Such an action would bring the globe’s two biggest nuclear powers to the brink of war. If they started shooting at one another the situation would be far more dangerous than it was during the Cuban missile crisis, when Moscow and Washington merely threatened to shoot at one another. Moreover, then, at least, America had significant security interests at stake. It has nothing comparable in Syria.
Maybe the water in Washington, D.C. just turns policymakers mad. The United States has consistently botched its Mideast policy: intervening in Iran, backing Iraq versus Iran, giving Israel a blank check, intervening in Lebanon, embracing the Gulf royals, supporting Egyptian tyranny, blowing up Iraq, creating chaos in Libya, taking over the fight against ISIS, backing Saudi aggression in Yemen and supporting Riyadh’s self-serving attack on neighbor Qatar. None of these have turned or will turn out well.
Becoming an active combatant in Syria is an even worse idea. Apparently the National Security Council’s Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Derek Harvey, two holdovers from the discredited Mike Flynn, are Washington’s latest generalissimo-wannabes. But U.S. intervention is unlikely to stop at an occasional bombing run against a vulnerable Iranian-backed militia and firefight against an outgunned Syrian plane. Washington risks lighting the fuse to a much bigger war.
The stakes in Syria are incredibly high. The United States has no fundamental interests to protect. Washington is incapable of imposing any sort of stable order. Yet the United States is risking an unnecessary military confrontation with three nations, including America’s great nuclear rival.
President Trump should rediscover the common sense expressed by candidate Trump. After being at war in the Middle East for decades, Washington should leave the fighting with others. Starting with Syria.
Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.
Image: A Syrian Democratic Forces fighter uses a tablet as he sits inside a room in the al-Mishlab district at Raqqa's southeastern outskirts, June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said.