June 23, 2013

Barney Frank: Syria may need intervention, but the U.S. should steer clear

The unfolding rebellion in Syria doesn't threaten our security or economic interests.

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Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, left, speaks with Syrian President Bashar Assad, center, and then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Damascus, Syria. Many are saying America should intervene in Syria, but former Sen. Barney Frank disagrees. “I have not heard or read ... a coherent explanation of what it is they believe America can do to make it better (in Syria),” he writes.

The Associated Press

On another front, the national trauma of the murder of our diplomats in Benghazi is the result of our taking responsibility to a large degree for bringing order to a chaotic, violent Libya.

We do have security interests in protecting Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States from Shiite radicalism, although our pursuit of these repressive regimes obviously refutes any argument that we must overthrow Assad because we are inviolably committed to the defense of human rights. But increasing the anti-Americanism that a third military intervention in an Arab country would bring does not help.

Finally, there is no reason to believe that a post-Assad Syria, with strong pro-al-Qaida elements, would make Israel any safer. This is not a reason to oppose the anti-Assad forces, but neither is support for Israel a reason to arm them.

(And harsh critics of Israel's approach to peace should not ignore this latest example of Hezbollah's destructive violent role.)

I very deeply regret the great loss of life in Syria, and I would be very happy to see Assad deposed. But I do not believe that removing Assad and guaranteeing a peaceful, functioning post-Assad Syria are results that are our responsibility to achieve.

And I am certain that as much as we desire those results, achieving them is neither within our capacity nor necessary to our security.

Barney Frank is a retired congressman and author of landmark legislation. He divides his time between Maine and Massachusetts.


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