It appears that I am not alone. Yesterday, in a post over at OTB I wrote:
I think that before taking military action against Syria the president should wait for the UN inspectors’ report, try to secure approval from the Congress, and try to secure approval from the United Nations Security Council.
It seems that the overwhelming preponderance of Americans agree with me, a condition to which I am unaccustomed:
Nearly 80 percent of Americans believe President Barack Obama should receive congressional approval before using force in Syria, but the nation is divided over the scope of any potential strike, a new NBC News poll shows.
Fifty percent of Americans believe the United States should not intervene in the wake of suspected chemical weapons attacks by Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to the poll. But the public is more supportive of military action when it’s limited to launching cruise missiles from U.S. naval ships – 50 percent favor that kind of intervention, while 44 percent oppose it.
at least with respect to the matter of Congressional approval.
In all likelihood Americans may just be sick of war and sick of their country starting wars, especially when the national interest in those wars is ambiguous.
I hope at least some of them are asking the question that presidents should ask themselves more and, apparently, don’t ask themselves at all: what then?
Assume an attack on Syria is unsuccessful in the sense that Assad continues to use chemical weapons after the attack. What then?
Assume an attack on Syria is successful, Assad stops using chemical weapons (he might have done so anyway), but he is able to defeat the rebels without them. What then?
Assume an attack on Syria is successful, Assad stops using chemical weapons (he might have done so anyway), he is unable to defeat the rebels outright, and the civil war just continues. What then?
Assume an attack on Syria is successful and Assad, hamstringed in his attempts to preserve his regime, is ousted by the rebels. The rebels are radical Islamists. What then?
We attack Syria. Syria, Iran, or both retaliate by attacking Americans or American interests in the Middle East using asymmetric warfare techniques. What then?
We attack Syria. An American aircraft carrier is sunk by asymmetric warfare techniques (that’s actually occurred in war games of conflict in the Middle East). What then?