The following is a letter I hand-delivered to the local office of my Congressman, Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon, who also happens to be Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services. I’ll let the letter speak for itself.
Saugus, CA 91390
(661) (PHONE NUMBER)
4 Sep 2013
I want to take this opportunity to express to you my thoughts on the current situation vis-à-vis Syria, as I know you and your fellow legislators will be debating the issue in the very near future.
First some background. I grew up in a foreign service/military family and spent five years in the Middle East (Iran) where I went to high school in the mid 1960s. My Armenian mother, now a naturalized American citizen for over six decades, was born and raised in Iran. I’m a Vietnam veteran, Life Member of the VFW, and student of military affairs and doctrine. Because of this background I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about the issues involved in this current situation.
To be blunt, I see absolutely no reason for this country to be engaged in the internal strife in Syria, on any level.
First of all, we don’t even have a horse in this race. Why would we consider backing one group against another group when the reality is that whichever side prevails is still going to hate us? Haven’t we learned anything from history? From Iran? From Libya? From Egypt? From Iraq, which is already falling to pieces again?
Consider Afghanistan. Why are we fighting there? What’s our purpose? How do we define “victory”? How do we get back out of there? When? What’s going to happen after we leave? Do we want to keep repeating the same stupid mistakes over and over and over again?
Einstein noted that the definition of insanity is repeating the same actions while expecting different results. Isn’t that what we’re doing in the Middle East? Or as Santayana noted, those who ignore the past are condemned to repeat it.
There are only two reasons why this country should ever go to war: to defend ourselves, and to protect or extend our own national self-interest. Well, Syria certainly isn’t attacking us, and I can’t discern any national self-interest in what’s taking place in their internal civil war.
Obama babbles about some vague and chimerical “responsibility” that “the world” has to respond to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Iraq, and then threatens to attack Syria with missiles. Well, first of all, if “the world” has such a responsibility, why isn’t “the world” doing the attacking? Why are we “the world’s” police force? And isn’t such an attack absolutely no different from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor? That “day that will live in infamy”? We would be attacking a country that hasn’t attacked us, nor any other country beyond its own borders. There are no treaty obligations or commitments anywhere that would attach to or justify such an action.
Let’s examine the strategic implications. First of all, as anyone with military knowledge and/or experience knows, your battle plan lasts only until the first shot is fired. After that, the other guy gets a say, too, and your plan goes out the window. From that point on, everything is improvisation. Obama may think, in his abject ignorance, that he can blithely lob a few missiles at Syria without any repercussions, but he – and we, if he does it – is in for a rude awakening if Syria or its allies decide to respond in some fashion. They have a myriad of choices on what they can do, and most of them are potentially very unpleasant. You’re the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee; I’m not telling you anything there that you don’t already know.
There are also the political considerations of the end result. Obama, as did Bush before him, seems to think that somehow we can accomplish some kind of “nation building” in the region resulting in Western-style democracies friendly to our country. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I say that based on my intimate knowledge of the region. The regional Islamic nations don’t have the cultural or social heritages requisite for such a result. They’re riven by sectarianism, centuries-old rivalries based on religious dogma, clannishness, endemic and institutionalized corruption, and a religion that discourages individuality and independent action. Their social structures are dominated by “strong men” who hold on to power with a death grip. Show me one example where we removed one of these men and he was replaced by what we would consider a “democracy”. There aren’t any such examples.
The last, and possibly most, important thing I want to mention is this: just who does Obama think he is to drag this nation to the brink of war on his own say-so? The Constitution is crystal clear that the power to declare war rests SOLELY with Congress. The President doesn’t have the power to declare war on his own, nor does he have the veto power over Congress’s own determination.
Obama’s been acting like he’s been coronated with the laurel wreath of an Emperor, instead of simply elected as President. He has absolutely no authority to go around lobbing missiles at other hapless countries simply because he feels like it, no matter what his supposed “justification” is. That’s up to CONGRESS to decide, not him.
And I’ll take that one step further. Obama’s been making not-so-veiled threats of proceeding with his bombing anyway if he doesn’t get congressional approval. In my opinion, that is the very definition of an impeachable offense, and if he does in fact do that, I’ll expect articles of impeachment to follow promptly.
Thank you, Buck, for taking the time to consider my thoughts on this matter. I’m also going to post a copy of this on my own blog site as an “open letter”. I hope you don’t mind, but I want my readers to know my thoughts on the subject.
Here’s the site’s URL, if you’re interested: https://theviewfromtheisland.wordpress.com/
© Brian Baker 2013