Maybe I’m just getting old. I turn 65 this week, so perhaps I’m tired of war. In my 34 years of military service I served in two wars: Vietnam and Iraq. Make no mistake – war is an ugly business. Despite the efforts of Hollywood to glorify war, and apart from fighting for a worthy cause, or the defense of your homeland, very little else can justify bringing people to the point of war.
It has been said that war should be the last resort. I whole-heartedly agree. It’s no secret that Syria has been using chemical warfare against its own people. We’ve been receiving reports on this for quite some time. This is why it was most unsettling when our President made the challenge to President Assad that if the United States finds out Syria is using chemical weapons against his own people then we would be forced to take action. The President made a bold statement about a red line being crossed should Assad and his regime fail to comply with the U.S. wishes. Well, Assad ignored us, which is typical for dictators, and since 2011 he is reportedly responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 of his own people through the use of WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction).
I wish the President had not made such a boast about taking military action against Syria. If he had kept quiet, he could then have taken action when he felt the time was right, and not on some predetermined time-line.
Another factor in this has to do with those nations who are supportive of Syria and the Assad regime. Russia has made it quite clear that it does not want us messing around in that region. The threat was real. Then there’s Iran. They have been supplying weapons and men to the Syrians for some time. We’re still in Iraq and Afghanistan, so does it make sense to “beard the lion” by provoking Russia and Iran?
Israel has enough trouble keeping at bay the enemies it has on all its borders. They are the sole democracy in the part of the world. Should the U.S. come into their region and stir the pot without their tacit approval? I think not. We could be unleashing a war-storm that could be a precursor to Armageddon.
Let me explain why I think we could be creating a mess. The Arab countries fight amongst each other continually. It has been going on for centuries. What is happening in Syria is nothing new. Only the modern weapons make this different. However, because the Arab peoples are related, it’s like families that fight amongst each other. They may scratch and claw, but the moment an outsider gets involved they unite against the common enemy. That’s what I see happening should the U.S. make a move against Syria. Even as I write this article on Sunday evening, the news is reporting that the Obama administration is strongly pressuring Congress to vote in favor of military action against Syria.
There’s still another concern I have, and that is our military. Make no mistake about it – should the President issue the order to take action against Syria, our military forces will answer that call. The problem is that we have been at war in two countries for twelve years and there is an exhaustion level that can be reached by those who carry the burden of defending our nation. Add to that the downsizing of our military; the cuts in defense; sequestration, etc… well, you get the picture.
My final thought on this possible military action in Syria is the same old problem the United States has dealt with since we were formed as a nation in 1776. Somehow we keep believing we are the world’s police force and that we can come in and make everything better.
When should we take action as a nation? Which hot spots around the globe deserve our attention? We routinely ignore for instance, the many uprisings, wars, and tribal conflicts which have left millions of people dead, homeless, and ravaged. Why did we not take action in those equally far off places? Who decides where we go?
My prayer is that cooler heads will prevail in our government, and that we will learn to step into situations only when our national defense is required.