Hugh Segal concludes his demand for a Syrian war with a ridiculous warning:
From the Middle East to the Indian Ocean, from the South China Sea to the Arabian Gulf and Korean Peninsula, sending a message that the West and its partners will avoid engagements at all cost is the best way to invite adventurism and rogue state aggression.
Refusing to become involved in another country’s civil war doesn’t send any such message. What does non-intervention in Syria tell North Korea about the U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea? Nothing at all. As redundant and outdated as the security guarantee to South Korea may be, the U.S. is legally obligated to come to its defense. Repelling an act of international aggression against a treaty ally is significantly different from going out of one’s way to become involved in a conflict in which one has nothing at stake. Segal wants us to believe that a lack of new Western military adventurism will encourage other states to engage in adventurism, but there is no reason why this would be the case.
Indeed, resisting the impulse to be drawn into every possible conflict that comes along is a good way to conserve the resources and political will needed for making good on U.S. commitments elsewhere. Having exhausted the patience of Western nations and strained the resources of Western militaries with nearly a decade of unnecessary warfare in the Near East, there are still some hawkish interventionists unable to recognize that their preferred policies in the last decade are responsible for a large part of Western governments’ unwillingness to plunge into yet another war. No one could review recent Western military actions around the world and honestly conclude that there is a Western desire to “avoid engagements at all cost.” The U.S. and some of its allies have been waging wars of choice on and off for the last thirteen years. This military hyperactivity has simultaneously alarmed other major powers and imposed significant costs on Western governments. Other major powers have become even more wary of Western intentions and Western resources have been drained in the process.