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Case for bombings not strong enough

September 14, 2013
By Dr. David Turner , Davis & Elkins College

President Barack Obama certainly cannot be accused of understatement in his campaign to get congressional approval for actions against Syria.

More photographs, more anecdotal evidence and a heapin' helping of moral outrage has masked this effort.

Secretary of State John Kerry has led the charge and tried to convince a reluctant nation to act. Once again my dear fellows into the breach one more desultory conflict with no projected end in sight.

At times some in the administration have been guilty of overkill. Suddenly the threats of B-52's, America's premier strategic bombers have been brought into the mix. This suggests carpet bombing which if not applied wisely could kill far more Syrians than chemical weapons.

During the Vietnam War, these giant aircraft could carry 58,000 pounds of bombs, dropped at high altitude. Rarely used in North Vietnam, it was a workhorse in the War in the South. This would not suggest a limited bombing campaign.

For Bashar al-Assad this could provide an excuse to place his weapons near suburbs. The bomber is as thorough a weapon as American possesses and could prove an embarrassment if "collateral damage" proves extensive.

The threats grow greater as the likelihood of congressional approval gets slimmer. Obama should pray the Congress relieves him of having to make such a decision. There is no such thing as "limited action" - it opens a door which Obama will have a devil of a time slamming shut.

Moreover, the American people are tired of such casual offerings of someone else's sacrifice. This comes from people like Dick Cheney, who in 1968 when the summons came went to graduate school, because Vietnam did not mesh with his career plans. Of course we know all about Bill Clinton.

Sacrifice is simply not a workable plan for the business or governing class. These are people who practically have to be placed in rehab when their children get into Duke and not Harvard.

Splendid words and sentiments are not enough. They take their tax breaks, their profits and go into seclusion. Failure can be made up commercially by the generous gift of someone else's money.

Moreover the explanation is not good enough. The daily drumbeat of manufactured indignation suggest that all will pay a price and bear a burden. We know that this is an illusion. During war times it seems everyone is middle class; afterwards the old lines reappear and life goes on.

But Obama never has been able to return to the themes that got him elected in 2008. His was not the Cold War liberalism that got John F. Kennedy narrowly elected in 1960.

His slogan was "Hope," not "a time for greatness," as was JFK's.

Obama was against the Iraq War rightly, only to sound like George W. Bush during his administration.

No wonder he tossed the hot potato in Congress' lap.

In foreign policy he is reactive, predictable, with a school master's touch for hectoring. The old promises of restraint ring as hollow as Bush's pleas for humility in 2000.

The notion of converting the United States into the indispensable power is for the current century a dangerous one. Obama should go back to first principles and ignore the machinations of the neo-conservative foreign policy establishment.

 
 

 

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