Home/Daniel Larison/The Christian Science Monitor Demands the “Right Sort” of Intervention Without Ever Bothering to Explain What It Is

The Christian Science Monitor Demands the “Right Sort” of Intervention Without Ever Bothering to Explain What It Is

The Christian Science Monitor has published an editorial calling for “Syrian intervention of the right sort,” which distinguishes itself from the usual pro-intervention arguments by saying absolutely nothing about the “right sort” of intervention that the editors want. It doesn’t even outline what the editors believe is the “wrong” sort of intervention. The closest that the editorial gets to explaining what the “right sort” of intervention would be is when it says this:

But other democratic nations can also unite in making sure this struggle isn’t one of all countries simply seeking their “national interests,” but that it remain a universal cause for freedom.

Unite in what way? To make sure of this how? We have no idea, and apparently neither do the CSM‘s editors. It describes and deplores the conflict in Syria, which is fine as far as it goes, but it has nothing to say for or against any proposed course of action. The editors clearly prefer that outside governments do something, but they do not and perhaps cannot articulate what that is. The editorial invests the incident with the downing of the Turkish jet with enormous significance, but doesn’t mention that the incident has resulted in a formal NATO statement and nothing more.

Putting the phrase national interests in quotes is a bit strange, since it seems to acknowledge implicitly that Western democratic states don’t have any interests at stake in Syria’s conflict. The claim that the conflict in Syria is “a universal cause for freedom” is a nice thought, but that seems to be as much of a projection of what the editors would like it to be as it is a description of what it is. Their editorial is a prime example of emoting-as-argument. It is also an example of how to make an argument for an interventionist policy in the absolutely least persuasive, most oversimplified way possible.

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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