09/12/2013 11:43 am ET Updated Nov 12, 2013

Syria: A Limited Air Strike Is an Act of War

With Mexico and Central America embroiled in wars against organized crime syndicates, drug cartels, and gangs, fueled by revenue from the sale of illegal drugs to U.S. consumers and armed to the teeth by weapons sold to them primarily by U.S. arms dealers, the United States is preparing to launch yet another war in the Middle East. This time, against Syria.

There are many good reasons for wanting to intervene in the Syrian Civil War, including the fact that "somebody" (no, it's not clear whether it's Mr. Assad, the secular Free Syrian Army, the Jabhat al-Nusrais jihadists, or al-Qaeda) is using chemical weapons to kill and terrorize the Syrian people. But there are also many good reasons to stay out of the civil war or find ways to negotiate some sort of ceasefire... or at least focus on jacking up the humanitarian aid and caring for the more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees.

There are also many good reasons for the U.S. to focus more on the continually deteriorating situation in Mexico and Central America, because chaos in that region represents infinitely more of an immediate and long-term threat to the U.S. than anything that is going on in Syria. If the Obama administration drags the U.S., kicking and screaming, into another war in the Middle East, then the mounting death and violence in Mexico and Central America are guaranteed to remain a sideshow to the U.S.

Both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are certainly annoyed at those of us who do not subscribe to their description of an attack on Syria as a "limited air strike." It's war, plain and simple. But let's humor Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry. By their definition then, Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 was a "limited air strike." Funny how the U.S. didn't see it that way. Strange how the U.S. public took it more serious and more personal than that.

The limited air strike on Pearl Harbor is known as "a date which will live in infamy," in the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, who on the following day asked Congress to declare war on Japan. The limited air strike on Pearl Harbor lasted only an hour and a half. It involved 353 Japanese aircraft launched from six aircraft carriers. The limited air strike destroyed four U.S. battleships, three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, one minelayer, and 188 aircraft. It killed 2,402 Americans and wounded 1,282.

By comparison, the U.S. and NATO attack on Libya in 2011 lasted 7 months, 1 week, and 5 days (from March 19 to October 31). The firepower used by the U.S. alone in Libya dwarfs what the Japanese used in Pearl Harbor. The firepower the U.S. may use in its "limited air strike" against Syria would probably dwarf what it employed against Libya. A limited air strike of the type that Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry are advocating is an act of war, and that should scare the hell out of everyone in the U.S.... and everyone in Mexico and Central America.