Our Military Intervention Record in the Middle East Is “Dismal”

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John McCain went to Syria recently and, among other things, apparently ended up posing for a photograph with rebels who had kidnapped 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims. I think Joe Klein draws the right conclusion:

I don’t blame McCain for this. It’s hard to advance a trip into rebel territory….The point is: We just don’t know these places well enough to go over and draw grand conclusions about policy. In a way, McCain’s trip is a perfect metaphor for the problem of involving ourselves with the Syrian rebels. We may be siding with the greater evil. We may be throwing fuel on a fire that could consume the region. Our track record when it comes to such things is dismal.

Obviously McCain didn’t do this deliberately. But he’s been insisting for years that we can tell the good guys from the bad guys in Syria, and this incident suggests that we can’t. Not reliably, anyway. Even McCain can’t. As Klein says, our track record on this stuff is pretty dismal. President Obama is right to be very, very cautious about committing American military aid to this fight.

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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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