Rand Paul: Why does McCain think we can find the good guys in Syria when he’s unwittingly posing for pictures with kidnappers?
posted at 4:01 pm on June 3, 2013 by Allahpundit
A companion piece to my post from last Thursday. In Maverick’s semi-defense, the identities of the “kidnappers” are now in question. The Syrian rebels in the photo with him probably aren’t the people who abducted a group of Shiite pilgrims from Lebanon — but then nobody knows for sure, which is the point here. It’s not that there are zero “good guys” in Syria, although the definition of “good guy” in context is apt to mean someone who wants a secular state primarily because he supports socialism. It’s that it’s difficult to identify the “good guys” with any certainty, and even more difficult to ensure that they’ll stay “good.” How many Sunni secularist “friends” of the United States would nonetheless happily participate in the ethnic cleansing of Alawites if the tide of the war turned and they overran Assad’s territory? If the Sunnis got the upper hand and a scenario like that loomed, would McCain then support arming the Alawites to help fend it off? That’s no idle hypothetical: As Paul acidly notes, McCain’s leanings on who to arm in Libya changed awfully quickly.
He admitted on the “Today” show this morning that there are no good options in Syria but that we should impose a no-fly zone anyway, not with overflies but with cruise missiles. Whether that would work is beyond my expertise but it’s a sign that even Maverick is beginning to lurch away from forms of intervention that would put any U.S. servicemen, including pilots, in harm’s way. (And they would be in harm’s way if Russia follow through on its promise to arm Assad with sophisticated air defense batteries.) Here’s a very hard question that the White House will have to grapple with the longer it delays: Is it more “humane” at this point to hope that Assad wins, and wins quickly? By all accounts, thanks to deeper Iranian and Hezbollah intervention, his side has the momentum. If you’re more or less indifferent as to which side wins and concerned chiefly with limiting civilian casualties, then arguably the “best” outcome is for the fighting to stop as soon as possible with minimal risk of ethnic cleansing afterward. And yet McCain, despite his upset with the “status quo,” actually wants to prolong and even escalate the fighting by ramping up western involvement. As far as I know, it’s quite possible that the scenario that would bring about the most civilian casualties would be years of further fighting followed by a Sunni victory and then the liquidation of Syria’s Shiites, and yet that’s the scenario that U.S./EU intervention would inadvertently help enable. McCain worries about a wider regional war (with good reason), but the way to reduce that risk is to hope that one side or the other wins quickly and decisively, no? How likely is it that to happen with western assets flowing in?
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