Tom Friedman has spoken. The mainstream U.S. consensus on Syria is solidifying, and it’s against American intervention in that civil war.
Many of the same folks who supported the disastrous Iraq war are against this one; and that will make all the difference. This one is “Lebanon on steroids.”
That consensus is reflected in former Obama aide Gary Samore saying on NPR this morning that Obama doesn’t “want to get dragged into” the Syrian civil war because it’s a “messy” situation, it would involve “a very large scale military force,” and because “there’s genuine uncertainty” about who used chemical weapons; in NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski’s report on Morning Joe saying that it is unclear who used chemical; in Tom Friedman’s column–Friedman, who supported the disastrous Iraq war– saying that intervention would be “staggeringly costly and take a long time, with the outcome still not guaranteed;” in Larry Abramson’s piece on NPR quoting Anthony Cordesman and another expert that even US air strikes would involve a massive mobilization; in Andrew Sullivan’s piece— another guy who supported the Iraq war– saying that we shouldn’t get wound up by Israel to think this is a walk in the park, no “this is emphatically not our fight, it is an intensely complex one in a fractured and splintering region;” and in Dexter Filkins’s long piece in the New Yorker, a publication that supported the disastrous Iraq war, seeming to weigh options but summarizable in one phrase attributed to an American official, that Syria would be “Lebanon on steroids;”
Note that some of these voices and publications could have helped stop the rush to war in Iraq. And none of them did. David Remnick was running Jeffrey Goldberg’s bogus reports on a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda that time around (a link that actually exists in the Syrian context); now he’s going with the wiser Filkins.
In another sign of the consensus, The Washington Post gives space to Katrina vanden Heuvel, who opposed the Iraq war, opposing this one, quoting Joshua Landis to the effect that Syria is just like Iraq, and slamming Anne-Marie Slaughter as “bellicose” for supporting intervention.
So Anne-Marie Slaughter is on the ice floe; she chose the wrong conventional wisdom. Watch her mend in days to come!
My friend Ilene Cohen notes that Israel’s efforts to sell a war in Syria have so far failed:
Both the Europeans and the Americans have taken note that the story (enthusiastically pushed by the Israelis) is far from clear, even if Obama did (alas!) issue his unfortunate red line statement, presumably to appease the Israelis (and of course he supports the Israeli right to bomb Syria). But Miklaszewski emphasizes that both Europeans and Americans are reluctant to plunge into another war. Not John McCain, though. He’s ready to put boots on the ground.
But the good news, I suppose, is that some from the earlier warmongering camp have started to pull back. Friedman, I think, doesn’t want to look like a fool after being so egregiously wrong on Iraq
More on Israel’s dubious role. Sullivan mocks the idea that the Israeli attack on Syria was not an act of war.
We are told this was not an act of war. Why? Er, because Israel did it and therefore it is not an act of war. It may have killed close to 100 Syrian army soldiers, among many others; it may have been the biggest single explosion in Syria’s capital city throughout the entire conflict; it may have required entering another country’s airspace and bombing its capital city; but this is not a war. Moreover, this not-war is embraced by the US. Because Israel did it.
I would note that last night on the PBS News Hour, Steve Clemons of the Atlantic and the New America Foundation praised Israel for its attack and said it might be a model to us.
Israel has shown substantial restraint through this period of civil strife and conflict inside Syria, and saw that it — there may be substantial missiles being transferred to Hezbollah. And they took action to stop it…
Israel has tried to be surgical and to remain calm –
[This was] sensible and important for Israel..
the interesting thing is to watch the caution with which Israel has been behaving, the surgical way in which it took out these weapons. I imagine that’s exactly the same kind of thing that the United States would like to do with securing the chemical weapons in one way or another, and not turning this into an effort against the broader Assad regime and making the U.S. as a principal player inside Syria’s civil war.
Gosh. What are liberals for?