I am referring to a school of American liberal imperialists who end up as looney as the “responsibility to protect” crowd, the “neo”-conservatives of The Weekly Standard. I cite William Kristol in this article:
Still—despite everything, despite the infuriating incompetence and the irresponsible leaking and the weak-kneed hedging and the endless equivocating; despite the great likelihood that Obama will do much less than he should, much less effectively than he could; despite the ridiculous disavowal of regime change when he has previously called for regime change, and when regime change is the only serious way to deter prospective users of chemical weapons; despite his failure to articulate an easily articulated American national interest in punishing and indeed removing Assad—despite all this and much else besides, it would be disastrous for an American president to back off from the just and necessary use of military force when he has threatened it and prepared for it.
No. It is not disastrous to back off from the use of force when you have no idea what you mean to achieve by it.
Assad is tyrant. Despite some rumours to the contrary, I consider it likely he gassed his domestic enemies. He is a nasty piece of shit. The entire Middle East save Israel is governed by people who have to behave despotically to maintain their thrones. Some, like the Kings of Jordan and of Morocco , behave like enlightened despots. Others, like the generals running Egypt, are having to restore enlightened despotism, against the will of at least one third of their subject population.
Assad is no different from the men running Iran, except that he governs with the willing compliance only of his Shi’ite sect, the Alawites , who are not more than 13% of the Syrian population. The clergy who run Iran govern with the willing compliance of maybe 40% of their population, perhaps less. The difference between Canada, on the one hand, and Iran or Syria, on the other, is that our Prime Minister is not using artillery to quell riots in the Beaches area of Toronto, nor lobbing missiles into Liberal ridings to suppress Justin Trudeau’s jihad. Justin Trudeau expects to live to become Prime Minister, and Stephen Harper expects to see Trudeau into honourable retirement. They are not killing each other’s children. They do not need to; our constitutional system has been consciously evolved to allow for peaceful transitions of power, which means that the losers must be safe in their lives and property.
As the Shah of Iran once said: “When my people behave like the Swedes, then I shall behave like the King of Sweden.” There is some truth in that observation, self-serving though it was.
Several civil wars and revolutions among the English-speakers have got us to this stage, including the English Civil War (1642-51) , the Glorious Revolution (the deposition of the Stuart monarchy, 1688), the Battle of the Boyne, which chased the Stuart kings out of Ireland, and the American Revolution 1776-1783, which established a North American English republic. Do not forget as well as many tumults, riots, insurrections (the rising of the Catholic Scottish clans against the Protestant succession to the throne of England in 1715 and 1745, which Scotch romantic reactionaries vainly glorify. (Bonny Prince Charlie and all that heroic nonsense.)
Syrians started this war, and we have every reason to want the Sunni and Shi’ite sects of Islam to have their own Thirty Years War, at the end of which, exhausted and half of them dead, they may decide that religious toleration is not such a bad idea.
People cannot be made to evolve, except by their own conclusions, and usually at the end of all other possible alternatives. A few missiles will cause neither Assad, nor his opponents, to change his calculation of interests. They need to kill each other for years, even decades. It is vital for our safety and prosperity not to be drawn into defending or assisting Sunni fanatics against Alawites fighting for their racial survival.