Ignoring Syria is Like Penn State Ignoring Child Molesting

That is according to our senior Arizona Republic columnist EJ Montini  (via Expresso Pundit)

The U.S. is big enough and strong enough to act on behalf of the innocent victims, including children, who were killed in Syria by the chemical weapons. But those who are against it say this is not our fight. That we shouldn’t go it alone. That the chemical attack wasn’t against Americans. That we can’t be sure what we’d be getting ourselves into. And that there is no clear objective, other than acting in response to an atrocity.

I understand the reasoning.

Given all that, however, I wonder why was so many Americans were furious with former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary.

Remember him?

He was the guy who saw the now imprisoned former coach Jerry Sandusky raping a boy in a Penn State shower.

McQueary was vilified for not acting to stop the attack.

This is an absurd comparison for any number of reasons.  The most obvious is that no one would have been put in danger, and the financial costs were nil, for the Penn State coaches to stop Sandusky's abuse.  Further, Penn State officials had a clear legal obligation for the safety of folks on their property.  Finally, Penn State had the ability to easily stop and prevent the illegal activity.

None of these statements are true for Syria.  The costs in lives and property, both to ourselves and to the citizens of Syria, are potential enormous.  It's not clear it is the US's job to police the area, and in fact history has proven that unilaterally adopting the policeman role, even with the best of intentions, can hurt our country's reputation and relations in the long-term.  Finally, its not at all clear that we could stop Assad from doing whatever he wishes, short of sending in troops to remove him from power, and even then his replacement may likely be just as bad.  Oddly for a liberal in the foregin policy sphere, Montini seems to be making a form of the "might makes right" argument, that the US is obligated just because it is big and strong.

Tellingly, I don't see Montini advocating for use military force to help citizens in any other of the scores of countries where they are being mistreated.  It is more likely that what Montini is really concerned about is the loss of the prestige and credibility of Barack Obama.  A lot of blood has been spilled for thousands of years for the prestige of state leaders.  I for one am happy if this country is finally wising up to this game.


  1. MingoV:

    Left-wingers believe that we are obligated to be the world's policeman. The left-wingers dream about 'one world', and their 'one world' is about peace and love. It's necessary for the President to punish bullies and hooligans until the world is at peace and "love is everywhere."


  2. Gil:

    That sounds similar to Libertarian thinking - they want law enforcement to be privatised so criminals need only fear whether or not the victims can defend themselves at the time of the crime.

  3. Gil:

    How is it unfair comparison? People are not obliged to involve themselves in the affairs of others.

  4. Joe_Da:

    I agree and disagree with you.

    Agreement - originally this was a civil war between the innocent anti Assad syrians, now it is a civil war between Islamic extremists / Al Queda and Assad/Iran Hezbelloh. Let the bad guys kill each other for as long as possible. Unfortunately Civilians are going to get killed, whether we step in or stay out. I we stay out, the civilians get killed by both factions. If we enter, then the al queda gets the upper hand and purges the innocents ala stalinist purge style.

    Disagreement - reason to attack 1) not doing something results in significantly less credibility than obama already has ( or doesnt have). 2) not doing something implies that others including iran can do the same with no consequences.

    One additional note - one of the hallmarks of the leftist thinking is that the USA is so much better respected world wide now that bush is gone and obama is in. Though it is worth noting that Bush had 20+ countries to eliminate Sadam, yet Obama can only get france on his side for syria.

  5. MNHawk:

    So becoming allies of the people who attacked us, is like preventing child molestation?

    Seems there's that ugly little detail supporters run from...we'd become allies of Al-Qaeda, by attacking their enemy.

  6. CapnRusty:

    Democrats and Liberals have apparently raised their aspirations. Up to now, they wanted to run the Nanny State. Now, they want to run the Nanny World.

  7. Ombibulous:

    And pointing a gun at people and forcing them to help others is morally corrupt and evil.

  8. Max:

    I think the analogy also breaks down on different angle. In the football coach drama, we have two very clear positions, even to an observer. You want to help the poor victim boy and apprehend the evil coach. It is not so easy in Syria, where you have a secular dictator who tends to kill on a small scale, except when threatened obviously (this is after all a civil war).
    On the other side, we have a group of "rebels" that are mostly comprised of Islamists. So this is a really grey choice compared to the football coach situation.

    I think if he wants to have a better comparison, why not intervene in North Korea? Who can stand that situation after reading Escape from Camp 14?

  9. jjc:

    Actually it's a good analogy, but not in the way the author wanted. In both cases, people are reacting to a flawed media presentation of what's going on, and the punishments proposed (sanctions by NCAA, bombing by USA) are primarily aimed at innocent people who had nothing to do with the alleged crimes.

  10. irandom419:

    Technically one of the groups fighting the government isn't evil, but the rest are. I thought a criticism of the Iraq war was we were killing innocents.

  11. NL7:

    Also, the administration claims it does not want to remove Assad from power, or stop him from bombing and shooting the Syrian people, which I guess is the equivalent of letting Sandusky stay free and continue molesting children, as long as you punch him a little bit every time he molests them in the shower rather than in his home or office.

  12. NL7:

    There is an established and refined system for apprehending and adjudicating people who harm children, and the assistant coach could have reported to that system instead of just telling the school. There is no established method for mildly punishing countries that use lethal chemical weapons, no refined system of adjudication (the current international tribunals are essentially kangaroo courts with haphazard rules of evidence and little capacity for defense counsel), and way more is involved than simply telling people about your knowledge of a crime. There is no higher authority that can neatly arrest just Assad, upon the testimony of the CIA that atrocities happened.