If President Barack Obama hoped he would find support for military action against Syria at last week’s Group of 20 economic summit in Russia, he came home disappointed. While several of the member nations signed a joint statement accusing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government of using chemical weapons on its own people, few agreed to supporting a military strike.
Even in this country, despite the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s vote last week to endorse Obama’s call for military strikes against Syria, it is debatable whether there is enough support in the full Congress.
Obama will attempt to make his case directly to the increasingly skeptical American public on Tuesday evening during a nationally-televised address. This will be followed by intelligence briefings for the full Congress when members return the following week.
For whatever reason, Obama has drawn a line in the sand over this issue. Despite the many questions, he seems determined to go ahead with military action regardless whether Congress – or the world for that matter – agrees.
He agrees Syria’s use of chemical weapons is not an imminent threat to the U.S., but says it is in the long-term.
If that is true, isn’t it already a threat? Moreover, will a military action make things worse on the political front between the United States and other nations?
In the Syrian civil war, it is difficult from our vantage point to see who is right. This past week, The New York Times published a story – complete with photos and video – of what was reported to be rebel troops murdering government soldiers in cold blood. Are these the people Obama is asking the U.S. to help?
The British Parliment already has voted to not participate in any military action against Syria. Russia and China both oppose any use of force, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered several Russian naval vessels into the Persian Gulf. What’s more, Iran, a far more dangerous country that has been working toward building nuclear weapons during the past decade without the president lifting a finger of resistance, has warned it will retaliate against U.S. interests if any attack is carried out in Syria.
Obama has not presented any objectives of his proposed military action. It is to remove Assad? Is it to destroy facilities where chemical weapons are manufactured or stored? It is hard to imagine any bombing campaign, no matter how precise, being successful without putting troops on the ground. And we cannot imagine the American people allowing that to happen.
The fact is the Obama administration’s foreign policy has been, like its domestic policy, a disaster. The American public will be listening as the president attempts to makes his case on Tuesday. But he will be preaching to an increasingly war-weary, and skeptical, public.