Does the situation in Syria concern you? It should. If you are not one of the 50% of Americans who are oblivious to world events, it should concern you very much. It doesn’t matter if you are a liberal or conservative, a Republican or Democrat, young or old, black or white. We have been painted into a corner, and there is no easy way out.
Simply put, whether or not we launch an attack to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons the ramifications are unknown and could result in a broader conflict and/or enhanced terrorist attacks prospectively. Proponents of an attack say that if we don’t respond it will embolden Iran, North Korea and various terrorist groups. They will conclude that we are a paper tiger, a weakling and not to be feared or respected. History has shown that appeasement does not work.
On the other hand, there is no guarantee that an attack, as proposed by the Administration, will accomplish anything meaningful. The administration has promised a very limited response. What does that mean? Your guess is as good as mine, but they have promised “no boots on the ground.” A very limited attack would not depose Assad, nor strike fear and respect into the hearts of our enemies. It would not reassure our allies in the region. It would not even destroy the CWs or significantly degrade their effectiveness. By now, surely they have been disseminated and well hidden. Basically, it would only enable us to say “see, we did respond. Assad crossed our president’s ‘red line,’ but we showed him.”
Furthermore, many people question whether Assad was even responsible for the CW attack in the first place. Finally, it is known that Assad’s opponents include some elements of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and other militant Islamic groups, which have been committing atrocities of their own for many years. These groups are bitter enemies of ours. So, why help them. Let them kill each other. Why risk American money and materiel when it not our fight? Wrong time, wrong place, wrong reasons.
According to the latest polls, approximately 60% of Americans agree with the latter position, saying it is not in our national interest to be involved in Syria. There are many reasons for this poll result. To wit:
1. After over a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, many Americans are war weary.
2. It is not our job or responsibility to be the world’s policeman, especially when it is not appreciated.
3. We should only become involved in foreign conflicts when our security is threatened directly.
4. Our money, men and assets could be used better elsewhere.
5. Why aide terrorists?
6. Israel, our most reliable and staunchest ally in the region, is fully capable of protecting itself in this situation. Their enemies may hate them, but at least they fear and respect them militarily.
7. But, the most compelling reason is a pervasive lack of confidence in Mr. Obama to execute it successfully. Many Americans feel strongly that somehow, someway, he would “screw it up.”
Unfair, you say? Well consider that President Obama and the State Department have mishandled this situation all along.
1. They did nothing while Assad murdered over 100,000 of his own people, most of which were women, children and other non-combatants.
2. Mr. Obama labeled the use of CWs a personal “red line,” which would trigger a response from the US. He practically made it personal. When Assad subsequently used CWs, we think, in some people’s minds this forced us to respond, even if such a response would be symbolic.
3. Always the leader from behind, Mr. Obama, rather then acting decisively on his own, sought Congressional approval before acting. In the process, he effectively gave advanced warning to Assad. How dumb was that? When he realized he would likely not get it, he delayed further.
4. Vladimir Putin offered a cockamamie diplomatic solution. That is, Russia would confiscate the CWs from Syria and keep them secure, subject to UN inspection. In return, O must promise never to attack Syria. How ridiculous is that? Aside from the fact that Putin cannot be trusted and the UN is incompetent and useless in these types of matters, the logistics of transporting the CWs to Russian control while maintaining strict security and keeping them safe and secure at some location while a rebellion is in progress are enormous. This proposal makes no sense, yet O is entertaining it, grasping at it as if it were a lifeline to a drowning man.
5. Putin has outmaneuvered O at every turn. He is playing chess while O is playing checkers.
CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION
The US has lost all credibility and influence in the region. We are now faced with a “Hobson’s Choice.” We can either back down from O’s ill advised “red line” and do nothing, or we can respond in a very limited way, which would accomplish nothing and, perhaps, be worse. Either course will embolden our enemies and increase the level of fear and uncertainty in our allies. My prediction is O will delay further, perhaps, do nothing ever and then blame others (Republicans, Congress, Putin) for the consequences.