Answering Chris Hayes’ Syria Question

Chris HayesChris Hayes asked a question. Am I a liberal who just throws up the possibility of a negotiated settlement to the Syrian civil war so that I don’t have to deal with it? It is a good question that I’m sure Hayes is asking of himself as much as liberals in general. I can’t speak for him or any other liberal, but I can speak for myself. I don’t think it is true. There are a few issues here.

The first issue is that fundamentally, I’m with Alan Grayson. This isn’t our fight. It is horrible. It is a tragedy. But there are all kinds of those all the time and there is no reason why we ought to involve ourselves in this one especially. I just absolutely, positively don’t believe it when politicians claim that this thing has crossed the line. Pain does matter. I care how people die. But in this case, there is a 1 to 100 ratio of the deaths we are supposed to care about versus of the deaths we apparently don’t give a shit about.

The second issue is that if we really care about relieving suffering, there are much better things we can do. As Matt Yglesias has pointed out, we could do something about malaria. Money alone would do wonders, but I always wonder what we could do if we spent as much money developing malaria drugs as we do developing them for erectile dysfunction. We could also—and Chris Hayes mentioned this—allow more Syrians to move to the United States. But it appears that we don’t so much want to do anything for the Syrians as to the Syrians.

The third, and most important, reason for not bombing Syria is that it will make a negotiated settlement less likely. If we actually succeed at doing damage to the Assad regime, it will make a negotiated settlement less likely. Look: I don’t like Assad, but I have no problem with him staying in power if it will put an end to the killing and chaos. As it is, if the rebels won, Syria would just start another civil war as the various factions fought for control. And it seems to me especially probable that the groups most likely to win that conflict would be even worse than Assad.

So that is my answer to Chris Hayes. I don’t think by not going to war in Syria that everything will be wonderful. But I think it is (1) not our problem; (2) not a good use of our resources; and (3) likely to make a good resolution less likely. This is no liberal happy horseshit. I hope for a negotiated settlement. But even without that, our bombing will only make the situation worse.


Rachel Maddow asked her own question. Basically: if all the people in the world who are against Assad are not for this bombing campaign, why are we? That’s an easy one: this is all about internal American politics. I still don’t think that Obama especially wants to attack Syria. He just backed himself into a corner. This is only an issue in the US because we are the only people who care if Obama is seen as “weak.”

See my article Goodbye Mr. Chris for more of my thoughts on Mr. Hayes!
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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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