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May 07, 2013


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Wow, that's a really crap piece of writing. Keller used to be sorta competent -- he won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from Moscow, back in the day -- but this is just shoddy stuff.

One minor point: Israel hasn't "given up waiting". In fact, given that Israel is next door, it's astonishing how little they've done. "No weapons for Hezbollah" seems to be their only red line.

okay, another: "haven for terrorists". dude. Pakistan is a haven for terrorists. Saudi Arabia is a haven for terrorists. Syria? maybe -- but otoh, maybe it'll just end up another seedy regional dictatorship, except a lot poorer than it started out. I don't know, Bill, and neither do you.

Doug M.

At the end of the day, it's a "gut" piece. His gut tells him that someone should stop what's happening in Syria, because it's terrible. The rest is just working backwards from that conclusion.

Doug M.

There's an Overton Window aspect here. You'll recall that I opposed the intervention in Libya. It ended up working out better (so far: fingers crossed) than I could have hoped.

But at the time, I had two reasons for opposing it. One was, I didn't trust the cost-benefit analysis; I thought that not-intervening would result in a single medium-sized massacre followed by a quick and complete victory for Qaddafi, versus a protracted civil war that, even if Qaddafi lost, would kill more people and do more damage. Okay, I was wrong on that one.

But the second reason was that interventions are a terrible Catch-22: if they fail, they fail. But if they succeed, they make subsequent interventions seem much more attractive and tempting. And I think that's part of what's going on here. Part of the reason Republicans are pushing the Benghazi thing is because they know perfectly well that Libya was a pretty spectacular foreign policy success, and they really want to tear that down. (Smearing the seeming most likely Democratic presidential candidate doesn't hurt either, of course.) That said, it looks like everyone has internalized the lesson that, hey, we *can* have a successful intervention in the Middle East as long as we're not stupid about it.

Doug M.

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