The current debate over whether President Obama should intervene in the Syrian civil war, has been missing the point. Even James Stephenson's otherwise thoughtful piece in the Wall Street Journal today (if you click it, be aware of the paywall) stays focused on the merits or demerits of action instead of the real question: Do we want this president, Barack Obama, making any decisions where American interests are at stake--and where Americans, and possibly many others, may die? The answer is an emphatic no.
We've seen President Obama's serial weakness in his dealings with Iran, with China, and with Vladimir Putin on missile defense and, most recently, the Snowden case--and so have America's foes, including the Syrians. We've seen his serial incompetence in Egypt. We've seen his negligence and irresponsibility in Libya and Benghazi--not to mention his mendacity in covering up that negligence.
Now we're seeing him pushing military intervention in Syria more for reasons of personal pique--making up for that "red line" gaffe--than reasons of state.
Right now ,Russian warships are headed for the coast of Syria; 10,000 Iranian armed fanatics are already in country, fighting alongside Syrian troops for the Assad regime. So are Russian military "advisors" who man the attack helicopters that the Administration wants to take out with Tomahawk missiles and the anti-aircraft missile batteries we would also have to destroy to set up the no-fly zone that Senator McCain and others are calling for.
Meanwhile, Iran is threatening to retaliate against Israel if we launch any missile strikes--and Israel will wonder how serious we are about following through on our pledge to stop Iran getting nukes if we don't.
In the midst of this mess, I don't want critical decisions that could propel the United States into a growing regional conflict--maybe even a confrontation with Russia--made by a president whose first instinct when faced with a crisis like the Benghazi attack and even the killing of UBL, was to flee the scene--and I don't think our NATO allies do either. That's why I have to applaud David Cameron's decision to stand down from a quick decision on action in Syria. Now it seems the French are changing their minds, as well.
I know Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey has been a highly vocal critic of any intervention in Syria--our military wants no part of it. They know there's no thought-out policy here, just a knee-jerk reaction--one that will be costly in treasure (Tomahawk missiles cost $1.4 million apiece, for a military whose budget is being steadily pared away--replacing the missiles fired in Libya alone has cost more than $300 million) and possibly in blood--for no clear end.
There may be a case for intervening in Syria, even a good case. But does anyone really believe this president should be trusted to carry it out?