Why Syria?

On this morning’s program, David Webb — conservative talk show host on SiriusXM Patriot — made the following argument in defense of President Trump’s Syria bombing: In essence, he claimed, you don’t form judgments or conclusions about something without all the relevant facts. Our President has access to information most of us do not. So we shouldn’t disagree with him for that reason, Webb asserted.


The main error in this argument is the evasion. What’s being evaded? The fact that those of us who oppose military intervention in Syria don’t see it as the responsibility of the United States to save every country that needs us — especially when “saving” these countries does nothing to help them, and usually makes it worse.

The primary opposition to invading Syria is ideological. It’s not the ideology of the pacifists, who claim that governments have rights even when they plainly violate the rights of the individuals they govern. The ideology here is whether the United States is obliged to intervene for the sake of others, even when it’s not in our interest to do so.

Put simply, war is never in a nation’s interest other than in self-defense. How or why does bombing and invading Syria consist of self-defense? President Trump ran on a platform of America first. By putting Syria’s interests before America’s, how is that America first?

Just so we’re clear: The government of a free country always has the moral right to attack or topple the government of a country who does things like launch chemical attacks against its citizens. Terrorists and evil dictators have no rights. But to say the government of a free country has an obligation to save others is not the same thing as to say the government of a free country has the right to save others, if it suits our interests. The United States is no longer a fully free country, but it’s far more free than Syria or any other country, aside from Israel, in that part of the world, so the principle applies.

It falls on President Trump to explain to the American people why it’s in our interest to invade and attack Syria. I know he will reply that it’s not in our interest to let dictators get away with crossing the line and using chemical weapons against their own citizens. But that’s what dictators do. Dictators do whatever the hell they want. They’re sociopaths and criminals. Nobody’s saying they have rights. But why this dictator and not another? Why not attack a real threat to the United States, such as Iran or North Korea? I recognize there are, rationally speaking, pros and cons to launching an attack against those countries at this time. But surely toppling those dictatorships is more important than intervening in the impossible quagmire that is Syria.

Webb’s argument is the worst possible one. He’s basically saying, “Nothing to see here. Turn off your judgment. Turn off your opinions and trust your leader.” On one level, it makes sense. You don’t second-guess everything your doctor or car mechanic does. At a certain point, if you’re to use their services, you have to trust them. Or else don’t hire them. But the analogy is flawed. By that analogy, we’d refuse to question a doctor if he chose to do heart surgery in order to repair a broken leg, or brain surgery in order to resolve a problem with a cough. It’s entirely reasonable for the non-expert, without access to all the details or knowledge of the experts, to ask what is the sense behind such a move.

All things considered, I far prefer President Trump in the seat of Commander-in-Chief over anyone else who ran, and who had a remotely credible chance of winning. Trump or Hillary Clinton? Trump or Barack Obama? There’s no comparison. I believe Donald Trump truly loves the country while I am certain these other goons do not. But that doesn’t make Donald Trump automatically and always right. He still has to prove to us how Syria will not become the self-defeating, pointless boondoggle that Iraq and Afghanistan still are to this day. If we’re spending the money and, more importantly, the human lives of our soldiers, then why are we there?

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