Against Joining the War in Syria
Wednesday, September 04, 2013
It is good that the President has asked Congress to consider authorizing military force in Syria, rather than acting on his own. This is the proper course under the Constitution, and a wise feature of it. In a democratic form of government, as the Athenians discovered ages ago, continuing political support for a war is a necessary condition to winning it. The Constitution's framers hoped that the legislature, especially the Representatives who must face re-election every two years, would serve to ensure that the nation widely supported any war it undertook.
With that in mind, I urge you not to support the current proposal to join the war in Syria. I would ask you to contact your representatives and let them know your feelings on the matter.
There are several reasons to oppose the action.
1) We have no hope of victory. This is not because we are not stronger than the existing combatants. It is because we know, before committing forces, that we have no intention of staying the course through the kind of pain and cost that any victory would entail. You cannot win if you do not intend to win. Anyone we kill in this war will have been killed without hope of their death bringing about some good. It is immoral to fight a war on these terms.
2) We have no plan for victory. Even in Libya we had a plan, even if it was somewhat reckless: gamble on the rebels. Here we do not intend to replace the government. We do not have any idea with whom or with what we would want to replace it anyway.
3) The war is based on a false expectation that we can control our involvement once engaged. The Secretary of State is at least clear that this expectation is far from guaranteed to prove true. The President is apparently less clear on the point, believing that we can have a short strike of a 'limited duration' and then walk away. Wars once engaged can rarely be controlled or kept in their place. History demonstrates that clearly, and it is a bedrock principle of military science.
4) There is no national interest, which is also why there is no strategy for anything beyond the 'statement' we want to make. We have nothing to achieve in Syria.
5) That there is no exit strategy is a point occasionally mentioned, but I dissent that exit strategies are as important as they are often said to be. Commitment to victory is often the best exit strategy. The problem with this war is not that there is no exit strategy, but that the plan is only an exit strategy.
For these reasons alone, the war should be opposed by Congress. Let us not engage in war without hope of victory, a plan for victory, or a clear understanding of the nature of war. It is immoral, and it is mad.