Jonathan Chait wrote an amazing article about Syria yesterday. I do not mean that in a good way.
He tells us that, Syria Isn’t Iraq. Everything Isn’t Iraq. Fair enough. But listening to him over the last oh so many years, it is hard to conclude that Chait doesn’t think that just about any military conflict is a good idea. Sure, he’s not for conflicts like Iran. But anything that he thinks we are likely to succeed at is great.
He attacks Matt Yglesias for having his thinking stuck in the Iraq War mentality. I’m not even sure that that’s true. But one thing is certain: Chait is stuck in the Persian Gulf War mentality. Now there was a “bloody good war”! And he seems to want to keep having them. And I’m still not clear what the point was of that war. About 30,000 Iraqis died—mostly conscripts. But apparently, it was great for Chait because we “won.”
No mention is made of the study that Yglesias quoted that showed that such “humanitarian” interventions usually lead to more civilian casualties. As I wrote last night, protecting the civilian population is not the point of this intervention. How could it be after we’ve stood by and watched over a hundred thousand civilians be killed? Chait is wrong to push this as a humanitarian mission at all.
Chait also makes a very strange argument that anti-war liberals are like conservatives on domestic issues, “The arguments Yglesias poses today against a military strike against Syria eerily echo the arguments conservatives and libertarians make against any kind of domestic government intervention.” I don’t understand this. The conservatives are making ideological arguments, “I don’t care if welfare works; it’s wrong!” The arguments that we are making are practical—just like our domestic policy arguments, “This intervention is likely to make things worse.” Is Chait so blind as to not see this distinction?
By far the worst part of Chait’s article is the last paragraph:
This is right out of the politician’s handbook. Of course we don’t want war, but what else can we do? We’re only going to go in to stop the killing. He really ought to watch War Made Easy.