The long and winding road to Syria

The always fantastic Stephen Walt channels the Powell doctrine in making the case against Syria:

1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?

2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?

3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?

4. Have all other nonviolent policy means been fully exhausted?

5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?

6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?

7. Is the action supported by the American people?

8. Do we have genuine broad international support?

As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Colin Powell argued that each of the above questions needed to have been answered in the affirmative before the United States should commit armed forces to a conflict. Putting aside broader issues of efficacy, opportunity-cost, and the potential for mission creep, Walt makes clear that even if you narrow the scope of analysis to the security risks of the Syrian crisis alone, in no way are we anywhere near answering all of the above questions affirmatively with Syria, thus justifying an intervention in Syria. I’m really unclear about what we’re doing here; hopefully this is one case where gridlock actually benefits the American public by preventing this war-measure from making it through Congress.


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