General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, laid out the case for nonintervention in Slaughterhouse Syria: We should invest our money in training for the rebels, because that would only cost five hundred million dollars per month, while direct military intervention might run as high as one billion per month. The suspiciously round sums make the math is so simple, it’s insulting. Direct intervention would have immediate results. The butchery would be reduced dramatically, and the war would be brought to a conclusion relatively swiftly with the departure of Bashar Al-Assad.
Rebel training, on the other hand, would take many months, while rebel forces on the ground would be savaged in the meantime, more civilians would die and more terrorist interests would take sides in the conflict. The question that needs to be asked is, “Would it likely take more than twice as long to win this war if we train, rather than intercede?” The answer is yes, of course, and the economic argument fails on the same ash heap as the cautionary one. The “economic argument” stands naked as a rationale for doing nothing, as we watch the very train wreck unfold that we were told would happen if we intervened. Unfazed, the “hands-off” crowd continues the ineffectual handwringing that let this mess get this bad in the first place. It may actually already be too late to do the right thing: remove Al-Assad. As a despised minority dictator, he has no choice but to continue to rule with oppression so brutal, it would make the Shah of Iran look like Mother Theresa.