Earlier this week Sen. Michael Bennet, who leans toward supporting military action, told The Denver Post's editorial board, "I don't think there's any conceivable way that Syria ends well." We think Bennet's analysis of Syria's prospects is essentially correct. So why would the U.S. want to intervene in a struggle in which the eventual outcome is so bleak?
The continued rule of Bashar Assad would be a tragic fate for Syria. But so would any outcome that empowered anti-Western jihadists, or led to another civil war between jihadists and more moderate rebel factions. The U.S. wasn't able to control ideological and ethnic hatreds in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it won't be able to control them in Syria, either.
The administration has said the strikes would be limited and not involve ground troops. But as The New York Times reported last week, "many analysts believe that a cosmetic attack would help rejuvenate Mr. Assad's fortunes [within his country], at least temporarily."
Yet if the attacks are more than cosmetic and meant to shape the war, they could easily escalate beyond what is contemplated today.
When Obama announced his decision to go to Congress, he suggested the purpose was to target Syria's chemical weapons capability and deter Assad. The White House has since been telling lawmakers the goal also includes changing the momentum in the Syrian war, according to The Times.
So what exactly is the goal?
U.S. national security is not at risk because Syria used chemical weapons, despite Secretary of State John Kerry's strained attempts to make that case. Nor is this nation's future ability to punish any country Iran or North Korea, for example that does threaten our security.
President Obama came into office in 2009 evidently believing Assad could be constructive player in the Middle East. He waited months after Assad began a bloody crackdown of a popular uprising before calling for him to step down. And the administration's policy has been reactive ever since.
Now, with Syria in chaos, Islamists on the rise and no good outcome in sight, Obama says it's time to fire up the bombers.
No thanks, Mr. President.