Syria’s Civil War and U.S. Hubris

The Obama administration is moving slowly but noticeably toward deeper involvement in Syria’s civil war.  A crucial step occurred late last month when the administration concluded that dictator Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons in the war (albeit on a strangely limited basis) and cited that alleged development as a justification to provide lethal instead of just humanitarian aid to rebel forces seeking to overthrow Assad’s regime.  U.S. officials believe that they can somehow assist the “good guys” (i.e., secular, pro-democracy elements) while keeping aid money and weapons out of the hands of Islamic extremists and other unsavory elements in the rebel coalition.  That view is the essence of hubris, and previous efforts in such places as Afghanistan during the 1980s, Bosnia and Kosovo during the 1990s, and most recently in Libya, confirm that such pristine separation is impossible. 

As I argue in a piece over at the National Interest Online, Washington’s deepening involvement in the murky Syrian conflict is an extremely bad idea.  What is especially worrisome is how much U.S. policy is evolving along lines similar to the earlier U.S.-led intervention in Libya.  Before Washington goes down that path, it would be wise for officials to take a closer look at how the Libyan mission has turned out.  That would be a sobering exercise, for post-Gaddafi Libya is hardly a model that any sensible policy maker should wish to repeat.  You can read the entire article here.