Home/Daniel Larison/The Terrible “Score Settling” Argument for Intervention in Syria

The Terrible “Score Settling” Argument for Intervention in Syria

This line from Max Boot sums up how irrational the position of many Syria hawks is:

The intervention of Hezbollah into the conflict has only added more compelling reasons for action. As Lee Smith has noted in the Weekly Standard, the U.S. has a lot of scores to settle with Hezbollah stretching all the way back to its murderous bombings of our embassy and Marine barracks in Lebanon in the 1980s. This is a perfect opportunity to settle accounts and in the process weaken this Iranian proxy movement.

U.S. intervention in the Lebanese civil war was a terrible mistake that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Americans. Fortunately, President Reagan realized that he had been wrong to involve the U.S. in the conflict, and withdrew U.S. forces from Lebanon not long after that. To seek to “settle” a score from 1983 by increasing U.S. involvement in a potentially even more dangerous civil war in Syria is nothing more than the foolish pursuit of revenge. It also demonstrates a complete failure to understand the original error of the Lebanon intervention, which Boot and Smith think Reagan ended too quickly. If intervention in Lebanon should have taught us anything, it is that the U.S. has no business meddling in another country’s civil war. To cite the costs of the disastrous Lebanon intervention as a “compelling” reason to intervene in Syria is perverse. If the U.S. made policy decisions today based on carrying out vendettas from thirty years before, there would be no end to the wars that we would feel “compelled” to join or start. The truth is that there are no compelling reasons for the U.S. to become more involved in Syria’s conflict. Many Syria hawks have been desperately trying to find some for two years, but to no avail.

As far as most Americans are concerned, the news that Hizbullah is directly engaged in the fighting in Syria is another reason for the U.S. to steer clear of the conflict. If Hizbullah wants to fritter away its resources and reputation fighting for Assad, that is their mistake. It shouldn’t be taken as an invitation for the U.S. to blunder into a new war.

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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