Why do we fight?
In the early 19th century, the German military theorist Carl von Clausewitz concluded that war is an act of politics pursued by other means. Two centuries on, a student of modern conflict might be forced to recast the doctrine for the globalized, 24-hour-news-cycle era: War is a political act pursued to the extent that politics itself permits.
In recent days, indeed, as Western leaders wrestled with claims of chemical weapons use on the outskirts of Damascus on Aug. 21, the balance between politics at home and the ability to project military power abroad seems to have shifted into a new and more circumspect era, as voters tire of fruitless wars overseas and of their leaders’ rationales for fighting them
Why the US shouldn’t fight:
Sir William also warned that “intervention never has been, never will be, never can be short, simple, or peaceable.”
“I do not say,” he added, “that England, Russia and France might not impose their will on the American belligerents; I do not argue the question whether it is right that they should do so. But this I venture to affirm, that they never will and never can accomplish it, except by recourse to arms; it may be by making war on the North; it may be by making war on the South, or, what is still more probable, it may be by making war upon both in turns.”
And so Sir William advised Britain to stay out of the American conflict.
Be careful using the Kosovo analogy:
But to win the vote, the Obama administration would be wise not to emphasize the Kosovo analogy. Instead, administration officials should admit that what they define as American interests in Syria are not based on a moral duty to prevent the slaughter of civilians. Nor is the goal to damage the Assad regime because of its strategic military alliance with Iran and Hezbollah.
Mr. Obama should stick to the issue of weapons of mass destruction, despite the inevitable echo of Iraq. By using chemical weapons against innocent men, women and children, Mr. Assad has breached one of the oldest international laws — the 1925 protocol banning the use of poison gas — to which Syria is a party. Although there are no enforcement mechanisms authorizing force in that treaty, much of the world would likely accept that a limited use of military force aimed at Syria’s chemical weapons capability is a legitimate and proportionate response to such a blatant violation.
And don’t forget how Iran could help?
While some have said attacking Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons would warn Iran not to build nuclear weapons, others still want to pursue talks with Tehran.
But by engaging more directly with Iran, could the United States defuse the situation in Syria and help bring about peace? Could an attack on Syria damage prospects for negotiations with Iran?
And finally, WWND: What Would Nietzsche Do?
Americans from President Obama to the average citizen are about to have a “Nietzsche moment”: the kind of experience that the German philosopher predicted when he said, “If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” In the case of our collective contemplation of what to do about the Syrian crisis, Nietzsche’s meaning may be that, in the face of such complexity, as much may be revealed about ourselves as about the dictator we seek to rein in.