In the midst of a bad argument for intervention in Syria, Leon Wieseltier says this:

Assad is the client of Iran and the patron of Hezbollah: his destruction is an American dream.

This is a common assertion that advocates of Syrian intervention make, but it’s not at all clear that this is true. It would be much more accurate to say that Assad’s destruction is something that some Americans unduly preoccupied with Iranian regional influence dream about. While there is presumably no sympathy for Assad’s continued hold on power, his destruction isn’t a “dream” that most Americans share. Because Assad’s destruction could very well entail the destruction or expulsion of minority communities in Syria, it’s not obvious that this is even a good dream to have.

It’s also not true that “the [strategic] imperative to intervene in Syria is far more considerable than the imperative to intervene in Bosnia was.” The comparison with Bosnia is a bad one, as I and others have explained several times, and relying on this comparison causes interventionists to imagine that U.S. action in Syria will lead to a similar outcome. It’s equally important to understand that there is no strategic imperative for the United States to intervene in Syria. Helping to collapse the Syrian regime may be a setback to Iran, but it will be a much greater humanitarian and security calamity for Syria’s neighbors (all of whom are clients or allies of the U.S.), the resulting upheaval will very likely strengthen the Iraqi government’s ties with Iran, and it will gain the U.S. nothing except blame for having contributed to the slaughter.

Advertisement