Nick Kristof exhorts his fellow libs to end their useless hand-wringing and deliver a useless shot over the bow of Assad:
Critics of American military action in Syria are right to point out all the risks and uncertainties of missile strikes, and they have American public opinion on their side.
But for those of you who oppose cruise missile strikes, what alternative do you favor?
It’s all very well to urge the United Nations and Arab League to do more, but that means that Syrians will continue to be killed at a rate of 5,000 every month. Involving the International Criminal Court sounds wonderful but would make it more difficult to hammer out a peace deal in which President Bashar al-Assad steps down. So what do you propose other than that we wag our fingers as a government uses chemical weapons on its own people?
Kristof backs a limited strike of limited efficacy:
A decade ago, I was aghast that so many liberals were backing the Iraq war. Today, I’m dismayed that so many liberals, disillusioned by Iraq, seem willing to let an average of 165 Syrians be killed daily rather than contemplate missile strikes that just might, at the margins, make a modest difference.
Yeah, if we can bring that 165 daily figure down to 164, let's go for it!
As to his being aghast about the Iraq war, he seems to have forgotten the famous UNICEF finding that UN sanctions on Iraq were killing 5,000 babies per month. (and another 2,500 adults, by some estimates, but Kristof considered that to be peace.)
To me, the central question isn’t, “What are the risks of cruise missile strikes on Syria?” I grant that those risks are considerable, from errant missiles to Hezbollah retaliation. It’s this: “Are the risks greater if we launch missiles, or if we continue to sit on our hands?”
Let’s be humble enough to acknowledge that we can’t be sure of the answer and that Syria will be bloody whatever we do. We Americans are often so self-absorbed as to think that what happens in Syria depends on us; in fact, it overwhelmingly depends on Syrians.
Yet on balance, while I applaud the general reluctance to reach for the military toolbox, it seems to me that, in this case, the humanitarian and strategic risks of inaction are greater. We’re on a trajectory that leads to accelerating casualties, increasing regional instability, growing strength of Al Qaeda forces, and more chemical weapons usage.
FWIW, he is having a near-unanimous reader revolt in his comments section. if that is a straw in the wind for public support and pressure on Congress, Obama's credibility the world's, the Congress', and everyone but Obama's credibility is in trouble.