Obama’s Dithering on Syria

tags: Barack Obama, Syria, Conrad Black, National Review



Conrad Black is the author of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom, Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full, A Matter of Principle, and the recently published Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies That Brought America from Colonial Dependence to World Leadership. He can be reached at cbletters@gmail.com.

As the United States contemplates military action against Syria, it must realize that it can no longer enter into and conduct wars in the way it has done since Korea. Vietnam was not really properly authorized or explained. It was also mismanaged, in that — as General Eisenhower and General MacArthur both warned President Kennedy and President Johnson — it shouldn’t be attempted, but if it were, the supply flow from the North (the Ho Chi Minh Trail) had to be cut. It wasn’t. And MacArthur’s assertion that draftees cannot be asked to risk and give their lives in a cause less than a defined goal clearly in the national interest was demonstrated to be true, both morally and practically.

In Vietnam, the goal was never made clear; nor was the U.S. national interest clear, other than to avoid defeat once the country was engaged. That did not prevent the Democrats who plunged into the war from assuring defeat after President Nixon had disengaged the U.S. and preserved a non-Communist government in Saigon.

There should not have been two invasions of Iraq, though both were justified, militarily successful, and constitutionally impeccable; they were just politically mismanaged afterwards. With Bosnia, President Clinton invented the notion of a war worth killing for but not worth dying for; NATO aircraft flew at 30,000 feet to ensure risk-free bombing to the allies. (This was about the time that Mrs. Clinton fantasized that while little girls were curtsying and giving her flowers at Sarajevo Airport, she was actually under threat of her life from crackling sniper fire.)...


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