The editors of National Review endorse military action in Syria:
If we don’t act in this case, after all this windup, Iran and Hezbollah will take note of how little our admonitions to not acquire or use weapons of mass destruction really mean. We can’t know exactly what would come of our self-inflicted humiliation, but it would be nothing good. For that reason, we would vote “yes” on the authorization, although we think reasonable people can disagree, and we urge Congress to push the president to enunciate a Syria strategy beyond punishing it for its chemical-weapons use.
That act of punishment is important in itself, and we shouldn’t underestimate how much damage we can do to a fragile regime fighting a war for survival, even if the strike is only with cruise missiles over a matter of days. But a congressional authorization, should it be forthcoming, and the inevitable delay as Congress debates the matter, raise the stakes. Any strike shouldn’t be a pinprick or necessarily a one-off but part of a broader, longer-term plan to topple Assad and defeats his allies. This means strengthening elements of the Syrian opposition we can trust, with arms and training; it means crafting and leading an international coalition committed to a post-Assad Syria; it means staying engaged beyond the next few weeks.
We should do this without any unrealistic expectation for what we can achieve in Syria. A new regime could be better than Assad and still lousy. But the Obama policy of passivity has, so far, proved a disaster. Some on the right support it by citing the famous Henry Kissinger quip about the Iran–Iraq war that it is a pity that both sides can’t lose. If only it were that simple.
Across the years of violence, the opposition has gotten more radical rather than less; the Syrian state has begun to unravel, ensuring that even if Assad loses, Syria is guaranteed more chaos and misery; Jordan and Lebanon have been destabilized by the spillover effects of the conflict; and at least until now, Assad has been regaining the upper hand, with the help of a terrorist guerrilla army and a terrorist state — Hezbollah and Iran, respectively. Not to mention the gruesome humanitarian cost, with 100,000 dead and a third of Syria’s population displaced.
It is always tempting to believe that we can be done with the world. But the world is not done with us. It never is.