October 30, 2008

The Travis Bickle school of foreign policy

By: David Donadio

So once again, in Sonny’s view, there’s no difference between imperfect cooperation and no cooperation at all. Some might say we should think a few steps ahead before shaving our heads and going straight for our guns every time we run into a problem. As Stephen Van Evera wrote in the inaugural issue of the MIT International Review, Syrian cooperation has been valuable to us in saving American lives in the not too distant past:

And the administration pushed its relations with Syria to rupture despite important Syrian help against al-Qa’ida after 9/11. Syrian intelligence cooperation after 9/11 allowed the U.S. to thwart al-Qa’ida attacks on the U.S. Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain and the U.S. embassy in Ottawa. Administration hostility to Syria has ended this cooperation.

For the sake of argument, let’s say bad goes to worse, Syria withdraws its cooperation altogether, and we suffer attacks on the Fifth Fleet headquarters in Manama and our embassy in Ottawa, in which 50 Americans get killed. Then might you be open to using the steering wheel as well as the gas pedal, or would you just argue that we should carpet bomb Damascus?