Home/Daniel Larison/The Folly of Fighting Both Sides in Syria (III)

The Folly of Fighting Both Sides in Syria (III)

John McCain and Lindsey Graham want the U.S. to fight against both sides of Syria’s civil war:

The reality is that defeating Islamic State also requires defeating Bashar Assad.

As I said before, this is an insane position. If “destroying” ISIS is already an unrealistic goal, and it is, setting out to defeat both ISIS and the Assad regime at the same time is even more fanciful. Destroying the latter would probably be relatively easier, and we know that the U.S. is capable of overthrowing established foreign governments by force, but in doing so the U.S. would plunge all of Syria into even greater chaos. If the war against ISIS also requires the U.S. to go to war with the Syrian government now or later, there is no way that the outcome will be worth the costs to the U.S., and those costs continue to grow with each new goal that hawks want to tack on to the ever-expanding war.

Just as ISIS poses no direct threat to the U.S., the Syrian government is no threat to American security, so our government has no compelling reason to fight either of them. As much of a mistake as the current war is, it would be inexcusable to widen the war by attacking the Syrian government. Not only would this demand a much larger commitment of U.S. forces, but it would mean that the U.S. would “own” the aftermath of the war for many years to come at an unknown cost in lives, resources, and wealth. If this is where the war against ISIS is eventually leading, it is vitally important that the war be halted now before the U.S. keeps blundering into new and dangerous commitments.

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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