Hard News by Russell Brown


This time it's Syria

I've been surprised in recent weeks by how many internet friends have been demanding the US lead military action against the government of Syria. That would not be a good option, because there are no good options. There's no end game.

In Libya, there was a farly coherent opposition that could benefit from air cover. In Syria, the "rebels" are a heterogenous rabble this includes people who may be almost as bad the Assad regime. George Packer outlined quite how shitty the choices are yesterday in an imaginary Q&A for the New Yorker.

But the regime's use of chemical weapons on its people has finally tipped the balance. There will be action -- and, because Russia remains determined to enable Assad, it will be action without the consent of the UN Security Council.

The last thing the US wants to to become directly embroiled in the Syrian conflict, not only because it hardly needs another unwinnable foreign war, but because that would probably mean more deaths and a longer conflict. So these will be punitive strikes, aimed at taking out some of the regime's capability. It won't end well, because it can't end well. We can only hope it ends less badly than continuing to sit on the sidelines and watch would have. Because this ending badly is too awful to contemplate.

If there's any good news, it's that no one will expect New Zealand to do anything in the foreseeable future. We ought to be glad of that.

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