As I write this, President Obama appears committed to launching a limited military strike against the Assad regime in Syria, in response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons against its own people. The fact that this seems inevitable is troubling.
While the President does have some latitude to use military force without consulting Congress (especially since Sept. 11), but this is not supposed to be the default.
People seem to realize that; there’s been plenty of unease expressed regarding an attack on Syria. However, unease isn’t the same as discussion, or action.
Thanks to the Internet, the idea that Americans should pay attention to Syria has almost become a self-parody. People advocating for a frank discussion about Syria are characterized as elitists and blowhards while the rest of the country continues to analyze Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance.
Regardless, now is an appropriate time to decide what to do with Syria. And that won’t be an easy decision.
On the one hand, the Assad regime has been oppressing its people, something the United States cannot abide. The Obama Administration claims it has intelligence showing that Assad ordered the chemical attacks, and that a limited intervention to enforce international statutes banning chemical weapons is justified.
On the other hand, no one outside the White House has seen the intelligence, although select members of Congress were briefed on it. It’s also unclear what effect the attacks will have: until now, the U.S. has avoided taking sides in Syria’s civil war because the situation is so ambiguous.
Clearly, there’s a lot to talk about, and Americans should be eager to talk about this.
People often complain that Obama leaves Congress and the electorate out of the loop when it comes to foreign policy, that only finding out after the fact that a terror suspect has been blown up by Hellfire missiles isn’t good enough.
This time, the White House is keeping the People in the loop. Obama is telling us what he plans on doing, not what he’s already done. Secretary of State John Kerry implored the people to examine the Administration’s evidence in his speech earlier today.
I’m not saying that bombing Syria is right or wrong; I’m saying that the country needs to have a discussion about whether it’s right or wrong.