Issue One: Striking Syria

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Not our problem

It amazes me that our political leadership continues to feel that they must involve America in every country's problems. Have they learned nothing from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan? Wars that sacrificed our military's lives and America's treasure?

The rest of the world, especially Arabs in the Middle East, think we are suckers for falling for crisis after crisis as they fail to help themselves. Instead of spending on our infrastructure and education, we pour money and lives into useless and unwinnable wars!

Our leadership, both political and military, have an obligation to our troops to use them wisely, not to satisfy a world that is increasingly anti-American. Remember the lies, from the Gulf of Tonkin to the Bush weapons-of-mass-destruction story, that politicians have used to keep us involved, and say, "Enough!"


False choices

Why our choices on Syria are false choices:

One. No strikes at Syria can be so surgical that no innocent people will be killed.

Two. There are no guarantees that war can remain limited. We cannot control the responses of our opponents, players now on the sidelines or even our allies.

Three. "Pax Americana" is over. Even our allies no longer see us as the legitimate "policeman of the world."

Four. We have a poor track record of picking winners and losers in Libya, Egypt and throughout the Middle East.

Five. We have a poor record of basing war decisions on intelligence. National Security Agency historians concluded that the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was based on reports of an Aug. 4 attack on the USS Maddox that was deliberately distorted to cover up intelligence errors. But the damage was done for an entire decade. The intelligence justifying the invasion of Iraq is closer in memory for many readers, but it produced no weapons of mass destruction, despite the "slam dunk intelligence" at the time. Another decade was lost.

Six. Making public our "line in the sand" may have been an early mistake, but complicating it by selling simple solutions that cannot be guaranteed is downright dangerous.

If Bashar Assad remains in power, our promises not to escalate are meaningless because we cannot control how he or any of the many rebel factions might react. Or, if Mr. Assad is removed, we cannot guarantee that al-Qaida in Syria might not be the winner unless we are willing to engage in another decade of war. As the president himself has said, wars are easier to get into than to get out of.




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