Syria and Iraq

Walter Russell Mead has a helpful blog post about Iraq and Syria. We are mostly ignoring the Middle East these days as a nation; the exception seems to be the occasional call for humanitarian intervention in Syria. And, of course, a few worry about Iran’s nuclear ambition and the U.S .relationship with Israel.

The most immediate problem is that neither the Assad family nor the opposition in Syria are “good guys,” and the Sunni powers in the region are angling to topple both the Assad regime and the Shiite dominated Iraqi government for their own purposes. Those who long for humanitarian intervention in Syria or harsh measures against Iran are ignoring some very pressing problems.

Even if the United States had clear principles or ends — and was pursuing those ends by sound diplomatic and military means — the region would still present intractable problems. Of course, we don’t even have clear principles or a thoughtful conception of the means needed to attain our nebulous ends.

  1. Roberto

    Sometimes the wisest course of action is to do… nothing at all. After all, never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

    John Grant: The most immediate problem is that neither the Assad family nor the opposition in Syria are “good guys,”

    This is a problem?

    Assad, Iran and Hezbollah engaging in bloody slaughter on one side while  Saudi Arabia and Qatar supporting the al-Nusra Front act in much the same fashion that results in… a long draining quagmire amongst a slew of actors who would otherwise be making mischief for the United States. 

    How is any possible course of action better than standing aside and letting the natural course of events resolve the matter?

  2. flownover

    Don’t worry , Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will solve the problem. 

    Like he did with the bothersome USO post in Haifa.

  3. Patrick in Albuquerque

    Principle: other than helping Israel to prevent another holocaust, the US has no interest in the Middle East that goes longer than the 10 (20?) years when we’ll be energy independent.

  4. Byron Horatio

    I see no reason not to let our enemies beat each other senseless.  The civilian casualties and accompanying atrocities are terrible, but our intervening would do little to stop them.  From an amoral and cynical perspective, I’d much rather have a comparitively secular Assad triumph over the genocidal Sunni Al-Qaeda factions. 

  5. FloppyDisk90

    Ditto what Patrick said.  Other than supporting Israel we have no interest in either country.

  6. Byron Horatio

    Also there’s no question the fall of Assad will trigger the holocaust of the Alawites and Christians there.

  7. Illiniguy
    Byron Horatio: I see no reason not to let our enemies beat each other senseless.  The civilian casualties and accompanying atrocities are terrible, but our intervening would do little to stop them.  From an amoral and cynical perspective, I’d much rather have a comparitively secular Assad triumph over the genocidal Sunni Al-Qaeda factions.  · 13 hours ago

    I’m inclined to Byron Horatio’s point of view. Is non-intervention a suitable way of allowing warring sects of Islam to deplete their relative influence, or are we against intervention because of general war weariness?

    Judging by the response Anne Pierce received from her post on Syria, it’s not a back-burner issue here on Ricochet. It’d actually make a good topic for the new audio feature being proposed on the Member side.

  8. John Grant
    C

    The comments make it clear that my use of “problem” is too vague.

    I certainly don’t propose intervention in Syria. In my opinion, America should only intervene if American rights are threatened and there is reason to believe that intervention will make the situation better and not worse. I don’t think we will better secure our rights by intervening in Syria, and I don’t think our intervention would help Syrians.

    But the situation in Syria is a problem in that there is massive loss of life. Chaos in Syria could very well lead to chaos in other places (i.e. Iraq); this means more death and destruction.

    Of course some of the commenters point out this might make America more secure in the sense that some of those who wish us harm will instead be focusing on killing each other. I suspect that is true, but a lot of people who are simply interested in living their lives (and not harming us) will be harmed in the process.

    The whole thing is a sorry mess, and I suspect it will get a lot worse in the near future.