Is Trump’s Syria Strike a One Off or the Start of Regime Change?
The media, especially cable news, loves war. Especially Brian Williams who had an on air orgasm thinking of all the people Donald Trump was going to kill.
There are a lot of hawks out there salivating over the prospect of going to war in Syria. But it seems to me there are two choices: either what Trump did in Syria is a one off-and will change nothing. Or it’s not-and eventually we end up with regime change.
Trump is going to be very tempted to escalate as his domestic agenda has already failed.
Shadi Hamid is one of these Brookings types who has been critical of Obama not being aggressive enough in the Middle East. He argues it’s not just regime change vs. doing nothing:
Military action does not equal regime change. The two, understandably, have become conflated because of the Iraq war. But military action can help, rather than undermine, diplomatic efforts. It is abundantly clear that the Assad regime will not negotiate in good faith or make any significant concessions on its own. We’ve hoped for that since the earliest Arab League efforts in 2011. The credible threat of force (or its use) is the only thing that is likely to change Assad’s calculus. If his survival isn’t at stake, he has little reason to negotiate much of anything.
But doesn’t a credible threat of force require putting regime change on the table which means at some point you will be forced to do it to prove you mean it?
Hamid argues no, that not everything is Iraq::
There is the danger of seeing airstrikes as a low-risk catch-all solution, a kind of military pixie-dust. At the same time, though, not everything is an Iraq-style invasion. America has any number of choices in between these two models of engagement. In Bosnia, air power forced the Serbs to the negotiating table, eventually leading to the Dayton Accords (a key example of military action in the service of diplomacy). Similarly, Muammar al-Qaddafi’s regime showed an openness to talks only after the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, with Qaddafi envoys engaging in cease-fire talks within weeks.
I will say that Syria 2017 is quite different than Iraq 2002. There was no violent five year civil war in Iraq.
Still, I return to my drunk pilot analogy. Even if we really need to go to California doesn’t mean we should go with the drunk pilot with no training who wants to make his maiden voyage today. You wait for the next non drunk pilot.
Maybe we wait for a legitimate President before engaging in these sorts of interventions.
Trump doesn’t seem interested in a Libya or Bosnia type action either. He’s been conspicuous in not talking to our allies about Syria.
This is why I’m not necessarily a Noam Chomsky style anti interventionist but still think the Dems have to clip Trump’s wings here. We can debate if we want to go to California. But wait for the next pilot who’s not drunk and went to flight school.
P.S. As we saw in my poll out last week, the long awaited poll results are in, and right now I’m just 11 points down vs. Peter King (GOP-NY-District 2). And the voters don’t even know who I am yet.
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