President Barack Obama appears poised to take the country into yet another military campaign, according to the Washington Post. With critics mocking him over his repeated references to “red lines” in warning Syria, Obama seems to feel compelled to now act even if it could result in an expansion of the war. He is reportedly considering a two-day cruise missile and bomber campaign to hit targets unrelated to the chemical weapons of the country. It will cost hundreds of millions at a minimum, but we appear now to be at perpetual war even as we cancel key environmental, educational, and scientific programs (including program cuts this week).
The campaign seems to be the result of public line drawing and face saving. Obama said early on that he would not stand for the use of chemical weapons. That was apparently ignored and now the U.S. must act to fulfill the threat. The question is why the United States must remain in a perpetual war footing to enforce such demands. China continues to avoid such military action and then in countries like Iraq, China comes in after we spend hundreds of billions to seize assets and contracts.
We clearly need to act in the wake of this chemical attack. However, given the recent disclosure our tacit approval of the use of chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein against Iran, we look hypocritical in using the weapons as the reason for a further entry into the Syrian civil war. If the world is unwilling to punish Syria through the United Nations, the question is whether we should continue to enforce our demands through military action.
Even before the U.N. report, Secretary of State John F. Kerry has already announced that the use of chemical weapons is now “undeniable.” Combined with Obama’s earlier “redline” ultimatum, that announcement would seem to commit the U.S. to once again launch large-scale military operations.
I previously represented members of Congress in challenging Obama’s intervention in the Libyan civil war without a declaration from Congress. In the case, President Obama insisted that he alone determines what is a war and therefore when he needs a declaration. Since the court would not recognize standing to challenge the war, it left Obama free to engage in war operations in any country of his choosing.
We all share the outrage over the use of chemical weapons and the need to seek sanctions. However, no one seriously believes that destroying facilities for a couple days is going to materially change anything in the country. It reminds some of Clinton attacking largely empty tents in Afghanistan with 70 Tomahawk missiles. These attacks will clearly have a greater impact than Clinton’s destruction of tents at the cost of over a $100 million. However, the question is what we expect to be achieved beyond sending the message that we are not to be mocked or ignored. With the long lead into the attacks, Syria has likely taking efforts to prepare for the attack and moved around assets. The danger is that we will cause an expansion of the conflict and push Russia and China to even greater support for Syria.
What do you think?