« WSAU Opinion Blog

OPINION - Winning words, (still) bad choices

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU)  “If you’re outraged about the mass killing of innocent civilians, I ask what are you doing about it?”

Whoever wrote those words for President Obama earned their pay. That’s the argument the President is making for attacking Syria. In today’s sound-bite world, that simple sentence may win the day.

It’s disingenuous, but it takes a while to get through it.

The best response is to return the volley. “Mr. President,” you might ask, “what are you doing about it?” The President's preferred policy choice - a U.S. military strike - does nothing to change the situation. It makes it worse.

The White House has already said regime change would not be the goal of a U.S. military strike. For what purpose? To allow Syria to supply terrorists, or to plot new attacks?

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs of Staff, advises that an effective strike could still be carried out a month from now. Time enough for Syria’s army to move personnel and equipment out of harms way.

A White House spokesman carelessly referred to any pending strike as “a shot across the bow”. By definition, that’s a warning. What rogue nation would be deterred by that?

Columnist Matt Miller makes two great points of caution about Syria. 1: Would we be contemplating a military response if it wasn’t for President Obama’s careless “bright red line” rhetoric? The answer, obviously, is 'no'.  2: Why are so many allies sitting this out? People in England, Canada, Spain, France, etc. don’t feel as if their nations are the final enforcers of international norms. We should not be too quick to take on the role.

The case for military action gets weaker as time goes by. Yet the numbers in Congress ready to vote for it continue to increase.

Chris Conley
9.4.13