09/04/2013 12:26 pm ET Updated Nov 04, 2013

The Syrian Folly

Let's be reasonable -- a strike on Syria will do nothing to end that civil war, nor help the Syrian people, nor enhance America's image in the world.

What it will do is inflame Assad, confuse and alienate our allies, and certainly expose America to terrorist retaliation.

The two-year conflict in Syria, which has already left 100,000 dead and two million driven from their land, is tragic and deplorable. But a quick strike on Syria will not save lives or end the conflict -- it is merely a little slap on Assad's wrist for misbehaving.

If the United States wanted to topple Assad, the time to do it was two years ago, by supporting the anti-government rebels. Today, those rebels have been joined by al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist cells who are probably fighting among themselves. An attack by America, however limited, will surely consolidate those factions and turn them, united, against us. We will become the enemy, not Assad!

The current rationale about chemical warfare is also perplexing, if not hypocritical. Is gassing a thousand people so much more awful than slaughtering 100,000 by "conventional" means? In this instance, aren't we using the alleged chemical attack as a convenient excuse to flex our muscles and display our moral superiority?

As Americans, we must ask ourselves why our instinctive reaction to a problem is to fight it. Even before discussion, negotiation, conciliation... we attack. Let's not say it's our Wild West heritage, or our Constitutional right, or our Puritanical superiority. It is a stupid knee-jerk reaction that belongs in the school yard, not on the international stage.

President Obama has fallen into this trap, this sheriff-mentality that would police the world. If he manages to drag Congress along, we will be facing a very serious -- and unnecessary -- scenario.