Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 24, 2012/ 3 Sivan, 5772

The bad/good idea of removing Assad

By Victor Davis Hanson



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Who could not despise the tottering Bashar al-Assad dictatorship in Syria?

The Syrian strongman has killed some 10,000 protestors over the last year; thousands of Syrians are now refugees.

The autocracy arms and aids the terrorist organization Hezbollah. It targets democratic Israel with thousands of missiles, and still does its best to ruin neighboring Lebanon.

Theocratic and terrorist-sponsoring Iran has few allies -- but Syria remains its staunchest. Almost no country over the last half-century has proved more hostile to the United States than has Syria.

With sanctions not working, and with the Chinese, Iranians and Russians not eager to see Assad go, there is lots of talk that the United States and its allies must intervene to help the outmanned and outgunned Syrian opposition -- either with arms supplies, training for insurgent groups, or air cover.

At first glance, such a humanitarian intervention seems a good idea. A well-armed insurgency might fight its way to Damascus. Or we could bomb Assad out of power like we did Slobodan Milosevic from Serbia, or Muammar Gadhafi from Libya -- and without the use of ground troops or loss of American life.

Would not the spread of the Arab Spring to Damascus be wonderful -- especially given that it would weaken Iran and Shiite terrorist groups that have long killed Americans? Would not fewer die from collateral damage than from Assad's thugs?

But intervention, even if by air or through stealthy military assistance, requires some sort of strategy, and right now the United States does not seem to have any coherent one. We expected that post-Gadhafi Libya, and an Egypt without Hosni Mubarak, would be far better. They might be some day. But right now, emerging Islamic republics are hardly democratic. Some seem every bit as anti-American as were the dictatorships they replaced -- and could be even more intolerant of women, tribal minorities and Christians.

The point is not that we should only support idealists who promise an Arab version of Santa Monica, but that we do not oust one monster whom we are not responsible for only to empower one just as bad whom we would be responsible for.

Our three last interventions in the Middle East offer all sorts of different lessons, but one common theme predominates -- those whom we wished to help didn't seem to appreciate it. In Afghanistan, after a decade-long investment of blood and treasure, America is scheduled to withdraw in two years without any guarantee that Afghanistan won't be ruled by the Taliban, as it was in 2001. Our biggest problem seems to be our allied Afghan friends, who keep rioting and blowing up their American partners.

We successfully removed Saddam Hussein from Iraq. And by nobly staying on with thousands of troops, we defeated an insurgency and finally birthed a constitutional system in Iraq that is still viable -- but at a cost that the American public felt was not worth the eventual outcome.

In Libya, the model was to boast of United Nations approval, insert no ground troops, bomb Gadhafi, and support the insurgents. But because we far exceeded the very U.N. resolution we bragged about, we are not likely to get another such resolution for Syria. A bypassed Congress won't want to be snubbed again in favor of the U.N. And so far the Libyan air campaign has reminded us that if we do not send in ground troops and risk casualties, we have absolutely no influence on what follows.

Since we went into Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States has borrowed more than $9 trillion and is currently running serial $1 trillion deficits. We no longer pay for our wars, but instead borrow the money from the Chinese and others who calculate how to profit better than we from the ensuing chaos.

After lots of interventions, we have learned one thing about loud Arab reformers, especially those who were educated at Western universities: They damn us for supporting their dictators; they damn us for removing them; they damn us for interfering in their affairs when we help promote democracy; and they damn us as callous when we just let them be.

These cautionary tales do not necessarily mean that we should not help the Syrian dissidents, only that we must ask ourselves who exactly are these guys, how much will it cost to see them win, and when it is over will our new friends rule any more humanely and competently than the monsters that we remove?

And one final consideration: If intervening in Syria is to be a humanitarian venture, why would saving lives there be any more important than saving far more lives from far more dictators in Africa?

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.


Archives

© 2012, TMS

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles