John Stossel: Our road to Damascus
Launching missiles at Syria isn't one of them.
Many pundits talk about going to war as if all we have to do is make up our minds about what "ought" to happen — who the bad guys are — and the rest is just details. If we decide we must punish a tyrant, let the military worry about how to get it done.
Everyone agrees there are huge "known unknowns" in Syria — we barely know the composition of the rebel movement we're supposed to aid — but we should be more concerned about "unknown unknowns," to borrow former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's phrase.
When pro-war pundits did admit to uncertainty about what would happen in Iraq, it was often to stoke fear about what would happen if we didn't intervene. Saddam might use chemical weapons! Saddam might get nukes! Well, maybe.
I don't trust John Kerry, but I'll accept his claim that Syria's leaders probably used chemical weapons to kill 1,400 people. Horrible.
Even if that's the goal, our options are limited. Maybe we'll:
• Lob a few cruise missiles, like Bill Clinton did in Sudan.
• Kill Assad himself and then ... what?
President Obama argues that limited intervention in Syria might accomplish good more quickly and cheaply than our efforts in Iraq did. He said he wants a two-day engagement instead of months of fighting.
Even if the conflict remains localized and contained — a dangerous assumption in the "fog of war" — we can't assume that a new government will be more democratic or tolerant than Assad's regime.
Given what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, there are worse things than leaving murderous Russian-backed governments in place.
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