August 26, 2013

What, Exactly, is Our National Interest in Syria?

I was listening to National People's Radio on the way in to work and caught about 15 minutes or so of a round table discussion on Syria. Apparently, we're about to go to war .... again.

And, yet again, it looks like President Obama will do so without Congressional approval. Remember when that was a 'war crime'? Or when No Blood for Oil protests by three or four people made headline news?

Now? Not so much.

Ah, the good old days of six years ago. Back then times were simpler. A Republican in the White House, when you could only download pr0n on your iPhone at a snail's pace, and when reality TV meant skanky Hollywood housewhores and not millionaire rednecks with beards. I pine for the simpler days of 2007.

Anywhoo, one of the callers into NPR asked the guests an interesting question: What business is it of ours that we feel we have to get involved in Syria?

The round table discussers came up with some real compelling reasons why involvement in Syria is in our national interest.

For instance, did you know that Syria was "on the cusp of the region that produces 50% of the world's oil and natural gas". Mind you, Syria itself produces almost none of it, but it is on "the cusp" of countries that do. Meaning, it's near them.

Apparently, it's no longer "blood for oil". Now, it's "blood for geography located kinda sorta near the oil". National interest.

Another one of the journalists who were on NPR as "experts" (and really, aren't journalists all pretty much experts on everything?) pined in that if Syria melts into chaos then it would affect US allies in the region. The it's in our national interests because of the domino affect argument.

Okay, I'll buy that there might be a domino affect if Syria .... wait a second. Hasn't Syria already melted down into chaos? How, exactly, is our intervention into a civil war that has already killed 100,000+ people going to help now? If we were going to intervene for whatever imagined national interest then shouldn't the time for that intervention been a year ago?

Moreover, if we do intervene then we'd presumably intervene on the behalf of those fighting the regime. If our national interest lies in regime stability -- so that the fall of Syria won't domino into Jordan, Lebanon, or Turkey -- then how does undermining the regime help?

I just don't see a winning scenario for us in Syria. If the regime wins then Iran and Hezbollah win. If the regime falls, then Saudi Arabia and al Qaeda win.

It's lose-lose. If there was ever a window of opportunity in which US involvement would have meant the ability to steer a post-Assad Syria in a direction that would be in our national interests then that window closed a year or more ago.

It's too late to do any good in Syria. That ship has sailed. It sailed the day the Free Syrian Army got into bed with al Qaeda.

Let Syria burn. It's not our problem. We have no compelling national interest in Syria. If the world wishes to intervene, more power to them. Let's see France try to turn this around. I'd love to watch that happen and I have plenty of popcorn stockpiled.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 10:17 AM | Comments |