Syria: A Kennedy, Not a Bush
Should We Intervene in Syria?
If you wait to read this until a few days after publishing, there’s a very good chance that President Obama has authorized military intervention in Syria and that some form of action has been taken. Is Assad guilty as charged? Probably, possibly but we will never really know. The people pointing the finger have very little credibility. Opposition groups on the ground (and there are several), have their own agenda and when that agenda has stakes as high as they are in Syria, then everything is called into question. If Assad wins, they will probably be rounded up and quietly executed either for punishment or to prevent a repeat of this uprising. For Assad, a loss will not mean a quiet retirement in the country any more than it did for Saddam or Gaddafi. When you’re playing for your life, the stakes don’t get much higher.
As for Washington: Americans and the world would love to believe them but the track record suggests that it probably wouldn’t be wise. Yes, that was Bush and this is Obama but it doesn’t matter. The generals and the CIA people and who doctored it up before are still sitting behind the same desks. As history now shows, presenting dubious reports that made something concrete out of unsubstantiated claims from the Iraqi opposition didn’t seem to offend their professional scruples in the past so why would it now? Bush and Cheney took the heat but although they probably made it very obvious what spin they wanted for public consumption, the intelligence services still prepared those reports and delivered them knowing full well that they were inaccurate. If these people feel that their job description basically boils down to appeasing the government of the day then how can anything they say be trusted? Bottom line is that in the absence of solid, independently verifiable evidence, anything said by the administration has a question mark over it.
Does that mean then that Syria shouldn’t be hit to “teach them a lesson?” Probably not and let me explain why. Firstly, any time in the past when we have been promised surgical strikes by the military, innocent people somehow end up getting hurt. Secondly, Assad has had plenty of warning and will take whatever losses he ends up with on the chin. Lastly, and this will sound terrible at first read, what has really be done to deserve it?
Let me take a few paragraphs to clarify that statement because, believe me, I’m certainly not defending Assad in any of this. My point is we talk about red lines being crossed and how atrocious it is that chemical weapons were used. John Kerry told us how he wept for the children but hang on, this mess has been going on for two years and over one hundred thousand people have been killed, why does he only weep now? Why does it matter what the cause of death; bullets, bombs or chemicals? I’m sure it doesn’t matter to those who’ve lost their loved ones. A mother who loses her child when an American cruise missile hits a building and traps her child in the rubble will grieve as much as if that child were poisoned.
America has chemical weapons too, and Israel, Britain and so many others. The only reason they are kept is because someone, somewhere can see a time when they might be used. Imagine a future, just hypothetically for a moment. Texas has followed through with its threat and seceded from the United States. In solidarity, three other southern states have joined the movement and now radical elements within the Federal Government are calling for action to stem the tide; the very future of America is at stake. One thing leads to the next and pockets of violence break out as the people begin to take sides. Within a few years, America is in the midst of a civil war and the overthrow of the government is imminent. At that point, with their backs against the wall and growing popular support for the rebel movement, would the government turn its weapons on its own people?
It’s a hypothetical question for the US but a very real one in Syria right now. Both sides are fighting for survival and all bets are off. If we go in, then it has to be for the right reason and there has to be a substantial payoff in the form of stopping the bloodshed. Realistically, unless we’re ready for another full-fledged invasion, boots on the ground as President Obama would put it, and then we need to back off and stop the saber rattling. Red line or any line, it doesn’t matter what method is used, people are still dying and it needs to stop.
If America wants to be a world leader then we need to act like one and do the right thing. The right thing is not threatening to inflict more violence on the Syrian people nor is it allowing the rhetoric from countries like Russia to be something that is ignored. This is a time for leadership from our government, to recognize that the allies of Syria are not just being belligerent but that they have a stake in the outcome in Syria just as we do in other countries. Sit down at the table, find some common ground and let them see that it’s in their interests to bring this conflict to an early end. Syria does not need to become this generation’s version of the Cuban missile crisis and we do not need more blood spilled. President Obama, we need a Kennedy more that we need a Bush right now and so do the people of Syria.