The Los Angeles Times reports that members of Congress are attention-seeking opportunists:
Distressed by the suffering in Syria, but wary of another Mideast war, some lawmakers are speaking loudly and carrying a small stick.
I suppose this is preferable to quietly agitating for an invasion, but it’s still not good. The need that many legislators have to demand that the U.S. “do more” in foreign conflicts is a destructive one, and one that will eventually come back to haunt the U.S. Sens. Feinstein, Inhofe, Corker, et al. may not think they are contributing to the steady movement towards direct U.S. involvement in Syria’s conflict, but every call for “more action” that these people make brings a Syrian war that much closer. Even when members of Congress endorse measures that are far short of direct intervention in Syria, they are making war more likely when they accept the Syria hawks’ core assumption that the U.S. must hasten regime change in Syria. Even though some of the people quoted in the article may not want a Syrian war, they are all laying the foundation for it when they demand more “leadership” and condemn “inaction.” Any support for “doing more” in Syria, no matter how tentative, is a boon for the dedicated group of Syria hawks constantly pushing for escalation.
The more worrisome and somewhat baffling response to Syria’s conflict is this one:
Few lawmakers are publicly calling for the United States to keep clear of the war.
Considering how overwhelmingly opposed the public is to U.S. involvement in Syria’s conflict, the lack of representation for the view held by roughly two-thirds of the country is remarkable. In spite of the last twelve years of war, most politicians are still terrified of being labeled as “weak” on any foreign policy issue, and so they remain silent or endorse half-measures that provide them with cover against accusations of being a supporter of “isolationism” or “retreat.” One might think that opposing a Syrian war before the fact would be an obvious move for Republican opponents of the administration. Unfortunately, Republicans have trapped themselves by consistently taking more hawkish positions than Obama, so they are prevented from taking the popular and correct position against a Syrian war because of the pernicious influence of hard-liners within their party. Just as it was in 2002, there is apparently no Democrat with national ambitions interested in ruling out the use of force in Syria, and so far Obama’s reluctance to become involved has given other Democrats a pass on having to say anything at all. Of course, if the only people in Washington talking about Syria are the ones demanding “action,” then “action” is eventually what we will get despite the fact that most Americans and perhaps even most members of Congress are against it.