The Obama administration is once again debating whether to create a “no-fly zone” in Syria. The good news is that there seems to be little chance of that happening:
Mr. Obama did not attend the meeting, which was led by his national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, and no formal decision was made. But advocates of a greater American role left discouraged [bold mine-DL].
Some said they suspected that Pentagon officials, who have been resistant to further American military intervention in Syria, inflated the figures to persuade the president not to change his policy.
Skeptics of intervention saw no indications that Mr. Obama would reverse himself, viewing the process as mainly an exercise in due diligence.
It’s good that the White House is still rejecting calls for a Syrian “no-fly zone,” but the fact that there are still people inside the administration pushing an idea as terrible and reckless as this one is worrisome. As the article says, there is a growing consensus in Washington in favor of a “no-fly zone,” which just reflects our politicians’ bias in favor of “doing something” regardless of the merits of the action being proposed. When there is enough bipartisan agitation for military action in Washington, Obama has proven to be far less “reluctant” to intervene than many people imagine.
If skeptics “saw no indications that Mr. Obama would reverse himself,” that tells us only that he isn’t ready to change his position right now. There have been sudden reversals before, most notably in the case of Libya. Before the Libyan intervention began, Obama seemed to be firmly opposed to ordering military action, and then in a matter of days he switched to favoring it. Back in 2011, it was clear that the Pentagon wanted no part of a new war, but their objections were ignored. That doesn’t mean that Obama will end up endorsing yet another reckless military intervention, but it reminds us that he has been and can be pushed into taking more aggressive measures that he has previously mocked.