There’s a halting effort underway to bring China, Iran and Russia into a solution to the crisis in Syria, although the Obama administration is hardly enthusiastic. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at the recent debate in the pages of the hawkish Washington Post on Syria, in which Henry Kissinger, the ultimate “realist,” plays the dove.
I hate to agree with Kissinger on anything, but after a pompous prologue he concludes thus:
We cannot afford to be driven from expedient to expedient into undefined military involvement in a conflict taking on an increasingly sectarian character. In reacting to one human tragedy, we must be careful not to facilitate another. In the absence of a clearly articulated strategic concept, a world order that erodes borders and merges international and civil wars can never catch its breath.
In other words, Kissinger says the attacking Syria or intervening with military force is not a good idea, and he specifically criticizes the so-called humanitarian interventionists. In so doing, he seems to reflect majority opinion in the administration. A few days later, the Post ran a competing, and opposite, op-ed from Anne-Marie Slaughter, a leading liberal interventionist. She served as Hillary Clinton’s director of policy planning, 2009–11. And she says:
The point of an intervention in Syria would be to stop the killing—to force Bashar al-Assad and his government to meet the demands of the Syrian people with reforms rather than guns.
She cites the idea of RTP (“responsibility to protect”), adding:
Bringing [RTP] into being requires demonstrating firmly and quickly that when governments cross the line of genocide, or engage in crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, or grave and systematic war crimes against their own people, the world will act—with force if necessary and with the approval only of a regional organization and a majority of the members of the U.N. Security Council. Only then will murderous dictators begin to think twice.
For good measure, the Post’s “über-hawk, Jackson Diehl, weighs in today with a critique of Obama’s “muddle” on Syria (and Iran). His piece is a confusing mess, seeming to argue that attacking Syria is a good idea, except that it might make it difficult to attack Iran too! (Yes, really.) Don’t believe me? Here it is:
Take military action—a prime concern of Israel. Syria interventionists (such as myself) have been arguing that the United States and allies like Turkey should join in setting up safe zones for civilians and anti-Assad forces along Syria’s borders, which would require air cover and maybe some (Turkish) troops. But if the United States gets involved in a military operation in Syria, would it still be feasible to carry out an air attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities? What if Israel were to launch one while a Syria operation was still ongoing?
I guess Diehl is pro-slaughter. And pro-Slaughter.