If you ask me whether I think the United States should bomb Syria in sympathetic retaliation for the Assad regime's alleged gassing of its own civilians (not that the gassing is alleged--just that we can't be 100% sure that the Syrian government was behind it), I would have to say, "No." Sure the world would probably be a much better place without Bashar al-Assad in it, but I can't see that the U.S. has a legitimate stake in this conflict: Assad directly attacked neither the United States nor any of its allies--he seems, frankly, too smart to do any such thing. And unless and until the entire international community decides to take action, I see no reason for America to take upon itself yet another Middle Eastern firefight.
That being said, I was troubled by an article in today's Times that described the attitudes of the residents of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, the overwhelmingly majority of whom share my distaste for military action. Some people, of course, rightly point out that the conflict in Syria is properly understood as a civil war, and the U.S. has no pressing national security interest in its outcome--or at least no clear understanding of what a desirable outcome would be from a domestic security standpoint. Others, though, expressed opinions like this:
“[Obama's] having trouble keeping his popularity up; this war on guns has made him unpopular. And this is his way of getting back up.” (Jennifer Taylor, bartender)
Um. . . Well, except that his liberal supporters LIKE his "war on guns" (such as it is), and they DON'T like the thought of bombing Syria--and even most conservatives (at least of the Tea Party stripe) have never cottoned to the idea of international entanglements. So who is Obama appealing to with this. No, you see--
"[Taylor's] customer, Mr. Tripp, suggested that the use of chemical weapons was actually a plot by Al Qaeda to lure the United States into toppling the Syrian government, and that Mr. Obama was falling for it. Terrorists will rush into the vacuum once Mr. Assad is gone, he warned."
Well, I mean, OK, Al Qaeda is certainly not above such devious tactics. It does seem a rather roundabout way of accomplishing its objectives. Besides, if Al Qaeda got its hands on sarin gas warheads, I would suspect they'd be more likely to launch them at Israel or Washington. Still, interesting points. Now, if we could just focus on--
"'It’s going to be a "Red Dawn" situation,' Ms. [Malinda] Dulaney said, referring to a film about a Russian takeover of the United States. 'You see that movie? They’re going to come over here, on boats, on planes, and take over. Who’s going to defend us? We’re sending them all overseas.'"
Riiiight. Because when we launch missiles at Syria, we'll be so distracted. . .watching the missiles. . . that a group of. . . uh. . . .Islamic militiamen will be able to sneak over and storm the . . . beaches? . . .of Washington, DC? And. . . And I guess this time around, we won't even have Patrick Swayze to protect us. . . .
Guys, I'm seriously trying to be on your side. You're not making it easy.