Obama on Syria, Confident or Rash?

Days after an August 21 chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government on its own people, the Obama administration prepared to conduct missile strikes on Syria.  According to numerous reports, President Obama subsequently decided to seek congressional approval for that course of military action (sub. req’d).  After meeting with key congressional leaders Tuesday, President Obama states he is confident that Congress will approve military action against Syria, at least that is how Politico spins it:

This is not Iraq and this is not Afghanistan.  This is a limited, proportional step that will send a clear message not only to the Assad regime but also to other countries that may be interested in testing some of these international norms, that there are consequences.

While the President may maintain this perspective, the U.S. may not be able to calibrate said consequences as carefully as he suggests; in fact the exact opposite may be true.  The Heritage Foundation explains:

[M]ilitary force is a blunt and bloody instrument for sending signals. Those signals may not have the desired consequences. If Assad brushes them off and continues his serial mass murders, then the Administration will look ineffective and irresolute. The Heritage Foundation’s James Jay Carafano has warned: “The Middle East would see this as another effort from the Obama Administration to look for an ‘easy button’ and lead from behind rather than exercise real, constructive leadership.”

Heritage’s James Carafano has outlined the top 5 reasons not to use missile strikes in Syria.

Though it is good – and uncharacteristic – that President Obama is seeking congressional approval for something he wishes to do, the decision to use military force in Syria is ill advised.  There are other more prudent options that would advance U.S. interests in the region.

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