Intervening in Syria: What’s the Cost?
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved allowing President Obama to use military force against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The costs far outweigh the benefits of intervening in yet another troubled country.
The rebellion against the Assad regime in Syria has been raging for three years, resulting in the death of an estimated 100,000 people. The Obama administration claims to have proof that Assad has used chemical weapons on the rebels, but such an assertion, made without sharing evidence with the American people, begs many questions.
How do we know that the Syrian rebels didn’t stage a chemical attack on their own people to pull the United States into the conflict on their side? Perhaps an administration that prides itself on transparency should reveal its findings to the public before putting military personnel in harm’s way.
The use of chemical weapons on human beings is horrible, but even if true, how are the deaths of those from poison gas worse than the deaths of 100,000 by other means? If President Obama had sought congressional authority to intervene when the conflict began three years ago, he would have some credibility. Now it seems that Obama is just trying to save face after remarking that he would consider action only if chemical weapons are used. His bluff has been called, and now he must act or else face ridicule for going back on his word.
If the U.S. conducts military operations against the Assad regime, it will be aiding the rebels, many of whom are associated with terrorist networks such as al-Qaeda and other sworn enemies of the U.S. How can it be in the interest of national security to fight beside our sworn enemies? And what if Assad is overthrown? How can we know that the new regime will be any better than Assad’s? How do we know that terrorists won’t someday gain access to the chemical weapons that Assad is allegedly using?
Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to supply the Assad regime with missile shields if the U.S. attacks. Assad is already well equipped with Russian weapons, which could make a supposed quick U.S. strike all the more difficult and dangerous. What if Russia decides to militarily intervene on Assad’s behalf? And what if U.S. intervention prompts Iran to strike Israel? A limited military action could escalate in a hurry.
There are financial questions to consider as well. Last month, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed Congress that a U.S. incursion into Syria would cost “into the billions” of dollars. This is money outside the current military appropriation, which will sink America even deeper into debt and possibly even into an economic depression. Deploying the military around the world carries a hefty price tag, and the bill must come due at some point. Could a Syrian incursion become the final nail in America’s financial coffin?
One very important question concerns timing: is this truly a humanitarian mission to punish an evil dictator, or is it just a ploy to distract people from the scandals that are plaguing the Obama administration (Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS targeting conservatives, NSA spying, and a dying economy to name a few)?
Perhaps most importantly, what will be the costs to the Constitution and our freedoms? Obama has declared that he will act regardless of whether or not Congress approves. That Obama will usurp the legislative powers of the federal government without congressional backlash shows how submissive Congress has become to the president. This destroys the system of checks and balances, moving this country farther from the constitutional republic that the founders intended and closer to an empire. And the liberties of the people cannot be safe under the rule of an emperor.
If the administration was sincere in seeking to intervene to stop a murderous tyrant from slaughtering his own people, Americans might offer more support. But this administration has proven to be less than forthright in the past, which explains why the people are so skeptical to become entangled in yet another Middle East conflict when there are still so many unanswered questions.