11 Reasons Not to Intervene in Syria

It’s that time of year again.  Children are heading back to school, leaves will soon be turning, pools are closing, and the President is itching to drag our country into yet another armed conflict.

The American people have seen this show before, and this latest rerun isn’t any more convincing.

While the list could be longer, what follows are just 11 reasons why intervening in Syria is a bad idea.

1.)  War with Syria will not be declared by Congress.

This one should be quite easy to understand for the former constitutional law professor currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 grants Congress the authority “To declare War,” not the President.  While this President, like many before him, points to Article II, Section 2 as granting him the necessary power as “Commander in Chief,” it’s quite clear from any straightforward reading that this power exists “when called into the actual Service of the United States” by Congress declaring war or for repelling an invasion.  What about an imminent threat?  See point three below.

America has suffered greatly from the abuse of presidential war powers and lost much blood and treasure because of the unitary theory of the executive, which views the President as a sovereign - not one among equals, as our founders envisioned.

Despite what neoconservatives such as Rep. Peter King and the usual suspects such as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham (have they ever seen a conflict they didn't want to involve the U.S. in?) may say, if the President is determined to intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war, he must first ask Congress for a declaration of war as the Constitution requires. I am not going to turn blue in the face holding my breath waiting for this President to do so.

2.)  The American people are against military action in Syria.

According to a recent Reuters poll, just 9 percent of Americans believe the United States should take military action in Syria.  That makes military intervention in Syria less popular than Congress (10 percent approval), and North Korea (12 percent favorability).  With support like that, it is no wonder President Obama doesn't want to bring it to a vote in Congress.

3.)  This is not in the United States’ National Security Interest.

Syria poses no clear threat to the United States.  If the American people are missing the obvious, let the President show his hand, and let’s have an honest debate.  So far, no one calling for war has laid out to the American people why attacking Syria is vital to U.S. national security interests.  Contrary to what many politicians believe, the U.S. military is not the world’s policeman.  Its job is to protect the security of the United States, not to intervene in other nation’s internal affairs.  Additionally, the number-one function of the federal government is to provide for the national defense.  Adding yet another military action to our already overburdened and over-stretched armed forces actually decreases their ability to carry out their constitutional responsibility to defend the American people and the Constitution they have sworn to uphold.

4.)  We have no goal.

The administration has said regime change is not their goal in launching an attack on Syria.  So what is it?  If the United States is not seeking to take out Assad, then what is the point?  There is no clear objective, and thus no end game, leaving the U.S. open to yet another prolonged, financially draining war.

5.)  Atrocities are happening everywhere, why intervene in Syria?

Atrocities are happening all over the world.  Why should the United States intervene in Syria but not the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Sierra Leone, Mali,  Philippines, Russia, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, or North Korea?  The list could go on and on.  While the atrocities in Syria are certainly horrible and deplorable, are they any worse than those in a number of other countries?

6.)  The civil war has been going on for years, why act now?

No one denies it is a travesty that the Syrian civil war has cost over 100,000 lives in the past few years.  So why does the United States feel it must act now, when over 1,400 Syrians have been killed in a chemical weapons attack, but not when 100,000 Syrians were killed by conventional weapons?  This makes no sense.  Are the deaths caused by bullets and bombs any less horrible, senseless, and tragic?

7.)  The enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend.

It’s common knowledge al-Qaeda has swelled the ranks of the Syrian rebels.  By all accounts, they are the most ruthless fighters, and if Assad should fall, the ones who would likely hold the upper hand in establishing a fundamentalist Islamist state, providing a safe-haven for terrorists and a death sentence for Christians and countless other Syrians.

8.)  We aren't certain who used chemical weapons.

Questions remain regarding whether chemical weapons were used by Assad soldiers or the rebels themselves.  Even the AP cited anonymous administration officials as saying it would be “no slam dunk” to prove Assad’s forces carried out the chemical weapons attacks.

On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry stated, “The United States Government assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack.”  That hardly sounds as if it’s been proven beyond all reasonable doubt.

9.)  America cannot afford it.

The American government is broke.  The national debt is nearing $17 trillion, including nearly trillion-dollar deficits for the past four years.  Is the President expecting to finance this war by borrowing more money from China or getting the Federal Reserve to fire up the printing presses once more?  No one who is calling for war with Syria is talking about how this will be paid for.

10.)  Intervention could cause serious blowback.

U.S. involvement is likely to be used as a recruitment tool for extremists on both sides of the fight in Syria.  And the very allies we are claiming we must act to protect could find themselves square in the center of a target.  A limited strike on Syria could result in a retaliatory chemical weapons attack on Israel if Assad actually carried out the initial chemical strike.  How many American lives – or those of allies – will we lose in the future so the President can “save face” by striking Syria?

11.)  Intervention could cause World War III.

Syria is a strong ally with Iran.  Iran and Syria have support from Russia and China, and that support could extend beyond just their votes on the UN Security Council.  The chain of events leading to WWI began with a lone gunman assassinating Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  Will WWIII start by “limited” U.S. military intervention in the Syrian civil war?


Too many questions surround potential action on Syria, and the answers so far provided by the administration don’t hold water.

I urge those reading this to call the White House and Congress (202-224-3121) and strongly oppose any U.S. intervention in the Syrian civil war.

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