For those of you who are Star Wars fans, and I know you are out there, the title of this article is actually a quote from Yoda, but it seems appropriate to the current world situation. Should we or should we not intervene in Syria?
The situation in Syria has been deteriorating for some time. I will not here try to debate which site is right or wrong. Rather I want to examine the dilemma it puts President Obama in. In case you don’t remember, when Obama ran for president the first time, he argued strongly that America needed to get out of the Middle East. He wanted to pull all troops out of Iraq on the basis that they never found any weapons of mass destruction in Iran. He also has been strongly pushing to pull all of our troops out of Afghanistan. Now he may be contemplating military action against Syria because it is claimed that there is credible evidence that Syria has used chemical warfare against the rebels and the citizens of the country.
To put this one point in perspective, at the time that then President Bush decided to attack Iraq, there was also ‘credible’ evidence that Iraq had and may have used weapons of mass destruction against its own people as well. Whether those weapons were ever found or as some conspiracy theories suggest that the weapons were ‘relocated’ outside of the country may never be known for sure. Care to guess to which country they may have moved their weapons of mass destruction? If you guessed Syria you win the prize.
So how much evidence is needed to justify the United States and its allies to send in troops? And what happens if that evidence is moved out of the county or destroyed. Will the next U.S. President condemn the actions of Obama much like Obama condemned the actions of Bush or did Obama find a way out?
So I understand that making a decision to attack another country is a difficult task. Countless lives could be lost or saved depending on the success or failure of the action. No matter what you do, people will second guess you. On the other hand, ignoring the actions of a country like Syria or Iraq and hoping that they will come to their senses is not a good choice either. Look back to the start of WWII. While Hitler was taking over neighboring countries and sending Jews to concentration camps, the United States sat back and watched for a long time hoping that with each military action, Hitler would be satisfied and stop trying to take over more neighboring countries.
Well, hope is not a plan. Hope is a dream. A dream without a strategic plan on how to accomplish that dream is just a fantasy. So now may be the time for the president to put forth a plan of action. After all, he is the commander-in-chief of our armed forces. More than forcing government run insurance down everyone’s throat, more than increasing the government’s ability to spy on and interfere in the lives of our citizens, and more than apologizing to every other country about the ‘bad’ things that the United States has or is doing, this ability to send in troops is something the Commander-in-Chief can do on his own.
But what has he done. While condemning the Syrian government and its use of chemical weapons, he has passed the ball back to Congress to decide. Perhaps he is hoping that Congress will again show their inability to act on anything (like getting a budget passed). Then Obama could always come back and say that Congress was at fault for not acting if later the situation worsens and the American public begins to wonder why we did not step in to prevent further bloodshed. On the other hand, if Congress does vote on attacking Syria and those weapons of mass destruction are never found, Obama could always say that it wasn’t his fault. He did not authorize the attack, Congress did.
This is where leadership is needed if a country is to remain a world power. Sitting back and watching from the sidelines may feel safe, but it also means that you are not in control. It’s time to get into the game Mr. President. Make your own decision. Own your decision. But once you get into the game remember to play to win, not play to a draw and then walk off the field.
Yoda said, ‘Do or not do.’ That is what a true leader lives by.
C’ya next time.