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Barnett on Syria: “Speed the Killing” Because “We Can”

Thomas Barnett wins the prize for making the most cynical, amoral argument for Syrian intervention yet:

We should press the fight and speed the killing in Syria, not because it’s right or because we’re preventing anything.

We should do it because the opportunity has presented itself and we can.

This is not very different from the so-called Ledeen Doctrine, which held that every ten years “the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” It is somewhat refreshing to find a pro-war argument that dispenses with any pretense that attacking Syria would be justified on humanitarian grounds. Barnett’s argument is appalling in its own way, but it is not quite as misleading. A war for regime change in Syria would be nothing more than an exercise in power projection for its own sake.

Barnett pays some lip service to the strategic benefits that a Syrian war would supposedly provide, but that seems to be unimportant to him. What matters is that the U.S. participate in the conflict in some way, so that it doesn’t miss its opportunity to “be in on the kill.” The striking thing is that Barnett assumes Assad’s downfall is assured anyway, so by his own admission joining the conflict is unnecessary. This obviously has nothing to do with American interests or the security of regional allies and clients.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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