Aug 31, 2013
We are on the brink of a tragic decision to strike Syria, because, in the dubious logic of the President, “a lot of people think something should be done,” and American “credibility” is at stake. He and his secretary of state assure us that the strike will be “limited” and “surgical.”
The use of chemical weapons against Syrian citizens is abominable, and if Assad’s regime is responsible he should be treated as an international criminal and pariah.
But have we learned nothing from our mistakes in the past? Time and again over the last half century American presidents have justified so-called “surgical strikes” because the nation’s “credibility” is at stake, and because we have to take some action to show our “strength and resolve” — only to learn years later that our credibility suffered more from our brazen bellicosity, that the surgical strikes only intensified hostilities and made us captive to forces beyond our control, and that our resolve eventually disappears in the face of mounting casualties of Americans and innocent civilians — and in the absence of clearly-defined goals or even clear exit strategies. We and others have paid an incalculable price.