Letter to My Representative about Syria
I am writing to urge you to vote against President Obama’s resolution to go to war with Syria. As terrible as the tragedy in that country is, I feel very strongly that any intervention on our part will do nothing more than exacerbate the situation there, and quite possibly draw us further into the conflict.
The Assad regime has successfully entrenched itself in the portions of the country it still controls, has the support of Iran, Russia and other regional and international powers, and is fighting for its very existence: it’s very unlikely that anything the United States does, short of a full military assault, will curb their ruthlessness.
The opposition is a fractured and unknowable welter of militias and guerrilla groups, all working at cross purposes — some of which are antithetical to our interests and the interests of the region.
Despite the assurances of the administration, it’s impossible to say how a military strike will affect the balance of power there. Our intervention in places we do not understand has created monsters in the past, and I fear that an ill-considered attack here will create monsters again.
I realize that the president, and Secretary of State Kerry, have said repeatedly that they are not trying to influence the direction of the Syrian civil war, but the plain truth is that they cannot know what effect a military assault will have. If the last fifteen years of American foreign policy have taught us anything, it’s that we do not understand the Middle East, nor can we predict the consequences of our actions there. All of our recent military adventures have been masterclasses in the law of unintended consequences.
Furthermore, the resolution, as currently written, grants the executive branch far more than a narrow license to attack Syria — the Senate bill, in particular, appears to be something of a carte blanche, granting the President more or less unrestricted authority to use force to “defend the national security interests of the Unites States.”
Our founders vested congress with the sole power to declare war for a very good reason: something as momentous as waging war should not be the sole provence of any one branch of government, or, for that matter, any one person. Nevertheless, the executive has repeatedly arrogated this authority to itself over the years, and the results, more often than not, have been disastrous.
I don’t understand what the administration hopes to achieve with this attack. Their stated reasoning — to discourage the use of chemical weapons — is unconvincing and, arguably, unachievable. And their repeated references to Hitler, Hussein, “Munich moments” and weapons of mass destruction are chilling echoes of the propaganda that the Bush administration used to justify its disastrous intervention in Iraq.
This is the logic of a war machine, which by its very nature can’t help but see every problem through the lens of military action. The question of how to handle the Syrian tragedy requires a wiser, more expansive, less compromised vision.
Please vote against this resolution.