Yes, it’s a lot easier being a community organizer than it is commander-in-chief. By now even Barack Obama has figured that out.
By now we know there are no easy answers on Syria. We know there will be consequences no matter what we do. If we attack, Syria and its partners in crime will almost certainly retaliate. If they hit Israel, and Israel hits back, that would lead to a wider war in a neighborhood already on fire. If they blow up something here in America, we would have to respond. But how do we do that? It won’t be the Syrian army that attacks the United States. It will be the same kind of terrorists who killed four Americans in Benghazi a year ago — and we still haven’t brought any of them to justice.
On the other hand, if we do what a majority of Americans say they want and stay out of “their civil war,” what nation anywhere in the world would have confidence in our words and promises? Red lines will have no meaning and brutal dictators will suffer no punishment for using chemical weapons to kill their own people, even their own children. We told the Israelis not to pre-emptively attack Iran in order to knock out its nuclear project; we said the United States would never allow the mullahs to possess a nuclear weapon. How do you say “Really?” in Hebrew?
And President Obama has done his share to take a bad situation and make it worse. After he drew the red line, he did nothing to enforce his threat, even though we believe the Syrians used poison gas not once or twice but 9 or 10 times. One day after he sent John Kerry out to make a forceful case for a limited attack, he backed down and threw the hot potato to Congress without knowing how the vote would come out. If Congress votes no, that leaves the president weakened at home and abroad. How is that good for the United States?
And then there are the political hit squads here at home. Turn on your television and you’ll see plenty of Syria hawks who wanted no part of Iraq and plenty of doves who couldn’t wait to attack Baghdad, who wanted our military to stay there even longer and attacked the president for not sending even more troops into Afghanistan. I detest these unprincipled hacks, left and right.
But there are also legitimate, honestly held reasons for going to quasi war, and good reasons for not getting involved. Can the United States really allow the use of poison gas and do nothing? Is that who we are as a people? But should we get involved in still another Middle East mess when the United States is not under anything even resembling a direct threat? Aren’t we war weary enough?
I’ve gone back and forth a hundred times on what we should or shouldn’t do and I’m still not sure. So now, I’m turning this column over to you. Here’s the question: Should the United States use military force against Syria. Keep your answers tight.