Republicans Caving on Syria
The two major parties in America agree on virtually nothing. From abortion and gay marriage to tax rates and regulation, Democrats and Republicans hold polar viewpoints.
But somehow, when it comes to the expansion of government power without regard for American interest, bipartisanship somehow springs to the fore. How else to explain agreement between Republicans and Democrats on potential war in Syria?
This week, House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Whip Eric Cantor and President Obama all agreed that military action was absolutely necessary in Syria. The rationales varied from the absurd to the unsupportable.
First, this coalition of the willing argued that America's credibility was at risk thanks to President Obama's statement in May 2012 that chemical weapons use in Syria would provide a "red line," provoking a "game changer" of a response. This makes no sense, given the fact that President Obama has refused to draw a red line with regard to Syria's sponsor state, Iran, and its pursuit of nuclear weapons; the fact that Obama's administration leaked Israeli national security secrets that would have allowed Israel to strike Iran's nuclear facilities; and the fact that Obama did nothing to help the Iranian opposition when it revolted against the mullahs in 2009. Iran knows that America has no credibility under Obama. So does everyone else.
Second, the bipartisan consensus argued that America had to get involved in Syria to protect American allies. But the Obama administration has already pressured Israel to make concessions to Palestinian terrorists, thrown its Egyptian ally Hosni Mubarak under the bus in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood, and allowed its Tunisian ally Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to fall in favor of the Islamist Ennahda Party.
The Obama administration clearly has no interest in supporting its Middle Eastern allies. As for Israel, Israel has a far better chance of being dragged into a Syria conflict if the United States takes middling action than if the United States takes no action. And as President Obama has said, truly harsh action is off the table.
Third, the Syria war caucus argued that Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons had to merit a response. As Nancy Pelosi put it, the red line was not Obama's but humanity's. But the red line itself made no sense — did it make a difference to the Syrian rebels shot in the head whether they ended up with a bullet to the brain or sarin gas? Certainly it didn't matter much to the Jews of Babi Yar during the Holocaust that they were mowed down by machine guns rather than gassed to death in crematoria.
So, then, what's the real excuse for the bipartisan agreement about action in Syria? The answer lies in Republican blindness. Democrats support Obama's wars because Obama is president. Republicans support the Syrian conflict out of the blind belief that Obama will use authority granted him to magically transform into George W. Bush — a president who at least had an entry plan, if not an exit plan.
Since the end of the Cold War, Republicans have apparently never met a military action they didn't support (see Somalia, Sudan, Yugoslavia); Democrats only support wars in full-throated fashion when those wars are waged by Democrats. Nowhere in any of this do American interests come into play.