Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

It's fiction to pretend that the most powerful nation can ever be truly "neutral" in foreign conflicts.

By Shadi Hamid

The eight years of the Obama presidency have offered us a natural experiment of sorts. Not all U.S. presidents are similar on foreign policy, and not all (or any) U.S. presidents are quite like Barack Obama. After two terms of George W. Bush's aggressive militarism, we have had the opportunity to watch whether attitudes toward the U.S. -- and U.S. military force -- would change, if circumstances changed.

President Obama shared at least some of the assumptions of both the hard Left and foreign-policy realists, that the use of direct U.S. military force abroad, even with the best of intentions, often does more harm then good. Better, then, to "do no harm."

This has been Barack Obama's position on the Syrian Civil War, the key foreign-policy debate of our time.

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The president's discomfort with military action against the Syrian regime seems deep and instinctual and oblivious to changing facts on the ground. When the debate over intervention began, around 5,000 Syrians had been killed. Now it's close to 500,000.

Yet, Obama's basic orientation toward the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has remained unchanged. This suggests that Obama, like many others who oppose U.S. intervention against Assad, is doing so on "principled" or, to put it differently, ideological grounds.

The Left has always had a utopian bent, believing that life, not just for Americans, but for millions abroad, can be made better through human agency (rather than, say, simply hoping that the market will self-correct).

The problem, though, is that the better, more just world that so many hope for is simply impossible without the use of American military force. At first blush, such a claim might seem self-evidently absurd. Haven't we all seen what happened in Iraq? The 2003 Iraq invasion was one of the worst strategic blunders in the history of U.S. foreign policy.

Yet, it's not clear what exactly this has to do with the Syrian conflict, which is almost the inverse of the Iraq war. In Iraq, civil war happened after the U.S. invasion.

In Syria, civil war broke out in the absence of U.S. intervention.

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"If the United States announced tomorrow morning that it would no longer use its military for anything but to defend the borders of the homeland, many would instinctively cheer, perhaps not quite realizing what this would mean in practice.

But that is the conundrum the Left is now facing. A world without mass slaughter, of the sort of we are seeing every day in Syria, cannot ever come to be without American power. But perhaps this will prove one of the positive legacies of the Obama era: showing that the alternative of American disinterest and disengagement is not necessarily better.

For those, though, that care about ideology -- holding on to the idea that U.S. military force is somehow inherently bad -- more than they care about actual human outcomes, the untenability of their position will persist.

That, too, will be a tragedy, since at a time when many on the Right are turning jingoistic or isolationist, there is a need for voices that not just believe in U.S. power, but believe that that power -- still, for now, preeminent -- can be used for better, more moral ends."

Interesting, controversial article by a prolific writer on the subject.

www.theatlantic.com

Not sure I agree with all he says, but he makes his points well.

#1 | Posted by Corky at 2016-10-19 01:33 PM | Reply

Better, then, to "do no harm."

Then why did little o destabilize Libya and Syria and Ukraine?....

#2 | Posted by aescal at 2016-10-19 02:36 PM | Reply

rofl.... yeah, those places were SO stable.

#3 | Posted by Corky at 2016-10-19 02:39 PM | Reply

The problem is Obama, both Clintons and both Bushes openly declare their belief in "American Exceptionalism" which becomes a philosophical public justification for intervention in the lives of people whom they have no authority over. The tragedy and illegality grow with their indifference to the suffering they promulgate with their arrogant stupidity. It never worked with the Vietnamese, Afghans or Iraqis and it isn't going to work in Libya and Syria. But lets keep doing it anyway. Who cares, the wasteful inhumane spending is most important.

The decision to de-industrialize the USA makes maintenance of a military force increasingly more difficult and unsustainable. Human civilization has numerous examples of Empires which crumbled, either because of over-extending the military or the associated environmental destruction which the military causes, directly and indirectly.

#4 | Posted by nutcase at 2016-10-19 02:39 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Lets get a few facts straight here. Climate change driven famine in Syria led to a humanitarian crisis and some accompanying instability. But the USA decided to unseat Assad when he sided with Iran instead of Qatar for oil pipeline plans into Europe. Just like when the USA destabilized Ukraine when its democratically elected President signed a trade deal with Russia instead of the EU.

We live in a sea of lies. "In Syria, civil war broke out in the absence of U.S. intervention" is just another US lie, repeated frequently in the Western mass media. Rock musicians exhibit more concern for the well being of poverty plagued countries than the USA ever does.

#5 | Posted by nutcase at 2016-10-19 02:47 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

This is a point that Foreign Policy experts have been making for years but most of the Left have ignored:

) As for those who actually live in the Middle East, a less militaristic America has done little to temper anti-Americanism. In the three countries -- Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon -- for which Pew has survey data for both Bush's last year and either 2014 or 2015, favorability toward the U.S. is significantly worse under Obama today than it was in 2008. Why exactly is up for debate, but we can at the very least say that a drastic drawdown of U.S. military personnel -- precisely the policy pushed for by Democrats in the wake of Iraq's failure -- does not seem to have bought America much goodwill.

In Iraq, civil war happened after the U.S. invasion. In Syria, civil war broke out in the absence of U.S. intervention.

#6 | Posted by Rightocenter at 2016-10-19 03:16 PM | Reply

Then why did little o destabilize Libya and Syria and Ukraine?....

Good question. I'm guessing he couldn't get a tee time, so he said, screw it, I'll just start destabilizing countries.

#7 | Posted by snoofy at 2016-10-19 03:20 PM | Reply

The world would be a better place without religion.

#8 | Posted by 726 at 2016-10-19 03:39 PM | Reply

ISIS is led by former Iraqi Army commanders whom GW fired. It's more about land and power and wealth than religion.

#9 | Posted by Corky at 2016-10-19 03:41 PM | Reply

The world would be a better place without religion.

#8 | POSTED BY 726

Do you realize how much charity work the various religions perform?

#10 | Posted by JeffJ at 2016-10-19 03:43 PM | Reply

Who cares? Like religion has a lock on charity.

#11 | Posted by snoofy at 2016-10-19 03:45 PM | Reply

Then why did little o destabilize Libya and Syria and Ukraine?....

#2 | Posted by aescal at 2016-10-19 02:36 PM | Reply | Flag:

Dont' forget Hounduras.

#12 | Posted by Sully at 2016-10-19 03:50 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

- Libya and Syria and Ukraine

As if those were stable countries. What a laugh.

#13 | Posted by Corky at 2016-10-19 03:52 PM | Reply

#13

Iraq under Saddam.. As if it were a stable country ~ CTRorky

#14 | Posted by aescal at 2016-10-19 03:54 PM | Reply

It was very stable under Saddam; dictatorship stable.

Had the people already rebelled there, we might have supported them with air cover legitimately.

As it was, we over-reacted.... but hey, a War Pres is always easier to re elect, as GW's campaign manager said.

#15 | Posted by Corky at 2016-10-19 03:58 PM | Reply

Iraq was stable, Aescal.
Be a man and admit it.

#16 | Posted by snoofy at 2016-10-19 04:05 PM | Reply

I agree with Nutcase's post #5. The US played a direct role in the deterioration of Syrian into a state of civil war. Don't kid yourself that somehow the "lack of intervention" by the US was a factor. The opposite is true.

#17 | Posted by moder8 at 2016-10-19 04:21 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"The war grew out of the unrest of the 2011 Arab Spring and escalated to armed conflict after President Bashar al-Assad's government violently repressed protests calling for his removal.[127

On 29 July 2011, seven defecting Syrian officers formed the Free Syrian Army (FSA), composed of defected Syrian Armed Forces officers and soldiers, aiming "to bring this regime (the Assad government) down" with united opposition forces.[186][187] On 31 July, a nationwide crackdown nicknamed the "Ramadan Massacre" resulted in the death of at least 142 people and hundreds of injuries.[188]

In January 2012, Assad began using large-scale artillery operations against the insurgency, which led to the destruction of many civilian homes due to indiscriminate shelling.[210][211]

American jets began bombing ISIL in Syria on 23 September 2014, raising U.S. involvement in the war-torn country." excerpts

en.wikipedia.org

The Syrian Civil War started long before US involvement.

And had we and NATO intervened with air support for the rebels, the then 50K casualties and thousands of refugees might not have turned into 500,000 casualties and millions of refugees today.

Which is one of the article author's points.

#18 | Posted by Corky at 2016-10-19 04:40 PM | Reply | Funny: 2 | Newsworthy 1

Flooding a warzone with weapons and propping up the weaker factions so that they can continue fight longer, but still with no chance of winning, always reduces casaulties!


#19 | Posted by Sully at 2016-10-19 04:52 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 4

= no chance of winning,

The Psychic is funny in this one. They haven't lost yet, and with early help it might have all been over by now. Of course, my opinions aren't facts like yours, but they at least make sense.

#20 | Posted by Corky at 2016-10-19 04:57 PM | Reply

This entire article is just a justification for war in Syria. Which is why Corky loves it.

If Hillary gets her no-fly zone, there will be war with Russia.

And we shouldn't be in Syria in the first place. It has no strategic value to us. And the rebels we are supporting all seem to be Islamist's with questionable ties. What kind of government will they make? An Islamist one, and Shiite, aligned with Iran (Assad is a Sunni).

So the article is just poorly thought out war-mongering crap.

#21 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2016-10-19 05:14 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

- It has no strategic value to us.

Ah, the humanitarian view. Nice. Actually it does, taking out a Russian/Iranian client.

-poorly thought out war-mongering crap.

That would be your support for Trump's plan to put 30K US troops on the ground in Syria.... 'cept for the parts he wants to nuke, hopefully.

Talk about your warmongerers....

#22 | Posted by Corky at 2016-10-19 05:18 PM | Reply

Corky makes claims which fly in the face of the fact that we lost the military conflict in Vietnam but still managed to reduce the country to chaos and extreme poverty opening the door for horrific tyranny. Same thing in Afghanistan. Same thing going on in Iraq and Libya.

But, Syria is special, because there we actually used ISIS and al Qaida to destabilize the country. What a team.

Let me repeat. The trigger event that turns Iraq and Libya into a US war is selling oil in Euros. The trigger event in Ukraine was a deal with Russia and the trigger v=event in Syria was Assad's refusal to build a pipeline for Qatar. He wanted to build one for Iran, which meant war.

#23 | Posted by nutcase at 2016-10-19 05:25 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

#22 "That would be your support for Trump's plan to put 30K US troops on the ground in Syria"

Which will never happen, because Iraq wont allow it.

#24 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2016-10-19 05:31 PM | Reply

#24

So, Iraq will be telling your hero Trump what to do? There's another reason not to support him... as if a rational person needed one... how are the Grays voting, btw?

-we actually used ISIS and al Qaida to destabilize the country.

The Conspiracy! theory is always the logic behind all your claims. It's pretty lame, really.

#25 | Posted by Corky at 2016-10-19 05:42 PM | Reply

The trigger event that turns Iraq and Libya into a US war is selling oil in Euros

To whom was it sold? And why did Europe object?

#26 | Posted by snoofy at 2016-10-19 05:44 PM | Reply

Then why did little o destabilize Libya and Syria and Ukraine?....

#2 | POSTED BY AESCAL

So Mind control Obama forced Putin to attack Ukraine? And Georgia, too? As a child, did he sucker the USSR into their afghan debacle, too?

You and Donnie really really need to lay off snorting those diet pills.

#27 | Posted by northguy3 at 2016-10-19 05:59 PM | Reply | Funny: 1

The issue isn't the US military, it's their civilian handlers. Has been for decades. Empires are like that.

#28 | Posted by northguy3 at 2016-10-19 06:01 PM | Reply

Drumpf's plan to put 30K US troops on the ground in Syria"
Which will never happen, because Iraq wont allow it.

Iraq has its hands full running itself. Not sure what they could do about 30000 American troops in Syria.

#29 | Posted by northguy3 at 2016-10-19 06:03 PM | Reply

Flooding a warzone with weapons and propping up the weaker factions so that they can continue fight longer, but still with no chance of winning, always reduces casaulties!

#19 | POSTED BY SULLY

Yeah, curse that FDR for arming Russia, China and Great Britain. Should have let those snuggly, fun loving fascists win. If it was good enough for Chamberlain, it's good enough for Sully.

#30 | Posted by northguy3 at 2016-10-19 06:06 PM | Reply | Funny: 1 | Newsworthy 1

#29 Trumps plan was to put 30,000 troops in Iraq, not Syria (as Corky said), in order to fight ISIS.

He's since backed off that. Now his sekrit plan is to let the generals come up with something, which is probably going to be "stay the course with drones and bombing", because the ISIS was is expected to end in one to two years.

#31 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2016-10-19 06:08 PM | Reply

#30 You know those factions actually won, right? Sully's point is that the rebels have no chance of victory.

#32 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2016-10-19 06:09 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Do you realize how much charity work the various religions perform?

#10 | POSTED BY JEFFJ

What % of their income goes to charity, other than charity that keeps them making more money? Versus them paying income taxes on their take? And does paying off abuse victims or buying Lear jets constitute charity?

There is just a huge assumption that most of what you give to a church helps somebody other than the church itself. Smaller churches tend to consume everything that comes in for pastor salaries and building maintenance.

#33 | Posted by northguy3 at 2016-10-19 06:14 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

-He's since backed off that.

He's already said he knows more about ISIS than the Generals. Why would he listen to them?

He keeps asking them why he can't use nukes, this Peace Pres Trump of yours.

- the rebels have no chance of victory.

5 years and they are still fighting. If we had done for them early on what we did in Bosnia, we might have saved nearly 1/2 a million lives and millions of refugees.

#34 | Posted by Corky at 2016-10-19 06:42 PM | Reply

#34 5 years and they are still fighting. If we had done for them early on what we did in Bosnia, we might have saved nearly 1/2 a million lives and millions of refugees.

And Syria would be under control of Islamist Shiites, who make up the rebels.

#35 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2016-10-19 07:43 PM | Reply

-And Syria would be under control of Islamist Shiites, who make up the rebels.

That's Rodham's "anti-ISIS" plan. Overthrow Assad and let ISIS run it. Claim that's for humanitarian reasons when it's really just a neo-con, geopolitical chess match with Russia and anyone else opposed to U.S. hegemony.

#36 | Posted by nullifidian at 2016-10-19 08:17 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

#36 | POSTED BY NULLIFIDIAN

Your posts are becoming increasingly funny and I mean that as a compliment.

#37 | Posted by JeffJ at 2016-10-19 08:27 PM | Reply

#21 Heliumrat,
Assad is not Sunni, he's Alawite, closer to Shia. Which explains how Iran and Syria have been allies for decades.

#38 | Posted by bruceaz at 2016-10-19 08:46 PM | Reply

15 years of fighting in Afghanistan getting nowhere. Tens of millions of innocent people have been killed or displaced AFTER US military intervention, not before. The notion that early US intervention in Syria will save lives is a fantasy, but an important part of Western propaganda within a larger economic war. The latest war of choice by the USA.

Its all BS and its bad for you.

#39 | Posted by nutcase at 2016-10-19 09:06 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

#38 He heads the Baath party is Syria, so....

#40 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2016-10-19 10:56 PM | Reply

Do you realize how much charity work the various religions perform?

#10 | POSTED BY JEFFJ AT 2016-10-19 03:43 PM | FLAG:

From the crusades to ISIS I would say religion is the source of more pain and death than charity. You can still feed the poor without a religious organization, food banks all over the nation do so every day.

#41 | Posted by 726 at 2016-10-20 07:43 AM | Reply

From the crusades to ISIS I would say religion is the source of more pain and death than charity. You can still feed the poor without a religious organization, food banks all over the nation do so every day.
#41 | POSTED BY 726

Godless Communism resulted in the murder of 100-120 million people in the 20th Century. The eradication of religion wouldn't change human nature.

#42 | Posted by JeffJ at 2016-10-20 08:21 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Yeah, curse that FDR for arming Russia, China and Great Britain. Should have let those snuggly, fun loving fascists win. If it was good enough for Chamberlain, it's good enough for Sully.

#30 | Posted by northguy3 at 2016-10-19 06:06 PM | Reply | Funny:

First of all, that in no way addresses the point I made about how our actions have prolonged the war and increase casualties.

Secondly, making ridiculous comparisons to WWII is akin to screaming "I have nothing!". There similarities between the two situations are superficial at best. We are arming people who behead children and then brag about it. This isn't World War II.

#43 | Posted by Sully at 2016-10-20 09:29 AM | Reply | Funny: 1

The only Syrian truth that all parties seem to agree upon is that hundreds of thousands are dead and Syria is shattered. But, each points to the other side for culpability of the ongoing genocide.

The truth is that Syria has been destroyed and its future is bloody and bleak, regardless of the regional and global ‘winners' of the conflict, the Syrian people have already lost. (Dr. Ramzy Baroud)

#44 | Posted by nutcase at 2016-10-20 09:59 AM | Reply

We can do away with our military - right after Russia and China eliminate theirs.

#45 | Posted by MSgt at 2016-10-20 12:30 PM | Reply

We can't do away with out military. But there is no reason for it to police the world. It should live up to its name, Department of Defense.

#46 | Posted by nutcase at 2016-10-20 02:55 PM | Reply

The Syrian Civil War started long before US involvement.

#18 | POSTED BY CORKY AT 2016-10-19 04:40 PM | FLAG:

You are cherry picking involvement by using US air strikes as a starting point. This is a highly dishonest position, even for you.

#47 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2016-10-20 03:37 PM | Reply

There was civil war there before any overt US involvement of any sort. The use of military force is an obvious starting point, as should be obvious even to you.

#48 | Posted by Corky at 2016-10-20 03:59 PM | Reply

Yes Corky - we have to burn the brown village before we can save it.

You softening the ground for a Hillary Invasion to pay back the Saudi donation to the Clinton Foundation?

#49 | Posted by Prolix247 at 2016-10-21 12:19 AM | Reply

Just prepping for your guy Trump's 30K US troops on the ground in Syria. And or the nukes he wants to use there... or both.

Your replonking is imminent.

#50 | Posted by Corky at 2016-10-21 12:24 AM | Reply

You mean to actually develop and wield goodwill?

You don't have it in you, and will continue to be the main destabilizing agent in the world.

#51 | Posted by fresno500 at 2016-10-21 04:21 AM | Reply

Plonk all you want coward.

Independent thought is dangerous to you...

#52 | Posted by Prolix247 at 2016-10-21 11:32 AM | Reply

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