Battle of the Straw Men

(Credit: Washington Post)

(Credit: Washington Post)

In his latest piece for Foreign Policy, James Traub calls out President Obama and his “next-to-nothing” policy in Syria. He sees a contradiction in a president who stands up the straw man argument that those who criticize his strategy in Syria suggest only one alternative: full-scale land invasion. Of course, this is not true.

But in critiquing the president Mr. Traub’s article misses the argument that is broader than “How do we support the rebels?” and that is “How do we keep this war confined to Syria?” The war is no longer a Libya-style battle for the government. It is a regional conflagration slowly dragging in the entire region (as reporting from Iraq in the past few weeks has shown).

By oversimplifying the president’s policy, Mr. Traub is posing a straw man of his own: that the only reason for not invading Syria is confusion at best – and cowardice at worst.

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