In March 2001, I posted about then-looming US war against Libya. Below is a cut and paste job from that post. I have changed nothing at all except the word, "Libya" to "Syria" or "Qadaffi" to "Assad." These questions were never answered satisfactorily (or at all) by the Obama administration.
But here we go again:
Before a single US plane flies over Syria, the president must explain to the American people the following at a minimum:Don't expect any answers now, either.
1. What is Assad's "actual or imminent threat" to America that justifies combat deployment of US forces on presidential order alone?
2. Absent such threat, what is his legal authority to send US forces into combat without prior Congressional approval? (Congressional approval, or not, may yet be forthcoming.)
3. What is the primary strategic objective that the United States will achieve through military forces that cannot be obtained otherwise?
4. What is the moral imperative that justifies killing and being killed?
5. Apart from opposing Assad, what exactly makes the Syrian revolutionaries worth the expenditure of American lives and treasure?
6. The president is on record as saying that Assad must not remain in power. Does that mean that regime change is a US objective and if so, will US military power be used to achieve it?
7. If not, will a partition of Syria into territories controlled by Assad and the revolutionaries be acceptable, and if so, why?
8. What influence do you expect to have over the political nature of a potential revolutionary government?
9. What are the conditions of success in Syria? What must happen before American combat forces are withdrawn? In other words, how will you know when you've won?
About the moral imperative for war. If no one in the administration can explain what America is trying to do within the context of Just War Theory, which demands specifically to delineate the just cause of war, the just conduct of war and the just ending of war, then there is no justification at all.
If there is a moral imperative to intervene in Syria, presumably to stop Assad's attacks against Syrian civilians, then inquiring minds want to know why this imperatives rules for Syria here when President Obama specifically rejected the very same imperative in warring against Iraq in 2003.
My position hasn't changed. To paraphrase what Bismarck said about the Balkans in 1888, "The whole of Syria is not worth the bones of a single American pilot."