There is no successful argument or a real doctrine of military defence that provides support for the entry of the US into a limited field of operations against President Bashar al-Assad. The Obama administration spin cannot supplant theory-based best practices for the US armed forces. Best practices include a policy of restraint that does not dispatch our military configurations to intervene in every little hot spot in the world. Syria is just the latest spot that is a strategic locale, but should not become a military destination. The latest bad news coming out of Syria should be managed by the nations sharing borders with Syria. This is their challenge. Our challenge is to stay out of it.
There is little doubt that we have a big military paddle. But we cannot go around spanking every nation that surpasses a moral boundary. The line is too long and we do not own the real estate. Sadly, the Obama administration has taken ownership of an arrogant posture, which is counterproductive to vibrant foreign policy and diplomatic solutions. Our self-righteous indignation in pursuit of our private goals is the poor veneer for an increasing lack of humility on the world stage. It is time to take a hard look at what it means to provide leadership within the volatile regions. Does that leadership mean additional military hardware dispensed like Halloween candy to the costumed ‘patriots’ on the ground? Does that leadership mean unburdening ourselves of a few bombs from our own stockpile? Or should our leadership display a completely different look?
Mounting a bombing campaign within the borders of Syria as punishment for a chemical attack is laden with risk. It is a risk that I believe has the potential to boomerang right back into the American heartland.
Sure, there are monsters in the closet. They have names like ‘Iran’ and ‘Russia’. There are monsters under the bed. These are the radical rebel brigades. There are soldier-of-fortune monsters who have shown up just for the hell of it. But there is not a doctrine of war that warrants a nation arbitrarily crossing the sovereign border of another nation engulfed in a civil war to influence an outcome. We had our own bloody civil war. There was plenty of nastiness to go around between our own citizen soldiers. The deaths on native soil from that four-year conflict surpassed the total number of deaths we incurred from our military involvement in two world wars. Yes, we were uniformed during the war between our states. But it was brother against brother. Britain and France did not set sail to intervene in our conflict. They watched and they waited. And they did nothing. I prefer that we step aside. Syria has a civil war.
There are those who would quibble that Syria has complexities the average person does not understand. I am average. I understand it. War is about numbers and toys. It is about the human spirit.
An overwhelming majority of Americans are against our involvement in Syria. So the White House is courting the public by releasing graphic footage of the chemical attack. It is necessary to offer up a bit of ‘war porn’ for a war-weary nation. This is called the ‘sympathy card’. I have viewed multiple videos that depict the intense suffering of those who were gifted with the noxious fumes. Yes, it depicts war with a blurring of lines. But Syrians have already experienced firsthand the lack of a moral line between combatants and non-combatants. War porn videos are as addictive as sexual porn videos when consumed by the foolish of heart. Beheadings, burned bodies, corpses of tortured children and things the sane prefer not to ponder are readily available. I scan quickly, so that addictive tendencies to commit proxy violence do not take root. Two years of suffering. Two years of nastiness. And now, it is neurotoxicity on full display. But do ‘we’ belong there? There is no ‘joining of the convoy’ for me. Yet others continue to join.
I remain unconvinced that the US’s military intervention in Syria is the unalienable right of command for our president. I remain convinced that our best course of action is to pull back and just view this for what it is: the latest tragedy in the history of man.
Here is the deal. Is the Bashar regime chemical attack about the death of the few or is it a warning to the many? Are we being warned of a greater danger to American citizens if we intervene in Syria? There is a proverb that if you pick up a dog by the ears you will be bitten; in other words, do not meddle in an affair in which you are wise to not be an active participant. I am afraid that we will soon be bitten. That bite may be taken right out of the seat of our own domestic trousers.
Here is the question that is haunting me. Will a limited bombing campaign in Syria open the door to terror cell activity on US soil directed against our citizens? My belief is that it will. Iran has threatened the US if we intervene. Undoubtedly, the NSA in all their glory do not have the goods on deeply embedded sleeper cells. For that reason alone, it is prudent that we be a model of restraint.
Much of the region surrounding Syria is coping with chronic low-grade political conflict. The US must reassess the manner in which our decade-long and chronic military intervention has supplanted the rightful place of healthy foreign policy and diplomacy as a means to resolve conflict. It is also time for the Commander-in-Chief to acknowledge that it is wise to enforce a season of rest for our military. That rest can be accomplished with a judicious use of our assets.
The POTUS is a bit too cavalier for me. Spouting outrage and then heading to the golf course shows a lack of true empathy regarding Syria. May Syria find a way out of the chaos.
The writer is a freelance journalist and author of the novel Arsenal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org