A Rare Episode of Political Outrage

Have we, as a nation, tired of trying to do good? Through long years in Iraq and Afghanistan, through all the bumbling and corruption, through all the billions of dollars spent and thousands upon thousands of lives lost, this was our last defense: “Despite our shortcomings, we are trying to do good.”

As far as I can tell, there is little disagreements over the facts: who was killed, what weapons were used, who gave the order. This is not “solid intelligence.” This is children dead in the streets. And yet, we hesitate. “We are tired of war.” we say, as if armed conflict is like hunger, a desire to be sated but not overindulged, instead of a travesty to be avoided except when absolutely necessary.

But, sometimes, it is necessary. We are at a turning point. Previously, chemicals weapons were of limited use to the isolated dictator, since the common wisdom was deploying them would bring down the wrath of the international community. Turning a blind eye to Assad now will send every tyrant in the world scrambling to add to their arsenal.

For many, many reasons, Syria is not Iraq. We cannot having done wrong in the past prevent us from doing what is right now. We cannot mistake laziness for caution or political expediency for wisdom. We cannot mistake being tired with having learned something.

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