Columns / Discourse / September 26, 2013

Debating Columnists: Syria, A series of Presidential faults

President Obama’s second term in office is best characterized by scandals and screw-ups. So one should not be surprised to hear that he, once again, has had a serious lapse in judgment. Although Obama’s most serious errors have taken place domestically, this mistake lies within the realm of foreign policy. President Obama has argued for a military strike against Syria in order to deter the future use of chemical weapons. But, before discussing the severity of Obama’s mistake, one must have a certain level of background knowledge on the topic.

The conflict in Syria began with a peaceful anti-government protest in March 2011.
However, the anti-government sentiment soon turned violent after President Bashar al-Assad’s troops fired upon the protestors. At one point in time during the civil war, there were over 100,000 militant fighters, with around 1,000 different factions. The Obama administration blamed Assad and his government for an August 21 gas attack that reportedly killed over 1,400 people. Quite recently, Assad has entered an agreement between the United States and Russia to disclose details concerning his chemical weapons arsenal, which is said to be the largest in the Middle East.

Prior to Assad agreeing to disclose the details of his chemical weapons arsenal, Obama was on the verge of firing missiles upon Syria without the support of the Congress. Interestingly enough, President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry are the same ones who preached the need for congressional approval with regard to the Iraq War.

On the topic of Syria, one must question, “What is America’s interest in this crisis?” Logically, it is in America’s best interest to have some sort of political stability in Syria. So, how would forcefully removing President Assad add to political stability? As previously stated, there are literally thousands of factions that are going to fight each other to fill that power vacuum.

Additionally, taking military action simply to prove a point is never an effective military strategy. As we have seen in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and countless other struggles, successful military action in the Middle East is very hard to accomplish. Furthermore, if the United States launches a military attack, the world has every right to view us as the aggressor instead of Assad. To say the Syrian crisis is complex would be quite the understatement. Military action in Syria would only add to this complexity and make a beneficial outcome all the less likely.

If Obama’s decision to endorse military action in Syria wasn’t mistake enough, he made the error of going back on his word. Rather than go through with limited military action against Assad, Obama later agreed to seek Congressional approval for military action. With Democrats split on the issue, it’s apparent that Congress will shoot down any attempt to engage U.S. troops in Syria.

If it is the case that the United States does not take military action, then President Obama has embarrassed both himself and the United States of America. By publicly supporting military action, and then going back on his word, Obama looks weak in the eyes of other nations.

When the President of the United States says he will do something, the credibility of the country is reliant on him following through.

Ultimately, taking military action in Syria would be a huge foreign policy mistake. However, it may be even more of a blunder to publicly call for military action and then rescind the inflammatory statements.

Charlie Harned

Tags:  al-Qaeda assad civil war military strike obama power rebel groub syria threat UN uprising

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