In times that weren’t so weary, there was something noble about America being the world’s cop on the beat. Our leaders said we were righting wrongs for the oppressed and downtrodden.
We sent hundreds of thousands of men and women into battle on that premise, and it was basically considered treasonous to be anything but fully supportive.
But we’re tired now. After Iraq and Afghanistan, more people are asking why we still send our sons and daughters to fight and die in foreign lands. I don’t think we’d be normal people if we weren’t.
So when President Barack Obama tells us that Syrian leader Bashar Assad used sarin gas on his people and that demands our intervention, polls show Americans are solidly against him. And it’s not a partisan issue.
Both members representing Hillsborough County in the U.S. House of Representatives say we shouldn’t follow the president’s wishes to bomb Syria. Kathy Castor is a Democrat, and Dennis Ross is a Republican.
“I strongly reject the view that the lack of an overt military strike is equivalent to U.S. inaction in the face of the brutality and violation of international norms by Assad and Syria,” Castor wrote in a letter to the president.
And in an op-ed piece in the Lakeland Ledger, Ross invoked the image of Vietnam when he wrote, “Tragically, 58,000 deaths later, we learned that no matter how much we support and promote democracy around the world, without a compelling national interest and a specific strategy to succeed from beginning to end, we put at risk the lives of our country’s finest men and women.”
There was a slight reason for optimism Monday when a compromise was proposed that would put Syrian chemical weapons under international control. But these things have a way of sounding good before they fall apart. And even if this situation is defused, how long will it be until our nation feels compelled to intervene somewhere else?
So we wait until tonight, when Obama plans to address the nation and explain what he wants to do. This will happen on the eve of the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack. The implication will be that unless we stomp on this threat at the source, we may be breathing sarin gas in our neighborhoods.
I’d like to trust him, but I don’t.
Our leaders also told us that if Vietnam fell, it would start a domino effect against democracy and soon we’d all be living under communist rule.
Our leaders told us Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical weapons and we had to invade his country and remove him from power. Operation Iraqi Freedom cost about 4,500 American lives, only to find no such weapons.
More than 2,220 Americans have died in Afghanistan. At times we were told we had “crushed” the Taliban, but its soldiers keep killing Americans and civilians.
And we’re supposed to believe it will be different in Syria?
Tell me how.