Sent in by a reader:
In his essay Representative Government, Jon Stuart Mill identified three fundamental conditions which the Carter administration would do well to ponder. These are: “One, that the people should be willing to receive it [representative government]; two, that they should be willing and able to do what is necessary for its preservation; three, that they should be willing and able to fulfill the duties and discharge the functions which it imposes on them.”
Clearly, we would be doing damage control in Syria, and expecting as much as the above would be ridiculously optimistic (the current administration may have held that kind of optimism regarding Libya, and perhaps Egypt during its elections, but events seem to be proving the fundamental disconnect between the current Arab-Muslim world and representative forms of government, at least as we understand those forms of government).
I still think many Americans are wary of any involvement in Syria, as am I, but there are also risks to consider in allowing the region to destabilize further. These risks include the region breaking open upon sectarian and ethnic lines, and yet another dysfunctional Arab state which becomes haven for enough radicals to require American engagement of some kind down the road.
We still seem to occupy a position of unipolar military strength at the moment, but in an increasingly multipolar world, there is a dearth of legitimate international institutions and alliances.
How do we line up our military strength with alliances that will lead to the greatest stability for our own democratic and liberal institutions, our own traditions and customs, along with incentives to include as many other players as possible based upon the conditions that alliances require?
Adam Garfinkle had more here on Syria (even Yemen and Syria are vastly different, as he points out).
*See the comments at Alexandria.
Addition: Fareed Zakaria has an interesting piece at Time on Syria.
Another Addition: Dexter Filkins has a piece at the New Yorker, highlighting how Hezbollah is doubling-down in Syria, as Iran is still very much backing Assad for its reasons.
Yet Another Addition: Victor Davis Hanson says if we don’t even know why we’re going into Syria, we could lose before we begin.
Related On This Site: Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’…From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”… From The Washington Post: ‘Obama Authorizes Predator Drone Strikes In Libya’