The U.S. isn't the world's beat cop
By: Ken Allred
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 14, 2013 06:00 am
“He who blows the coals in quarrels that he has nothing to do with, has no right to complain if the sparks fly in his face.” – Benjamin Franklin
As I start this commentary, I’m sitting in Philadelphia – the City of Brotherly Love, listening to the talking heads on CNN berating U.S. President Obama for his indecision, or maybe thoughtful analysis, of the dreadful situation in Syria.
Not having been involved in military conflict myself, but having lived vicariously through several Canadian missions in Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, by way of my oldest son, I tend to follow world affairs fairly closely.
I don’t envy the heavy decision resting on Obama’s shoulders and respect his decision to seek the opinion of the citizens of the United States through Congress. As they say – many heads are smarter than one.
I often wonder, however, when will the United States realize that it does not have to play the role of big brother to the world. Since the end of the Cold War, the stature of both Russia and the United States has faded into the background as the world’s leaders. New global powers are emerging and the focus of tension has shifted to the Middle East, which coincidentally is no longer such a vital supplier of energy to North America.
Yes, the defiance of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to international law by using chemical warfare is a concern to all of us but should the U.S. be taking on the enforcement of international law? We have international bodies established to deal with global issues, even though they have proven largely ineffective due to the power of veto.
But let’s reflect on the U.S. involvement in past conflicts on foreign soil – Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan! U.S. intervention has not been pretty. It has been costly and their very involvement has been questionable and based on inconclusive evidence. They certainly have not come home as heroes and their stature as a nation has suffered considerably. They are no longer looked up to as world leaders yet they still have not accepted that fact.
The British parliament has rejected the advice of Prime Minister David Cameron and his administration after extensive debate. Perhaps the U.S. Congress, after sober second thought, will do the same. The United States should not let our international agencies off the hook by taking on the role of international policemen – force the UN into action or perhaps let the Arab brotherhood take on the role of maintaining peace in their own backyard.
The outcome of any military action by the United States is fraught with unintended consequences. Will military action induce Iran and/or Hezbollah to become involved? Will one or the other launch an attack on Israel? The outcome is totally unpredictable as was the case in previous U.S. involvement on foreign soil. It is questionable if the United States intelligence even understands the mindset of the Arab world.
As my deadline approaches it appears that military conflict will be avoided as a result of international action to have Syria turn over its chemical weapons. The possibility of U.S. military action also appears to be in jeopardy due to a lack of public support. Maybe in the end this debacle will have a positive result and the international courts will deal with the issue.
Regardless of the outcome, I believe Sarah Palin had it right when she said: “Let Allah sort it out.”
Ken Allred is a former St. Albert alderman and MLA.