Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Problem with Syria

("Shadow of a Doubt')

We may be on the precipice of a looking glass moment in Congress where Republicans, reflexively opposed to anything and everything with the Obama stamp of approval on it, find themselves in the very uncomfortable position of agreeing with his decision to bomb, while those Democrats who have been fervent and fierce supporters of the President literally can't pull the trigger for him this time.

The Syria problem is so layered, with myriad concerns as to the repercussions of the decision to do or don't, that it is almost impossible to line up as friend or foe.. This decision is weighed down by past errors, by a lack of an answer to what comes next in Syria, by implications for the broader region, by the lack of support from typical allies. For every good reason not to let the most heinous of all actions go unpunished, for every line in the sand that has been crossed, for every reason to assert that we do have the right and the obligation to answer, there are countervailing justifications for distancing ourselves from yet another continuing implosion in a land we neither control nor fully understand.

Perhaps President Obama has laid this most complex of questions at the feet of Congress to give him cover in the eyes of this nation and the world. Perhaps he is wearied from years of taking the heat here and abroad. Perhaps he is just doing what both the country wants and the Constitution would contemplate, if not mandate.

Wherever this leads, it is undoubtedly a matter filled with pitfalls and with little hope of ultimate solutions. And if Congress does not give the President the green light he has asked for, then what next?

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