Posts Tagged Syria

On Syria and being confused

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.

Americans are also weary of being drawn into another Middle Eastern war. The United Kingdom, United Nations, and the Syrian people are also opposed to U.S. intervention.

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.

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Mitt Romney: Do as I say, not as I do

map of the Middle EastI was finally able to vent my near-homicidal rage against television journalists and concentrate on the issues (imagine that!) in the final presidential debate Monday night. As usual, I was left wondering if Mitt Romney actually hears the words that come out of his mouth.

Twice, the former Massachusetts Governor told President Obama that, “Criticizing me is not a foreign policy.” That seems like a noble statement, except Romney spent almost the entire debate criticizing the President while offering only a vague phantasm of what he would actually do if he wins on November 6.

Romney criticized nearly every aspect of Obama’s foreign policy, from the drone strikes that killed al Qaeda’s leadership, to his use of economic sanctions on Iran, to when he “skipped Israel” during a trip to the Middle East.

Obviously, debates are all about criticism, but if Romney wanted the President to say something constructive instead of just attacking, why didn’t he?

Instead, Romney went for semantics. He said he would put tougher sanctions on Iran, and label China a “currency manipulator,” which is apparently more severe than actually prosecuting China for trade violations, as Obama has done.

When asked what he would do if Israel decided to attack Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities, Romney begged off saying he wouldn’t answer a hypothetical question like that. Instead, he used the time to attack Obama… again.

Perhaps it was because Romney didn’t know how long it would take Israeli planes to reach Iran: earlier in the debate, he said Syria was an important ally for Iran because it gave the latter access to the sea. Iran has its own coastline, and the two countries do not share a border (Iraq is in between).

So much for building a foreign policy on ideas instead of criticism. Obama, on the other hand, gave specifics, as he always does. He outlined the aforementioned cases against China, and reminded Americans who was responsible for eliminating their arch enemy, and a dictator that even the Republicans’ favorite president, Ronald Reagan couldn’t take down.

With regards to Iran, Obama, said he would put every option on the table. That sounds a lot more presidential than Romney’s “answer.”

Conservatives probably have their own criticisms regarding Obama’s policies, but what I want to emphasize here is Romney’s “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. If attacking your opponent doesn’t help build a foreign policy, then stop wasting time attacking your opponent. It goes both ways.

Romney doesn’t seem to think the laws of language apply to him; he thinks that he can say one thing and have it mean something else. That is one of many reasons why he is unfit to be our president.

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