As the President spoke today, many had questions on the administrations policy towards Syria. Ed Henry, the president of the White House Correspondence Administration was tasked with the first question. He asked, in an over-simplified fashion, if his administration risked U.S. credibility if military action is not taken in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, the proverbial line in the sand set by the Obama administration. The answer to this question is more than clear.
To be clear, I am not advocating a war against Syria. I do not think that would be wise politically, financially, or globally. However, the administration chose to use aggressive wording when warning Syria against the use of chemical weapons. Sanctions have been in place against Syria and both training and supplying of the uprising has been longstanding, but chemical weapons was the “red line” that, if crossed, would be a “game changer.” In what way could the “game” be changed other than U.S. military action, given that we are already doing everything we can, other than military action, to topple Syrian government?
It is clear, the United States is not in good enough financial standing to wage another war in the same region that has drained our resources, financial and human, for more than the last decade. It would not be wise to take such actions. But, in an era that cannot be described any other way than U.S. instability, empty threats are not wise either. The message that Obama is sending to Syria’s government, and others like it, is that of:
“We do not like what you are doing, and you better stop! If you don’t stop though, I guess that is ok too.”
The world is watching the United States right now. We are facing recession, talk of downsizing military, and now have a president who won’t follow through with threats. This all appears as weakness to those who would wish to get the better of us.
Perhaps the issue isn’t that of military action (past, present, or future), but the prominent role the military has played in American politics for such a long period of time. It is well known that the United States has the strongest military the world has ever known. It is advanced, swift, intelligent, and strong (except when placed in the Middle East). Its ability to gather information, and act on that information is unparalleled. Knowing this, as every politician does, has inflicted a somewhat brazen attitude towards the outside world.
If the Incredible Hulk warned everyone not to make him angry, but nothing happened when he became angered, he wouldn’t be anything special. There wouldn’t be comics, movies, and stories about him. He would be just another guy with an anger issue. The only stories that would be written about him would be in the local newspaper every time he was arrested.
The United States cannot behave in this Hulk-like manor, only to back down at the last second, scratching our heads about why Syria is not afraid of us. The precedent will be seen the world over. Perhaps we ought to be realistic in our own decisions, and acknowledge that we have been a nation at war for far too long, and ought not be acting like a nation anxious to be on the brink of another war.