So now we hear that President Obama is reportedly caving into pressure to intervene on behalf of the Syrian rebels due to the nation’s dictator, Bashir al-Assad, using chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war there. The decision comes after an onslaught of pressure from people like Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), who seems never to have encountered a war he didn’t want America involved in.
The first, admittedly snarky, comment I will make is that I thought President Obama defeated Senator McCain in 2008, and that one of the key reasons he did so was because he, unlike McCain, had made clear that he opposed getting America involved in a Middle East quagmire that McCain wholeheartedly supported. It took almost five years, but apparently, McCain has finally prevailed.
Having gotten that comment out of my system, let me sum up the arguments of the people who support getting us involved in another damned war that nobody but certain politicians and defense contractors want:
1) A brutal Middle Eastern dictator is using chemical weapons against his own people.
2) Said dictator has links to international terrorism and has meddled in the affairs of a small neighboring country.
3) We have a moral obligation to gather a coalition of nations and intervene against this dictator.
Where have we heard this script before?
Haven’t we had enough misguided foreign adventurism yet? Even if it is a fact that Assad is using chemical weapons on his own people, what happens if we intervene and he is overthrown? By all accounts, the rebels in Syria are of various ideological stripes, and some of them appear to be close to al-Qaida.
In short, neither side is any good, and no matter who wins, Syria is not going to emerge as a western-style democracy. There is no point in getting involved in another country’s civil war, in which the end result, no matter who wins, is going to be the same: Syria is going to have a bad and dangerous government. But hey, at least a few obscenely rich defense contractors will get even more obscenely rich, and a few Republican politicians will get to beat their chests and look tough.
Mr. President: I voted for you in the 2008 primaries (over a far more experienced candidate) and supported you passionately, with my money and with my time. I drove eight hours each way, before the Ohio primary, to go door to door for you in the cold, rain and mud of a depressing post-industrial city that time forgot twenty years ago. I took your literature to a dangerous neighborhood that—literally—sat on the wrong side of the railroad tracks. Upon knocking on a door that opened to reveal two people who were cooking meth and clearly suspicious of a stranger, I handed over your literature to prove I wasn’t a cop. (The meth-cookers immediately went from suspicious to enthusiastic and earnestly assured me they were voting for you.) I can’t speak for the millions of other Americans who have similar stories from the 2008 campaign, but speaking for myself, I did this largely for one reason: because you were right about Iraq.
You got elected president, probably for more than any other reason, because you were right about the mistake of fighting what you rightly called a “dumb war” in the Middle East. Mr. President, please, don’t forget now what you knew then.