Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Syria Question

There's a reason why you don't often see foreign policy questions here. Since this blog focuses on the policies and politics affecting the State of Nevada, we typically stick to domestic issues. But as our state economy becomes increasingly exposed to the global economy, this may change.

And in the mean time, the buzz on Capitol Hill has actually moved away from manufactured crises... At least for now. After all, there's a real crisis at hand. And this real crisis is increasingly overshadowing the fake ones.

So now, Congress has critical decision to make. Congress must now figure out what to do regarding Syria. President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, and others are quite convinced that the Assad Regime has been using chemical weapons against its own people. Yet in the wake of the British Parliament's surprising rejection of that nation taking military action against Syria, new questions have been rising about the scope of military action, the goals, and the cost. Some at home and abroad are even questioning US, British, and French intelligence blaming the Syrian Military for the chemical weapon attacks.

We're coming off two long, protracted, and grueling wars. Both were initially "justified" by 9/11 and fears of future al-Qaeda terrorist attacks. One (Iraq) turned out to be a rather bloody war of aggression sold to the American people with faulty intelligence, while the other (Afghanistan) has increasingly looked like a futile effort to prop up a flailing and corrupt regime. Obviously, the past decade of experience has given most Americans "War Fatigue". And as a result, there's plenty of resistance now to any kind of military involvement in Syria that we did not see in the build-up to the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.

This is why President Obama is trying to reassure the nation and the world that this time is different. Can he convince us? This is why the coming deliberations on Capitol Hill will be so important.

Last decade, Congress agreed to let the Bush Administration rush us into two wars, two clunky attempts to curtail civil liberties (the "USA PATRIOT Act" and FISA Amendments Act), and seemingly endless billions of dollars worth of military spending that are coming back to haunt us now. Can we afford to let that happen to us again? Can we afford to let Congress abdicate its role in shaping US foreign policy?

Perhaps this time is different. After all, Barack Obama is now President. He hasn't tried to rush us into war in Syria. And the world community look to be more persuaded by our intelligence this time.

Still, the stakes are incredibly high. And the risk of the US falling into a quagmire in Syria may ultimately be greater than that of Iraq & Afghanistan last decade .

Clearly, the Obama Administration has had to think long and hard about the question of what America should do next on Syria. Now, it's Congress' turn. And we can only hope they're serious about finding the right answer.

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