Return Of The Neocon War Hawks Who Want To Attack Syria Now

Neocons never just fade away.

The Weekly Standard has an open letter explaining that blowing up lots of stuff in Syria is a really great idea:

The signatories on the letter addressed to President Obama include Senator Joe Lieberman, Bernard-Henri Levy, Karl Rove, Bill Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Leon Wieseltier, and many others.

The “other people” include Max Boot, Paul Berman, Dr. Clifford D. May, Marty Peretz, and Danielle Pletka. I suppose it’s not literally true that the endorsement of these people means that bombing and/or invading Syria is a bad idea, but… let’s just if there was some way of betting that these people would be wrong, you could be living in your own $32 million apartment complete with $160,000 wine cellar and million-dollar apartments for your many domestic servants.

Here's some of the letter:

Dear Mr. President:

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has once again violated your red line, using chemical weapons to kill as many as 1,400 people in the suburbs of Damascus. You have said that large-scale use of chemical weapons in Syria would implicate “core national interests,” including “making sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies [and] our bases in the region.” The world—including Iran, North Korea, and other potential aggressors who seek or possess weapons of mass of destruction—is now watching to see how you respond.

We urge you to respond decisively by imposing meaningful consequences on the Assad regime. At a minimum, the United States, along with willing allies and partners, should use standoff weapons and air power to target the Syrian dictatorship’s military units that were involved in the recent large-scale use of chemical weapons. It should also provide vetted moderate elements of Syria’s armed opposition with the military support required to identify and strike regime units armed with chemical on

If you read all the names who signed on, you'll be horrified. See, there's never a penalty to be paid for being a war hawk whose advice turns out to be tragically wrong, so these people litter our airwaves when any foreign conflict comes into view. I checked to see what Michael O'Hanlon, the other big foreign policy loser, had to say, and he was a bit cautious about bombing Syria.

I usually take my time when it comes to foreign policy so I can digest the information, but the idea that we bomb Syria for using chemical weapons seems like a really bad idea at this point. It's horrific, to say the least, and should be stopped, but bombing the shit out of people is horrific, too!

Why do we have this international consensus saying that while it's bad for someone like Assad to bomb a neighborhood full of civilians and kill all the men, women, and children therein, it's worse for him to kill that same number of civilians by means of poison gas than by means of "conventional" munitions that merely tear their bodies to pieces? Indeed, we act as though killing, say, a hundred people with poison gas is worse than killing a thousand or ten thousand people with conventional weapons. After all, the Obama administration (not to mention the rest of the world) reacted to Assad murdering 100,000 people by expressing its deep consternation and trying to figure out how to help without getting involved. But only now that he has apparently used some kind of lethal gas in an attack that accounted for less than one percent of all the civilians he has killed are we finally ready to unleash our own military.

Part of the reason is that we set up this international norm almost a century ago after World War I, and in the years since it's been solidified with formal treaties like the Chemical Weapons Convention and a general, unquestioned consensus that chemical weapons are particularly awful. Nobody's out there making the case that it's OK to use them, and when they are used, the people responsible always deny it. It doesn't much matter whether the norm is perfectly rational; it exists, and it affects the decisions states and individuals make.

I don't believe any of the foreign policy wonks that say America could have had an impact on Syria if they acted much earlier. This is Syria, extremists were always going to enter into the fray, no matter what Oliver North or his cronies say.

Digby: Architect of Syria War Plan Doubts Surgical Strikes Will Work


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