The Skeptics

Here Are All the Reasons Striking Syria Was a Bad Idea

If the United States and its European allies believe that attacking Assad will strike an effective blow against the future use of chemical weapons by Syria or other nations, that is a policy debate worth having. If, as is more likely, they believe that weakening Assad’s forces can save the rebels from imminent defeat, and that a successor regime controlled by those rebels would be better for both the Middle East and America’s security interests, that is a policy debate worth having.

But they should at least spare us the moral preening and hypocritical posturing. Those three nations did not even disown Saddam Hussein for his repeated use of poison gas, throughout the 1980s, including the killing of at least five thousand of Iraq’s Kurdish citizens at Halabja in 1988. And Washington has rarely attempted to restrain its menagerie of authoritarian allies from engaging in other atrocities. Indeed, as Larison notes, the United States, Britain and France are outright accomplices in Saudi Arabia’s current slaughter of innocents in Yemen. The Western powers need to get their own moral houses in order before lecturing Russia, Iran, and other countries.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of ten books, the contributing editor of ten books, and the author of more than 700 articles on international affairs.

Image: A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber, being deployed to launch strikes as part of the multinational response to Syria's use of chemical weapons, is refuelled by a KC-135 tanker aircraft over an undisclosed location, April 14, 2018. U.S. Air Force/Handout​