In response to an alleged chemical weapons attack from Syria's Assad Regime, President Obama announced yesterday he plans a "limited, narrow" attack against Syria. Apparently he will not seek UN Security Council validation or a resolution from the US Congress.
My intent here is to influence as well as inform. This attack targeted non-combatants in rebel controlled regions of Syria, evidently killing well over a thousand men, women and children. The attack demonstrates Syria has the capability and will to use whatever weapons (however atrocious) it can produce. Our questions for the next few days: Should the US attack Syria and if so, why? How should we attack Syria and the accompanying question: what should US goals be for such at attack?
Taking a considered view on our democracy, what should the procedural requirements be for a US President to employ the formidable firepower of the US government on another country? Should we seek international consensus for such attack also, and if so, how? What are the moral imperatives for such an attack (and for abstaining from the attack)? There are, of course, Constitutional and legal perspectives on the process, but the most vital question to consider is this: given the world and the US government today, what should the US President decide and how should he implement the decision?
The first response answer is this: the US must eliminate Syrian ability to launch successful attacks on its citizenry, US allies in the region and the US itself. We must do so because we can do so. Larger questions such as whether we seek to overthrow the Assad regime at this point and to what extent attacks target existing military equipment and associated production facilities, avoiding innocent loss of life, are considerations for selecting US targeting approach, weapon selection and strike delivery.
The most important question: where are Syrian weapon systems implicated in and capable of these attacks? Important related questions are where and how were these systems built and how did all the components for the systems and ammunition arrive in Syria? But are we truly ready for such follow-on questions? Although nearly 50% of US citizens favor an attack on Syria, we are weary of war: more than one presidential term ago, we elected Barack Obama to extricate US Forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, not find us a new war (or wars) to conduct.
Eighty (80!)% of US citizens say President Obama should seek Congressional support for such an attack (according to a poll NBC News commissioned, quoted also above). Intriguing and important fact. Get back to Washington, Congressman (and woman, Senators included)! Your country needs you and it doesn't appear the President plans to ask for your opinion...