As the hour approaches for a punishing U.S. attack on Syria, here are some thought on why or why not to do it:
Reasons Not To Attack Syria:
War-weary--The U.S. has been fighting back since 9/11 2001, how much more blood and treasure should we spend in a war that has brought limited results with over 5K dead and over 50K wounded Americans and costing almost $1.5 trillion dollars so far.
World policeman--No country alone, including the U.S. can be the policeman for the world. We cannot get involved in every war and skirmish: we can't afford it; it is a distraction from our full slate of pressing domestic issues, and we ourselves are not perfect.
International Discord--Russia and China, two other U.N. Security Council members are not on board with us in punishing Syria for use of chemical weapons or for ending the conflict there. Even the U.K backed out of the operation.
Potential backlash--Syria, Hezbollah, or Iran may lash out at American interests, including neighboring Israel, embassies/posts worldwide, oil infrastructure, and more.
Limited strike, limited benefits--With all the media and lack of secrecy on this operation, the Syrians have had the notice and time to vacate suspected target attack sites and move critical equipment out. Also, we have already ruled out attacking the chemical weapons themselves due to fear of collateral damage. Plus, we have already said that we are not going to try and unseat Assad or end the fighting. So will hitting some empty buildings in a civil war that has already been going for more than 2 years have anything but symbolic impact?
Reasons To Attack Syria:
Morality--We can't stand idly by while Assad indiscriminately is killing civilians (including women and children).
Norms of War--We must send a message that use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) is horrific and a precedent that is unacceptable.
Red Line--We drew a red line and now we must adhere to it; our words and deeds must be consistent or else we lose credibility.
Punish bad behavior--The Syrian civil war has cost over 100,000 lives so far and displaced millions, torturing and executing civilians and using chemical weapons is bad nation state behavior and must be punished to mete out justice, as a deterrent, as a rehabilitative action, and to reimpose some equality back in the fight.
Protect Ourselves--Being clear and sending a global message that use of WMD is unacceptable helps in the end to protect us from being victims of such a dastardly deed as well. It is in our own national self-interest.
Axis of Evil--Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah are working together to spread Anti-American and Anti-Israel hatred, terrorism, and to develop WMD (including Nukes) to threaten us and establish a greater stranglehold on the Middle-East as well as Europe. This is a war that is not desired by us, but one that has been thrust upon us by adversaries seeking our destruction.
If we do it, then we should do it right.
"Sending a message," in Syria rather than fighting to win something strategically meaningful and tangible continues to leave us vulnerable and just having to fight another day.
We can't straddle issues of morality, norms of war, and defense of our nation and way of life--either take out Assad, end the bloodshed, and establish a peaceful, democratic government or what is the point?
Obviously, there are arguments to be made on either side.
But what is frustrating is that making a decision after we've concluded wrongdoing, and doing something positive is seeming to take too long, and strong leadership is required to bring resolution and greater good.
Moreover, we need to look at the greater threat picture, so while sending Tomahawk missiles to Syria for their chemical weapons use, what about doing a full stopover in Iran with some Bunker Busters to put an end to their menacing and blatantly genocidal nuclear WMD program.
Wishy washy isn't going to make us any righter or safer, definitive results-oriented action can.
(Source Photo: here with attribution to zennie62)