This week brought several reminders of the virtues of skepticism. On Thursday, the Obama administration announced it would "dramatically" increase U.S. aid to the Syrian rebels, citing an upgrade from "varying degrees of confidence" in April to "high confidence" this week that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons. So the U.S. inches down the road of mission creep in a civil war featuring one side backed by Hezbollah and the other by "al-Qaeda-linked extremists." With the White House citing "high confidence" about WMD, what could possibly go wrong? Skepticism also greeted NSA head General Keith Alexander, who claimed that the agency's electronic surveillance had helped stop dozens of terror attacks, and that revelations about the program have done "great harm" to our security. Meanwhile, President Obama said he "welcomed" a public debate on the issue (Really? So why'd he keep the program hidden for years?). Once again, Einstein had it right: "Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth."
Beyond humanitarian assistance to refugees in and outside the country and minimal lethal aid to identified "moderate" rebel groups, the American public is too tired, shell-shocked, and de-sensitized to by the disheartening experience in Iraq and Afghanistan to militarily intervene for Syria's civilian victims.