Some things you just have to do in spite of great uncertainty.
Launching missiles at Syria isn’t one of them.
Many pundits talk about going to war as if all we have to do is make up our minds about what “ought” to happen — who the bad guys are — and the rest is just details. If we decide we must punish a tyrant, let the military worry about how to get it done.
We ought to worry more about details.
Everyone agrees there are huge “known unknowns” in Syria — we barely know the composition of the rebel movement we’re supposed to aid — but we should be more concerned about “unknown unknowns,” to borrow former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s phrase.
Remember the confidence with which he and other Bush administration officials described their plans to remake Iraq? Dick Cheney said, “We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” The Wall Street Journal beat the drums for war for a year. I read that Iraq was full of repressed democratic activists just waiting for Saddam to be overthrown.
Pundits also argued that once the authoritarian ruler was gone, Iraq would blossom into a showcase of peace and democracy that would inspire transformation throughout the region. I wanted to believe it. Once they had a choice, why wouldn’t they pursue our way of life? It’s clearly better! […]
I’m glad Saddam is gone, and Iraqis are better off. But the masses yearning to breathe free turned out to include more troublemakers than we expected.
I don’t trust John Kerry, but I’ll accept his claim that Syria’s leaders probably used chemical weapons to kill 1,400 people. Horrible.
But are we going to enforce a “red line” to tell dictators that if they murder their people, they better use conventional weapons? […]
I hate Assad. I hate what’s happened in Syria. I also hate what happened in Rwanda and Darfur and what still happens in Somalia, China, Russia, Zimbabwe and so on. But there’s just not much we can do about it without making new enemies and exacerbating America’s coming bankruptcy. America cannot police the world and shouldn’t try.