war. So what should the United States do? I would argue nothing. We do not need to interfere in every civil war going on around the planet, we do not have the resources and we do not have a dog in the fight. Let our geopolitical foes in Russia and Iran bankrupt themselves to wipe out IS. Let our adversaries spend military, political and diplomatic capital to eradicate our enemies. As a nation, we will be better for it.
Now many will call this argument immoral, that we should intervene because people are suffering and that I must be some sort of monster for not advocating for this. These people are conveniently silent on Saudi Arabia’s atrocities in Yemen — should we intervene there? What about the ethnic cleansing taking place in the Central African Republic? People are suffering there, should we send in the Marines? What about in Nigeria where Boko Haram is carving out a terrorist state for themselves, should we send troops there too? What about in Venezuela where there are civilians starving from lack of food? Those who say that I am immoral for not wanting to intervene need to explain why we are not obligated to intervene in all of these places, because their humanitarian logic dictates that we should.
Finally, how is it moral, or the right thing to do to send Americans to die needlessly? How is it moral to make a mother bury her son because of the crocodile tears of a politician? How is it moral to make a war widow because a senator was worried Russia might be gaining more influence than he considers ideal? How is it moral to make an American child grow up without his father because he was sent to die in a needless war thousands of miles away? We have fought too many wars, spent too many resources, lost too many men and achieved nothing. Enough is enough. No war with Syria.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.