For more than a year, President Obama has been issuing warnings to Syria that the United States will not stand by idly while thousands are being slaughtered in the civil war taking place there. He has repeatedly spoken of a “red line” that cannot be crossed—the use of chemical weapons by the government against those who are attempting to topple Bashar al-Assad. Although that line was crossed quite a while ago, the administration has now gotten around to admitting it. But does the Syrian government really care? Is it quaking over threats from a so-called superpower that is all words and no action on many fronts?
The use of chemical weapons might have been the publicly stated reason for taking action, but one suspects there are other issues that disturb the president more:
I have great sympathy for the innocents caught in the literal crossfire of the Syrian debacle, but we must always consider the wisdom of any attempt to involve the United States in the multitude of wars and semi-wars that are ongoing daily. We must consider first whether there is any direct threat to our country. Then we must think about what would happen if the Syrian regime actually is toppled. Who would take over? Al Qaeda is prominent in the uprising. It’s not the only group, but history shows that the most radical element usually takes control eventually. Assad is a monster who uses chemical weapons. [By the way, where did he get those? Anyone else thinking of Iraq under Saddam, and how he might have transferred his over to Syria prior to our ousting of him back in 2003?] But who’s to say Assad’s replacement would be better? Do we really want to have a hand in turning that country over to Al Qaeda? Does anyone really see that as less of a threat to the United States?
The other concern here is that Obama seems poised now to act unilaterally without the approval of Congress. He has no authority to do so in this situation. Attack is not imminent. Any decision on the use of the American military must first be the subject of congressional debate. The problem is that Obama is quite accustomed to acting alone; he often makes statements about doing what needs to be done—as he perceives our “needs”—without waiting for Congress. Bottom line: he is untrustworthy. Congress must take its responsibility seriously and contain the Obama ego.
Syria is not the only place where we have sounded an uncertain trumpet or have waded into a conflict without proper deliberation. In fact, when one analyzes the Obama approach to the entire tinderbox known as the Middle East, one comes to a rather dismal conclusion:
Let’s avoid another foolish mistake. If only the grownups were in charge.