Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have come up with a boatload of reasons to vote against the Syria resolution. President Obama can’t be trusted to prosecute a military action. It’s too late. Al-Qaeda will benefit. But in fact a “no” vote would be disastrous.
A “no” vote is . . .
An endorsement of U.S. retrenchment, in essence approval of the first 4 1/2 years of Obama foreign policy, in which the United States withdraws from the Middle East and the world more generally.
A threat to Jordan, which is already buckling under the weight of millions of refugees.
A way to rope Republicans into responsibility for another Middle East embarrassment.
A dose of encouragement to Iran in its ambitions to acquire its own WMDs and to dominate the region.
A catastrophe for our Sunni Arab allies, who will correctly perceive us as feckless and an unreliable ally.
A boost to jihadis in Syria, who will see this (correctly) as evidence of U.S. passivity.
A signal to Syrians and others in the Middle East that the United States doesn’t care about them or their future.
A danger to Israel, which fears allowing WMD use to go unpunished and understands the impact on Iran.
An incentive for every rogue state to acquire and use WMDs. We’ll take a giant leap in the wrong direction on proliferation of illicit weapons.
A gift to Hezbollah, which will be emboldened to threaten Israel and potentially have access to WMDs.
An advertisement to take the United States as seriously as Britain (i.e. not at all).
A missed opportunity to tout Obama’s admission that his disengagement philosophy and anti-Bush stance were losers. Conservatives should recognize the intellectual victory and endorse its repudiation (a vote for unilateral action in defense of U.S. national security)
A blow to the notion that only the United Nations confers legitimacy on our military action.
A failure to gain Democrats’ endorsement for U.S. internationalism.
A victory for Vladimir Putin, who will have successfully thwarted the United Nations and be on the precipice of achieving his aims in Syria.
A death knell for anti-jihadi rebels, who will be demoralized and face an emboldened Bashar al-Assad.
A lifeline for Hillary Clinton, who can claim that it was Congress and not her own rudderless foreign policy that led to a triumph for Assad, Russia and Iran.
In short, there are many questions and potential dangers that flow from U.S. military action. But the downsides of a “no” vote are far more serious and certain. Lawmakers in essence should vote against “no,” or as many have described it, for the lesser of two horrible choices, which in this case is “yes.”