To Intervene Or Not Intervene? That’s the Awful Question the US Often Faces

Should the US intervene in Syrian massacres? Should it have toppled the butcher Assad, who waged war against his own people? Some people think so, and that the US showed cowardice in not intervening, or in failing to build an international force to intervene.

“Aleppo will join the ranks of those events in world history that define modern evil, that stain our conscience decades later. Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and, now, Aleppo. To the Assad regime, Russia, and Iran, your forces and proxies are carrying out these crimes. Your barrel bombs and mortars and airstrikes have allowed the militia in Aleppo to encircle tens of thousands of civilians in your ever-tightening noose. It is your noose. Three Member States of the UN contributing to a noose around civilians. It should shame you. Instead, by all appearances, it is emboldening you. You are plotting your next assault. Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin, that just creeps you out a little bit? Is there nothing you will not lie about or justify?” — Samantha Powers, US Ambassador to the UN yesterday at the Security Council Emergency Briefing on Syria

Remarks at a UN Security Council Emergency Briefing on Syria

Obama’s reluctance stemmed from the disastrous US intervention in Iraq, where we toppled the dictator Saddam Hussein, only to pour trillions down a rat hole, destabilize the country and the region.

Should the US intervene in Crimea, in Ukraine, both now under the thumb of the Russian bear? Should it protect the Baltic states from Russian invasion or domination?

With European allies, the Obama administration intervened in Libya, and toppled the dictator Qaddafi, sparking events that led to the murder of US diplomats.  Libya, and the region, have not recovered.

In the mid-2000s, President Bush responded to a group of activists about the genocide in Western Sudan (Darfur), and promised action, but it never much materialized.

The US intervened in the Bosnian war in the 1990s, which was a triumph. The peace has held. Who knows if it could have come together sooner, if as critics suggested, the US had acted sooner?
Bill Clinton has said he regrets not intervening in Rwanda in 1994.
The US, and President Bill Clinton, played a key role in fashioning peace in Northern Ireland in the 1990s.
Another disaster of US involvement, Somalia 1992-3. Black Hawk Down.

If conducted today, the Mogadishu raid would have been done more efficiently, Bowden suspects. He says there also would be better intelligence about the risks ahead of time. But that’s not to say there wouldn’t be hiccups.

“The men who conducted that raid [in ’93] were extremely professional, and they didn’t do anything wrong,” he says. “The fact is that when you go into combat, it’s very not only possible but very likely that … unanticipated things will happen and you’ll end up in a much bigger fight than you would prefer.”

US efforts in Haiti have mostly been for nought.
It has not been successful in brokering a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

Clearly the US should have gotten into WWII or stopped Germany much sooner, as early as 1935. And we probably could have ended WWI in 1915 if we hadn’t been so slow to arouse, isolationist until 1917.

 However, the US does have a tendency to sometimes go off half-cocked, when we don’t understand a country or the law of unintended consequences. Vietnam, Iraq, toppling the democrat in Iran in the 1950s, intervening in numerous Central and South American countries, mostly to protect corporate interests.
When there is no domestic constituency for intervention, no matter how moral it might be, we generally don’t do it.

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