Congress should defy Obama to give peace a chance
By Kevin Uhrich 09/04/2013
With United States troops finally withdrawn from Iraq after 10 years of bloody conflict, but not yet out of Afghanistan after a dozen years of fierce fighting, the US is about to get involved in yet another war in the Middle East, this time in Syria in response to that government’s alleged use of poison gas to kill its own people, including hundreds of small children.
It seems like only yesterday that President George W. Bush was comparing Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler, and his Secretary of State Colin Powell was trying to make the case to the United Nations that Hussein really did have weapons of mass destruction. Hussein was a murderous thug, but we turned a blind eye to his use of poison gas to kill his Iranian enemies — then also our enemies — in 1984 and murder thousands of innocent Kurds in Northern Iraq four years later. As it turned out, Hussein no longer had WMDs, as UN weapons inspectors had been saying before we invaded.
Fast forward a decade — after thousands of US service men and women died, another 100,000 were horribly maimed, and perhaps more than 100,000 Iraqi men, women and children were slaughtered in what did not start out as a civil war but ended up becoming one — and we hear echoes of the very same drums of war that were being beaten back in 2003.
Like that old “Twilight Zone” episode in which a man on trial for his life (Dennis Weaver) relives the same courtroom drama in endlessly recurring nightmares, only with the characters in each dream changing roles, this time it’s not Bush and Powell calling for permission to wage war and calling foreign leaders the next Hitler. This time it’s President Obama, who called the invasion of Iraq a mistake while a senator and as president oversaw the withdrawal of troops from that country, but now wants to go to war. And it’s current Secretary of State John Kerry, who also campaigned against the war in Iraq in his bid for president in 2004, now comparing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Hitler for what is being called a sarin gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people, nearly a third of those victims being young children.
At first, Obama appeared to have been so incensed by this wanton slaughter of innocents that last week he was ready to act preemptively, much as he unilaterally did without congressional approval in the bombing of Libya in 2011, ultimately resulting in yet another unstable Middle East country with the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. After that, Obama, again without a congressional OK, sent Navy SEALS to hunt down and kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. Frankly, after such experiences, it would be a wonder if Obama — or any president — wouldn’t see himself as the world’s policeman.
But Obama surely must have realized — probably not long after British Prime Minister David Cameron’s pleas with Parliament to support plans to launch cruise missiles on Syria fell on deaf ears — that this is a little more complicated than those two cases. What Obama clearly heard from Parliament was that our staunchest ally really is sick of war and apparently wants no more of it, even in light of all those horrible murders allegedly committed by the Syrian military.
Of course, Iran — still our enemy — is allied with Assad. Iraq, too, appears sympathetic to Assad, allowing Iran to transport weapons to the regime over Iraqi airspace, according to The Associated Press. The Chinese and Russians, according to CNN, are also on Assad’s side in his country’s civil war, one in which the dictator clearly has weapons of mass destruction and, if what they say is true, has no qualms about using them.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey all want Assad out, and they back a US strike, CNN reports. But all three are likely to contribute only logistical support, not troops. And if some type of invasion occurred, what would be our mission and role? Regime change, like Iraq? Not likely, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping, head of China’s military and general secretary of its communist party, on Assad’s side. It does not help the argument for intervention that there appears to be no leader emerging to take over the fractured Syrian opposition, let alone guide a fledging government should Assad be deposed.
And what does Israel think of all this? Now we’re talking about the possibility of World War III.
After hearing US Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham agreeing with the idea of limited strikes, you just know Obama’s plan is a mistake. Only these two old war hawks, as well as some Republicans in the House, want an open-ended declaration of war, not just a limited strike, and that’s what this resolution to wage war, if approved by Congress, would accomplish.
If that happens, there seems to be no question that there would be another war, but one unlike Iraq, in which the US would get caught up in existing civil war, and one, also unlike Iraq, in which weapons of mass destruction would likely be used against our men and women.
Before any of that happens, let’s hope the growing number of Democrats in Congress who appear to be inclined toward peace will end this latest Serling-esque recurring political and military nightmare in the Middle East and Washington, DC, and vote against the resolution to wage even limited war against Syria.