From ANTONIO ANDRADE
September 10, 2013
I will not be joining my friends by signing petitions or protesting in the streets due to President Obama’s proposed air strikes against the Assad regime’s repeated use of chemical weapons against his own people.
I have spent the last couple of weeks reading up on and intensifying my knowledge about the Syrian conflict, the pros and in particular the passionate well-articulated cons of military action, the horrific brutality of this conflict inflicted by all sides and the incredible price the Syrian people have paid, are continuing to pay, and will continue to pay as far into the future as the eye can see. I abhor war and put my personal convictions on the line in the early 1970s, resulting in my conviction in federal court as a convicted Vietnam war draft resister.
The debate raging in this country is perhaps the most important one we have engaged in since the Vietnam war. This has now become the defining moment in the Obama presidency, one which will determine the success or failure of his overall agenda for his remaining years in office but also largely how his presidency will be judged in history.
To take a phrase from moderate Republican New York Times columnist David Brooks, losing this initiative will leave Obama’s and the US’s worldwide credibility and domestic credibility “in shatters” and cripples his agenda going forward and preserving funding for his entire social agenda, including implementing Obamacare.
The only argument (among the numerous that could be made) I will make in favor of military action mirror’s what the President has already made: To let this heinous act go without a strong response that will serious degrade his ability to employ his extremely large arsenal of these WMDs, will open the door to continued attacks. These attacks, in my mind, could result in the indiscriminate, unimaginable horrifying deaths of 10s of thousands in one single attack. Based on Assad’s actions in this conflict and the devastation Assad’s father brought on his opposition in the past, let no one underestimate the extent Assad will go to save his skin and those of his minority ruling sect. As important, no response (and that is really what we are talking about here unless people here and abroad stand up and demand otherwise) opens Pandora’s box and emboldens other bad actors to make what up to this point has been unthinkable choices about use of WMDs.
I think Obama knew very well that by choosing to go to Congress, he felt so strongly about this course of action that he was willing to stake his Presidency and everything he has worked for up until now on this. One might ask, how is this different than what Bush and his team did post 9/11 and many others before them? The difference for me is Obama, Kerry, and Hagel have a proven track record of being people of character who historically have demonstrated they have a moral compass and have stood up for what they believed in, often times going against the grain of the majority of their colleagues and fellow citizens. In my book, they’ve demonstrated their credibility and their judgment calls deserve to be given the benefit of any doubts.
In this situation, Obama had the power to move forward with his convictions and ordered attacks without going to Congress. He choose the tougher, bolder course, one with long term implications for how Presidents will need to deal with use of that power without going to Congress.
Ponder that. That single act, in and of itself, reveals who he is at his core. All Americans ought to stand in awe of who they have chosen as their leader and chief decision-maker. With one simple decision, he has broken through the passive malaise of the American people and we now have the defining debate about the role and exercise of US might that a crisis of this magnitude and import has been demanding for some time.
Finally let me pose a perspective I’ve not heard argued: Consider that Obama is a reluctant warrior who, in his heart of hearts, does not want war.
One of the only effective tools he can utilize to bring pressure on Russia to bring Assad and all other parties to the table is to threaten use of awesome military force. Wouldn’t being bellicose and demonstrating his willingness to use force be worth a calculated risk that could result in bringing sobriety to what is at stake here? Could threatening military action galvanize world leaders to act to address this ugly, horrific proxy war. This conflict represents nothing short of an long-developing epic international struggle. Syria is the most visible chessboard on which this insanity is being played out. Viewed from this perspective, Obama, we as a nation, and the world has a whole have everything to gain and little to lose by employing this strategy. If he is unsuccessful at mobilizing a world response in whatever form it might take, he then has to make the decision about what the best course of action would be.
Personally, though I have differed with Obama on many issues (NSA practices, failure to pursue progressive enough economic and environmental policies, to name a few) if that be the case, I can think of few other world leaders I would entrust that decision-making process to.
So my friends, if you are successful with your protests and petitions and Obama loses in Congress, I can only pray that your good, honorable intentions do not result in a legacy of far more death and horrors too painfully tragic to think about and that we do not end up with a broken presidency and jeopardize all the hard won progressive gains we’ve all struggled to hold on to in this country. I would never argue that acting to preserve those gains in our country should provide the justification to attack Assad but one must be mindful that will be fallout of significant proportion if Obama losses. I would be ecstatic if my thinking turned out to be in error and that if your position prevails, it bears fruit and sets the world on a better path than we now walk.
I appreciate your willingness to hear me out. May we all keep our hearts and minds open and be willing to see beyond our ingrained ideas about right and wrong, grasp the significance of this decision, and work our collective ways through this moment of truth.
September 10, 2013 6 AM
Take Two by Antonio Andrade
–this piece alludes to what’s being going on in the background
2) Paraphrasing the I Ching, every crisis simultaneously implies opportunity.
3) Looking at the evolving situation re Syria from outside the box. Call me crazy but….
Rather than being the clumsy bunglers and careless war mongers so many political hacks across the political spectrum in the media attribute (including the well-intended)to Team Obama, threatening the use of US might has taken a horrific, retaliatory chemical attack by the Assad regime and transformed it into a historic opportunity to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal under the auspices of the UN.
This initiative is unfolding far too fast and smoothly (with key players such as the Russians and the French falling into lockstep) for it not to have been negotiated and orchestrated behind the scenes. It provides the Russians with the opportunity to both look good on the international stage while allowing them to dramatically increase their leverage on Assad to accept yielding his weapons.
Will there be bumps along the road. Definitely. One was Cameron’s initiative to back the US being defeated in the British Parliament.
Another is the possibility of Congress not supporting the President the power to act militarily in Syria. This is being counter-acted by Team Obama obliquely reserving the right for Obama to act irrespective of the Congressional vote.
Will this all transpire as outlined. Definitely not. But what is undeniable is that the perilously dangerous situation in Syria has the likelihood of this local war death spiraling into an even more uncontrollable, highly inflammable regional conflict–and beyond!
This highly volatile situation could easily devolve, with the distinct possibility that chemical weapons could be taken from Syrian control and used by these uncontrollable, unaccountable jihadists in ways that will make the deadly chemical attack by Assad last month look like a minor incident when compared to the previously unimaginable horror which could follow.
Make no mistake about it. The unleashing of chemical weapons on the battlefield was brought ever more closely with this chemical attack last month. There’s a lot at stake here–and now, a path is opening up where a perilously dangerous situation in Syria can be partially defused by taking chemical weapons out of the equation.