The Weekly Standard has an open letter explaining that blowing up lots of stuff in Syria is a great idea:
The signatories on the letter addressed to President Obama inlcude Senator Joe Lieberman, Bernard-Henri Levy, Karl Rove, Bill Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Leon Wieseltier, and many others.
The “other people” include Max Boot, Paul Berman, Dr. Clifford D. May, Marty Peretz, and Danielle Pletka. I suppose it’s not literally true that the endorsement of these people means that bombing and/or invading Syria is a bad idea, but…let’s just if there was some way of betting that these people would be wrong you could be living in your own $32 million apartment complete with $160,000 wine cellar and million-dollar apartments for your many domestic servants.
I do think it’s worth interrogating the larger political and ideological construct that says that spending a few billions dollars to help foreigners is a thinkable undertaking if and only if the means of providing assistance is to kill some people and blow some stuff up. The explosives-heavy approach to humanitarianism has a lot of unpredictable side effects, sometimes backfires massively, and offers an extremely poor value proposition. So whatever you think about killing some Syrians this summer, please consider throwing a few dollars in the direction of a cost-effective charity of some kind.
I’m not 100% sure that military intervention in Syria is wrong. But it is true that 1. al-Assad is terrible 2. ????? 3. Bomb lots of stuff! is a terrible argument, and the arguments — really assumptions — in the above letter have scarcely more meat on them. There should be a very strong presumption against military action, but instead it’s the one form of government action that doesn’t seem to face any kind of cost-benefit analysis in our political discourse at all.