Should the U.S. intervene in Syria?
The proper standard for military intervention is: What serves the interests of the nation? If the nation defending its interests supports individual rights—and is the government of a free, democratic republic—then by definition such action is potentially justified.
Governments of dictatorships have no rights. They don’t respect the rights of their own people. That’s what makes them dictatorships.
The American government’s support for individual rights, and its status as a democratic republic, is waning. Worst case, we may be in transition to a dictatorship. Best case, we’re suffering more setbacks every day, and only massive reversals in the near-term can restore our status. The perspective and hindsight of history will, eventually, tell us where we are now. What we know for sure is: It’s not good.
In this context, it seems preposterous that the United States would intervene to stop the Syrian government’s atrocities. The moral status of the American government, even now, is (I guess) superior to the rotten creeps who run the established gangs in places like Syria. There’s little question that the United States has the right to do whatever it wishes to such a government. Dictators, like terrorists, violent criminals or any other thugs, have no rights.
But the real question is: Military intervention for what purpose? The United States is completely broke. We’re in unprecedented debt, we’re undergoing budget sequestration, and the military is being cut (by the standards of a superpower) to the bare bones. A nation that can no longer even properly fund its own military has no real business getting itself into a war with questionable (or perhaps no) military strategy.
The U.S. certainly has oil interests in the Middle East. Oil is quite literally the fuel of our civilization. However, Obama would never defend actual American interests. If he cared about oil’s role in civilization, he would not go out of his way to uphold and excuse militant Islam at every turn. The threat of militant Islam is greater to American interests than anything specific about Syria.
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton puts it well. He upholds the principle that the United States should decide based on what serves its national interest.
“Every day that [Obama] waits, every day that he dithers, every day that he looks for some amorphous international approval, gives the Assad [Syrian] regime the chance to move those chemical weapons and hide them,” Bolton said.
Obama “has a real credibility problem in his own mind if he doesn’t do something,” Bolton said. “That doesn’t mean he has the slightest idea what the strategic effect of the use of military force is going to be.”
It would take a “character transplant” for Obama to move effectively, he said.
Obama is not concerned with America’s interests, not in the sense that Bolton implies. Obama believes the purpose of government is to transfer wealth and ensure a deep-rooted entitlement state. Such a government has an interest in preserving its own self, to keep the wealth transfers and benefits coming. But the defense of individual rights cannot be its concern abroad. How could it be, according to Obama? He doesn’t believe in preserving individual rights at home. There’s no moral, much less military, justification for enforcing rights elsewhere in the world.
More conventional Republicans like Senator John McCain have never met an opportunity for military intervention they don’t like. They view Obama’s hesitation as weakness. But ‘weakness’ implies a previous commitment to a particular principle, with an unwillingness to uphold that principle.
Obama’s issue is different. He’s not committed to the types of principles which led the United States to fight wars in the past. The American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II—these were unequivocal demonstrations of a requirement to uphold the rights of the individual. The Korean, Vietnam and Iraqi wars—this was also their rationale, or at least the claimed one.
In a proper society, national self-interest and individual rights are one and the same. In the decades leading up to Obama, the United States became less and less of a republic and moved more towards redistributive socialism. As a result, the justification for our wars faltered. Now that Obama is consolidating the trend towards democratic socialism (perhaps even dictatorship some day, as his IRS and NSA policies reveal), the idea of pursuing such a policy of fighting for freedom abroad seems ludicrous.
By Obama’s own definition and standards, the U.S. has no business at all going into Syria. The U.S. government should be spending its money on ever-more social welfare programs.
But Obama also believes in a government that makes people sacrifice. The more capable someone is, the more obliged one is to make a sacrifice—merely because it’s a sacrifice. That’s the underlying premise of socialism.
This is Obama’s dilemma.
Watching him resolve it will be interesting, but it won’t be pretty. Nothing this man does is pretty, because the founding principles of our nation are not his principles.
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