Defense One, the online magazine published by the self-described “neocon guy” David Bradley, has called for a no-fly zone in Syria.
Evelyn N. Farkas, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a NATO operation, writes the United States is “morally complicit in the worsening humanitarian catastrophe that is Syria,” but not for the reason you might think.
The United States is guilty because it has not intervened more directly. “We should be ready to enforce [a no-fly zone] through military force and communicate this directly to the Russian government. We should seek U.N. Security Council approval, but be prepared to proceed without it.”
Farkas cites the “precedent in Kosovo,” a predicate for liberal interventionists. Kosovo’s break-away independence was established after the United States and NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days. 4,600 NATO troops are now required to maintain Kosovo’s 35 percent unemployment rate and persistent outbreaks of terrorism, crime, and political violence, as Jonathan Marshall notes, citing data released by the State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council.
There is a cosmetic difference between liberal interventionists and their neocon cousins. The former, as Paul R. Pillar notes, are “touch-feely,” while the latter are unapologetic and normally forgo pretense about saving the lives of innocents. Neocons talk about democracy in the abstract and argue in favor of unchallenged and militarily imposed supremacy abroad without the elaborate justifications put forth by the liberal interventionists.
According to Farkas, the act of “alleviating the human suffering [in Syria] will fuel a new dynamic that ultimately begins to change the course of the war. If we do the right thing and achieve positive results, we will regain our confidence, regain some moral legitimacy in the eyes of the Syrian people and the world. And maybe that is the first step, the first butterfly flutter to pulling everyone out of the hellhole.”
Farkas and the liberal interventionists ignore the fact the Syrian people are opposed to the United States and its Gulf Emirate partners interfering in their internal affairs. In December, a poll conducted by ORB International revealed 53 percent of those living in parts of Syria controlled by “opposition forces” and 92 percent living within Islamic State group territory say they are opposed to the U.S.-led air campaign.
Unlike the American public, most Syrians hold few illusions about the nature of the Islamic State. “Indeed, a staggering 82 percent of Syrians believe that the U.S. created the Islamic State group, the results show. That number is highest in government-controlled areas of Syria where 86 percent of people agree, but also in opposition-controlled areas and regions controlled by the Kurds, where 83 percent and 81 percent agree, respectively. Even in Islamic State group-controlled regions, 62 percent believe this to be true,” US News & World Report notes.
For Farkas and the liberal neocons, the presence of the Islamic State in Syria is a side issue. “The administration has demonstrated that it can separate the issue of resolving the civil war in Syria from the fight against ISIS and other terrorists, regardless of the wisdom of this approach. It should, therefore, be more than able and willing to separate out humanitarian objectives from political ones,” she writes.
If elected, Hillary Clinton will follow the logic spelled out by Farkas. Clinton’s husband, after all, invented the concept of humanitarian war when he initiated the war in Kosovo. Hardcore neocons, including Max Boot and, most recently, Paul Wolfowitz, view Clinton as the best hope for continuing wars of “creative destruction” in the Middle East, even if it requires swallowing the bitter and false pill of humanitarian interventionism. Cold and calculatingly pragmatic, the neocons are beginning to rally around the less than ideal choice of Hillary Clinton because she will advance their agenda in Syria and, down the road, Iran.