Richard Cohen offers a useful opening into the thinking of interventionists:

I also favored an early intervention in the Syrian civil war, back when there were moderates and a little assistance could have gone a long way. Obama ruled that out. Nearly 200,000 people have been killed and millions made refugees. Maybe this would have happened anyway, but there was no real harm in trying… [bold mine-DL]

The sums up the mentality of interventionists as well as almost anything could. Here Cohen is talking about actively stoking an armed conflict and taking sides in a foreign civil war, and he assumes that there was “no real harm in trying.” Maybe he means that there would have been no real harm to Americans, but I think it is more than that. He assumes that there is “no real harm” in meddling in foreign conflicts because he simply can’t imagine that intervention can do more harm than good. As far as he is concerned, “good” interventions (i.e., the ones he approves of) can’t have harmful effects.

It’s true that no American lives were lost during the Libyan war, though some were lost later on, but the problem with this blithe approach to interfering in other nations’ affairs is that these interventions frequently do great harm to the countries that they have supposedly “helped.” That doesn’t seem to interest Cohen, since he will have already moved on to the next country to be “saved” by more benevolent meddling. The cavalier attitude towards directly contributing to a horrible war is unfortunately only too typical of people that lament the “dangers of inaction” while demanding measures that will directly contribute to the deaths of other people.

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