THE BLOG
08/30/2013 01:26 pm ET Updated Oct 30, 2013

Why the U.S. Must Not Attack Syria

The United Nations does not say to do it. The United Kingdom voted against it, the first time in two decades the U.K. has not supported U.S. military action. The U.S. Congress will not have an opportunity to vote on it, though many members have reservations. Many in our own military have doubts. Half of all American oppose it. Why does the president insist America must attack Syria?

Obama's reasons seem vague at best, something from the 19th century about "firing a shot across Assad's bow" as if this is a pirate movie. Or maybe protecting the U.S., though Syria (and others) have had chemical weapons for years without threatening the U.S. Even Saddam did not use chemical weapons against the U.S. during two American-led invasions of his own country. To protect women and children? If that is the goal, the U.S. might best send doctors and medicine to the refugee camps, and nerve gas antidotes into Syria itself.

Vagueness is a very poor basis for the U.S. entering into another war in the Middle East, throwing itself deeper into a chaotic and volatile situation it little understands.

Because the president seems unable to formulate the questions he must ask before going to war, here are some suggestions for him:

Is it Iraq again?

Does it have oil we desperately need for our survival?

Does it pose a direct threat to America, a knife to our throat? Syrians storming California beaches?

Can you define specifically what U.S. interests are at stake (no fair just citing generic "world peace" or "evil dictator" or a made-up "red line")? Even John Boehner made sense on this question.

Does the Chemical Weapons Treaty say it is the U.S.' job to take punitive action against violators?

Is Syria's evil dictator somehow super-worse than the many other evil dictators scattered across the world where the U.S. is not intervening?

Did Syria attack any U.S. forces somewhere? Kidnap Americans? Commit 9/11?

Does the U.S. have a specific, detailed follow-on plan for what happens if Assad departs or is killed?

Does the U.S. have a specific plan to ensure weapons given to the rebels, some of whom are openly al Qaeda, won't migrate out of Syria as they did in Libya?

Does the U.S. believe its likely secret deal with the "rebels" to hand over Syria's chemical weapons after they take power is airtight?

With that in mind, can the U.S. tell with accuracy the "good" rebels from the "bad" rebels and control their actions?

Has the U.S. considered in detail what affect a rebel (Sunni) victory in Syria will have on chaotic Iraq next door and the greater Middle East?

What are the possible unintended consequences of another military strike? Are they worth whatever is hoped to be gained by the strike?

Will attacking yet another Muslim nation lessen the world-wide risk of terrorism?

Why now? The U.S. is intervening in Syria's civil war because maybe it was Assad who used poison gas. The poison gas killed up to a couple of thousand people. A horrible thing by any measure. However, close to 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war to date. The U.S. is thus going to war again in the Middle East because a tiny percentage of the deaths were caused by gas instead of artillery, aerial bombs, machine guns, tanks, rockets, grenades, car bombs, mines, bad food, or sticks and stones, some supplied by the U.S. Does that make sense, Mr. President? Can you explain that to a world already believing that the United States has become an out-of-control monster, lashing out at shadows?

Obama, if the answer was "No" to any of the above questions, you should not intervene in Syria.