Wednesday update: Believe it or not, the sequel: In his new column today, from refugee camp, Kristof STILL comes out for U.S. airstrikes, despite our apparent win on maybe getting rid of Assad's chemical weapons. Yes, I get the humanitarian impulse, but he continues to appear blind to the likely negative after-effects.
Earlier: Believe it or not, Nick Kristof, often admirable in the past, in new column tonight, is still calling for bombing Syria. He argues that we simply must oppose crossing red lines in the use of inhumane weapons--yet in earlier column he supported the use of atomic bombs against Japan, killing at least 120,000 women and children and 50,000 others (and see my book here). Kristof's hero Nelson Mandela pointed out how U.S. STILL suffers--around the world--from stain of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In today's column (in a separate note he reveals it was written as the deal to get rid of Assad's arsenal was just about wrapped up), Kristof makes this argument:
Also notice how he is charging Assad with "presiding over" deaths of 100,000, even though most counts claim the rebels have slain up to half that number. And admits "some" of the rebels "are vile." Maybe three or four, you know. Artful.A missile strike on Syrian military targets would result in no supplemental budget, so money would come from the existing military pot. In any case, the cost of 100 missiles would be about $70 million — far less than the $1 billion annual rate that we’re now spending on humanitarian aid for Syrians displaced by worsening war and by gas attacks.If a $70 million strike deters further gas attacks and reduces the ability of President Bashar al-Assad to bomb civilians, that might actually save us money in humanitarian spending.
Finally, he dishonestly ignores the fact that if Obama had followed his call last week (and that of his colleague, Bill Keller) and started firing cruise missiles we would have already no doubt killed an untold number of innocent Syrians. Also we would not have the current agreement to get rid of all of Syria's chemical agents without bloodshed--which our bombing would not have come close to accomplishing. Also, this agreement will, if carried out, eliminate the chance of those weapons falling into al-Qaeda hands. Also, there will be no Assad retaliatory strikes and our bombs will not inflame much of the rest of the Muslim world against us.
In a tweet yesterday, Kristof crowed that the "threat" of bombing that he backed was working and this produced the Syria/Russia offer. Fair enough except--if Obama had actually gone ahead with the bombing already, as Kristof wished, there would have been no such offer.