Liberal Hawks, Bloody But Unbowed: 'This time it's different'


You can't unsee. ||| Vanity Fair
Vanity Fair

Sure, military intervention is polling in the single digits; yes, we're still bringing body bags home from civil wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya; and tellingly, even advocates of punishing Bashar al-Assad with missiles are quick to admit that there's no real promising plan going forward. But so Liberal Hawks beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. Behold the left-of-center case for punitive, experimental, credibility-saving war.

Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker:

This time it's different. […]

What can America do? It's not unreasonable to ask whether even a well-intentioned American effort to save Syrians might fail, or whether such an effort might pull America into a terrible quagmire. In the piece about Obama and Syria I wrote for the magazine in May, I detailed just how daunting those challenges are. But how much longer are we going to allow those questions to prevent us from trying?

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post:

History says don't do it. Most Americans say don't do it. But President Obama has to punish Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's homicidal regime with a military strike — and hope that history and the people are wrong. […] 

The president was right to make chemical-weapons use the "red line" that Assad must not cross. Upholding the principle that such weapons must never, ever be employed is so important that Obama, in my view, really has no choice. […]

This is a case in which somebody has to be the world's policeman.

New York Times editorial board:

Presidents should not make a habit of drawing red lines in public, but if they do, they had best follow through. Many countries (including Iran, which Mr. Obama has often said won't be permitted to have a nuclear weapon) will be watching.

Bernard Henri-Levy, Joe Lieberman, Leon Wieseltier, Paul Berman, Marty Peretz, and a bunch of their neo-conservative friends (such as "Dr. William Kristol"):

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 airpower 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 weapons.

Moreover, the United States and other willing nations should consider direct military strikes against the pillars of the Assad regime.  The objectives should be not only to ensure that Assad's chemical weapons no longer threaten America, our allies in the region or the Syrian people, but also to deter or destroy the Assad regime's airpower and other conventional military means of committing atrocities against civilian non-combatants.  […]

Left unanswered, the Assad regime's mounting attacks with chemical weapons will show the world that America's red lines are only empty threats.  It is a dangerous and destabilizing message that will surely come to haunt us—one that will certainly embolden Iran's efforts to develop nuclear weapons capability despite your repeated warnings that doing so is unacceptable.

Reason on Liberal Hawks here; on Syria here.