Pro-Israel Hawk Celebrates ‘Liberals’ Joining the Topple Assad Argument
Feigning concern for the Syrian people, Max Boot is “glad to see some distinguished friends and colleagues joining the argument that the U.S. needs to do more to bring down Assad.” In a Commentary piece, Boot recommends three articles from the “liberal” end of the regime change spectrum:
First Robert Danin, formerly of the NSC, now at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that the U.S. can take more non-military action against Assad—viz., recall the U.S. ambassador, threaten to close the U.S. embassy, create an international contact group to handle Syria, provide more support to the opposition, keep Syria on the UN agenda and indict Assad for war crimes. Those all sound like sensible steps to me, although I’m skeptical they will be enough to make the difference.
Another Council colleague, Steve Cook, argues for going further. He believes “it’s time to think seriously about intervening in Syria,” by which he means military intervention along the lines of the Libya model—and acting even without UN authorization.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, former director of policy planning at Hillary Clinton’s State Department, more or less endorses that argument by citing R2P—the doctrine that the international community has a “responsibility to protect” civilians who are being slaughtered by their own governments. She adds, however, that any intervention would have to meet certain conditions: it would have to be requested by the Syrian opposition, endorsed by the Arab League, limited to protecting civilians (not regime change as in Libya), supported by most members of the UN Security Council (even if Russia will never go along), and with Arab and Turkish troops in the lead. All those conditions save the third one make sense to me: if we’re going to act, the best way to alleviate civilian suffering is by removing its cause—the Assad regime.
All three articles are thought-provoking and worth reading. I am heartened to see more interest in helping to topple Assad. But so far little of that interest has come from the Obama White House. Perhaps that will change with more liberal voices, such as these, joining the argument.
It’s worth noting that early on in the so-called “Arab Spring,” the pro-Israel hawk recommended Gene Sharp for a Nobel Peace Prize. Describing the impact of the intellectual guru of “nonviolent” destabilization and his multi-millionaire backer, Peter Ackerman, Boot observed:
It is fair to say that Sharp and Ackerman have been indirectly responsible for more revolutions than anyone since Lenin or Mao…