Point of View Columns

On the Eve of Infamy

With a twist of irony that could come straight from a Robert Ludlum novel, the President of the United States will address the nation on the eve of the twelfth anniversary of 9/11, proposing that this country once more engage in military action even though there is no direct threat to the security of the United States. That Senator Barack Obama was elected because of his commitment to non-military solutions makes the irony even more tragic.

The reasons why “limited military action” in Syria has been proposed by the Obama Administration have been echoed literally around the world. But upon reflection and consideration they still sound like rehashed versions of stories that have been cobbled together to send this country down the path to war in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. And each time the American people are promised that it will be different this time.

The “difference” this time is that the military action will be “limited” and there will be no American “boots on the ground”. But with American bombers and planes flying over Syria and bombing that country is it impossible to imagine American planes being shot down (or just crashing by accident) and surviving American crews being paraded on Syrian television or simply executed? And then how “limited” will the military action be?

Does it require a leap of imagination to envision American naval vessels being attacked by Syrian missiles – or just a motor boat as in the case of the U.S.S. Cole? And then how “limited” will the military action be?

There are hundreds of American embassies and consulates (remember Benghazi) around the world. There are thousands of American corporate offices and facilities around the world. There are millions of Americans living and visiting outside of this country at any given moment. With the proposed attack on Syria they all become more inviting targets than they already are. If any of these targets are attacked then how “limited” will the military action be?

And on the eve of yet another anniversary of another day that will live in infamy in this country, is it hysterical overreaction to imagine that the bombing of Syria could inspire a Muslim jihadist or Syrian nationalist to engage in a counterattack that could mimic or surpass 9/11 in horror and death and destruction? And then how “limited” will the military action be?

For President Obama to advocate a unilateral military action by this country with no direct security threat to this country is sadly stunning and horrifically mind boggling. It is almost as if President Obama is channeling his inner Ronald Reagan or his Dick Cheney alter ego.

Taking failed foreign policy advice from the likes of John McCain and Lindsay Graham and John Boehner is not what President Obama was elected to do. Making this country a more dangerous place in which to live is certainly not what any president is elected to do. And yet the Obama Administration continues to pound the bloodstained drums of war.

The horrors of the chemical attacks in Syria are sickening and saddening. But the horrors committed by humanity do not justify the United States being the self-appointed Policeman of the Planet. This is especially true when evil doers know where this Policeman of the Planet resides.

The United Nations, the European Union and the Arab League have not organized military action against the Assad regime in Syria. These facts alone make it clear that this is not a battle that the United States should take on unilaterally. What ever happened to multilateral action and strategic alliances?

We are now left with the hope that the United States Congress will listen to the overwhelming opposition to this unnecessary act of war and reject President Obama’s proposed attack on Syria. We will then have to hope that President Obama will then heed the will of Congress or else he will risk the twin consequences of entangling this country into another bloody morass and possible impeachment proceedings from Teapublicans who would love nothing more than to cripple the remainder of his presidency.

The only good thing about this entire crisis is that President Obama, by seeking Congressional approval for this misguided bit of strategy, is resetting the precedent whereby future presidents will not be so quick to unilaterally engage this country militarily without the support of Congress. That is thin gruel in light of the towering dangers that the Obama Administration is courting.

Let us hope that it is not too late for President Obama to change his course.

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2 thoughts on “On the Eve of Infamy

  1. Jean Bethea says:

    You are absolute right on this issue. The UK has already said no. It is very sad what Syria is doing to their own people. But we need to think about the needs of this country, i.e., infrastructure, housing, jobs, etc..

  2. A very well organized argument. I see the resonance between your presentation on the Panel yesterday and this blog. Very interesting. However, my nephew was an Army liaison officer with the JTTF. From him and other sources I have learned that no reason is necessary, no provocation needed, no sudden revenge rationale required for Jihadist to strike America or it’s interests. They are always cocked and ready to fire. The number and scope of attacks and threats dealt with annually would make you shiver – And also make you wonder what we did to “these people” that they, given the opportunity, would not hesitate for a nanosecond to slit your throat and mine. I do believe however, that certain Americans think that current events motivate Jihadists, while all evidence, and the Jihadist’s own actions and writings, indicate that the “infidel” is an ancient enemy.

    As to your takeaway, that at least this got a President to seek the approval of congress, I have a differing point of view. It is axiomatic that the challenger to the President, while campaigning, always over simplifies, and presents the incumbent as a limited intelligence, idiot, who is trigger happy. Yet, time and time again, once the Senator, Governor, or Dog Catcher sits behind the Resolute desk and after he receives the briefings, see’s the threats and reviews the intelligence, then they amazingly become more like the “idiot” they promised to replace. Despite the new revisionist history, Bush actually sought and received congressional authority prior to Iraq. With John Kerry and Hillary Clinton voting for it. Whereas, Obama, only got Samantha Power’s (an the ICC’s) approval under her “Responsibility to Protect” clause to invade Libya! This was in direct contradiction to the precedent, set by Bush, of going to congress.

    So my question is, Why didn’t Valerie Jarret, Samantha Powers, Susan Rice or any of the lesser influential White House staff, advise the president of this? I mean, five minutes after he “drew the red line” why didn’t some brave staff member tell the president, “Do what Bush did.” Seek congressional approval now, and hold it in your back pocket so you can strike in a timely fashion. But as we know, congressional approval became an “ooops” that was revealed after the ships were off the Syrian coast and the targeting plans had gone through 50 revisions and we were coiled and ready to strike. I believe the reason is, not one of his advisors know history or how the Executive Branch works, they do not serve the President or this nation well. Heads should roll, they left our Commander in Chief in an embarrassing domestic and international predicament that could have so easily been prepared for and avoided.
    – Tom Avitabile NYC

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