What's the Worst That Could Happen in Syria? This
Ezra Klein lays out all the things that could go wrong
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Sep 6, 2013 11:15 AM CDT
Black smoke leaps after a bomb hit Binnish town, Idlib province, Syria, in this Sept. 5, 2013 image taken from video from the Shaam News Network.   (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)

(Newser) – The White House's proposed mission against Syria is fairly modest—in the words of one congressman, it's "barely 5% of what we did in Libya." So why are people worried? "Because things might go wrong," reasons Ezra Klein at the Washington Post. And helpfully, he compiled a list of those things. Here are a few:

  • We Could Hit Civilians: The Pentagon is compiling a target list to avoid civilian casualties, but its track record isn't perfect. "Remember when we bombed the pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, or the Chinese embassy in Belgrade?"
  • Assad Could Double Down: Desperate regimes tend to kill more civilians, and Assad could even use more chemical weapons "to telegraph defiance to the United States to his supporters, and implacable, unstoppable ruthlessness to the opposition."
  • The "Pottery Barn Rule": You break it, you buy it—or in this case, "you bombed it, you own it." As soon as we fire those missiles, we're involved. It will be "much harder for us to say that what happens in Syria isn't our problem." (Side note: Pottery Barn actually just writes off broken merchandise.)
  • Assad Falls, All Hell Breaks Loose: One reason for limited strikes "is that though Assad is a monster, we're not sure that he'll be replaced by anyone better." We could end up with chaos—and amidst that chaos, Assad's chemical weapons stockpile could fall into the wrong hands.
And almost all of these scenarios lead to...
  • Escalation: "The key fear behind intervening in Syria is that even constrained missions can unexpectedly break free of their limits."
Click for Klein's full column.

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Showing 3 of 94 comments
Sep 8, 2013 8:24 PM CDT
The worst thing? i'll show you the worst thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tQnQvYjNYQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Op4a7heaRY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhgHqE8H_Lc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eulr23wzym4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqVeCVovF58 Caution: Horrific images, not for the faint of heart.
Sep 8, 2013 7:54 PM CDT
Dear Mr. Assad, I pray for you that you find peace in your relationship with your father. I pray that as the father of your nation, you have already grieved enough to know that it is time to let the children laugh once again without fear, even if the price of that laughter is your honorable and patriotic resignation in favor of another leader. I pray.
Sep 6, 2013 9:04 PM CDT
Last point is the most important. Other countries might just start invading neighbors because they feel there is a human rights violation. International law is there to be obeyed, not bypassed when it's inconvenient.