The outcome of wars can’t be predicted.
So President Obama and Congress are fooling themselves and the American people if they believe limited military action against Syria can be used to stop Syrian President Bashar Assad from further using chemical weapons against his own people.
Without a doubt, Assad’s suspected use of chemicals weapons to kill 1,429 Syrians — including more than 400 children — is an atrocity. U.S. officials say the evidence is strong that the Assad regime is responsible for the horror.
But what would a limited strike on Syria accomplish?
Assad, as demonstrated by his actions, is a madman. His response to an attack will not necessarily be rational. Hitting Syria is like swatting a hornets’ nest (with chemical weapons).
The limited scope of any attack also hampers the success of a military strike. If Assad knows how far the U.S. is willing to go he will likely be more prepared to weather the assault.
Limited military action is a mistake. The U.S. should have learned that lesson from Vietnam and now, Iraq and Afghanistan.
When the U.S. went into Afghanistan following the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001, government officials were confident it would be a fast, easy war.
Two years later the U.S. went after Saddam Hussein in Iraq with its “shock and awe” bombing followed by ground troopers. Again, a short, easy invasion was predicted.
U.S. troops would be safely back home as soon as Afghanistan and Iraq were stabilized. That didn’t happen. It’s been 12 years since the invasion of Afghanistan and decade since U.S. troops went into Iraq.
The U.S. currently has 63,000 troops in Afghanistan (although the hope is most will be home in 2014). To date, 2,270 U.S. military personnel have been killed in the Afghanistan campaign, which was dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom.
After 10 years of war, most of the troops have finally come home from Iraq — but not without a high price. Almost 4,500 U.S. troops have died.
Neither Iraq or Afghanistan is truly stable.
Yet, here we go again. Congress is considering giving the nod to a limited attack if no American “boots are on the ground.”
That simply cannot be guaranteed. Nothing can be guaranteed.
Any action against Syria should come from an international coalition. The costs of war must be spread equally, from troops to funding. A truly united coalition has the greatest likelihood of success.
To this point, the rest of the world’s contribution seems to be — at best — cheerleaders.
The United States is war weary. It’s military is stretched thin and its treasury is thinner.
It is a mistake for the U.S. to go to war with Syria.