Bill Keller wins – meet the new Joe Lieberman

The once (and never-again-please-I-beg-you) Editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller, steps up to speak out about Syria:

As a rule, I admire President Obama’s cool calculation in foreign policy . . . frankly I’ve shared his hesitation about Syria, in part because*, during an earlier column-writing interlude at the outset of the Iraq invasion, I found myself a reluctant hawk. That turned out to be a humbling error of judgment, and it left me gun-shy.

*Good old Bill, predictable fellow that he is, still thinks it’s all about him. (The whole sorry thing is here.)

Of course, there are important lessons to be drawn from our sad experience in Iraq: Be clear about America’s national interest. Be skeptical of the intelligence. Be careful whom you trust. Consider the limits of military power. Never go into a crisis, especially one in the Middle East, expecting a cakewalk.

Now, here we go . . .

But in Syria, I fear prudence has become fatalism, and our caution has been the father of missed opportunities, diminished credibility and enlarged tragedy.

Looks like he got over that gun-shyness thing just in time for Sock It To Me: Chapter II. I think John McCain and Ms. Graham should have the guy over for a few cocktails and high fives.

8 responses to “Bill Keller wins – meet the new Joe Lieberman

  1. I love this post.

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  2. The drums of war…

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  3. The Powell Doctrine states that a list of questions all have to be answered affirmatively before military action is taken by the United States:

    1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
    2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
    3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
    4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
    5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
    6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
    7. Is the action supported by the American people?
    8. Do we have genuine broad international support

    Dang, I wish it could be engraved on every building in Washington.

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    • JIm, I’m sure you remember that in Iraq, we absolutely ignored the possibility of future sectarian conflict – which led to that little civil war they had, the one that put the pro-Iranian Shiites in power – and Syria is the same thing. It may not have started that way, but it is now. Sectarianism is rife and the rebels have multiple factions within themselves. I heard McCain say we’d aid the rebels “we’d identified as sharing our values”. Good luck with that.

      We never ever learn.

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      • Well, McCain never learns, that’s for sure. He’s a classic case of how being good at one thing (aggressive military jet pilot) doesn’t fit another (politician). And you’re exactly right about the rebels – another rag-tag, unpredictable lot of religious fanatics. Even if we could identify one bunch we think is good for our side there’s no guarantee at all that they wouldn’t be ousted by another group later on. And the one thing they have in common is religious hatred, hardly a recipe for success. What a mess.

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        • My great fear is death by a thousand cuts . . . that the Obama Admin will react to the war calls by doing a little bit here, a little bit there . . .

          I wish someone would ask McCain what he’d suggest we do the first time Syria’s first-rate air defense system shoots down an American flyer..

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