Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cohen: Where's liberals' outrage over Syria?

Neo-interventionist and "liberal" pundit Richard Cohen continues his assault on liberals' heartstrings, pleading with them to attack Syria:

I pick on the American left because it is liberal and because that suggests empathy, concern and internationalism. The American right is now going through one of its periodic bouts of lunacy, reverting to a comfy isolationism-cum-selfishness that has often characterized it. (I should note, though, that back in the late 1930s Norman Thomas, the six-time socialist presidential candidate, supported the isolationist America First movement.) Still, I look to liberals to make common cause with the underprivileged, the unfortunate and the weak. If that doesn’t describe the people of Syria, then what does? Can the United States help them? We certainly could have. We certainly didn’t.

Once again, I advise all pundits and editorial page editors to read their own newspaper. If Cohen did, he would have read an interview a week ago by the WaPo's Ezra Klein with Congressman Alan Grayson, who summed up the futility of limited U.S. military intervention in Syria:

So, a) Assad has so much [military] stuff, b) the Russians will replace it, and c) we don’t want to weaken him too much. Sometimes there is no solution to the equation.

Interventionist liberals like Cohen -- and now add Christiane Amanpour -- who cry, "We must do something!" don't seem to care too much what that something is, or what it will achieve.

Beyond that, Cohen's unapologetic assertion that the U.S. is indeed the world's policeman is, well, stunning. It's so 2001. 

The inescapable truth is that the world needs a policeman. The inescapable truth is that only the United States can play cop. We have the wherewithal. A further inescapable truth is that evil exists and needs to be fought. We should always proceed cautiously and prudently, aware of mission creep, complexity and our own limitations. I have always thought, maybe naively, that these were values embedded in the very soul of American liberalism. It seems I am wrong.

Yes, and thank God you are wrong.  It's hard to believe anybody who calls himself a liberal would dare to put this in print. "We have the wherewithal"?  "We should proceed...aware of our own limitations!"  Hello!  We have almost $17 trillion in national debt, about 10 percent of it from the Afghanistan-Iraq debacles. And Cohen wants us to put a third war on the nation's credit card?!  We have a U.S. Military that is overstretched and thinned out at the junior office ranks, the backbone of our fighting force. And what if we need to fight a war where our security or interests are actually at stake?!  Folks, this is the road to empire, overreach and collapse.  

By Richard Cohen
September 13, 2013 | Washington Post

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