Our View: A ‘do-something’ strike?

Posted: August 29, 2013

With each passing hour, it’s become more and more apparent that President Obama intends to strike Syria militarily for using chemical weapons against its own people. And he’ll do so, by all indications, without the approval of Congress — or the support of the American people. A Reuters poll conducted last week showed a mere 9 percent of Americans supporting U.S. military intervention in Syria.

Our sense is that Mr. Obama, as George Will notes in the column below, has fulminated himself into a corner on Syria — i.e., all that talk about “red lines” and “Assad must go” — and now believes he must “do something.” But “doing something” may well translate to three days of “surgical” air strikes merely so Mr. Obama can say, as his spokesman Jay Carney did this week, that Mr. Assad’s grisly acts did “not go unanswered.”

In this sense, our airmen will be sent flying into harm’s way to make a political statement — before the president departs on his trip to Russia. That, in our mind, is a pretty cavalier deployment of resources — human as well as material — simply to make what Mr. Will calls an “inexpensive morality gesture using high explosives.”

Such a “gesture” — if that’s what it truly is — is fraught with all manner of dangerous consequences, particularly given Iran’s bluster that U.S. intervention will be met with an attack against Israel.

Thus, without clarity of intention and of goals — which the president has yet to provide — a bad situation will only worsen. And even with said clarity, there’s no guarantee that it won’t.

All the more reason, we say, for Mr. Obama to go before Congress — and the nation — and inform us what vital national interests are so threatened that we must intervene in Syria. Simply to “do something” is hardly a sufficient rationale.