Saturday, August 24, 2013

Do Not Get Involved in Syria

Regardless of the nobility of our motives, or of ghastly pictures shown each night on television, we must be extremely wary of becoming involved militarily in conflicts where the hatreds run deep, in societies where, traditionally, political accommodation is non-existent.  This is not to say that we should ignore conflict, but we must be prepared to use the other instruments of national power, i.e., the political, economic, and diplomatic to help to terminate it.  However we should keep in mind what the eminent political philosopher, Hans Morgenthau, has observed:
       Good motives give assurance against deliberately bad policies;
      they do not guarantee the moral goodness and political success
      of the policies they inspire. What is important to know, is not
      the motives of the statesman, but his intellectual ability to
      comprehend the essentials of foreign policy, as well as his po-
      litical ability to translate what he has comprehended into suc-
      cessful political action.[i] 

In 1994-1995, I was a student at the US Army's Command and General Staff College.  There, a former senior United Nations representative in Sarajevo told the class during a presentation on the Balkan Wars that Bosnian Government officials, as well as Bosnian Serb officials, both wanted US forces on the ground immediately.  They wanted this so they could immediately start killing American troops, thereby getting the US involved in the conflict on "their side".  Clearly a protracted war such as the one being waged in Syria is the last type of conflict we want to become engaged in.   

In fact, a SOF helicopter pilot who ferried Syrian troops during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm said  a Syrian soldier told him he would rather be killing Americans than Iraqis.  We do not need to get involved there.

Gonzalo I. Vergara, Lt. Col., USAF (Ret).

[i].  Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, 4th Ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.), p.6.

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