A Strike on Syria is a Legacy of the Iraq War

It strikes me that the entire Red Line business, which has now painted the president into a corner over Syria, is a direct result of US policy in the post-9/11 period in which WMD usage became a central (if not the central) justification for US military action.  The recent confirmation of US complicity in Iraqi chemical weapons attacks underscores how this was not always the case.

Understand:  I am not suggesting that the world ought to take a nonchalant view or the use of chemical weapons and nor I am endorsing the Reagan administration’s actions in the Iran-Iraq War.  However, I am concerned that the US and its allies have made WMD of any kind such a moral issue that it creates a synergy in which a deplorable act by the Assad regime will lead to the US and its allies making a very bad situation worse.   When it comes to the very serious implications of using US military assets it would be preferable not to create policies that end up being simplistic reactive processes.

Just a thought.

FILED UNDER: National Security, Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Franklin says:
  2. edmondo says:

    When it comes to the very serious implications of using US military assets it would be preferable not to create policies that end up being simplistic reactive processes.

    But I was told that I had to vote for Obama to avoid these types of brain-dead policies.

  3. al-Ameda says:

    The most egregious geopolitical mistake the Bush Administration made in attacking and taking down Iraq was that in doing so he ceded power in the region to Iran. The Iraq war is the gift that keeps on giving.

  4. mattbernius says:

    Great point Steven.

    It’s worth thinking about how North Korea’s acquisition of Nuclear Weapons also fits into this (possibly also Pakistan’s as well). Which in turn takes us into the Cold War, and back to WWII and the dropping of the two Atomic Bombs.

    Accepting that the second bomb was dropped, at least in part, to demonstrate that we could build more than one bomb, it seems to me that the Red Line — at least tied to WMD development and deployment — really begins there.

  5. gVOR08 says:

    …WMD usage became a central (if not the central) justification for US military action.

    Kudos for phrasing this precisely, that WMDs were the “justification” for the invasion, not the reason. However, to be entirely precise this should have read “alleged possession of WMDs”, not “usage”. The irony being that we’ve painted ourselves into this corner over W. Bush’s BS.

  6. @gVOR08: Fair enough on the need for the word “alleged” (although I do think that rationale is ultimately usage or fear of usage, at least in terms of the policy under discussion. Bush argued not only that Saddam had the weapons, but that usage was likely, if not imminent).

  7. al-Ameda says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Bush argued not only that Saddam had the weapons, but that usage was likely, if not imminent).

    And of course, the Bush Administration sent Rice, Rumsfeld and Cheney out on to the Sunday talk shows to warn us that they (the administration) didn’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” The rest is history.