Jeffrey Goldberg makes a questionable assertion on Iran and Syria:

Whether we like it or not, we are in a conflict with Iran, and our credibility is on the line.

It’s true that many American politicians and pundits assume that the U.S. and Iran must be in conflict, and many of them seem to want us to be in a conflict with Iran, but actively engaging in a proxy war against Iran and its allies in a bitter civil war is something that the U.S. has chosen to do even though it didn’t have to. The idea that “our credibility is on the line” in this conflict with Iran is exactly the kind of argument that we were bound to hear once the U.S. committed itself to aiding the opposition, but even now the “credibility” argument is just so much hot air. Backing into an unnecessary war because we feel that we are forced to in order to save face will only make the U.S. look foolish and confused. Unfortunately, because so many people will insist that our “credibility” is now at stake, we will be hearing even more demands for greater military involvement. It’s important that the administration ignore them and avoid compounding its latest error with more mistakes.

David Barno explains why:

If it fails to save the rebels, pressure on the United States to impose a no-fly zone over Syria will be immense. But despite the tragic loss of life, U.S. interests are far better served by exercising restraint, supporting Syria’s neighbors, and performing a humanitarian role. After 10 years of bloody and inconclusive U.S. involvement in the wars of this region, slipping into another military intervention in this part of the world defies both common sense and broader U.S. vital interests.

Barno is right: the U.S. is much better-served by exercising restraint here. I worry that our government and our political leaders are simply incapable of this, but I’d be happy to be wrong about that.