Friday, March 9, 2012

Is "more" war "less" war?

As a follow-up on one of the issues raised in the previous blog, case 4 of Bodhisattvas in an Election Year, and the difficulties that they may pose, the following article was sent to me, which I share below. The article encourages us to reflect on the many facets of this sort of issue, the positions we might hold, and to see what is entailed for those with decision-making authority and power. 

Jonathan Tepperman in The New York Times on intervention in Syria

"Rather than call for full-scale intervention, most who want to aid the Syrian rebels in their fight against Bashar al-Assad have suggested half-measures like arming the rebels or setting up safe havens over the border. 'Partial measures may seem attractive, but they risk turning a small local conflict into a far messier regional war. Strange as it sounds, doing something small may be worse than doing nothing — meaning the West should go in big or stay home,' writes Tepperman. He describes problems with arming the rebels, including their diverse makeup that could lead to a multi-sided civil war. The safe havens could be overrun by enemies or become bases that further fuel a civil war. Instead, Tepperman makes the case that real intervention would make short work of Assad's army and wouldn't alter our relations with Iran."

The article ends with the following:

"The Obama administration does not want to hear any of this. It just got out of Iraq and is trying to get out of Afghanistan and stay out of Iran; it has little stomach for yet another war in yet another Muslim country. But let’s not pretend that half-measures are preferable. Choosing policies just because they are cheap, gratifying and politically palatable is rarely a good idea, especially when they could well make matters worse. Those of us unwilling to tolerate more slaughter in Syria must confront the true nature of the military choices facing us.
We must now accept the hard facts and make an honest decision about what standing up for our interests and values will entail. If that means a major armed intervention, we should do it, but with no illusions."