Suppose the president of the United States orders aerial strikes against Syria.
And suppose those strikes involve manned aircraft, piloted by young American servicemen and women who are thrust into harm’s way by their commander in chief’s order.
What will be our national response? Are we going to rally behind our commander in chief or will we second-guess, armchair quarterback and be openly critical — if not hostile — toward those who issue the order?
I’m hoping for a unifying effect.
President Obama is weighing his options carefully. He’s meeting with congressional leaders, the very folks who insist that the president consult with them before taking action. He’s calling allies around the world, enlisting others to join in a coalition to strike against Syria, which used chemical weapons against its own people. Secretary of State John Kerry called it a “moral outrage,” and no national leader anywhere with a conscience can — or should — condone such an act.
It’s not yet clear whether we’re going to become involved in an all-out shooting war in Syria. Obama’s stated mission would be to punish the Syrians for violating a widely accepted tenet of international behavior. The use of chemical weapons crosses that so-called “red line” the president said exists in that conflict.
The late U.S. Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, R-Mich., once said that partisan disagreements must stop “at the water’s edge.” Will we heed the wise man’s words?
White House press secretary Jay Carney says “regime change” would not be a goal if the United States were to launch a military strike against Bashar al Assad’s forces in Syria.
But if it happens, do you think the White House high command would mope over the outcome? Not for a minute.
The Obama administration is clearly outraged over Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its people in the bloody civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people. Secretary of State John Kerry calls it a moral outrage. President Obama says use of the weapons crosses a “bright line” that separates diplomacy from military action.
The administration is consulting with congressional leaders now to assure them of its plans. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today the military is ready to go if and when the order comes from the commander in chief.
Syria needs to be punished badly for this vicious attack on its own citizens, including children. The videos of Syrian children writhing in agony is almost too difficult to watch.
But if a military response is strong enough to bring about Assad’s downfall, then so be it.
Then comes an even more dire concern: Who will replace him?
Today’s question is this: Should the United States launch airstrikes against Syria in retaliation for dictator Bashar al Assad’s use of chemical weapons on civilians?
Yes, but only after crossing every “T” and dotting every “I.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says U.S. airstrikes will be done only with broad international support. He should add that the Obama administration would be wise to get congressional authorization.
President Obama laid down a serious marker earlier this year when he said Assad’s use of chemical weapons would be a “bright line” that Syrian officials must not cross. It’s now all but certain they’ve crossed it, killing many civilians, including children.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country stands behind Syria and threatens serious consequences if the United States and/or its allies launches airstrikes.
Let’s be clear: He isn’t going to attack the United States if we order the airstrikes. As for consequences, well, our relations with the Russians already are in the Dumpster.
I would hope congressional Republicans can see their way clear to back the commander in chief if he commits air power to punishing the Syrians. I am like many millions of Americans, though, who do not want to see American troops on the ground in Damascus fighting beside the rebels — who may or may not be our friends.
Syrian military leaders need to pay a hefty price for crossing that bright line. If the United States can rally its allies behind an effort to hit them hard from the air — and if Congress goes along with it — I think it’s an act worth taking.
However, it has to be effective and it must be able to cripple the Syrians’ ability to commit such atrocities in the future.