2013-06-27 / View From the Middle

View From The Middle

President’s Decision On Syria: Could War Be An Option?
Charles Rogers

The “rock and a hard place” idiom prevails nowadays with the problem of what to do with Syria. Mostly, what we need is leadership and, let’s face it, President Obama is stuck, uh, you-know-where. Right now, far-rightists are saying we ought to help supply and even immediately take the side of the rebels in the Syrian conflict which has pitted the government of Bashar-al-Assad against those who want to take over his regime.

It’s not easy, this diplomat business. Gauging international relations does indeed take a great deal of know-how and, yes, diplomacy. Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry turned hawkish and called for the strikes on Syrian airfields to aid the rebels, while also agreeing to throw money at their cause and furnish them with small arms firepower. This is nice, if you know whom you’re dealing with.

And there’s one of the diplomatic problems. It’s said that the rebel fighters are not only warring factions within the Syrian borders, but no one seems to know how many of them are part of the dreaded Al Qaeda (that’s OUR enemy!). While dictator Assad and his forces have lately taken an upper hand, and have taken some of the land back, people are dying. Ninety-threethousand people by last count. Kerry said a “political resolution” would be most desirable and promised to meet with ten Arab and European nations to step up military aid to the rebels. At the same time, Republican U.S. Senator John McCain met with the rebels and “assured” us that the arms we’re sending to them “will not fall into the wrong hands.”

“We can identify who those people are,” he said. “We can help the right people.” In the meantime, he denounced Obama for shying away from deeper U.S. involvement in the conflict, not mentioning that, as other critics have said, those arms could wind up being used against us or our allies. He — and those on his right — also failed to mention that three or four weeks ago, the United Nations, in a proposal submitted by Britain and France, blacklisted the rebel tribes as an “alias” of Al Qaeda.

Sounds to me like that makes it official!

This makes it more of a dilemma, posing a big problem for us and our allies, which favor Assad’s overthrow but yet would power-up the militant fighters and their buddies in Al Qaeda. The whole thing started only two years ago with peaceful demonstrations against the government (you remember “Arab Spring?”). Then it descended into a civil war with tens of thousands killed.

So, here we sit, waiting for President Obama to make a move. We know — fully — that public opinion in the United States is strongly against military involvement in Syria and no one, certainly, wants to see American troops on the ground there. One huge move that COULD be done is to finally throw the problem — and possible solution — into the arms of Congress. Yes, Congress; those 435 Representatives and 100 Senators that have the reputation of doing NOTHING, might wind up being responsible human beings after all. Maybe they’d even have a real, logical, productive session or two and come to a reasonable, safe conclusion (he said, sarcastically!). Congress, after all, could take this dilemma away from the President, Secretary of State and Defense Secretary, to a degree, and SUGGEST alternatives.

Of course, it’s a dilemma for the President. I think he ought to be commended for gritting his teeth and holding back on decisions that would put us back into deploying troops or air power into the conflict. On the other hand, he’s being criticized for the nondecision side of it. You want to figure it out?

It’s called the epitome of being put between a rock and a hard place!

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