No, no, , no, no, no….
Arizona Republican John McCain on Monday became the first senator to call for U.S.-led air strikes to stop the slaughter of unarmed civilians being carried out by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Providing military assistance to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups is necessary, but at this late hour, that alone will not be sufficient to stop the slaughter and save innocent lives. The only realistic way to do so is with foreign airpower,” McCain, a Vietnam War veteran and the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a speech on the Senate floor.
“Therefore, at the request of [opposition forces], the United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad’s forces.”
Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), two of McCain’s closest allies on foreign policy, issued a statement Monday night saying they backed McCain’s position toward Syria.
An estimated 7,500 Syrians have been killed by Assad’s military during the past year, including hundreds in the city of Homs which has been targeted by tank and artillery attacks.
Now, could we hit the regime with harsh sanctions and give aid, training, or assistance to the Syrian opposition? Sure — conceivably, but not necessarily. What comes after Assad goes? Democracy or theocracy? An America friendly regime or an Al-Qaeda friendly regime?
Getting beyond that, the very first question we should ALWAYS ask when it comes to using our military is, “Is it in America’s interest?” That’s a big question mark in Syria. Assad is a bad guy and he’s no friend of the United States, but would the regime that follows him be any friendlier? It hasn’t been in Libya. It hasn’t been in Egypt. Why do we think things would be any different in Syria?
The second question is, “Is there anything there worth risking the life of American soldiers?” Syria does have oil, but even if we sent out troops in, I’m not sure how it would help us get our hands on it. Additionally, since Syria is thought to have a serious bioweapons program, overthrowing the regime might require considerable ground forces to try to keep those weapons from falling into the wrong hands — and it still might not work.
As to 7,500 civilians being killed, even if those numbers turn out to be accurate (and often, numbers like that end up being wildly incorrect), I hate to say it, but it happens all the time. If we’re going to get involved every time some dictator murders, starves, or “disappears” 7500 of his own people, then we’ll be fighting 5 or 6 wars from now until the end of time.
If we want to help the Syrian oppositon, fine, but we shouldn’t risk a single American soldier’s life in Syria.