As the once-too-near and perhaps future disaster of the Syrian crisis is again reminding us, Team America has lost much of its margin for error, shrinking further in a decade of austerity.
We are exactly where we were in April of 2011. That is to say, Assad's killing machine continues, Russia's backing of the regime continues, and any political settlement is going to be bogged down in diplomatic squabbles.
After the dust has settled, though, Obama and like-minded American politicians must learn from the Syrian mistake.
National polls show nearly across-the-board declines in public confidence in Democratic leadership. In the usual partisan calculus of win-and-loss this would seem the moment of the chief executive's maximum weakness and, therefore, of Republican advantage. Consider this, though.
On Tuesday, President Obama called upon Congress to postpone indefinitely a debate on a military strike on Syria. Among the Syrian refugees whom I am ...
At no point has the United States actively supported an effort to achieve a decisive outcome to the Syrian civil war.
Many experts and observers lament the loss of U.S. power and fear the implications of a growing global perception of American weakness. But America's decline may actually be self-imposed, rather than due to any shift in world politics.
Shouldn't it make sense that President Obama would enjoy spending more time addressing rising child poverty and restoring taxes on the rich and corporations than ordering self-defeating metastasizing military operations?
The Obama Doctrine has a narrow focus: keeping other nations from using biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons. It argues that we should always seek the support of the world community to enforce this prohibition. But, if they fail to respond, we should act unilaterally, because we are "the anchor of global security."
Any engagement of American military power in Syria, particularly drone and cruise missile strikes, is an act of war, limited or not, whether troops are actually deployed or not.
When it comes to cyber deterrence, the revolutionary idea for policy makers to get their heads around is that the public and private sector need to be better informed on discussions pertaining to a state's cyber war capabilities.
We should have armed the rebels a couple of years ago to try to even the playing field so that they had a chance at toppling the regime. Of course, there was the danger that we'd arm the "wrong rebels," but, God knows, intelligence is an inexact business and we should have done the best we could to sort out the sheep from the goats.
At this moment, Congress has the opportunity to choose a new meaning for future anniversaries of 9/11. It could be the day that life went on just as disastrously as previously -- or it could be the day that changed everything, and this time for the better.
There is no magic formula, one-size-fits-all, or instant cure for the deep-seated problems in the Middle East and the Arab world. Transforming the political culture of the region, and helping it find its own solutions consistent with globally accepted norms, but without imposing Western models, is a generational project.
It's time to bring all the troops home, secure our borders like Fort Knox and reduce our foreign policy to negotiation, trade embargoes and other fiscal restrictions.
We will not resolve or set right Syria, any more than we did Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya -- or dare I say Vietnam. We can, however, help to defend our few friends and even fewer steadfast democracies.