Civil war rages in Syria. The oppressive regime of President Bashar Assad fights rebels, and in the process, tens of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed. More than a million people are now homeless refugees. BoomerCafé co-founder and veteran news correspondent Greg Dobbs believes the U.S. must get involved.
Let’s get one thing straight: no matter how ugly the war has turned in Syria, few if any Americans want to put our soldiers’ boots on the ground there. In fact, in the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s hard to imagine who those few Americans would even be. President Obama must understand that.
But let’s get something else straight: as citizens of the most powerful and, arguably, the richest nation on earth, it’s painful to just sit back and watch so many people die, and so many homes destroyed, and so many refugees suffer. It’s equally painful to see militant Islamists redoubling their own power and influence in the revolution, which ultimately might make Syria even more hostile to the U.S. and its interests than it was before. President Obama must understand this, too.
So here’s the thing: we don’t have to just sit back and be as passive as we’ve been. Beyond underwriting the rebels’ training and diplomatically recognizing their coalition, President Obama can directly influence the outcome of their battle, not to mention save some lives … without putting boots on the ground at all.
It’s called air power. It’s something else the President ought to understand because he used it in Libya — Gaddafi’s aircraft were neutralized and his regime was neutered. Long before that, we used it in Bosnia. American casualties were minimized, while American air power changed the course of the war.
To be realistic about America’s place in the world, we can’t do it alone. But we rarely if ever do. For the Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush assembled a coalition through the United Nations to give us cover. For Libya, President Obama enlisted NATO. I don’t care how we justify an incursion from the air; I just care that we do. Because if we don’t, Assad’s air force will continue to decimate entire civilian neighborhoods simply to kill the rebels who use them as safe havens. Some now say it’s genocide and if genocide isn’t worth our attention, nothing is.
Is there a guarantee of success? Of course not. Anyone who used to have blind faith in the inevitable triumph of air power learned otherwise after the Shock and Awe of Iraq. But anyone who can’t see what good it could do in Syria — basically grounding Syrian aircraft and creating more of an even battlefield — isn’t paying attention to what we demonstrably can achieve. Would there be American casualties? Maybe. But most likely not many, because without question, we have superiority. Russia still acts in the Soviet tradition, never giving allies like Syria anything better than second and sometimes third generation weapons and aircraft. Against the rebels, Syria’s military is stronger. Against American air power, it would be no match.
Of course, Americans might be war-weary enough to be wary of an humanitarian intervention. But there’s another reason to get involved, and that is to get in the game. In the old days, leaders of Third World countries had to choose between the Soviet Union, and us. These days, it’s between extreme Islamism, and us. There are many things we don’t yet know about Syria: who’s going to prevail, and if it’s the rebels, who will they ultimately befriend? But one thing we do know is, the more nations controlled by Islamic extremists, the more threats we and our allies are likely to face.
The other thing we know is, if Assad wins, it won’t matter that we flew in to defeat him; in his mind, we already are the devil incarnate. But if the rebels win, it will matter a lot that the United States finally took decisive action, albeit late, on their behalf. We will be the superpower that helped save their revolution, and save their lives. They still might not love us, but they might not hate us so much.
President Obama ought to get off his stick and get some planes in the air over Syria.
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