Once again the United States is engaging in a war it is destined to lose. Add Syria to the long list of nations where the United States has unnecessarily used military force to its disadvantage since the end of World War II.
There is an alternative to waging war against other nations and their people, and the United States will continue losing such wars until it adopts a better strategy.
The United States has not "declared war" against another country since Pearl Harbor; however, it has engaged in a series of losing wars ever since. Unlike World War II, which resulted in the complete defeat and unconditional surrender of enemy forces, these wars were not fought to defend the United States against military attack. To the contrary, they were wars of convenience fought to advance the economic and political agenda of the United States government.
In the absence of clear-cut victories, the passage of time has demonstrated, repeatedly, that these wars have wasted trillions of dollars and millions of lives. In every case, the war resulted in a loss of prestige and advantage for the U.S. In other words, the United States lost these wars.
The only beneficiary of these wars has been the military industrial complex and those who profit from the excesses and violence of war. Unfortunately, "they" have come to control the U.S. government and the means of communication. Thus, they can easily start wars for profit and successfully peddle the wars to those who pay the price, in the lives of their children and their hard-earned taxes.
In every one of these wars, it is possible to identify an individual or small group of individuals who were engaging in conduct that may or may not have been dangerous to the safety and security of the United States, but which was always contrary to the best interests of their own people.
Here, precisely, is where the United States should focus its attention and target the projection of its power. In Syria, the individual is named Bashar Assad. He is the military dictator of Syria and he inherited the job from his father.
The Syrian people hate Assad, so why is it necessary to destroy the nation of Syria and kill its people in order to remove Assad?
President Obama has signed an intelligence "finding" that authorizes U.S. intelligence agencies to secretly support the Syrian opposition. The CIA is now providing money and funneling weapons from adjacent countries to the Free Syrian Army.
Ultimately, Assad will be killed or will leave the country, but in the meantime, thousands of lives will be lost, billions of dollars will be wasted and the Syrian people will transfer their hatred from Assad to the United States.
A Law Enforcement Model
Why not adopt a national policy of avoiding war against other nations and their innocent people as a matter of principle? Instead, to confront the danger posed by foreign dictators, such as Assad, who threaten its national interests, the United States should adopt an alternative policy based upon a law enforcement model.
What if, instead of pouring gasoline on the flames of the Syrian civil war, President Obama were to make his case to Congress, using the truth as best known to the administration, and was able to prove that Assad, himself, represented a serious threat to our national interests.
If convinced by the evidence, Congress could pass a simple resolution ordering the president to, first, file a lawsuit against the “government” of Syria in the World Court of Justice in The Hague.
Next, Congress could authorized the use of reasonable force and other legitimate tactics to secure the appearance of Assad, personally, at the World Court to defend his "government" against the charges.
What then? One of the things professional police officers have learned the hard way is that it is bad tactics to immediately rush an armed and barricaded suspect.
A lot of brave cops and innocent people got killed before cops learned to take as much time as necessary to secure the premises, bring in the SWAT team, turn off the utilities, clear the neighborhood, engage in negotiations, and secure the release of hostages.
Only when all else fails and only when delay increases the risk of harm to the hostages, do professional police officers fire in the tear gas, toss the flash-bang grenades, and storm the premises. Innocent people and brave officers may still die, but at least decisions to use deadly force are made in a reasoned and deliberate manner and only after all other alternatives fail.
Would a law enforcement model work? Would it be a smarter war policy? We will never know unless we try it. Shouldn’t we take the time to make a better case for intervention to ourselves, our allies, the United Nations, and, most importantly, to the poor people of Syria and others in the Middle East?
We have the technological ability to bomb the Syria people with audio and video compact discs, take over their airwaves, and spam their email and Facebook accounts, not to spread false propaganda, but to reassure them that they have more to fear from Assad and his cohorts than from us.
We should demonstrate our respect for the antiquity of the Syrian culture and reassure the Syrian people that we want to avoid harm to them and their institutions.
Relying upon international and Islamic law and appealing to their common sense, we should ask the people of Syria to stand aside from the criminal who has seized power over them and to let us help them to free themselves from his domination.
Wouldn’t it be money well spent to offer a substantial individual reward, generous financial aid, and the elimination of economic sanctions to the surviving Syrian government that deposes the tyrant? Wouldn’t it have been a far better investment than the billions we will waste to destroy the Syrian national infrastructure and to then rebuild it?
Should push come to shove, the armed elements of the U.S. Defense Department continue to be the mightiest military force in history and the most effective in the world today. Surely, the brilliant military planners in the Pentagon can conceive and create a myriad of plans and actions to keep Assad on the ropes, personally, until such time as he gives up, his own henchmen sell him out, or when a few brave volunteers have to go in and “arrest” him, and what he was doing, taking him into custody, dead or alive.
Building upon a smart, instead of a stupid, war policy, wouldn't the United States (and the United Nations) be in a better position in the future to cope with violent dictators and unstable nations? Shouldn't we at least consider the alternative?
The United States is the only nation whose citizens have the freedom and institutions to control its military and which has the power to remove dangerous foreign dictators without causing the deaths of their innocent victims and the destruction of their means of existence.
Americans have an obligation to humanity to demonstrate our compassion, strength and imagination, and we have a duty to our children to avoid wasting their lives and futures in senseless wars when we can better accomplish our political aims by other means.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|