Two weeks ago in this space we took the position of not taking a position on Syria. We basically stuck a thumb up our ass and said ‘Oh gee well we don’t want to drop any bombs but chemical weapons are bad, ummkay?’
Now that the question is before congress let us hone this blog’s editorial opinion a little sharper: We do not support a US strike on Syria. No matter how small. One bomb on Syria is one bomb too many. One bomb on Syria is enough to make all of our ships and aircraft legitimate targets of War. That is unacceptable.
The administration has been making its case to congress and to the people for more than two full weeks now, and the more they talk, the less convincing their case is. They say that Syria is not Afghanistan or Iraq. So what? Even setting those aside completely it still doesn’t seem like a good idea. The Syrian civil war has been a bloody stalemate for two years and it shows no sign of being broken any time soon, with or without our help.
They say that there is a ‘moderate opposition’ on the ground. There isn’t. People who are truly moderate don’t start civil wars in the first place. There is no one in Syria worth befriending. We should know this by now.
They say there won’t be any ‘boots on the ground.’ But this misses the point. It’s bombs and missiles that the American people oppose.
They try to liken this to Kosovo or Rwanda. These comparisons are specious at best. We like to think we could have swooped in and saved a million lives in Rwanda if we’d only bothered to do it, but could we really? And again we say it was the rebels who started this war. If they want to stop getting gassed they can lay down their arms and ask for a ceasefire any time. That sounds callous and unjust but it’s true. It’s the same logic we used in dropping the atomic bomb on Japan.
They say that if we don’t act then the Iranians won’t take us seriously, but we’re not convinced they take us seriously already. They’re just as big a problem as ever and getting closer to nuclear weapons all the time. The administration seems to think that strikes against Syria strengthens our position against Iran. We think it weakens it.
They say that Israel is ‘just a stiff breeze away’ from Syria. Israel knows what the fuck it’s doing and if it felt threatened by Assad it would strike on its own. Bebe Netanyahu has been dealing with Syrian threats since before Obama was born.
The administration’s entire sloppy handling of this has been a perfect example of how Washington is not supposed to work. The president wants a lot of credit for going to congress, but it took several days worth of intensive arm twisting and a lot of super-secret highly classified info provided to certain senators only just to get it out of committee. Now that it will go to the full congress it’s going to be done in such a way that deals are made a la carte and votes are whipped and whipped again and the bill will go forward only when senate passage is assured and if it can’t be assured it’ll be re-written until it can be.
This is nonsense. 70% Or more of Americans are against a Syrian strike and congress and the administration knows it. If the president is really concerned about saving face he should have asked them to drop the bill immediately.
Meanwhile John Kerry may have accidentally stumbled ass-backwards into a diplomatic solution involving the Russians, which goes to show just how little actual diplomacy has really been attempted by the Obama administration.
Have an opinion? Want to break it down with your fellow Liberals over beers? Baltimore’s Drinking Liberally chapter meets tonight at Dougherty’s pub at 8 pm. Admission is free and open to progressives of all stripes.