Yes, Syria is complicated. All the more reason we should not further complicate it with petty partisanship.
A bittersweet byproduct of the Syrian complications is that they are producing bipartisan balance. Debates are getting closer to truly democratic, rather than just politically strategic. For this reason, we must keep our polarizing impulses in check.
Arguments must stand alone on real facts and robust solutions. Now is no time to pull out the anti-Obama, anti-Bush, anti-Reagan, anti-Carter or anti-any-Other rants.
For example, a diverse group of military, political and other leaders and citizens constructed a petition that produced non-military options well-conceived and inclusive of good Constitutional and global answers. But when political swipes were added during editing, they lost the strength of their position. Stooping to sideways swipes in the midst of such a rich mix of positions undermines their collective power.
Our only objective should be what to do regards Syria, considering contexts both here in the US and in the Middle East, and the big picture consequences.
Decisions must acknowledge the preponderance of evidence that pseudo ‘surgical’ strikes, like those being proposed, don’t work. Besides the unintended casualties — and we have got to stop obliterating the citizens we say we’re protecting — such strikes only beget more digging in. Given the sides in Syria are blurry, any military intervention would worsen the chaos and lead to more confusion regards who is and isn’t the enemy.
Spoken or not, the reasoning for a strike seems to boil down to: Oil, Israel and Putin, all humanitarian good intentions aside. None are good excuses.
We could have weaned off oil long ago had we spent all those DoD billions developing alternate fuel options. Our relationship with Israel isn’t likely to end if we pass on running to the rescue of the Golan Heights this time. And Putin’s involvement should remind us of the tug-of-war when the US and Russia fought for similarly strategic Afghanistan, tearing it into more shreds.
To call such an engagement humanitarian is a big stretch. It’s more like divorced parents fighting over the kids. Non-adversarial support, not more battles, is what is needed. Instead, in the spirit of unlikely collaborations we should, as Obama has, embrace Putin’s attempts to make Syria surrender their chemical weapons. If it works, we should dial down our national ego and dial in deserved praise for both presidents.
If not, defense contractors and oil behemoths are the only ones who’ll win, and noted: Halliburton is now prepping to drill in the Golan Heights, no less.
Beyond Putin’s proposal, there are other non-violent options being considered. Many informed, no doubt, by what amounts to a widespread belief that running off to ‘save’ this troubled ‘Other,’ while running away from our own ‘Self-‘ made problems would further compromise a US recovery–not to mention be pathologically co-dependent. Until we face our own demons and develop sustained solutions for them, we are fools to think we can fix anyone else. And, if we do, an intervention should be done on, not by, us.
Indeed, there’s strong and increasing cross-partisan consensus that nothing good can come of bombing Syria. Democrats Raul Grijalva D-AZ and Heidi Heitkamp D-ND and Republicans Lamar Alexander R-TN and Michelle Bachmann R-MN are among the Congresspeople who seem to agree.
But politicians’ aren’t the only voices that should be heard. Public opinion polls show large majorities of U.S. citizens agree this war should not be launched.
Calls to representatives nationally are reportedly running 100 to one against a US strike.
Such perspectives must, without question or qualification, be prioritized. Any leaders who fail to do so will be in violation of their vows to serve democratically with ‘We the People.’
President Obama prefers such cross-party, citizen-engaged collaboration, as evidenced by his insistence on Congressional approval, if not his willingness to share the Syria solution with an erstwhile enemy.
Bipartisanship is an ideal he’s biased towards. This is his chance to demonstrate the content of his character. Including, if trends continue to skew away from a strike, by having the courage to cede to the best representation of real people pragmatism.
If so, expect to hear the President announce he and Congress are following We the People’s lead, which at this moment is leaning in the direction of a Stand-Down from Syria.
No matter the outcome, an otherwise healthy and vigorous debate is what is needed produce the best outcome for all. Veering toward a blame game for what amounts to 65 years of Middle Eastern policy-making and for the entire post World War II military-industrial complex would only produce more pathologies of political co-dependence from all sides.
It’s time we start standing on the most salient and insightful considerations of our decisions, not obstruct them with ‘we-don’t-have-any-problems’ projection and partisan nit picking.
If being able to say “‘Yes, We Did’ what was right as We the People” requires swallowing some pride, the President will have achieved his mission well–and with admirable dignity.
Copyright September 9, 2013
By Andrea Morisette Grazzini, founder DynamicShift and founder and CEO, WetheP, Inc.