Syria Resolution in Congress

The Syrian civil war that’s left tens of thousands of civilians dead has been terrible and tragic, and Assad’s recent use of chemical weapons only compounds that. Remember, all this started during the Arab Spring in 2011 when Assad responded to protests by kidnapping, torturing and raping activists and their family members, including children. The fact that the international community can’t get its shit together in light of what’s been going on for over two years offers dim hopes for humanity’s future.

Unfortunately, I don’t see how symbolic “limited and narrow” unilateral military action by the US would help… anyone, really. That, btw is the general consensus, but I can’t even imagine it impacting Assad’s continued killing of civilians, conventionally or otherwise.

Coincidentally I received a canned response today from my Rep about the Amash amendment (she voted Yes). So I decided to write a followup w/ my thoughts about the Syria Resolution. Thought I might as well publish it while it’s in my clipboard:

Representative Bass,

I’m sure I won’t be the only one dropping a line about the Syria Resolution that President Obama sent to the Hill today, but just thought I’d give my 2 cents.

I think we can all agree that the use of chemical weapons (and the slaughter of tens of thousands over the past two years) in the Syrian civil war is terrible, however as some (Fallows of the Atlantic, et al) have noted, we knew about similar usage of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war and did nothing (this was, if you recall, when Saddam Hussein was our good friend).

If the international community really does view use of chemical weapons against a nation’s own people as anathema/unacceptable, there should be a strong, multilateral, international response. That there isn’t saddens me a great deal, however, I can’t see how a unilateral military response, no matter how limited or broad would change that most basic fact.

That being said, let’s play this out… if we send out a “limited” missile strike against strategic targets, it’s unlikely to be anything but symbolic, except for the additional civilian
casualties – “collateral damage” except to those who are killed, and their families. What it won’t do, is stop Assad from continuing to kill.

But what if it’s successful in getting us more involved? As Obama so forcefully stated, he already believes that he has blanket AUMF, and would treat any YES vote as tacit agreement to escalate w/o restraint. In for a penny as they say…

We’ll only be more entangled in yet another war in the Middle East – one in which there is literally no winning end-game (as the likely replacements for the Assad regime would be even worse for both American and global interests. Over the past decade, we’ve had two wars of choice that have left us poorer in standing, treasure, and most importantly, in lives, both military and civilian and has also left us with a more dangerous Middle East and a world where we are less secure. I cannot imagine that engagement in Syria would end better (in all likelihood it’d be much worse, considering the conflicting interests of Iran, Russia, China, etc).

In the past, President Obama has shown no qualms about (embraced, really) abusing the unitary exercises of executive privilege that the Presidents have carved out over the past decades. That fight is for another day, but Obama’s decision to yield to Congress shows that he’s fully aware of what this commitment would mean and where it’ll lead.

Ignoring the politics of the situation, it seems clear that unilateral military action in Syria does not serve anyone’s best interests, and I hope you’ll side with the American people in doing the right thing and voting NO on the Syria Resolution.

Thank you,

Leonard Lin