I listened to a portion of the Diane Rehm show featuring commentary on news from the Syrian war. The consensus was that the situation is exploding into the broader region, violence is increasing, a Sunni vs. Shiite regional war may break out, and there will come a point where America will have to intervene. To do what? Restore order and peace? What order? What peace? One commentator observed that Iraq was not only being drawn into the conflict in Syria, but was showing signs of falling back into its own civil war, thus proving that we should not have left Iraq. What should we have done, annex it as a territory? John McCain demands that America arm and support the Syrian rebels. Which rebels? What will that accomplish? If they win, what will they have won? What, for heaven’s sake, is McCain thinking? Is he thinking at all, or does he just like to shoot people?
There is something about this I don’t get. At what point do we recognize that the peoples of the MIddle East are responsible for themselves, that outsiders, especially American outsiders, cannot impose peace and order. Moreover, the liberal democracy that we cherish cannot be transposed into or onto another culture. Whatever they come up with may bear the name of democracy, but it will probably not look much like American democracy.
I deplore the violence, needless bloodshed, and lust for revenge as much as anyone else, but somehow that has to be a problem they settle for themselves. Consider our own Civil War; various European powers tried to intervene on one side or the other, mostly for their particular selfish interests. All it accomplished was a longer more complicated war, and a deep American distrust of anything coming out of Europe. A hundred years later America finally got out of what was essentially a Vietnamese civil war, but that did not stop the fighting. It took another ten years for things to settle down, and at the cost of the Cambodian killing fields, a border war with China, and a host of internal conflicts. And so it goes, and has been going in “modern” times since the Roman Empire tried all of the same tricks.
I do not know what is required for America to make a major contribution toward the conditions needed for a permanent cessation of bloody hostilities, but I am convinced that our proclivity to use overwhelming violent killing force to impose a moment of stunned quiet, and expect that to turn into peace, is a very bad idea.