Avoid quicksand in strike against Syria
The United States is knocking on the door of war and, while the right thing to do is not turn a blind eye to the killing of innocents by chemical means, this country does not need another Afghanistan or Iraq.
Facing our lawmakers are several sides to this debate of whether we strike against Syria:
"President Obama is not asking America to go to war," Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday. "This is not the time for armchair isolationism. This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter."
House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Tuesday that a failure to respond to the use of chemical weapons "only increases the likelihood of future WMD (weapons of mass destruction) use by the regime, transfer to Hezbollah, or acquisition by al-Qaida."
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky: "While we are learning more about (President Obama's) plans, Congress and our constituents would all benefit from knowing more about what it is he thinks needs to be done - and can be accomplished - in Syria and the region."
Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma said, "It may sound real easy when people like Secretary Kerry say that 'it is going to be quick and we're going to go in, we're going to send a few cruise missiles, wash our hands and go home.' It doesn't work that way. This could be a war in the Middle East, it's serious."
Let's take these in reverse order. While no one said it is not serious, Inhofe is correct on at least one point - thinking you can just order some missile strikes and everything will be fine is looking at the situation while wearing colored glasses. We cannot predict what will happen. Further, McConnell is right that Obama must spell out, at least to Congress, what needs to be done as well as what he thinks can be accomplished.
For Cantor, that is the closest I have ever heard someone truly tell us how this affects the United States. We should not be the global police; however, how it could harm us needs to be clear.
And, all of the above culminate with Kerry's comments. We must take care not to step into a quicksand operation that becomes a war, yet we should never merely watch people being slaughtered.
The hard part is how everyone is linking this to the past.
As Obama has often noted, the country is weary of war after more than a decade of combat deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq, and there is residual skepticism a decade after Bush administration claims went unproven that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. To combat that, maybe we - or, again, at least our lawmakers - need the administration to prove 1,400 people died from a chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb.
While the world waits for results from U.N. soil tests at the site, none of this is going to be easy.
SIDE NOTE: Maybe the Bush administration critics should be looking at is the first Bush, whose attacks in Iraq were more surgical missile strikes than troops.