Before I say anything more, I should say that I am of fifty different minds regarding U.S. intervention in Syria. Following President Obama’s address on Sunday, someone on Reddit wrote:
Pretty damn reasonable assessment of the situation.
Continue a methodical approach to fighting terrorist’s evolving tactics.
Don’t get baited into a military blunder.
Don’t give in to the temptation to alienate all Muslims.
And we will win this battle.
That anyone could think this is simple is scary in and of itself. Whether you oppose all intervention, support bombing but oppose troops, support arming Syrian forces who oppose both Assad and ISIS, are worried that there are insufficient Syrian forces to arm or that they can’t be trusted, support cooperating with Russia and Iran, or making a full commitment and going in with overwhelming force, I can’t give you much credence if you think it’s “simple.”
There are, as they say, no good options, only less bad ones, and most of the options look really bad to me and it’s hard for me to distinguish which one is less bad. Russia’s involved, Iran’s involved and Turkey is our nominal ally who’s acting like anything but. I tend to be naturally anti-interventionist, but at the same time, since we went into Iraq in 2002 and helped to destabilize the region, there seems to be something irresponsible, and frankly immoral, in the desire to just wash our hands of it, though, believe me, I desire that in no small way.
Here’s the good news. I’ve never before been so appreciative of the Atlantic Ocean. Unlike the terror cell that staged the massacre in Paris on Friday the thirteenth, would be terrorists in the U.S. would have a much harder time going back and forth to Syria for training. Although I believe that ISIS has grand ambitions, after all, it’s already declared itself a “caliphate,” I don’t think it could really administer much territory without becoming internally unstable. Unlike some people on the left, I don’t believe that Western countries have become wealthy simply because they have stolen things from other people. I believe that our political institutions and economic system have contributed to our prosperity, and ironically made the West powerful enough to dominate nations in other areas and steal things from them. As China and other countries show, the systems in the West are not the only possibilities, yet there is nothing about ISIS that leads me to believe that they are capable of governing and administering a stable, prosperous state on the scale their grandiose ambitions require. So, while they have expansionist dreams, the U.S. is not in any danger. The same, however, cannot be said for regions that don’t have the luxury of the Atlantic. While I tend to believe that ISIS must eventually collapse under the weight of its own grandiosity, in the mean time they can do a lot of harm to many people.
A few days ago, I read a post called “Bombs alone are not enough, but we need to do something in Syria.” It brought up the “anti-war” movement.
Predictably, the “anti-war” movement mobilized, #DontBombSyria has been trending on Twitter for the past couple of days and ‘Stop The War’ organised a protest to oppose the potential British intervention in Syria with their lame chants and even lamer speakers such as Tariq Ali and George Galloway. The Ayatollahs of the regressive left. Just goes to show how much of a sham this “rally” was when they have someone like Galloway who has a track record in supporting tyrants and thugs like Saddam Hussein, Bashar Al-Assad, the Mullahs in Iran etc.
I was reminded of Dorothy Day. Some friends in my past had once been heavily involved in the Catholic Worker. For those of you who are not familiar with Day, she was a socialist who founded the Catholic Worker organization and whose name has been tossed around regarding possible sainthood. She was also known for her pacifism and spoke out strongly against U.S. intervention in the Second World War. I was searching for some information about that when I came across the website of a British pacifist organization:
The war meant the return of military conscription. Pacifists had campaigned against it, but when it came, the Central Board for Conscientious Objectors was set up to co-ordinate work on behalf of all objectors…. The 100 COs who went to work on farms in Jersey came under German control when the Islands were occupied; about half of them were later deported to civilian internment camps in Bavaria, where they played a lively part in camp life; some went outside to help local farmers grow food; some married local women and settled in Germany (pacifism has no frontiers).
There’s something about chipper British pacifists helping the German war effort that makes me a little ill. I could almost understand a regretful pacifist, someone who felt torn but who truly believed pacifism was a long and difficult, but ultimately the best, road for an enduring peace. I might think that person idealist to the point of not being in touch with the harsh realities of the world, but that person would not disgust me in the same way. The idea that British pacifists today, knowing what we now know about the horrors of Nazi Germany, could write with such a blithe tone shows me that the pacifist movement has no moral standing, that they show a callous, indeed depraved, indifference towards human suffering.
Everything we have this far heard about what is going on within the Islamic State leads me to believe that when the full knowledge of the atrocities they have committed come to light we will yet again wonder how we sat by and allowed it to happen.
I cannot make a firm case for going in with ground troops, however. The situation is too complicated with the competing interests of countries who are in closer proximity to the conflict prevents a simple solution, military or diplomatic. I cannot see, at this juncture, a reasonable goal, in other words, what sort of state would be there when we left. Still, those who resist further involvement or who advocate pulling out altogether, should not be so blinded by the shine the see on their halos that they cannot see the consequences of their inaction.