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Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius and John Gay are writing columns on important issues for today.

“Leadership" Should Actually "Lead" -- Syria

September 9, 2013

This week we want to talk about foreign policy, Syria, and the Congress.  But let’s start by looking at Libya.  Without the Congress Obama brought U.S. military assets to bear against Muammar Gaddafi causing the fall of his government.  As a result there is currently a government in Libya that is unable to protect foreign missions against terrorist attacks, the murder of Ambassador Stevens one year ago this week in Benghazi being just one example.

Fast forward to Egypt where another ruler was taken down with our support, only to find the new government was controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood that started by throwing out the country’s constitution and instituting Sharia Law.  The Egyptian military -- the only real stabilizing force in that nation -- then came in and removed the Muslim Brotherhood leadership and our government cannot decide whether it is in our best interest to continue financial aid to Egypt’s military.

Are you seeing a pattern yet?  Now here comes Syria.  First Obama tells the world that if Syria uses chemical weapons against its own people they will have “crossed a red line” and that it will be a “game changer.”  Then he tells us there is evidence that Syria crossed that “line” and he goes to Congress for their buy-in on a military response. In Libya and Egypt he didn’t see the need for a formal Congressional buy-in but in Syria he wants it.  Why?  Perhaps it’s because if the Congress says “No” he can say “Well I was going to act but the Congress wouldn’t support me so I didn’t!”  It’s called political cover!

The other day we noticed a comment on the Congressional District 14th website and in the paper asking for constituent comments about whether to attack Syria.  We wonder why, especially when Congressmen have access to much better sources and confidential information than we do.  Don’t we want leadership and not politics by demand?  In this case wouldn’t it be better to seek people who have had experience in, and who understand, foreign affairs?   Scripture tells us to seek wise counsel before waging war.  That is what real leaders do.  One source we would seek out is Jim Baker, the former Secretary of State, Chief of Staff in the Reagan White House, and current head of the Institute for Public Policy (a foreign policy think tank) in Houston.   He is a man of integrity and wisdom and his advice would be beneficial. 

Elected leaders shouldn’t seek political cover so they can say “Well I was going to do ‘X’ but they wouldn’t support me in it.”  That’s what Obama is doing in asking for Congressional buy-in for a military response to Syria!

Our view? We oppose any military response that will end up like Libya and Egypt.  Neither side in the Syrian conflict is our friend so why should we risk the lives of American servicemen and women?  Additionally, unless there is well-defined goal that is achievable we oppose a military response.  In short, we are not willing to go to war in order to keep our President from being embarrassed by statements he makes before counting the cost.

Bill, Mark, and John