Sunday, August 25, 2013

More on Syria...

In an opinion editorial in today's New York Times, Edward Luttwak makes many of the same points about Syria that I made in my last post. I observed that "The long drawn out struggle in Syria between Assad and the rebels might have had any number of outcomes that would not have demanded American intervention." Luttwak writes more specifically:
Things looked far less gloomy when the rebellion began two years ago. At the time, it seemed that Syrian society as a whole had emerged from the grip of fear to demand an end to Mr. Assad’s dictatorship. Back then, it was realistic to hope that moderates of one sort or another would replace the Assad regime, because they make up a large share of the population. It was also reasonable to expect that the fighting would not last long, because neighboring Turkey, a much larger country with a powerful army and a long border with Syria, would exert its power to end the war.
I spent quite a bit of time criticizing Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin for her vague disapprobation of Obama's inaction, asking "What is Rubin's plan for ending violence in Syria?!? Her grandstanding about intervention makes no mention of what work would be required to build a coalition, launch the invasion, and sustain a stable government the West (and Israel) would be satisfied with. How does Rubin plan on paying for what would almost certainly be nation building?" Likewise, Luttwak writes at the end of his column:
Those who condemn the president’s prudent restraint as cynical passivity must come clean with the only possible alternative: a full-scale American invasion to defeat both Mr. Assad and the extremists fighting against his regime.
Well, Jennifer Rubin has come out today with another policy-free column attacking Obama for not intervening in Syria. Read it through and you'll see she only flirts with specificity about possible US action in one paragraph:
Reports suggest the United States is formulating options for military action against the Syrian regime, despite Gen. Martin Dempsey’s absurd warnings that a force akin to the Normandy invasion would be required. We suspect that if action is taken it will be well short of measures needed to end the conflict and avoid sustained protection of civilians by imposition of no-fly zone.
Setting aside that these "reports... formulating options for military action" would seem to run counter to all her previous criticisms of inaction in the piece, Rubin only hints here at what she believes is needed. Perhaps she knows that if she came out and said what Luttwak has made clear, that the measures necessary to satisfy Obama's foreign policy critics would involve a full-scale invasion, she would lose what little credibility she has left. Instead she is content to take cheap shots at Obama, Clinton, and Kerry while cowardly avoiding the real-world implications of her own cotton candy recommendations.

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