Necessary or Foolish? Pros, Cons of Syria Strike

Pundits makes their cases for and against

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 29, 2013 1:53 PM CDT

(Newser) – As the US considers what to do about Syria, there's no shortage of advice on the pros and cons:

  • Pro-strike: Nicholas Kristof is generally wary of the "military toolbox," but it's important here to "reinforce the international norm against weapons of mass destruction," he writes in the New York Times. "For all the risks of hypocrisy and ineffectiveness, it’s better to stand up inconsistently to some atrocities than to acquiesce consistently in them all."
  • Ditto: "Deepening American involvement in yet another Middle East conflict goes against President Obama’s instincts—and ours," write the editors at the Miami Herald. "Unemployment should be his principal focus. But events have a way of intruding on presidential agendas. In this instance, it’s unavoidable. Syria’s brazen disregard for humanitarian norms cannot go unanswered."

  • Bad idea: Just what the world needs, yet another western military intervention in an Arab or Muslim country, writes Seumas Milne at the Guardian. Too many questions persist about the alleged chemical weapons attack, he writes, adding that military strikes would only escalate the war. "The risk is that they will invite retaliation by Syria or its allies—including against Israel—draw the US in deeper and spread the conflict." Better for the West to use its leverage with the rebels to try to force cease-fire talks.
  • Slow down: This is remarkably similar to the run-ups to both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, writes Patrick L Smith at Salon. "Make that tragically similar. History proceeds, we Americans insist on the virtue of ignorance, on learning nothing and knowing nothing. And what we are about to get is what we get, predictably and always." Give the UN investigators the time they need, he urges.
  • Ask Congress: Whatever the final decision, President Obama must consult with Congress about it, writes Amy Davidson at the New Yorker. "Having people, representatives, raise their hands before you do something is not an empty ritual, even when they don’t vote the way you want them to," she writes. The White House can't just ignore the War Powers Act whenever it's convenient. "The Administration needs to be interrogated, sharply, about just what it thinks is going to happen after the two or maybe three days of missile strikes that leaks tell us to expect."

A U.N. investigation team with blue helmets speaks with Free Syrian Army fighters in the Damascus countryside of Zamalka, Syria.   (AP Photo/Erbin City via AP video)
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