While the prospect of war in Syria is bad, it is also bad to be involved generally. There is still great value in national credibility. Obama earlier said that the use of chemical weapons would be a “game changer” and “red line” Syria should not cross. It’s possible the Syrians just did. I’m not sure why this is so much worse than the mutual massacres taking place on both sides, but let’s set that aside. It’s considered a really bad thing.
Obama, the polar opposite of W. and Reagan in his ability to deliver a credible threat, had this to say at his press conference when asked about the changing situation:
So when I’ve said the use of chemical weapons would be a game changer, that wasn’t unique to — that wasn’t a position unique to the United States, and it shouldn’t have been a surprise.
And what we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don’t know how they were used, when they were used, who used them; we don’t have chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened. And when I am making decisions about America’s national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I’ve got to make sure I’ve got the facts.
That’s what the American people would expect. And if we end up rushing to judgment without hard, effective evidence, then we can find ourselves in the position where we can’t mobilize the international community to support what we do. There may be objections even among some people in the region who are sympathetic with the opposition if we take action. So, you know, it’s important for us to do this in a prudent way.
John Wayne, he is not.
This is one problem with these types of situations. They’re unmanageable. And they demand action or they impose a loss in credibility. Surely Obama should have known better than to make a threat that had absolutely no weight, and that there was a reasonable chance would be violated by the belligerents.
Our policy should be one of peace through strength. We should use deterrence and words before arms. But we are better to remain silent and aloof than to make threats we have absolutely no ability, will, or interest in doing anything about. We look weaker, and even four plus years into his presidency, Obama still doesn’t get it.
So I’m opposed to this prospect of war in Syria, opposed to the aid provided to the terroristic rebels so far, and also opposed generally to Obama’s handling of it from the perspective of US interests.
The only thing worse than events to date, however, would be to go further down this road because of the supposed necessity of restoring our credibility. There is no reason to jump in the shark infested waters just because we mistakenly walked a few steps onto the plank. War has its own serious impact on national strength and morale that are more imposing.