THE BLOG

Must We Enforce Our Red Line in Syria?

05/14/2013 03:17 pm ET | Updated Jul 14, 2013
  • Daryl Rowland Award-winning screenwriter, humorist, political blogger and marketing consultant

There is nothing that would project weakness and undermine U.S. credibility more than to plunge the United States into another hopeless civil war simply because the president used the phrase "red line" in a press conference about the Syrian's regime's potential use of chemical weapons.

Yet that absurd analysis growing like mold all over the web, suggesting that Obama is now locked into taking military action in response to Syria's apparent use of some chemical weapons. Really? This isn't a children's game where somebody calls "touch black, no back." An utterance at a press conference is not a binding contract.

Credibility comes from taking controlled, thoughtful actions and following through decisively. Taking out Osama bin Laden established credibility.

Showing the world that we will not be lured into making rash, foolish decisions does not undermine our credibility, it enhances it.

Sending in sophisticated weapons that could easily end up supporting jihadist elements may prove that we will take action, but it undermines our long-range goals and confirms the myth that want to interfere in every conflict in the Middle East. That in turn breeds more jihadists and Al-Qaeda members.

Obama first needs to confirm that chemical weapons were indeed used by the regime and not planted by rebels to encourage U.S. intervention. Then he needs to rally the international community to take unified action against the Assad regime in response to the use of prohibited chemical weapons.

But let's get real. The unspoken truth is that murder is murder, whether it's by sarin gas, rifle fire or explosives. It seems random if not wholly ridiculous to single out chemical weapons as somehow of another class. Are bombs or automatic weapons more sportsmanlike? Can't we finally dispense with the antiquated notion that certain forms of warfare are noble and other barbaric? Murder is barbaric -- I think most would agree -- whether it's done with a musket, and IED or sarin gas. The trick is to end the war and the killing.

No. Let us make our decisions based not on words spoken at a press conference, but on our long-range strategy and how we might minimize the number of deaths and encourage stability. In this case, a foolish consistency will only make us appear a small-minded bully.

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