Monday, September 2, 2013


President Obama has asked Congress (and by extension the American people) for authority to order military strikes against Syria.  In my view this request should be rejected.

I think American policy should embody a presumption against war.  We should undertake military actions only when they are clearly in the national interest.  The connection to the national interest in this case is extremely tenuous.  Syria poses no direct threat to the US.  There is a claim that Syria has violated an international norm.  Be that as it may I believe a more important international norm is that nations shouldn't attack other nations absent an immediate and direct threat which isn't present here. 

It is also very unclear what any American strikes are expected to accomplish.  There appears to be a significant danger of mission creep.  If our first strikes don't appear to accomplish much other than killing a bunch of people are we going to get more and more involved in an attempt to justify our earlier involvement?

In short I don't see a compelling case for military action so I would refrain.


  1. Difficult problem, I know. Still poison gas is outlawed. What should the world do about that?

  2. Well the question at hand is what the US should do about it and the US is not really authorized to act on behalf of the world. The proposed US actions would be unilateral and not part of some general international agreement about what to do.

    As for the US, I don't know what the best thing to do would be but I think the proposed course is worse than doing nothing.

  3. I suppose FDR had the same dilemma....what to about the "Jewish problem". While we dither, lives are lost.

  4. ... While we dither, lives are lost.

    Lives are being lost is a pretty low bar for military action. I think considerably more should be required.