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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
A blog 'for independent minds'
Taking a stand on Syria
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About this blog
Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion ...
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion section of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. As such, our focus starts there and spreads to include Massachusetts, the nation and the world. Since successful blogs create communities of readers and writers, we hope the \x34& Co.\x34 will also come to include you.
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By Rick Holmes
Sept. 6, 2013 6:05 p.m.



Markey took a pass on Syria this week, but you know Harry Reid is already twisting his arm over next week’s vote.  I’ll take a stand too, but not until at least Tuesday (I wanted to write about Syria for Sunday, but other tasks got in the way).

Right now I lean against intervention, and I’m mad at Obama for putting everyone in this position.  Frankly, the virtue of retaliation for a bad act with military force doesn’t do much for me. The “red line” over chemical weapons seems pretty artificial, especially when the international community wants to leave it to Officer Uncle Sam to enforce.  I doubt there are any “good guys” in Syria and the chance of a proportional, limited, pinprick U.S. attack making much difference in the Mideast – or being appreciated by anyone in the Mideast – seems vanishingly small.

Bottom line: I wouldn’t buy this plan or this rationale from Bush and Rice, so I don’t see why I should buy it from Obama and Kerry.

But.

Helping repudiate the president might be more damaging than supporting a pointless gesture.  Michael Gerson explains it this way in a column I’m running Sunday:



“A limited military strike may be symbolic. But for Congress to block that strike would be more than symbolic. It would undermine a tangible element of American influence: the perception that the commander in chief is fully in command.

” The refusal to authorize force would be taken as an ideological pivot point. Nations such as China, Russia and Iran would see this as the triumph of a political coalition between the peace party of the left and the rising isolationists of the right. And they would be correct. The strategic calculations of every American enemy and friend would be adjusted in ways that encourage challenge and instability. Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent loss of the vote authorizing military action – the first such repudiation since 1782 – has weakened Britain as an actor in the world. America should refuse to follow it down.

“I would prefer to defend a form of internationalism less conflicted and hesitant than President Obama’s. But even so, it is better than the alternative of seriously compromising the credibility of the presidency itself. And those who claim that this credibility has already reached bottom are lacking in imagination.”


 

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