THE BLOG
08/31/2013 11:26 am ET Updated Oct 31, 2013

Obama's "Limited War" Delusion

"We're not considering any open ended commitment. We're not considering any boots on the ground approach," Obama said, according to White House pool reports.

Yes sir. But they are.

I fear President Obama is being ill advised by those counseling him that there is such a thing as a "limited" war in this scenario. Ordnance always goes both ways once it starts flying. Then what? Are we ready for a year of escalating tit for tat? Do we really want to see the Mediterranean turn into a live testing ground to see just how well the US Navy's ship defenses can handle anti-ship missile attacks. The audience is probably already assembling as ships gather both above and below the waves. What? Well yeah it would be a legitimate defense on the part of Syria to shoot back at their attackers. That's well within the rules of warfare. It's Geneva Convention complaint even. Sooner or later we will encounter a foe that won't lie down and cower. Are we really prepared to see the day when the world says to us that it is we who are denied the right to fly or have bases in 2014, 2015 or 2016? Laugh at how this could spin out of control all you like but somebody at the National Security Council had better be doing this kind of consequence risk analysis.

Secretary of State Kerry -- in his role in the minuet -- argues about blame but avoids substance. Kerry has taken the position of arguing about probabilities of blame over chemical weapons presuming US National Interest is to intervene if blame can be established. I do not see this presumption as valid. This administration has yet to address the fundamental question of why it is vital to the interest of this country to act over this particular episode of violence. It's time to reveal to the American public whom, what and the why of power and influence that is behind what is clearly a bold, dangerous and costly endeavor. What exactly is worth the price of spending US prestige and blood? To whom does the United States owe such a debt? Is that debt even legitimate? And are all of the costs to the US being considered? There are many other actors on this planet who also have strategic interests that this administration has selectively avoided addressing with the American public. Many years ago I argued against this line of justification about Iraq. It's just too narrow. I do not get the feeling we are getting a full and accurate net assessment of this. I smell too much propaganda, not enough data. It's time to be forthright and accountable in the clear light of day.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have a problem with sacrificing to change the world and make it a better place. But I do have a problem with doing something stupid that changes the world for the worse.

A "red line" declared by a U.S. President's rhetoric is not the same thing as the National Interest of the United States of America. Not even close. We need to go through the deliberative process. We need to either find compelling substance for us to act or accept the fact that there is no such thing as doing anything one imagines without consequence. Despite the carnage, there is no coalition here. Historically, nations embarking on unilateral adventurism do not have promising outcomes. President Obama is being dangerously ill advised if he believes he is immune to the truths of history.