Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The President needs to stop mumbling again.

This is a political post.
Things are a little rough right now.
So, Syria.

You would imagine the powers that be sitting around the table riffing through the Iraq file for notes and  muttering that they wouldn't want to go through that again. Well, that's the picture you have if imagine that they have sense. The refresher from Egypt over the past two years should clearly demonstrate what happens when power vacuums exist, which is what will occur in Syria if al-Assad suddenly falls. But, I'm fairly certain the President's staff is missing a key person - maybe the Politics to English Translator, who can stand up and explain exactly why we're even considering this one more expedition, kicking in one more door, so to speak. Because right now, the impetus isn't being properly articulated.  That or the media is still all miffed about the whole NSA thing.

Clarification Note: The NSA thing stems from the Patriot Act, which passed way before Obama became  President. His only crime is not turning it off...provided the self appointed guardians of freedom in the  NSA even told him what was going on.'s his watch, so, there you go.

Just so we're all clear, Obama is not trying to "win" the civil war now raging in Syria, if such a thing can even be accomplished. First, it's not really our business. Second, at this point there are too many players,  too many factions, too many cloudy motivations for a "winner" to even emerge in the region. The political posturing and ideological gamesmanship on display here has far exceed the scope of the action intended by the  original Arab Spring beginnings. The quasi-apartheid/dictatorship of al-Assad is both a bad actor and a stabilizer for the region. The rebels are both freedom fighters and opportunistic fundamentalists. The outside players are all over the map.  No matter what happens in Syria, it will neither be pretty or quick. The best the Syrian people can hope for at this point is that someday their kids have a country to come back to.  

So why? Why even contemplate military action? The quick answer is Chemical weapons. The kind of weapons that fail to discriminate between combatant and civilian. Weapons so bad that the even Hitler, the default most evil man of the 20th century, thought that their effects were beyond the pale. There is evidence they've been used in Syria, and that violates the status quo that nobody uses them...ever. And if somebody gets away with using them, then the next guy, especially in a war with non-state actors, gets the idea that he can too. Which is bad for everyone. Why again, you ask, again. Because if Chemical weapons, and their bad tempered brother Biological weapons become viable weapons...then its just a matter of time before someone invents something nobody can either stop or control. If they haven't already and just haven't found the stomach to use it. 

Not that all this information isn't in most of the articles on the subject, just not in the headline. Or the first paragraph. Or the third.

Learn to speak again Mr. President. This action you've asked Congress to contemplate is based on principle, not politics. This action is in line with the treaties we've legally entered into. It doesn't involve troops on the ground. And, since, you could call in a military strike if you deem it necessary under the War Powers Act anyway, you've asked Congress for authorization because you honor democracy, understand the country is war weary, and like totally aren't a dictator like the people who hate you want to make you out to be. 

Should the President strike in Syria? I don't have that answer. But I do know that he could tell why he thinks we should a lot more clearly.

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