By Eric Thomas
Hate to interrupt the summer, but why is the United States getting involved with the ongoing sectarian conflict in Syria? Why hasn’t that been answered? Why is no one demanding an answer? Why are we nodding along while the United States government enters yet another war in the Middle East? How is it that this President— ESPECIALLY this President — elected largely on his reluctance to enter armed conflicts in Mesopotamia, would casually sink further American treasure into the sand of the Fertile Crescent?
Hippies and beatniks spent the last fifty years saying the United States should focus on the welfare of its population before pounding disagreeable countries into glass. They were ridiculed and dismissed, largely because America was the Horn of Plenty for much of the time they were complaining.*
That isn’t the case anymore. Tens of thousands of Americans are suffering in suffocating unemployment or underemployment. The infrastructure is crumbling, millions don’t have health care (and will remain underinsured even after “Obamacare” is fully implemented) and the cost of college is out of reach for many Americans who desperately need it. The argument that America needs to “take care of what’s happening at home,” rings awfully true these days.
Why is this happening? What’s the end game? For the money sent into the desert, what’s the benefit? We turn our backs on neighbors in need so we can send money to rebels who won’t elect moderates after the revolution? Revolutions are sticky business; they don’t always work out. In all of history’s revolutions, only one produced a moderate government.**
Why hasn’t a vote on the House floor been scheduled? Since when can the President, largely by decree, declare the United States at war? The Executive Branch is allowed to wage war for ninety days according to the Constitution—seen as most scholars as an emergency measure to be enacted WHILE the President seeks Congressional approval.
Pundits on TV blame DC but it’s OUR fault. Representative Democracy works. Our elected officials are a reflection of who we are. Changing attitudes toward gay marriage and marijuana resulted in shifting policy and emphasis from elected officials. Why isn’t there a debate on the floor over the pros and cons of American interventionism in the Middle East? Because you don’t care. Because the first question for most Americans is to ask themselves is: “Yes, but does it affect me?” As long as this country amounts to a grid drawn between affected and unaffected, these laissez-faire attitudes toward war and peace will endure. There wasn’t another major American war for fifteen years after Vietnam, because the country didn’t want it. Why can’t America stay out of War anymore?
For everyone who supported Obama on foreign policy grounds (Bloggers note: ME), this is a heel turn with a chair to the face. His rise to national prominence was largely due to his opposition to the Iraq war. Why isn’t this the same? At least the Bush administration had the stones to invent a justification for war. There hasn’t been any stated mission here. If the mission is to help the rebels, isn’t it fair to ask why? Why are we doing this? What difference will this make? Does the will of the people matter to this government? If it doesn’t, why? What happened?
*We can argue about the soft economy of the 1970s, but America didn’t enter another conflict after the end of Vietnam in 1975.
**…and that government had a permissive attitude toward human slavery.