Let me begin by stating that I am not a pacifist. I believe that there are times when war is an unfortunate, but necessary evil. World War II is a prime example of this truth. I equally believe that the United States has a Constitutional obligation to its people to protect them from harm. Thus I believe that war or military action is warranted when we are directly attacked, in defense of an ally, or when it is in our national security interests to get involved. These are the only circumstances in which I believe the United States should engage in a military conflict.
Holding these beliefs, it should come as no surprise that I fully supported the war in Afghanistan. The Taliban refused to turn over terrorists who murdered over 3,000 Americans on 9/11. They opted instead to support and harbor them. War in this instance was and is entirely justified. Iraq was somewhat more ambiguous. I could understand reasonable opposition to this war. However, I could equally understand and agree with the reasons for engaging in the conflict in Iraq.
A favorite target of every liberal during the Bush years were the neo-conservatives. They were deemed murderers of women and children and decried as lovers of war and waste. During this time I viewed these attacks as entirely partisan. I still do for the most part. This has been proven by the majority of the Left's commentary and behavior regarding Syria and Libya. However, I did make one serious error in judgement. I assumed that all of the *neo-conservatives' positions during this time were based upon my own views of when the U.S. should get involved in war (the three scenarios outlined in the opening paragraph).
I was wrong.
I have been appalled at some so-called conservatives rush to advocate military action in Syria. It meets none of the criterion mentioned above and intervention could actually be disastrous for U.S. interests. It is important to note that most of those advocating for military action are a part of the GOP establishment and not really conservative. That is some consolation. But it leaves me believing that some of these individuals actually are pro-war and believe that the U.S. should be involved in every conflict around the globe. Perhaps some of the criticism of the Left was valid.
But the Left has serious problems of its own in this area. The first being the sin of rank hypocrisy. Neo-conservatives are at least consistent in their ideology and largely non-partisan. They hold to their views regardless of who is in the White House. Not so the Left. If a Republican were President, their screeching over this current administration's actions would make any criticism of Bush appear tame. One only needs to look to then Sen. Obama's statements and those of his current Vice-President when Bush was in office.
The second problem the Left has is that of competence and measured thought. Neo-conservatives believe that military might can bring about democracy anywhere and that it is our duty to do so. Therefore their planning tends to be more thorough and precise, even if their underlying premise is incorrect. Liberal war hawks on the other hand believe that the U.S. response to any humanitarian crisis is bombs. Their cry is "we will bomb you to save you!" Their ideology is based on emotion and to quote the Russians often resembles a "monkey with a hand grenade." Their policies are infinitely more dangerous as they seldom take the time to assess any situation or analyze the consequences of their actions. They are completely reactionary, which makes them very dangerous.
Despite some of the virtues the neo-conservatives possess over the Liberal war hawks, they are essentially two sides of the same coin. One is only less wrong than the other. Both are dangerously wrong on Syria, the consequences of which are very serious. I can only hope and pray that conservatives and libertarians will unite and oppose any missile launch on Syria. I certainly do not expect anyone on the Left to. Remember that whole hypocrisy issue?
*It is important to note that the term neo-con has been thrown around indiscriminately as a pejorative by the Left, especially during the Bush years. I define neo-conservative in this piece as those who believe military force should be used to promote democracy in the world and/or that the United States should be the world's police force (with little regard to whether or not it is truly in our national security interest).