There are lots of good reasons why the U.S. shouldn’t intervene in Syria … even if you happen to be someone, like me, who is generally supportive of the concept of humanitarian intervention.
Over at the Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog, Fernando Teson gives his two “prominent” reasons … neither of which are any good at all and just sound absolutely horrible:
1) A justified intervention must be on behalf of those who have a just cause. In Syria, the available evidence shows that neither side has a just cause. The government is your standard Middle Eastern oppressor, while the rebels are dominated by Al Qaeda and similar sinister characters.
2) It is unjust for our government to tax American citizens to try to help people who do not want to be helped and who, even after they have been helped, instead of thanking us for liberating them, they viciously turn against us for domestic political gain or some other spurious motive. Iraq and Afghanistan are cases in point. The U.S. and their allies helped them get rid of their tyrants, only to see the new governments posture about how bad Americans are. When this happens, our response should be simple and direct: we will leave you alone to lead your miserable lives. And if you dare attack us, we will kill you or bring you to justice.
Given that Teson’s topic is humanitarian intervention, it’s odd that he say in his first reason that no one in Syria presents us with a just cause … and then that the two sides he considers are the government and the rebels.
It seems obvious to me that a humanitarian intervention might be carried out on behalf of the people who are suffering at the hands of both the government and the rebels, and that this would present us with precisely the just cause that Teson is certain doesn’t exist.
And, of course, Teson’s second reason just has all sorts of really unpleasant undertones that are reminiscent of a “leave those savages to tear one another apart since they won’t accept our civilizing mission” kind of mentality; perhaps that wasn’t Teson’s intent, but no matter how charitably I try to read his short post, that’s very much how it comes across to this reader. He claims, without any evidence at all, that the people of Syria don’t want to be helped, that they should be left “alone to lead [their] miserable lives,” and that they’re just like those ungrateful Iraqis and Afghans, who didn’t properly thank us for spending our tax dollars to make their miserable lives better through a decade of warfare.
None of this comes across as particularly “bleeding heart” from Teson the libertarian. Of course, the first time I critiqued Teson for one of his blog posts, he used the word “parasite” to refer to people who received support from charities or social safety nets. So maybe “bleeding heart” isn’t exactly what he’s going for. Either way, my hope is that Teson rethinks some of the arguments he’s making.