John McCain itching to lob more bombs, by @DavidOAtkins

John McCain itching to lob more bombs

by David Atkins

One shudders to imagine a John McCain presidency:

The ongoing delays on a White House decision to take military action against embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad are essentially a "green light" to the regime to continue its bloody campaign against rebel forces in the country, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said late Friday.

"When we do nothing, not only do they have a green light, but this gives a green light to brutal dictators all over the world they can do the same thing," McCain said.

McCain's comments come after recent reports of chemical weapon use by Assad forces against anti-government rebels in and around the capital city of Damascus.
First off, the evidence is not fully in that this was indeed an attack by Assad. It's highly likely, but unproven as yet. It wouldn't be the first time John McCain has advocated war based on uncertain evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

But beyond that, it isn't clear that the United States has any "good" options in Syria. On one side is a brutal dictator with no compunction about murdering his people; on the other is a group partly made up of decent oppressed Syrians, but partly also made up of of Islamist fundamentalists and Al Qaeda sympathizers. Even if the United States were to take sides in the mess (presumably against Assad), it's not clear that the cure would not be worse than the disease.

Finally, it's not really up to the United States to give green lights to dictators except through direct support. As it happens, the United States has given green lights to many murderous dictators like Augusto Pinochet and Saddam Hussein, both of whom were supported by both sides of the Washington establishment. But to effectively stop Assad would require the cooperation of the nations of the world in a truly international peacekeeping effort. Action by the United States alone would set off a series of unpleasant and counterproductive dominoes.

John McCain and many other hawks seem far less interested in what will help the Syrian people, and far more interested in what will make them look and feel "tough" as Americans and conservative politicians. It's a good thing they're not in control of the launch codes.