Speaking of drumbeats, the drumbeat to "do something" continues to pound on the chaos in Syria. The Syrian government is clearly unsavory and brutal. Some in this country believe that it is therefore illegitimate and should be changed.
Whether the USA should intervene, and who should rule Syria is being asked, but these are the wrong questions. The most important question is: what gives us as a nation the right to choose the governments of other nations?
If you listen to the pundits, and the politicians debating this question, the answer appears to be: "because we can." Some go so far as to say that the mere existence of our capability gives us the right to make these decisions.
There is an old saying that deals with a common moral dillema: "The ends do not justify the means." The point of the saying is that no matter how much good you may end up doing, that does not justify doing it, if the means to the end are immoral.
Fighting a war means killing people, which we consider immoral. Wars are sometimes clearly necessary, so those who went before us have devised the moral underpinnings of the just war theory. In no possible way would an intervention in Syria qualify as a "just war."
It is hard to imagine a foreign nation bombing our cities and openly taking sides against the US government to support some home-grown militant organization, but that is exactly what we did in Libya, and are being asked to do in Syria.
Americans presume the right to choose our government, and settle these things ourselves. Why do we not presume that other nations have the same right?
Has our immense military power and global reach corrupted our idea of when we need to "mind our own business?" Do we equate our power with the wisdom and the right to decide for others how they will be governed?
I pray that it has not. I pray that we do not intervene in Syria, but not because I do not pity the victims of the conflict there. It is because we have no right to do so, and to say that we do is to say that we should "because we can."
That is not a moral principle I want to stand on.