Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Bashar al-Assad

Obama is Wrong to Consider Military Action in Iraq

The Obama administration is considering taking military action in Iraq against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a radical Sunni group that has taken up residence in the territory of both states. ISIS, also known as ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) recently seized Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. Its goal is to seize Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, turning these countries into one united Islamic state. While ISIS’ goals are hostile to US interests in the Middle East (and to the interests of the various peoples they seek to rule over), the United States should take no military action against ISIS. Here’s why.

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The Isolationism Label

Lately I have found the internet awash in accusations that those who are opposed to US intervention in Syria are isolationists. These columnists are routinely comparing the Assad regime to the Third Reich and skeptical citizens to the members of the American isolationist movement of the late 30’s and early 40’s. This is a bad analogy. Here’s why.

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Why Do States Kill Civilians?

In recent days, there’s been much talk of how the Syrian government is killing civilians in Syria. Most people have been inclined to view this as manifest evidence that the Syrian government is run by malevolent and/or insane individuals. I think this response is too quick and too dismissive. Throughout history, states have often killed civilians. The individuals who give the orders that civilians be killed are not all uniformly evil or crazy. There is some purpose that states seek to achieve by targeting civilians, and today I wish to shed some light on what that purpose is.

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The Irrelevance of Chemical Weapons

Well, it’s been coming for a while now–Barack Obama has decided to arm the Syrian rebels. The justification? The administration believes that somewhere between 100 and 200 people in Syria have been killed with chemical weapons, specifically, nerve agents, even more specifically, sarin. It is too often taken for granted that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government provides a good reason for the United States to intervene in the Syrian conflict on behalf of the rebels. The assumption must be questioned–does the use of chemical weapons make it in the interest of the United States to intervene where before it was not in the US interest to do so?

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Dead Baby Interventionism

Lately I’ve been noticing a new social networking trend–the tendency for people who are passionate about a given humanitarian crisis (examples include Syria, drones in Pakistan, Kony in the Congo–surprisingly, not Mali) to post pictures of various dead, injured, or disfigured babies or children who purportedly were killed, injured, or disfigured over the course of their respective conflicts. Accompanying the pictures is usually some caption designed to engender empathy (one such example I recall was “imagine if this were your child”). This strikes me as somewhat simplistic. Not much critical thought is being given to what the responsibilities of developed states are. Instead, the entire discussion is being reduced to “children are dying, this is bad, developed states can stop bad things, developed states should stop this”. So today I’d like to think about it a little bit deeper than that.

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