Steve Hayes Doesn't Remember When He Beat The Drums Of War With Syria

There's a glaring hole in Weekly Standard senior writer Steve Hayes' argument that media figures do not typically warmonger because “there was no drumbeat for war in Syria” -- he himself called for U.S. military intervention against the Assad regime.

Many media figures -- including former fans of the Iraq War -- are calling on President Obama to intervene in Syria against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) with military power. Currently, the administration has conducted airstrikes against the State in Iraq and is considering further action in Syria, though officials have said there will be no U.S. combat troops on the ground.

Fox's Juan Williams pointed out the increased calls for war during the September 7 edition of Fox's Media Buzz, suggesting that media seem to consistently favor war over peace, perhaps for a ratings boost that international conflicts could bring television news. Williams noted that today's calls seem to parallel media's eagerness for military intervention in Syria back in 2013, over human rights abuses from the Bashar al-Assad regime.

But Hayes, who is also a Fox contributor, disagreed, asking “which media favored going to Syria?” According to Hayes, “There was no drumbeat for war in Syria from the media”:

HAYES: If there had been, if the media were sort of predisposed to want war, to want the drama as Juan suggests, we would have seen that with respect to Syria. We didn't see that at all.

In fact, Hayes and his Weekly Standard colleagues were perhaps the loudest in the chorus of media figures calling for war with Syria just last year. 

On August 30, 2013, Hayes criticized the administration on Fox's Special Report for only “talking about limited strikes” in Syria while making what he saw was a case for “entering a real war”:

HAYES: I mean, they're making this case that suggests we ought to be entering a real war, aimed at changing the regime and changing conditions on the ground, and yet they're talking about limited strikes, not targeting regime elements. There's, I think, some real tension between those two things ... And it's certainly been the case that the world has been watching as we've been watching more than 100,000 people be killed on the streets of Syria. So I think the administration is going to have to do more to reconcile the strong case they're making for intervention and the announcements and I think likely attack that will be a slap on the wrist. (via Nexis)

On September 4, 2013, Hayes also penned a Wall Street Journal opinion piece with the headline, “The Hawk's Case Against Obama on Syria,” in which he laid out his case for why "[c]hanging the murderous regime in Damascus should be the goal":

There are many reasons for the U.S. to intervene in Syria: more than 100,000 dead, two million refugees, the repeated use of chemical weapons by a dictator who sponsors anti-American terrorists and is the puppet of a regime in Iran that is the world's foremost state sponsor of terror. The moral imperative is clear; the strategic case is solid.


The only thing worse than not intervening in Syria would be a failed intervention.

At the same time, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol attacked Obama as “totally irresponsible” for indicating that he doesn't want “to start another war,” saying, “You've got to do what you've got to do.” Meanwhile, Fox News hosts argued for airstrikes and urged Obama to treat Assad in Syria like President Bush treated Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Hayes was also one of the media's key Iraq War boosters, and his book The Connection pushed the falsehood that al Qaeda was collaborating with Hussein to attack the United States. Perhaps he remembers that drumbeat somewhat better.