After recent reports that the Syrian government may have used chemical weapons against civilians, media figures have begun to push for U.S. military intervention in the region. But senior military leaders say that engagement could produce a negative long-term outcome.
Last month, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, detailed possible downsides to U.S. military involvement in Syria in a letter to Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). In addition to possible collateral damage to civilians and the loss of U.S. aircraft, Dempsey notes that a poorly planned military incursion "could inadvertently empower extremists or unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control." Additionally, Dempsey noted that military options could cost taxpayers between $500 million to $1 billion per month.
Nonetheless, media figures have begun the drumbeat for military intervention.
The Washington Post editorial board said that if the use of chemical weapons is proven, President Obama should order "direct U.S. retaliation against the Syrian military forces" and enforce a no-fly zone in southern Syria.
That paper's conservative blogger, Jennifer Rubin, wrote, "The isolationist right and the indifferent left have let it be known that it's not a good idea to do anything effective to rid Syria and the world of the butcher of Damascus" in a blog post headlined "Obama's foreign policy leads to hundreds killed by WMDs."
National Review's Victor Davis Hanson argued:
But the time for intervention, if one thought it would preclude the sort of devilish attack that may have occurred, was long ago, when the opposition was not so clearly dominated by al-Qaedists and their sympathizers, the Assad regime in the heady days of the Arab Spring was tottering, and the notion was preventing carnage, not post facto reacting to it.
Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard, who previously authored "The Connection: How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America," attacked President Obama for "empty words" on Syria, and asked if "the president now find[s] it acceptable, as he did not 18 months ago, for the United States 'to turn a blind eye to the atrocities in other countries?'"