The U.S. finds itself in an eerily similar position as it did not so long ago when WMD’s were “confirmed” to be found in Iraq, and the next 13 years would leave America inside a conflict that would often divide the nation, and contribute to a failing economy.
The speaker of the House John Boehner has sent an open letter to President Obama asking him to detail his reasoning and urging him to consult with Congress before committing America to another conflict.
“Now, having again determined your red line has been crossed, should a decisive response involve the use of the United States military, it is essential that you provide a clear, unambiguous explanation of how military action – which is a means, not a policy – will secure U.S. objectives and how it fits into your overall policy. I respectfully request that you, as our country’s commander-in-chief, personally make the case to the American people and Congress for how potential military action will secure American national security interests, preserve America’s credibility, deter the future use of chemical weapons, and, critically, be a part of our broader policy and strategy.”
This is a level headed approach that acknowledges the mistakes of the past and the Speaker’s own party. Although the President is not required to adhere to the requests to confer with Congress and gain public support for military action, Speaker Boehner raises a good question as to whether or not he ought to have to. If President George W. Bush was required to meet such standards, included the presentation of verifiable evidence, then perhaps America could have bypassed the difficulty of the last decade completely.
In 2012 John Boehner sided with then Presidential Candidate Obama’s stance that the US should explore all means but military intervention in Syria. He did so in opposition to the candidate from his own party, John McCain. I expected to find Speaker Boehner’s letter more confrontational as per the norm of the US political circus , but his tone and his questions are reasonable and it is also reasonable, given his track record, to find sincerity in his words. He asks quite simply, has America learned anything in the last 13 years and if so, what?
President Obama had this to say about the chemical weapons and national security:
“…there is — there is no doubt that when you start seeing chemical weapons used on a large scale — and, again, we’re still gathering information about this particular event, but it is very troublesome… then that starts getting to some core national interests that the United States has, both in terms of us making sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies, our bases in the region.”
There does not seem to be anything in his patient stance and response that indicates that he is not willing to meet speaker Boehner’s challenge to provide evidence. For once both sides of the aisle seem to have the shared vision needed to protect the interests of the nation.
The United Nations, who existence is supposed to ensure that crimes against humanity are met with an alliance of international interests that recognize that such violations represent a threat to humanity itself, continues to respond without authority or unity. China and Russia are two of the five permanent members of the UN security council and would most likely veto any resolution for a military intervention. If The United States were to invade, it would do so in opposition to these superpowers, world wars have began for less.
The United Kingdom has also decided to forgo action leaving the US alone as the world’s police yet again. A solo US intervention is still a possibility:
“We have seen the result of the Parliament vote in the U.K. tonight,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement. “The U.S. will continue to consult with the U.K. government – one of our closest allies and friends.
“As we’ve said, President Obama’s decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States,” she added. “He believes that there are core interests at stake for the United States and that countries who violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable.”
Herein lies the main problem, of what use is the UN if it cannot act to protect innocent people from the horrors of chemical weapons? The world needs a solid and reliable international governing body that can absolve nation’s from having to violate the sovereignty of a country on its own. America does not need another war, it needs to find itself among a collection of nation’s who draw this “red line”, as President Obama put it, in the name and for the good of humanity. With China and Russia on the other side of this line, could U.S. action in Syria start a chain of events that lead to WWIII?
Written By Matthew Cohen, MSW