"The United States is being sucked into a new Middle East war," says The New York Times. And the Times has it exactly right.
Despite repeated pledges not to put "boots on the ground" in Syria, President Obama is inserting 50 U.S. special ops troops into that country, with more to follow.
U.S. A-10 "warthog" attack planes have been moved into Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, close to Syria. Hillary Clinton, who has called for arming Syrian rebels to bring down Bashar Assad, is urging Obama to establish a no-fly zone inside Syria. Citing Clinton and Gen. David Petraeus, John McCain is calling for a no-fly zone and a safe zone in Syria, to be policed by U.S. air power. "How many men, women and children," McCain asks, "are we willing to watch being slaughtered by the Russians and Bashar al-Assad?"
Yet, if we put U.S. forces onto sovereign Syrian territory, against the will and resistance of that government, that is an act of war.
Would we tolerate Mexican troops in Texas to protect their citizens inside our country? Would we, in the Cold War, have tolerated Russians in Cuba telling us they were establishing a no-fly zone for all U.S. warplanes over the Florida Strait and Florida Keys?
Obama has begun an escalation into Syria's civil war, and not only against ISIS and the al-Nusra Front, but against Syria's armed forces.
Mission creep has begun. The tripwire is being put down. Yet, who authorized Obama to take us into this war? The Russians and Iranians are in Syria at the invitation of the government. But Obama has no authorization from Congress to put combat troops into Syria.
Neither the al-Nusra Front nor ISIS has an air force. Against whom, then, is this Clinton-McCain no fly-zone directed, if not Syrian and Russian warplanes and helicopters? Is America really prepared to order the shooting down of Russian warplanes and the killing of Russian pilots operating inside Syria with the approval of the Syrian government?
In deepening America's involvement and risking a clash with Syrian, Russian and Iranian forces, Obama is contemptuously ignoring a Congress that has never authorized the use of military force against the Damascus regime.
Congress' meek acquiescence in being stripped of its war powers is astonishing. Weren't these the Republicans who were going to Washington to "stand up to Obama"?
Coming after Congress voted for "fast track," i.e., to surrender its constitutional right to amend trade treaties, the capitulations of 2015 rank as milestones in the long decline into irrelevance of the U.S. Congress. Yet in the Constitution, Congress is still the first branch of the U.S. government.
Has anyone thought through to where this U.S. intervention can lead?
This weekend, the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regained full control of the parliament in a "khaki election" it called after renewing its war on the Kurdish PKK in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. Erdogan regards the PKK as a terror group. As do we. But Erdogan also considers Syria's Kurdish fighters, the YPG, to be terrorists. And Ankara has warned that if the YPG occupies more territory along the Syrian-Turkish border, west of the Euphrates, Turkey will attack.
Why should this concern us? Not only do we not regard the YPG as terrorists, they are the fighting allies we assisted in the recapture of Kobani. And the U.S. hopes Syria's Kurds will serve as the spear point of the campaign to retake Raqqa, the ISIS capital in Syria, which is only a few dozen miles south of YPG lines.
Should the YPG help to defeat ISIS and become the dominant power in northern Syria, the more dangerous they will appear to Erdogan, and the more problems that will create between the Turkish president and his NATO ally, the United States.
Not only does a Congressional debate on an authorization to use military force appear constitutionally mandated before we intervene in Syria, but the debate itself on an AUMF might induce a measure of caution before we plunge into yet another Middle East quagmire.
When Saddam fell, we got civil war, ISIS in Anbar, and a fractured and failed state with hundreds dying every week.
And, as of today, no one knows with certitude who rises if Assad falls. The leading candidates are Jabhat al-Nusra, the front for an al-Qaida that brought down the twin towers, and the butchers of ISIS, who captured another town on the Damascus road this weekend.
Monday, The Wall Street Journal wrote that Erdogan's regrettable victory is "a reminder of what happens when America's refusal to act to stop chaos in places like Syria frightens allies into making unpalatable choices."
Now there's an argument for America's plunging into Syria: Send our troops to fight and die in multisided civil war that has cost 250,000 lives, so Turks will feel reassured enough they won't vote for "strongmen" like Erdogan.
America needs an America First movement.
- Category: Letters
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