Aaron David Miller makes a baffling statement:
But the latest use of chemicals by Assad — perhaps their most extensive deployment since Saddam Hussein killed thousands of Kurds in Halabja – mandates a response, no matter how ineffective or risky it proves to be [bold mine-DL].
Miller often likes to distinguish between “smart” and “dumb” policies. Last year, he said that “the appropriate dividing line for Americans should not be between Democrat and Republican, left and right, liberal and conservative, but between dumb and smart.” When responding to calls to suspend aid to Egypt following the coup and crackdown on protesters, he dubbed an idea “even dumber” than the “dumb” ideas he has promoted in the past.
So it seems fitting to observe that the sentence from Miller I quoted above is possibly one of the dumbest things anyone has written about Syria in the last two years. Assuming the Syrian government used chemical weapons, it doesn’t mandate an American response. The U.S. may choose to attack Syria, but it isn’t required to do so by any international convention or commitment that it has made. To say that the U.S. must respond is false, but it’s the second part of this formulation that is breathtakingly foolish. The U.S. has to respond to something “no matter how ineffective or risky” that response is? Oh, all right. Costs and consequences are irrelevant to the decision to start bombing another country, and action has to be taken for the sake of taking action. There could be no better statement of irresponsible do-somethingism than this.