What made Libya a "pure" intervention was that we acted not because our vital interests were threatened but in spite of the fact that they were not. For me, this was yet one more reason to laud it. Libya provided us an opportunity to begin the difficult work of re-orienting U.S. foreign policy, to align ourselves, finally, with our own ideals.
For me, Syria is part of this bigger debate; what role does the United States seek for itself in a rapidly changing world, a world in which activists and rebels still long for an America that will recognize the struggle and come to the aid of their revolutions? The rising democracies of Brazil and India cannot offer this. Russia and China certainly cannot.
A foreign policy that has no relationship toward national interests is not a foreign policy. The United States should always support, encourage, trade with, talk to, and buoy democratizng countries. But if we haven't learned by now that sending bombs and tanks is unaffordable, given our debt, and inherently compromised, given our lack of control over what happens next, then we have learned nothing.
(Photo: Syrian soldiers who defected join protesters in the al-Khaldiya neighborhood of the restive city of Homs on January 26, 2012. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army launched an offensive on Thursday evening in the Karm al-Zeitoun district of Homs, killing 26 civilians, including nine children, and wounding dozens. By STR/AFP/Getty Images.)