The current situation in Syria has exposed a chasm in American foreign policy that has brought the United States to an unexpected crossroads. Not only has Syrian’s gassing of its own citizens introduced an even more deadly element in the Syrian conflict, it has revealed international indecision about how to respond.
In last week’s blog, I was critical of President Obama and his staff’s lack of planning that left the administration exposed. The debate over attacking Syria should have occurred well before lines were drawn. Apparently, the president assumed he had America, Britain, and other allies standing behind him. The vote in Parliament left even the British Prime Minister shocked. Today, Obama virtually stands alone.
American Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain faced a similar surprise as his constituents in Arizonia told the war hawk they didn’t want Syria bombed and America drawn into another conflict. In Washington, it is not clear that Obama can carry the Senate or House. He may be the first American president to find that the Congress won’t stand with him against a common enemy.
Around the world the Bush-Cheney era actions are coming home to haunt the United States. Parliament blamed Tony Blair for swallowing Bush’s claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Vice-president Dick Cheney advocated water-boarding and bombing the enemy into oblivion. Many nations apparently no longer have any sympathy for the Cheney’s of world politics. America appears to be one of them. American intelligence is still viewed as misleading and deceptive.
I have gone out of my way to talk with all kinds of people about their views on striking Syria. No one doubts Assad murdered his own people The problem is that after 10 years of unending and unproductive wars, we have become the most hated and despised nation in the world. (At least that what many of the people I’ve interviewed think.) They point out that a “limited” strike still kills. These people no longer believe what the Washington politicians are saying. President Obama has now discovered that approximately 75% of the American public don’t agree with him.
Consequently, we have come to a crossroads.
Are Americans retreating from world leadership? Do moral issues like using poison gas no longer demand our response? Can nations like Iran and North Korea afford to gamble that our military might will not be used against tyranny and aggression. Must Israel decide to go it alone against Iran’s nuclear pursuits because American’s pronouncements cannot be counted on?
This week will possibly bring America to a show down. These issues loom over the landscape leaving frightening shadows. It is clear the American public no longer wants the government to be the world’s policeman. On the other hand, it is also evident the United Nations has failed in its role to guarantee world peace. And then there’s Putin. If Obama fails, Putin wins. Are you ready for that one? Another crossroads indeed.
In this biog, I am suggesting that the American public and Congress must view the alternatives from the perspective of what kind of future this nation will have. The options are bad, but the alternatives are worse. The issues are far more serious than shooting missiles at Damascus. The issue is the future.
And we stand at a crossroads.