Our War Party has been temporarily diverted from its clamor for war on Iran by the insurrection against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Estimates of the dead since the Syrian uprising began a year ago approach 6,000. And responsibility for the carnage is being laid at the feet of the president who succeeded his dictator-father Hafez al-Assad, who ruled from 1971 until his death in 2000.
Unlike Egypt's Hosni Mubarak who buckled, broke and departed after three weeks of protests, Bashar is not going quietly.
And, predictably, with the death toll rising, those champions of world democratic revolution -- John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham -- have begun beating the drums for U.S. aid to a "Free Syrian Army."
Last week, the three senators jointly declared:
"In Libya, the threat of imminent atrocities in Benghazi mobilized the world to act. Such atrocities are now a reality in Homs and other cities all across Syria. ... We must consider ... providing opposition groups inside Syria, both political and military, with better means to ... defend themselves, and to fight back against Assad's forces."
"The end of Assad's rule would ... be a moral and humanitarian victory for the Syrian people" and "a strategic defeat for the Iranian regime."
Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, Neocon Central, is also pushing the Iranian angle.
"Syria is the soft underbelly of Iran, Tehran's most important ally, conduit for arms and cash to terrorists. ... A unique confluence of American moral purpose and America's strategic interest argue for intervention in Syria. ... It's time to start arming the Free Syrian Army."
What are the arguments against U.S. intervention?
First, there is no vital U.S. interest in who rules Syria. If we could live with Hafez al-Assad for decades -- Bush 1 enlisted him as an ally in Desert Storm -- and his son for a dozen years, what threat does Bashar's rule pose to the United States?
Second, while McCain & Co. insist that "the bloodshed must be stopped and we should rule out no option that could help save lives," arming the rebels would cause a geometric increase in dead and wounded.
Should America start funneling arms to the rebels, Assad will realize that, like Moammar Gadhafi, he is in a fight to the death.
In 1982, his father, to crush a rebellion centered in the city of Hama, rolled up his artillery and leveled the town, killing an estimated 20,000. This is what we are risking if we start arming the rebels.
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