WTAP - Blogs - Roger Sheppard Editorial

Do We Bomb Syria...or Not?

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

Pres. Obama is learning that it's easier to criticize than to be forced to decide


Congress is now deciding whether or not to allow President Obama to use missile strikes or other military force against the government of Syria. This action would come after visual evidence was obtained that Syria may have used chemical weapons against some of its own people. History never repeats itself and the situation in Syria is not exactly like those in Afghanistan or Iraq, both of which the U.S. has been involved in militarily. But it is ironic that when President Obama was Senator Obama, he was critical of then-President Bush's decision to get involved in those two conflicts. And now, as President, Mr. Obama faces the same decision of whether to put American lives and military might in action against a potentially corrupt regime far from our shores. As you may recall, it was evidence that the Bush administration claimed it had, that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction – WMDs – and may have used them against his own people, that led us to invade Iraq. But no one ever found those WMDs. A few years ago, I asked President Reagan’s Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, what happened to those WMDs. He told me he believed Saddam shipped them out of the country before we invaded. At the time of the invasion, a lot of people believed Saddam had them. But now, most people believe he did not. Right now, most people believe Syria has WMDs. Will that turn out to be the case? Time will tell. A lot of people believe we ought not get involved in Syria’s Civil War. It’s their fight. Let them take care of it, they say. It’s difficult to argue with that. But given the history of the 20th century, in which despots like Hitler, Stalin and Milosevic slaughtered millions, and drew entire nations and continents into war, is it sometimes not better to take action before it gets to that point? It’s easy for me to say. I don’t have a son or daughter who would likely be called upon to go and fight. And while it’s easy for the President to say that we will only use missiles launched from ships or drones to conduct this operation, we all know that innocent people will be killed by our attacks and Syria will use video of those attacks to blast the U.S. for getting involved. The main message I have is this: the decision to use force, is ir-revocable and the consequences are un-predictable. War and the acts of war never turn out the way you planned. --- Some additional thoughts.... I find it nauseating how both parties will fall in step behind the President if he's the leader of their party, and will be critical if he is not. If this were President Bush making this decision, most Republicans would be supporting it 100% and Democrats would be opposed to it. But since it's Democratic President Obama calling the shots, Democrats are largely rallying around him while many Republicans are saying "not so fast." I remember when West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd got up in the Senate and railed against President Bush's invasion of Iraq. Byrd was a Democrat...and Bush was a Republican. Were there partisan politics involved? No doubt. But at the time, much of the country -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- was out-raged that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and may have used them in his own country. There was a war drum fever in the country to take him out. But Byrd pressed relentlessly for more proof and wanted the Congress to do its job and force the Executive Branch to justify sending the nation into battle. While some Democrats may have applauded his efforts, many probably wished he would shut up. At that time, the Democratic Party was trying to shake the image that it was soft on terrorism and wanted to show that it was just as pro-American as the Republicans. But Byrd would not let up. Would he have done the same if a Democratic President had been in office? I don't know. I doubt it. But I wish he had!

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