James Rubin demands that the U.S. ensnare itself in Syria’s conflict, and then has the gall to say this:
Second, it is astonishing to hear so much hand-wringing about the possibility of America entering another Middle Eastern war. That’s not going to happen; even the most hawkish of hawks are not proposing some sort of U.S. invasion.
Rubin is being disingenuous here, since even the measures that he calls for would require the U.S. to commit acts of war against the Syrian government. Of course the U.S. might be entering another war in the region. That is what Syria hawks want the U.S. to do, and it is absurd to claim otherwise.
Syria hawks are not yet proposing an invasion, because they know as well as anyone that there is no political support for that in the U.S. or in any other country. That doesn’t mean that an invasion or the preparation for an invasion won’t happen if the U.S. starts using force in Syria. The first thing to remember about all interventionist arguments is that they always minimize the costs and risks at the beginning while exaggerating the danger of “inaction.” When an interventionist dismisses the idea that ground forces may be necessary to achieve the goals he wants, he is usually trying to sell the audience on a bad policy that he knows the audience would reject if they were confronted with the full costs of “action.” It has become commonplace for supposedly embarrassed liberal hawks to say that they would not have supported the invasion of Iraq if they had known what the costs would have been. Now some of the same liberal hawks burned by their support for the Iraq war are giving the same low estimates of costs from a Syrian war that caused them to be duped ten years ago.
Keller did the same thing in his op-ed today when he said that putting American soldiers in Syria was “a step nobody favors.” Indeed, no one favors it today because Syria hawks are still trying to get the U.S. into the war. A blackmailer doesn’t demand more money until the first payment has been made. Should the U.S. commitment increase, it will be just a matter of time until some Syria hawks start demanding that the U.S. “do more” still because the less aggressive measures have not “worked.” That’s why the U.S. must not take the half-measures that Syria hawks currently demand, because they are just stepping stones to a much larger, costlier war down the road.