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Before The (New) Syria War Begins

US-led coalition airstrike in Kobane, Syria (2014) (Orlok/Shutterstock)

It seems inevitable now that President Trump is going to go into Syria with guns blazing. Before this happens, let’s review:


Jack Goldsmith and Oona Hathaway want to know what happens after US bombs stop falling. Excerpt:

4. Unless we are willing to stay and help rebuild, there is no guarantee that life will be better for the Syrian people even if we succeed in ridding Syria of Assad. Bombs from above have the power to destroy, but not to rebuild. The most recent such humanitarian intervention—the NATO intervention in Libya in 2013 in which the U.S. participated—has not achieved what many hoped. After NATO intervened, local forces killed the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, and his government fell to pieces. The result was chaos and disorder. Even though the action was Security Council-approved, there was little international appetite to help rebuild the country. Post-Gaddafi Libya remains torn by civil war and has become a breeding ground for the Islamic State.

5. Lastly, and perhaps most dangerously, the coming air strikes raise the foreseeable possibility of sparking a much larger and more dangerous conflict with Russia or Iran or both. Indeed, in February, a U.S. strike killed a number of “Russian mercenaries” in Syria. Russia did little in response, but there’s no guarantee that it would similarly remain quiet if there is a repeat performance—or if strikes hit the Russian military forces working closely with Assad and his military.

They also point out that, from a legal point of view:

If you support the coming air strike in Syria, you are supporting a rationale that allows the president to use air power unilaterally basically whenever he sees fit.

Remember, John Bolton is at the president’s side, advising him in this crisis.

Remember too how a number of non-interventionist types voted for Trump thinking that he would be less likely to entangle America in things like this? I do.

There are no good options here, only various degrees of bad ones.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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