As vocal armchair isolationism clogs the Congressional switchboard, it’s probably important to recognize that quiet armchair ambivalence is probably much more widely held. For my part, I hope my members of Congress understand that not calling Congress is not the same as not caring. Ambivalence toward warfare is not apathy. The countdown for a Congressional vote on intervention in Syria tick-tocks to a heartbreaking result, no matter what the result is. How do I call my Congressperson about that?
Can it be enough that I share in the agonizing frustration that there are no good options? I’m not sure that otherwise-reliable anti-war rhetoric has moral superiority when a dictator can use chemical weapons without consequence. On the other hand, does intervention draw an arbitrary line around one particular atrocity but not others? What price? What purpose? What result? It’s hard to find much solace in the vague descriptions a no-boots-on-the-ground, sending-a-strong-message intervention. What does that even look like? Is it even possible to have an appropriately scaled intervention that can be satisfactorily limited to punishment and deterrence, but nothing more? I can only hope that there are classified powerpoint slides about all of this.
Ultimately, I think I’m most persuaded by what appears to be this administration imbued with genuine pain in making the case to intervene. It seems the appropriate reaction to an impossible problem.