3 Reasons Not to Go to War with Syria


As the Obama administration beats the drum for yet another military engagement, here are three reasons we shouldn't go to war with Syria.

1. It's not our fight

U.S. foreign policy—especially military actions—should proceed from clear and compelling national interests. But neither the president nor anyone in his administration has clarified what America's security stake is in Syria's civil war.

Humanitarian interventions are notoriously ineffective in practice. If the president wants to reduce the violence that's already claimed over 100,000 lives, lobbing cruise missiles or putting boots on the ground is no way to accomplish that.

2. Chemical  weapons shouldn't be a red line

President Obama has said that chemical weapons are a red line that no country should be allowed to cross. But even assuming such weapons were used by the murderous Assad regime, the case for treating poison gas as qualitatively different than far more deadly conventional weapons is hardly clear.

Why should weapons that have at most killed a tiny fraction of people in a war be a trigger for action?

3. What constitutes victory?

Obama hasn't just failed to articulate a cause for action, he hasn't even bothered to explain what might constitute victory in Syria. The inherent risks are compounded massively by regional and global politics involving Iran, Jordan, Russia, Israel, and European countries.

The U.S. doesn't even have a clear sense of who the Syrian rebels are and what their agenda is.

For god's sake, if the past dozen years have taught us anything about foreign policy, it's that military interventions shouldn't be done in a half-assed fashion, without clear and widely shared goals.

If the Obama administration can't be bothered to articulate why we should fight, who we're helping, and how we would know that we succeeded, it's got no business getting involved in Syria.

About 2 minutes.Produced by Meredith Bragg and written by Nick Gillespie.

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Related: "8 Reasons Not to Go to War with Syria," by Peter Suderman

Read Reason's comphrehensive Syria coverage.

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  2. I’m sorry, but you guys are completely wrong.

    1. It’s not our fight – The US is the world’s policeman. (see Bosnia, Libya, etc)

    2. Chemical weapons shouldn’t be a red line – That’s obviously old school thinking. We used to calls such things NBC’s (nuclear, biological and chemical) but now we’ve re-framed the matter by changing the label to WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction). How can we not act to stop the use of Weapons of MASS destruction?

    3. What constitutes victory? – That’s the most obvious answer. Victory is having Obama look tough, punish those who oppose his wishes and set up Hillary Clinton for the 2016 election.

    From the Left

    1. How about adding: We haven’t exhausted all the possible enemies we can make in the middle east?

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  4. It’s not our fight – until the fight is brought to our backyard. If a bunch of ragtag rebels (not Assad) made or acquired these weapons, then there’s a good chance a chemical attack could happen outside of the Middle East.

    Terrorist acts are rare, but they happen. Al Qaida bombed trains in Spain and England, and they periodically hit Asia. I imagine a chemical weapon is more discreet and can wage better psychological warfare than conventional weapons. The image of hazmat teams carrying around infected bodies in quarantine zones will do a number on the nation’s psyche.

    We have to bomb facilities that make these weapons. Or use drone strikes on rebel factions known to unleash on innocent civilians. We can’t totally stop these people from killing each other at home, but we have to make it more difficult for them to use chemical weapons, especially outside of the Middle East. If one of our major cities are hit, then we do have to go to war.

    1. But the scenario you suggest has nothing to do with what Obama is talking about.

      You suggest that the rebel extremists are using chemicals and need to be stopped. But Obama blames Assad and is planning to attack him, thereby aiding the rebels. In fact, he has publicly stated that he has no doubt that Assad, not the rebel extremists you fear, is the evildoer.

      If what you suggest is true, then Obama is doing exactly the opposite of what he should be doing. He would be effectively aiding our real enemy.

    2. And how successful have we been at this,by lobbing cruise missiles from a video game keyboard from Virginia.

      We don’t know who the rebels are. Some of them may be on our side. We just don’t know. And bets are this info would be very difficult to come by!

      So we unleash our, no chance of casualties arsenal, killing people for political points.

      If it is important enough for us to send our precious sons and daughters into harms way with a large support of our citizens who are related to these brave soldiers, makes it our fight! If it don’t, then we got no dog in that fight. And that should be the red line.

      How ’bout we unleash our energy program and starve these assholes of money to buy weapons. Make ’em fight each with sticks and stones!

      1. On the contrary, we have a pretty good idea of who the rebels are. They are not a single group but a coalition of people who have various reasons for wanting Assad and his government to be gone.

        Some of them might not like the ruling power for political or economic reasons, but others don’t like that it’s a secular dictatorship when they want a religious dictatorship.

        One particularly fundamentalist and violent group that has had growing influence within the rebel coalition is actually liked with and loyal to Al Queda for God’s sake!

        Plus you got to keep in mind that Assad’s group belongs to the shia branch of islam, while most of those who oppose his government are sunnis.

        I’m in no way saying that Assad and his group are good, but it’s not even worth comparing sides in that sense. They both suck. Which is all the more reason to stay the hell away from that conflict.

  5. Its much more simple than this: HE CANNOT ACT WITHOUT CONGRESS!!!!!!
    He has to make his case before congress

    1. Yes he can.

      No he shouldn’t, but Libya proves he can.

    2. We got overwhelming support and votes from congress to go after Iraq. That mistake we made, adds to the list of all of the other failed attempts to keep these people from housing assholes that blame us for how much their life sucks! Oh yeah, that thing about keeping their women slaves.

    3. Under the Constitution the President can act on matters of national security without congressional approval. This is especially true when there is an emergency. But he can also, as a matter of comity, seek the advice or consent of congress that, after all, holds the purse strings to pay for a military response. The trouble here is that there is no national security issue. What is at issue is military intervention for alleged humanitarian purposes. Any idea for where this power lays?

      1. It doesn’t lay anywhere. Besides, how does it make any logical sense to apply military force to solve a humanitarian problem?

      2. Well, that does get interesting, as this is a place where times have changed, we no longer face 6 month communication lags, but for this, implicitly, the constitution assumes that congress cannot always be consulted in a matter of days. It’s kind of contradictory.

  6. “neither the president nor anyone in his administration has clarified what America’s security stake is”

    Sure they have, repeatedly. It’s all about credibility. Threats of extreme violence mean nothing without follow up. The lowest level gangster knows that.

  7. Regarding #2: lest we forget, the Egyptian military-government massacred 100s of its people in the streets using good old American taxpayer-subsidized APCs and guns. People who were protesting a coup, no less. What exactly is the difference?

  8. 4) “It’s easier to stay out than get out.” -Mark Twain

    1. Twain was clearly a genius and continues to impress. Thanks

  9. How about ONE good reason to go to war?

    1. Cause we love the leader. Na an na na na na na na na na na na Batman. I mean LEADER!!!

  10. Jack Manny Jojo is not going to like that.


  11. Our noble [and Nobel] American hero Obozo the War-Klown has himself a legacy: crony-banker bailer, secret police surveillance master, child-killing drone master. President War-of-Choice. President Death-Care. Punisher of truth-telling whistle-blowers. More countries invaded or attacked than any other president in history. Now if he can just lie himself through this Syria business, it’s on to the Cherry-on-Top, IRAN, no RUSSIA, no CHINA.

    Now, maybe he’s just a special interest puppet, but then, fuck the special interests [and voters] that put War-Klown in office.

    Obozo the War-Klown’s adulators will continue to praise him as a wise man and blame it all on his rat-klown-daddy Bush.

  12. The opposition launched the Sarin gas attack just like they’ve done before. UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic member Carla Del Ponte back in May stated that she had evidence of the opposition using chemical weapons:


    1. This is much more believable. Assad had no reason whatsoever to use chemical weapons knowing full well what the outcome would be, but when you tell the rebels who are already getting supplied by the US that they will be supported by air strikes and potential even US ground troops, they have every motivation to conduct a chemical attack and make it look like Assad did it.

      1. Robert Fisk over at the Independent believes the same thing happen since Hezbollah fighters in the area also were also hit with sarin:


        1. That’s interesting, considering that Hezbollah fighters are there specifically to back the government. They would not attack their ally.

    2. I recently read article speculating that Saudi Arabia could be involved in sarin plot to get US involved on side of opposition. Seems plausible since SA could have been supplier of sarin and complicit in its use. Putin argues persuasively that Assad would not have been so stupid as to invite US intervention with sarin use and the alleged use had no real strategic value to Assad forces. Makes you wonder what the hell is going on?

  13. reason #4
    Why get in the middle of Islamic extremists killing Islamic extremists?

    1. If you mean in the religious sense, Assad is not an extremist. He is a secular dictator and that’s the biggest problem for at least some of the rebels.

  14. What are the odds of a military strike occurring on the late evening of September 30/early morning of October 1, thereby distracting attention from the failure of the much-heralded Obamacare Exchanges to open on time?

    1. I’m thinking September 11th is the ideal day so that when alquda(SP?) is attacking other locations on that date again. Obama can claim the military was busy elsewhere

  15. Did he really just say “I have had my military…”?



    2. There is no reason to go to war with Syria. Obama, Please! I really don’t want to see any war in over the world.

  16. Lord O apparently went off script when he threw out his ‘red line’ comment about Syria. That was not on the teleprompter so the reason we have to fire a few missiles at Syria is to prop up his gigantic ego.

    Like Libya, this will be a ‘limited kinetic action’ where we replace the unsavory with genuine terrorists.

    And people bitched about Bush…

    1. Obama is a higher, more evolved form of weasel.

      Whereas Bush went full retard and occupied and invaded countries, Obama has mercenaries and drones.

      That’s why we know exactly who the Syrian rebels are, since they’re on the CIA payroll.

      If it was good enough for Reagan, it’s good enough for Obama.

  17. lets see a couple of thousand people killed by chemical weapons or several thousand killed by the U.S. Which would be more evil and since the solution doesn’t stop the disease I would say that makes the U.S. the greater evil without troops on the ground to get rid of the chemical weapons. What these idoits don’t understand is if we target their main weapons then that will only leave them the chemical weapons which they will then have no choice but to use them then.

  18. Rhetorical question for all of those who believe our involvement is primarily about the use of chemical weapons:

    If by some strange twist it was proven that some faction among the rebels themselves used the chemical weapons (maybe as infighting or maybe as subterfuge) and not the Assad regime, will we then want to get involved on the side of the Syrian government and strike at the rebels?

    I thought not.

    1. It’s not primarily about that, true, but then what is the primary motive? Not oil, because they don’t have any to speak of.

      So, it must have something to do with being a proxy for Iran. But even then it doesn’t make sense, because it’s a situation that’s just begging to become another quagmire where we will lose lives and money for the next 15 years with nothing to show for it.

      1. It’s about the geo-political structure and the role of Russia and China. The goal of the United States is to remain the only superpower with no possible rival. Russia and China are engaged in protecting the current Sryian regime due to self preservation. Turmoil in the middle east with Sunni backed extremists is a major problem for Putin:


        China needs uninterrupted energy supplied by Iran. Any involvement by the United States to reduce Iranian influence within the region after the debacle of the Iraq War, which ironically expanded Iranian influence, jeopardizes these resources.

        It’s pretty simple to understand the geo-political ramifications once you strip away all of the rhetoric about human rights violations, which any of the parties involved would gladly ignore or commit to advance power both regionally and globally.

        1. Behind the morality theater is maintaining stability in share of fossil fuel revenues and impact on global economy. Look at a map and Syria offer countries to the south a path for piping nat gas to W Europe. That is troublesome for Russia that likes its monopoly, hence its support for Syria. For Iran it’s more to do with extending a sphere of theocratic influence than fossil fuel revenue. Israel at risk of collateral damage and a thousand deaths due to uncertain attribution of chem weps, both minor concerns in the larger scheme. Iran, with Russia’s urging, will be happy to shut down the Straight of Hormuz and we’ll have one monster global economic shock. From the perspective of US hawks (minority weight at this point) a possible opening to stage set for a conflagration that includes the destruction of Iran’s nuc weps capacity. Lots in play. Could drag on with Assad hanging on and the rebs giving up. Alternative outside intervention has more potential to drive a major conflag due to gobs of money money money money on the table.


  19. Number 4: We are *broke*. Get real.

  20. Three reasons not to go to war with Syria:
    1. It’s war.
    2. It’s Syria.
    3. “Brief?” “Restrained?” Really?

  21. http://www.davidhousholder.com…..e-liberty/ TEN MORE reasons not to go to war in Syria.

  22. I’m against going to war with Syria. You’re right, it’s not our fight. But I disagree with you heavily on your comment, “Chemical weapons shouldn’t be a red line.”
    Here’s why it should. The gas used in Syria was sarin. Sarin is a nerve agent that, when used, stops the neurotransmitters from sending signals to the vital organs, causing these organs to cease functioning. Any government (which I’m sure it was) willing to use that on their own population should be condemned. As for it being the government, do you know what it takes to produce or acquire sarin? A LOT. There’s no way that an “unorganized group of rebels” could have the money or resources to either acquire or produce sarin.

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  24. I find it interesting that no one is talking about how the Syrian Christians are on Assad’s side.

  25. Why should we go to war with Syria when there is no direct threat to The US?
    In my opinion it is a “Civil” matter. The only reason it is as a point of interest for Obama now is to make himself look tough. He has no consideration for the troops already in the Middle East or the families of those soldiers. We have no business poking our nose into the internal problems of another nation. So why should we put the lives of our family members in jeopardy to inflate the ego of a president desperately seeking approval

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  31. weapons are a red line that

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