The United States is spending a lot of time letting the world know that our powerful nation, the preeminent superpower of the 20th Century, is taking a nosedive in the 21st. The president is doing his best to spread responsibility for our security because intervening in places we aren’t often wanted is something he has criticized the U.S. for. Now he has a big problem and two damning questions to answer:
If the world is united against terrorism, why isn’t America?
Can we depend on Muslims to do our fighting?
Does a powerful nation pass the buck for its security?
The president confirmed that:
Going forward, we won’t hesitate to take action against these terrorists in Iraq or in Syria.1
He should have said “won’t hesitate to ask others.” How does arming Muslims to kill Muslims while we tell ourselves we are calling the shots constitute taking decisive action?
There is dissent in the ranks as to who we plan to give weapons to. House Democrat Mike Thompson sounded iffy about helping the opposition:
However, arming Syrian opposition groups alone is not an effective strategy to combat the ISIL terrorist group and diminish its capacity to operate. There has been inadequate vetting of these opposition groups. We do not have enough information on the people we are proposing to arm and train.2
Can a powerful nation like the U.S. dodge responsibility by asking Arab nations to step up to the plate on our behalf? It’s not as if our relationship with the Muslim world has improved with Barack Obama at the helm. Nonsensical platitudes like these thoughts from Nancy Pelosi declare commitment while denying responsibility and only serve to pass the buck for American security to the Third World:
Working with a broad coalition of partners and without using U.S. combat forces on the ground, we will lead a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy to dismantle the threat ISIS poses to the region and the United States.3
Is this really about counter terrorism, or is it about something else? We’ll start with Harry Reid.
Bipartisan responsibility is not a good thing
Democrats have been overeager to pin the word “bipartisan” on anything to do with military action, including the sponsored variety that President Obama favors. They might want to reconsider. The U.S. and the world know that “bipartisan” has become the death knell of progress in Washington. Vacuous words from Harry Reid do not contradict the impression that a once powerful nation is shirking its responsibility:
The Senate has passed a strong bill to arm and train vetted Syrian opposition fighters as part of the President’s strategy to destroy ISIS without repeating the mistakes of the past in the Middle East. America will lead a coalition that includes our friends and allies in European and Arab nations in a targeted, strategic mission to destroy ISIS.4
Do our friends and allies need us, or do we need them as we fall back on decades of being a global leader? Reputation only goes so far when we keep telling the world that we have made mistakes and that others need to defend us. Congress’s decision to flee for the campaign trail without a commitment on how to deal with what lawmakers agree is a threat doesn’t send a very decisive message, either.
Not America’s fight?
President Obama wants us to think that U.S. intervention is more about lending a helping hand to our allies. This would be a good time for someone to step up to the plate and disabuse him of his distaste for the Iraq war:
But this is not America’s fight alone. I won’t commit our troops to fighting another ground war in Iraq, or in Syria. It’s more effective to use our capabilities to help partners on the ground secure their own country’s futures.5
If the security of the United States, a much more powerful nation than Syria, Iraq, or any other Middle Eastern country was not at stake, would we care about their futures? Calling on the people of other countries to die for our benefit is not a very clever strategy. If I was one of our “partners” I would be highly offended, unless I had something else to gain.