Monday, April 01, 2013

The Wages of Neo-Realism

In the discussion of what we are seeing in Syria and how the US experience in Iraq influenced how events developed, Jackson Diehl at WaPo outlines something that I think both sides can broadly agree with - though his conclusion leaves something to discuss further.

No surprise to regular readers here, I fall decidedly on the neo-realist side of the spectrum; always have. One caveat I have to that is; once this nation is engaged in open conflict - it must win in a manner that lets us depart with some measure of "victory." Anything less is disaster

After fits and starts, we did that in Iraq, and are about to fail in that line in AFG.

From Libya over to Syria, we are seeing the impact of what has defaulted to some mix of neo-realism and post-Pax Americana - leavened with a fair portion of post-colonial anti-militarism on the part of the present administration.

However one comes to, "Syria; not our fight" - I frankly don't care. Besides a little culling of the herd, punitive expedition, and trying to mitigate the nasty-bits of the Syrian government's arsenal moving around - we have no reason to do anything more militarily directly in that nation.

If any nation should invade and occupy Syria, it should be Turkey. If Turkey did, should we support them? Of course - but in about the way we supported the Europeans in Libya. No more, perhaps less. Throw a few drones and TLAM as needed? Sure. Fine with me. Any more? Foolish.

If Syria isn't worth an Anatolian sheppard's son - it sure isn't worth John Smith from Des Moines, Iowa.

There is a cost from backing away from being the World Policeman ... and I'm OK with that. As outlined by Jackson, he isn't;
Iraq prompted a temporary souring of relations between the United States and France and Germany, and Arab Sunni monarchies never fully accepted the Shiite-led government that democracy produced. But U.S. influence in the Middle East remained strong. Now it is plummeting: Not just Britain and France but every neighbor of Syria has been shocked and awed by the failure of U.S. leadership. If it continues, Syria — not Iraq — will prove to be the turning point when America ceases to be regarded as what Bill Clinton called the “indispensable nation.”

Does all this mean that the United States should be dispatching hundreds of thousands of troops to Syria? Of course not. The tragedy of the post-Iraq logic embraced by President Obama is that it has ruled out not just George W. Bush-style invasions but also the more modest intervention used by the Clinton administration to prevent humanitarian catastrophes and protect U.S. interests in the 1990s. As in the Balkans — or Libya — the limited use of U.S. airpower and collaboration with forces on the ground could have quickly put an end to the Assad regime 18 months ago, preventing 60,000 deaths and rise of al-Qaeda. It could still save the larger region from ruin.
Well Jackson, I have news for you - the American people are not ready to sacrifice the lives of a few thousand of its young men and women and maiming tens of thousands - simply to chase the dragon that is killing tens of thousands of Syrians.

Syria is not Iraq, but it isn't the Balkans either.

Is that cold? Perhaps - but here is what many of the American people - and most of those of who have served or have family members who do serve know; it isn't worth it when after the initial glow, the people you are there to save will hate you for it. When the fog of war happens, the press and the Left will show you know mercy in calling you everything up to and including baby killer - while beggaring the nation in the process.

No. It is their war, let them fight it. If it isn't worth even their neighbor taking care of business - then it isn't that of the world's largest debtor nation half a world away.

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