“I’ll listen to the generals …”
If you had a nickel for every time a politician said that, then you’d have a lot of nickels – maybe even $1.5 billion worth of nickels, which would be enough to establish a no-fly zone over Syria (and operate it for one month). Want to run the no-fly zone for another month?
That’ll cost you another $1 billion … and so on.
These figures come courtesy of General Martin Dempsey – the chairman of the American military’s joint chiefs of staff. For more than a year Dempsey has been dispassionately providing the administration of Barack Obama and members of the U.S. Congress with sobering information regarding the risks associated with American involvement in the Syrian civil war.
“It’s not about: can we do it? It’s: Should we do it, and what are the opportunity costs?” Dempsey told U.S. Senators last March, when the war drums were still a long way off in the distance.
More recently, Dempsey has spelled out in common sense language the dangers associated with even a limited strike against the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
“We have learned from the past ten years … that it is not enough to simply alter the balance of military power without careful consideration of what is necessary in order to preserve a functioning state,” Dempsey wrote to U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan) in July. “We must anticipate and be prepared for the unintended consequences of our action. Should the (Assad) regime’s institutions collapse in the absence of a viable opposition, we could inadvertently empower extremists or unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control.”
Exactly … in fact that point is especially critical in light of the extent to which al-Qaeda is involved in the Syrian conflict.
“Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next,” Dempsey added in his letter. “Deeper involvement is hard to avoid.”
Dempsey has also advised Obama to act “in concert with our allies and partners,” which is especially notable in light of Great Britain’s decision to stay out of Syria.
Unfortunately Obama – and “Republican” warmongers like U.S. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham – aren’t listening to Dempsey. Or to the American people, for that matter.