“What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world,” blustered Kerry. “It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear: The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable. And despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable.”
It’s quite possible that Assad, who may have launched some earlier, tentative chemical attacks, felt confident enough that he could blow past President Barack Obama’s figurative red lines and openly use toxic nerve agents on civilians. But was Assad truly at fault? Or was the attack the covert work of the rebels, hoping Assad would be blamed and Western powers would then do their work for them by removing him?
As this was written, President Obama was, on the one hand, polishing his 50th anniversary “I Have a Dream” commemoration speech for today honoring pacifist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And on the other hand, he was considering using U.S. military assets to punish Assad. Now that’s what you call multi-tasking.
Only 9 percent of Americans favor military intervention, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken last week. We suspect that percentage is even lower here in Cobb County.
And who can blame the public for feeling that way? After fighting two prolonged wars in that part of the world, Americans are weary of fighting. Yet Nobel Peace Prize-winner Obama has gotten us into a third war, in Libya, and now is on the verge of launching us into a fourth.
He foolishly painted a symbolic “red line” that Assad could not cross, which Assad has now crossed with apparent impunity and to the great embarrassment of Obama. So at this point, the military option is Obama’s only way of saving face, both for himself and the country. Not only are our troops to be used as the world’s cops, but to save the president’s political hide.
Supporters of candidate Obama predicted in 2008 that his foreign policy would represent a break from the “cowboyish” George Bush and predicted his new approach and Muslim-sounding name would pay big benefits in that corner of the world.
It hasn’t exactly worked out that way, has it?
What happens if after we “punish” Assad for his alleged use of poison gas, he decides to do use it again? Do we retaliate again? And on a larger scale? Do we ultimately try to “decapitate” the regime by killing Assad, even though he has done nothing to us?
Why not let Syria’s neighbors and the European community sort this out?
Obama has lots of bad options for Syria and one very good one from which to choose. And that good option can best be summarized in two words: Stay out.