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 Sept. 13, 2013 / 9 Tishrei, 5774

Is Syria the end of U.S. interventionism?

By Cathy Young

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | As President Barack Obama prepares to address the nation on military intervention in Syria, he faces skepticism and opposition across the political spectrum. Some of the president's critics blame this lack of support on his own indecisive approach. But perhaps they have it backward and Obama's ambivalence is a response to a terrible situation with no good choices -- a situation that may represent, at least for now, the last stop on the road of American interventionism.

The use of United States military power abroad in the last hundred years has rested on two rationales: the defense of our national interest and security, and humanitarian goals such as promoting freedom or preventing genocide. Most U.S. military missions, from World War II to Vietnam to Iraq, have relied on both self-interested and altruistic justifications.

In Syria, the reasons for intervention seem extremely muddled -- even with credible reports that the regime of Bashar Assad has used chemical weapons in a deadly attack on rebel-controlled areas. For instance, American Enterprise Institute scholar Frederick Kagan asserts that "vital U.S. interests are at stake": specifically, "preventing terrorists from acquiring chemical weapons" and stopping al-Qaida from gaining a stronghold in the region.

Yet U.S. intervention -- particularly the limited, no-boots-on-the-ground airstrikes that Kagan believes are better than no action -- may well make these dangerous scenarios more, not less, likely. Secretary of State John Kerry's assertion that Islamist radicals have only minor influence over the rebel forces is disputed by many military and intelligence experts.

Does the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons against its people represent a unique humanitarian crisis that demands intervention? It is clearly a horrific act -- a textbook case of a circumstance where the concept of "responsibility to protect" should apply. According to this principle, crafted in the 2000s and embraced by the United Nations, a state has the duty to protect its citizens from mass atrocities and may be legitimately targeted for military intervention if it perpetrates or condones such crimes.

In practice, this noble doctrine is fraught with problems. One, the responsibility of being the "globocop," tends to fall on the United States, as the world's only superpower, particularly when geopolitical rivalries prevent international consensus. As a result, our resources are drained and we get slammed for inaction or for imperialism.

Two, attempts to avert slaughter may result in slaughter against different victims, particularly in a conflict where the good guys are hard to find. (Witness the recent video of Syrian rebels coldbloodedly executing prisoners.)

Three, how do we decide which crimes merit intervention? Is it the number of casualties (still unclear in the Syrian attack)? The method of killing? Are a thousand deaths by sarin gas worse than tens of thousands by bombs or bullets?

If U.S. interventionism is indeed at a dead end, this is no cause to cheer: None of the known alternatives are good. In a global world, true isolationism is not feasible: Both secular dictatorships and fanatical religious regimes with too much power tend to breed war and terrorism and undermine commerce, which is clearly antithetical to our national interest. And, morally, giving up on the ideal of protection for basic human rights across national lines is a sad defeat for humanity.

Someday that ideal may no longer be a pipe dream -- perhaps when more of the world's major powers are on the side of freedom and human rights. Until then, we should certainly retain the option of intervention abroad. But Syria may be a test case for drawing the line at wars with no clear purpose or benefit.


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.

JWR contributor Cathy Young is a regular contributor to Reason magazine and Newsday. Comment by clicking here.

© 2013, Cathy Young. This originally appeared in Newsday.