If there's one lesson we've learned from the Obama Administration, it's that not all unjustified wars are bad, just the ones with ridiculous things like "goals" and "terms of victory." For example, going into Iraq with the goal of removing Saddam Hussein from power is bad. Going into Syria with no declared aim at all, however, is fine. And, while he says he has not made a decision, we cannot simply ignore the fact that movements by the military have already been made to ensure a quick deployment of whatever our response is.
We have all pointed out the humorous contradictions between Iraq War Barack Obama and President Barack Obama, so there's no need to rehash those. Instead, I'll turn to a Republican hailed by the Left as a pretty fair thinker, Colin Powell.
Before some of you froth at the mouth, let me spoil this a bit by saying I'm going to use Powell to ridicule the choice for any operation Syria by the Obama administration. Wipe the foam from your lips and continue on.
In the time leading up to the Gulf War (1990-1991), Powell listed seven questions that were later dubbed by journalists as the "Powell Doctrine." It's an easy enough doctrine to remember, and it's a handy tool for presidents who may need reminding on what is a good and bad war. Let's take the questions one at a time.
- Is a vital national security interest threatened?
Let's consider the sides for the moment. One side is the ruling government, who has used some pretty shady tactics on the revolting populace. Now a very good thing. Oh, and he's getting support from Hezbollah, a recognized terrorist organization. The other side, meanwhile, is being supported by al Qaeda, noted enemies of the West and perpetrators of the heinous 9/11 attack and several other plots to kill American citizens.
What, exactly, do we as a nation have to gain by joining either side of this battle? People demanded action, and Obama drew a red line. Then erased it and drew another. He talked his way around it (which is not something we're unused to, mind you). It seems as though national security interest is threatened if al Qaeda helps the rebels out and gets some sympthetic folks in whatever new government is set up.
- Do we have a clear attainable objective?
If we do, we haven't been shown it yet, and this is an administration that loves to leak its goodies to a sympathetic press when it needs to get support.
- Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
What, exactly, has this administration fully and frankly analyzed thus far? Obamacare? Stimulus spending? I can't think of a single thing. When the Left is dominated by people who suggest a feel good government that bases all of its arguments on emotions and cares very little for true reason, it's hard to tell if they can think anything through. They've had the chance to, sure. Plenty of time has passed since the first alleged use of sarin gas by Assad's regime, so I suppose I could give them the benefit of the doubt... But I look at the top players involved and think "...No."
- Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
H-Has anything been even tried, much less exhausted? Again, I realize intelligence and national security dictates some secrecy, but this is the same administration that leaked details of his Tuesday morning donuts and drones socials with his top advisors, so I can't imagine we'd be in the dark about everything if he was wanting to keep a good image and show he was doing stuff.
- Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
I believe it's called "The End of Assad or The End of Obama's Term (whichever comes first)."
- Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
It's impossible to know because we don't know all the players involved here. We know Assad, Hezbollah and al Qaeda are players, but other, localized groups, can be involved and we don't know it (or worse, our government does and won't tell us that before getting involved), or we could be looking at a situation where, in a vacuum, numerous factions (a lot more numerous than in Egypt) rise and fight for control of the nation.
- Is the action supported by the American people?
It's a mix, but there certainly isn't overwhelming support, which is really what you need for this kind of operation. In comparison, George W. Bush went into Iraq with a supportive and/or indifferent nation, a lot of whom were still riding that wave of patriotism that came from 9/11. Obama doesn't have any of that going in his favor right now, and as a result, if he moves without Congressional approval (totally out of character for him, I know), then he can expect even less support.
- Do we have genuine broad international support?
We have some, mostly from allies. But "broad" support is something we lack. More local players like Jordan and Iran are opposed, and two big global powers, and U.N. Security Council seats Russia and China say no*, thus shooting down UNSC approval. Global diversity, short of a World War II situation, is likely to prevent this one from ever really being answered in the affirmative.
The Left loves to look at Powell admiringly and say "This is a Republican with a great head on his shoulders and is willing to walk across the aisle like a good moderate should," but those who defend Obama here will ignore one of the most important things he's given the U.S. in terms of foreign policy: these seven questions. One can only scratch his or her head and ponder that, but I'd advise against it, because trying to figure out this bunch can only lead to headaches and a dark void where your faith in humanity once resided.
*I am convinced that China and Russia are paranoid as hell about this being a precedent - if the U.S. can get approval to take out a regime that isn't nice to its people, what's to stop America from knocking on Putin's door? As a result, I would almost like to think the lack of any stated goals was Obama hinting to them that the U.S. wasn't going to set that precedent. If that was the case though, clearly they didn't buy it.