Bombing Syria would be a mistake. First, it increases the likelihood of a wider regional conflict. Iran has openly said it will attack Israel if the U.S. bombs Syria. Lebanon-based and Iranian-backed Hezbollah is already actively fighting rebels in Syria, and Syria has openly said it will retaliate against any U.S. attack. Russia has described the U.S. position as "provocation."
Second, it mires the United States in yet another armed conflict in a Muslim country. I fear Syria will be "mission creep" like Iraq and Afghanistan. Our initial objective of eliminating Syria's chemical weapons capabilities will transform into protecting refugees and liberating Syrian civilians, then toppling the Assad regime and installing democratic institutions.
And, of course, there will be blowback against the United States. There is always blowback. As we approach the 12-year anniversary of 9/11, I'm reminded of the consequences and risks of the U.S. meddling in the affairs of the Middle East.
How will we pay for this war, and how is Syria a threat to U.S. national security? Are the al-Qaida-linked rebels not a threat to U.S. national security? President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have said the prohibition against the use of chemical weapons is an international norm (and red line) that must be enforced. When did war become the first method of enforcement? And if it is an international norm -- the violation of which justifies military action -- why is there an international coalition of only two countries (the United States and France)?
I suspect the decision to use force has more to do with President Obama's foolish decision to draw a red line (and now save face) rather than any real threat to U.S. national security.