Even before President Obama made his intentions publicly known that he would seek Congressional approval before any sort of U.S. military involvement in Syria, the opinions coming from across this country about what we should do seemed endless.
And I’ve read literally thousands of them. Most, to be honest, come from people who have their minds made up about our involvement in any war. They oppose war, or support war, therefore their “minds are made up.”
When it comes to politicians, opinions are mixed. Ironically, Syria has forced far left Democrats and far right Republicans to finally agree on one thing—we have no business in Syria. But for the less extreme members of Congress, what we should do is far less definitive.
Then I stumbled upon comments from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and while they’re not complicated or poetic, her thoughts on Syria are probably some of the most logical and thought-out I’ve seen yet:
“What’s important is that we have a plan and a realistic way to execute on that plan. We need to remember unintended consequences of any action. Good intentions alone will not help us. What Assad has done is reprehensible. It violates international law, and it violates the law of humanity. But it is critically important that before we act that we have a plan, a goal and we have a reasonable way for ensuring that goal. I think we’re now in a state of flux.”
She emphasizes a plan, something we never had with our war in Iraq. She clearly states that if we are to get involved in Syria, we must have a clear, precise plan and a strategy to carry out that plan. Again, after the war in Iraq where the Bush administration clearly had absolutely no plan, this is something I believe all Americans have become jaded about.
But the comments I liked the most were, “Good intentions alone will not help us” and “We need to remember unintended consequences of any action.”
For most outside of those who’ve studied political science, these words are just words that they may or may not agree with. But her comments speak to something called a “grand strategy.” The process by which a government or administration formulates a plan now while planning for what may come later. It’s essentially trying to predict future threats or problems. It’s something we clearly didn’t have when we started the war in Iraq. We went in prepared for conventional warfare yet faced something closer to guerrilla war.
Her point about good intentions not being enough is something we should always factor in when it comes to our involvement in any kind of war. Because at the end of the day, why we went in won’t be as important as what we did.
While our intentions in Syria might be to help the thousands of innocent Syrians that are being slaughtered with bombs and chemical weapons, when it’s all said and done, will our actions be viewed positively or negatively? Will they be those of a nation trying to stop the genocide of thousands or will they be used as another example of the United States sticking its nose where it didn’t belong?
And while I do feel that most of those who support our involvement in Syria do so with the intention of helping end the atrocities going on in that country, as Ms. Warren said, “Good intentions alone will not help us.”
Which she’s absolutely right about.
If we are to get involved in Syria I believe it’s vital that Congress and the President first outline a clear plan for any involvement and a detailed timetable for our exit once we’ve done what it is that plan outlines.
Because neither of those are things the Bush administration did before we went into Iraq. They went in carelessly, recklessly and had absolutely no plan following the removal of Saddam Hussein. Their poor execution resulted in the needless deaths of over 4,000 soldiers in Iraq.
I applaud Senator Warren for her comments. While she hasn’t yet come out in support or opposition of our possible involvement in Syria, she displays the kind of logical and rational thought I hope every member of Congress uses when determining what they feel we should do.