I haven’t been following the news closely, but people have been asking for my opinion on Syria and whether or not an American military adventure is warranted.
What would be our basis for attacking people in Syria?
- Is it the case that the government there is less legitimate than other non-elected governments worldwide? (this Freedom House map shows that many parts of the world, including Syria, are “not free”)
- Is it that the government has been indiscriminate in its response to a rebellion? (but governments all over the world respond harshly to any challenge to their authority; the Sri Lankan Civil War resulted in a huge number of civilian deaths (see this article) and there were no calls for U.S. intervention; the American Civil War included actions that some consider to be war crimes (see this list))
- Is it that the government has used chemical weapons? (but note that Syria apparently has not signed any treaty regarding chemical weapons, according to Wikipedia)
- Is it that the U.S. has something to gain from a change in government in Syria?
And if we were to attack the Syrians, what would our goals be for the military operation? The fall of the existing government? To persuade the existing government to stop using chemical weapons (if indeed they have been using them)? I see in the news that President Obama has asked Congress to approve an attack on Syrians, but did he state an objective that the attacks were supposed to achieve?
Background: Wikipedia entry on the Syrian Civil War
[Separately,“U.S. Soldiers Find Surprise on Returning to Afghan Valley: Peace”, from yesterday’s New York Times, implies that people on the other side of the globe get along better without the U.S. military being involved.]