The Washington Post

Does maintaining credibility require an attack?

David Ignatius’s column Thursday, suggesting that the United States should take some military action against Syria after it used chemical weapons against its own people, has generated an active reader conversation. While some readers support that view, several expressed concern about getting into another quagmire and about Russia’s reaction to a U.S. strike.

Ignatius wrote, “President Obama, whose restrained and realistic foreign policy I generally admire, needs to demonstrate that there are consequences for crossing a U.S. ‘red line.’ ”

We’ll start with pontneuf, who wrote, “The proposed attacks with cruise missiles are a problem. First, the idea that this attack must be proportionate with the attacks with chemical weapons is just wrong. In order to be effective, it must be disproportionate. Raise the ante. Second, is the idea that a missile fired by the US will deter future attacks. I am not so sure about that. The whole proportionate-response concept is flawed. It will serve no strategic or human rights objective and may result in an escalation. There are unintended consequences with action and inaction. Escalation is a big problem. Having Syria unravel or a regionalization of the conflict is clearly very dangerous. We need to contain the mess that is Syria and isolate the mess. I don’t see how cruise-missile attack of the scale contemplated by the Administration will achieve this end.”

LeftGuy said, “The front-page article telling how the citizens of Damascus are preparing for a strike is worth reading … much more than the pundit hawks. The innocents are being killed along with the partisans in the civil war. But until now, there is no blood on US hands. Bombing will certainly kill innocents … and for what purpose?”

deaconrod offered that “No president has the Constitutional authority to unilaterally declare war, so no president should unilaterally draw red lines.”

Djones121 wrote, “I have no hangup in using U.S. military power when it is clearly in our National interest. However, I fail to see what our National interest is in Syria. This is essentially another Islamic sectarian Sunni (Saudi) vs. Shia (Iran) war like Iraq. That was an expensive and strategic fiasco, and our intervention in Syria will be the same. A pox on both their houses.”

mike-sey said, “It is hard to believe that the coherence of the international system will dissolve if the US doesn’t blow up something in Syria, particularly when the cornerstone of it has always been a prohibition against nations attacking other sovereign nations.  Mr. Ignatius seems to be operating under the axis-of-evil, us-good-they-bad view of the world. He gives no credit to either Russian or Iranian cooperation in the prosecution of the Afghan war but instead denigrates their leadership and dismisses the possibility that either has legitimate concerns. Iran, he postulates, is revolutionary and ambitious. Yet any rational look at that country and regime would suggest that their ambition is to protect themselves from a long series of attacks by the US and its allies.

“Perhaps it’s time to give some credit where credit is due and get on board with the Russian initiative to resolve the Syrian crisis, and behind the UN and its judgment about Palestine instead of making demands and brooking no defiance.”

NMremote asked, “Credibility? – perhaps ‘ability’ is the right word here – the ability to strike and remove command and control with pinpoint accuracy while giving the Russian trained technicians a few days notice, so they can be ready to use the best defense Russia has to offer.

“This is Obama’s move against Putin in this ‘global’ chess game — en garde! If the Syrians can hold off an allied strike, Putin can stick out his chest; otherwise, get off the pot.”

016 offered that “U.S. Credibility has been at stake for the last 5 years…”

To which AJGauvin added, “Because the previous 8 years went so well.”

2016 said, “This makes the thugs of the world think twice before being aggressive …LOL”

Ricktasker wondered, “What has happened to Obama and Kerry and Hagel? They are trying to get our country involved in the bloodiest war in generations with weak and reluctant allies, no Congressional, NATO, U.N. or even Arab League authorization, and no support of our people.”

maplesyrple wrote, “As despicable as the humanitarian crisis is in Syria, there are NO American national security risks in the current situation which compare to the risks inherent in a military intervention. It is a complete fallacy to think that cruise missiles could bring the hostilities to an end, or an air campaign. Putting boots on the ground would create a regional conflagration which would dwarf Iraq or Afghanistan. The problem is that there are no good answers to the issues there. America is damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.”

robsea69 wrote, “If discretion is the better part of valor, I hope Obama/Kerry pursue a way to stay disengaged from this conflict.”

We’ll close with Seeing-eye Cat, who said, “Old Chinese proverb: ‘Birds entangle themselves with their feet; humans entangle themselves with their tongues.’ Obama’s ‘red line’ statement has gotten the attention of the world as to what we are/are not going to do when someone challenges our perceived threat. But now we are caught up in a real dilemma. Do we help the rebels (and to what extent) with the knowledge that they too may turn against us should they get in power? Do we do nothing and knowingly allow people (many innocents) to die horrible deaths at the hand of another madman? At what point does ‘speak silently and carry a big stick’ diplomacy lose face value with the international community? Better that strong words be carefully spoken and their consequences thought out.”

All comments on this article are here.



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TJ Ortenzi · August 15, 2013