September 5, 2013 by David K. Sutton
5 Wrongheaded Arguments For American Military Action In Syria
1. The “Credibility” Argument — “America cannot be seen as weak,” as the pundits and war hawks put it, is a lousy reason to go to war, to paraphrase MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. We should never go to war because we are worried about the opinions of dictators and tyrants.
2. The “Future Tyrant” Argument — “If America doesn’t send a strong message that you cannot use chemical weapons, future dictators will use these weapons of mass destruction at will.” There’s not much evidence to support this argument. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons and we did nothing, and then no one else used chemical weapons for two decades.
3. The “Humanitarian” Argument — “1500 people died a horrible death by chemical weapons. We must do something about that.” Well, I got news for you — 98,500 additional Syrians have also died a horrible death, by conventional weapons. If we could prove that military action would stop the death toll (from all weapons), maybe, just maybe, it could be justified. I have not heard anyone posit such an argument, because even though we have plenty of wrongheaded arguments for military action in Syria, nobody is so deluded to think the Syrian conflict will end because of American intervention.
4. The Assad “Change Course” Argument — “If we send a strong message to President Bashar al-Assad, he will stop using chemical weapons.” We would have to make sure we wipe out his entire chemical weapons capability to make such an assurance because someone desperate enough to use chemical weapons in the first place is not likely to learn a lesson from the West.
5. The “Geneva Protocol” Argument — “In 1925, nearly every country decided the use of chemical weapons was abhorrent and banned their use.” Sure, chemical weapons are horrible, but so are conventional weapons. You don’t have to marginalize your morals by establishing an arbitrary standard for how to conduct a war. There should be no war. Sending a message attached to the side of a cruise missile stating that killing people with chemical weapons is wrong, is also wrong. Any humanitarian should see the moral compromise we make by deeming one weapon of war unacceptable, leaving the remaining weapons as viable options.