Thursday, September 5, 2013
Don't Worry. The Strikes Won't Really Do Anything.
But they won't Tip The Balance. Don't worry about that.
The Bad Guy is Bad. He's Crazy and Evil, and Evil Must Be Punished. We need to Show That We're Strong. So that Other Actors Will Be Deterred. But we can't Tip The Balance, because then there will be a Regime Change and Chaos, and we'll have to put Boots On The Ground. And no one wants Boots On The Ground. No one is contemplating that, the Old Guy Who Lost That Other Election tells us. Of course he admitted we need to Keep Our Options Open, just in case there is a Nightmare Scenario. So we're going with a Targeted Strike.
And Sanctions And Diplomacy Won't Work, everyone adds, because of how Bad the Bad Guy is.
But if the Bad Guy is really that Bad, the Targeted Strikes are not really going to punish him, are they? All he cares about is Staying In Power. And that's all we care about too. We've promised everyone.
In fact, couldn't you make the case that if we really focused our efforts on using economic and diplomatic leverage, that we could be reasonably sure they'd work at least as well as the Targeted Strikes that won't Tip The Balance?
As long as we're in the business of not punishing Bashar al-Assad, couldn't we not punish him with something other than Tomahawk missiles? Couldn't we join the International Criminal Court and attempt to hold regime leaders accountable? Couldn't we try to build worldwide support for freezing his assets? Make it more difficult for his patrons in Moscow and Tehran to support him? Maybe donate more money to help the refugees and contain the violence?
Could we at least try to make more of an impact than we would with the attacks our administration assures us will fail to make any real impact at all, unless Something Terrible Happens?
Because useless or not, those strikes are going to affect someone in Syria. Not anyone we care about, to be sure. But people, real people who didn't ask for this, might die because of what we do.
I know, I know: We Can't Afford To Look Weak.
Looking stupid, on the other hand, is always an option.