After Reported Gas Attack in Syria, US Must Weigh Intervention in Light of History

By Thomas, Paul | The Christian Science Monitor, August 21, 2013 | Go to article overview

After Reported Gas Attack in Syria, US Must Weigh Intervention in Light of History


Thomas, Paul, The Christian Science Monitor


Syrian opposition groups claimed this morning that government forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have carried out a "poisonous gas" attack near the capital Damascus that has left hundreds dead. This latest escalation in Syria's civil war will likely raise the volume of calls for American intervention - but also the stakes of such a move.

Any drift toward intervention in Syria should give Americans pause. Simply put, the track record of US interventions in the Middle East and greater Muslim world is not good. This history suggests US intervention in Syria would be unpredictable at best, disastrous at worst.

Late last month, the Pentagon released a list of possible operations it could launch if ordered to intervene in the civil war in Syria. These include plans to train and arm resistance groups, conduct air strikes, enforce a no-fly zone, track down chemical weapons, and/or establish buffer zones in Syria. On the same day, the House Intelligence Committee authorized the White House to provide training and aid to Syrian rebels.

As they weigh options in Syria, lawmakers should recall Jimmy Carter's and Ronald Reagan's decision to arm the Afghan Mujahideen in their war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s - the most obvious historical parallel to the developing situation in Syria. In its largest covert operation of the cold war, the CIA worked with Saudi and Pakistani intelligence services to arm and train thousands of Islamic fighters from Afghanistan and the Middle East as part of a secret war against the Soviet Union.

The United States and its allies succeeded in turning Afghanistan into a bloody quagmire - the so-called Soviet Vietnam. And the long- term repercussions were sobering: an estimated 2 million killed, Afghanistan destabilized, and an energized jihadist movement that would go global in the coming decades and harbor the militants who attacked the US on September 11, 2001.

The case of Lebanon - Syria's close neighbor - is also worth remembering. The Reagan administration designed its intervention in the Lebanese Civil War in 1982 with humanitarian interests in mind, but once US forces were on the ground, they discovered a far more complicated situation. Tasked with restoring the power of the Lebanese government, American troops threw their support behind Christian forces in the civil war. US peacekeepers were then pulled into the conflict.

The 1983 bombing of the US Marine compound in Beirut, which killed 241 American servicemen and stands as the deadliest single attack on US troops overseas since World War II, showed just how dangerous such operations can be. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

After Reported Gas Attack in Syria, US Must Weigh Intervention in Light of History
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.