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The Many “Non-Syria” Arguments for Attacking Syria

Noam Scheiber notices [1] the major weakness in the administration case on Syria:

Which makes it hard not to draw an obvious conclusion: Obama has resorted to non-Syria arguments for intervening in Syria because he can’t justify an intervention on its own terms [bold mine-DL]. That was the message his speech blared on Tuesday.

Scheiber doesn’t mention this in his article, but many Syria hawks do the same thing all the time, and have been doing it long before Obama started talking about military action. They justify intervention in Syria by worrying what not attacking Syria will mean for Iran’s nuclear program, U.S. credibility (usually with Iran), U.S. “leadership” in the world, or more recently for the norm against using chemical weapons. Many Syria hawks are so preoccupied with the implications of not attacking that they have never managed to put together a coherent argument explaining why a U.S. attack would produce a better outcome for the U.S. or Syria. The non-Syria arguments are all flawed in different ways, but the main reason that they fail to persuade skeptics that intervention in Syria is merited is that they are not arguments for why direct military intervention in Syria is justified, legal, or likely to improve anything in the country or wider region. It is very difficult to win over skeptics when every other pro-intervention argument feels like an attempt to distract the audience or change the subject in order to avoid acknowledging how unnecessary and unwise an attack would be.

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3 Comments To "The Many “Non-Syria” Arguments for Attacking Syria"

#1 Comment By Chris Ferrell On September 12, 2013 @ 9:20 am

Daniel, not only do arguments motivated by reasons that are outside of Syria fail to make a case for war in that country, but they are morally repugnant. How can anyone justify killing Syrians as a means to change the behavior of the government of a different country?

#2 Comment By James Canning On September 12, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

There seems no reason to doubt Rouhani’s clear understanding Iran needs to make a deal regarding is nuclear programme. Foolish US attack on Syria would be unhelpful.

#3 Comment By Myron Hudson On September 12, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

I’d like to hear these same hawks explain where our leadership, standing and credibility is in regard to our allowing North Korea to develop nuclear weapons.