Bashir Assad is an evil man, and the world will be a better place when he’s dead. The best outcome for Syria would be for someone to put a bullet in his head. He has committed mass murder on a horrific scale against his own people, going to the demonic extreme of putting human shields on tanks to prevent rebels from firing on those tanks – an act that is not only evil, but also the act of a despicable craven coward. Assad is little more than a serial killer in an official position – as if Jeffrey Dahmer was the president of a nation. All of this is obvious.
That having been said, I disagree with calls for U.S. military intervention in Syria, just as I opposed military intervention in Libya last year. We do not have a national security interest and we cannot be the world’s police force.
If we are going to commit U.S. military power in another nation, we need to have a couple things established before we intervene. First, we need to have a clear threat to our national security interests. As terrible as Assad’s actions are and as evil as he is, I would not be able to justify telling the wife, daughter or mother of an American soldier that we should intervene without a clear threat to national security. Second, we need a clearly defined goal where we know what “victory” means – we need a clearly defined mission so we can keep our intervention limited.
I have seen no strong argument that the first condition has been met. But what would our goal be? Would it be to stem the civilian casualties? Without regime change, that is an open-ended mission that could go on for decades. Would the goal be to remove Assad from power? Perhaps, but what do we do after that? It certainly would not be good to see Syria devolve into chaos more than it already has if there is a power vacuum – and any American-backed regime would meet with resistance and be seen as empire-building.
This does not mean we cannot do anything at all. We should consider arming the rebels in order to give them a better chance at defending themselves from Bashir “Dahmer” Assad’s forces- but we need to be very careful about doing this. After all, some of the rebels in Libya were affiliated with al-Qaida and we do not want to be arming our enemies. Can we arm the Syrian rebels without it coming back to harm us? We can also offer some humanitarian assistance.
But military intervention needs to be taken off the table unless Assad is foolhardy enough to threaten us or our allies directly as a way to distract from the crisis. We have spent too much blood and treasure with by using military force around the world, and we have created resentment and ill will in the process. We need to stop trying to be the world’s police force and start minding our own business.